Battlecoms II - Let's Do This

Last time on Battlecoms my Stabber set course to Vitrauze, one of the quieter low security system in Essence region. Spotted on a frigate roam, a lone Myrmidon posed the ideal test for the speedy Matari cruiser - provided it would be as harmless as I was assuming.

Jennings: Approaching Vitrauze gate, captain.
Jaxley: Roger, jump on contact. Zerrah, make sure the gunners are on battle stations.
Zerrah:Roger. Lockslay, come in.
*Sounds of a stack of autocannon shells being knocked over*
Lockslay: Aaaw F**K! Watch it, will ya?! Goddamn bloody... Right, what's happenin', Zerrah?
Zerrah: Prepare your boys to mess up a ship other than ours for a change. Load cannons with Barrage, no heat, stand by for target calls.
Lockslay:    Aye. You heard the lady, get crackin'!
Jennings: Approaching stargate, captain. Jumping in ten.
Jaxley: Acknowledged - transfer all sub-warp navigation systems to pod after the jump.
Jennings: Aye aye, jumping.
Zerrah: Target's still in system. Three more on local coms, no affiliation, threat level low.
Jaxley: Warp to bookmark at XI cluster. Scan range at maximum, 360°.
Jennings: Course set. Dropping cloak and aligning - warp drive active.
Zerrah: Cluster in scan range in three, two, one - Myrmidon on scan, narrowing it down.
Jennings: Warp bubble collapse in three seconds.
Zerrah: Got him at IX belt 2 on 5°. Nothing new on 360.
Jaxley: Warp to IX belt 2 at 10. Cycle and overheat warp disruptor. Lock target asap.
Jennings: Warp drive active.
Zerrah: Ready to point, standing by.
Lockslay: YAARRRRRRR!!
Jaxley: Thank you, Lockslay.
Jennings: Five seconds til warp bubble collapse.
Zerrah: Target on overview, landing... 25 off, locking. Point.
Jaxley: Stop heating point, establishing orbit at 17. Pulsing micro warp in intervals of 13.
Zerrah: Myrm's guns keep missing, Hammerheads are locking us.
Jaxley: Locking drones, deploy Hobgoblin. Let's take 'em out one by one.
Jennings: Shields are taking some hits, down in about 40 seconds at current damage.
Zerrah: Local spike plus four! No corp affiliation!
Jaxley: Maintaining orbit. Zerrah, keep an eye on the scanner. Jennings, determine quickest celestial out at any moment. Lockslay, keep shooting those drones. And keep those fingers crossed, everyone.
Zerrah: Cane, Astarte, Scorpion on scan - looks like they're heading this way!
Jaxley: Blast - wonder where the fourth guy...
Zerrah: Arazu decloaking 20 off!
Jaxley: Jennings, celestial, now!
Jennings: XII! Planet XII!
Jaxley: Right behind the Razu of course! Dammit! Performing evasive maneuver!
Zerrah: Recon's got a lock, enemy fleet landing!
Jennings: Warp and micro warp are out! Increasing incoming damage!
Jaxley: Oh, well played, real bloody well played... (sigh) ... All decks, captain speaking. We're yet again left with nothing but speechless awe for our commendable foes' sheer otherworldly piloting and exemplary courage in battle. Abandon ship, Jaxley out.

And thus our Stabber was no more, finding defeat at the hands of said fleet, ever so slightly outnumbered. It was an anticlimactic tale, but there's New Eden for you. Any fleet with recon support was pretty much the worst of all possible scenarios - can't run if your micro warp drive is being disabled from half across the galaxy.

I've been out with a second Stabber and have stocked up to two Thoraxes, but so far these investments don't seem too viable; the usual ratting cruiser or even battle-cruiser is rare and can easily be taken out with assault frigates as well. Capable lone cruiser pilots who would require a cruiser of your own are even rarer.
Gate camps on the other hand can show up any time and don't have much trouble catching cruisers.
At the same time, Stabber and Thorax aren't really fleet boats, either dishing out too little damage or taking too long to bring the hurt.

It's a real shame, because fighting in a cruiser is damn near as much fun as fighting in an interceptor.


Battlecoms I - Off to Bruise Some Cattle

After action reports often revolve around some more or less elaborate tale of who killed whom and what the explodee did horribly/comically/daringly wrong to deserve his or her fate. While potentially entertaining, this format is not rarely missing out on all kinds of things going on behind the scenes.

I happen to preserve most of my com logs; voice recordings of me giving orders to my crew and them reluctantly obeying and all that good stuff. Is it good stuff, though? Only one way to find out...
The following is the unedited transcript of one of these com logs, which also marks the first installment of a series: Battlecoms.

Jaxley: Zerrah, this is Jax, come in.
Zerrah: Reading ya, captain. Back already?
Jaxley: Just for swapping ships. Make the Stabber ready, I'm in warp to Hev V.
Zerrah: Roger. What's the occassion?
Jaxley: We're going to bruise some cattle.
Zerrah: Bruise... cattle?
Jaxley: You know, battlecruiser...
Zerrah: I see. Very clever, captain.
Jaxley: I tend to think so, yes. Anyway, There's a Myrmidon ratting in Vitrauze all on its own.
Zerrah: "All on its own", huh? Right.
Jaxley: Gotta be. I've checked up on the pilot; only killed one ship ever and by the looks of it by accident. Approaching docking bay.
Zerrah: I believe it when I see it pop. Stabber's up and running. Who else will be in fleet?
Jaxley: We're gonna be on our own.
Zerrah: *sigh* ... Figured as much.
Jaxley: We'll just speed out if things get too hot. Pod transfer completed.
Zerrah: Hook him up, Jennings.
Jaxley: Who's Jennings?
Zerrah: New chief engineer. Barkley quit, said he couldn't handle your hull tanking ways any longer.
Jaxley: We've been flying a Thorax, what did he expect? Oh well. Welcome aboard, Jennings. We good to go?
Jennings:    Aye captain! Uplink established! All systems operating at... !
Jaxley: Take it easy, mate. This ain't a Federation boat. Ooh, says here you've been running from a court-martial. You loosen up a bit and before long you should feel right at home.
Jennings: Sorry captain, old habits. Thank you. All system ready and standing by.
Jaxley: Excellent. Initiating undock. Keep that micro warp drive heated up and the DCU running. Next stop Vitrauze.
Zerrah: Setting course to Jovainnon gate - warp drive active.

And off we went. Tune in next sometime soon for the conclusion. Or be a total cheat and look it up on our killboard. Either way, until then.


The Tuskers Are Recruiting

Should you fancy the idea of being part of a fairly notorious pirate organization, The Tuskers' most recent recruitment cycle may provide you with a nice opportunity.

You can find out what it takes to become a Tusker and what The Tuskers can offer you in the official recruitment thread. As so eloquently pointed out by one of the first contributors of this thread, a not too insignificant number of us likes to write and likes the idea of people reading our ramblings.
Much more importantly, we like to read ourselves - so potential Tuskers are highly encouraged to put some decent effort into their applications.

There is one point I'd personally like to emphasize:

We are not for everybody. This doesn't mean to put us on a pedestal, it just acknowledges the fact that there are different people. The issue is not which corporation is the best, but which one's the best match for you. Before you apply, please be certain that The Tuskers are indeed the best match for you.

That's basically what's most important to me when reading an application. Bear in mind that I'm not a director, so either way I won't get to decide who gets to fly under our banner or who doesn't. Still, the good folks that handle recruitment are going to make sure to thoroughly check applicants for compatibility as well.

In case you've indeed become interested in joining The Tuskers: I wish you good luck!


