On the bridge of the Divine Gift, Captain Pirbai Dadajai sighed. He and his crew had been out mining for hours, ripping veldspar out of the rocks around his craft. He was the senior captain in the fleet of six Venture mining frigates, all of which had been busily pulling ore from the rich Sarum Prime asteroid belts for the last nine hours. Captain Dadajai was bored out of his mind, and couldn’t wait for his shift to end
Unfortunately for Captain Dadajai, his boring yet peaceful routine was soon to be shattered by the greed of a pair of capsuleers.
“Hey, Potishar,” Hustus Veritta said to his friend as the two capsuleers got ready to enter their pods.
“Ready to make some more money today?” Potishar Diptus replied, “Cuz I know I am pumping!”
Hustus laughed. “You always say that, Potishar. Hell, I think you’re either shitting all the time, or you are always pumping, even in your damn sleep!”
“Aw, shut it! Ready to rock and roll?”
“Like always.” The two capsuleers boarded their pods, which were then inserted into their respective ships. A few minutes later, both capsuleers had received permission to undock, and were soon flying at full speed away from the station.
“Hustus, you ready?”
“Well, you know the drill! See you later!” Potishar quickly aligned his Jackdaw tactical destroyer to the nearest asteroid belt and warped off. Meanwhile, Hustus quickly swung his Buzzard around and parked it next to the undock port of the station.
“Captain, we’ve depleted two more asteroids! Targeting two more, and reactivating lasers,” a crewmember shouted on the bridge of the Divine Gift, jerking Captain Dadajai out of his sleep.
“What? What?” the captain asked, frantically glancing around before coming back to his senses. “Right, right. Carry on. How’s our ore capacity?”
“We’re half full, captain. The rest of the fleet reports they are anywhere from ½ to ¼ full. Hauler should be arriving in at 1903, sir.”
1903, the captain thought. He glanced at the clock that hung over the bridge door. 1850. About ten minutes. “Ok.”
“Sir! A Jackdaw just exited warp! Its 20km from us!” another crewmember shouted.
“Alert the fleet! Get ready to get the hell back to our safespot. Open a channel to command,” the captain replied, jerking up. He knew that tactical destroyers had often been used by capsuleers to attack and rob mining convoys belonging to both pirate and empire mining corporations, though most capsuleers tended to use the Hecate, not its Caldari cousin.
“Sir, the Jackdaw is warping off,” the crewmember continued confusedly. The captain shot a look at the tactical screen. Surely enough, the tactical destroyer was accelerating into warp, and seconds later, had left the grid. He sighed in relief. Back to work.
“Alright, I’ve finished my sweep,” Potishar broadcast over the private corporate channel.
“And? What’ve we got?” the reply came, scarcely seconds later.
“Only one fleet,” Potishar said. He could hear Hustus groan audibly. “HZO Refinery fleet, six Ventures. Belt II-I.”
“Anything on your end?”
“Alright. Stay sharp. We don’t know how long it has been since the hauler last undocked, and I don’t want to miss it.”
“I won’t miss it, and you know that,” Hustus replied in an offended tone. He scanned his scopes again. “If it undocks, you’ll know.”
“Alright, then.” Potishar deployed his camera drones again. As expected, he was surrounded only by empty space. He settled back, and waited for Hustus to contact him again.
“Captain, notice from the hauler. It’ll undock shortly,” the comms officer of the Divine Gift said from his station.
“Good. Contact the guys down in cargo, have them get the ore ready to jettison. I want this to be as fast as possible, with no mistakes!” the captain admonished, remembering the last mishap they’d had. The local supervisor had not been happy, and all three crewmembers responsible had been fired, and he had been demoted and stripped of pay for three weeks!
“Yes, sir,” the crewmember replied, relaying the order over the intercom. “Sir, notification from the Harvester’s Belly. It has undocked, and is entering warp. ETA 30 seconds.”
“Good,” the captain answered. “Three more runs for us, and then we’re done for the day.”
“Potishar? Potishar? Potishar! Wake up!” Hustus said frantically over the broadcast channel. “The hauler just undocked! T2 Impel, entering warp now!”
“Copy!” Potishar replied, jerking awake. He deployed his camera drones again to ensure that he was alone at his safe spot before sending a series of mental commands to his ship to warp back to Belt II-I. Not even a second later, his destroyer popped out of warp, and there it was … the hauler, with all the loot, barely 5km away. He quickly locked the hauler and fired one cycle of his guns.
“Captain! Captain! The Jackdaw is back!” a crewmember on the Divine Gift shouted at his captain.
“What the ----?” The captain exclaimed, looking at the tactical scope. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Get ready to — ”
“SIR! The Jackdaw just shot the hauler! Distress call going out! Response fleet responding!” another crewmember interrupted.
“Initiate emergency warp to the safe spot! GO, GO, GO!!!” the captain shouted. The Venture rotated to align to the safe spot bookmark the fleet had established before heading out to the belts. As the mining frigate accelerated into warp, Captain Dadajai could see the Harvester’s Belly and the other Ventures were also turning and beginning their acceleration also. Whew. We dodged a bullet. Good thing we’ve got all this training. Now we just gotta go to the safe spot, wait for the fleet to return, and stay there until HQ gives us an all clear to return to the belts.
After firing a single salvo from his guns, Potishar aligned his destroyer to a nearby planet. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the hauler fleeing along with the entire mining fleet.
