Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brothers from Another Mother: A Requieum

"As her armor fails a new warrior enters the fray- fresh.
...To no avail.
The worm capitulates.
It feels death near.
lapping at it's hindquarters- it is ablaze.
Demise is certain.
Soon, Dearheart. Soon."

Leurtmar has been laden with mining activity of late. Today I discovered a mining operation in Asteroid Belt 2 near Leurtmar 3 that included a Retriever, a Typhoon, and a Bantam dumping their collective refuse into a single jet-can...As a civil engineer, it is demoralizing to have one's attempts to maintain a high standard in a particular sector constantly challenged. I calmed myself into a state of torpor using a series of breathing exercises taught to pod pilots attending Republic Military School (RMS). While attempting to soothe my bruised ego, I updated the scan results of 3-2 and attempted to sift through the information.

I scrolled down the list generated by my ship's scanner until I discovered what I had been looking for; One of the pod pilots'- the capsuleer operating the Bantam, had failed to name her ship! Through her carelessness I was able to glean that she was a member of a corporation called, "Brothers From Another Mother" (BFAM)- another small corporation boasting four members! I quickly altered the standing of BFAM in my contact's database so that any BFAM member currently in the Leurtmar system would be visible. I was rewarded in discovering two additional members, each of which were no more than 9 months old. A quick visual scan of my bookmarks determined that I did not have a "safe spot" for Leurtmar 3-2.

Deja' vu!

I quickly inputted 3-2 as my destination to Aura, my ship's artificial intelligence. I instructed Aura to warp 100 Km out from the center of 3-2, in order to create a bookmark roughly 200 Km away from the center of the asteroid belt. The bookmark would provide me a safe spot, a place that I may retreat to with relative impunity if necessary. As long as a safe spot is bookmarked over 150 Km away from the target location (in this case, the center of the asteroid belt), that location is reachable by warp! Any ship lacking a Micro Warp Drive (MWD) would have little to no chance of clearing that sort of distance in enough to overwhelm me.

"Warp drive active." Aura announced in a pleasing tone. As Panty Dropper hurled toward 3-2, I poured over each of the three BFAM pilots' public file. Though each of the three pilots were relatively young, that did not rule out the possibility that I would be facing T2 drones...

Panty Dropper dropped out of warp roughly 96 Km from the mining operation, and 100 Km from 3-2. I pointed my ship away from the center of 3-2 and fired her afterburners, which in turn increased Panty Dropper's velocity over 1,000 m/s. A wave of nausea overwhelmed me at the sight of such a majestic battleship, the Typhoon, relegated to chewing into asteroids with multiple mining lasers. I could almost imagine the battleship's sad, defeated eyes staring into mine begging for sweet release. Such a travesty, to condemn a Typhoon to such a disgraceful and demeaning task.

The Typhoon battleship resembled a monstrously stunted worm and what appeared to be an open maw in a perpetual scream. The battleship boasts 8 high slots capable of five hard points for turrets and five hard points for launchers. The massive battleship's thick armor weighs in at a hefty 6211 points, unmodified, while the Typhoon's drone bay is a spatious 175 m3- enough to house a small navy!

BFAM laid out two gross violations before me this day; mining into a jet-can without the proper permits', and the wanton abuse of a battleship.

"Toro!" I called over the fleet communications (comms) channel, "I have discovered a wild beast that needs to be put out of it's misery. Please collect yourself, and set coordinates to my location in .45."
"Wow, sounds bad. On my way, Pegleg." I knew Toro was somewhere in the Leurtmar system shopping for upgrades for her hauler. Forty-five seconds would provide me enough time to afford a comfortable distance to bookmark my safe spot. At forty-six seconds, I would align and warp to BFAM's jet-can and attempt to seize any contraband. With a little luck, I might discover an opportunity to free the 'Phoon from humiliating servitude.

nephalim3 of Brothers' From Another Mother (BFAM)
Forty-four seconds passed before Aura notified me of a small spatial anomaly close to Panty Dropper, where Toro's hauler would soon be. At forty-six seconds I aligned my frigate to BFAM's jet-can, then initiated the short warp jump. Two seconds later my Rifter dropped out of warp approximately 2100 meters (m.) from BFAM's jet-can. I peered inside the jet-can to discover approximately 13,750 m3 of ore, or roughly half of the jet-can's capacity.

At that instant the capsuleer piloting the Typhoon, nephalim3, released five T1 Acolyte scout drones'. Resembling a wasp, the Acolyte is capable of delivering a base damage of 14 hp EM type, with a tracking speed of 2.47 radials a second. Fast and small, the Acolyte has a maximum velocity of 3800 meters' per second (m/s), and a 25 m signature radius. Five buzzing insects buzzing lazily around the Typhoon- an obvious show of force in an attempt to deter me from pilfering the contents of BFAM's jet-can.

