A coalition declines, one drone at a time
OOC: In-game combat exploits by special request; this is the only hunt I’ve been involved in lately that seems to deserve being turned into a blog entry. Enjoy.
The concentration of our fleet is like the tidal movement of an ocean. We detect the presence of a target and gather for the kill. Swiftly and decisively we strike a blow against those who think themselves our betters. When the engagement ends, some of our pilots retire, new pilots come online and our reconnaissance spreads throughout the constellation, our temporary home, like tendrils of gloom from Death’s robe.
Communication chatter is kept to a minimum; intelligence reports trickle in from the edge of our net. I spool up my Ishkur’s warp drive and align toward the jump gate that will take me to the next system, Nannaras. I feel the strength of the engines propel us into warp; my sensors detect two battlecruisers, likely at my warp exit point. Immediately upon dropping out of warp I watch a Harbinger class vessel initiate warp leaving behind a Hurricane — a local cache of CONCORD’s database quickly identifies the Hurricane pilot as a criminal and my sensory overlays begin to pulse with a dull red glow.
This is a target I can take. Maybe. With barely a thought my drives are up to full power and I’m on a course for a tight orbit around the imposing Minmatar battlecruiser. I signal to the scattered fleet that I’ve found a target. My uncertainty and the pilot’s apathy toward my tiny vessel combine to give the criminal a chance to slip into warp and my local senses lose him. I track his course toward a jump gate leading into Karjataimon and quickly follow.
His signal blinks out of existence in my sensory net and I know he’s jumped; I don’t know what led him through this solar system, but I know I must follow — I need experience that will dissipate the cloud of uncertainty which allowed him to escape. As I arrive at the gate I initiate a jump. My perception of the space around me blinks into nothingness as my ship almost instantaneously negotiates the harnessed wormhole between Anin and Karjataimon. When my senses return, I catch a glimpse of the Hurricane hurtling into warp toward a cluster of celestial features which include jump gates to both Tartoken and Saranen. Where did he go? No way to tell. I make a choice. Tartoken.
Again he disappears from every sense I have at my disposal. I don’t have to wait long to discover I’ve made the wrong choice. The Hurricane is reported upon his arrival in Saranen. I weigh my options; I can travel through Tartoken to reach Saranen or I can turn around and fly to the jump gate in this system that will take me to Saranen. Either choice will cost me too much time — I’ve already lost him and must rely on the team to catch this criminal. I decide to travel through Tartoken in case that is his next destination.
As I make the trip through Tartoken to Saranen, the Hurricane pilot’s disappearance is relayed through our communications net. He’s taken the only unmonitored gate out of the system and into 93PI-4, null security space, or dropped off grid altogether.
The fleet gathering in Saranen has noted a new arrival; an Abbadon class battleship is loitering near the Quafe Company Warehouse. The pilot is a faceless, nameless member of the Northern Coalition, merely one in a seemingly unending mass of drones existing only to mindlessly obey their masters. He is our intended target this evening as are all of his ilk; the drones will fall one at a time and their masters will be alone at the end. I’m already in warp to the jump gate that will take me into 93PI-4.
I arrive at the gate in time to catch the telltale flash of a jump and residual images of an Abbadon dissapearing into the gate. If I jump after him will I be blindly following into a waiting armada of drones? I sit for a moment gathering my courage. The bulk of the fleet — an Ares interceptor, a Vagabond heavy assault cruiser and two Sleipnir class command ships — have fearlessly committed to the coming engagement and are in warp to my position on the jump gate.
My comrades give me strength and I initiate the jump sequence. Empty space surrounding the jump gate greets me as I slip out of the wormhole and enter null-security space once more. Long range scans show the Abbadon on route to the G-M4I8 gate, his only exit. As I ponder whether to continue, our interceptor and heavy assault cruiser slip from the wormhole to join me; before I can welcome them, they are already in pursuit of the target. I follow swiftly behind.
The Ares’ powerful warp drives allow him to outpace the rest of the fleet and he arrives at the gate first. His speed and agility combined with the experience I lack gives him the will to jump through to the unknown. He finds a quickly developing engagement between three battlecruisers, including the Hurricane and Harbinger I’d briefly stalked as well as a Drake I hadn’t seen, and the Abbadon.
Two birds with one stone. A leader quickly emerges among us, our communications discipline and battle readiness means we’ll follow Radz into the fray. Radz in his Vagabond and I in my Ishkur follow Kitaro’s Ares through the jump gate into G-M4I8. Radz directs our combined fury onto the already failing Harbinger; once the Harbinger falls we focus on keeping our targets from escaping by incapacitating their warp cores and focus our fire on the Hurricane.
Radz has made an unlucky landing in system and is within warp scrambling range of the Hurricane, making his microwarpdrive — his strongest defense — useless. His Vagabond is being slowly chewed apart by the focused power of the Hurricane. The remaining elements of our fleet, two Sleipnirs, blink into existence and lend their aid — but not in time to save Radz. The Vagabond is torn apart by flashes of autocannon fire, but it’s a small victory for the Hurricane which explodes seconds later.
With our entire force in system and only two remaining targets, we quickly decide to ensure the Abbadon’s destruction before seeing about the Drake who we expect might escape by jumping back into 93PI-4. The Abbadon‘s hull is quickly breached by autocannons and hybrid blaster fire and our attention shifts back to the Drake — suprisingly he’s attempted to burn off the gate and out of our range. With an Ares and Ishkur in pursuit, he doesn’t make it far. Soon his drives are all but offline and our fire is working through his considerable shields. His will is broken with the loss of his comrades and he puts up little resistance before his ship explodes — followed quickly by the squish of his pod.
We take a moment to salvage what we can from the wreckage before the tide of our fleet shifts elsewhere.