Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So long and thanks for all the ISK

I've joined a corporation, plus I've kind of lost my muse. Maybe later. See you in space.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Entry 14: Hot Latin Pirate-on-Pirate Action

Okay, if I have any readers left at this point, please forgive me for my temporary dive into RPishness. It had to be done. In my defense, it was fan service. No, not you. My Lovely Assistant loves reading that stuff. Really, she does. And she can be very persuasive. Anyway, let's continue with my semi-humorous rantings.

Today, I killed my first pirate. In general, I adopt a “live and let live” approach toward my fellow pirates. But it’s apparent that many, many pirates are only too happy to prey on any ship they see in space.

The day started out normally enough. I was hunting and scanning for random passers-by whose ships are badly in need of extra ventilation … when all of the sudden, I see a flashing red bar pop onto my overview. The last vestiges of carebear instincts took hold and I immediately warped out of the belt.

As I was zipping through the warp tunnel, I took a quick look at my attacker and his ship.

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A Caracal? I ran from a freaking CARACAL?! Oh, the shame. Fortunately, while I’d only gotten enough of a look at Fronesis to determine his name and ship class, it appears that he got even less useful information about my ship. At any rate , he decided to pursue me to the planet, just in time for me to redeem myself.

In hindsight, he probably thought that I was flying a standard frigate. Which is yet another great thing about the Jaguar: On the overview, it looks almost EXACTLY like a Rifter.

He quickly learned that "Come and See" was no little Rifter. His Caracal was broken in seconds, while I was sitting pretty with about virtually all of my shields still intact.

Later, I decided to interview my victim, to see what was going through his mind before, during and after he engaged me.

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His response, while decidedly unhelpful, certainly was interesting.

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Aren’t we El Senor Internacionale? Obviously, someone got screwed on a bargain basement translator.

I briefly considered rephrasing the question in a way that he understood, but meh. Naked force is the universal language. He understood that much just fine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Entry 13: Mother Thukkers Part 4

My wingman’s voice crackled over the comms, “Captain Ledoux, I’m reading two contacts on the long range scanners.” He was on loan to me from the Thukker shipyards where I bought and modified my Jaguar (Name: Come and See).

The shipyard’s foreman sent a young apprentice along to see how my modified Jaguard fared on its first combat trial. I heard a rumor that the betting pool heavily leaned towards the likelihood that my power conduits would melt, explode and then catch fire the moment that the shields started taking damage.

“Yeah, I see them. Looks like a Covetor-class mining barge and a … yeah, that’s an Armageddon. I’m also reading a lot of combat drones.”

“Daaaaaamn … oh well, it would have been nice to tear up a Covetor, but that 'Geddon would eat you alive … Sir? Is your warp drive going active?”

“That’s a roger, son. Time for a little bang bang.”

“There’s no way you’re going to survive that kind of punishment. If the drones don’t get you, that 'Geddon will!”

“One way to find out.” With that, the warp bubble wrapped me in its shaky, scary shell and off I went to start some trouble.”

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I popped into the belt about 20 kilometers from the fat grape of a Covetor. I immediately fired up my microwarp drive and streaked straight at him in excess of 2200 meters per second. I don’t know if the Covetor and Armageddon pilots were sleeping at the conn or if they simply couldn’t bring themselves to believe that I’d actually attack, but they didn’t even react until I had already targeted, set an orbit and opened fire on the Covetor. The Covetor tried to align for the nearest station, but my warp disruptor killed any chance of him getting away.

Then the drones finally realized what I was up to and started streaking towards me. Then, the 'Geddon’s pilot decided to lay into me with his huge battery of lasers. My small size combined with my speed greatly reduced the damage the lasers could inflict, but I was more than a little worried when 10 Hammerhead started crawling all over me. I was just starting to miss not having a shield booster module when the Covetor’s hull started to buckle.

“Get in here, Junior! You’re on salvage detail!”

“But what about the Arma-”

“Get your ass in here while he's still shooting at me or I'll kill you myself!!”

After my less than gentle encouragement, my wingman warped in just as the Covetor’s former pilot started streaking off in his pod. He was just in time to make a quick salvage run on the ravaged Covetor. It was only then that my shields were finally breached, forcing us to make a run for it. The 'Geddon was far too bewildered to even consider a pursuit.

