Black-Mark Days

He wanted to spit on the names in his log book, but he restrained himself.  The names were the same.  The Corporation was the same.  Hell their tactics were the same.  Ever since Black-Mark first moved into the system and pushed DT out the door, they'd been coming around.  Rixx knew he didn't have the proper assets at first, he knew that his responsibility as Fleet Commander was to be smart, bide his time and wait patiently while the Alliance moved more and more assets into system.  He knew that.  That knowledge didn't make him feel any better.

He glanced up at the Manifest and smiled slightly, 14 active pilots in system.  Now that was more like it.  He punched the orders into his Comm-Link and grabbed his gear.  It was time to get nasty and turn the tables on the bastards.

His first thought was to form up a armored heavy assault gang.  If they could muster the right combination of ships, they might just have enough to do it.  He fired up his Zealot and undocked, already barking orders into the proper comm channels.  He was shorter and gruffer than usual, this was serious business.  He laughed and glanced at his Drake as the Zealot slid out of the hanger and plopped into space.  Already the fleet was forming up nicely outside.  Two Guardians were already practicing reps, but it seemed like one of them was having some trouble.  HIs finger hovered over the comm-link and he hesitated, remembering to be nice, it was the Corp CEO after all.  His Boss assured him that he had the proper training and only lacked some key rigs that weren't to be found.  Just then the alarms sounded, local spike and Intel reporting a Neutral Armageddon at the out gate.

At the same time a neutral 'Baddon undocked.  He called Primary and opened fire with the lasers.  The 'Baddon started melting with the gang pouring it on, but the coward docked up before they could break his tank.  Sure enough, these were the guys.  They were early today.  Now Intel told him 2 Geddons and a Falcon at the Gate with more pouring in to the neighboring system.  He still had three pilots in station getting their ships ready and two inexperienced Guardian pilots, one without rigs.  Reluctantly he ordered everyone to dock up.

As usual they came, they smacked in the local channel and then left.  While the fleet pilots played a game in the station rec room, Rixx jumped into his Pilgrim to make the dangerous three jump journey to get the missing rigs.  He was still new to the Pilgrim and unsure of its capabilities, but it warped cloaked and had a decent tank.  Certainly much better than the Manticore.  The trip to the enemy system was fine, a enemy Rupture at one of the gates was more a joke than anything.  He quickly loaded the rigs and undocked.  On his way to the safe spot above the gate the enemy started logging in.  Again, predictable.  Sure enough Intel reported the usual three in the other system.  Even without being told he knew what ships were on scan.  Didn't they realize what being so predictable meant?  Obviously not.

He burned through the first two gates and then held up at the last one.  He knew what was coming, sure enough the Falcon and two vagabonds arrived underneath him.  They would've landed with him if he hadn't been so smart.  Instead he reported them on Intel and his mates sprung into action on the other side.  They already had plenty of traps laid out and they warped to range just as the enemy, not yet fully formed up themselves, jumped thru.  He waited.  He had 30m worth of rigs in his hold, but if his mates needed him, he would jump.  He laughed out loud when he saw the gray markings on his HUD, they were running away.  He jumped his Pilgrim thru and came up with another idea.

Let's get really nasty, he told his mates.  He issued his orders and the fleet quickly re-formed.  This time he switched out to his Sleipnir, the Command Ship he had yet to fly into combat.  The rest of his fleet was equally as nasty and for good measure Demonic brought his Onyx along.  With the ten of them in this configuration, nothing short of a 20 man blob would give them any trouble.  Certainly not the predictable tactics of the enemy forces.

They moved fast and they did it without scouts.  Rixx preferred this method of traveling in force.  If you have confidence in your fleet, bully your way through.  It eliminates much of the enemy Intel and keeps local down to zero longer.  Best to always mix up your tactics.  Everyone on gate, Onyx jumps and if there is anyone on the Gate he bubbles up.  Catch 'em with their pants down.  The jumps to the enemy system were clear however, so once in system he warped them all to station.  The enemy had the numbers in local, but they weren't expecting the fleet that Rixx had brought them.  Several ratting Battleships panicked and warped to the station.  They almost melted a Tempest before he could dock, the poor bugger probably drooling in his pod.

Rixx could almost feel the scanners getting a good look at his fleet composition.  He wanted them to.  Take a look at what you are up against now mates.  We are almost 100% deployed now and out in force.  He ordered the fleet back home, hoping the enemy would be dumb enough to follow.

The rest of the day was a back and forth game of tactics and surprises.  It never goes exactly like you planned it, no matter how carefully you do so.  A good Commander knows this as well.  The battle-field is a fluid, dynamic place.  Several other enemy gangs disrupted the plans, one potentially new ally even managed to get his Rapier killed because he showed up at the wrong time.  Rixx wasn't happy about how that one came down, his fleet lost a Hurricane in the bargain, but everyone did extremely well.  These daily fleet ops, even the boring ones, were having the desired effect.  His fellow mates were getting better together every single day.

The enemy fleet finally showed up and they brought the expected blob.  Despite wanting more than anything to stay and fight, Rixx ordered his smaller fleet into the POS.  HIs original lesson remembered well, live to fight another day on ground of your own choosing. 

He found it interesting that the local channel remained so quiet this time.  He didn't smile, he knew that now things had moved into an entirely new level.  A very serious level.

Just where he liked them.