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Story: Diary of a Privateer

Diary of a Privateer

I lean back on my stool hardly needing to fain drunkenness. I have lost count of how many little red drinks I've consumed while the crew enjoyed various recreational activities in the above rooms. The conversation I am eavesdropping on appears to be between a small group of civvies - you know, all suits and fake smiles while thinking of you as nothing more than space scum - and a ship's captain. The captain they are dealing with is green - both metaphorically and in this case literally. Still, they come to some sort of agreement as drinks are finally being lifted and personal communicators being used.


It was not difficult to follow greenie back to his ship - a typical Halo Tramp Hauler. You see them often enough. A detailed scan rarely reveals anything other than metals. Honestly, no self-respecting pirate would bother with them. By the time you have boarded it, patched it, re-registered it to prevent the local police, also know cheerfully known as the Halo Execution Fleet from vapourising it first time you casually try to do a bit of trading with it.


Knowing that all efficiently managed cargo runs grind to a halt the minute they involve civvies and now with the details of the Tramp, I have time to wimble back to the bar, down a few more of the little red drinks (wonder what they are made from) and wait for the crew to finish whatever or whoever they were doing. Just a quick drop by the local pharmaceutical out-door and back to the ship - Bernie's Harlot - Privateer. Yeah, I know, shit name but I won her in a bet and I'm certain it pisses the previous owner off no end.


A few hours later and the crew, some rubbing arms where they have taken shots and few rubbing other parts more surreptitiously, have taken their stations and are firing up the engines. This is only to be a short flight, just beyond orbit.


It's more than two days later and all this time we have been sitting here with our asses hanging out. If we are the salmon to the Tramp's fly, then there are quite a few sharks in the surrounding waters.


What makes it more dangerous is that we have not been idle while just beyond the orbit. First of all we have put a blockade on the world and listed the Tramp as an enemy. This gives us a much better chance of spotting it leaving orbit. Next is the ingenious bit - I ordered the uninstalling of virtually all the missile launchers. Crazy eh? Like I said about ass hanging out. You see anybody can blow up a crappy Tramp Hauler - but there's little profit in this and all my hard work discovering it will be for nothing. No, you see the real art in privateering is to take the sugar lump, not the hand that feeds.


So here we sit and wait - the crew getting more nervy and continually monitoring the scan logs just to see if anything has picked us up and is even now passing our details on to a shark.


Suddenly the sensors ping (OK, so something a bit more technical happens, but you get the idea) as the image of a Tramp Hauler leaving orbit quickly resolves. The crew fly into action, the Tramp is slow and we engage, quickly cutting down the intervening distance. The lone missile launcher is readied and silence fills the bridge.


The still fuzzy image of the Tramp appears to split into two... the larger one, moving directly away from us after altering course, the second, smaller object coming in roughly our direction. Beyond all odds, it looks like the Tramp has suddenly accelerated and is gaining distance on us - there is no way we are going to catch her. But then, as you have no doubt surmised, that was never my intent!


As any captain knows, by booting something out of the back of a ship really fast, you give yourself a boost forwards. It's a simple application of good ol' third law of motion or as it is known in the trade 'Dump cargo and flee'.


I give the orders to reinstall the launchers and start picking up all that beautiful cargo.
Here's the thing - by letting him get away and making sure that my nervous crew was in no position to launch a full broadside, I ensure three things - first, that we don't blow up the Tramp and all the cargo inside and second, that greenie can go about his affairs counting his blessings he is not sucking vacuum. No doubt, given time he will be picking up another cargo load and with any luck we will be there to relieve him of it. Finally, but most importantly, so some cargo got dumped - no need to send in the Execution Fleet to deal with a pirate menace. Everyone's a winner - well, I am anyway, and that's my business
.


Be seeing yah!



Key Features in the Story  [Recruit]

Flag of Convenience

In this story, the protagonist flies the Privateer flag of convenience. This allows him to attack anybody in Dark Space (in this story, the protagonist is a naval officer). This flag can even be used by Trainees. It is more than sufficient for Halo as all systems are classed as Dark Space. More details on Flags of Convenience can be found in the rules and in the next issue of Intergalactic News.


Boarding

If you can attack a position (have a naval officer and are not restricted by affiliation relations), you can also board it. Boarding is more convenient as it occurs during the order run. This means that you can move, attempt to board then move again. It is also a lot more dangerous when dealing with freighters as they may well have a reasonable complement of crew - all of whom will fire on your boarding party. In this story the protagonists decides against it.


Halo Tramp Haulers

These are None-Player-Characters (NPC's), i.e. run by the computer. They move between populated worlds selling their cargo and purchasing from the list of planetary sales. They will invariably 'drop cargo and flee' rather than stand and fight. As the ships are not particularly good, their value is in their cargo. The art is to get it while keeping the gravy train rolling. They are flagged as Freelancer (FRE). Be careful though as it is possible that FRE ships may possibly be owned by other players. They tend to spend long periods of time in orbit while their captains negotiate deals on the surface. The danger of attacking them while in orbit is that there could easily be other positions that will defend FRE.


Picking up Debris

Look at the battle report closely and if a position has 'dumped cargo and fled', there will be reference to the spawned debris field. This will contain whatever was chucked out of the back of the ship. Use the order 'pick up item type' 'any' with a large number before moving away. If you have a spare freighter nearby it might even be worth using this one instead, especially if it has more cargo space.


Local Trade Goods

Local trade goods, also known as uniques are an important part of trade in the game. Unlike ubiquitous trade goods such as food and luxuries, they have a point of origin. Their value is proportional to the distance from origin. This can be up to 16x their original value. A typical Tramp Freighter can hold around 1,500mu's of local luxuries and can therefore be worth more than twenty thousand stellars to the right buyer.


Obviously it is up to you whether you stockpile them somewhere (create a cargo dump in an out of the way location) or sell them on immediately.

 
News
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     

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    I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

    Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
    -Zigic