“Hustus, we’ve got rabbits! Probe ‘em down!” Potishar shouted over the broadcast channel as he initiated warp to the planet. As his destroyer accelerated into warp, he could see a small frigate fleet arriving on grid.
Hustus took one last look around his ship using his camera drones. As he expected, there were no ships, wrecks, drones, or even probes, just the massive station 500m from his small covops frigate. He opened up the probe scanner window, launched his combat probes, and began frantically scanning for the mining fleet.
“Drones, drones, NO! I don’t want drones! Ah, filter … that’s better,” Hustus mumbled as he scanned the system. “Aha! There they are! 33%, 41%, 67%, 78%, got ‘em!” He shouted in triumph as the red rings turned into red dots, and finally green dots! “Potishar, I got the miners. I’m gonna go BM the site and then refit.” He shouted into the broadcast channel.
Captain Dadajai shot another frantic look at the tactical scope. The small frigate defense fleet was surrounding the mining fleet, but Captain Dadajai was still unsettled. He had heard far too many tales of civilian miners getting shot down by greedy capsuleers. I’ve been working for this long without incident. Will I escape this ambush? Or has my luck run out?
“Sir, a Buzzard just emerged from warp!” a crewmember shouted. The captain shot a glance at the tactical screen. Surely enough, a frigate labeled Buzzard - capsuleer Hustus Veritta was floating a few thousand km away.
“That’s not the capsuleer who attacked us,” the captain mused. “The fleet can’t engage, right.”
“No, sir! Wait! The Buzzard is warping off!” the crewmember shouted. The captain watched as the frigate accelerated before disappearing from the mining fleet’s scopes.
“Hey, Potishar. I got the BM. I’m grabbing my Oracle now,” Hustus said as he docked up.
“Copy.” he heard over the channel as his ship was towed into the station. Come on, come on. Hurry up. Hustus thought as the station crew extracted his pod from his frigate and inserted it into his attack battlecruiser. “I’m in my Oracle and undocking. Initiating warp to the fleet, 100km away.”
“Sir, an Oracle just arrived on grid. Capsuleer vessel, piloted by one Hustus Veritta,” a crewmember said suspiciously. “Sir, that’s the same capsuleer who did a flyby a few minutes ago!”
Captain Dadajai turned and stared at the tactical. He could see the frigates surrounding the small fleet slowly peeling off and approaching the interloper. Suddenly, one of the Tormentor frigates exploded.
“All units! All units! Be advised, be advised, Oracle attack battlecruiser, 100km out, fired on defense fleet. Defense fleet responding!” the broadcast channel squawked. Dadajai and the rest of the Divine Gift’s bridge crew watched as the frigate defense fleet began racing towards the Oracle. I hope that Jackdaw doesn’t come back again.
“Potishar, the response fleet is following me. I think you can head in … now,” Hustus said over the broadcast channel as he sped away in the opposite direction of the rapidly approaching frigates.
“Copy. On my way in.”
“Captain, the defense fleet will never catch that Oracle! How is it going so damn fast?” a crewmember said worriedly. Dadajai shook his head. The remaining frigates were 300km away, and the gap between them and the Oracle was growing every second.
“Sir, the Jackdaw is back!” a crewmember shouted as an Executioner exploded. The captain shot another look the tactical. There it was, the Jackdaw that had driven the fleet from the belts. The Jackdaw immediately locked the nearby transport and began firing.
“Call in another distress signal!” the captain shouted, spinning around to face his crew.
“All units! All units! Be advised, be advised. Capsuleer Jackdaw destroyer! Firing on the miners. Requesting defence fleet!” the comms officer shouted frantically into the broadcast channel.
“Defense fleet responding!” the channel squawked as the remaining Executioner turned and began racing to the defense of the miners.
“Fleet Sierra-Five, be advised, there are no other units in the area,” the channel squawked.
“Damnit!” the comms officer said, slamming his hand against the console.
“The fleet will never make it back in time,” the captain mused. He shot another look at the tactical. The Jackdaw had finished off the Impel and was now shooting the nearest frigate. “Abandon ship! Abandon ship!” he ordered, slamming his hand against the nearby alarm button. Klaxons began ringing all over the frigate. “Abandon ship!” As the bridge crew began racing out the door, Captain Dadajai turned to see the Jackdaw shift fire towards his vessel. He turned and dashed out the door.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!” one crewmember shouted as they all ran towards the escape pods. Suddenly, a blast rocked the ship, throwing two crewmembers against a wall and causing numerous others to lose their footing.
“Damnit, shields are gone!” a crewmember shouted.
“We’ll never make it to the pods on time!” another added. A few crew members made a frantic dash down the corridor as everything erupted in fire.
All in all, the two capsuleers would loot just over 3 million ISK in ore, as well as 12 million in salvage. They would also recover a Procurer SKIN from a strongbox they had pulled from the wreck of the Heaven’s Belly. They eventually sold the SKIN for 46 million ISK.
HZO Refinery would eventually marshal a second response fleet from a nearby station. The fleet arrived on scene minutes after the capsuleers departed the area, and began search and rescue operations. They recovered escape pods containing 17 crewmembers who had been able to escape their frigate. The crews of the Heaven’s Belly, Divine Gift, and four other Ventures, however, were lost.