Bounty hunting is my thing. It has always been my thing and it will likely stay my thing. Recently, however, I was struggling to hit the kind of payouts that I generally expect. I know the reason, a lot of my potential targets are currently prowling a nearby battlezone, having been recruited by nefarious parties to disrupt a rather important galactic event in Sirius. Hunting in and around the Sirius system was providing some profit, just not as much as I would have liked.
My comm buzzed.
"Wolf, you up for some lucrative work?" it was Elensar and he sounded excited.
Naturally I was interested. It turned out that the job was protecting an installation that was being targeted by a particularly persistent group. Elensar's plan was to fly his corvette to the site and run defence, with myself and another in his ship launched fighters.
I docked at Friend station and made my way over to the crew lounge to await my friend. The music was unusualy subtle for the time of day - the station had a day and night cycle of 30 hours and it was currently around mid morning. Normally the lounge would be full of pilots and support crew, all talking, eating and drinking, either getting ready to go out into the black or returning from a long trip out.
"Where is everyone?" I asked, gesturing to the very few occupants around the room.
"There is a war on in Diaguandri, half of the pilots are out there, seeking glory and credits," the woman at the bar paused, eyeing her reduced suplies on the shelves behind her, "I think the rest are running for as much stock as they can carry - last thing we need is Ray Gateway going under."
I ordered a light snack, some sort of bean meal grown in the inner ring of the station and awaited Elensar.
My comm beeped impatiently.
"Hangar 3 mate."
Thanking the bored looking barkeep I headed out onto the main concourse to one of the internal shuttle tubes to the far hangars. Ignoring the sales reps standing by the double doors leading to the south tube I swiped my wrist wallet over the reader and walked in. The tube was half full of people, all busy on their comm units or engaged in quiet conversation. I felt the dull pull of the inertial compensation field and the shuttle shot up the transport tube. A few seconds later and the doors opened, allowing myself and two others out into the huge hangar bay housing several very large ships. All of these belonged to my friend, the self made billionaire Elensar FXI. Service droids, simple robots with minimal artificial intelligence (in according with the strict non-sentience laws) bustled around cleaning, painting and generally making this small fleet shine. A small buggy pulled up and waited expectantly for me to take a seat, then raced off down the back wall of the hangar past rows and rows of massive engines.
Leaving the cavernous storage hangar we slowed as we entered the launch hanger. Sitting before me I was greeted by the sight of the federal corvette resting on it's enourmous landing gear and looking incredibly ready to destroy anything that challenged it. The view generally took my breath away with my own corvette, yet somehow this gold and black painted one seemed to make even more of an impression.
The buggy moved to the ramp and carried me into the belly of the beast, heading for the pilot lift located directly under the main bridge. I got off, walked up to the lift door and paused for a moment, waiting for the ready light to change. It did, the door slid open and I stepped inside. A few seconds later and they opened again, revealing the large bridge of the corvette. the main pilot seat located at the very front, surrounded around the front and sides by the vast main windows of multi-layered transparisteel. The seat rotated round, revealing the smiling face of Elensar, his light brown hair almost having a golden edge in the bright cockit lighting.
"Blitza will be with us in a mo, take a seat."
I sat in the seat just behind his and to the right, I had just turned it forward when the door opened again. I rotated back to face the new occupant.
"I'm in the mood to shoot things," declared Blitza, taking the other seat on the left, his black helmet reflecting the bridge lights.
"Perfect, let's get going then." Elensar span round in his seat, the lights dimmed appropriately so he could see out into the black.
The massive ship was moved via the even more massive lifting system from the hangar to the flight deck above. The station exit was infront of us, the traffic control cleared us and we took off. The rumbling clank of the landing gear retracting as we headed out the slot. Soon we were clear of the station, the ship computer countdown started.
"Four, three, two, one, engage"
Coming out of supercruise a few minutes later and a great station loomed before us, dwarfing the corvette. It was constructed of various large structures connected with a framework that defied being called a scaffold due to being thicker that our whole starship. Elensar demonstrated this be flying through it with ease. Pulling up we flew over the great cultivation fields, food being grown inside sealed domes with massive arraays of lights positioned ouside to simulate sunlight.
"Any minute now...." he muttered, checking his intel for a third time.
Multiple flashes of light appeared around us, the scanner lit up with multiple contacts. The pirates had arrived.
Flicking the controls I activated the fighter telepresence system and the fighter deployment protocols of the onboard hangars. My helmet deployed from my suit collar and my vision was filled with a new scene; the view from the small GU-97 Imperial ship launched fighter. The bay opened and I was catapulted from the corvette in a tiny ship. The ship launched fighters are basically an engine, power unit, shields and weapons. Even though they look as if they have a cockpit it is really just a sensor suite and a holographic projector - designed by a combat psychologist as apparently seeing the person attacking you adds intimidation.
My first target was a viper class combat ship, a relatively light class of ship it could stillcause quite a bit of damage. Well, it can if it lands a hit. However, my fighter was extremely nimble and caable of outmanouvering even this small attack ship. I got behind it and watched happily as the shields were elted from the viper with my twin beam lasers. As I flew through the fireball of the exploding craft I set my sights on a python that was attacking the corvette. My shots started to affect the much larger ship shields when I got hit hard by something to my right. Fighting to regain control of my spinning vessel I saw a federal assault ship peeling away after ramming me. It started to line up for an attack on my fighter, not good as my shields had been overloaded by the impact. Suddenly a hail of laserfire tore a chunk of hull from the side of the assault ship as Blitza landed some very solid hits. Turning to chase him the pirate failed to notice the path that Blitza was taking. Less than ten seconds later and the assault craft flew directly into the line of fire of Elensar in the corvette and exploded.
I got my control back, my shields regenerated and I headed straight for the next target, this one being another python, this time I did not get the first hit and instead a salvo of missiles ripped into my hull, the fighter was totally destroyed.
Back in the corvette the feed from the fighter faded out and I was back in my seat. I checked the fighter hangar and there was another ship ready for me to take. The bays on the corvette could launch two ships at a time and fabricate a new one if any were destroyed.