After taking possession of two “Rockpopper II” modulated strip mining lasers, we set course for the shipyards. As I calculated their market value, I realized that I had almost paid for my new toy on its maiden combat voyage. Arrrr indeed.

As I hid out waiting for my shields to recharge and my global criminal countdown to expire, I overheard my victim berating his companion about his failure to protect him from my tiny ship. Later, I heard that the disgraced 'Geddon pilot pursued my young wingman all over the constellation in an attempt to blast him to Kingdom Come. Unfortunately, he failed to realize that a) he had chased his quarry into a Concord-controlled system and b) the young man had never fired a shot at him or his friend in the Covetor. The police response was swift and brutal. The young man was able to loot well over 30 million ISK in gear from the smoking wreck. At last check, he's working on setting up a shipyard of his own.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Entry 12: Mother Thukkers, Part 3

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Introducing the Jaguar, Caldari-style
As I was reviewing the ship specs for the Jaguar, I noticed something very interesting: At it’s most basic level, it’s a huge step up from the Rifter-class frigate it’s built on. It gives a pilot a high level of combat ability for a relatively low cost. However, if the pilot in question happens to be a multibillionaire with a taste for the best, and if the same pilot has access to advanced shield and propulsion technology …

To start off, I replaced the standard power core with a “Phoenix” core that used up all of the low-power slots and cost as much as the ship itself. However, it augmented the amount of power grid available, as well as noticeably improving the capacitor and shield systems. I needed the extra juice so I could slap on a “Wyrmscale II” medium shield extender, straight from the engineering labs of New Caldari, the kind of shield augmentation systems typically only found on cruisers.

Between the power upgrades and the custom Caldari shield generator, my tiny ship now has more than triple its original shield strength, giving it a stronger shield than the average cruiser. On top of all that, the onboard computer sets the shields to a frequency that resists the electromagnetic and thermal based weaponry that shields are typically very weak against.

To round things off, I slapped on a “Dragonbreath Mk. II” 1 megaNewton microwarp drive for speed, a “Rockstopper” kinetic deflection to improve shield resistance, a “Bubble Burster” warp scrambler, a few 200mm “Hailstorm” autocannons and a “Knave” nosferatu device.

After my own private episode of Pimp My Ship, I had a frigate-sized ship that had stronger shields than the typical cruiser, enough speed and agility to serve as an adequate interceptor, and while the weapon systems don’t deal out a huge amount of raw damage, the inherent versatility of Minmatar ammunition ensures that I’ll be able to tailor my damage output to take advantage of any gaps in an enemy ship's defenses. To add insult to inevitable injury, most recognition systems have difficulty telling the difference between the Jaguar and a typical Rifter.

But as impressed as I was by the new ship specs, I would have never believed how well it performed in its first combat test …

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Entry 11: Mother Thukkers, Part 2

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If the men you grew up with looked like
this, you'd think I was handsome, too.
Recently, My Lovely Assistant insisted that we undergo a “Bonding ceremony” in order for us to continue to pursue certain aspects of our relationship. She wasn’t very long on details, but I soon discovered that it involved a bit of travel, tattooing, and more than a little bleeding. And let’s not even mention the honeymoon.

Not that I was opposed to a little pain, so long as there was a bit of pleasure to be had afterward. So after a little thought, I agreed to join her on a trek out to Thukker-controlled space for a month-long visit with her clan in the The Great Wildlands.

While I was there, I couldn’t help but appreciate the capabilities of Thukker-designed ships. Like any good Caldari, I had always believed that all Minmatar ships were little more than crudely designed pieces of space junk with engines and weapons strapped to them. At a closer look, however, I found that while Matari ships are definitely short on frills, they are durable, reliable, fast and (most important of all,) flexible.

As any military man will tell you, the ability to react and adapt to any threat is an invaluable resource in combat. More to the point, if you can’t adapt to changing enemy tactics and capabilities, you may as well retreat while you still have a ship to call your own.

Unfortunately, when I said this aloud, I didn’t know just how keen the Thukkers are to promote and sell their custom-designed ships to anyone with enough ISK to buy them. Also, I had no idea that My Lovely Assistant comes from a long line of combat pilots and, more importantly, shipwrights. She’s even a direct descendent of the legendary Thukker interceptor pilot Ba’run Vonr’ktoven, known as “The Red Ba’run.” So to make a long story slightly less long, her family immediately took my appreciation of Thukker-designed ships as a promise to immediately acquire several of them for my own personal use.

