Rook looks like a Sleeper

23rd December 2009 – 5.52 pm

We have a radar site to pillage, located in the class 4 w-space system. Radar sites have stronger opposition defending them than the simpler anomalies, and the higher the class of a system the defences get stronger again. Both of the twin Guardian logistic ships are available, which will help with the operation, but I doubt we'd even attempt the class 4 radar site without them. An anomaly in a class 3 system was potentially troubling enough with just the one Guardian.

The first wave of Sleeper ships isn't posing any problems, although they normally leave the big guns as their last line of defence. To help bolster our fleet's damage output, the drone bays of the Guardians are opened and drones launched to add their damage to the smaller Sleeper ships. I have been reluctant to use my drones so far whilst piloting the Guardian, partly because being responsible for keeping others intact is a new experience for me, and partly because of the possibility of the confusion that can arise from needing to target both hostile and friendly ships.

My concern is two-fold. First, I may inadvertently target a fleet member I am supposed to be repairing for a drone attack instead, which won't help his armour. Second, my remote reppers may end up on a Sleeper vessel, reconstructing their already immense armour that we are striving to break down. Both concerns can be assuaged by careful monitoring of my current target, and further mitigated by identifying my drone and repper module icons next to the locked ships. Drones can easily be recalled as a group, and individual reppers can helpfully be disengaged from the icon directly, rather than guessing which of the four active modules I need to power down.

Wrongful targeting can still occur, though, even when care is taken. Perhaps the module cycle time means it doesn't activate when you expect, and when you realise it still needs to be activated you don't also remember that you have since switched active targets. And sometimes the icons can just plain get mixed up, particularly when Sleepers are being blown up and new locks need to be acquired, the auto-selection of newly locked targets causing occasional confusion. Whatever the cause, accidental friendly fire happens. Having been on the receiving end a few times, it is normally a matter of pointing it out and the capsuleer correcting his target choice.

Knowing that fleet ships can be targeted accidentally in combat makes it rather tempting to poke someone's ship, perhaps because they get their weasels to gnaw on my Tech II BPCs, or scratch the paint on my beautiful Crane transport ship in a reckless fly-past. I think about 'accidentally' sending my drones on to Riyu's Rook, chipping a bit of the paint off his new purchase. Of course, he'll notice and say something, and everyone will know what really happened. But this kind of playful banter is what solidifies relationships, being confident that silly actions will be taken in good humour. You gently tease friends, not enemies, because you know you can get away with it.

Whilst I am looking for the right moment to play my prank, the second wave of Sleepers arrive. A handful of Sleeper battleships and an entourage of cruisers warp in and decide that my Guardian is an affront to physicists in any galaxy, targeting my ship with most of their firepower. My shields disappear like Amarrians when it's their round, and the Sleepers start blasting the plates off my Guardian, missile barrages and laser sears close to ripping the ship apart. And then it stops. The Rook ECM boat has jammed three of the battleships and the incoming damage is now a trickle instead of a torrent.

Maybe he teases me a little, and maybe his Rook can test my Guardian's repping powers, but it is clear that Riyu's ECM can make a big difference to our fleet capability. What we don't get hit with I don't need to repair, which is even more welcome when the damage is taken off my ship. I'm not sure I can pretend to mix my targets up now, it doesn't feel right attacking him after he protects me, even if the protection wasn't specifically directed at me. But this feeling will pass, and there will be more opportunities to mistake him for a Sleeper, whereupon I'm sure hilarity will ensue.

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