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214
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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
GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.

With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.

With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
 
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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RAGNAROK COMES

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A Forlorn Hope

The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.

Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.

The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.

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Newstart is lost

 
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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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RAGNAROK APPROACHES

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End Game Lost

A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.

While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.

Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

 
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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.
 

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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