Three Strikes…

22Aug08

Some people just don’t learn. Before I ended my holiday in Amamake I spent the afternoon cruising around in my Rifter looking for trouble. In Amamake its never far away and I managed to find plenty to keep me amused.

Over the last week I’ve been honing the way that I fit my ships. While I really like the passive tank set-up that I started using I’ve been encouraging my ground crew to get inventive and we’ve come up with some nice surprises for those that we fight. Its not a perfect package by any means and a couple of its weaknesses were exposed in testing but for the most part she does her job admirably and I really love flying in her.

Confident from my early testing I scanned down a Jaguar. Although their class name of Assault Frigate sounds pretty daunting these ships are much less formidable then their big brothers the Heavy Assault Ships. They have the same basic hull as my Rifter but with extra shields for the Jaguar and advanced weapon mounts. The Wolf has extra weapons capability and strong armour. Both ships pay a price for these improvements and lose some of the speed and agility that makes the Rifter the all-round combat star that she is. Normally I would avoid these ships, especially the Jaguar, because I know that they are more than capable of dealing with a traditional Rifter when piloted competently. My fitting is not traditional, though, so I thought I’d give them a little suprise…

The Jaguar was more than happy to engage me, confident that he’d be able to overcome my defences while his advanced shields rebuffed my own efforts. He was in for a surprise. I fly Jaguars and Wolfs and know that they don’t have the traditional shield weaknesses to EM and thermal damage. Instead they are weakest to explosive and kinetic charges so my Republic Fleet Fusion was more than up to the job. He also wouldn’t expect me to have good resistances to the same damage types or enough capacitor to keep up with his damage. He was wrong. My explosive resistance hardener absorbed a lot of his potential damage and my high tech repair system was more than able to keep up with the help of regular injections of capacitor charge. His shields peeled away and before too long my guns were ripping chunks out his armour with nothing he could do to mitigate it. As the last of his armour gave way and the supporting structure of his ship started to weaken under my fire he took advantage of the big compromise I’d had to make and powered away from me using his microwarp drive until he was safely outside the range of my tackle system. Damn. Annoyingly I can’t fit the capacitor booster and a stasis webifier, and a warp scrambler, and a propulsion module such as an afterburner so something has to give. Oh well, it was a good fight and I was proud of my little Rifter.

Minutes later I found a Wolf in a belt. Brilliant. I’d tested my mettle against a Jaguar and now it was time to see how I stacked up against her sister ship. The Thukker tribe don’t like all this electronic warfare mumbo jumbo so don’t bother allowing a Wolf to fit a propulsion module and full tackle gear so this helped cover my main weakness. I engaged confidently and it took a while but I was able to eat through the Wolf’s defences while taking minimal damage to my own. My joy at the Wolf’s destruction was limited, though, because at that moment a Rupture dropped out of warp alongside me and promptly tackled me. Webbed and scrambled fleeing was not an option so I turned my guns onto the powerful cruiser and kept my armour repairer running. I was shocked to see that I wasn’t taking too much damage. This might turn out to be one of my best encounters yet. It wasn’t to be, though, just as I started to get my hopes up a Cyclone arrived and the huge Minmatar battlecruiser turned its guns on me. Moments later I was warping away in my pod. Still, I’d fought the Wolf and won so I was happy with my performance against opponents who were more powerful on paper.

I was in an ebullient mood despite my loss and when I returned to the station I took my hangar crew out for a slap up meal and a few drinks to celebrate my victories before giving them a couple of house to sleep it off. When they returned I got them to fit up another Rifter in exactly the same way. We had a winning formula here and I wanted to see what else she could do.

Back out in space I relished being behind the controls of such a light and nimble ship and did a few rolls and sweeping curves just to shake out any kinks in my new ship’s systems before combat. She was flying beautifully and I felt ready for anything. A quick system scan showed a lot of activity in the main asteroid belt in the system so I stayed clear and looked around some of the lesser sites. My scanner flashed up with a hit. Another Rifter class frigate in a belt. Brilliant. I punched the warp button and readied my combat systems as my ship leapt forward into hyperspace. As we dropped out of warp I could see my victim. His name looked familiar but I didn’t have time to worry about this. We were small fish in a big pond and if I hung around too long the sharks would start to smell blood. I powered towards my prey, lighting up all my weapons as I went. I swept past the frigate and curved elegantly into my orbit. As I drew in close I punched the targeting system and my idling weapons and tackle gear burst into life. He had just finished off the last Angel Cartel ship in the belt and turned his attention on me but I already had such a head start that he could barely do anything before his ship exploded into a million tiny pieces. Ignoring his capsule I changed course and headed into the debris to salvage any useful pieces of equipment that had survived the blast before retreating to a safe place to count down my criminal timer and look for further targets.

I didn’t have to wait long, there was a Thrasher on scan. The Minmatar destroyer can be fearsome when piloted well but is also used with artillery for hunting down members of the Angel Cartel from a safe range and I’d have more than a good chance of beating such a fit. Once again I punched in the co-ordinates and cycled up my weapons. This time the name was definitely familiar. It was him again! Frustratingly he warped off before I could lock onto his signature so we played a game of cat and mouse around a couple of belts before I finally managed to pin him down. To my surprise he’d fitted his ship for combat not bounty hunting and as I pinned him down he cycled up his own weapons and tackle gear and turned them on me. Shit. He’d prepared for this and baited me into a fight he thought he could win to avenge his previous losses. Never mind, in for a penny in for a pound as they say. My tank had no buffer built into it and under sheer weight of fire I was taking structural damage as he tore through my armour before my repair systems could patch it up between volleys. Still, my reinforced internal superstructure was holding up. That expensive high tech Damage Control system had been worth every ISK. My armour repair system was similarly state of the art and doing a fine job of patching up the damage between volleys. All the while I was chewing through his shields. It seemed to take forever and I was sure that if he had opted for a shield tank his armour would buckle quickly. I was wrong though. He armour was much thicker than I’d expected and he’d attached a rudimentary repair system. By now my own repair system was struggling to deal with the torrential fire from the destroyer’s turrets and launchers but as my own hull started to buckle and groan his finally gave up and there was a bright flash followed by a deafening silence. Despite the fact that you can’t hear the explosion in space your brain still makes you brace for it and gives you the illusion of an enormous bang.

Once we’d both got to safety, but not before I’d scooped any surviving loot, the defeated pilot opened a private communication channel with me. He’d been sure that this time he’d be able to beat me and was amazed that I’d come out of the encounter on top. I didn’t reveal any of the secrets of my lovely ship but did my best to be gracious in victory and thanked him for the series of good fights and told him that our final encounter had worried me at several points. I didn’t add that I’d won because I’d learnt the lesson of remaining calm and collected in the heat of battle in my previous encounters and had avoided any of the mistakes that had lead to my downfall in other battles throughout the galaxy.

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3 Responses to “Three Strikes…”

  1. Great story.

    Just one tiny nitpick: The Rupture is a cruiser, not a frigate. Solo and properly fitted it’s more than a match for well-fit destroyers, let alone frigates, even the Rifter 🙂

  2. 2 wensley

    Ooops. Good point. I’d got confused about the Wolf I was fighting. Ruptures are big and nasty and evil. Man, I want to get T2 medium guns trained so I can fly mine more often!

  3. 3 torgat

    I was in the Rupture, and your explosive hardener did really well against my barrage. I was just realising that this was getting nowhere and thinking of changing ammo when Stoogie’s Cyclone arrived

    Fantastic kill against the wolf by the way, shame for you in was in fleet with a load of other Minmata Militia 🙂


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