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Story - Diary of a Pirate Hunter

Diary of a Pirate Hunter
The captain was a miserable bastard. When he came on deck, generally holding a zero-g sip-flask there was a palpable drop in temperature and silence would reign, with interruptions met with a scowl. Rumour had it that he was once quite high in the Ranks back in the days of the Rebellion though it was not clear whether this was the Republic or Confederate or even which side he was on. Either way that was half a century ago and nobody was brave enough to ask. Few ever entered his quarters and then they could only say than it was gloomy, like the old man himself.

How he ever ended up out here as a privateer was a subject of common discussion in the galley though the topic was always in the dark shift and then with occasional sidelong glances to the hatch. The topic was worth a week of extra shifts or if a few were caught mid-gossip, a full shift of battle readiness.

So, here we were on the edges of Brittanicus, having just maintained again at Westfall by Farmwhich a place of scum, deserters and betrayers, though with the cheapest maintenance facilities in Halo. We had taken on three more crew, marines though quite what species they were, none of the existing crew were sure. The first few days of sanitation duty were horrendous while the toilets were refitted to accommodate the largest. Getting two/reg-spec tubing more than two days out from the nearest civilisation with a captain that won't turn around for anything less than having half the ship destroyed is no easy matter. Let's just leave it at popping anti-rad pills and being as quick as possible is a sensible precaution and also don't use the back-up jump drive at the same time as flushing...


Clearly the new recruits were getting fed-up. Maybe Reynolds the name of the old bastard, had promised them action, maybe even spoils but all we had done was move through the orbits of three asteroids at various quads. The action had become routine, identify the next asteroid, plot course, enter orbit and scan location. Does it need to be added that this was followed by find nothing and repeat ad nauseum.

We had just finished scanning our third asteroid this week. The captain was in a particularly foul mood and all the flavoured organic binding agent ('Alalus's finest processed eggs' if the label was anything like accurate) had been stolen. While nobody has been charged, a definitely sulphurous smell followed one of the new recruits no good ever comes out of hiring people from Westall. Anyway, we left orbit and made the ISR micro-jump out across the quad a few light minutes was all and straight into a pirate. Its designation was Angel's Weep, Light Cruiser. Why it was stationed there, who knows, maybe a calculation error on the navigator's behalf or possibly it was itself the hunter either way, it was alert and even as the crew scrambled to battle stations the first targeting systems were locked.

Had we been a simple freighter we would now be triggering explosive bolts and winging the cargo out to boost our escape, but not us. We may look like a crappy scout, but somehow the captain had managed to wrangle some armour upgrades and our weapons kit was pretty good. You could imagine the surprise on the faces of the pirates as the ship, almost half their size turned to face them and actually closed the gap.

Our ship was armed with launchers and kinetics they don't give as big a flash for your stellar as standard missiles but they can punch a hole in the sort of armour affordable by your typical pirate. They fired three standard missiles all being countered within a few kilometres of the ship. Shame really, not because they actually did any damage, but the flash meant that we didn't see our forty hammer home not that there would have been much to see at that distance. Still, the sensors got the feedback only a few had been taken down by point defence.

The second wave from them consisted of a single missile seems our salvo gave them a bit of a kicking. Ours was still the full broadside the captain always insists that we have sufficient for three days worth of combat.

Not even the flash could hide the sudden bright blossoming in the dark. Against the vastness of space it still looked a touch pathetic lasting a few seconds though considerably brighter than the background stars. This did little more than elicit a grunt of satisfaction from the captain before he ordered a full scan and left the bridge.

We scoured the region for a few more hours following the battle such as it was before moving in. There wasn't that much left which seemed to piss the captain off. Not sure what he was expecting they didn't seem particularly competent pirates.


It was as we were pulling the debris on board, a sheet of armour, few engines, that we were caught with out pants down. No less than three ships and these were definitely not configured for scaring traders out of their cargo.
It's the first time I have seen the old bastard smile in the three years I have served. He muttered something like 'Fuck you ..', though I could not quite hear the last word - probably a person or maybe a ship, I have no idea. We took a hammering. They hit us with nothing less than photon cannons and a spread of missiles, including a few kinetics. Reports came flooding in from different sections we had lost launchers, some gatling lasers and a few crew. Armour was down but the brunt had penetrated and absorbed by the hulls.


