22 Sep 2010

Old and New Friends

"Contact. Contact. Contact." Yelled one of my pilots, alarmingly it wasn't one of the forward scouts but Viginti who had just jumped. I had already activated the gate and it was too late to abort. Shit, I thought they couldn't have ran into the gate camp already

With a burst of light, the rest of the battle cruiser fleet jumped into Egmar. As per standard operating procedures, all The Bastards held their cloak. I eyed the ships. 

"Approximately a half-dozen cruisers all orbiting the Anher gate."

All were flagged as non-criminals, which meant that if (when) The Bastards initiated hostile fire, the sentry guns dotted around the gate would open fire on any transgressors adding to the incoming damage. However, The Bastards, being long-term low-sec residents had fitted our ships to be a bit more durable under sentry fire. 

Once the fleet was in the system but still under gate cloak, I gave the order to de-cloak and the first enemy ship to burst apart under The Bastards furious fire was a rupture followed quickly by a thorax. The sentry guns, detecting criminal activity, spun up and spat deadly and accurate fire all over The Bastard's fleet. 

However, such is the fast and deadly environment of low-sec that the numbers around the gate started to swell up. A second fleet, undetected by us had come from the nearby Taff system (and not Anher) and promptly piled into the fight against The Bastards. The resulting combined fleet now facing The Bastards came from eight different corporations including some old friends from Cloud 7 Nebulosa. The numbers looked bad but it was nothing new for The Bastards, however the enemy brought some ECM boats and the combined force had two falcons, one blackbird and a rook added to the 'party'. Pacifist Priest raced after them in a brave attempt to disrupt their work but the heavy ECM started to push down the damage output of The Bastards quickly. We had to kill off the ECM but were poorly equipped to do so with little in the way of fast, high damage cruisers or ECM boats of their own to counter. Tibbs's hurricane was the first to go down, caught by the cross fire of nine ships; followed quickly by JManza in his hurricane. Both jammed so hard that they couldn't even see what was in front of them. Space was now full of wreckage and escape pods as crews from all stricken vessels bolted out of immediate danger. The surviving ships ploughed through the debris field, eager to get close enough to trade broadsides.  

The decision was made to stand and fight and we took down a Cloud 7 Nebulosa hurricane and (inexplicably) a Manticore stealth bomber from Pinch Harmonics United that was caught by Silvetrys' claymore. A glancing shot perhaps?  However brave (or fool hardy) it may have been to stand and fight, the butcher's bill had to be paid and The Bastards suffered four more lost ships (including Silvetrys' Claymore) before the pirates withdrew. FloppyM (ex-GIS and ex-Cloud 7) and his fleet held the field and they had the pick of the loot and wreckage. This was a great fight and well-deserved.  

Returning to Evati to lick our wounds, The Bastards shipped up and grabbed new crews and ships. It was only two jumps back to our home system after all. As soon as The Bastards were docked up, reports came back that another corporation 'Los Chupacabras' (am going to call them 'Chupas' for short) had been camping the Todi' gate and blowing up incoming traffic and were now racing towards the Anher gate. These chaps are relatively new to the area and we had seen them about and thus, were eager to make their acquittance. New friends and neighbours and all that. There was about nine or ten of them and about equal numbers of The Bastards too. A decision was made to engage these (quite elusive) chaps and then return to Egmar to re-engage with the Cloud 7 Nebulosa 'alliance'. 

The Bastards fleet, still mainly battle cruisers, un-docked, whipped into warp and raced towards the Anher stargate. As we approached and about to drop out of warp, the lead ships and their directional scanners could clearly pick out the energy signatures of the target ships against the background noise. Firing weapons does light you up in certain parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum! Landing in a tight formation, we quickly took stock of the situation: Brutix, sacrilege, drake, drake, drake, harbinger, thorax and a couple of others were on the Anher gate. Some had drawn aggression already for some random act of violence. The Bastards, without any further ado, opened up with extreme prejudice. The first target was the brutix, due to it's proximity to The Bastards fleet. The hurricane-heavy battle cruiser gang opened up with a mix 425mm auto canon, drones, lasers and 725 mm howitzers and pulverised the brutix in short order. Chunks of its structure smashed beyond recognition. It was only after the fight, that we realised the brutix was most likely not part of the Los Chupacabras. Caught between the two fleets, it's options were extremely limited. 

Mezrah's sacrilege was next. 

"Primary is Mezrah. Primary is Mezrah." All guns, drones, missiles and lasers re-directed onto the dark blood red heavy assault cruiser. Even with advanced armour alloys, there isn't much one can do with this sort of attention. The wedge shaped HAC was webbed, target painted and pummelled into scrap, bits of the dark blood red armour spinning off into space,  still on fire. 

Los Chupacabras fought back, their lachesis causing Tibbs' hurricane some trouble and before the spikey headed pirate could warp to safety, his ship was dismantled around him though he managed to get his capsule out and most of his crew escaped and docked up in Evati. The space between the ships was now filled with laser fire and ponderous low-velocity howitzer shells. Drones screaming and darting between the battling ships. Dropping below the plane of battle, me and Nashh came up below the enemy ships, attacking the weaker hull and armour of the ships' bellies. My delightful 425mm auto canons rattling away with purpose while Nashh's drones punched forward with their own ordnance. 

Despite our recent loss, the Chupas were faring worse, losing their prophecy, drake and harbinger class ships for only the loss of JManza's (second) hurricane. Due to their recent weapon discharges, the Chupas ships couldn't bleed off enough energy fast enough from their weapons to enable them to immediately jump into high-sec and safety. They had to stop firing to allow their weapons to 'cool down'. 

The troublesome Chupas' lachesis was eventually driven off by the combined attention of lasers and drones, thus giving some breathing space to us. We then continued to flay into Los Chupacabras' remaining ships. Persephone delivered the killing blow on their thorax, the Caldari Navy terror assault missile smashing into the bridge of the Gallente cruiser. Followed closely by the fiery destruction of the Chupas' hurricane, a second drake and third drake before the remaining Chupas ships successfully disengaged and jumped into high sec (into Anher) to withdraw and re-group. A fair few of the Los Chupacabras have a security status of above -5.0 and thus are not classed as criminals so they could travel into high-sec space. The Bastards on the other hand are all criminals and such an avenue of retreat is barred to us. We all cursed as we could not follow to finish off the job, however it was acknowledged that the fight was a good one and the Chupas gave as good as they received with no smack or whines. The best type of fight in other words. 

Holding the field meant that salvage and loot was now with The Bastards and within minutes, the field was clear of any useful debris: drones and wrecks were recovered efficiently and damaged ships moved back into space dock for repair. Everything was usable either as a spare or for sale. The loot collected was a nice haul. 

The night ended with a few more kills - including the ever comical 'Stokar' but that is another report and hopefully, by someone else.