Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Loss #12: The Cunning Moa

Ouelletta was unusually quiet when I came up with the best target I'd seen in days on the scanner: a Moa-class cruiser had gone into an asteroid belt. Moas aren't weaklings, but I knew its cruiser-sized blasters just wouldn't be able to catch my Rifter. I warped in, cheering as I caught the cruiser with my warp scrambler - I had already won, I just needed to wait out its shields.

As my autocannons wore down its heavy shields, a swarm of drones poured from its drone bay. "Ah good. It will be a fight, then," I thought. I turned my attention to the drones and managed to keep up with the damage they dealt to my armor as I destroyed them each in turn. I finally turned my attention back to the Moa, and worked my way through the rest of his shields.. when a proximity alarm suddenly flashed red on my HUD.

The combat had started quite far from any of the asteroids in this belt, but the Moa's pilot had inched us closer and closer while I had been focusing on taking down his shields. The structure of my Rifter groaned as the computer compensated, breaking and banking hard to avoid collision with an asteroid; vectoring me directly away from the Moa. I was a sitting duck as the Moa's blasters finally were able to align and pounded my ship with round after round of hot plasma. I escaped with my pod as I congratulated the Moa's pilot for his excellent job of using the terrain to his advantage. And I cursed to myself for losing such an excellent target.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kill #8: The Distant Merlin

In Old Man Star, I found a Merlin-class frigate on scan. I was quickly able to track it down to a planetary orbit, but when I arrived it was 250 klicks off, sitting motionless. Was it powered down? Did the pilot think that sitting so far off from the standard orbit would keep him safe? Or was it a trap?

I aligned the Rust III towards another planet in his direction and warped out, returning moments later by warping in 100km off the mark - this put me at about 150 klicks from the Merlin. I set my navigation for flat-out approach and burned hard towards the target. I realize at about 80km that I've accidentally had my crews fit a Warp Disruptor II module instead of a Warp Scrambler - normally not what I'd want on a Rifter, but at least this time it would let me lock down the target as soon as he was within targeting range.

At 24km, my targeting systems acquired a lock, and the disruptor kicked on. The first of the Merlin's missiles was already in flight, and impacted against my shields a split second later. I was still 20 klicks out from effective range, and only gaining slowly as the other ship fled. I was taking a barrage of missiles and railgun fire. My shields melted and my armor took enough damage that I kicked on my repairer.. but then finally I was within 10km and caught the Merlin in my stasis web. From there, it was all over. I was too close and fast for his missiles or his railguns, and the battle was almost one-sided.

I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy piloting Rifters.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kill #7: Ratting Fat Man

Back in Old Man Star, I was sitting at a safespot avoiding the large fleet of Battleships and Assault Cruisers that had been called in by some local militia pilots to scare off their enemies. Scanning everywhere but the gate they were gathered at, I did manage to find a Tristan in an asteroid belt, hunting bounties against the local Serpentis.

Militia pilots, and pilots used to high-sec, often erroneously consider systems with large numbers of friendly militia as ‘safe.’ I wondered if that was why he was so leisurely fighting in that asteroid belt.

Despite the easy catch, the Tristan put up a good fight. He managed to destroy 70% of my armor before exploding.

Loss #11: Rust vs Gold

It's been good to be flying a Rifter again. The feeling of freedom that comes with flying a cheap ship is excellent - you can take on targets you know you won't win against because you don't mind losing. The loss of the Rust II was just that kind of loss.

I was on another roam, and happened into Hevrice again. I warped to a station to sit within the protection of the sentry guns while I checked my map. At least, that was my intention. When I came out of warp, there was a Maller-class cruiser flashing red in my overview.. and he was a member of The Tuskers. The Maller isn't a drone-carrying cruiser, so I knew my fast little Rifter could survive at least a little while against it. What better way to practice your combat skills than actually using them against well-respected pilots?

I was able to do about 20% damage to the Maller's armor, but his strong Amarrian armor and repair module easily held me from doing any more. The combination of my own repair module and my Rifter's speed meant that I actually survived for quite some time against the Maller's cruiser-sized lasers. It wasn't until the Maller's energy vampire had sapped my of my capacitor that I began the slow decent into destruction.

