A hit and a miss

22nd January 2013 – 5.09 pm

A new signature in the home system today is just more Sleepers. Stupid drones. I'm going next door, through our static wormhole, to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system. Updating my directional scanner after the jump shows me a tower, Orca industrial command ship, and Brutix battlecruiser, and although there are no anomalies thrown up on a passive sensor scan there are wrecks. And now a second Brutix has appeared from somewhere. How exciting! I have activity within a couple of minutes of waking up.

The tower looks to be in the same position I saw it on a previous visit six months ago, judging by d-scan, where the Orca is sitting. The Brutixes are elsewhere, though, and a jet-can is in space too. I would guess the pair are gassing, giving me pilots to hunt. I warp out to a planet 40 AU away, placing me far out of d-scan range of the gassers, and launch scanning probes. I perform a blanket scan, partly out of habit, and reveal the three ships I know about and five signatures. The battlecruisers will be in one of them.

I return to look for the ships, using the range gate on d-scan to gauge their distance and finding what is probably the planet closest to them. Once around that planet, I start narrowing d-scan's beam until I have a good approximation of their bearing, and adjust the range gate again to determine their distance from me, which I estimate to be about 2·7 AU. I cluster my probes around their position, although now just one Brutix is in the site along with a Noctis salvager, and call in my probes to scan.

It's a perfect result again. The Noctis has gone, but the Brutix remains gassing away in a ladar site. I recall my probes, warp towards the battlecruiser, and bookmark its position for reference. The scan result was perfect, and the scan itself must have been good, as my probes don't appear to have been spotted. I drop out of warp in the ladar site near the stationary Brutix, letting me decloak to start the ambush without worrying that the ship is about to warp away.

I lock on to the battlecruiser, scramble its warp engines, and start shooting. Or I would scramble its warp engines if my module would activate, but it seems I am a couple of kilometres out of range. A pulse of my micro warp drive closes the distance between us within a couple of seconds, and I get my scrambler active, actually preventing the Brutix from fleeing now. And now it's all about applying damage, and the battlecruiser looks to be a tough nut.

I tell a lie. The ambush is not just reduced to applying damage. There was a second pilot, one who disappeared from d-scan, which means there is a second pilot who may appear with reinforcements, or at least an ECM boat to kick my lock off his chum. I'm watching d-scan as I shoot the Brutix, watching for any sign of a counter-threat. Although, I have to admit, I am actually hoping for a more positive outcome. I knew that the Noctis wasn't going to be long in the ladar site, salvaging the few wrecks there, and I had hoped that my timing would be accidentally good enough that I would warp in and start my ambush after the other pilot had turned around and engaged warp himself, returning in an also-vulnerable ship and without being able to stop. As it turns out, circumstances are better than I could have expected.

I have been watching for the second Brutix to return, but what appears on d-scan instead is a Mammoth. The hauler is in warp to collect some of the gas, and indeed started coming this way before he could be told to abort and hold his position. There is nothing he can do but land a few kilometres from me and hope for the best. My problem is that I only have one module available that disrupts warp engines, and two ships to stop. What makes this not quite so problematic is that the hauler is nowhere near as tough a nut to crack as a battlecruiser. As I watch the Mammoth on d-scan I already know what I'm going to do: keep point on the Brutix and swap my guns over to the hauler, looking to pop it before it can turn around. I think I can do that, as they're pretty fragile.

Here comes the hauler. I am quite enjoying this, as an ambush rarely turns out so well. I can only imagine what feelings the pair of pilots have been going through, as the Mammoth realised he was flying right towards a Loki strategic cruiser already assaulting his colleague in the Brutix. I stop my guns firing on the Brutix, keeping the point in place, and target the Mammoth. It takes a few seconds longer than I expect for the hauler's warp engines to wind down, but I get a positive lock and start shooting again. And after a few volleys I realise my mistake.

I have a positive lock on the Mammoth, and my guns are firing, but I didn't move my active target from the Brutix to the Mammoth. I have only resumed shooting the Brutix, which isn't what I intended. I correct my mistake, as the Mammoth still slowly turns about its axis to flee, apparently not thinking about aiming for a celestial object more in line with its initial trajectory for a quicker exit, and start shooting the flimsier hull of the hauler. It's all a bit too late, though. My guns take chunks about of the hauler's shields and armour, but before I can rip the hull to pieces the Mammoth enters warp and disappears in to space.

It was a good plan, and had I switched targets for my guns properly I would have easily popped the Mammoth whilst holding the Brutix. It's a shame to miss the second target, particularly as the ambush was working out so well, but at least my plan let me keep hold of the primary target. I switch my guns back to the Brutix and start chipping away at its shields. The battlecruiser isn't quite as fragile as the Mammoth, but its destruction is inevitable. I keep watching d-scan as the shields deplete, and note that the Mammoth remains in range. Maybe the pilots are local after all. But the hauler isn't swapped for another boat, and the Brutix's defences are crushed before long, the resulting explosion ejecting the pilot's pod through the debris.

The pod flees before I can get a positive lock, leaving me just one wreck and a can to loot and shoot. Reload and cloak. I could loiter in the site for a while, but no one sensible would return whilst a hostile ship is known to be at large, so I warp towards the tower to gauge the response. As the Mammoth wasn't swapped for even an ECM boat I'm not expecting a response, but I'd rather witness it first-hand than by watching d-scan. What I see instead, when reaching the tower, is the Mammoth warping away.

Surely the hauler isn't daring to collect the gas in the ladar site, trying to salvage what little profit they can from their doomed operation. Surely not when d-scan clearly shows a lack of any jet-can that used to be holding the gas, the one that I destroyed. And even the wreck of the Brutix is gone, also destroyed after being looted. I don't know why the Mammoth is heading towards the ladar site, but I'm almost kicking myself for leaving it. I turn my Loki around and head back with best speed, dropping out of warp a few kilometres from the mental Mammoth, decloaking and activating my sensor booster in anticipation. Sadly, I am a few seconds too late in assuming the foolhardy nature of the pilot, as the Mammoth once again turns around and flees, escaping my attentions a second time by the narrowest of margins.

At least the Mammoth saw a lack of anything to haul in the ladar site, and my Loki ready to relieve the pilot of his ship, so when he returns to the tower now he probably will be staying there. He got lucky, twice. The Brutix wasn't quite so lucky, as not even two warp core stabilisers let him escape my faction warp scrambler. I'm quite enjoying having that fit now, even if I have to remember to get that little bit closer for it to activate properly. And as I bask in the glow of a well-executed ambush, albeit without making the most of my good luck, I watch the two pilots go off-line and leave me in a newly empty system.

  1. 5 Responses to “A hit and a miss”

  2. They should train up a venture ASAP.

    By chband on Jan 22, 2013

  3. It's only the day after Retribution hit. Obviously. Give them a chance.

    By pjharvey on Jan 23, 2013

  4. Ahhh, that explains :P

    By chband on Jan 23, 2013

  5. And don't worry, they're bloody everywhere now, like gnats.

    By pjharvey on Jan 24, 2013

  6. Well after so many years Venture is the only (wh) gas mining hull CCP gave us. 5 of them could kill a small site before the rats spawn XD

    By chband on Jan 24, 2013

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