The Grant Manoeuvre
Arriving in yet another anonymous multi-government system, with a safe full of gems and a thousand kg of platinum ingots, I fired up the torus drive and patched in a course towards the main station. Witchdrive fuel was low, but not critical, and the few bands of pirates hanging off the main space line proved no match for the Shifted Paradigm's four military lasers. Her military shields barely got warm, and her eight energy banks amply supplied the demands of the lasers and the ECM.
Leaning back in my chair with my feet up on the console, I noted the glimmer of asteroids against the bulk of the planet surface, still thousands of clicks away. There's always the chance of finding a Hermit, even in low orbit asteroid fields, and I leaned forward to make a slight course adjustment. I like those guys: they're always good for some tall tales, and I always carry a few TC of liquor on the off-chance we run into them. Everyone knows about the precious metals and gemstones they sell at bargain prices, of course; apart from the liquor that's the only thing I bother trading in, these days. Since I scraped enough credits together to trade in the Null Hypothesis, I deal strictly in contracts and what I can scoop from the remains of pirates foolish enough to engage the Shifted Paradigm.
I kept an eye on the planet. Somewhere, somewhere... And yes! The tell-tale glittering of red beams between the asteroids. And another, and another-and no flash of a vapourizing asteroid.
They hide in low orbit asteroid fields, waiting to ambush traders avoiding the main space lane; traders who within sight of the aegis are probably not paying as close attention as they should. And in this game, not paying 100% attention 100% of the time is quite possibly the last mistake a lone trader will ever make.
Another course correction then, as there's only one thing I like more than blasting into a pirate pack that is attacking a trader-and she's three galaxies and seventeen years away.
Masslock. Two, three, then five yellow blips on the scanner. I lock them up one by one, and arm my hardened missiles. The first priority is the Asp; then the two Sidewinders, the Mk I Cobbie, and finally the Python, fat and heavy with loot. The Cobbie sees me first, though, and seems to be in a hurry to meet his doom. Oh well, plans are made to be broken.
I cut my speed, cycle the target indicator, and flip over. At 10 km out I open fire with the rear laser, and the Cobbie disappears in seconds. The Asp and the Sidewinders have woken up and are coming too. The Cobbie fired a missile before dying, but the ECM makes short work of it. The trader is now within scanner range, and thanks me as the Python leaves him alone in favour of coming to the aid of his associates.
One of the Sidewinders falls to my rear laser before it overheats; so I turn and give the second something to think about. He turns away, and I concentrate on the Asp. I get in some direct hits before he too decides to back off a bit. I hit the injectors to get within the range of the second Sidewinder and finish him off, noting to my satisfaction that the trader has decided that the station looks to be a more pleasant place to spend the afternoon and is making good his escape. The Python is now close enough and I hit him several times before the Asp lines up and, let's be honest, makes me think about putting some distance between us before I manage to bring my front laser to bear. Still, 50% front shields is still enough. I open fire; the Asp turns and injects away, but not before releasing a missile at me. ECM.
Hardened missile incoming. I start weaving around the asteroids, watching the yellow blip of the Asp get frustratingly further away until it is out of scanner range. The hardie eventually explodes in response to my fourth ECM blast. The upside of this little diversion is that my front laser has cooled down, and I turn my attention to finishing off the Python who, fair play to the sucker, still thinks he can win this fight.
He doesn't, of course: maybe he overestimated the damage the Asp did; maybe he thought the hardie hit me. I didn't think to ask when I scooped his escape pod; if you're interested you could ask GalCop. If you can be bothered going through my logs and finding the name of the system, that is.
After picking up the Python's cargo and circling a bit to see if there's anything I've missed I find that I'm within the station aegis. But there, on the edge of my scanner range, is a little yellow blip. A little, motionless yellow blip. I do declare, it's my old friend the Asp.
I alter course, and get in a missile lock just in case. I have to admit to a little nervousness; I'm quite proud of my legal bill of health, and I really don't want to give the cops any reason to take a closer look at my passenger manifest than my passengers would like (given the number of apparent assassination attempts I've had to fight off, I do wonder about the various passengers I carry. They don't tend to volunteer any more than basic information, and I don't ask. That way, even if I do get pulled over I should be clear. But I'm not in the mood to risk it).
But then, at about 5 clicks from the Asp, the 'S' on the scanner disappears. I grin. The evil bastard is waiting, 5 km from the aegis, for the sub-100% trader. Who will be coming from the direction of the witchpoint course. I've seen this behaviour before, and it makes me livid. Well, not that livid: I just blast my way through and scoop the bounty. But this time, coming from the station I have-unwittingly-sneaked up behind the scrote.
Well, well, well.
I hit the injectors, using up the last gasp of fuel, and at 1.5 km opened fire.
He didn't even have time to arm a missile.
Yes, I was out of fuel, but I just turned around, put my feet back up on the dash, and activated the docking computers. I like this manoeuvre. I shall make it my own.
Master of Mayhem
"The name's derived from Object Oriented eLite so you could say "Oh! Oh! Leet!", but that might sound too much like g33k sex."