Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taranis: Day One

Yesterday I qualified to pilot Gallente-built interceptors, and had several Taranis-class 'ceptors brought down to my hangar in lowsec, with all the fittings. Although I carefully considered flying a short-range, high-damage blaster Taranis, in the end I listened to my advisers who recommended I start in the longer-range railgun version; these promise more survivability, allowing me to fly outside of stasis webifier range. Earlier today, I took the helm of a completed Taranis, and undocked into uncharted territory.

First a mate and I went to a quiet spot deep in space so I could familiarize myself with the feel of my new boat. I orbited at different ranges, with and without my microwarpdrive engaged. I found to my surprise that I couldn't hit my ally's ship at all with the railguns in my preferred orbit, unless I disengaged the microwarpdrive engines. There's still a lot I can learn about small turret tracking, but apparently many Interceptor pilots don't use their guns when they are orbiting at high speeds. Of course, the flip side of this coin is that the target vessel is just as incapable of hitting the orbiting interceptor.

My corp mate and I then proceeded to cruise through some nearby star systems, looking for ships we could safely attack, out from under the watchful sentry guns at jump gates and space stations. Soon enough we spied a Kestrel-class Caldari frigate, and warped to the asteroid belt where he was ratting. Although the Kessie fired missile after missile at me, in my high-speed orbit they had little effect. I didn't bother with my railguns at that speed, but sent in my two T2 light scout drones. The kill went slower than I'm used to with my Incursus; at one point I ran out of capacity, slowed down, and started taking damage from the missiles. Because I was outside of his web range, however, and because my ship's light weight and powerful engines, I easily warped away for some emergency repairs. The Kessie was still pinned down by my partner, and still alive by the time I warped back to finish him off.

Later, I baited a Moa and Thorax into firing on me at a jump gate. Because I am an outlaw, they could do this with no fear of the sentry guns. I took more damage than I was comfortable with right at that moment, but again I was easily able to get away. The team foolishly went to an asteroid belt in the system, however, any my mate and I attacked them freely. We focused on the Moa, but made little headway against his shields with just my two small drones. However, within a few minutes other members of our underworld corporation began to arrive on the scene, all flying interceptors. Occasionally one or the other of us would collide with an asteroid or get caught between the two targets or take too much enemy fire; when that happened, we would simply warp away to a safe spot in space, make some quick repairs, and return to the fray. The Moa was going down; just as I went to move my warp disrupter from the Moa to the Thorax, however, the Thorax abandoned his colleague and fled the scene. We offered to let the Moa's capsule go for a ransom, but he declined.

Now, I can't take a great deal of pride in taking part in killing either the Kestrel or the Moa; I've killed both types of ship in my T1 Incursus, solo, and in much less time. However, I'm starting to understand the advantage of interceptors--the freedom to leave the scene of a fight when it starts to go bad. In my earlier frigates, by the time I realized I wouldn't prevail, it was generally too late to get away.

At the end of my first day as an interceptor pilot, a Caracal-class cruiser appeared on my scanner's display. I tackled it easily, and noted with satisfaction that my speed prevented his missiles from doing much damage. As before, he likewise had little to fear from my puny DPS. The difference between us was that I could leave whenever I wanted, while his warp drive was out of commission from my warp disrupter. Even though he may have had me scrammed as well, I could easily power my way out of range of his electronic warfare equipment.

And then the Sleipnir appeared on my computer overview, just a few kilometers away. a powerful Field Command Ship. Tricked-out battlecruisers, Field Command Ships are capable of large-scale battles against multiple targets; this one didn't even break a sweat with me. Within moments I was seeing red--red lights saying my shields were gone, red lights saying my armor was vaporized, red lights saying the integrity of my hull itself was in jeopardy. I powered away from combat, but caught between the two ships, with my little experience I had no chance. I considered myself fortunate to get away with my escape capsule.

I assumed the Sleipnir and the Caracal pilots were friends, but as I monitored local communication channels, I found I was mistaken. The Caracal pilot was thanking the Sleipnir all right--he managed to escape in the moments after my ship exploded--but the Sleipnir had tried to tackle the Caracal and claim the prize for itself.

So, my first day flying an interceptor I could take part of the credit for two kills, but I also lost my own ship. Although I had looted some nice stuff, worth more than 10 million ISK, I have not yet achieved my goal of profitability in interceptor piracy.

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