Returning to space I was rather pleased to find the same python still flying around. This time I boosted until directly behind it, firing at the engines until the python lost shields. Boosting past my target as it tried to swing around to counter attack I began strafing runs over it's hull until it blew apart.
Between the three of us we decimated the pirate forces and there were a lot of them. I racked up over thirty kills, just ahead of Blitza, although he did hit a lot of the larger ones. Elensar had taken out numerous crfat matching his size, something the fighters would have struggled with.
"OK, time to leave, " Elensar announced, killling the telepresence system and firing up the frame shift drive, "need to report this in at the carrier and then head back out to mop up any that return."
We made three trips to the installation in total, making a very nice profit in bounties between us.
With the installation safe we parted ways, each with our own tasks to do.
This was a fun time for us all, not so much for the pirates and I like to think we made the system that little bit safer for everyone.
One thing is for sure, I will be back in a fighter again soon as that was just too much fun!
Mining, as I have said before, is not normally an activity I relish. Unfortunately, it is sometimes needed in order to acquire some of rarer materials for improving a combat ship.
On this occasion I had removed most of the weapons from my Imperial Cutter and loaded it up with mining lasers, explosives and other rock digging gear. Then, all set for a long day of potential boredom I headed out to a ringed planet I had previously scanned.
Several hours later and my comm system stirred me from a nap. The time had been uneventful, most would be pirates saw the Cutter and decided against an encounter. I flipped the controls.
"Wolf, you there?" It was Elensar, one of my friends from my squadron. "Yup, just carving rocks. What's up?" "I got it, the carrier is ready. Just started the countdown, will be somewhere in Mit in the next ten minutes or so." he sounded quite excited, and for good reason.
Fleet Carriers, once the sole joy of megacorporations and system armies, had become available to the general public. Elensar had been working with his various contacts and money making efforts in order to secure one of the gigantic craft. It had the potential to allow us to operate wherever we wanted, without any worry about finding a friendly dock. Now, finally, he had achieved his goal.
"See you there! Looking forward to seeing this," I said as I keyed in the navcomputer, "Just got to work out where you will pop out."
With a course laid in I pushed the throttle forward and was met with the swirling waves of the high wake jump. A few seconds later the multicoloured swirl became a bright star in my viewscreen, the automatic lenses in the cockpit preventing instant blindness. I started the full spectrum scanner and checked all readings.
"I don't see any sign of a jump point yet." "No, just on the 5 minute countdown. Keep looking." he replied.
Suddenly a new signal appeared and I zoomed the scanner focus onto it. [Tetragrammaton] "I see a Tetragrammaton - that you?" "Yes Wolf, that's me - see if you can beat me there!"
I locked onto the signal and turned my Cutter to head to the jump point. Luckily it was fairly close and I very soon dropped back out into normal space. A flash alongside me denoted a ship coming out of supercruise and I looked to my left. It was not a carrier, it was a fully armed Fer-De-Lance combat ship who greeted me with a stream of laserfire. I realised that my big ship, laden with valuable minerals and not well armed, must have seen to be a perfect score for a pirate.
A siren went off in my cockpit, different to the one denoting my shields getting hammered this one sounded as if denoting something big. It was. The space in front of me suddenly darkened, not just the blackness of space itself but the area actually got darker as the stars behind it disappeared. The black cloud parted as a massive ship tore into being before me. Emerging like a great sail galleon from the mists, reminding me of the holovid remakes of Earth pirates I watched as a child.
The space around the blackness crackled with lightning, some of which seemed to curl around the carrier, lighting the behemoth in a way that struck awe in myself and probable fear in my pursuer.
"This is a no fire zone, please stow your weapons"
I hit boosters and headed straight for Tetragrammaton. Behind me the combat ship carried on firing, lasers slowly draining my defences. I dodged left and right, watching as the stray shots got closer to the huge vessel.
As we got nearer I could make out the massive defence turrets lining the side facing us and the pilot behind me saw them too. I watched the signal vanish from my scanner as the would-be pirate hit supercruise and got away.
I did a flyby, admiring the fleet carrier's sleek exterior. Then heading for a clear landing pad I docked, looking forward to seeing what adventures this would bring.
One of the main ways that a lot of pilots employ to make money in the galaxy is mining. Not digging holes in the ground, mining in space involves drilling through asteroids with dedicated lasers, launching missiles with drill bit tips or even the brute force of a high explosive to crack an asteroid completely apart. Asteroids found within the rings of certain planets can yield massive results. Anything from previous elements to low temperature diamonds can be found for those willing to put the time in. Mining can also be a hazardous adventure, one wrong move and a ship can collide with one of the giant rocks, resulting in the destruction of that ship. Another risk miners face are pirates, opportunistic attacks from single craft armed to kill or dedicated wings of organised pirate groups, any pirate attack can result in disaster for a miner - flying ships fitted for breaking, refining and hauling rock, they tend to be neither agile nor armed for combat.
Mining is also something I have never really been involved in. Back in the early years it was a lot more complex, lasering chunks of rock and then having to fly your ship at the resulting fragments and literally scooping them into the cargo bay. In more recent times a lot of that mess has been replaced with the advent of limpet drones. These tiny robots have a very rudimentary brain, either guiding the robot to an asteroid and to scan and report on the mineral content or, more usefully some would say, actually collecting things and flying back to the ship with them. I personally use limit myself sometimes to salvage wreckages I find after combat.
I think it was this revelation that tempted me to try mining again. First I tried with an adder class ship, small and inexpensive, essential at the time as my finances were not yet very well built up. I fitted a mining laser, collector control system, refinery, cargo bay and as many limpets as I could squeeze in. My initial attempts at carving my fortune from the surface of the space boulders were not very successful. Yes, I took chunks off them, refining various materials from the fragments. The problems that mining brought for me were twofold; total inability to defend myself if I got intercepted and the problems of finding something worth mining. In hindsight, it would not have taken that much research to figure out where I was going wrong - I was still a young pilot at that stage and instead just brushed mining off as a corporate game, not for independents like me. I returned to earning my credits through combat and the occasional trading run for the next few years.
