Chasing a Cheetah

1st February 2010 – 5.40 pm

Twin Guardians have converted our fleet. Instead of each battleship or battlecruiser relying on its own tank, carrying additional armour plates or hardeners and perhaps supplemented by a small amount of remote repair, the logistics ship supply all of the repair capabilities of the fleet. Having no need to fit a tank removes all the bulky fittings in favour of modifications to improve the fleet's firepower. We end up with more optimised ship configurations that greatly enhance our efficiency during PvE Sleeper engagements. The only problem with the fleet relying on the Guardians is the specialised skill training required to pilot one. When one of the two capsuleers capable of flying a Guardian is not available, the fleet remains docked.

Knowing that no Guardians means no combat, other pilots have been on the training path towards logistics ships, and now our first new Guardian pilot is ready to get his pod in the ship. Rather than throw him right in to battle, an overview of the logistic ship's systems and capabilities is due. I jump in to my Guardian, the new pilot in to the spare, and we navigate outside the w-space tower's shields. Locking on to each other's ship, we start both of our energy transfer arrays and all four remote armour repair modules, all systems staggered for optimal benefit. Then a colleague arrives in a Megathron and starts shooting me.

My armour is barely dented by the Megathron's sustained attack, the reppers easily countering the battleship's DPS. The pilot turns his attention to the other Guardian, asking 'can I get some cap?' before starting his attack, cheekily wanting one of our transfer arrays to energise his capacitor depleted from the previous barrage. Another colleague joins the fray in his Scorpion, wondering aloud if he would be able to jam me with his ECM. As a successful jam will break my target lock and thus disrupt all the ship's systems, I point out that we are currently flying Fin's spare Guardian, and no one will be happy if anything happens to it. He jams the frustrated Megathron instead, still hardly scratching the Guardian's armour. With no incoming fire, the Scorpion tries to jam my systems but fails, quickly trying to blame my ECCM or his fitting of only one Amarrian jammer.

Our twin Guardian configuration with the new pilot is operational and stable. We head back to the tower and plan a field test against some relatively simple w-space anomalies. But just as we are preparing, a Cheetah covert operations boat appears in the system. Whilst the presence of a scanning boat may not be a cause for concern, it is wise to treat it as a threat until shown otherwise. Our Sleeper operation is postponed and we move instead for reconnaissance and deterrence. Our own Cheetah is deployed, ready to follow the intruding ship back to its base. I jump in to my Manticore stealth bomber, happy for any excuse to pilot it. Other ships are readied or dumped out of the hangar to give a more active appearance and threatening presence to our system.

Both our Cheetah and myself jump in to the neighbouring system, where the intruder must have come from. I park my Manticore 30 km off the wormhole and wait, our cov-ops boat warps to a second wormhole in the system. It is not too long before the wormhole in front of me, connecting to our home w-space system, flares to indicate a ship passing through. Curiously, I don't decloak and launch a bomb, partly because I am not entirely sure how much damage it would do to such a small ship, and partly because the intruder has not made any hostile actions so far. Let's hope I don't regret this decision. The intruder warps off, predictably back to the wormhole our scanning man is stealthily monitoring, and jumps to the next system.

I warp to the wormhole the intruder just jumped through, repositioning myself for his re-entrance. I call to the corporation for anyone passing through that wormhole to announce themselves first, as I am now fully ready to launch a bomb as soon as the wormhole flares and don't want to hit a friendly target. It's fine for a target to go home, but coming back is to be discouraged. Our man in the Cheetah follows the intruder back to a class 5 w-space system, where he sees a fleet preparing for an operation. Three Dominix battleships, a Guardian logistic ship, a Tech III Tengu, a Zealot HAC, and Phobos HIC are all recorded, indicating more of a PvP composition than PvE. With a real possibility of being ambushed by experienced pilots, it doesn't bode well for us to get involved in combat with Sleepers. I also am not entirely sure my lone Manticore on the wormhole two systems across will be enough to deter the fleet if it comes this way.

But I don't waver. I hold my position on the wormhole. Only when the call is given that we will not be forming a fleet for Sleeper combat do I warp off, returning to the tower. I make it known that I am jumping back in to our home system, so that I don't cause panic or get shot on my arrival, and when everyone is back safely the tension levels lower somewhat. Perhaps we don't see any combat action today, but there was certainly some excitement. Anticipation can be everything.

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