Don't quite understand it, but I ended up with another one of those cloak-and-dagger "Do this and the guv'mint will love you" missions. Some idiot or other was running some pirates -- please go and blow him up.
So I take the job and notice that I can arrive at a range from the co-ordinates they gave me. And since my Big Guns work well at 30K, I decide on that. Imagine My Surprise, when I de-warp 2K from a cruiser. Poor b*gger never had a chance: I saw that the closest other ships were over 30K away and I opened up on him with everything, including drones, and blew him away before he'd even really noticed me. Then I Big-Gunned a batch of frigs, and took out a second cruiser. During which Mr.SlimeBall tried webbing me, or something. I let my drones chew on him while I salvaged from wrecks, and then blew him away too.
Whether someone was watching me I don't know :: I get home and my regular agent suggests I might like to do a mission for her that involves pirates. So I said I'd give it a try, reloaded everything, repaired a slightly wounded drone, and went off.
This time there were plenty of cruisers (and perhaps a BC in there) -- they seemed to agress in groups (and I was careful, as soon as one group did, to pull away and take them with me, so that the others didn't catch on). They took longer to kill, but I managed to stay in-shield all the way (though one drone -- Luigi, a blue one with swirly designs on his hull -- did succumb, due to going too close to a frigate and not coming back when I told him to) and one lot never even got a shot onto my hull -- I think my Big Gun had more range than theirs.
At the end, I breathed a sight of relief, and went to get paid. The mission pay was about 700K (with bonus), but the bounties for killing them were phenomenal -- I ended up with 2.7M total, so Jenni is going to have a holiday for a day or two, and Ride Poniez !!!