Operation Billystick – Zee Germans

(*All names have been changed)

When the intel officer handed out the summary of the reports, I couldn’t help but smile. This was going to be a psych-war primarily. Shadow-dancing, cloak and dagger work. My kind of war.

Our main targets were a German/English-speaking alliance (call them ZG*) who had called in another alliance (EN* if you will) to cover their timezones against us. This second alliance was mainly English-speaking. They may have had some German translation going on, but if they did, none of or intel showed it, so it probably wasn’t prevalent.

A plan was hatched. As it stood, the difference in numbers was too great for us to do any real damage to ZG. We needed to start creating holes in their ranks before we could effectively fight them in a more traditional brawl. We needed to isolated them and make sure they had no one left to turn to. And it would be no ones fault but their own.

Now, as I did my patrols, I had a simple rule to follow: Smile to EN, smack with ZG.
Now, just because I was smiling doesn’t mean I stopped the attacks. I was just pleasant and talkative as I was doing it. Chatting idly with cap pilots as I was popping their cyno ships, giving them (bad) fleet advice while we harassed their ratters and complex-runners. They didn’t trust me, but they knew I was good for a laugh.
To ZG though, I was a trolling, mean-spirited ghost who would revel and cackle as millions of Isk in loot decayed and drifted away after they docked up because of our presence. There was almost always a gank fleet with a lure out and active in their home system.

Over time, we began shifting our operation times, easing pressure off of EN’s timezone, and piling ever more pressure onto the already harried pilots of ZG. The war with EN became an almost light-hearted game of tag, while ZG’s war was a logistical nightmare, with our gangs reinforcing multiple PoS’es and Customs Offices only to disappear into the darkness at the first hint of a serious fight. When the timers rolled over, they repaired and refueled, never knowing why we never came to finish the job.

Tempers began to fray very quickly. And my social engineering plan began to bear fruit.

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Operation Billystick – Arrival

Word came in about this contract through one of our most respected contacts. It seems that they were trying to secure a pocket of NPC Null-sec, and they wanted some help to persuade the current occupants that life would be better elsewhere. Standard job…go in, set up, and proceed to make life miserable for anyone without a blue tag.

When we finally got our gear unpacked in the deployment zone, I took as stroll around the area to see what way the wind was blowing. At first glance, it didn’t look pretty. We were outnumbered, one alliance that was well settled in the area had called in another alliance for help against the single corp who had called us in, a 5 to 1 numbers advantage. That meant a prolonged campaign of guerrilla warfare and AFK cloaking.
Some of the crew began to complain immediately, being of the brawling, toe-to-toe, bubble fighting type, but the prospect of being buried in a blob of ships cooled their enthusiasm quick. Our allies were mostly in another timezone, so the chances of even being able to match one of their fleets was slim. But we were here to do a job, and began to probe the defenses of our targets.
Intel is priority. Names, ships, log times, PoS types, everything. The new guy, Smithie, asks why this kind of info is important, why can we jump the first lone ratter that we see?

Veterans, let the young have their questions and enthusiasm.

A vague “you’ll see soon enough, but orders are orders” speech will usually tide them over until you see an obvious bait ship later in the campaign.
Like I said, intel is priority, even over training. One week is usual, just to get a feeling for who you are flying beside, both with and against. You learn who is a pod-junkie, who barely connects. You learn what times they are sync’ed to, when they sleep. Stray messages tell you who they talk to and what language they use.

If you dislike being called names, this is a time you will not enjoy. It takes a lot to stay cloaked and not respond or retort. Meditation is good. Some load entertainment modules into their capsule’s systems….the one who want to stay sane do, anyways.

Patterns quickly emerge. Some pilots can see the patterns some can’t. It is something that is almost instinctive. I have seen new pilots instantly pick up the concept while people who have flown with me for years are scratching their heads.

Intels reports are written. Strategy is discussed. Orders are issued. NBSI, looting and griefing encouraged. Intense CovOps coverage through the area at all hours, calling in Maulers on any brave pilots trying to get in that last mission, or that Faction battleship that they were engaged with while they thought we weren’t watching. Cheap, dirty, underhanded, and effective. The troops were excited, the week of inactivity had made them all trigger happy.

My department had a special goal.

Ships of the Trade

I get asked a lot what my corp and I “do”. This is a hard question, because at the end of the day we do whatever pays well at that moment. Small gangs don’t have Ship Replacement Programs, so when something goes pop, we have to man up and pay for our loss out of our own pocket. The bottom line is never far from your mind. In the end its less about what we do and more about what we fly, so I have posted a page about what kinds of ships I find are in high use. Note I said “kinds”, if you’re looking for specifics, you’ll be disappointed, this is strictly spiritual advice. If you want in-depth training, we’d be happy to teach you.

For the up and coming small-gang mercs out there, I’ve added a Progression chart at the bottom to give you an (my) idea of a good learning path for the race to the Black Ops ships.

I will be updating the page as I write each chapter, so stay tuned for more. And don’t be afraid to leave questions or comments. I might not get to the right away, but I will get to them =)

Just Another Day

The alarm screams its warning as I roll to my feet, trying to shake the dazed feeling from my brain. “Coffee. Coffee is primary,” I mutter as I go about my morning routine, smiling at the amusing phrase picked up from the TweetFleet.
The pick-up fleet last night dragged on late, though I do imagine that the Serpentis installations that we hit are feeling worse than I am. They would have cleaned up quickly though, burying their dead and moving on. Our targets were their fleets, not their installations, and we’re not the type of folk to waste ammo if there’s no profit to it. Its amazing just how much destruction a small squad of capsuleers can accomplish in just a few hours, if they set their minds to it.
Finally as I get my fuzzy neurons firing properly and the second cup of the scalding hot acid that is my coffee into my system and start filing my intelligence reports. I won’t head to the pod gantries until the paperwork is done, otherwise the damn stuff would bury me within the week. But that is the life. I’ve been called a mercenary, a commando, SpecFor, terrorist, madman, psychopath….and all of that would sound pleasant if it wasn’t for the damned paperwork.
Maps, killboards, traffic patterns, intel of all sorts both incoming and outgoing. But when you’re not rolling in a fleet 50 deep, these are what keep you alive and flying. Especially if you happen to live and work in a contested pocket. I don’t like talking about ongoing operations, so all I will say is that thing are going well and all seems to be on schedule. When the operation is over though, I will give you an after-action report, I promise. This has been my kind of operation from start to finish, so I can’t wait to share the play by play.
Recruitment….well, it goes. Slowly. So far we have only had a single recruit stay on, but we are glad to have him and he seems to be getting along well with the gang and isn’t a green kid yet to get his feet wet in null-sec. Diplomatically speaking, though, we have grown quite a bit and have made friend with some fun pilots. We’ll see where it goes, but our gang of corps seem to be meshing together quite well.
Just another day at the office, I think to myself as I toss back the last swig of half-cold coffee and reach for a smoke.