Scheduled Carnage

Lowsec has been awfully quiet for several agonizing weeks now. Recent roams have not been hugely successful, which caused the newest addition to my fleet - a Stabber - to return empty handed from its maiden voyage.

It came close, but another Stabber must have gotten cold feet and decided not to play; much to my dismay, as the pilot managed to violently disassemble my Vengeance a few days ago.
Let's just say he appears to be braver when he is being supported by a Kitsune.

Be that as it may, fellow Tusker and cunning wormhole entrepreneur Suleiman Shouaa took the matter of barely anything to shoot at in his own hands and announced his Assault Frigate Tournament.

In a nutshell, for a mere 10 million ISK you can bring an Assault Frigate of your choice to Hevrice on September 18th and join the scandalous scallywags that are bound to gather and gank each other.

Now I'm no fan of pre-arranged duels - first I enjoy staging fights by myself, second I'm not fond of traps - but I'll make sure to put together some sort of devious setup. Turns out to be a really tough choice, since I can fly all Assault Ships but Caldari. And some of them become so much more attractive once you're not forced to fit a warp disruption module.

Nevertheless I have a strong tendency to... well, wouldn't you want to know? Save to say I sure won't be the only one thinking of this particular mischief, but it should become all the more interesting then.

Hope to see you around, it's gonna be fun.


My, It's Been A While

A number of- well, numbers have made me realize something, which at first had left me rather stumped: I'm old.

Okay, maybe not exactly old, but I can't really call myself an upstart novice pirate anymore; I feel established of some sort, well-known and somewhat notorious among the residents of at least Essence. Feels nice (or at least imagining it does).

Also kills that once could have been referred to as remarkable achievements of a talented combat pilot now have an entirely different flavour to them. And more often than not, they have come to taste a bit stale. They have become "same old".

In hindsight, this seems to be the prime reason that I have been flying more recklessly recently, attacking for the sake of fighting more than for the sake of gaining something out of it.
So reckless in fact, that it endangered a goal I had set for myself: accumulating 500 kills before exceeding 50 losses.

The little incident with Caster Rom you can read about in the previous post had made my losses "skyrocket" from 47 to 49 - at that time my kills stood at 475.

I'm not usually obsessed with my numbers, but I became determined to go for that 25 to 1 run in order to gather 500 kills at a ratio of 10 to 1. Numbers that pretty couldn't merely be disregarded.

The prime issue in this endeavor had been picking targets and survivability. I could easily force myself to minimize risk, but as far as survivability goes, it mainly came down to selecting the right ship for the job. First I considered my Imperial Navy Slicer, but in the end I didn't feel comfortable enough with approaching some tricky targets while staying out of scrambler range. Regardless, I was sure that I might either engage against unfavourable odds more likely or that my lack of experience with the Slicer would lead me to miscalculations.

However, there was one ship in my hangar that refused to explode despite my worst efforts: my Jaguar. Of all things a ship a lot of people aren't very fond of (to freely quote Kishin Hattori: "When I undock in a Jaguar I instantly go 'Waaah kaboom [more exploding sounds]!!'").

No mystical necromantic powers or other wildly exotic fittings, just a plain full-tackle shield-tanked run of the mill cookie cutter Jaguar. But it works for me - the tank is huge compared to what I'm used to, the speed is decent enough, the damage sufficient against a good range of targets and it can hold down anything it manages to scramble (safe for Dramiels maybe, but I always ignore them anyway).

And well, there is no great tale to the 25+ kills I managed to score before being blown up for the 50th time. Not many of them were against worthy foes, mostly easy pickings. But my personal objective wasn't 25 epic killmails, was it?

There is another number that seemed to hit me out of nowhere: I've been a Tusker for almost 10 months now, not much less than a whole year.

Suddenly I realized that I was no longer one of the new guys among all the other applicants pouring in - in fact, I was even being referred to as a "veteran" by one of them recently. Woah, veteran? Me?

Well, it's not really like I felt the need to correct him...


Tuskers Gonna Tusk

Once a Tusker - always a Tusker. At least that's what several (curiously some of them former) corpmates confirmed in their interviews with NEUN correspondent Sketur Treveiwern (collected in Romeo Blakstorms logs Life Among the Pirates Cutthroats Pirates again).

Back when it was my turn, I couldn't provide a definite answer myself. But recent events lead me to believe that it can't be far from the truth.

I was out hunting in my Vengeance. I had been wildly impressed with its capabilities, as it is always the case with vessels Suleiman Shouaa recommends; on its very first roam, it devastated a Wolf/Rifter combo. What a joy it was to actually see my armour crawl back up to 100 percent when only the Rifter remained.

To see it mauled by a swarm of angry drones a couple of days later was however rather unpleasant - PreZiDenT1 had mischievously called his Myrmidon after a very young pilot in system and only had to wait for me at an asteroid belt.

Well played, and he was lucky too: both my rather expensive afterburner and armour repair unit survived the explosion. So I figured I'd like them back, though having no other option but to pay for them.

After I politely asked PreZiDenT1 for said trade, he invited me to dock at Hulmate's only station. Dock up I did and promptly was greeted by an incoming transmission of two items. I was a bit confused why PreZ confirmed it without any discussion for a price so far.

Being the nice person I am, rather than hitting ACCEPT!!1 as fast as I could have, I asked if this was intended. PreZ assured me of that and I thankfully received the modules back.

To clear my confusion, he advised me to check his employment history - indeed, he had been a Tusker for quite some time.

Another time and more recently I undocked in a Taranis. Mere moments later, I arrived at Jovainnon gate in Hevrice and got targeted by another Taranis; I decided to fight back. Long story short, I failed miserably. A prime example of what happens if you hesitate a second too long in an interceptor fight. More importantly - even more embarassingly - I didn't deploy my drones.

The pilot I was going against was Caster Rom, also a former Tusker who likes to visit us in Hevrice now and then. As I undocked in a Rifter to maybe turn this day around, he was sitting near the docking bay. I decided it was time to kite yet another web-less Taranis. Except that it wasn't yet another web-less Taranis, but an ex-Tusker's Taranis.

I might have should have won this time, but instead I got plenty of reason to kick myself: no Barrage loaded, no overheated afterburner. Pop. The first Rifter I have ever lost to a Taranis. A dual-prop Taranis. Yes, the ones with no web I normally laugh about.

Here is what normally goes on in local when someone gets to pop a usually at least half-way competent pilot of a pirate corp two times within five minutes: ... you know what? I'm sure you get the idea.

If the pilot has flown under the Tusker banner in his past however, chances are you will get none of that rubbish. And if he doesn't care for the autocannons and ammunition he got to loot, he might even give those back to you.

I'm sure there are other pilots out there without any relation to The Tuskers, who would be just as good sports as PreZ and Caster after wiping the floor with you. But it's great to see that one seems almost certain:
Once a Tusker - always a Tusker.

And another thing: you better bring your A-game when you go up against one.

At least if he happens to remember his bloody A-game that is...


Where's Your Karma Now?

I don't believe in karma. I don't consider myself as much of an evil person, but there have been plenty of helpless victims I have liberated from their ships and pods. I am however still having great luck against real opponents (in case I don't die horribly because of stupid mistakes). Therefore, if I believed in karma, I'd have to cower in my quarters all day long, fearing the massive blow it has got to deliver anytime now.

But that would be a bit boring, wouldn't it? Which is why I rather decide to do things like going on a dual Slicer roam with Tusker comrade Kishin Hattori for example. Good choice, let me tell you...

Off we went, heading for Placid in our speedy little laser boats. The first few jumps offered nothing too particularly interesting. There had been a Caracal on a mission, but given the pilot's little experience, we didn't bother to bring a prober.

