Monday, April 11, 2011

Slaying the Dragon

[ 2011.03.17 00:20:45 ] titansforever > only little pussies use warp blocker

Orduin. A system in Minmatar space containing six unique asteroid belts. Concord maintains a visible presence in the system, as Orduin boasts an .8 security status. Nestled within my pod, I willed my frigate, Panty Dropper, on a series of short warps' throughout Orduin on a hunt for any unclaimed detritus left about the system. Using the directional scanner, I discovered a cargo container and a pilot operating a Retriever, a medium sized ORE Syndicate mining craft, in asteroid belt 8-2.

"Titansforever's Retriever," I said aloud, processing the information that my Rifter's directional scan had provided. I quickly performed an information query on titansforever, and was rewarded with his public file. A pilot for one year and two months, titansforever was apparently of Amarrian descent and a member of an industrial corporation known as Viziam. Viziam is exclusive to pure-blood Amarrians and is actually a remnant of a failed Amarrian technologies company.

My mouth formed a frown at the thought of an Amarrian pilot mining ore within the Minmatar Republic- such audacity! My eyes turned to slits as I opened a fleet communications (comms) channel and spoke to my hired hauler, Aha Toro, "Miss Toro, I have found a pest infesting the Orduin system. Would you do me the honor of plotting a course to 8-2?"
"I am undocking now, Peg." Toro replied in a lathargic tone. I was aware that she had been fervently studying shield technology in order to improve her abilities in the use of shields, however, I was not prepared for the toll it would have on Toro. Perhaps Miss Toro would benefit from a tiny leave from our activities to regroup. A vacation might just be the answer to snap Toro back to her peppy self. I would suggest a vacation, later, after the day's venture.

I plotted a course for a safe spot located approximately 250 Kilometers (Km) from the center of asteroid belt 8-2 into my ship's computer. Panty Dropper's artificial intelligence, Aura, confirmed that the destination was successfully processed when it announced in a familiar female voice, "Warp Drive Active". Panty Dropper hurled forward at speeds faster than light, spanning an incredible distance in just a few seconds. Once my frigate arrived at my chosen coordinates, she glided to a halt. Before Panty Dropper, approximately 239 Km away, was titansforever's Retriever. A jet-can located adjacent to the mining vessel, according to Aura, belonged to the Amarrian pilot. I allowed  my frigate to drift lazily as I provided titansforever a little time to react to my arrival to 8-2.

Valuable information can be gleaned from a pod-pilot's reaction to various situations or stimuli. When titansforever failed to visibly react to my presence, I aligned Panty Dropper with his jet-can, then plotted a course to the object. In a mere two seconds I arrived 2,459 meters (m) away from the cargo container, adjacent to the Amarrian's Retriever. I briefly fired my Rifter's afterburner to gently nudge her closer to the jet-can. The short burst of velocity gave my Rifter just enough propulsion to place it a mere 539 m. from the object. I quickly peered inside the cargo container to find within nearly 27 cubic meters (m3) of ore.

Titansforever, sucking precious lifeblood from the ass of Heimatar space like a dirty little parasite. Perhaps I could connive this man to engage me in a scuffle, and in the process maybe even teach him a valuable lesson in humility...

With practiced precision I transferred 25 cubic meters of ore painstakingly accumulated by titansforever, from his cargo container into one of my own.
Then, I sat.
I waited.
Yet, titansforever did not immediately react. "Perhaps this man is a 'bot' of some kind..." I pondered to myself. It was very common to find zombified pod pilots throughout New Eden; mindlessly following someone's unknown- yet sinister design. Titansforever powered down the two mining lasers he employed on his Retriever and a second later a visual representation of the mining ship displayed on my Heads Up Display (HUD) was highlighted by a gold, flashing square indicating that he was targeting my frigate!

Nope, not a bot!

I immediately provided Aura with the Retriever's coordinates and was rewarded with a firing solution. I ignited Panty Dropper's afterburner at about the same time that titansforever warped his Retriever out of the asteroid belt. With wise reasoning, titansforever had hesitated engaging me with his mining vessel.