The advent of new technologies and techniques caught my interest more recently, with new seismic charges and the aforementioned drilling missiles becoming readily available. The thought of making things go boom certainly seemed more exciting than just firing lasers into a rock. This happened around the same time that the great mining rush for void opals and low temperature diamonds began and I feel I may have gotten a little caught up in that too.
I pooled my resources, selling off some old equipment and went for the latest ship available, the massive Lakon built Type Ten Defender - so named as it was originally constructed to battle the newly returned Thargoid fleets. I chose the ship due to it's size, defensive capabilities and also the fact it could take a hit from a rock and survive. Research was done, not making the mistake of last time, limpets were loaded, various new equipment fitted and off I went. My plan was simple, go to a relatively quiet system, one containing a planet with rings of ice and no stations. For my first time deep core mining I wanted to be able to focus on just that, so avoiding other ships by avoiding populated systems made sense to me. I travelled quite a way out and found a suitable system, a suitable planet and no other ships.
As I approached the target planet I activated my surface scanner, after first discovering that I needed to be in slow supercruise for it to actually work, and I aimed it at the planet's rings. The first probe I launched soared through the blackness of space between us until it neared the ring I had aimed at, then it veered off course, caught in the gravitational pull of the planet and slipped neatly between that and the ring, hurtling off into space. I fired again, this time taking gravity into account and aiming just out from where I wanted the probe to go. Again the probe curved but this time the new path this caused led it straight into the ice and rock filled ring. A pulse of blue swept across the image of the rings on my cockpit overlay and three orange patches appeared, highlighting good mining spots. Firing up the engines to a higher speed I flew straight for the nearest one, hoping that the scan was right.
The rings slowly changed from a band of colour into a line of massive rocks orbiting the pale blue planet. My supercruise cut out and I stared at the bewildering array of shapes in front of me. Activating the pulse wave analyser sent out another virtual wave of energy on my display - mimicking the actual wave of energy the system sent out. On my display this caused a couple of the asteroid bodies to faintly glow orange. I turned the ship to the right on a whim and fired the scanning pulse again. This time one of the rocks burst into a bright orange colour - denoting possible good content. The type ten's engines rumbled as I started moving closer to my target. I launched a limpet equipped with a prospector tool. The limpet flew nearly as fast as a missile then slowed itself before attaching to the surface of the great rock. A drilling tool, barbed with sensor equipment, bored down from the little probe and did the job of assessing the find. My computer reported the results, which turned out to be very positive indeed. The asteroid had some surface deposits of low temperature diamonds and a great core too. Following a hint I had acquired from another pilot I activate my night vision display, which made it a lot easier to see the fissures in the surface of the asteroid. Flicking the weapon group controls I loaded up the abrasion laser, aimed at the surface deposits and pulled the trigger. A ring of energy shot out and smashed into the surface of the rock, dislodging the valuable deposits into space. I waited as the asteroid rotated on it's axis from the impact and fired at the second one I had spotted. This one took two shots until it came loose. Lowering the cargo bay and launching a collector limpet I then waited for those deposits to be brought in, be loaded into the on board refinery and confirm the find. This was my first time using the equipment so I just wanted to be sure and I was not disappointed. Now for the big goal. Switching weapon systems again I loaded the seismic charges and aimed for the fissure in front of me, pulling the trigger I watched the shot zoom out and make impact.
Beep, beep, beep.
I waited, watching the countdown with anticipation and expecting a big explosion. The timer ticked down and then.
The explosion rocked my ship but not the target. I checked my flight recording to see what went wrong. I had not noticed that my shot with the explosive had missed the fissure, bounced and headed straight back to me. I tried again, this time taking a bit longer to line the shot up. This time not only did the charge look as if it went in properly, it also started to flash brightly - the charge had a warning beacon in it. Just to be certain I fired another charge into another fissure and that too started blinking.
The timer rang out.
The explosion was huge, the blastwave rocking my ship and causing half my computer systems to flicker off. The heads up display failed completely and I stared out of the transparisteel cockpit at the rock before me, split wide open into two main halves and a lot of other chunks. There was a massive dust and ice cloud around it, expanding out as I watched.
My systems came back online and I immediately checked my scanner. There were large amounts of low temperature diamonds, most of them floating around near the centre of the detonation, a few still attached to the main bulk of rock. I launched three limpets to start the collection and then toggled on my abrasion blaster to release those last pieces still attached.
Some of the desired materials made it back to my ship and I smiled to myself, this was fun. Then my smile faded as my limpets lost the plot and crashed into loose fragments of the asteroid. I needed to be closer to stop stray rocks hitting them. I launched three more and engaged my ship thrusters to move into the middle of the debris. This seemed to work and the limpets continued collecting, in my mind I could almost hear my little workers singing a song. The air in my cockpit became very cold, the thermo readout for the ship plummeted and ice started to form on the canopy. I had not considered how cold the core of a low temperature diamond could be!
With all the useful fragments completed I started my search for more suitable rocks. I found a few and did manage to make a good harvest.
I can see why someone would find this a good way to make profit, however, for me the task of then finding a suitable system that would take the haul at a reasonable price, then go back out to do it all again, that was daunting. For fear that boredom could occur, resulting in me colliding fatally with one asteroid too many, I decided that I would rather continue to make my money bounty hunting and working to support a cause.
I guess there are different types of pilot out there; those that will happily do any job for profit, those that like to do jobs that they can relax through and then my type - those who want to spend the time they can in space actively. Combat is a thrill, flying fast and loose - as in those old holovids - then going home to my family knowing that I have reduced the evils in space, that's how I work.
(In memory of my father)
I don't know how many of you grew up on holovids of the classics, when space battles were fictional and the technology we use today was not yet possible. I loved them, even though I knew that they were fantasies based on other worlds they also felt like a guide to what I would do with my life. We now had interstellar battles, space ships that could leave a world, save another and return, all these things that must have seemed crazy when they made these movies. It was after watching the latest remaster of A Star War that my father took me to the Sirocco Starport on Ross 154 to try my hand at real flying. My father had flown the original Cobra Mark Three series when it had first launched and I have fond memories as a teen taking the controls myself, although at that time it was purely on the simulator that we had in the house. Now I was to fly an actual ship.
