Small fleet action is where most of the fun is a fleet of no more than say a dozen vessels is the ideal number in my view. It allows all fleet members to play a real part in any engagement yet feel safe with the strength in numbers. The Bastards love to solo as well so it is a nice mix of action for us in any week. There are no typical weeks in The Bastards!
I was busy with tedious administrative tasks when my personal communicator flashed. I checked the call and linked into the current fleet chat. It was JManza and he had a fleet going with imminent ship violence looming just ahead. Administrative work can put me in a cranky mode and the night was young. I agreed and found myself out in a small fleet of four battle cruisers. A nice number with Mortol Strike stepping up as fleet commander. Within a minute we were called in and landed among ships from the Chupacabras corporation. They weren't even our nominated target as we were racing in to assist on a tackle in the next system but decision was made to open up on these chaps. The Chupas gang was mainly drake class battle cruisers, while we had hurricanes. They had six (x5 drakes and x1 scorpion) and we had four (three hurricanes and a drake) - good odds for The Bastards.
First down was a Chupas Hurricane; it had the highest DPS and had to go down to give us a chance of holding the field. Since our target was a flashing criminal, the sentry guns remained silent. However, despite the lower dps from the drakes, our own Red Vegas went down, her guns still firing as his ship was cut in half. JManza followed soon after as he ordered his ship to ram an enemy drake just as his reactors blew. Mortol and I remained and concentrated on the Lou Reed, who was in a drake. One of the Chupas had returned (Atmos TA) in a new ship, a hound since they are basing themselves in Evati.
Both Red Vegas and JManza had declared that they were just getting into a new ship and waiting for Scotty to let them undock. I love these fights when both sides can come back in new ships. JManza and Red Vegas were already on scan and returning to the fray. Since Evati is a busy system, there are plenty of ships coming and going and it was with some surprise that Mortol and I were joined by a vagabond pilot, Tybele who decided that the Chupas were more interesting targets than us. He added his firepower to the fight and I wasn't going to stop him!
However, Mortol Strike, was jammed and so was I by the scorpion - being the only two Bastards left on the field. We should have both hit our MWDs and burned towards the scorpion (also getting us out of harm's way) but with us both unable to lock, Mortol was soon destroyed, followed by myself just as Red Vegas and JManza returned to assist us. Most of the Chupas ships then safely withdrew under the cover of the Scorpion's highly effective ECM. All except Giampolo in his drake who was pointed, quite handedly by Tybele our friendly positive security status enabled pilot. This of course, spelled doom for the unfortunate drake. By this time, Red Vegas, JManza and Mortol had come back in new ships and with Captain Blackler also in the frame (having raced the seven odd jumps to reach us) - we cut the drake to pieces.
Despite our heavier losses, we had the field of wreckage to loot and made good on some of our losses, taking the sting out of the defeat. Nothing cheers up a pirate than loot (and ransom money) - so we cleared the field and continued to roam now that the Chupas had withdrawn entirely from the field. With a much strengthened fleet we roamed on but it appeared that the fireworks for the night had already been used up. We caught a hurricane in Hadozeko and an apparently afk helios on a gate.
I then docked up for the night, thankful for the excitement and loot. It was then back to some more administrative work. The Bastards, as much as I want it to, doesn't run by itself but sometimes, I wish it did!
Still finding myself working through recruitment emails and stuff, my personal communicator went off again and it was Mortol Strike this time; a fleet was rolling out - a mixed HAC and BC fleet and since I was around, would I be interested?
Of course, I was! Quickly finishing up my work, I raced to the hangar and grabbed a cyclone. Haven't flown one in an age and it looked tempting to go out and bash someone's head in it. The fit was inspired by Lady Shaniqua, a fearsome proponent of the solo/duo-style of play.
Mortol was the fleet commander this time round and the Red Vegas was ahead, looking for targets. Only two jumps out from Evati, Red Vegas announced that there was something 'fun' in local.
"I see a myrmidon class ship on scan. He looks like he is towards the belt. Going in."
The rest of the fleet was now on the gate, ready to jump in and assist.
"This is Red. Myrmidon is 100 clicks away. Am burning towards him." He said. "Myrm has spotted me and....and is turning towards me. We may have some fun here."
It read bait all over it to be honest but we were confident.
"I have him pointed and spinning up my 425mm on him." We offered words of encouragement to Red Vegas but we were waiting for more.
"Hmmm, his armour tank is holding." Observed Red Vegas, not sounding too concerned but we could imagine him furrowing his eye brows as he overloaded his guns. Then he shouted.
"Local spike! Local spike! All members from the same corp! Here we go..." We all jumped in even before Red had finished his sentence as Mortol had us all primed.
We jumped into warp and raced towards Red's current position just as the myrmidon's friends came the other way. Part of the excitement of such encounters in low-sec is that you have no idea what the other side is bringing in. Certainly, the corporation was new to us.
Landing in a loose cluster around Red Vegas, we saw the enemy myrmidon battling it away with Red Vegas' hurricane. Drones and neutralisers were all over Red's battle cruiser while he battered away with the awesome 425mm auto canons. We all locked the myrmidon just as his friends arrived: two vagabonds initially. Secondary and tertiary targets were called. The vagabonds were fast and slip in between our ships. The enemy myrmidon, held out bravely against our ships just as his remaining friends arrived in seven frigates: two vengeance assault frigates, two crusaders, one wolf and two punisher class frigates along with the two vagabonds. This was going to be interesting.
I threw my neutralisers onto one of the vagabonds in an effort to destroy his capacitor and thus, hopefully slow him down but the nimble cruiser had enough momentum to slip away. However, the frigates and HACs were dangerous and Nashh, spitting fire and fury went down in flames. We took revenge and blew the tackled myrmidon into tiny pieces. Our drones screamed out of their bays and chased some of the slower frigates down but my 220 mm auto canon, tracked and then blew one of the hardy punishers to pieces. Then the second vagabond, who put in the killing blow, was destroyed in a concentrated salvo as it got too close to us. The first of the two vengeance assault craft then went down, JManza's zealot and his holy lasers burning the plucky craft to cinders. I took out the second vengeance with a well timed shot as the craft raced across my kill zone. The last punisher was despatched just as the remaining enemy fleet dis-engaged from the fight. We had no way of catching the last vagabond or the two crusaders and all three withdrew cleanly. To be honest, the fight was never in doubt due to the placement of the frigates - they all came in too close to the our larger battle cruiser class ships where their size and lower signature radius meant nothing.
An excellent confrontation with us holding the field and therefore the pick of the loot. Love it.
Unfortunately, we pushed our luck too much and got walloped by the Minnie miltia on the gate an hour or so later. Don't you hate the feeling when you have a ship tackled on a gate, you're seeing it's armour flaking off, you're just about tanking the sentry guns (another 10 seconds!!) and you see the stargate flash and flash and flash as ship after bloody ship hurtles into the fight?
In hindsight, we should have been more cautious and not initiated hostile action in sight of the sentry guns as soon as we landed but our blood was still up - what can you expect?
I still love it though and went back to Evati whistling a happy tune. Low-sec, who doesn't love it?
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