What sort of ship would titansforever pilot to 8-2? A hauler class ship to retrieve his ore? Perhaps a vessel more suitable for combat? While I chewed on those questions, I instinctively warped my frigate to my previous safespot 275K away. I let Panty Dropper cruise at a very low speed parallel to the center of the asteroid belt, where I would wait for titansforever in the event he should return.

Minutes passed with little activity to speak of other than Toro arriving to the asteroid belt in her industrial ship. The massive hauler dropped out of warp near the center of asteroid belt 8-2, and some distance from my jet-can.
"Welcome, Miss Toro. There is a fair amount of ore located in my cargo container for you to impound and transport to the proper authorities." Aha Toro grumbled an ascent to my request and directed her lumbering ship toward my jet-can filled with ore. Then, a reading on Panty Dropper's directional scan forced me to raise an eyebrow with piqued interest. Mr. titansforever had failed to name his Drake which, no doubt, he was warping to my relative location at this very moment!
A Drake...

A battle cruiser, the Drake is a missile boat without rival- a result of Caldari engineering. However, the Caldari did not stop there; the Drake also provides a modifier to overall shield resistance, providing her pilot with exceptional damage potential and superior shield damage mitigation. Visually, the battle cruiser resembled a flat, pronged blade that was bent at a 40 degree angle at either edge- symmetrical and spartan.
A weapon. A weapon with a 25 m3 drone bay...

Titansforever was old enough to have potentially honed his skills enough to field T2 drones- my bane. Obviously, if I chose to engage titansforever, I would quickly discover exactly what titansforever's capabilities in the Drake were. I held enough faith in my frigate's ability to pull away from his battle cruiser in the event that titansforever employed a warp scrambler, or a stasis webifier. Neutralizing my ability to warp away if the fight began to favor the Amarrian, or the ability to neutralize my frigate's superior velocity would spell a quick end for my Rifter, Panty Dropper.

There was little to deliberate. How could any patriotic Minmatar citizen ignore an Amarrian slumming around Heimatar? Impossible! It was up to me to banish titansforever back to Amarrian space. Besting him in combat was my best chance...

Titansforever's Drake managed to drop out of warp at the very moment Toro filled her industrial with his ore. I wondered what sort of expression contorted titansforever's face at the sight of his precious ore being confiscated by Minmatar citizens'. Shock? Disgust? I would soon discover the answer first hand! I inputted warp coordinates to Aura, targeting my cargo container as a point of reference and tempered my excitement over the course of the short warp jump. As soon as I engaged my Rifter's afterburners, titansforever's Drake started to acquire a firing solution on my frigate. I replied in kind, as Panty Dropper's velocity quickly climbed. The Amarrian's battle cruiser launched it's first volley of heavy missiles originating from seven unique missile launchers adorning the Drake. Each of the seven heavy missiles generated plumes of spent propulsion fuel expanding out from titansforever's ship in a visually stunning display- like the raised wings of some majestic bird of prey.

Seven heavy missiles converged toward my Rifter, visibly correcting their trajectory to compensate for the agility of my frigate. The same instant titansforever fired his first volley of heavy missiles, his Drake was splashed a fluorescent red on my HUD- indicating that I could now attack him in kind. I pushed my frigate toward the battle cruiser, traveling well over 1,000 meters a second (m/s). I willed Panty Dropper through a series of evasive maneuvers as the distance between our ships closed.

I activated my Rifter's warp scrambler module with a mere 7,000 km separating Panty Dropper from titansforever's Drake. My pod lurched as the first wave of heavy missiles detonated against Panty Dropper's shield. Aura reported that first wave of missiles had consumed 40% of my Rifter's shield capacity. In the meantime another volley of seven missiles arced toward Panty Dropper, involuntarily my muscles tensed as I braced for a subsequent impact. As the distance between my Rifter and titansforever's battle cruiser quickly diminished, my eyes were fixed on the flurry of activity emanating from the Drake's drone bay. As the second wave of heavy missiles chewed into Panty Dropper's shield, a flurry of tiny, biting, things erupted from the innards of titansforever's ship. Like disturbed flies from a rotting corpse, five angry drones quickly descended upon Panty Dropper, each uniquely represented on my HUD as an "x" surrounded by a flashing gold box.

