I'd been having a slow couple of days. Finally today I got some action, but any gains were countered by losses; I killed a Retriever and an Osprey, but lost an Incursus and a Vexor in the process. Going around my hunting circuit one more time, I spotted a Stabber at an asteroid belt all by itself. I warped into the belt at a distance; I wanted to get close enough to identify the pilot and reckon my chances. I really shouldn't be taking on Stabbers all by myself in an Incursus, but if the pilots are inexperienced I'll do it anyway. I recognized the pilot, all right; he was a pirate I've tangled horns with before. This was definitely not something I wanted to do in my Incursus. Quickly, I warped to a station in the same station, and emerged moments later in a Thorax. The Stabber was still at the same belt; when I'd seen him before, he'd been some distance away from the asteroid belt, so I charted a course a little bit out from the belt, hoped I'd be out in the right direction, and engaged my drives.
We kinda looked at each other for a few moments. My adversary was over 100 kilometers away; neither of us could warp to the other, and I didn't want to try to close at impulse speed, as the Stabber has a much better optimal range than a Thorax like mine. At about the time I decided I'd have to warp out, and maybe come back at a different distance, a whole gang of ships jumped into the belt. There was a Blackbird (an electronics warfare cruiser), a Tristan, a Rifter, who knows what else--I set a destination for the first thing that came up under my cursor and got out of Dodge. I'd narrowly avoided a trap!
Then the Stabber pilot contacted me on a closed communications channel, proposing that the two of us join forces to go after the small fleet. I immediately suspected a trap; wasn't he sitting there all by himself at the belt as bait? Hadn't the fleet jumped in as soon as I appeared, not realizing I'd be some distance off from the belt? "I don't hang with non-flashies," he said, and that's what gave me pause. For while the Stabber had indeed been flagged as a criminal on my computer display, flashing red, the gang had shown as neutral or at worse low security status. What the heck--nothing ventured, nothing gained!
We bumbled around at first as a two-man gang. First we couldn't find the fleet, then we warped to different places. Finally the Stabber pilot warped in on them, back at the original belt, and called for me to warp to the belt. We agreed to go for the Blackbird first, as his EW capabilities could be crucial to the fight. I was nervous in warp; was I about to be stabbed in the back?
No. The Stabber pirate was true to his word. I quickly locked the Blackbird and sent my T2 Hammerheads his way; even though he soon broke my target lock, those drones would not leave him alone. Within a short time he warped away. Next I turned my firepower onto the Omen, as my ally grappled with a Tristan that had tackled him. Occasionally I shifted my warp scrambler or stasis webifier to another target, as the Stabber suggested, but he killed the Tristan and things were looking good. The Blackbird came back, and I sicced my drones on him again, and he left again. The Omen died, and I killed a Kestrel as my comrade powered our direction. The rest of our opponents scattered, warping out and leaving us some wrecks to loot--and we managed to take out one of their capsules while we were at it.
Before we could finish looting, the survivors were back--and this time there was a Myrmidon with them. Myrmidons are tough Battlecruiser-class drone boats; Stabber and I warped out quick. But almost as quick, the Stabber had second thoughts. He'd managed to get an ID on the Myrmidon pilot, and thought we could take him. So we agreed to go back for more; again, we would set the Blackbird as our primary target before engaging the Myrmidon. My ally wanted me to stay back out of the Myrmidon's web range, but I said I'd be going in close, under his guns. That was within his optimal--but mine, too, and there was a good chance he'd have larger guns and thus a harder time tracking me. We lost our foes, but I located them at a nearby planet. I warped in at range to verify their position; then Stabber warped right to them while I warped out and back.
As before, we targeted the Blackbird first; this time, when he fled, he didn't come back. The Myrmidon was next, and his tank held up well; but not well enough. Though it took a few minutes, the Myrmidon fell. The Tristan was back, this time in a mere Velator, and Stabber and I practically one-rounded him. Any enemies still alive warped away, and once more the field of battle was ours.
I had to make several trips from wrecks to a jettisoned cargo can to loot all the ships, and afterwards I met up with Stabber in a local space station to divvy things up. We'd knocked out a Myrmidon, an Omen, a Rifter, a Kestrel, a Tristan, and a Velator. By my estimate, Stabber and I should each be able to sell our share for over 9 million ISK.
The next time we meet, that rascally pirate might gank me, or I might send death and destruction screaming down on him. But just for today, two pirates with a dark history worked together, and were glad they did.
Update: Strive Nails of Death's Legion, the Stabber pilot, caught some of the action on film! You can check out the video here. Don't blink, and you can see my purple icon on his overview at 1:20 and 1:38.