Sometimes (though not as often as I might like) a good fight never gets posted to the killboards. And so it happened yesterday in two separate Tusker actions against Ravens.
Early in the day, I was roaming in an ad hoc Tusker gang when Suleiman Shouaa spied a Raven and a Loki in Hulmate. They actually fired on him as he undocked from the station! "These guys want to play. I'm going to try to draw them off the station," he reported. (Tuskers generally don't fight at stations or gates, as the sentry guns have a grudge against us and almost always choose to support the other side.)
So Suleiman flew his ship (I think it was an Arbitrator) to a planet while the rest of us--I in an Ishtar, Ronan Jacques in a Rapier, and new Tusker Ian Morrolan in an Ishkur--took position at the Hulmate gate in Onne. I should tell you that at this point all I was thinking was, "We're seriously trying to engage a Raven and a Loki? Dang, I'm going to lose my Ishtar." But of course, I wanted to seem cool and brave in front of my corp mates, so I went along.
For better or for worse, Suleiman managed to get a tackle on the Raven at a planet. The rest of us jumped in and sped to his aid. At first, the fight went well. The Raven's drones were hurting Suleiman, so we killed them; after that, we had no problem staying under the Raven's long-range guns.
And then the Loki showed up on our 360-degree scanners. "Get ready! Here comes the Loki. Primary the Loki when it arrives!" So we all got as ready as could be.
But the Loki didn't come. It disappeared from our scanners.
Turning my attention back to the Raven, I was happy to see his tank would not be a problem for us. With a little effort we had him out of shields. Should we ransom him? "Let's ransom him. Everyone stop shooting," I ordered. "Wait! I see a capsule...he's ejected! Stop shooting!" Suleiman interrupted. But still the Raven's hull was taking damage. Someone was still shooting at a ship we now considered our own. "Stop shooting! Get your drones off!" By the time everyone most assuredly did call in their drones and disengage their turrets, the mighty Caldari battleship has barely 50% structure left...just enough for the air machines to keep up with the leaks.
Now our problem was what a set of pilots specced for Amarr, Gallente, and Minmatar combat vessels should do with a Caldari workhorse. Ronan Jacques had to leave, so the rest of us opened up our black books and got busy. First, we confirmed that no fellow Tuskers we could get ahold of knew how to fly a Raven. Next we turned to the Tusker public channel--a dodgy sort of place populated by hopeful recruits, professional contacts, and intel-gathering opponents. It was with a sigh of relief we learned that Drummond, a pilot who was in the process of applying to our corp, was willing to help and able to sit at the con of a Raven.
So there we were, three pilots in small ships with global criminal timers, orbiting a prize ship at a celestial in the middle of Hulmate. Our savior Drummond was on his way but had about a dozen systems to navigate getting there. We began to look over our shoulder. In our eyes, every frigate was the scout for the Raven pilot's friends, every cruiser was the vanguard of a counter-attack. Nervously now and then one of us would ask Drummond for a status update. We counted our ISK (What bounty might be in the Raven's hold? With what faction modules might she be fitted?) and we counted pilots in local. Drummond was almost here.
The Loki showed up again on 360. A battlecruiser showed up on 360. Both ships stayed on 360. Local spiked. My heart pounded. "Hurry man! They're about to rain destruction and ruin on us all and take the Raven back!" Drummond docked up and left his ship in the hangar. Drummond undocked and warped our way. "Stop shooting the Raven; let's let it build up its shields a little now that Drummond will be flying her," I said. Suleiman was more helpful: "Stop targeting the Raven altogether, otherwise Drummond won't be able to board." Finally the Raven's transponder blipped and now Drummond's name was on the tag.