The Gecko light fighter sat on the launch pad, a fairly basic wedge design with a number of different manufacturers making them the gecko model came in a variety of different forms. This one was a two seater, which made perfect sense as I was going to be flying into space under my own control for the first time. At first I had thought we were going up in a kestrel airfighter I had spotted when we first arrived. This would have made sense from the fact that it was a very limited ship and I wouldn't be able to accidentally jump out of the system, less so that to fit two people into it would have been an unbearable squeeze. The kestrel and the hawk airfighter series were ships which had been converted from being atmospheric to spacefaring with little external modification, meaning everything was packed inside with no spare space. Arriving at the main hatch my father gestured for me to climb aboard the gecko first, I did so then turned to face him from the top of the ramp. "Permission to board Captain?" he asked with a smile.
I laughed as he hauled himself into one of the seats in the cockpit, cursed as I struggled with the safety straps then sat back and felt elated to have the controls in my hands. A single flightstick went from the floor, between my knees and into my hands, a standard design in many ships including (from what I had seen) the cobra mark one. They changed it with the cobra three, the viper and pretty much retrofitted any other ship - if it was still in production - to a left and right handed arrangement. The gecko, which at the time was still being made, got missed out as it was such a cheap ship to start with. We contacted traffic control before launching and were told to wait as another ship was launching. I watched as a harris fighter soared over our heads and at the time I was struck with awe at the seemingly high tech Perez designed ship aimed straight up and fired it's powerful engines. Later on, of course, I discovered that those engines only looked powerful - the harris was notoriously slow in hyperspace and was outmatched by the Imperial Courier in every way.
Once the ship had vanished from sight we were given the go ahead to launch. I reached forward and keyed the launch engines, the gecko rising from the planet surface with surprising smoothness. Another sequence of presses and the landing gear retracted, getting a nod of approval from my father I pulled back on the main stick and pressed the throttle set controls to leave the atmosphere. Blue skies and the thin clouds over the starport gave way to the black of space and the distant stars. I check a monitor and watched the wet world of Ross 154 shrink away. I was in space! My father had plotted a course to take us around the nearby moon and then on to Ross 128.
"We are just using it as jump practice, there is nothing there but Grant's Claim and the prison and I better not have to ever visit you there!" my father had joked.
Now back in those days we did not have the Frame Shift Drive, as the technology was not yet available. We did not have the Torus Drive that my father had used in the past and I had used on the simulator - those had been removed due to concerns of how they worked. No, in the 3200s we had the dreams machine - it had a proper name but I cannot remember it! Basically once you achieved the correct speed and heading you would effectively speed up time, this worked by inducing a sort of waking coma - my father and I were still awake and I was still able to operate the controls, however, because our metabolic and mental functions had been greatly slowed time appeared to move a lot faster than normal. To us a week long journey travelling through space would feel like half an hour and we would only age about half an hour. This system had some benefits, such as being able to do more in a personal day and not having to endure space madness at the incredibly low process of timing the various thruster bursts needed. Instead the onboard computer did the piloting for simple journeys. The big downside was that although time moved quickly for us it ran as normal for others. So we might be gone a week but the people we see when we return have aged months.
Anyway, I set course for the moon and watched the stars blur as we seemingly raced through space. Taking the controls once more and coming out of the dreamlike state I entered the ship into orbit and my father checked the comm systems to make sure the next part went smoothly. Satisfied that all was safe he gave me the nod to continue. I set the navicom for Ross 128 and fired the hyperdrive. A large blue whirl of energy burst into space before us and the gecko flew into it. An almost blinding tunnel of energy swirled around us and I felt a mild panic in my bones. When I was a lot younger my dad told me stories of ships being plucked out of these tunnels by the Thargoid race. I knew that this was unlikely to happen now as the war had ended yet I still worried a little.
We popped out of the other end of the tunnel, leaving a blue rip in space behind us that would vanish in a few minutes. I marvelled at the new system before us. I had done it, my first solo jump (with a watchful passenger mind you) to another system.
After that I followed in dad's footsteps, gradually working my way through the academy and then going freelance. Space agreed with me and I couldn't see how anything could be better - other than the time lost. Family was not really an option as far as I could tell.
Then the event happened and I lost even more time. When they thawed me out I was in a much changed galaxy. The advent of the Frame Shift Drive meant I could get around without losing weeks, which meant I could settle down. I did, for 10 years I stayed pretty much on one planet. Then, once it became apparent that we would need money (my wife and daughter needed more than we could provide on the planet since the entire political situation took a huge change), I decided it was tie to return to space, make the money I knew I could.
I started, as most do, with a Sidewinder and soon found that I could make good on bounties by supporting local law enforcement. The rest, as they say, is history.
Which I will, of course, recount in future logs!
A nice pic of me and my current new toy. Just realised the dock camera was focused hard on my ship, I am out of focus! ah well, it's the ship that's the beauty!
I will write a proper log entry later, just wanted to show that the last Chieftain getting blown up did not put me off them.
I have just realised that on other logs I mention my Imperial Cutter, the majestic work of art that can absorb damage and deal it like some sort of killer sponge, plated in gold. Yet, despite various mentions I never actually spoke about getting it!
Following my surprise recruitment by Princess Duval (see older log) I found myself working for the Imperial Navy, or rather, a faction of the Imperial Navy. Now, I originally said I wouldn't get involved with the various military powers too much when they defrosted me, I got rather too heavily involved in all that during the original wars and didn't see the point if it was just going t be a continuation. Later I realised that the various factions have various special technologies, very tempting however, I still held off. As you know my whole outlook got changed for me and at first I did genuinely worry that the agent's unspoken threat could come true. That feeling slowly waned as I looked more into the reasons the Princess fights the abolition of slavery being a big drive, it felt less likely I would be topped for knowing she had look-alike spies.