In return we concentrated out fire on one ship the one with the weakest armour. The captain once said during a rare lecture on tactics that it does not follow that the hardest hitter is also the toughest and vice versa. Taking out a weakly armoured enemy can quickly whittle down the number of targets attacking you and the damage you are incurring.
Seems there was something to his logic as we were re-targeting by our third salvo to one of the heavier designs though we were far from in the clear. I had already turned off the screen with the spiraling damage report.


We were finished, I was certain of it but then the battle had gone on for some time we had let rip with four salvoes though the last one was down by a third of the original number of launchers. Hull strength was below half and two of the pirates were still firing but then a miracle happened the cavalry arrived. No less then four ships, all privateers like us. They quickly formed a screen between us and the pirates soaking missiles and beamers that would have ended us.
The rest of the battle was short work for our saviours though as the adrenalin leaked out of our bodies, people lay slumped in their harnesses, occasionally smiling but looking utterly spent. Only the captain seemed unaffected by the events, standing rigidly in front of the main viewer and talking quietly into the communicator. Whatever he was discussing with the captains of the other ships we were not invited. The conversation was terminated with 'Damn them, I was assured they were here.' Then to us, 'Form a salvage squad in the cargo bay, include the new crew members.' Something was definitely up.


The grim face of the captain, still on the bridge could be seen in the viewer, watching our preparations. We had suited up and were at the rotating airlock. We only open the full bays when docked. To prevent risk of decompression in space, we use what is essentially a revolving door. A chamber has only one door you walk in, the chamber revolves and the door now faces space. It was cramped, so the first three out were the new guys (though you can never tell, they could have been females, or something else). No sooner had they exited when we felt a shudder through the ship it was moving on thrust and not very smoothly thanks to the battle damage.

We dashed to the external viewer and looked across the widening gulf between the ship and the three space walkers. I'm certainly no xenologist but I swear despite their alien appearance and being stuffed into space suits they look surprised. One even reached for a magnetically attached side arm. I ducked aside of the viewer the redundancy of the act only registering afterwards. Even from my place of safety I saw the flash of light and even a slight thumping sound as the hull was pebble-dashed. This was no side arm hitting us but missile fragments - missiles launched from us!

Two weeks later and we are undergoing repairs. The crew are angry at the captain's silence on the events. Why shoot up the debris (which happened to include three of our crew)? Who were the other ships? Was we bait for something else? Some are talking about quitting though for the moment I will stay on. He may be a bastard, but this bastard has guardian angels and besides, I am curious who is Reynolds?

Key Features of the Story  [Recruit]

Pirate Habits
In Halo, pirates can be found in the outer orbitals and sometimes in the orbits of asteroids. They may be moving between them. Moving through the orbits and scanning location is a reasonable way of looking for them. Occasionally they enter other orbits, looking for trade ships moving between the civilised worlds and outposts.

Pirate Ships
Generally speaking pirate ships are designed to scare traders into dropping their cargo and fleeing. As such they rarely have a large amount of weaponry just enough to deal with freighters. This said, some may be a little tougher as they prey on the bigger and better defended positions.

Debris
A ship may be destroyed by two methods during combat. It can be blown up which occurs when its hulls absorb too much damage. The other type is an integrity breakdown which can occur when integrity is less than 80% and the ship is sustaining damage.
Blowing up rarely leaves much in the way of hulls to salvage, though both types of destruction can leave behind some things worth carting off, including prisoners.

Battle Length
A day's worth of battle equates to four salvoes from a weapon, or rounds of fire. Battles are run after all other standard orders are processed. This allows tactics that can span days. In the above story the battle lasted three days. The ship left orbit and ran into the pirate in the first day destroying it. On the second day it salvaged the debris field (not having sufficient TU's to complete that and move away). The three pirates also arrived on the second day and the ship suffered most of its damage though crippled one of the pirates.
The four privateers arrived on day three and finished off the pirates.

Tactics
There are combat options that allow the pre-determination of targets. In the above story, the primary target was weak armour while retarget if not firing allowed the ship to move onto another target when it has dealt with the primary target. It also targeted weapons slightly less accurate though very useful if accuracy is high enough.
The cavalry also employed screen ship this allows the ship to intercept damage aimed at a specific ship. It is a good way for escorts to protect freighters and command ships.

Weapon Systems
Some weapons have high damage values but low penetration. Penetration is the ability to get through armour and shielding in order to deliver the damage. A high damage but low penetration weapon is effective where there is little armour and shielding while a weapon with low damage but high penetration will be more effective at punching home through heavier armour.

 
News
Is open for business...
 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 

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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