Entering Placid, targets kept making themselves rare or displayed obvious traps. Eventually, Kishin and I split up to cover more systems and hide our small, but very deadly force. It wouldn't be long until we perished any doubt about that.

While Kishin was scouting Intaki, I had a closer look into Vey. Just as I was about to move on to the next system on route, Kishin reported a Jaguar in a belt. Not wasting any time, his Slicer hurled itself into warp, going for the tackle. By the time I arrived in Intaki myself however, the target had left.

There was no time for being disappointed, as things started to liven up a bit; almost simultaniously, we scanned down a Crusader in a nearby complex. The bugger was even faster than our Slicers, though, and managed to escape.

Just then the Jaguar made a questionable move by appearing in another belt within our scan range. Finally we had something to shoot at, because this time we had it neatly pointed in time.

The ensueing fight mainly consisted of watching the Thukker Mix assault frigate squirming around without much hope to escape or even return some of the hurt. The hurt we generously donated barely made it through the Jaguar's heavy EM-resistant shields. We- no, actually I had to worry and keep a look out for potentially hostile reinforcements; knowing Kishin, he must have been hoping for some.

And just as the Jaguar went down at last, a Vexor appeared on the scene.

Since I wasn't aware of Kishin's joyful anticipation for more actually dangerous things to shoot at, I warped out after the loot had been scooped up. Kishin put a tackle on the drone boat instead (eek). Luckily, its Hobgoblins didn't cause too much damage to Kishin before I was able to rejoin him. After neutralizing the drones, we merrily began to fire at the now helpless Vexor.

As we were gnawing at yet another target with a large buffer tank and strong resistances against our lasers, a Myrmidon decided to check out what all the fuzz was about. The pilot was not an ally of the Vexor, but he chose to help the poor slob. Oh dear.

But first, the Myrmidon had to bridge a gap of roughly 100km.

We started overheating our weapons and now were throwing everything we had at the Vexor, with the Myrmidon crawling closer every second. Our laser guns were nibbling at our target's armour much too slowly for our liking. But despite our brief discordance before, Kishin and I were on the same page again: we would either take this thing down or die trying.

Eventually the Vexor entered structure - but we were far from over the hill, as Gallente ships tend to have sturdy hulls; no exception on this one.

Due to our fast orbit speed, it was hard to judge the true distance of the incoming Myrmidon. But rest assured, it was getting way too close. As I was swooping around with the Vexor reaching 50 percent hull, my trajectory lead me right into the Myrmidon's fangs: a fleet of Warrior II drones. It was here.

All my efforts immediately went into getting the hell out. I had to have my armour repair unit running beyond its capacity to buy me at least a few seconds to escape the warp disruptor range of the battlecruiser.

While I was straining my capacitor with an overheated repair unit and a micro warp drive, Aura calmly informed me of my capacitor being empty. "Shit - this is it", I thought. In a situation like this, the protocol includes measurements preventing the capsule from being harmed upon ejection: keep hammering on whatever is left of the warp drive console.

And neatly following protocol, my capsule leapt into warp shortly after. What was entirely not according to protocol, was that my Slicer was still firmly attached to it.

After most of the resulting wave of sweet euphoria had washed over me, I finally bothered to ask if the Vexor actually popped. Kishin happily confirmed that. And then - while I was reconstructing my armour almost from the bottom - he had the nerve to tell me, that he would have liked to take on the Myrmidon, too.

It have now been a few days since this engagement. One of my most exhilarating fights, my luckiest escape by far. Whatever force majeure there may be still refrains from throwing me in front of interdictor gangs at every gate I pass.

Quite the contrary - but more on that soon.


Good Times

You may know one of these moments: It has been days since your last good fight or any sort of ransom or proper loot. You are on yet another roam where you find nothing but the occassional rookie ratter, if anything at all. You decide to check this last system before turning your ship around and return home, having better to do with your time.

And before you know it, you stumble into a series of events that can only be described as utterly ludicrous.

Allow me to demonstrate:

We have already established that absolutely nothing is going on as I am sniffing around in Essence lowsec. I let my Rifter warp to the Lisbaetanne stargate as a last attempt to maybe find something worthwhile to shoot at. I hope to find maybe another lone pirate or at least some rookie, who is not only visiting to buy some skillbooks.

The system indeed seems quite full of hostiles; however each seperate group sports bigger numbers than mine (which add up to roughly one frigate). Accordingly, Lisbaetanne's center cluster is mildly crowded with some otherwise tasty targets, who however most likely have support waiting somewhere else in space or in station. My Rifter's new name "Baiters Gonna Bait" reminds me that Lisbaetanne might not be a good place to stay at all that long.

I decide to head for two distant asteroid belts near another highsec gate. Maybe I'll jump in on some young pilot or find me some Shadow Serpentis ship to shoot at. I encounter neither at the first belt, no ships on scan.

With the other belt left to check before calling it a day I warp there. Just as I enter warp, the scanner reveals an Imperial Navy Slicer. Another scan confirms that it tried to catch me in the belt I just left. A plan emerges.

Immediately after landing in the second belt of Lisbaetanne IX, I turn around and move about 20km towards belt 1. Not surprisingly, the Slicer appears on my overview. More importantly, it lands right within my stasis webifier's range. Exactly as planned.

The Slicer is therefore pointed and webbed. With overheated afterburner I charge my opponent, taking some heavy hits from his fierce laser guns. Eventually I bridge the gap and can return the hurt. The lasers lose a lot of their punch now that they have some trouble to keep up with my Rifter. My repair unit is able to patch up some of the still remarkable incoming damage and my autocannons are doing their work nicely without much hindrance.

The formidable Amarr Navy frigate soon bursts into pieces. Despite having the ever so enjoyable shakes that come with great fights, I manage to point the pod and quickly scoop up the loot.

Just as I state my demands, an Arazu arrives at the scene. I don't take any chances and get out post haste instead of trying to squish the pod first.

Whew! Now safe and sound, I can get a closer look at my latest kill. Almost 50 million ISK of damage - not bad at all compared to the price of my Rifter, which is worth about as much as the looted afterburner alone.

Since Slicer pilot Angelous51 was an outlaw as well, I don't have to wait out any global criminal flag and directly head for home base. Wouldn't want to put the newly acquired goods at risk, would we?

Well, we sort of would: in the five minutes it had taken me to calm down again before setting course to Hevrice, Angelous initiated a little revenge op. As I jump into Aeschee, I am greeted by an Ares and a Dramiel. Uh-oh.

This provides me with exactly one option: Hurry back into Lisbaetanne and pray that there isn't anything waiting for me as well now. I select the gate and hit approach. My overheated afterburner roars into life. Angelous's Ares as well as the Dramiel quickly tackle me, but their damage is far too weak to destroy me before I reach the gate.

Whew again! I appear to be trapped in Lisbaetanne for now - if it weren't for a convenient escape route to Hulmate through highsec. Knowing that the Rough Necks have pilots that are not outlaws, I request help from one of The Tuskers' super secret scouts, whose identity shall remain super secret.

A while later - and after what felt like ages of stressful scanning for probes - Aere is confirmed safe for travel. Off I go, flip off the faction police while I'm at it and arrive safely in Hulmate, where I drop off the loot.

It is almost getting old considering how often I am able to say this, but here we go again: it didn't end there.

Super secret scout and prime prober *bleep* reports a Myrmidon missioning in Lisbaetanne. It appears to be piloted by a rather inexperienced fellow, who seems to be forced to leave the scene multiple times in order to repair his ship.

Back through Aere I go, flipping off the faction police once again for good measure and arrive just in time for prime prober *bleep* to have a warp-in ready.

All I have to do now is wait at the mission site's jumpgate for the Myrmidon to return again. It soon does and the young pilot is promptly stopped in his tracks. I shoot him and his medium drones a bit to make a point of him being doomed. Time to negotiate the mission tax.