I shrugged off the physical jarring caused by the seven  successful missile reports that detonated against my Rifter's shield, and with focused precision I targeted three random drones in turn. Fortunately, titansforever's drones were T1 rather than T2. T1 drones presented a challenge to my frigate whereas T2 drones, and their increased Damage Per Second (DPS), would prove fatal.   

A third volley of missiles disintegrated my frigate's shield and licked her armor plating, exposing it to the pesky drones swarming around my Rifter. My frigate shook violently as a result of the impact.

Panty Dropper whipped around titansforever's Drake in a low 1,000 meter elliptical orbit at a dizzying speed. The combination of speed and tight orbit would diminish the Amarrian's heavy missile damage capability against my frigate, while I worked to neutralize his five Warrior drones. I paused at the sight of the exterior of titansforever's Drake. Through the haze of his ship's shield, every inch of  armor plating was covered in what appeared to be script written in an Amarrian tongue, unfamiliar to me. The words looked old and faded written with a flare that bordered artistic. On the belly of the Drake was a massive mural depicting the Amarrian Queen Jamyl I adorned in a flowing, white gown. In her right hand she held a sword aloft- ablaze. In her blood-drenched left hand, a heart. A scroll stretched before her feet, much of the language unfamiliar, however, I was able to decipher one phrase that made reference to the, "Damned Lower Race".

My Rifter, Panty Dropper, encircling titansforever's Drake.

The insect-like drones that fluttered and danced around Panty Dropper wrenched me from my revelry. Tiny drone munitions scored hits deep into my ship's layer of armor, peeling away chunks of armored shell that trailed behind my frigate tracing it's direction of travel. The addition of the five Warrior drones to titansforever's steady barrage of heavy missiles proved to be quite the challenge for Panty Dropper. My armor repair (repper) II module consumed precious capacitor in an attempt to keep up with the devastating amount of fire being focused on my Rifter. I activated my Nosferatu (Nos) II  and focused the energy capturing device on titansforever's ship. Just as the my frigate's three autocannon (AC) IIs munitions fire disintegrated one of titansforever's drones. I focused Panty Dropper's stasis webifier (webber) II and her three ACs' on a subsequent drone, while Aura resolved a firing solution on another. I repeated this process in turn until all five of titansforever's drones were eliminated. Aura reported gaping holes all over Panty Dropper's armored shell, which held at a mere 35% integrity.

Another round of seven heavy missile explosions rocked my Rifter as it circled the aft of titansforever's Drake.

As I brought my Rifter's autocannons' to bear on the battle cruiser, I watched five more Warrior drones erupt from the Drake's drone bay. Aura warned me that each of the five drones were attempting to lock firing solutions on Panty Dropper. Before my ship's AI had finished her sentence, titansforever's second wave of drones began their attack. For a second time, I quickly began the process of dispatching each of the five drones while they plied their dirty work. Fortunately, my repper managed to maintain Panty Dropper's armor integrity at 35% capacity. As long as titansforever did not deviate from his current 'modus operandi', my odds looked promising. Once the last drone was dispatched I eagerly set to work on the massive Drake my frigate encircled.

Titansforever's ship did not disgorge any more drones- much to my pleasure. Due to my frigate's energy vampire transplanting precious capacitor from the battle cruiser to my frigate, my ship's armor integrity had been restored to 100%. I performed a command that swapped out the T1 EMP S ammunition within my three autocannons with an upgraded equivalent: Republic Fleet EMP S. EMP S is a recent small projectile munition that emits a tiny EM charge upon impact. A natural selection to whittle away a ship's shielding! Obviously, the Republic Fleet makes a much stronger variant accessible through certain, seedy channels.

