From scout to battleship

10th August 2011 – 5.47 pm

There's a Buzzard at large in our w-space constellation. Mick got eyes on the covert operations boat, and the pilot looks carefree enough that we may be able to catch him. I just need to get there. The constellation is quite complex at the moment, expanded slightly by my scanning in low-sec empire space to find a further class 1 system we can travel to without using a stargate, and I have five systems to cross before I can get to the other side of the wormhole Mick's on. By the time I get my covert Tengu there the Buzzard has already jumped through, and I can do little but watch him warp away.

Watching the ship warp has its benefits, though. I see the direction the Buzzard warps, check my system map, and push my strategic cruiser in the same direction. It looks like the ship warped towards the sole class 6 w-space system in our constellation and, although dropping out warp sees no ships, jumping through the wormhole finds the Buzzard. The cov-ops boat isn't being covert at the moment, nor is he speeding in to warp, even with the wormhole flaring with my entrance, giving me a simple target to engage. I gain a positive lock and start shooting, Mick still catching up behind me, and the Buzzard uses its only escape route and jumps back through the wormhole to the class 5 system.

I try to give chase to the Buzzard but I was quick in attacking, my session change timer still active and preventing me from returning through the wormhole so soon. Even when the timer ends my hull is polarised, as I rushed this way to get to Mick in the first place, and I have to wait another minute before I can jump to the C5 and see a distinct lack of targets. Mick got a brief look at the ship before it disappeared, interrogating its systems to learn that the pilot is from a null-sec alliance, which probably means we've lost his trace, as we can't follow him back to his w-space home. But just as we think the chase is over I jump in to the next C5 in our constellation to see scanning probes launched over a hundred kilometres from the wormhole.

I update Mick and he comes to sit on the opposite side of the wormhole, ready to try to catch the Buzzard should he turn tail again. I will try to flush out our prey. It looks like the pilot burnt away from the wormhole before dropping probes, or maybe warped to the star and back at range to do so, and if he stayed on that line I can maybe bump in to his ship to disengage his cloak. It's a long shot but I give it a go. I fling my Tengu around, alternately bouncing off the wormhole and the star at various ranges, and crawling along the appropriate vector to see if I can get lucky and bump our target, but I see nothing.

Mick jumps in to the system to try to provoke a reaction, and he kind of does. The Buzzard has scanned the wormhole leading out to low-sec empire space in this system and appears there, probes recalled, to leave w-space. The two of us orbit the wormhole eagerly expecting his return but it doesn't look like he's coming back. He could be waiting for the polarisation timer to end, giving him an option to jump out again if that irritating Tengu of mine is still looking for him, but even after a few minutes there is no return. Mick exits to see the pilot in the local communication channel in low, and no doubt he sees Mick too. The exit leads to our favourite low-sec wasteland of Aridia and although I doubt the pilot wants to make his way home from there he isn't going to return to w-space either if he thinks we're still around.

I'm feeling a bit like Truman Capote, getting desperate for a brutal and probably unnecessary death so that I can end my story. Without it there is no closure, yet I cannot exert influence outside of my control. I have little choice but to head homewards and get some sleep, lest I become a shade of my former self. And just as I bid my colleagues a good night Mick runs in to a Sacrilege assault ship passing through a wormhole between class 5 and class 2 w-space. He misses the opportunity to engage it, but before too long a pod returns only to push a Harbinger battlecruiser through the same connection. In his measured view, the pilot is exporting ships to high-sec, the C2 holding such an exit. Okay, I can stay up a few more minutes.

It's five jumps out to the C5 where the exporting pilot is based, Mick warning me not to engage the pod if I see it coming back. No problem, I know we're after a ship as much as I know a pod is almost impossible to catch without a warp bubble. The reminder is unnecessary anyway, as it takes me long enough to make the journey that by the time I am in the C5 the pilot has returned and has boarded an Armageddon battleship. That's more like it! Big and a little bit scary. 'He probably won't even be able to hit us', Mick reassures me, as I follow his instructions and jump to the C2 and hold on the wormhole, decloaked and systems hot.

Predictably enough, the Armageddon warps from the tower towards the wormhole and jumps. Mick follows behind in warp but stays in the C5 for now, in case the battleship jumps right back. I don't believe I'm quite that scary. Never the less, at the first sight of the Armageddon shedding its session change cloak I am targeting it and disrupting its warp engines, loosing volleys of missiles as soon as I have a positive lock. The battleship finds it cannot flee and 'red boxes' me, my HUD indicating aggression from the target ship. Mick takes his cue with the Armageddon opening fire and jumps in to get his fill of the combat, and now we have two covert strategic cruisers, Tengu and Loki, against the battleship.

As Mick suspected, the battleship is having a hard time hitting our smaller ships. I am taking damage but it is minimal, particularly compared to that we are dealing to the Armageddon. Its shields are evaporated and the armour is dropping if not quickly then steadily. With half its armour remaining the Armageddon makes a bid for freedom, jumping back through the wormhole to the C5, although in retrospect this could merely have been the pilot waiting out a polarisation effect. I was anticipating this, as it is an obvious enough manoeuvre, and although shooting the battleship I had the wormhole selected on my overview. I follow behind and easily regain my target lock and point on the sluggish Armageddon, and the assault continues.

I am a little wary now. We are back in the target's home system and Mick spotted another pilot at a second tower here, so I am punching my directional scanner regularly to check for any extra contacts heading our way. But none come, and the Armageddon explodes in a beautiful explosion. The pilot's pod gets clear, warping back to his tower, which is probably a good enough reason for jumping home even if you think you won't survive, and it gives him the opportunity to show a little regret in the local channel.

I almost feel like apologising to him for our attack, but resist the temptation. We loot the wreck of all but a few capacitor boosters, getting nothing of much worth, and shoot the wreck because we can. Now I have my kill, my ending, I can head home to get some rest.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.