As Vexonja joins the corp's ransom channel, he seems willing to bail out his ship. I'm getting a bit nervous because of some new probes on scan that are not belonging to prober *bleep*. I shoot the Myrmidon a bit more to calm me down. Finally Vexonja pays the 30 million ISK as suggested and is released from my grasp.

Despite this, he doesn't get a chance to warp out the Myrmidon. Guided by the hostile probes just mentioned, the aforementioned Arazu jumps in again. Once more I am able to escape, but Vexonja's Myrmidon is blown up. Talk about a bad day. Well, for him anyway, mine is going along rather nicely at this point.

Prober *bleep* gets his fair share from the ransom money - after having a little accident with the Rough Neck fleet, too. One of them warped in on a path that went right through the position of his covert-ops frigate.

Yup, that's just about as ludicrous as it gets on days like these.


I Seee Youu

An important tool of the trade of more or less every pirate - just as important as the ship itself, some guns and a jolly roger - is the directional scanner. It is the hunter's track hound, health insurance and lifeguard.

Using the directional scanner effectively requires quite a bit of practice and expertise. When scouting out a system or narrowing down a promising hit, it can be a real hassle to fiddle with direction, range and angles, all the while trying to stay in "rhythm" with that nuisance known as "recalibration".

Everyone can scan with the range and angle cranked up, easily checking their surroundings for certain malefactors. Luckily for said malefactors, lots of people lack a bit of consistency in that regard. And if they also didn't bother to change their ships' name - revealing their identity and how harmless they indeed are - they can expect to be devoured by those malefactors very soon. Which they don't; otherwise they wouldn't have made themselves comfortable in shark waters in the first place.

If there is a pattern in a target's movement, it will be identified and exploited with the help of the scanner. Sometimes  it might be more fruitful to first observe a target and how it moves between the belts instead of jumping straight into the belt, possibly landing far off the target. Maybe trail it a bit longer and check at which distance the pilot warps into the belts. There have been kills I just had to wait for in a certain celestial and at a certain range.

I remember one pilot who managed to evade my efforts two times, because my anticipation was faulty at first. But each time he followed the same path: I land, he warps to a station and docks up. After a while he reappears and heads to a cluster out of scanner range. Then he comes back to the belt where I made him leave some unlooted wrecks. So the third time he docks up, I just stay right where I am. He undocks, disappears on scan shortly after, only to head straight for the wrecks. Lock, point, nom.

Of course situations like these only occur with pilots who don't use the scanner and are apparently unaware of the information local coms provide. If however a pilot does use scanner and local coms, being actually somewhat prepared (gasp!) for a little trip into lowsec, it can get rather tricky. You may have to utilize the scanner to its full potential to finally catch those targets. Other factors naturally are instincts, experience, mindgames and a tad bit of luck. Though you won't get to worry about those if your scanning cannot keep up.

When confronted with seasoned pirates, there is very little hope of ever catching them if they don't want to fight you. There are possibilities besides probes and traps, however, portrayed nicely in this little anecdote:

Lisbaetanne is a system frequented by the HellFleet, who established themselves as neighbours of The Tuskers again after a span of absence from Essence. HellFleet's second in command Eviwyn also happens to regularly make kind of a mess in there. Previous engagements between us didn't go so well from her point of view, which is why she's usually a bit reluctant to fight me.

I therefore had to take a different approach in order to have a shot at her Jaguar for once. I knew of one of her safespots that was rather close to a belt, but still way off for the overview to pick up on her. A bit of scanning at different ranges soon revealed that she was about 378,200km away from the belt's center. Subsequently narrowing down the angle to 5° determined her whereabouts to be between the belt I was in and another one.

So I roughly knew where I'd have to land to have a slight chance at getting a hold of Eviwyn's ship. I guess you can tell by this whole endeavour that I was extremely bored, but covering 378,200km at sub warp speed would have been a rather excruciating experience. Instead I buzzed around between the belt and the other cluster's planet while dropping a load of bookmarks.

Eventually I had a bookmark at almost the perfect distance from the belt and I could freely chose within 100km where to land from it. Only one problem remained - Eviwyn's ship appeared to be moving, ready to instantly cheese it should I actually manage to get close enough. My only hope was to catch her napping.

Again with help of the scanner's range adjustment I monitored her position, waiting for the appropriate moment to enter warp. 378,180km away  (hm, did I do the math right by the way?) ... 378,170km (eh, probably not, whatever) ... 378,160km; there, warp to bookmark at 50km!

To my actual surprise, a red flashy Jaguar did indeed appear on my overview. My calculations weren't quite perfect however, as I landed 20km off. But in the end it didn't matter, as Eviwyn naturally was on her toes and warped off before I was able to lock her.

Even without the fight this incidence is a prime example of what the scanner is capable of. Not only in terms of me tracking down a ship in open space, but also in terms of the target knowing of hostile presence and being prepared for any turn of events.

To sum it up, there is no excuse not to use at least the basic functions of the directional scanner. As far as pinpointing evasive ships goes, there is no way around constant practice. The occassional customer actually asks me how I was able to keep track of them the whole time - yes, some people don't even know the scanner exists. Blessed art they.



Combat in New Eden is a ruthless and unforgiving matter. Two forces of equal capability clashing together narrows the room for error down to a hair's breadth. This is especially true for fast-paced dogfights; two small and nimble ships going head to head. Lose track of your opponent for a split second and you will lose the fight. The briefest moment of uncertainty will be followed by almost certain defeat. Let your instincts take over and act or be forced to react. However, at this point you may as well select a celestial for warping out your pod very soon.

The whole engagement might not even last longer than a minute, but it can be the most exhausting minute a capsuleer has ever experienced. And the most exhilarating, too.

One particular brand of pilots crave exactly these kind of duels. And one particular brand of ships excels in this role above all; a special breed of speedy toe-on-toe glass-cannons that few (if any) pilots in their right mind would field into a brawl, being separated by merely a few kilometres from their foe. Überceptors.

The line between interceptors and Überceptors is rather blurry. The whole field isn't even strictly confined within the ship category labeled "interceptor". But due to their hefty price tags, most faction frigates prefer to stay beyond the "event horizon" (i.e. the range of stasis webifiers) anyway. The Rifter might even appear to come close to the ranks of Überceptors, but I see this as a misconception, which is caused by poor piloting on the receiving end.

Those interceptors that have what it takes to become an Überceptor - thusly suited for fighting within the range of stasis webifiers - are the Crusader, the Claw and the Taranis. In that order, their flavours range from "slight mental instability" to "utter lunacy".

Crusaders and Claws can choose between getting right into their opponent's face or keeping at least a bit of distance. The Crusader even has an actual chance to effectively fight back once the gap has been closed or opened against its pilot's will (which he or she better anticipated in time). The Claw has to choose and stick to the plan with all its might - doing absolutely no damage for ten seconds while swapping ammo? Again, time to pick a celestial. More often than not, both the Crusader and Claw furthermore have somewhat of an armour tank.

Überception in its what I believe purest form comes in form of the Taranis. The Taranis takes this already intense gig to its absolute extreme: get close, get there fast and let them have it. And hope your hull holds together while you're trying to cling to a target on GTFO-mode.

There are fittings that bring the Taranis closer to a more flexible package, more similar to Crusaders and Claws. But they are missing out on the joy of sheer gank and delightfully archaic hull tanking; an exceptionally raw and savage way to fight another ship. By the time your opponent wonders why his damage has seemingly come to a halt after evaporating your shields and armour, you are three volleys away from popping him.

