Thank You, Duvolle Labs

There once must have been a lunatic engineer among the blaster-crazed people of Duvolle Labs who had a vision of an interceptor that would imitate an assault frigate. Until today it is unknown which executive had granted funds for a questionable project like this, but the outcome of it was the Taranis.

Let's recap this vessel:
  • Three slots for guns, whose power output can only be described as crazily irresponsible
  • A reinforced and thus ultra-stiff structure, which is essential to withstand the turrets' brutal recoil
  • Room for up to three weapon upgrade modules
  • Alternatively enough power grid to fit a 200mm plate, accompanied by a repairer and a damage control
  • Three mid-slots to either give it full tackling ability or two different propulsion units
  • Two light scout drones that can somehow be crammed into the tiny hull
Bottom line: flying a Taranis provides ungodly amounts of fun.

After mainly flying the modest workhorse the Incursus is, being strapped into a Taranis is quite the experience. There seems to be a constant pounding on your temples. It stems from the turrets, which are going through "dry" cycles while standing by. Otherwise they would take to long to warm up to their heavily boosted operating temperature once you decided to let it rain. It's not exactly painful, but you sure grow impatient and a tad bit more agressive the longer you have to endure their constant "nagging". And once you let them go, you'll be thrown into a frenzy for the first couple of times. It gets better with time, but there will always remain that familiar "SHOOT IT 'TIL ITS DEAD"-feeling, giving reason a hard time suggesting to maybe disengage if things shouldn't go so well.
Your senses and concentration are heightened as well by a mild tingling that keeps crawling over your cerebral cortex. It helps a great deal when buzzing around at ludicrous speed and initiating maneuvers the ship can perform with pin-point precision.

It has been roughly a month since I purchased my first Taranis ("Skyhook") and had plenty opportunities to put it to good use (victims' milage may vary).
By now I roughly have earned a bit more ISK than the ship cost me, mainly because I still remain to pick fights which promise to involve hardly any risk. Among the usual rookie frigates, destroyers and cruisers there however happened to be some more interesting engagements. They too weren't close calls, but they show how much of a destructive force this interceptor can be.

On the very first small gang action Skyhook saw, it tore an Arbitrator apart. You'll notice that there isn't much of a gang that participated in this ship's destruction. Fellow Tusker Oshi Daro could only witness how it melted under heavy fire. I simply didn't expect my guns tearing it apart this quickly (and that its tank would be that weak). Didn't even have to worry about the drones which didn't make it to my buffed hull.

The other shipkill I'd like to mention was another interceptor. The Crow's pilot was so kind to warp right into my lap when I was going for a much younger capsuleer's Vexor, who was just as kind not to move an inch. Good thing I was patient and closely observed the Crow on scan, wouldn't want to be kited by one of these fast buggers.

When I have gathered a bit more of an ISK buffer I might look for some real challenges, but right now I'm still satisfied with going for the easy kills. I'll also have to look closer into some advanced combat maneuvers to break orbits of faster ships with a greater range etc.

What I'm also definitely going to do is to get my newly purchased Ares (the other Gallente interceptor, which is much more aware of being one than its sister) into some fleets to tackle whatever my FC wants to have kept in place. Gotta love going as fast as 5 kilometres per second after all.


Collecting Taxes

There might be one thing I sometimes enjoy more than the hunt itself: ransoming pilots for their pod or even their whole ship. Unfortunately, this opportunity doesn't arise very often on lone roams. Demanding ransoms for ships is particularly difficult when you sit in small vessels. Frigate vs. frigate is always a matter of seconds where no chances are taken. Cruisers that can be dealt with so easily to allow the time and comfort for a conversation with the pilot aren't worth any ransoming to begin with. Decently fitted cruisers still have time on their side if you manage to get under their guns and destroy their drones - alone you cannot put enough pressure on them to make them pay up quickly.

Even ransoming capsules is rarely an option when your onboard scanner is displaying lots of potential malefactors. So most of the time you can only safely afford a quick strike. A pilot in a quiet system, who isn't capable of warping his pod out, but still has valuable implants in his head is a rare find. And only if he isn't angry enough already to deny you yet another triumph over him, you will be able to squeeze out some ISK of him.

All these factors are the reason that I so far could score a mere 5 million ISK in ransom money, from a single salvager's pod.
But all this changes when you fleet up with only a few savvy businessmen the Tuskers harbour aplenty.

What else is needed are a skilled prober, some courtesy and a system that are the destination of lucrative missions. What maximizes this combination's profit tenfold is a simple and customer-friendly service: The Mission Tax. For a nominal fee, clients may not only keep their ships, but are also granted to finish their missions. The thing is that mission runners will much more willingly hand over their ISK when they don't have to choose between leaving - not getting any speed bonus for their mission - or exploding. In case of poor coorperation on their part they would still go boom of course (accidents happen), but they will much more likely settle with Pay to Stay.

The fact of the matter is that they lose less, maybe even still gain something. A deal where everybody wins is the key to healthy customer relations.


The Way of the Hunt

There are many ways to make a living as a pod jockey. Most of these professions are highly profitable, but where they offer haulerloads of ISK, they lack a fair deal of enjoyment, if not any at all.
I myself have chosen piracy to remain self-sufficient. There are people who claim that piracy alone can't keep your bank account above zero. Those people seem to overlook that there are different kinds of pirates.

Some pirates are really more like warriors, who crave combat and pretty explosions. They do not have to care about an engagement's outcome much, as they raise their funds not through piracy alone, thus being able to happily take on every promising fight they can get. They might score some nice loot every now and then, but I assume they would quickly end up broke without ISK flowing in from their other ventures.

I however do not have the mindset required for running errands for agents, shooting rats, playing the markets or scamming foolish folk. I certainly don't have the apparently supernatural tolerance against concentrated boredom that distinguishes miners from ordinary mortals. This means that I do not earn my money, I fight for it.
But fights are a messy business, as at least one participant tends to explode after each one. So in order to not end up as said explodee, I have to be very picky, paranoid and overcautious whenever I scan down a ship sitting in an asteroid field. The trick basically is to remain the hunter, ideally not becoming the prey while doing so.

The hunt is what keeps me going - roaming systems close to highsec and scanning down potential customers I could demand ransoms from or take their ships' hopefully expensive modules. Only when I have gathered enough intel on a ship that is sitting at a belt, I decide whether to approach or better move on. I am as satisfied after raking in loot or ransom money as after getting nothing but a still intact ship back home.

Hours of fruitless scanning and passing on combat opportunities don't feel like missing out to me. At the end of the day my funds are telling me that I calculated risks and followed the right tracks the way a skillful hunter would.