Other benefits became available too, starting with the Imperial Eagle. I have always been a fan of the Core Dynamics Eagle II, having flown the original Eagle back in the day, I always found it a capable fighter boasting incredible agility and a really small targetable surface when flying at a potential threat. The only real downside was that the three small weapon mountings could leave a lot to be desired. I had managed to take down some fairly large ships using engineered weapons, as long as those ships did not use engineered shield systems.
The Imperial Eagle fixes that aspect a bit, replacing the overhead weapon hardpoint with a medium size mount. This meant I now had a much more capable Eagle, which, to be honest, I kept for my collection yet would not fly very often due to having a fully equipped Vulture.
It was nice to unlock access to new ships, my next Imperial exclusive being the new Gutamaya variant of the Imperial Courier. I say variant as I still remember the old style Imperial Couriers, with their spinning nuclear waste creating drives. They were both the pinnacle of combat ships and also the bane of a pilot needing an emergency fuel. It was following all of the various problems that these military drives caused that the modern Frame Shift Drive was created. The FSD actually solved a lot of issues, one of the main ones being the removal of the requirement to set aside weeks on a journey to compensate for the effects of Witch Space travel.
I have digressed completely. The Gutamaya Imperial Courier, a fantastic little ship which became my main data running ship - unironically it lived up to it's name perfectly.
Next came the Clipper. Now I have spoken a little more about the Clipper before, I do love this ship - especially with the modifications I have made to it inside and out. Insanely nimble and a lot of fun to fly, very luxurious inside but maintaining a sense of purpose. My only grumble being that it is a medium size ship that needs a large landing pad due to the, gorgeous, wings.
For a long time the Clipper replaced all my ships for general use, only swapping to my Federal Gunship - yes I know, Imperial mission running in a Federal ship - when I needed to dock at a medium base and defend myself.
Finally I got a string of missions that lead me to my goal. The first was a straightforward delivery mission, just information. This produced a delivery mission of physical goods, apparently crafted from the data I had provided. In shipping this to the required base I was intercepted by a Federal Corvette who outgunned my Imperial Clipper by many weapons. Luckily for me the drives still appeared to be the stock fitting as it was unable to keep up with my dodging and weaving as I landed shot after shot on the huge craft. I left the area satisfied that I would not be further followed.
Upon arriving at Cubeo the package was taken from me with much haste. It lead to yet another follow on mission. Apparently the ship which had been sent to stop me was the possession of a rival faction also wanting the device. My new mission for the Imperial Navy? Take out the leader of that faction. For this I took my anaconda, Stellar Wolf, and a fighter bay, remembering to take my old pilot buddy Jarvis Graves with me. I will have to talk about both the 'conda and Jarvis another time.
Arriving in the system I started scanning to find my target. I need not have bothered as he was waiting for me, pulling me out of supercruise as I scanned. Deploying weapons and launching the fighter, a GU-97 Imperial Fighter, armed with plasma accelerators and a very nice paint job (Gutamaya makes all paint jobs look good), I turned to face my attacker. Slightly surprised I was facing another anaconda and another ship I didn't immediately recognise.
Beams of deadly energy splashed across the shields of both large ships whilst Jarvis focused on the support craft, which promptly blew the tiny fighter apart. Luckily for Jarvis ship launched fighters are remote control, having a dual bay fighter hangar he was able to launch again straight away, more aware of the capabilities of the other ship. "The hell is that thing? I thought it was a type nine but it's got guns all over it!" I checked my scanner and then realised Jarvis hadn't flown in a while, of kept himself up to date with new ships being launched. "Type Ten Defender my friend, they rolled those out when the Thargoids returned!" "Ah, ok, you need to update the targeting computer!"
I span passed the other anaconda, both of us seemed incredibly well matched in both hardware and pilot skill. Instead of returning to fire on the big ship again I went for the other big ship, the type ten. It's multiple turrets had been set up to take out smaller ships, like my fighter. Presumably the plan was to have the lead ship take out big things and the Defender take out any fighters or escorts. This plan would have worked apart from the fact my anaconda was as equally engineered as theirs. "Jarvis, you get behind the 'conda and work on his shields, seems to be using mainly fixed weapons so if you keep at the back he shouldn't be able to get you." "OK boss!" The Defender now fired everything at me, to no avail. I had been working with Aisling Duval for several months now and unlocked the glorious prismatic shields, allowing me to pretty much ignore the shots hailing from the flying brick in front of me. My own weapons were now firmly in range and I stripped a massive chunk of my opponent's hull. Realising there was no chance the Defender turned and ran. Meanwhile the anaconda was down to one ring of shield, thanks to a persistent Jarvis. "Swap!" The fighter peeled off from behind the big ship and boosted hard to catch the fleeing type 10, lacerating the drives with his plasma accelerators.
My opponent couldn't recharge the damage done to his shields before I started my own onslaught, as they fell my system detected his FSD spinning up. With a ring of shield advantage I switched all power to my drives and weapons, hammering the target with laser and cannon fire before hammering it even harder with the shielded nose of my actual ship.
The faction leader exploded along with his vessel and as the flames receded from my view a second explosion denoted the terminal end to the support, Jarvis cracking the drives, reactor and everything else apart.
We returned to Cubeo with much excitement, this was it. I had to be promoted following this, meaning the Imperial Cutter would finally be mine. Jarvis was also jubilant - after all, if I was flying the Cutter then I would be taking on bigger targets, bigger targets mean bigger pay!
Arriving at the station there was a small ceremony in which my biometric record was permanently added to the Imperial Military roster as worthy to fly the flagship class starship. Walking to the hangar I was greeted to Gutamaya's finest, with the same general style of the Clipper but much, much bigger. A quick paint job and refit later and the Basking Wolf was launched.
This is actually a story from a few years ago, one of the many logs which I have lost I am going to recount it here.
Since returning to the stars after my ten year stay planetside I had been very active in the bounty hunting lifestyle. First working with local authorities to take out criminals in mining sites, moving on to small contracts against pirate leaders. I had upgraded to the Vulture, the Delta Wolf, and was enjoying the two large weapons and unparalleled agility afforded by the massively overpowered lateral thrusters. Initially I had struggled a little with the seemingly underpowered reactor, this was solved fairly easily with some engineering from a well known person, making use of the many materials I had collected on a prior exploratory trip. Now, fully powered and on a roll I took down pirates as they appeared, feeling unstoppable. No longer would I need to do delivery runs, submitting to the demands of people wanting a delivery boy. No, now I was a true Commander, with an increasing combat rank the battle was all that mattered.