If your Überceptor looks close to the picture below, you have reached the pinnacle of dogfighting in New Eden (with regards to Ebrey):

As frantic as fighting in an Überceptor appears, you will eventually get more used to it. The pace will always be fast, room for error will always be tiny. But at some point, you won't have as much of an urge to panic when entering structure. At first, winning a Taranis vs. Taranis fight with half of your hull destroyed will feel like a close call - yet in fact, you almost dominated that guy.

Whatever you do: please don't die to a Rifter. Feel free to kill as many as possible though (with regards to Tsubutai).


The Tale of Belgardion

It was a slow evening in Essence once again. Aeschee, Adirain, Lisbaetanne, Ladistier, Onne, Hulmate, Vitrauze - no sign of anything worth my while (not that I set the bar really high to begin with). At one point I scanned down an Enyo at a planet, but it must have cloaked when I landed roughly 80km away from it. Weird.

But that was by far not the weirdest incident on this otherwise uneventful roam.

Later - I was actually on my way back to Hevrice to call it a night - my scanner spotted a Thorax in Aeschee. It had not been renamed, so the pilot's identity was immediately apparent. Two months ago he got his capsuleer license. Showtime.

I managed to get a point on him and the ensuing fight hardly was a fight. He went down quickly without any resistance. Being the savvy businessman I most certainly am, I quickly locked and pointed his pod, asking for the usual rookie-fee of 5 million ISK. He decided not to pass on this exclusive offer and paid without any fuss.

A model customer indeed, who greatly contributed to the whole procedure going along smoothly from beginning to end.

But I promised this to get weird, didn't I?

Well, I had not looted the wreck yet, so I went to rummage through the cruiser's remains. I was pleased to collect a pair of meta 4 medium railguns and some other named modules. "That's nice," I thought as I was warping to a safe spot, "now let's see how much this stuff is actually wor- SWEET MERCIFUL MOTHER OF BOOTY!"

I was checking on a hardly spectacular power diagnostic system - regional markets however sold it for fifty million ISK. It was no faction equipment, nothing you would find in any complex; the thing was you couldn't find it anywhere anymore, markets being the exception. Archaic, outdated technology, not being produced anymore, but still worth a small fortune to collectors.

So this is how I swooped roughly 70m from Belgardion in one go.

I knew now his clone must have been worth a lot more than 5 million ISK, but I couldn't care less. It just could not have possibly gotten any better, really.

Except that it did, right the next evening.

I found Hevrice to be unattended when I headed out. Some young pilots seemed eager to seize this opportunity. Can't have that, naturally. While waiting out my global criminal countdown, a Merlin decided to play. But neither can we have that - piracy is serious business after all.

Now this of course isn't better than getting 70 million ISK out of one engagement. But three kills within 20 minutes is quite a good omen for things to come.

I wouldn't be disappointed: Belgardion was in Aeschee. It was time to look for that ratting boat of his.
There was no such thing to be found. Instead, "Belgardion's Iteron Mark II" presented itself on scan. And of course I was able to narrow him down to an asteroid belt. Oddly, he wasn't there.

But he had not moved, either. Further scanning pointed me to Aeschee IV's only moon. And a small control tower. Nothing else.

"He can't be serious" is what I must have thought while warping in, landing right on top of his industrial.
There was no way he could have threatened my Taranis as I pointed him. Another ransom was due:
Jaxley > Hello again.
Jaxley > I wonder what your ship has loaded. 20 million to buy it free?
Belgardion > Hello again.
Belgardion > Actually, I don't have nothing.
Jaxley > Well, your pod was worth something yesterday.
Jaxley > It won't be at risk for the same sum.
Belgardion > Yes, you're right. Here's the money.
Jaxley > Always a pleasure doing business with you.
Jaxley > Thank you.

Sigh. I played with the thought to demand 50 million ISK. He was sitting next to his undefended tower after all, wasting no thought about setting it up in one of the most hostile systems around. And he didn't hesitate to fit a 50 million ISK module before on a cruiser he could barely fly. I'm sure his cerebral cortex was plastered with some of the most expensive implants to date, I'm sure he had the money, I'm sure he would have paid up.

You just got to be baffled in the face of a fellow this clueless, who throws ISK around in such vast proportions. And apparently, you also grow soft.
I informed him about the danger of setting up a control tower in a place like Aeschee and referred him to EVE University before disconnecting him from my channel.

This already rather entertaining episode didn't end there just yet. Yes, it gets even better.

He kept warping to the moon - now safe from me, but nobody said anything about my corporation. So being the good comrade I most certainly am, I informed other Tuskers about this curious fellow in the helpless ship, who had enough ISK for everybody. Noir Avla thus made haste to the moon for some bonus cash.

Belgardion managed to escape this time, but - as Noir noticed - not before he commanded his tower to unanchor.

If you take another look at the ransom negotiations, you will see that it did not involve the control tower in the slightest way. It was still fair game for me as well as for everyone else.
I therefore went to get an industrial myself, while Noir made sure the unanchored tower would stay where it was. A short while later, I loaded the 100 million ISK package into my cargo hold. The path back to Hevrice was clear and the tower safely stored, ready to be thrown on the market.

If it does get any better than this, I would very much like to hear. You really can't expect me to believe you, though.


Money on the Airball

My current collection of ships makes me quite proud; my whole fleet currently is worth more ISK than ever before, yet I would still be able to fully replace even my more expensive shinies.

While there aren't whole stacks of one or two specific hulls, I enjoy the tough choice before each roam. All ships are the size of frigates, but each of them has it's own flavour and character.

Depending on the mood, I most likely have a perfect fit. Going postal with all-out firepower? Bring out the Taranis. Care for some more nuanced piloting? Hop into the Crusader. Back to the roots? Incursus it is. Want to annoy Rifters? Let's grab a Punisher. Want to annoy everyone else? Rifter.

Or how about just being silly? Rummage through some of the cheaper loot and slap it on an Atron.
Why yes, today this just might do.

And it did indeed.
Airball - as I had lovingly dubbed it - features two light electron blasters, an afterburner, a warp scrambler, a damage control unit and a small armor repair system. All tech 1 of course, so the whole ship is worth about 50,000 ISK, give or take.

So I head to Essence in order to find the typical rookie pilot, who has the brilliant idea to mine or rat in lowsec

What I find is hardly a typical rookie. The good fellow is so much more than that. He is wanted. Wanted so badly that someone invested 23,000,000 ISK - twenty-three million - on his head. Furthermore, he has been a member of his first corporation for over four years.

I know this guy, I have seen him before when he and his friend - who is again with him - fled from my Rifter that time. He in a Catalyst, she in a Thrasher. This incident made me feel really scary and actually caused me some trouble looking into the mirror for the next few days.

Anyway, he is there in an asteroid belt, his friend is with him. Today I shall be a bounty hunter in an Atron, still scary I guess, but hopefully not as much. No wait, fighting alone would be silly - despite my scary appearance, they won't have much trouble against me. Luckily, fellow Tusker Novantco is in the system flying a Thorax. He should be able shoot them pretty dead pretty quick, I should be able to lock the little Fabergé-egg in time.

I'm able to point his Catalyst, no sign of the Thrasher. I'm surprised at the damage I deal, that is before I notice the rats shooting him. Novantco lands to seal the deal, right after I shut off my warp scrambler in anticipation for the pod to appear on my overview.

Poof goes the Catalyst and - augh, will you lock already?? Point!

Before we can decide whether to ransom him or not, the Thrasher joins the scene and we commence the pinata. Well, I do, Novantco is having a bit of trouble with two rats disrupting his warp drive. The Thrasher is gone again, but I don't want to waste time negotiating in the middle of Aeschee. Little Airball does a very mediocre job of breaking the egg. A third rat manages to nibble through my paper-thin shields, but the armor repair unit keeps me out of serious trouble so far.