I thanked the pilot for the fight as I escaped with my pod. I certainly learned a few things I'd do to better take on a cruiser like that next time...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Loss #10: The Heritage Three

dé-jà vu –noun

1. Psychology. the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time.

2. disagreeable familiarity or sameness: The new television season had a sense of déjà vu about it—the same old plots and characters with new names.

After defeating a Tusker pilot in his own home system, I was feeling a bit on the brash side again. My confidence bolstered, I resumed my route through low-sec space and ended up in Old Man Star. The system is a constant war zone - militias are constantly battling it out for control of this system on the border of Federation high-sec space, and pirates take advantage of the increased activity in the system to find their targets.

I just so happened to be scanning down a Rifter, and attempted to pounce on him in an asteroid belt. Only, it turned out I had miscalculated - the ship wasn't in this belt. I realized this as I came out of warp, and commanded the Heritage III to come about and warp to a nearby safespot, but it was too late. A Thorax cruiser came out of warp almost immediately after I did, and snagged my ship with his warp disruptor before my warp drive finished powering up. Whether he had been scanning me down, or had been tailing the same Rifter as I had, I'm unsure. But as was expected for a Thorax, I was still pounding on his armor when I lost the Heritage III.

I exchanged compliments with the pilot as my pod warped to safety. Another Vengeance lost; it was time to start flying cheaper ships.

Kill #6: A Tusker

After cleaning myself up and getting checked out for any long-term damage that being adrift for so long might have done to me, I headed to the hangar level of the station to procure myself another ship. Some kind benefactor had left my accounts 30 million ISK richer while I had been gone.. this time, it hadn't been Guillome. I used the money to outfit another Vengeance, the Heritage III. It was time to get back in the saddle. I fitted the Heritage III with high-tech pulse lasers instead of rockets, as the rockets from my usual supplier had changed their payload, and seemed much less effective now.*

I began roaming my old hunting grounds, and decided to stray a little outside my usual path. This took me to the system of Hevrice, home system of The Tuskers, a group of pirates I quite respect. There wasn't much on the scanner, so I took my time exploring the system, until an Incursus-class frigate showed up on the scanner, hiding behind the first planet of the system.

I practically collided with the Incursus as I dropped from warp, and began my orbit. Then I noticed his ID tag on my HUD. The pilot was Two50, a member of The Tuskers. I knew I was in for a fight. And that it was; Incursus held its own quite well, and actually managed to be doing damage to my armor in between cycles of my repair module. I was also having a harder than normal time hitting it with my own turrets...

Damn. I hadn't enabled my stasis web. I slapped myself for falling out of practice. I willed it to activate, and the Incursus slowed noticeably, suddenly allowing my turrets to pound away the last of its armor. His pod didn't attempt to escape, but I decided I didn't need the security hit on my record just yet. I told the pilot so, and he transmitted back a brief complement on the fight as I warped off.

I had some business to get to in high sec...

* OOC: <whining> Damned missile nerf. It was already dumb of me to fit rockets instead of pulses pre-patch, but they needed an additional damage nerf?? C'mon guys, change the Vengeance to get a laser bonus instead, or fix rockets. </whining>

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Loss #9: Finally, the Heritage Two

The warning lights flashed in the darkness; my eyes could have been open, but my view was still blank save for a single red warning. I must be in my pod, as I couldn’t see or feel my body.

Warning: Auxiliary life support will fail within four hours.

My pod’s computer was trying one last attempt to wake its unconscious pilot, and it seemed to have worked. I mentally queried the situation, and the computer responded. The camera drone was offline, likely lost. My location was about 100 AU out from Intaki and drifting. My aux life support was down to four hours left.

Strange. A pod’s life support system should last weeks..

I checked the date and the pieces rushed back together. I had been tracking another target in the Intaki system, when I had been caught off guard by a Thorax-class cruiser. I had gotten lazy under the impenetrable (or so I thought) Khanid armor of the Vengeance I had been so successful with, the Heritage Two. My pod hadn’t been properly secured, causing my ejection from the exploding ship to fail and send me rocketing off-course, unconscious. I must have been floating out here for weeks.

I commanded the pod to find the closest station beacon and set a course for docking. Hopefully, flying blind without a camera drone wouldn’t be a liability with the automated docking procedure, but I braced myself anyway…