I warped our gang (now including a Raven) to a safe spot, imagining teeth nipping at my heels. We all did whatever pilots do to relax--had a smoke, sipped some coffee, or got a back rub from an exotic dancer. Still greedy at heart, we queried Drummond on the Raven, learning it was T2 fit but not for PVP, and that only cap boosters and ammo were found in the holds. Still, she was triple-rigged, and none of us announced his intention of turning down the loot split. Our criminal status notched down, the Raven's shields at full, we scouted her home to Hevrice. I began speccing for Caldari battleships (I already had the textbooks and manuals, just had never got around to peeling off the shrinkwrap) with the idea of fitting hull reppers on her later and saving us some ISK; in the meantime Suleiman fit some remote armor repairers and saved us a lot more. So that's why there's (temporarily) a refurbished Raven in my hangar.
The second story, I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear, is shorter. "There's a Raven at one of the belts in Old Man Star. Are any Tuskers nearby?" Issamailkin is an impatient and foolhardy Tusker but he does wrap himself in glory. As it turned out, there were no Tusker pilots nearby, but several of us were near Hevrice and announced our intention of fitting out proper ships with which to address a battleship and head his way. I organized a fleet and headed towards Old Man Star in a Blackbird.
Old Man Star is the Wild West of the Essence region. Mighty Gallente and Caldari fleets clash there often, and when they don't have each other to shoot at, they don't object to shooting at anything else with a warp drive and an airlock. Cocky pilots looking for a reputation prowl the first asteroid field around planet V picking fights. Gangs of pirates and vigilantes organize raids and traps. It is common to find oneself in a three- or four-way fight, with each side trying to figure out who to primary, who to smile at, when to loot, when to cut one's losses, and when to just worry about one's implants.
In the middle of all this was Issamailkin, sitting at the con of a destroyer and shadowing a Caldari battleship. "It looks like he's ratting. He just warped to another belt. How far away are you guys? This belt is out of scan range from everyone else in the system center." This worried me. Issamailkin has a tendency to rush in where angels fear to tread. Worse, the angels seem to like him for it. As a fleet commander, I've used Issamailkin as bait on many an occasion, and find it unnatural how he'll often annihilate an entire gang with his T1 cruiser before his backup can warp to his position from our hiding place. "I'm two jumps out! I'm approaching the Ladistier gate in Aeschee now!" I reported. Another Tusker was just one system behind me. I started muttering to myself..."Issa, be patient. You're in a destroyer and that's a battleship we're talking about. We're almost there. Steady, Issa, steady..." But to no avail.
"I'm going in for a point. Hurry up guys." I hadn't even landed in Ladistier yet.
On our way!" I confirmed, as I landed and immediately gave the command to warp to the Old Man Star gate.
"Point!" That's right, Issamailkin had tackled a battleship with his destroyer. "Oh, good, he's not hitting me at all. I'm under his guns." Based on past experience, I now feared not for Issa's safety but that the Raven would be dead before I could ninja the killmail. Of course, another part of me, based on a different past experience set, couldn't see how this would be possible. Nevertheless, I tried stalling him: "Maybe you could ransom him. Tell him you have a gang on its way." I was dropping out of warp at the Old Man Star gate.
Issamailkin liked the idea of a ransom. "How much should I ask?" he wondered. I think I suggested 50-75 million ISK, figuring the Raven was insured but maybe the pilot had implants. As I finally began warping to Issamailkin, he reported "He's going to pay. So don't shoot him if you get here in time." (That's right, he said "if" not "when.") My blackbird dropped out of warp 50 km from the action, and as fast as I could I began trying to jam the Raven.
"Is he still targeting you?" I asked. I wanted Issa to know I'd made it on scene and was Providing Combat Support.
"Yeah," was the response. "I just got him to pay me 120 million ISK. Let him go."
"Roger that" was all I could say as, seconds after engaging the Raven, I warped to a safe spot in space.
"Ka Jolo, do you want any of this ISK?" Issamailkin was being both hopeful and gracious.
"You're darned right I want some ISK. I'm a greedy pirate. But whatever you think is fair; I barely made it there in time to get one jam cycle in." It turns out Issamailkin is generous and gracious.
May there be many more days like yesterday, where I post not a single Raven killmail!