Each of my three autocannons whirred to life, spinning at an incomprehensible speed until each were a mere blur. Then, tracers illuminated the darkness raking along the Drake's ample shielding where small blue backjets surrounded by ripples, marked hundreds of impacts made by my Rifter's ammunition upon the Drake's shield. Slowly, the Drake's shields diminished as a result. Slowly, titansforever realized that a Rifter pilot had every intention of separating him from his Caldari warship. Slowly the Amarrian's arrogant demeanor slipped into that of panic.

Titansforever's Drake was fitted in such a way as to maximize the ship's shield as a primary form of damage mitigation and absorption- and in all honesty it was a formidable 'shield tank' to say the least. However, the battle cruiser's shield tank did fail and I began cutting into the battle cruiser's massive armor skin. In order to stem titansforever's shield tank capability, I cycled all of Panty Dropper's active modules. By doing so, I drained my frigate's capacitor which ensured that my ship's energy vampire would successfully suck capacitor from the Drake- a makeshift energy neutralizer, if you will. Neutralizing the Amarrian's ship's capacitor allowed my frigate's munitions to cut deeper into the ship's armored hull. Slowly armor plating melted away betraying the ancient Amarrian script that had been meticulously scribed over the length of the Drake. I made another pass parallel to the Drake's underbelly scoring critical hits with Panty Dropper's three auto cannons, marring the depiction of Jamyl I beyond recognition.

Inevitably reinforced alloys and metals gave way to expose the vulnerable hull of the battle cruiser. It was at this time that titansforever's panic reached a fever pitch! He opened a private communications (comms) channel with me, no doubt an attempt to hide the shame of an Amarrian forfeiting a battle cruiser to a simple Minmatar frigate pilot.

[ 2011.03.17 00:19:40 ] titansforever > could you lemme go plz?
[ 2011.03.17 00:19:46 ] titansforever > u got my ore
[ 2011.03.17 00:19:50 ] titansforever > wtf u want?

Titansforever's voice cracked with panic. Surely, I thought, he would agree to just about anything at this point to save face and, more importantly, save his Drake.

[ 2011.03.17 00:20:07 ] Pegleg Punk > Make my wallet blink, and you are free to go.

The Amarrian race as a whole are obstinate, short-sighted peoples. Titansforever being no exception:

[ 2011.03.17 00:20:17 ] titansforever > i dont have that much
[ 2011.03.17 00:20:23 ] titansforever > all i can give u is 10mil

...A grown man begging. Titansforever's grovelling forced my body to shudder involuntarily. Here was an Amarrian industrialist, whom moments earlier had sat content pilfering resources in a region of Minmatar space, pleading that I spare his ship. Such an abhorrent spectacle from a member of the "superior race". This very man, who only a short time ago, swaggered into asteroid belt 8-2 lazily aiming his hellish battle cruiser at my frigate, Panty Dropper! My, how titansforever's egotistical building blocks had tumbled by my hand- me, a member of the so-called, "lower race". Were the mongrel physically kneeling at my feet I would have introduced him to the heel of my boot for good measure.

I set aside my loathing, and cleared my head for the task at hand. The sheer delight of engaging a Drake, and ruining it, was a delicacy that I would long savor. As a ship, the Drake had proven a formidable opponent throughout my career as a pod pilot in New Eden. Now, the roles had reversed and titansforever and his Drake were at my mercy. As my Rifter's auto cannons whirred back to life to finish the kill, titansforever was beside himself;

[ 2011.03.17 00:20:26 ] titansforever > im not rich
[ 2011.03.17 00:20:36 ] titansforever > noob
[ 2011.03.17 00:20:43 ] Pegleg Punk > You should not fly what you dare not lose...

My frigate pumped munitions into the Drake's failing hull. A small chain of explosions illuminated the innards of the failed battle cruiser. All of those lesser reports grew into one fierce explosion, white with heat. The Drake did not part with one escape pod in the end- the entire ship's crew, save titansforever, perished with the battle cruiser. Remnants of the Drake persisted in a grim and twisted mess that commingled with the asteroids in belt 8-2.