By the time Novantco frees himself from the other rats' nefarious grasp, wanted criminal and notorious idunnowhat Shanks Blackburn is finally floating dead in space. Ka-ching! 23,000,000 ISK, mine, all mi- alright, half of it mine. Wait, what? 4,600,000 corp taxes?

Bloody pirates...

Anyway: a payout of 9,200,000 ISK while flying a 50,000 ISK ship still is pretty good I think. Next stop: Adirain.

Oh, what do you know? A Brutix in a belt, whose pilot is way too young for it, using Hammerhead I drones, no one else in the system. This could be good epic.

I have no trouble pointing the battlecruiser and I easily avoid the drones. The energy neutralizing field that suddenly pops up might however be a problem. Oh, nevermind, he jammed me. Aw man, this could have been epic legendary.

I warp out unscathed and inform my corpmates. Kirith enters the system just as I try to get another point on him, but I only see the Brutix warp off to the highsec gates.

A while later I decide to dock up in Adirain for a bit. This is the point where karma decides to put an end to my Atron and its ridiculous luck boosting abilities. My global criminal countdown hasn't expired yet and all systems feel like falling into a brief coma. All instruments are completely frozen for ten seconds. Then I hear nothing but the screeching alarm sounds, seeing nothing but my pod next to Airball's remains.

After mourning my loss for a good hour, I check our killboard. Turns out the Brutix had a little accident after all.

Here is an excerpt of local coms from when it escaped before:
Jaxley > Neuting and jamming Brutix... I bet he had warp stabs, too.



Well! I wouldn't have expected to have some good stories to share again already, but it has been a pretty awesome day.

First of all my newest tool of the trade got delivered to Hevrice: A sparkling Crusader. Holy smokes it looks good. Two symmetrically aligned main compartments, which are housing gigantic thruster units and the technology for the ship's weapon systems and other electronics. Between them sits the minimalistic compartment for the crew, which is also containing the capsule. Everything is wrapped in polished golden metal, featuring blood red colour patches and glimpses into the vessel's innards. It just might be the ship you'd be most inclined referring to as "she", a true femme fatale, but I for one am just not that old fashioned (you may notice I'm tempted, though). Come to think of it, nothing you would expect from Amarrian engineers.

But the Crusader isn't just looks; it's a tough competitor, too. It is the second fastest interceptor, only surpassed by the Stiletto, slightly ahead of the Ares. But other than the two, it packs a much meaner punch and isn't made of tinfoil. It would be my personal #1 if it weren't for the Taranis - can't beat brute blaster force, one more mid slots and two small drones. Actually corpmate Suleiman Shouaa claimed otherwise, but I can't see at least the fit I'm flying win against a Taranis of mine.

Now, moving on to some after action reports!

The moment Fadeaway is embraced by the dark voids of space for the first time, onboard scanners reveal a Tristan nearby. A quick check with local coms confirms the pilot to be a couple of months old, apparently having hardly any combat experience. Awesome.

A narrower scan angle suggests that his position must be within another cluster of asteroid belts. I warp to a safespot closer to the cluster and keep scanning. There he is, top belt. I leap in.

My interceptor comes to a halt, but isn't able to intercept anything. Did he move? More scanning points to a moon, but no Tristan there either. I warp to the planet to give my scanner a better look from there. Oh hey, there it is! It's 100km away though and the pilot makes the wise decision to cheese it.

Apparently he intends to leave Hevrice through the Jovainnon stargate. This guy behaves like he's got some business in lowsec, so I trail him for a bit. Through the gate he goes, I follow. Jovainnon is a very compact system, so he moves on to Aeschee. He may try to lose me there - the system spreads widely and there are more ships in space.

I delay my jumps a bit longer to make him think I lost interest - an attempt to make him less aware of my presence in Aeschee's crowded local coms. It doesn't seem to work, he still keeps hopping around like some lass covered in- well, he hopped around a lot.

He takes a break at the gate to Adirain before he makes the jump. Again I wait before I go after him, but he is still sitting at the gate regardless. I decide to have played his game long enough and jump straight back into Aeschee again, about to look for another target elsewhere. Screw him.

At least that's what I want him to believe. Thirty seconds later I'm back in Adirain, the Tristan is nowhere to be seen on my tactical overview or scanner. His pilot still is in the system though. I cross my fingers and select the top belt of the densest cluster as my warp destination.

Yes, yes and yes! Point, pew and 'splode!

Upon pointing his pod as well, being the nice chap I am, I invite him to a conversation regarding the price for his life. I am in fact so nice that I ask him whether or not he might want to save it before I suggest a nominal fee. There is no response from him, I let my lasers answer for me.

Ah, an excellent display of a hunter and his prey. No faction loot in all of New Eden could give me more satisfaction.

The roam didn't end there, though.

I drop off my loot and go observe Adirain a bit longer. After the system refuses to give me any more targets, I head for Aeschee again to check some of its other adjacent systems. I however notice something rather interesting on scan: a Cyclone battlecruiser. It has not been renamed, the young pilot and his interest in Essence's lowsec is known to me.

Half-hearted I scan the belts - he surely must be on a mission. Nope, he is not, so I make haste to the asteroid belt he's in. His heavy guns have no hope of ever hitting me, his dronebay for some reason is not in use. Bottom line: he doesn't stand a chance.

I strive to be even nicer than before and give him an opportunity to keep both his ship and his life. There again is no response, but luckily my lasers again have plenty to say.

The fee of 50 million ISK might have been a tad bit steep, but the "I won't get to see some awesome fireworks"-tax just doesn't come cheap in cases like these.


Thar She Pews

After somewhat of a slump, things are starting to look good again - first of all my ISK efficiency. I didn't score some faction loot or a juicy ransom, but there has been more loot money than insurance payouts.

Speaking of targets - the belts somehow seem to see more visitors again. I don't know if it's coincidental, but they came back around the time Adirain got to see a little less of a certain nuisance: "Bundschuh" - former members of Chains of Chaos - often used to camp the stargates to highsec and has barely been seen outside of Adirain. I like to think that The Tuskers are at least one of the reasons they seek their tiresome business elsewhere. Either way, good riddance!

Better luck finding targets is one thing, but the one thing that really bugged me was my recent lack of concentration when engaging them. As you may have read in my previous update, arrogance and poor judgement led me to lose ships in some embarassing ways. I was flying ships I had become very familiar with every day, coming out on top rather often. As a result, I ignored very much possible "What if?" scenarios, didn't consider exit strategies or just made very avoidable mistakes during the combat routine.

Playing on high stakes didn't seem to work that well anymore - defeats in Taranises looked just as amateur as lost Incursuses. I had to think of something else to straighten up again.

To sum it up, flying an Incursus all the time felt mind numbing and flying a Taranis rather supports hybris than helping to get rid of it. I needed new ships, ships I was unfamiliar flying, ships I needed to get used to.

The obvious choice was the Rifter. I didn't want to go for the obvious choice. Rifters are too darn good anyway; I might have gone into fights saying "Whatevs, I got a Rifter, he's got nothing on me, Imma go Kirith on his ass" and then I would have died horribly once again.

What else then?

How about cruisers? Fighting in a Thorax is a heavy hitting fun frenzy each and every time, but when I roam in it, I miss the speed with which frigates cover several systems within a few minutes. Sitting and waiting makes me feel bored sooner than jumping between systems, boredom makes me do stupid things.

So, frigates... Competitive frigates other than Rifters. Merlin? Tristan? Ew, rockets. Punisher? Well, what else is there? Nothing is what, so Punisher it was.

