"(Warning!) You are about to steal items from LORDREDDOG. If you continue, LORDREDDOG and LORDREDDOG's corporation will be free to attack you! Are you sure you want to continue?"
"Do I want to steal?" I posed the question, aloud, to no one in particular. In order for a theft to occur, there must be intent to deprive. I did not intend to deprive LORDREDDOG of his property- I intended to clean the mess for which he was responsible!
With care I plucked the contents of LORDREDDOG's jet-can and placed it into my own. Instead of initiating combat, Dog chose to warp his Procurer out of asteroid belt 5-1. A measly 5,000 Plagioclase ore was by no means a prize. Yet, I had the distinct feeling that I would leave Kronsur with more than just ore. The back of my neck tingled in anticipation. I felt a fight loomed on the immediate horizon- and I was desperately aching for a fight.
I quickly set a course to a safe spot approximately 250 km from my current position. It took little time for Panty Dropper to warp to my designated coordinates. A precursory data search informed me that LORDREDDOG was a member of Rhino Corp - a small corporation "Plowing it's way through space".
"Plowing," I said aloud, as a smirk crawled across my face. With any luck, perhaps DOG would show me 's definition of "plowing". The word's absurdity made me chuckle!
Aha Toro had been in no rush to warp her Mammoth to my position for such a pittance of ore, so I had quickly explained to her my hunch that DOG would want a fight and asked if she would perform scouting duty, based on my intuition.
"Miss Toro," I called over the fleet communications channel (fleet-comms)," I want to know what comes in and out of that space station."
"You've got it, Peg!" Aha Toro's voice bubbled with enthusiasm. There was one, centralized station located in the Kronsur system, which would make Toro's task relatively easy.
A handful of minutes passed, and I spent the time monitoring the primary military school channel and a conversation regarding voice communication programs...
Toro's voice shrieked over the fleet-comms forcing me to cringe, banishing my train of thought.
"Peg, a Tempest just undocked from the station- I think this is your boy!"
Interesting. A Tempest could prove to be a challenge in the right hands. I looked over LORDREDDOG's public file a second time. According to his dossier, DOG had been a pod-pilot a little over five months. I scanned the local comms channel to determine that DOG was the only  member in Kronsur. My teeth betrayed a wicked grin,
"Miss Toro, care to join me in a dangerous hunt?"
A Five Month Old Pod Pilot in a Tempest? I Had a Chance!
Sure enough, less than a minute later a Tempest, piloted by LORDREDDOG, dropped out of warp inside asteroid belt 5-1. A Minmatar battleship, the Tempest is a truly imposing sight- especially when viewed at the helm of a Rifter! Reminiscent of a long-extinct beetle on steroids, two protrusions extended from the center of the ship giving the appearance of over-sized mandibles. A fin located at the top and a fin located at the bottom of the ship both tapered towards the central body mass of the Tempest further creating the illusion of a living beast- wild and primordial.
Toro dropped out of warp seconds after LORDREDDOG's battle ship. To Toro's credit her timing was impeccable, as always. Perhaps Toro could glean details about DOG's ship set-up.
"Miss Toro if you would be so kind as to conduct a scan of DOG's Tempest, I might have a better idea as to what I'm in for."
"All ready done Peg! I'm sending the information, encoded, to you now." Toro and I had been flying together for a few months, now, and she was by far my favorite hired hand. From the beginning, we were able to anticipate one another which made for a very successful partnership. So much so, that I had began hiring Toro almost exclusively.
I poured over the scan results of LORDREDDOG's Tempest. A precursory glance at DOG's load-out confirmed what I wanted to know: It appeared that his battleship did not have a warp scrambler nor a webber equipped. DOG would not have the means of preventing me from warping away should the situation prove unfavorable. Since DOG did not have the ability to slow my frigate's velocity, it would be a challenge for him to successfully hit my frigate with his weapons. Especially difficult for the large weapons bristling from DOG's Tempest: Four, large 720 caliber howitzer cannons and four cruise missile launchers. I would have to be mindful of any potential drones under DOG's control. The combined damage of his Tempest's cruise missiles and combat drones may prove a challenge for Panty Dropper's armor tank. I quickly issued a set of warp coordinates to Aura, Panty Dropper's artificial intelligence.
Opportunity or folly? Fate would soon decide...
"Warp drive active,"
Aura informed me in her resonant voice. Her sentence barely finished, Panty Dropper had completed the short 250 km jump, closing the distance to DOG's Tempest. I immediately powered on Panty Dropper's afterburners and increased my frigate's velocity five-fold. Panty Dropper zipped passed Aha Toro's lumbering Mammoth on my break-neck approach toward the looming battleship. A yellow, flashing square outlined the battleship on my HUD, indicating DOG was all ready targeting my frigate. I had to clear the distance between us as quickly as possible in order to avoid the brunt of his battleship's weapons array.
As if on cue, DOG's Tempest 720 howitzers flashed to life. The artillery cannons strained to track Panty Dropper, hurling large munition at my ship. The Tempest belched cruise missiles from four independant launchers. Plumes of gas traced each missile's arc into the cold vacuum of space. I performed an evasive roll and pirouetted into a very tight, fast orbit around the battleship. My maneuver had successfully evaded the wrath of DOG's howitzers; all four artillery cannons attempted and failed to track my agile frigate.
Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in eluding the four cruise missiles trailing Panty Dropper. Four simultaneous impacts rocked my tiny Rifter and threatened to force Panty Dropper out of control! As a result I had to fight to maintain her orbit. The four cruise missiles managed to vaporize half of her shielding upon impact! Were it not for Panty Dropper's superior velocity, those initial four impacts would have bit deep into my frigate's armor and hull.