As I picked through the wreckage that was once titansforever's Drake, the private comms channel that the Amarrian had initiated howled to life. How quickly titansforever shed his Amarrian aloofness to deliver such a weak insult aimed at me, his usuper;

[ 2011.03.17 00:20:45 ] titansforever > only little pussies use warp blocker
[ 2011.03.17 00:20:53 ] Pegleg Punk > Indeed! I am what I eat!
[ 2011.03.17 00:21:04 ] Pegleg Punk > Now, would that make you an ass, dear sir?

Seething, titansforever warped his pod out of 8-2 and the Orduin system proper, never to return. I taunted him as he ran away, "Bring another ship! I have plenty of ammunition. Amarrian pig- You should have paid my ransom..."

[ 2011.03.17 00:23:41 ] titansforever > hope your happy....

I laughed merrily- of course I was happy! I ruined a Drake piloting a Rifter, then rubbed a smug Amarrian's nose in it.  I attempted to dance a jig in the goo that encapsulated me within my pod...Toro had been privy to our conversation, unbeknownst to titansforever, spoke after he had left the channel in a slightly confused tone,
"Peg, what did he mean by that last remark? Hope you're happy."
"Just an Amarrian being Amarrian, my lovely. Sore to the bitter end, I'm sure."

I sensed Toro was not utterly convinced, however she did not persist. We were both overcome with glee when discovered that a rather shiny little module survived the destruction of titansforever's Drake, an Internal Force Field Array. That item alone would fetch 13-20 million from the right buyer.


Days later, I lay in a deep slumber in my personal quarters. A voice, shrill with terror rang out waking me with a start,"Pegleg! Wake up!" An effeminate figure in the darkness of my personal quarters stood above me, violently nudging me awake.
Unconsciously I grabbed the tapered portion of the figure's wrist with my right hand, placing the butt of my left palm just under the figure's chin. My calloused hands were met with soft, supple skin. Wet skin. My eyes, widened as my pupils attempted to adjust to the room's lack of light. As my mind shook away the remnants of sleep,  my grip on the shadowed figure softened. My tension was further eased when my sleepy brain realized it was Aha Toro. My reaction to her invasion of my sleeping quarters had shocked her into a still silence broken only by her stifled sobs. Toro was crying.

"My apologies, Aha, you startled me. What troubles you, Miss?"
Toro could barely formulate words through her tears. What would cause Toro to display such anguish?
I cradled her to my chest for a time, her body shuddered involuntarily as she sobbed. After some time had passed, Aha had managed to regain enough composure to speak,
"Pegleg, do you remember that Amarrian's parting words to you as he left the Orduin system?"
She paused waiting for my acknowledgement. Slowly, I nodded my head,
"I know what he was referring to." Tears streamed down Toro's comely face as she choked back another wave of sobs attempting to continue, "The reason we didn't see any escape pods jettison from that Drake- the reason we didn't find any survivors in belt 8-2 was because all hands perished with the ship. The entire crew were-"
And with that Toro lost her composure. She managed to spit out the last word, through her pitiful tears and a terrible pit formed in my stomach,
"-slaves! They were all slaves!"  she croaked.

I held Toro close to me- my grip tender, yet firm. I did not let go for some time, my mind processing  the information that had consumed her. It was now clear what titansforever's parting words had truly meant,
"Hope you're happy." He had said. Almost gloating. At the time, I merely dismissed the tone in the Amarrian's voice as derisive since he had just lost a battle cruiser to a Minmatar. Yet, in hindsight it was clear that titansforever had referred to his entire crew- Minmatar slaves that had perished as a result of his battle cruiser's destruction. Unbeknownst to me, I had sealed the fate for thousands of hapless souls chained to a madman's whim.
There is an old Minmatar proverb, roughly translated it says, "Woe to the dragonslayer, for the beasts wounds can become his own."
That silly old proverb never really held any meaning to me- until that moment when I held an inconsolable Toro in my arms.


As an aside, apparently I write like James Joyce:

I write like
James Joyce
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

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