That changed the day I went after a pirate lord by the name of Kord Xavier, causing issues in a little known system he had a one million bounty on his head. One million seems a very low contract by modern standards but back then I saw it as a big win. It also meant he would be a greater challenge, a greater chance to hone my skills. I took the contract and headed to the system. Arriving I connected to the navigation beacon and found where the latest attacks had just taken place, entering supercruise and checking systems I was ready for the fight. Dropping back into normal space I was faced with the sight of a federal assault ship blasting chunks off a small civilian class cruiser, a relatively unarmed type six. Lining up and deploying weapons I took on the pirate. Kord was combat rated as Dangerous, a level higher than myself. That did not matter to me, I flew circles around the pirate, melting shields with my large beam laser then rattling his hull with the large multicannon. The engineered rounds superheated the enemy craft to the point where internal systems started to fail. In a last ditch attempt to flee the assault ship fired boosters, rammed the type six out of the way and tore off into space. Kord Xavier nearly escaped but for the lancing beam and hail of bullets that clipped the drive, the ship exploded in a ball of fire. I smiled to myself and retracted guns, setting course back to my home station I paused before spinning up my drive. There was a plume of flame jetting out from the side of the type six and my scanners recorded the damage as fatal from that last ramming blow. "Can anyone on that type six hear me?" I got no response. Either the occupant was dead or the comm system was. I flew down to face the ship nose to nose and could see someone in the cockpit. They were desperately trying to put out a fire in there and did not appear to have a remlock suit. If the canopy blew out then they would left floating in space for about five minutes, after which they would be dead as the basic suit they had on was not compatible with a high wake pod, just a standard life support boat. This in itself would not have been an issue if there was a station in this system, there was no station. I started flashing my headlights to get their attention. When they turned to face me I lowered my cargo bay hatch and swung my ship up to show it. Bringing the cockpit back down again I flash my headlights some more. The other pilot got my meaning and jumped back into their seat, activating the life support pod. The slender pod, which looked like a silver coffin, launched from the type six, leaving a hole where the pilot seat used to be. I fired my thrusters and scooped up the pod into my cargo bay, closing the hatch just in time as the type six exploded in a ball of fire and shrapnel. Spinning up my FSD my vulture jumped from the system back to my home base.
Once in the hangar the cargo bay was opened and the pod removed. The door of the pod slid to the floor and out stepped a figure covered in smoke stains from the burning cockpit they had left. The helmet came off and I was greeted by a surprising sight, a familiar female face framed with locks of bright blue hair. "No way....." I stuttered. "Not quite," the silky smooth voice came, "I am not actually the Princess, I am one of her special agents - a kind of decoy." "Does this mean I have to swear to secrecy or get mind wiped or something?" "No, not at all. It just means that you have a good reason to join the cause, you seem to like the colours. If you do then you will gain access to great fortune. If you don't then, I don't know, maybe you will need to stay silent." she smiled on that last line and I felt it oddly unnerving. Prismatic shields, a technology that is often sought after, can only be obtained by working for Princess Aisling Duval, so in a way this was not the worst thing that could happen. I was bound to go after them at some point. Faced with the opportunity to do so, or take the option that may mean I never fly... Or breathe again. An easy decision. "OK then, I guess this bounty hunter is going to be running some errands again!"
As I said at the start, this was some time ago. Since then I have equipped most of my ships with prismatic shielding and it has made a big difference. It was worth both the data haulage missions and keeping my neck. I have parted ways with the Princess' faction for now, I never saw the agent again and I feel that perhaps I was never actually in any danger. Still, it was ok working for them and it did mean that I progressed through the ranks to get my Imperial Clipper and the Cutter.
I have missed this, I mused to myself as I pulled the WolFX17 around to target another pirate on the run. The thrill of finding a good bounty myself, taking them out and moving to the next. For the last two years I have been alternating between fighting in a war and doing very specific assassination missions. I have not really had the time to go into a Rez site and just hunt. Yes, I have mentioned visiting Res sites after gearing up a new ship, however, those times were just quick practice runs to work out the subtle changes of my flying capabilities. With this in mind I have decided to work on my ratings a little and make some good profit at the same time.
Flying through the new wreckage I scanned the area for another good hit. I checked my own ship systems; shields at two out of three rings and charging nicely, multicannons at two third ammo capacity, plasma accelerators both humming and the double modified special missile rack still fully loaded. Today was going very well. I saw beams of energy piercing the blackness in front of me as a large craft opened fire on one of the mining ships working the rocks, I powered up my engines and swooped in to check out both ships. The miner, as expected, was legally clean and just trying to survive. The other was an anaconda class with a pilot that lit up as Elite rated on my data screen. I looked over my systems again and decided that this would be a good fight. Swooping in I unleashed my plasma bolts and multicannon rounds into the larger battleship. I watched my scanner happily as the target lost a ring of shields completely, the second also starting to fail. This was going to be easy. My next volley took him down to a single ring of energy between me and the hull. Then a pulse wave surrounded my opponent as he launched a shield cell to rebuild these walls, opening fire on me as the nose of the 'conda turned to face me. I boosted past the ship, hitting it with my weapons as I did so, flipped as I passed it and started firing on the now exposed engines. Overpowering the shields I started to hit the hull, slowly damaging the immense armour plating. Suddenly I was thrown sideways in my seat as well aimed turrets managed to get a good aim on me, the damage appeared minimal, my shields down to a ring I fired off my own shield cells and watched it rebuild. Lining up for another assault I dodged the next raking shots and fired again, only to hit shielding - the anaconda had been engineered to regain shields quickly. I pitched to the side, aiming to pass the ship and hit again from behind, unfortunately the other pilot read my move and boosted into me. The ram made contact and my shields failed completely, eliciting a curse from me. I boosted away, activating my missile rack and putting all power to the weapons. With all guns and launchers blazing I took out his shields, making the match more even and getting a critical hit, partially through luck, on the anaconda's main reactor. This was going to be a fantastic win. My chieftain with it's sixty percent hull versus the anaconda, now with fifty percent hull and a weakened power core, this was to be a fun time indeed. I boosted around the larger craft and smiled as the shield systems came back online. Newly bolstered confidence took me over and I powered toward the apparently crippled ship, firing again and again I watched armour and hull plating spin off into space. My shields dropped again yet I took no heed, there was no way that I could lose this. No way, that is, until the other commander fired his boosters, lining up to ram me again. I dodged and would have narrowly missed except the blinding blue glow of recently re-ignited force shields on the anaconda filled my cockpit. I was hit by the wall of solid energy, scraping a furrow in my own hull and destroying an alarming number of internal systems. It was time to go. I switched all power to the drives, retracted the weapons and pressed the boosters. Nothing happened. My hull warning went off, the Remlock survival system kicked in and I was jettisoned from my exploding ship like a cargo pod. I felt the jolt of the escape thrusters as I was sent blasting through space back to the station, the rebuy already being processed and a new ship being put together for me - with the help of my insurance company and the confidential blueprints they held.