A quick visual scan reassured me that DOG had not webbed Panty Dropper- the loss in speed and velocity would prove devastatingly fatal! DOG's 720 howitzers continued to hurl more payload at my frigate. While those artillerly cannons would prove ineffectual against my Rifter's speed, his ship's four cruise missile launchers' would prove to be a challenge for Panty Dropper.
Scramble, Web, Nos, Shoot!
Now, in a combat situation of this nature, pilots are taught to first scramble and then web their opponent's ship before initiating weapon's fire or an energy vampire.
I ignited Panty Dropper's three auto cannons',first ,then scrambled the Tempest's warp drive. The Tempest's immense shield tank would prove a challenge to break. I would need to make use of every available second in order to accomplish this goal. I knew that DOG was in little hurry to leave- and rightfully so!
Who wouldn't feel overwhelming confidence facing down a small frigate with a battleship such as the Tempest? Panty Dropper's shielding would fail in seconds, and I'm sure DOG felt it safe to assume that my Rifter's armor and hull would evaporate just as quick. Oh, how I planned to prove that dear fellow wrong! There was one more equation I anticipated that could spell trouble for my Rifter...
I hesitated to commit my webber- saving it instead for the army of drones I was sure would issue forth from the bowels of DOG's Tempest. A drone attack would surely tip the scale in DOG's favor, as their added damage output would spell a quick end for Panty Dropper. I forced myself to calm, using a series of breathing exercises intended to regulate my heart-rate and pulse. This was not the time for physiological reactions to cloud my logic- my judgement. If there were any time to issue a drone attack- now would be that time. The Tempest had a drone bay capacity of 40 m3. Not an impressive size for a battleship, but potential overkill when a battleship is pitched against a single frigate.
Before the onset of this engagement, I had swapped out my rounds of EMP S with a slightly improved variant- Republic issue EMP S. The Tempest had a formidable shield tank by my frigate's standards. Panty Dropper's auto-cannons had yet to whittle a third of the battleship's sheilding away, whereas DOG's cruise missiles had forced me to power up the armor repair module, or "repper". My frigate's armor tank fought tooth and nail to compensate for the Tempest's unwavering flurry of missiles.
Report after report found their mark, slamming into Panty Dropper's armor and hull and turning it into gas and dust. DOG fought ruthlessly to overwhelm my Rifter's fragile armor tank. A drone attack would push our conflict into his favor- overwhelming my ship's repping ability and ultimately breaking Panty Dropper's tank.
Yet, a drone attack never came and as a result DOG missed a critical opportunity. In turn, this provided me with just enough time to tweak Panty Dropper's module settings to successfully compensate for damage she incurred from the Tempest's cruise missiles. I turned Panty Dropper's webber on DOG's Tempest while I slightly widened my frigate's orbit, thereby increasing Panty Dropper's transversal velocity in relation to DOG's Tempest.
By increasing my speed and direction of travel, I was able to lessen the amount of damage the Tempest could inflict on my frigate. This was cause for celebration, as Panty Dropper's three auto-cannons' had managed to successfully break through the shields of the Tempest!
How the battleship's exposed armor resembled a wounded animal's exposed flank! I imagined the smell of fresh blood and flesh- evoking a frenzy of blood-lust within me, the hunter. I had chosen my prey, aware of the possible danger. Victory within grasp, that potential danger made this ship kill all the more sweet! I felt excitement climb the inside of my gut.
A rush of exhilaration consumed me, as I knew the kill grew ever closer! In anticipation, I swapped out the EMP S ammunition currently loaded in my auto-cannons, in favor of a T2 ammunition- Barrage S. Barrage S was a superior form of nuclear ammo, utilizing a morphite- enriched warhead and superior tracking system. Like the claws of a great hunting beast, my Barrage S munition would cut deeply into my wounded target's flesh and bone...
Like sharp claws and ferocious teeth, Panty Dropper's autocannon's penetrated deeply into Tempest hide. Plumes of synthesized atmosphere erupted into space- like blood spurting from fatal wounds. The once imposing Tempest, now worn and decrepit, resembled a broken animal about to die: Flames licked gaping holes in the battleship's structure, flourishing where precious atmosphere escaped into the cold vacuum. Hundreds of tiny escape pods jettisoned out into space in a variety of directions; A mass exodus of surviving crewmembers fortunate enough to escape the destruction.
As the Tempest's structural integrity failed, the ship caved in upon itself, and the implosion resembled some macabre beast falling mid-stride into a death throw! The Tempest shuddered- a final breath before a mighty explosion engulfed the failed battleship and threatened to consume my frigate! I veered Panty Dropper away from the devastation just in time to see DOG's pod eject to safety. Even 18 km away, Toro reported that her Mammoth was rocked violently by the shockwave produced by the exploding battleship!
"The Tempest shuddered- a final breath before a mighty explosion engulfed the failed battleship..."
DOG opened a frequency in Kronsur's local channel. He spat out words with such a vehemence, his voice barely sounded human:
[ 2008.10.07 04:44:38 ] LORDREDDOG > we will meet again[ 2008.10.07 04:44:57 ] LORDREDDOG > and i will be the one cleaning up
LORDREDDOG assured me he would have his revenge. As I salvaged through the wreckage of his battleship, like a hungry carnivore stripping life-giving flesh from the bone of it's fallen prey, I thanked him, assuring LORDREDDOG that I would be waiting with bated anticipation for our future contest.