Revenge outside a tower

21st August 2010 – 3.34 pm

My Onyx is gone but my pod is safe. Instead of licking my wounds I am going back in to our neighbouring w-space system in a Manticore stealth bomber, accompanied by my current partner-in-crime in his Hound. It is unlikely that our targets will resume normal activities and actually become targets again, but it is certainly advisable to know what they are up to. And having chased us off there is a slim chance that a vulnerable ship or two will wander around trying to loot wrecks and collect mined gas. Then again, when a capsuleer in local says he can see me after I jump through the wormhole it seems our outing in the pair of stealth bombers won't catch anyone unawares. The other corporation must have a cloaked ship sitting near the wormhole.

Knowing that there are stealth bombers lurking in the system may actually present us with a target. My colleague sees a Buzzard covert operations boat move out of the shields of one of the two local towers, where it starts circling lazily around some of the tower's defences. The pilot is most certainly baiting us, hoping we'll decloak and try to bomb him, knowing that the tower defences will target decloaked ships and perhaps destroy us, and that the small signature radius of the Buzzard will mitigate most of a bomb's explosion damage. We both know this too but are also ready to throw a couple of bombs to see what happens.

My colleague has a good position near the tower from which to launch a bomb. I warp close to his position and set my own vector. The Buzzard continues to circle, not oblivious to our threat but unsure if we'll attack. Hound and Manticore are now lined up and ready, within our payload's optimal range, and we simultaneously decloak and launch a bomb directly towards the Buzzard. With a ten second flight time and fifteen kilometre explosion radius any ship has to move over 1·5 km/s to escape a well-positioned bomb launch, and the Buzzard is easily caught by both explosions! But the covert operations boat survives, limping back towards the safety of the tower's shields.

To avoid getting targeted and attacked by the tower defences my colleague has long-since cloaked and either warped away or at least changed vector. I, however, have held my line and locked on to the Buzzard. This lets me use a fitted target painter to increase the signature radius of the Buzzard, increasing the damage of the bombs, and it allows me to fire some torpedoes too. I don't want to lose another stealth bomber to automated defences, so a single volley of torpedoes is all I dare launch before cloaking again. I watch as the torpedoes propel themselves towards the slow-moving Buzzard, heavily damaged from the double bomb blast. The torpedoes hold a straight line until the last second, when they adjust course to maximise impact, looping over the top and slamming in to the Buzzard. Pop!

It is a glorious kill, made sweeter by risking what turned out to be the final blow. The pilot's pod gets back to the shields safely but the capsuleer doesn't board another ship. And the wreck of his Buzzard sits eniticingly close, apparently with an intact covert operations cloaking device inside. 'Can you loot?', asks my colleague. It's a good question and technically I can, my cargo hold having enough spare room to carry the bulky cloaking device. But I'd need to decloak and pass right next to tower defences to loot the wreck, and do so under the noses of the pilots still in the tower. Actually, that sounds like fun. Sure, I'll grab the loot.

I line up my Manticore to loot the wreck of the Buzzard. I will need to decloak and loot as quickly as possible to let me either re-activate my cloak or warp away safely. It would be quite embarrassing to lose a ship when looting a wreck. I fly parallel to the tower defences, far enough away to hold my cloak, and approach the wreck. My hold is open and ready. When I am almost within range to loot I drop my cloak, hit the reheat, and scoop the loot from the wreck. By the time the loot is recovered my Manticore is far enough away from the tower defences to cloak again. Yes, I've popped your Buzzard then stolen your fittings, right outside your own tower.

Meanwhile, my colleague has gone back to the ladar site looking for a Loki strategic cruiser that was seen on the directional scanner. The Loki isn't there but the wreck of the Manticore we popped in our earlier fight is. This is the Manticore that had the advanced spaceship command skill book in its hold, incredibly taken in to combat, and the wreck is unlooted. But not for long, my colleague snatching the expensive skill book for ourselves. He also takes the covert operations cloaking device that survived destruction, ditching a bomb in his hold to make room. I take his cue and turn up to scoop for trophies the two corpses floating in space, as well as grabbing some ammunition from the Manticore wreck. And that looks like everything.

The capsuleers here aren't coming out to play any more and their system is hardly going to be safe for any of our own operations. With some more of our own corporation and allied pilots turning up we will need to find a new system to keep ourselves entertained, so we start to collapse our static wormhole. Not wanting to risk the Orca industrial command ship we rely on battleships to destabilise the wormhole. The operation is a little tricky but goes smoothly, the wormhole imploding with everyone on the right side. I suppose I'll need to buy myself a new Onyx at some point, which means finding an exit to empire space. But for now I'll take a break. It has been quite an exciting afternoon.

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