What did I lose? Twenty four million credits plus all of the bounties I had collected, my overconfident pride and a few hours of flight time. I gained old wisdom, or rather regained it - know when not to be overconfident!
I have been using the Federal Corvette in a lot of assassination and other bounty hunting missions. The Twinfang Wolf can eat a wing of lesser ships with incredible efficiency. However, there is a cost to it when it comes to larger scale conflicts. The Corvette is as big a target as it is a threat and in conflict zones and other large scale battles I have been finding it a bit harder to maintain the balance between shooting things and making sure I don't get chewed up by a swarm of smaller ships. I do tend to target the larger craft, allowing others on my side of the battle to take our the smaller ships. Unfortunately this tactic can go a bit wrong when Spec Ops ships join in as a wing of three can outmanoeuvre even the surprisingly agile 'vette. I could probably tackle them a little easier if I replaced my weapon systems with turrets, as these can track the ships and help negate the agility and the fact that if there are three targets they can attack from three angles at once. I don't want to do that. I do have a pair of heavily engineered burst laser turrets that I occasionally use on the Cutter, the phasing sequence modification can hit a ship hull even through shields, which can be handy. I don't want to use these against the Spec Ops though as they are also significantly weaker than any other type of weapon mounting. No, what I need is to use a ship that can get into a one on one situation with a target, take them out, and then move onto the next in the wing whilst also being a smaller target to avoid getting caught between them. My hangar, as mentioned before, has a variety of ships as I am a bit of a collector. My first thought was my trusty Vulture, the ship which is largely responsible for my earlier success. After trialling this idea I found that the more potent adversaries being used against me, due to my personal combat ranking, were a serious challenge in a full fleet battle. The Vulture just could not last it out. After doing some reading of various articles on the Codex and Infonet I decided to try the Chieftain out. I remember when the Chieftain was first announced, it was the same time as the rather awesome Krait II and I was excited for it. I got one when they were released as a long time, old world ally to the Alliance. I didn't like it. Yes, it was manoeuvrable and had great weapon placements but tat did not satisfy me. My Federal Gunship was better armed and armoured as far as I was concerned. This time, over three years later, I was approaching the Chieftain from a different angle. For one, I had been using the fixed cannon system, learning to aim properly instead of relying on the rapid fire and aim assisted multicannons. I had discovered the joys of well engineered cannons and the serious issues they could cause to a target, knocking them off course and generally causing massive damage. So for my new Chieftain build I fitted a pair of large fixed mount cannons, three small multicannons - gimballed - and the medium slot I fitted a very special seeker missile launcher I had gained fighting on behalf of an Engineer. I modified pretty much every internal system of the ship and also the armour plating, something I had not done so much the last time I had flown one. I took the new Chieftain out to a Res site to see what I could do. Several kills later I return to my home station. The ship was incredibly agile, I had managed to out fly everything out there and done quite well against small ships and some medium ships, however, it was taking too long to complete a takedown of some ships, resulting in escapes or me taking more damage than I should. So now it was time to try another new thing, well, new to me. Another weapon I had not really played with much was the Plasma Accelerator, finding the shot speed to be slow and the heat to be a pain. Again I had done some research into what Engineers could offer. This time the two large Plasma Accelerator guns I fitted were engineered for faster and more deadly shots, able to also fire faster. The three multicannons I have I also engineered, rigging them to fire continuously. Now it was time to give the ship another proper test. I flew to the nearby Haz Res and started hunting. A wing of three ships came up as targets and I locked on. The lead ship, an Asp Explorer, got pulled apart very quickly. The second was a heavily engineered Eagle, the engineering di not save it as I was able to keep locked on until it blossomed into fire. The third, a Viper MKIII tried to run. It did not have a chance, the four powerful drives of my ship keeping the Viper in range until it too exploded. My fighting caught the attention of an anaconda and it started firing at me, I swung around and powered past it, getting behind the larger ship and hammering at its drives. My shield warning flashed up and my scanner picked up a new target pulling behind me, a fighter had been launched from the 'conda. As I flipped my guns to face the fighter I took a volly of shots from the 'conda. I fired a shield cell to instantly restore my own shields to full, dropped a heat sink and then let the multicannons tear the fighter apart. Quickly flipping back to the 'conda I locked it's drives again and pounded it with the Plasmas. The shields fell from my target and I kept the multicannons relentless assault on the big ship. I watched as the drives spluttered out of action, meaning my target was now unable to doge anything. I boosted up over the stricken vessel and unleashed several plasma rounds into it, watching plating fly from it. I must have hit the main reactor as the craft suddenly exploded in my face, rolling me backwards and heavily draining my shields. Before I could fully register what happened I then got hit again by something else. Quickly boosting out of the debris I spotted a Federal Corvette firing at me, it's second volley of shots removing my remaining shields before I could compensate. Now it was a real test of both the ship agility and my own skill. The Chieftain did not let me down, possibly the most responsive flight since my sidewinder got engineered. I dodged and weaved, letting my shield systems reload. Realising that this would not last, the likelihood that I might get either killed by this new opponent or another deciding to pick on a shieldless ship, went for the kill instead. As I streaked over the battleship I fired all guns, raking a line of energy adn solid ammunition into the shields of my target and moving faster than it's weapons could follow me. Before it could turn to get a lock I immediately flew back, this time under the ship and avoiding the most deadly weapons. I did take hits and my hull armour did drop a few precious percent as I turned for another strafing run. I landed a few more hits and the great