A fruitless tree can still be beautiful
About a week ago I mothballed all of my null-sec small to medium-sized gang toys, grabbed a handful of frigates and moved to low-sec where I joined a small but active pirate corporation. I’m seven days into my 30-day assessment period during which I must meet certain objectives: a specific number of activity points (where solo kills are double and losses are half), a specific number of solo kills, a successful ransom and earn criminal status (-5.0 or lower).
Years ago I would have balked at the idea of becoming a criminal. But during my solo experiments and now having joined a criminal organization I see how criminal status is often a catalyst for PvP. I’ve really been enjoying my time doing solo and unstructured micro-gang roams and I can see myself doing this for a long time.
I think I’ve also grown to the level where I enjoy the experience and not just the result. With small and medium-sized gang roams the reward has always been the kill(s); but with solo the hunt and fight are a big part of the reward even if it doesn’t yield a killmail. In fact, the most interesting fight I’ve had so far didn’t result in any killmails on either side.
After several days of flying with wingmates, I decided to go it alone in a relatively tankless kiting Tristan. The fit is similar to what I posted in my last entry but I’ve reconfigured it to fit a Warp Disruptor II for the added range. I’ve had occasional difficulty keeping point and the extra 4 kilometers of range allows me a huge fudge factor. I undocked the Feitur Maður IV and headed on a lonely journey through Placid and into Black Rise and then started back again. On the return trip I passed through a busy system I might normally ignore — but having gone so far without results I gave the system a once-over.
After a few warps I located an Enyo with a five-degree scan to a small faction warfare complex. A fight with an Enyo, I thought, would be extremely one-sided; the favored side would depended on whether I could move out of scram range once I dropped out of the acceleration gate’s influence. And so with some trepidation I warped to the acceleration gate activating it as I dropped out of warp.
The acceleration gate dropped me roughly 5 kilometers from the target Enyo and I urged my ship directly away from his while activating and overheating my microwarpdrive. An instant later the Enyo managed to activate a warp scrambler and my microwarpdrive faltered, but the momentum already generated by my supercharged drives carried me out of range and the drive sputtered back to life.
During the time it took me to achieve range the Enyo had chewed through my shields and melted half of my armor with the kinetic and thermal energy of his deadly small blasters. But range and the tracking disruptor soon began to mitigate any danger from those short-ranged weapons and his solo drone was a mere nuisance easily dispatched with my own blasters.
Five angry drones burst from my Tristan’s launch bay and began to tear into the Enyo’s shields while I frantically scanned for signs of any rescue attempt. As I gained the upper hand I began to relax, watching my drones eat into his armor faster than his nanite-fueled repair module could regenerate it. I could almost see the blinding flash as he realized he should be eliminating the drones swarming around his Enyo and began to target them; this realization coincided with the exhaustion of his nanite paste as his repairer cycled off and began a lengthy reloading process.
As one, then a second and finally a third drone was torn apart by his blaster fire I realized I should be disrupting his tracking instead of range as I had been for most of the fight so i tapped in a code to replace the tracking disruptor’s optimal range disruption with a tracking speed disruption script. The change was enough to slow the destruction of a fourth drone and allow my remaining robotic minions to compromise his structural integrity to the point I could see atmosphere venting from the once-sturdy craft. The joy of victory swept through me and I became overconfident.
Suddenly his armor level jumped dramatically, covering the gaps in what remained of his hull. Had it really been a minute since his module had gone offline? It had been more than two minutes. Seconds later he skillfully performed a maneuver that put him outside warp disruption range and out of my grasp. As soon as his own supercharged microwarpdrive had put enough distance between our two craft he warped out of the complex leaving me to collect my battered drones and mourn the victory snatched from my outstretched arms.
I spoke with the pilot after the fight and he acknowledged that his remaining structural integrity was four percent. We both made mistakes during the nearly four-minute engagement. And I think for both of us it was an exhilarating experience.
I learned a number of lessons during that engagement about how to best apply my vessel and its implements. But most of all I learned that even a fruitless tree can show a rare beauty.