Tailoring a fit I could be satisfied with proved to be really hard with this Amarr vessel. Even when I had found something that should work, I could immediately think of a dozen reasons why it absolutely won't and that failure will be imminent on the very maiden voyage. Perfect.

On the first few roams I was on the edge on each gate jump, on every new ship on scan and I was putting some serious strain on the onboard scanner. That familiar, almost embracing paranoia was back.

The first kill didn't involve a tough fight, but it was in Adirain - the "old" Bundschuh-infested Adirain. I was able to make haste with what you barely could call loot as one of their ships entered the belt. I'm not saying I wouldn't have checked my overview in time if I had been flying an Incursus, but who knows; maybe I was already paying better attention than in recent days.

Well, granted, not all the time...
As I was looking for a more serious test some days later, I scanned down two very young Rifter pilots in an asteroid belt. The strategy here would be to take them down quickly, so in I went and engage them with overheated guns I did. They in turn had me webbed and were fighting back. Good for them, but soon one of the Rifters exploded. They both didn't do much damage given their few days worth of training and inferior weapons, so his friend was soon to follow. Except he did do no such thing. My guns stopped firing. They were displayed with neat little red rings of death around them. Cue the profanities.

Alright, you don't get back on the horse right away. The loss was my own failure and no reason not to give the Punisher a real chance to finally prove itself.

Before a real opportunity arose however, some fellow pirates asked for assistance in taking down a Drake in Lisbaetanne. I agreed to add a bit more firepower to the three HellFleet Rifters. The Drake went down after a while without much problems. However, I realised that I needed more staying power. The Punisher doesn't exactly do a good job outrunning larger weaponry, so I had to go back to the drawing board  and readjust my fit.

The easiest solution was of course an armour repair system. First all new lasers, now more complicated capacitor management - very well, one more good reason to pay attention.

And what can I say, the revisited package works like a charm. First to notice was Eviwyn, one of the participants of the Drake kill the day before. Finally I got her to attack me for once - always has been reluctant before when I was out in my Incursus. Weird. Anyway, it provided just the right challenge to get used to the new repair unit a bit. The fight also proved to me that with more practise, I'll be able to take on more expensively fitted Rifters, whose pilots may be prepared better.

Another nice engagement took place at the Hevrice stargate in Jovainnon, where a Merlin was so kind to attack me. Thank you, Sir, don't mind if I do.
All qualities of the Punisher became apparent during this fight: The Merlin's damage was negligible while I was able to cause serious damage beyond blaster range and the little damage his rockets could cause was patched up easily.

Bottom line, I like the Punisher so much that a Crusader will soon be on its way to Hevrice.

You obviously see a pattern here, but I've got just the thing to avoid the same trap of overconfidence and daily rut I got caught in before: I am currently training Minmatar Frigates V. Got to maintain variety some way, and we have already established above that there is no other choice in the frigates segment.

Plus - at least just once - I wanna go Kirith on their asses.


A Change of Pace

By now you might know that my favourite choice of ship is the Taranis. So far I have owned three of them, all of which sooner or later degenerated into very expensive debris scattered across space. I already could have another one up and running, but certain issues detained me from doing so.

Each Taranis was shorter-lived than its predecessor. The reasons were poor judgement, recklessnes, increasing arrogance and plain awful piloting on my part. The loss of Skyhook I wasn't a particularly tough or costly one, but it could have been prevented by noticing my fleetmates earlier, thus getting the hell out in time. No reason not to get a new one yet, though. Skyhook II was again neatly dispatched by a squadron of small drones, deployed by a Celestis this time. Neither did I get my intel straight by checking the pilot's lossmails, nor did I listen to my instincts when he didn't move an inch while I was closing the gap of 50km between us.

Well, Skyhook II still lived long enough to pay for itself, so no reason not to replace it immediately. And no reason apparently to shape up one's piloting again either, right?

I'm sure you see where this is going... What followed was the most atrociously bad fight I have ever fought. I've never once lost a ship in a way like this. I went in there knowing my target had merely one month of piloting experience. I didn't realise only his three medium drones were damaging me, I didn't realise that he was sucking my cap dry, at no point did I realise that I maybe should finally overheat my guns and I realised too late all those things I hadn't realised - precisely at the moment when my capacitor was empty. I initiated a desperate attempt to flee the scene and actually escaped his warp scrambler, only to select the most foolish warp destination possible and be caught again, this time for good.

Not even one week out of the box and Skyhook III went pop. I have the ISK for Skyhook IV, but there is no point as long as I won't learn how to fly ships cost-efficiently again. I've been calling myself a self-sustaining professional after all, boasting about earning ISK only by fighting for it, not blowing it out the docking bay.

So how to get the flow going again while keeping my hands off the shiny toys for a bit? I think I have found two things that should work just fine in this regard: cruisers and cross-training.

Recently I have completed the advanced training required for flying a Thorax of my liking. What I wanted were heavy high tech blasters and more agility than the standard armour-plated variants. What I got was a very capable gank fit that is sturdier than the typical glass cannon.

I was actually surprised how well it would do and how comfortable I would be flying it. The first test of its destructive potential was easily passed when it dispatched a Cyclone as part of an ad-hoc Tusker fleet (it's also how I found out that overheating those blasters is freaking expensive!).
In the second kill it again provided the necessary fire power to crush a heavily buffer-tanked Caracal. As a bonus, thanks to my warp jamming drones the Caldari cruiser barely scratched me or other members of the fleet.

In the more even-numbered engagements I didn't fight against overwhelmed rookies or gate camping capsules, but capable opponents, Buzzer Beater performed very well, too.

An Arbitrator proved to be a very tough cookie for fellow Tusker Kishin Hattori and me. Kishin had to get his Jaguar out a bit earlier and I as well took an exit when both cruiser entered structure; he had finally managed to escape the range of my vicious blasters, while his drones kept hurting me. In retrospective, he surely would have faced more serious trouble, had I decided to load Null M ammunition prior to the fight instead of Antimatter.

Another time I landed right on a Stabber and initially tore some considerably large chunks out of his tank. Knowing of these ships' kiting strategies, my guns were spewing Null M this time. Moreso, throughout the fight they delivered more damage to my target than the other way around. It was a joy to watch, really. The Stabber eventually managed to flee, thanks to its pilot's rather unconventional choice to fit a warp scrambler. Beats me why he would've wanted to fight within scrambler range in the first place, but oh well - him transmitting a simple "ouch" on local coms was almost as satisfying as a killmail would have been.

Long story short, I really like the Thorax and how well it can perform against its biggest competitors in the cruiser segment.

As for the cross-training I mentioned earlier: brace yourself for some entirely non-blaster-related brawls. By the time I have more to write about it, we'll know how that turned out. Looking forward to what should be a refreshing change.


Making the Papers

A rather nosy fellow known as Sketur Treveiwerni has been following around various Tuskers recently. He's taken an interest to our corp and its members to shed a little light on the mentality that keeps someone living the life of a pirate going. Corpmate Romeo Blakstorm vouched for him so Sketur wouldn't end up having an accident. Enough reason for me to see what his inquiries would be about.

I was curious what questions he might ask, so I agreed to a scheduled interview at a location of my choice. I got to admit, it was fun. I heard other Tuskers so far have also answered his rather lengthy questionnaire, but apparently he chose to publish mine as the first of the series.

Apart from the interviews being published by the New Eden Underground News Agency, Romeo is also collecting them. Feel free to look up my interview in his logs and stay tuned for more to come.


Stories of a Bored Sap

Usually, bad things happen when you're bored. I claim to have taken this to another level though - when I'm bored, stupid things happen. This might be the first iteration of Stories of a Bored Sap, as I have reason to doubt that this one will be the last.

