Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Combat Filled Day

I can probably mark it down as one of the most turbulent days I've had in my time as a capsuleer. I've been neglecting my blog the last month or so due to a lack of anything terribly exciting happening, but this day was just filled with ups and downs, both physically and emotionally.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still busy making ships, modules, and drones, both for my own use and for the market. And I’m still maintaining my planetary production lines, making it a stable source of passive ISK on my part as they only need my attention once a week now. My industrial efforts continue apace, and I've even made a few of the new Prospect frigates for my own use and put some up on the Placid market. I even plan on taking one into Nullsec in the coming days and mining some Mercoxit for myself…  

I haven't been slacking in my combat efforts either, a good portion of my income still comes from Concord payouts of the local Serpentis pirates' bounties. And I was just as active against the capsuleer threats to Intaki, it's just that I was doing awfully in those engagements. I'd lost more than a dozen ships of various sizes and classes with nothing to show for most of June. Pend Insurance is threatening to increase my rates, despite the fact that the payout on some of the ships I lost was just abysmal. For example, I had a few Tormentor frigates in my hangar leftover from their days as mining vessels, and decided to refit them according to their new specifications as a front line combat vessel. I received less than 50,000 Isk when I inevitably lost them, even though they were Platinum insured for the full cost of the materials that go into their construction. In any case, I've told my hangar manager not to hire crews for anything smaller than a destroyer at this point, so at least I'm not costing other people their lives in my attempts at even a Pyrrhic victory. 

The rut I was in was not improved by the three ships I lost that day, one of which was the Aliastra Catalyst I'd received for our roam into the Serpent's Coil earlier this year. The others were just situations where I ran up against superior firepower. At that point much of the corp began to join me in space, and I had a pirate Enyo in system whose location I was reasonably sure of. I decided to go for broke and brought the Caracal online and stocked it with explosive warheads. I was initially disappointed with my warp-in, more than 20 km off, but the Clone Soldier Negotiator he was fighting had him disrupted and damaged allowing me to close range. It didn't take many volleys before I found myself alone with the notoriously vicious Serpentis pirate, who wasted little time in focusing his attentions on me. I called for help from my corpmates, knowing I didn't have the kind of sustained damage necessary to break the Negotiator's tank. Several minutes later, corp-mate Richard Masseri and I left the belt several million ISK richer, and me with my first PvP victory for the month. Richard and I roamed Placid for a bit in smaller, less expensive vessels, with numerous sightings but no engagements before most of the corp decided to get some sleep. 

My own elation at finally getting a pirate kill led to a flurry of activity on several projects I'd been putting off, mostly finishing the fits on various ships. I tend to have plenty of hulls on hand, but gathering all the guns, modules, and rigs that I can't make myself, from all over the region, tends to put me off leaving station. One of the fits I had recently finished was one of my favorites, the Vexor. The fitting I had devised enabled me to make short work of the local Serpentis menace, while also being capable in most PvP situations. I worked for several hours, clearing the asteroid belts around Intaki, and occasionally warding off curious capsuleers in vessels smaller than mine. All but one, a pilot named Lincoln flying a Rifter who insisted on attacking me, despite my warning that it would only result in the loss of his ship. A short fight later I had another kill for the day, and Lincoln hopefully learned not to attack a drone boat cruiser with frigate. We continued to talk for a few hours as he stayed in system fighting other pilots as they came through. Apparently he'd spent the last few months in the safety of Null sec and was looking to become less risk averse in his flying. His situation was one that was familiar to me, as I'd spent a considerable amount of time fighting for Nulli Secunda in their war against then rising starts TEST Alliance. He eventually ran out of ships while fighting against local pirate Brian Skrudland, and left on amicable terms and with a neutral setting in my personnel notes.

I continued my search for Serpentis pilots throughout Viriette Constellation, finding and eliminating several more Clone Soldier Negotiators and Transporters before I came upon a vessel that left me checking my sensor readings. It was one of the new Mordu's Legion Cruisers reported to be patrolling in Lowsec space. I quickly transmitted my intentions not to attack to the cruiser, but to no avail as it quickly closed the distance between us and began its assault. My Vexor was rocked by massive blasts as the first volley slammed into my shields, severely depleting them. I released my Hammerheads from their cradles and brought all of my E-war and guns to bear against the vessel I could now identify as an Orthrus. A second volley smashed into my Vexor, taking another significant chunk out of my shields as my drones streaked towards a vessel I was reluctant to call an enemy to swarm it with plasma fire. The third volley knocked out my shields and started damaging my armor, forcing me to cycle my repairer as my drones and guns began unleashing molten plasma against their own shields. The next few volleys hit even harder, forcing me to keep my armor repairer online as the cruiser's shields began to fail, with shots leaking through the gaps in their coverage to splash against it's armor. I was beginning to receive armor integrity and heat damage notifications when the Orthrus finally succumbed to the onslaught of plasma and exploded.

The skirmish with the Mordu's Orthrus had caused minor structural and heat damage as my repairer cycled back down to work on mending my plates back together, and my shields began to recharge. I approached the result of my retaliatory actions with a grim mindset, I hadn't planned on destroying the ship, but I think they more than likely have standing orders to destroy any capsuleer vessel they encounter. As I drew closer I remembered a talk I had with one of the corp leaders in the days after the first sighting of these new, formidable vessels. We both lamented that we had insofar been unable to make diplomatic inroads with the Mordu's Command, despite their presence guarding our home station above Intaki Prime. We had discussed this very event occurring, with the hope that we could establish peaceful or at least neutral standings to avoid just such a situation. Maybe in the future we'll have more success on this front, and I earnestly hope so, as fellow Intaki, many of the Mordus' are likely just as interested in a free Intaki as we of the ILF are...

I coasted next to the wreck and efficiently tagged those escape pods I detected for pickup by rescue crews from further in system, and then began salvaging what I could. My efforts were rewarded as I discovered the potent warp scrambler used against me was still in working condition, and seemed to be a design favored by the Caldari Navy. The real treasure I was able to find however was a schematic blueprint, good for just one production run, of the ship I had just destroyed.

Returning to Intaki soon after was necessary, both to repair the damage incurred in the battle and to give my crew some shore leave after what for them was likely a terrifying experience. It left me in a rather more contemplative mood, wondering how I could better relations with the Mordu's and maybe stop such a thing from happening again. No matter how lucrative hunting these vessels might be turn out to be, I still knew they were all crewed by people like me, fellow Intaki who had found a place they could do something useful with their skills. Maybe a personal visit out to the Mordu's Command station deep in Nullsec might help bring me some clarity on the issue... 

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