I suppose we all start somewhere in this vast universe. Alone in the middle of nowhere, a tutorial window hollering at you to do its bidding before carelessly sending you off into the broad expansion of Eve to make your first mistakes. I made many such mistakes - some cost me my ship, some my life, and even worse, some, my pride. I came into Eve not knowing where I was going. I fit a ship, haphazardly throwing on whatever I thought would work - a shield booster, an armor repairer, some mismatched weapons - nothing really seemed to work. I would lose ship after ship before finally mastering the art of fitting - to a degree.
By this time, I gleaned much from others - learning of the ways of the universe, knowing how much there was to explore, and conquest. I realized how much wrong there was - pirates, ninjas, can flippers, gate campers, spies, thieves - and I began to have visions of glorious battle, of myself piloting a powerful ship and hunting down these miscreants. So just barely into a cruiser, I fit up something possibly held together with popsicle sticks and paper-mâché and hurled myself into the mysterious unknown(low security space, because I was a wuss).
I'm not sure what I was honestly thinking back then. Perhaps I thought I could tackle whatever lie out there in wait, utilizing my "massively powerful" small tech 1 blasters against such foes. I really don't know - but I digress. I jumped to the nearest 0.4 system and quickly found myself warping between asteroid fields, melting down computer pirates while I searched for a real one. To my misfortune, they found me first - two of them, to be exact. They demanded a payment of 100 million for my ship and my life - a sum of money I could not fathom at my current state of existence.
Knowing full well the outcome of this exchange, my set of blasters made an underwhelming counter-proposal against their shields. Before I knew it, I was a small pod in the midst of vacuum as their interceptor-class frigates locked and opened fire. Score: Pirates one, Me: Zero. Chalk up one more mistake made, one more lesson learned.
After what I considered at the time to be a fairly costly mistake, I came to a realization that perhaps a pirate hunter's life wasn't for me. Instead I settled for high security space, training my skills and running missions to pass the time. I thought I was safe here of course, as many naïve fools are wont to believe, and went about my daily life as if the whole fiasco in low security space had never happened. However, I soon realized how wrong I was to believe that even here, surrounded by Concord and their single-minded intent to hunt down and slaughter even the most minor offender.
By now, I had a battlecruiser, decked out in missiles and an unbreakable passive shield tank - a Drake, you guessed it - running level 4's at a slow but steady rate. I came across a particularly difficult mission that had me warping in and out constantly to maintain my tank while slowly picking them off to the point where my shields would hold. It was in the middle of this process that I suddenly noticed a big red square on my overview - a merlin-class frigate, stealing something out of one of my wrecks. I had just killed the mission objective, and I didn't want him stealing that before I could get my hands on it, so I "shooed" him away with my drones.
I sigh now. Another mistake made, and yet another lesson about to be learned. Add another tally to the pirate score you are no doubt keeping track of in your head, for within minutes I found myself staring down the large blocky bulk of another drake - piloted by none other than the same pirate who had been in the merlin. I honestly do not think he would have posed much a problem had I been taking only his fire - but with my shields already buckling under the pressure of several computer battleships as it was, I soon found myself staring at the scattered remains of my own drake. Fortunately, I was able to dock with the nearest station rather than find myself waking up in a cloning vat.
As was only natural, I was very angry with the pirate. I was naïve enough to message him without realizing that his original intent was to kill me in the first place. I apologized profusely for firing on his merlin, stating that killing me in retribution had been entirely unnecessary. I relayed my dismay that I simply could not afford to buy and refit another ship like that, and how far it would set me back. He drank my tears and dined on my loss - laughing at my misfortune. The billows had been pumped, and the ashes sparked aflame again. My resolve to hunt down and slaughter these miscreants was renewed.
Fortunately, this time around I had a corporation to lean on and was able to regain my ship at the cost of my pride. I did not seek revenge, and called off the manhunt that was about to be set loose. I had made the mistake of firing on him - the loss was on my shoulders, not his. However, I was tired of these pirates, preying on the weak and the naïve. I wanted to do something, anything - but was afraid that any action I could take would simply lead once more to my ruin.