Figure this: you stray from system to system, looking for something to squeeze some ISK out of it. But you do not find anything like that for the life of it. Hmm.. except for asteroids maybe... but snap out of it, you can't ever be that bored.

That's it, sometime today some pilot must come through these highsec gates, and you're not leaving until then. There had been enough wrecks that showed up only on your second visit of another system. This time you will leave some debris floating around.

Now this is the point where bad things happen - when you're ready to jump just about anything, the debris might as well come from your own ship. Not this sap though, who might be a sap, but still can maintain control of himself and won't bait some assault frigate that would tear apart his Taranis. No sir.

But a single Imicus sitting motionless at a station will bug me out. "Oh what the hell, I'll try to pop it in a fly-by shooting. Others have done it, why shouldn't I do it? Sentry guns don't scare me, I have a hull tank."
I warp to the station and close in on the frigate, which still isn't moving. I choose a safe spot to align to and back up a bit before approaching my target again. Getting near my falloff range I cycle up the guns and let them rip after entering it. "Holy fudge! Ow ow ow! Warp, warp dammit!"

As if I should be surprised, half of my armour is gone and I jumped out too early for the Imicus to pop. Well, better luck next time. Let's sit out the GCC and go repair. I wonder if that Imicus is still sitting outside the station, stirring up some well-deserved smack for me. It still is, but there is no smack. It still is ten minutes later.

Oh goody, my fifteen minutes on the naughty stool are up and I get another shot at that snorting cyno drone! And so I repeat the procedure of aligning on a path that passes my target. "Hooraay, splosions! Ow again, time to cheese it! Wh- why am I not in warp? Why am I re-aligning??"

Because I've selected the wrong coordinates.

With 22 percent of my apparently almighty hull tank left, I finally pounce to 9AU/s. *Pant, pant*, *slap self*, *pant*. *lol*.

It's not that I gained anything from this little venture - of course some bloke came by and snatched the cynosural field generator. Even worse, he traded it back to the victim. "O, woe is me! What has the universe come to? How do I deserve something like that after all my hard work?"


"Oh. Right."


A Killmail Is Fine, Too

You might remember Xildjin, that guy from my last post, who had the urge to run his mouth after turning out to be the luckiest bloke in New Eden - well, for one evening at least. While I myself didn't get the pleasure to catch him, a killmail involving his Omen eventually showed up. It is dated just one day after the little incident I've been a little miffed about.

Real shame I wasn't able to get my hands on this fail-fitted heap of trash. Still, imagining the look on his face when he was having his warp drive scrambled makes me warm and fuzzy inside. "My warp stab, it does nothing!!"

Never since did I get word again that he was out piloting a new failboat.
Mmh, still all warm and fuzzy.

Oh, by the way: you can follow me on Twitter now.


I Lost the Game

Sometimes losing a target can be worse than losing a ship.

I know because a while ago my first Taranis got shot down. Long story short, it was eaten by the drones of a Harbinger. I spotted it in Hulmate, where it was hunting Serpentis pirates. My fellow corpmates were happy to provide some firepower after I went in first for the tackle. So Skyhook died the death of a true interceptor after all. It already had paid for its own worth, but there even was enough loot to fully reimburse me.

By losing its ancestor, I now am able to bring Skyhook II closer to its limit, coming close to its full potential.
In conclusion, I have much more tales to share than before.

The first is of a Retribution I found ratting at a belt in Lisbaetanne. I was able to observe it for a while, trying not to bother with potential bait. A while later though, the risk got much lower as the system got emptier. I now decided to check what this assault frigate was capable of. Only one midslot. Huh, how about that. No chance this ship was going to be able to pin me down and keep up. I only had to be aware of its possibly massive armour tank. There basically was none. A "waste of a Retribution", as corpmate Suleiman Shouaa pointed out. Agreed. Nevertheless it was a good fight - I left the field with 95 percent structure left.

An actually well fitted Vexor was another nice engagement. He had me targetted, but neither were his Hammerhead Is going after me, nor did he ever web me. So with his little training, his small blasters weren't able to track my movements sufficiently. How fortunate that I didn't lose this target for good when I missed to overheat my afterburner, giving him a chance to dock. I would have had to kick myself if he had stayed in there or fled back to empire space.

But I mentioned how losing a target can be worse than losing a ship. Here is why:

A typical roam in Essence; not much around except for the well known local rivals in their bigger ships and occassionally even bigger fleets. Routinely I check Lisbaetanne, which is directly connected to empire space and close to a trading hub. I was in for a treat that evening (or so I thought at least); as soon as I make myself comfortable at my usual scanning spot, an Omen appears on directional scan. Checking the belts, I'm able to pin-point its location. Quick safety 360° scan as usual and back to 5° as soon as possible. Gone. Checking the stargate leading to empire: damn. Local drops one pilot, no more Omen on scan.

As I'm heading back to Aeschee, a thought occurs: Lisbaetanne, Aere, Hulmate. A little "escape route" I once figured out when I had been camped in by a big fleet with interdictors. My Incursus back then was able to make a run for safety through Aere, where the faction police isn't able to catch a quickly moving frigate. So I know that Hulmate was two jumps away for this Omen pilot. Without any hope of seeing him there again, I dash through Aeschee and Onne. And there he is. Gleefully I'm checking the belts. Bingo - warp to IV-I at 0. I land 30km away from him. Come on, come on! Blast, his warp drive kicks in. Where is he running to? His overview bracket merges with the local station's, but also a planet's. I'm thinking that this was it, he's at the station for sure. No such thing - scanning dead ahead as I pass the station, I can still see the Omen. Finally! Sweet, well deserved carnage! Loot, blood and glory! I cycle up my guns and scrambler, patting myself on the back for my great instincts. I initiate lock as soon as I land right next to him. Target locked, the blasters greet him with a hard volley and - wait... WAIT! Oh god DAMMIT!!

I check my combat logs to confirm what I already know. Except I'm wrong. No warp stabilisers. No warp scrambling notification either, only the damage of the first volley.
For some reason, my guns were able to hit him once, but my scrambler apparently would have needed another fraction of a second.

I head back to Hevrice, not believing what just happened. Everything turned out so nicely, he was several times within an arm's, no, a freaking finger's reach. Sigh.
I remember that I received a message from the Omen's pilot when he was warping to the planet. I only know its headline until now: "What's your deal?" Phuh. Take a wild guess, mate. I open the mail. There is but one word beneath the headline: "bitch."
Disappointment and disbelieve fade as I am filled with furious anger. I will make him eat those words. Hell, I almost did on the spot!

I never had a "list" before. Well, this guy made it. I will have to congratulate him personally for that. I'll know when he hops into his Omen the next time. And I'll be waiting, monitoring his movements. Xildjin, you will lose your ship by my hands.

I'm sitting in Hulmate as I write these lines. I'm calmer now, two days later. I don't know for how long I will limit my hunting grounds to Essence to stay near his last whereabouts. But the area is visited well enough for me not to get bored until he'll show his face again.

It is visited exceptionally well even. My mind is a bit more at ease after dispatching a Cyclone battlecruiser class ship. Oh what fun it was, scanning him down at a belt, not believing my eyes, checking his employment history again, confirming that he really had barely a month of training. I don't care that I must've looked like an idiot the way I started to grin when I initiated warp. I popped his Valkrie I drones completely out of glee, so that I could saviour the moment just a bit longer. His missiles barely did any damage while my blasters and drones were wantonly chipping bit after bit after bit from his doomed hull. And what a glorious explosion it was. Even if Lady Loot apparently decided to have a bad day once again, my own could not get any better.

Just kidding. I know damn well how it could get even better. But for now, I'll gladly wait another day for my revenge, provided I am kept busy with fools in enormous ships.