In the end, to celebrate our impending Bonding, I was given (and by “given,” I mean that I was obligated to pay a large sum of money for) a Jaguar-class assault frigate. It was a good thing that I planned on staying in The Great Wildlands for a while, because it was going to take me a couple of weeks just to be able to fly the damned thing.

But then, while I was studying the system specs, I noticed something that made me smile a very, very cruel smile …

Monday, September 25, 2006

Entry 10: Mother Thukkers, Part 1

Warning: Contains large doses of Roleplay.

My lovely assistant has been the focus of a lot of attention lately. I am constantly approached with questions about her. Where did you meet her? Is she your soulmate? What does she fly? Is she as evil as you? Why did she pod me? Can I have her when you die?

To answer your last question first, shut up. To answer the questions in the middle, I recommend several years of being poked with dull needles by sociopathic psychiatrists. And to answer your first question, read on.

As any true son of Caldar, I love to gamble. Ever since I was a grunt during the War of Gallente Aggression, I've been keen to bet a little money on this and that. Even now, I keep a pack of playing cards on board for those out-of-pod experiences.

Back before I was a wealthy scoundrel, I found myself out on the fringes of "Lawdog don't come round here, savvy?" space where I met up with this Amarr slave-trader by the name of Who-The-Hell-Cares. Apparently, some youngblood Matari pirates were out and about, trying to bust up his business. So he was laying low. By the time I met up with him, he'd been stuck in station for months, and he was starting to get more than a little eager for distraction. Also, by that point, the Matari made it clear that no ships were leaving the system until they had done what they came to do, so I was stuck there with him.

Now, before I go on, let me explain something. I don't like slavers. I mean, I don't have a problem with anyone who makes his money from the suffering of others. That's just the cost of doing business. But depending on slaves is a sign of weakness in my book. If you can't do something yourself, then you don't deserve to see it done. Add to that the fact that I've never met an Amarr who wasn't completely convinced that his people were the crowning light of the universe, and never mind that they have the smallest per-capita number of pod pilots of all the empires, and it doesn't take a science graduate to see that the Amarr empire is going nowhere fast.

Anyway, it didn't take too long before I'd nearly cleaned out Mr. WTHC. I'd just laid down a fat chunk of (mostly his) money on a sweet hand. Apparently, he thought his hand was sweeter, because then he pulled out the big guns. But since he was pretty much out of ISK, he decided to dip into his merchandise to call my hand. He disappeared into his cargo hold for a while and came back with a sassy little Matari girl. Now, like I said, I'm not a fan of slavers, and I sure as hell don't want to become one myself. It was totally within my rights to force him out of the hand and take my winnings. However ...

While he was babbling something about how she'd never been touched by a neuro-whip or infected with Vitoc, I noticed the plug-holes that she was trying to conceal with plastiskin. He didn’t mention it in his sales speech, so he probably didn’t know that he had a pod-fitted Minmatar pilot on his hands. A nasty little plan started to form in my mind.

"Alright, she'll do to call. Show your cards."

Words cannot describe how self-satisfied that smug little bastard look when he turned over a full house. And I'd have to start making various rude noises to describe how quickly that look fell off his face when I dropped four queens on the table. He sat back, looking more than a little green. He got even more sick looking when I started gathering up my cash and cards.

After tucking the lucre away, I ask my new acquisition, "So what would you do if I freed you, anyway?"

As she looked me dead in the eye, she pointed a slightly raggedy fingernail at her former owner. "I would ask to borrow a knife … and then I would gut him."

One impromptu Amarr anatomy lesson later …

“Can you fly this garbage scow?” I asked my new friend.

“I would never,” she growled. “But if we offer to sell it cheaply enough, we should be able to sell it quickly enough to purchase and outfit a Rifter.”

I pretended not to notice the significance of her use of the word “we”.

“Any brilliant ideas on how we’re going to get out of the system?”

She grinned at me in a way that made me think that she only did so when she was thinking nasty thoughts. “Those Thukker Tribe ‘pirates’ out there? Those are my people. Getting permission to leave the system will be no problem. You’ve got worse things to worry about. You’ve won the freedom of a Thukker princess, and you’re going to need all of the spirits of the ancestors to save you now.”