Turning the focus of my attention from my frigate's port side to her starboard side, I noticed the pilot of the Retriever was surrounded with her own swarm of nasty little drones- Berserker SW-900 series to be exact. The Berserker SW-900 drone is a heavy webifier drone specializing in slowing a target's velocity, in turn improving the tracking ability for large weapon types. The Berserker SW-900 is slow, with top velocity topping at 1500 m/s, however, the drone's webifier range is a cool 7,000 m, causing a 20% decrease in target's velocity.

With little claim to experience in combating Berserker SW-900 series type drones, I was curious if their webifier modules would stack. My eyes darted to port where, in the distance, the mighty Typhoon battleship. What if nephalim3's T1 Acolytes' were merely a ruse, and nestled in his battleship's 175 m3 drone bay were the T2 equivalents? A sobering thought, and one that would spell certain doom for my frigate, Panty Dropper. After carefully weighing my options, I decided to challenge the corporation, Brothers' From Another Mother. Defiantly, I transferred BFMA's ore from their jet-can into one of my own.

Some precious seconds passed without so much as a flinch from any of the three pilots flying the BFAM corp flag. Then it happened. nephalim3's Typhoon began acquisition of a target solution on my frigate, Panty Dropper. A yellow/gold square began flashing around the battleship, represented as a white square on my Heads Up Display (HUD). As my adrenal gland pumped adrenaline throughout my body, that familiar sense of vertigo climbed up and out of my gut, spilling over into my limbs.

My cheeks began to tingle as one by one, each of the five Acolyte drones (each represented as an "x" on my HUD surrounded by a flashing yellow/gold square) locked in a firing solution on my Rifter. Instinct dictated that I immediately acquire a firing solution on the Typhoon, followed by as many drones as my ship's targeting capacity would allow. However, I vetoed my instinct, and did not begin immediately targeting the battleship. Instead I acquired firing solutions' for three of the five Acolyte drones while at the same time I plotted a tight, fast orbit around the nephalim3's battleship. I fired Panty Dropper's afterburner, multiplying my frigate's thrust three-fold.

As the gold box flashing around each of the Acolyte drones- those tiny little ex's displayed on my HUD turned to red, the Retriever pilot's five Berserker SW-900s' were each surrounded by a golden flashing box in turn. I admit I experienced a moment of hesitation before locking in my last available target; Panty Dropper requires little time to ruin a Retriever. I stole a glimpse of the disheveled Typhoon battleship that my frigate was currently orbiting and was immediately steeled. I instructed Aura to acquire a firing solution on the Typhoon- I would not allow that poor creature to endure another day of this sort of menial existence.

I ignited my warp scrambler, and focused it on the battleship- nephalim3 would not leave with that ship this day. I felt the first effects of the Berserkers' webifier upon Panty Dropper, as her thrust was decreased to a little over 900 meters a second. I indiscriminately chose one of the three Acolytes I had a firing solution on and ignited my webifier. Once a drone is slowed it becomes a much easier target to neutralize, and my 150mm light auto cannon II wasted little time in turning the drone to dust. I instructed Aura to acquire a firing solution on one of two Acolytes that weren't targeted by my Rifter.

I rinsed and repeated this process until it appeared that nephalim3 no longer had any more to toss into the fray- at that moment I had obliterated ten Acolyte drones! I turned my attention to the obnoxious Berserker drones- all five were enjoying sufficient luck in "webbing" Panty Dropper. I used the same process as I did with the Acolyte drones'; when a Berserker was wrecked, I would target another, slow it down, then Panty Dropper chewed threw it with her auto cannons.

When there were no longer drones to target, I locked in a firing solution on the Retriever- still orbiting the battleship! My Rifter's autocannons' hurled advanced projectiles at the ship, neutralizing shields and tearing away armor very fast! The Retriever's hull proved very tender, however, the pod pilot inside the mining vessel managed to warp out of 3-2 salvaging her ship with a mere 5% hull integrity left! In hind sight, I was shocked to discover a lack of kill mail for the vessel!

I focused Panty Dropper's deadly attention on nephalim3's battleship. All three of my autocannons' pumped Republic Fleet ammo into the Typhoon's shields. The massive ship shrugged off my weapons' fire with minimal effort, however, I was intent on breaking her shields so I stayed the course. Slowly- painfully slow, the battleship's shields could not compensate for my assault and gave a little by the minute.