ship lost shields. Now it was a battle of hull versus hull. I switched weapon groups, bringing the special missile rack online. Instead on another close range sweep this time I boosted a bit further away, giving myself more room to avoid shots. The plasma guns were just in range and did some damage to the enemy and their internal systems as the heated the 'vette up. The real killer was the string of missiles, all targeting the power subsystems. Another solid hit rocked my ship and I watched the hull of my chieftain drop heavily, my computer warning of some system damage. I boosted straight for the Corvette, ignoring the warning of overheating as I fired everything, switching all power from the shields - which were still offline anyway - to the weapon systems. I was getting very close now and unlike the Cutter this was not a ramming capable ship! My guns ran dry my missiles malfunctioned, the last plasma shots flew from my guns. The corvette broke in half, fire and debris flew all around me as I flew through the new gap, my ship being rocked by the enormous explosion behind me. I engaged my supercruise and aimed for the station, once safely moving away from the site I went through my system checks. Most of my internal systems were fried, my hull was at twenty percent. My canopy was covered in massive cracks, yet, it held. My drive systems worked and I was still alive. Limping into the station I landed a little heavily, scaring myself a little as I knocked another one percent off the hull register. It had not been a flawless flight, it had been an incredibly fun flight and after checking the bounty counter - it was a very profitable flight. The Chief is going to be my new battlefield runner!
I previously spoke of the wonder that is my Imperial Cutter, a gloriously extravagant ship with much style, cargo space and shields. Well, having spent many good hours hammering large ships with it - often literally as the Cutter is excellent at ramming ships and coming off a lot better than them - I was finding that it lacked the raw firepower to prevent certain well built ships running away. So, I started looking at alternatives. My previous vehicles all had good and bad points, either sporting great firepower yet lacking in defence, the manoeuvrability of a cargo runner or generally just not quite being right - in my mind. The arrowheaded Fer-De-Lance and the twin pronged Mamba could deal damage and dodge around well enough, certainly fast enough to keep up with running vessels and capable of taking down even the biggest ships. The problem with those was that chasing a target down out of a combat zone or Res site allowed other ships to escape. What I needed was a ship that could handle like a medium craft yet with the turning ability and raw firepower of a large ship. I suppose the answer should have been obvious, I needed a Federal Corvette! Now, I have owned nearly every ship on the common market. In fact if we travel back a fair bit I have even flown ships no longer available and no longer maintainable. The Federal Corvette was not one of them. Like the Imperial Cutter, the Corvette is only available with the right military licence. Luckily for me I already had most of the ranking toward getting one, a natural offshoot of Bounty Hunting is that contracts are often offered by the military as they are too busy to hunt smaller targets. I started to focus on the missions offered by the Federal Military, working my way toward my new goal. Handily it also tied nicely into overthrowing a government in a system I call home, as the replacement power is Federally aligned. We won the war, I also won a licence. Strolling to the shipyard I started to panic. The Cutter had cost a lot of credits and surely the Federal equivalent would be of equal cost. I sold my Fer-De-Lance and my Mamba to make up some extra credits to be safe, I did not want to be haggling with the sales people over this. Finally, the Twinfang Wolf - my shiny new Federal Corvette - was signed over to me. Actually shiny, the sales crew had delivered it with the Azure paint job. It was a little too close to other ships I own and this was meant to be special. Not a problem though, the hangar team were happy to repaint the ship whilst applying my hull upgrades. Fitting the various weapon systems, especially the pair of super heavy weapons just above and behind the bridge section filled me with anticipation. I launched from the station, opting to take it out manually to fully feel the weight of the moment. Different to the Cutter, the Corvette was less majestic and laid back and more determined to get a job done. The thrusters span it on an axis like a Python, the roar of the engines felt incredible through the whole frame to the seat. Unlike the luxury Gutamaya pilot seats the Federal Corvette has solid and utilitarian seating, allowing you to feel the actual pulse of the powerful beast you are sitting upon. Heading to a nearby Haz Res site I went through all my systems, ensuring my new ride was fully battle ready, shifting power into shields and weapons I dropped out of frame shift into the rocky rings of the planet. Two pirates immediately targeted me, possibly reading the newly registered potential victim and ignoring my personal combat rating. The weapons deployed with satisfying whirrs and clunks, the beam lasers charging and the multicannons spinning up to speed. I locked onto the lead ship, an anaconda class in the process of locking his own weapons to my ship. Squeezing the trigger I actually made myself jump a little in my seat, being used to the largest weapon point being under the ship previously I was not quite prepared for the dual blasts of concentrated death that roared over my head (silently to me, due to the vacuum of space of course, my on board computer systems simulated the appropriate sounds in the cockpit), tearing into the target with relentless impact. The other weapons on my ship joined in and very quickly the 'conda lost shields and a chunk of it's hull plating. The enemy pilot realised the mistake that had been made and turned to flee. I locked onto the engines and fired again, marooning the bounty before me. My own computer then alerted me to the fact that my own shields had lost of of it's three rings and I remembered the other ship flying with the anaconda. Quickly changing target lock I found the Vulture blasting away to my right. In my cutter the turn to bear arms on this ship would have taken too long, allowing it to dodge out of harm and giving the crippled anaconda time to repair. Not so with the Corvette. I span almost on the spot and demolished the smaller ship in moments, then returned to the first target, completing the kill with a blast of cannonfire which caused the previously confident vessel to balloon into a ball of fire. The Federal Corvette is now my new battleship, my Cutter can now become what is best for, massive cargo trading with the ability to take out or outlast any would be attacker.