Negotiating with a miner

13th July 2010 – 5.41 pm

'I'm looking at a Covetor mining.' What beautiful words. They make me want to jump in my Onyx heavy interdictor and blow the crap out of the mining barge and pod the pilot. But I am getting ahead of myself and have to store the HIC and pilot my Buzzard covert operations boat. Our scan man has found the miner, and the gravimetric site he's in, but doesn't want to jump out of the system and possibly alert the other capsuleer, and he is the only one with a bookmark to the system. Luckily, all but the final wormhole in to the miner's system has been bookmarked and copied to our shared can, I only need to find the connection to the class 3 w-space system before we can spoil someone's evening.

I warp to and jump through our static wormhole, pass directly through the class 4 system to jump through its static wormhole to a class 2 system, and launch probes to begin scanning. I check my directional scanner as I travel and note occupancy in both systems, but don't dally to find the towers. Scanning is quick, as scan man gives me the signature reference of the wormhole I am looking for, letting me pluck the right signature first time from the many return signals an initial scan receives. This is why noting the signature reference in w-space bookmarks is advised. I resolve the signature, warp to the wormhole to bookmark it directly, then rapidly return home to swap ships.

I am back in my Onyx, a colleague is in his Arazu recon ship, and our scan man is in his combat Cheetah cov-ops. We probably have enough firepower to kill a defenceless miner. Then again, a Drake battlecruiser has also been spotted at the miner's corporation tower in the C3 system, as well as a Buzzard whose pilot could swap in to a combat ship. The other capsuleers may be lured in to giving us a proper engagement. First we must catch the Covetor. Our small fleet pilots its way to the wormhole leading in to the class 3 system, but our scout can only report that we may have missed our opportunity. The Covetor was not jet-canning his ore—jettisoning each full ship's hold of mined ore for a hauler to collect in a more convenient load—instead warping back to his tower to drop off each cycle's small worth of ore. The mining barge was dropping off its current load as we started making our way to the wormhole and now he's just sitting idly in the tower. Maybe he's finished.

We wait anyway, not wanting to give up. And, after a long pause, the Covetor moves. It twists inside the tower's shields and the mining barge's warp drive engages, hurtling the ship back to the gravimetric site. We are ready. The Arazu has jumped in to the system and cloaked quietly, guided to the gravimetric site by our scout. I am sitting on the wormhole, waiting. Slowly, the Arazu creeps closer to the mining barge, then decloaks, locks the target, and disrupts its warp engine. The Covetor is going nowhere, I am jumping through the wormhole and warping to the Arazu's position. On arrival I activate my warp bubble and lock the Covetor, moving directly to his position. Negotiations begin with a few warning shots.

We have agreed to try to ransom the capsuleer's pod. The miner, on the other hand, doesn't want to talk to us, refusing an invitation to chat. He's not trying to move, though, and my bubble is keeping him from warping away. We keep his Covetor intact for a bit longer as another colleague turns up at our tower and wants to join in on the piracy, having to travel to our position first. Once our colleague arrives in his Myrmidon battlecruiser we show the miner we are serious, quickly popping his Covetor and trapping his naked pod. Now he is willing to talk.

Our best diplomat starts discussing iskies with the miner, negotiating payment for the release of the pod. He rejects our initial offer and is perhaps stalling for time, but we don't mind waiting, as a combat ship or two turning up will make our evening more interesting. But it looks like our show of force is too much too early, the lone Drake we saw earlier unwilling to engage three PvP ships. In the end we are left with a dilemma. The capsuleer agrees to a ransom but will pay half now and half when he's safely back at the tower. We have no way to enforce the second half of the payment and no real means of retribution if he doesn't. On the other hand, the capsuleer has no guarantee that we'll release his pod once he pays. Piracy is a tricky business.

Everyone agrees to the terms of the ransom. Half of the ISK is paid to us and we release the pod from our clutches, letting it warp safely back to its tower. Once the pilot is safe we are paid the second half. I am glad the ransom worked this time, although I don't really like the precedent. Then again, the first time a capsuleer breaks such an agreement may well be the last time we accept one, other capsuleers finding themselves waking up in a clone if they aren't willing to bow to the terms of our piracy. That's the way it should be.

The ransom is split and we clear the system cleanly and safely, returning home without incident. The two intermediate systems remain quiet and I take the opportunity to get an early night, satisifed with my evening's adventure.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.