When the Typhoon's shields reached 10% capacity, the capsuleer piloting the Bantam engaged Panty Dropper in a vain attempt to divert my focus from nephalim3's battleship. I taught the frigate pilot a lesson, and focused my three auto cannons on the Bantam. The pilot had to evacuate 3-2 almost immediately, failing to cause any significant pause to my attack on the Typhoon. Once again, my autocannons' turned upon the massive battleship and some time later its shields were neutralized. Finally- FINALLY, my munitions hit armor.

Then events took an interesting turn. Aura reported an anomaly matching the description of a warp signature generated by a cruiser sized ship, approximately 8,000 Km. starboard of the Typhoon. Aura then reported that in place of the anomaly, a Stabber cruiser-class ship had materialized.

The Stabber, a light and very fast, Minmatar cruiser boasts six high-slots: Four hard-points dedicated to turrets, and two hard-points dedicated to launchers. The Stabber, a slender ship with a beak-like nose, resembled some sort of featherless, wingless, armored avian. Cruisers are nominally fitted with medium sized weaponry- little threat to my frigate as long as I am able to maintain a high velocity. However, with adequate distance and a straight trajectory, a medium-sized weapon could spell trouble for my frigate regardless of how fast I'm traveling.

The cruiser was piloted by the same female that had nearly lost a Retriever moments before. I succeeded in locking in a target solution on the Stabber before it's pilot could reciprocate. I quickly redirected the focus of my three autocannons away from the Typhoon and onto the Stabber. To ensure that my autocannons successfully tracked the Stabber, I focused my webifier on the cruiser as well; although minuscule, the benefit to tracking for each autocannon would translate to an increase in damage per second (DPS)- regardless of how minute.

In succession, each of Panty Dropper's three autocannons' whirred to life, hurling their deadly payload at dizzying speeds. Due to the sheer distance between my frigate and the Stabber, my weapons missed more than they hit. In the mean time, the Stabber had successfully locked my Rifter and successfully landed medium autocannon rounds, followed by missile reports pummeling her shields.

Within two rounds of fire, Panty Dropper's shields had nearly failed- I absently hovered my finger over the button that would activate my armor repair (armor rep) module. One more successful round of munitions would force me "into armor"- a feat that Brothers' From Another Mother had yet to accomplish!

My armor rep was more than able to compensate, and neutralize, the Stabber's DPS. In other words, my armor tank held steady at roughly 85%. On the other hand, Panty Dropper's three autocannons had successfully chewed through the cruiser's shields, and had since started carving into armor. It didn't take long to peel away that layer of armor to expose the Stabber's delicate hull.

The Stabber's pilot disengaged from the fray, and aligned her smouldering cruiser to some distant point in space. The cruiser warped out of 3-2 alight with flame with little more than 20% hull integrity left. In all honesty, I am perplexed how that cruiser didn't fall apart under the duress of warp travel!

With all three of my frigate's autocannons' once again focused on the Typhoon, each turret's munitions were almost depleted. One by one I deactivated each autocannon, replenished the weapon's ammunition, and then reactivated the weapon. Soon the Typhoon's armor could no longer sustain the damage my autocannons' spewed into the battleship. All over the length of the battleship, large patches of hull membrane were visible- exposed where armor plating had been shed.

I began focusing Panty Dropper's projectile weapons' at those patches of hull. Even with a mass far dwarfing my frigate, the Typhoon's hull was no less vulnerable than any other ship- there was just more of it. A lot more...

The battleship's hull integrity down to 33%, The BFAM Stabber cruiser dropped out of warp in 3-2 approximately 12,000 Km. from Panty Dropper's orbit around the Typhoon. The Stabber screamed toward the battleship- the pilot attempting, in vain, to halt the destruction of her corp mate's ship.

However, I did not take the bait, instead, I continued to allow Panty Dropper  to pump ammo round after ammo round into the Typhoon. The battleship was barely recognizable with rents and gapes deep in it's hull membrane. Gouts' of flame, smoke, and detritus trailed the failing ship. It was so close to attaining sweet release! I could almost sense the battleship's plea for oblivion crescendo! The moment moved me to prose, so I opened a local comms channel and pontificated:

"As her armor fails a new warrior enters the fray- fresh.
...To no avail.
The worm capitulates.
It feels death near.
lapping at it's hindquarters- it is ablaze.
Demise is certain.
Soon, Dearheart. Soon."

A brilliant flash was followed by a powerful report that reverberated through my pod. Panty Dropper spun out of control as a result of the massive release of energy, and it took me some time to regain control of my frigate. Unfortunately, once I had regained control of my ship, the Stabber had long since warped away.

I smiled to myself with satisfaction, remembering well how it felt to be released from the bonds of servitude.

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