Saturday, 30 August 2008

Survival of the small fish

After a good night's rest, I grabbed breakfast (ok, a nutribar isn't much of a breakfast, but it does the trick) and jumped on my Osprey. I checked my comms channel with my corp, and true to form... no one had woken up.




Instictively, I checked if ammo was loaded and then hit the launch sequence.

"Ah... how nice these auto-undocking sequences are" I mumbled to myself.

True to form, my ship exited the dock gate, I picked a belt in the system that had brought me quite some profit the day before and a series of commands went down the neural link at the speed of thought...

>> Target location acquired
>> Ship alignment...
>> Ship alignment complete
>> Warp Initiation...
>> Warp Initiated

The viewpoint I had of the outside world narrowed, as the ship went to warp and the camera drones hustled inside the warp bubble surrounding the ship.

Arriving at my destination, my ship started frantically acquiring targets, in the form of... asteroids. A had a second sweep with my scanner to confirm no other ships were present.

Good. I like a good, quiet morning.

Mentally flicking through the sensor overviews, I marked half a dozen rich plagio roids and discarded the rest. After a moment of consideration, I moved closer to a pair of them and brought the Acid Grasshopper to a halt.

The tier 2 miners flared up and started cutting out big chunks of pure ore. I set a canister near me and drifted into the slow-paced monotony of the glorious cycle of the lasers.


About an hour later, and with the can almost full, I decided it was time to haul. I disengaged the lasers and...

My eyebrow was instinctively raised at the sight of a small frigate that had just been picked up by my sensors. I was slowly coming closer. I marked the ship and started downloading information on the ship and the pilot...

Hmmm... Tier 2 frigate. Laser weapons fitted most probably. Pilot... experienced.

I idled. And then it hit me.

He started flashing all red on my overview. The canister that was right next to my ship had just imploded, a clear sign it'd just been left empty and with the pressure seal open.

I immediately locked him with my weapons (well, my one malkuth class assault missile launcher), and readied the two light attack drones to launch.

The synapses in my sleepy brain got it right. A "can flipper". That's what he wants! He's flagged as free-to-fire from Concord for me and my corp. But I'm alone this early in the morning. And badly outgunned.

A few select swearwords were hissed down the comms channel, with no intended recipient on the other end.

I check my corp channel. I flick through all my known comms channels of friendly corps. No one near, no one that can help out.

I orbited around the can he'd left, containing my ore. He initiated a comms channel.

>> "Hello"


>> "I got your ore here. You want it back?"

>"You stole my ore more like it."

>> "It's worth about 1,5 - 2 million"


>> "I'm a fair guy, you can pay me half of that, I'll sell it to you for 750k isk"

"Sell?!" I thought to myself. "No friggin' way!"

>"No thank you." I hissed my reply.

>> "If you don't pay me, I'll be forced to blow it all up. Do you really want that?"

> "Go ahead."

>> "It's a waste of ore... and your time... As I said I'm a fair guy..."

> "Go ahead an blow it."

>> "Unless you want to fight me and take it"

Oh great... to add insult to injury, he thinks I'm a total idiot. Me in my mediocre miner, armed just for the occasional wondering lowly rat-pirate, against a T2 frigate, probably armed to the teeth and specced just for the job. Yeah. Fair play from a "fair guy".

> "Nope. Go ahead and blow it. Cause there's no way I'm paying you and there's no way I'm fighting you in this"

>> "Ok."

I see his lasers fire up and the canister blowing up in a small blast, all contents scattering in an irrevocably irretrievable form.

But I'm already warping. I bite my teeth and this is already past me. I got joked upon. I got "velvet" pirated. But I reacted in the correct way. Warping to HQ station, I replenish my ammo, undock and head to the next system.

Next system being a dead-end system, I hope that guy doesn't show up again.

I pick a belt, warp in, set up business and start filling another can.

45 minutes later, guess who shows up? Yup, it's the damn pirate again.

He initiates comms. I cancel. He initiates again...

>> "Hahaha same deal as before?"

I load as much ore to my cargo bay as it will fit.

> "Go ahead and blow this one up too :)"

I close the channel.

He initiates comms channel a couple of times more, I cancel them, with the thought that I make him pay for them, without him getting anything in return.

I turn around, target the can with my weapons, and fire a couple of missiles at it. The pirate's ship comes closer and firing at the can in turn, blows it to bits. Again.

That's nearly 4 million ISK he's cost me so far... and that's quite a bit by my tiny debt-laden wallet *sigh*

I flag him and his corporation as red, with -10 standing towards me. The standings flag propagates to the rest of my corp's ships. Reason "Can flipping. Piracy".

I spent some considerable time for the rest of the afternoon mining a single cargo bay and warping back to station each time.

I'm determined not to be put off my business by whomever, whatever, whenever.

I am a small fish, and I need to survive.

And survive I will.

[NEXT: How a lowly miner gets *gulp* concorded!]

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Silent Awakenings

I suddenly opened my eyes, my slumber cut short by the humming noise of a power generator nearby. I grumpily realised what woke me up, and deciding it would be near-impossible to carry on with my much-desired sleeping session now that I'd opened my eyes, I checked my wristwatch.

Hrmf. Near-noon.

I wasn't going to let another day go by wasted, so I scrambled to my feet, checked for flashing lights in the engine bay and went towards the cockpit.

"I really need to stop falling asleep in the hangar like this", I muttered to myself.

Yesterday was another all-day prep session for the ship. All good and dandy to gather the cash to buy this new ship, but -following my principles- I wouldn't be caught dead flying a vessel I wasn't absolutely familiar with every inch of every dark little maintenance bay of it. Either that, or I could be caught dead later, literally. Simple as they come. Rules are there to be broken, except the rules we set unto ourselves by ourselves. So the entirety of the day before had been spent reading blueprints, running system-wide checks and trying to figure new innovative ways to get access to the innermost parts of the new ship without stripping it out completely. Needless to say, this right about came to an end in the wee hours...

But I'm happy. I'd dusted off my flight school knowledge on the cruiser class ships, double-checked all systems and even installed all the new software patches.

I dragged myself outside, trying to determine whether I had time to grab a cup of coffee before I set this bird loose of the gravity jacks of the hangar and got on with business. Deciding I shouldn't really waste any more time procrastinating, I changed to my podwear and immersed myself in the claustrophobic interior of the pod. The tiny hatch sealed and the small space quickly filled with too-familiar viscous perfluorocarbon liquid. Though I couldn't see it, I could hear one of the huge robotic arms of the hangar place the pod inside the newly-acquired ship.

>> System start....

>> Running system-wide check....

A long list of systems and their subsystems wized past my eyes. All readings were green.

>> System status: Optimal
>> Cap Charge is at 100%
>> System ready

I mentally sent the command to initiate undocking sequence. The system sprung to action, clearing the steps needed and getting directions towards the outer shell of the station.

The last -triple- bay doors opened, and my view was filled with the familiar view of the three frozen moons of the nearest planet. The fourth was out of view.

I set thrusters to 5% forward and slowly drifted into space. The ship cleared the undocking bay and the doors slammed shut behind. This is it. The first ship I'd earned by myself. My first non-fifth-hand lowly frigate. My first real ship.

I paused for a second, mentally going through each jump of the entire journey that was planned ahead. The route was already keyed in autopilot, but autopilot is not for pilots. I checked the overview window, picked up the only available gate out of this dead-end system and set course. The ship sprung to action, and the warp drive indications quickly showed alignment and finally...

>> Warp Initiated

I smiled.

The void smiled back.