However, an idea sparked one day. Born when a new corporation mate was can flipped - one of the other members warned them off about firing on the wrongdoer. I realized that I could turn the tables - that I could choose to initiate the fight, and who I fought. I had seen it on battleclinic - an interesting fit involving an Osprey fit with a single mining laser, and then filled out with a battle fitting made for taking out players.
The plan was simple - I would fit such a cruiser, taking care to place a mining laser that didn't take up too many resources, and I would find a suitable system with a multitude of players and asteroid fields. There I would mine ore into a can and wait for someone to flip it, and lo and behold, the "mining ship" would suddenly open fire and hopefully take them by surprise. It was foolproof, or so I hoped. With that tactic in mind, I could pick my targets, even as they picked me, choosing one of a suitable difficulty level without any risk. If it worked out, then I would continue to do it.
The time came, and I initiated the plan. After jumping around aimlessly, checking the starmap for suitable systems, I finally found a high-security system, chocked full of asteroid fields and with no lack of players meandering about their business. I picked the first asteroid field I saw and warped out to it. Miners, everywhere - the place was mostly stripped. A second field almost proved suitable - only two miners present, but spread out just enough to reach from one end of the field to the other with their mining lasers. I was looking for a field where I could seclude myself - to present a juicier, defenseless target.
The third jump found me precisely what I wanted. A miner or two were active off to one side of the field, but the other side was completely untouched and barren of anyone. I burned my way over to a space rock, jetted the ore I had brought with me, and turned on my mining laser. A few cycles passed, with not much going on. One of the miners on the other side of the field had taken aggro from some computer-controlled pirates, so I sent my four T2 hobgoblins to help them out - giggling to myself as I called them back - they'd be a nasty surprise.
A few more cycles found a new ship entering the overview. It's name was "Stabber", and it appeared to be heading right for me - slowly. A cruiser. I wasn't really sure how to proceed as he approached. Should I really take the risk, or should I wait for something more along the lines of a frigate? I was assaulted with indecision as I watched him crawl across the kilometers between us and enter a makeshift orbit. He sat there, orbiting me, judging and weighing me - he left the can untouched for what seemed like hours, but was only seconds. My heart was beating like the bass of a homosexual nightclub, I could hear and feel it reverberating within my chest.
And then, the can was gone.
A burst of primal instinct flared up as a red square invaded the overview. Without even thinking, I already found myself locking onto it and looking to my modules. Missile launchers, nosferatu, webifier, warp scrambler, damage control - and last but not least, my drones swarmed out like a hive of angry wasps. My weapons and drones wailed on his shields and within an instant his too were set loose upon me. I watched as his cruiser altered its course, trying to gain some distance, or perhaps orbit me. But he soon realized the folly and simply stopped in place.
The battle dragged on - our shields dropping almost as if synchronized. To my alarm, my shields appeared to drop faster before screeching to near halt at about 20%. His however stopped closer to 10%, his armor getting scratched and lightly scuffed by the damage slowly getting through. My heart was still pounding, and my burst of wild instinct had drained and was replaced with panic as I watched my shields once more drop and reach armor. I recalled my drones with the intention of escaping, forgetting to realize that he too had thought to warp scramble me in case of just such an occasion - I had honestly hoped he would forget to do it.
With nothing left to me but imminent destruction, I set my drones upon him once more and did what damage I could - watching my armor retreat into structure, and structure retreat into the emptiness of space. As I stared out into the starry expanse with nothing but the shell of a pod between me and endless blackness, I briefly wondered where I had gone wrong. What could I have done differently with my life here in Eve? Had I actively pursued the life of a pirate hunter even after my first defeat, would I have lost that encounter? Would my path have been much different? With another heavy loss on my shoulders, my pod warped off to a nearby station to pick up a shuttle and head home. I tallied up another victory for the pirates.
I contacted the pirate afterward. I congratulated him on his victory, and found out that he had been just as scared shitless as I had been about his own defeat, and rewarded me by telling me how much the drones had surprised him. We laughed a bit and parted ways, I off to my corporation's headquarters, and he presumably to flip his next can. I suddenly didn't feel so bad about my loss. Perhaps pirates aren't so bad after all.
Then I yelled a curse really loud when I realized I had forgotten to fit the rigs I had bought.
Another mistake made, another lesson learned.