Monday, June 16, 2008

I <3 ECM drones!

In the busy system of Covryn I scanned the belts, hunting for targets that weren't running missions, camping gates, or docked at some POS. I noted an interceptor at large in the system--a bit of a worry for me in my Thorax, a T1 cruiser I've been flying lately because it's cheap and I need to give some care to my ISK hoard. Then I acquired a target: a Caracal was alone at an asteroid belt. There may be some Caracal pilots who could kill me in my Thorax, but not enough to worry about; I typically have little trouble against the missile-spewing Caldari cruisers. Reassuring myself that the interceptor was out of scan range, I warped in the direction of the asteroid belt.

As asteroids began resolving themselves on my display, the first sign that I had a fight on my hands was the cruiser's icon, flashing red to indicate his status as an outlaw--the pilot was no inexperienced miner or ratter. He was near the belt's warp-in point, however, and with single burst of my microwarpdrive I had him scrammed. I fed another burst of capacitor to the MWD to close to web range, set a close orbit, and opened fire with all five of my small-but-deadly high-tech blasters. As I began taking heavy missile fire, I launched my five medium ECM drones, and they jammed my opponent in no time; I stopped taking damage.

The Caracal was obviously flown by a highly-skilled pilot. A couple of minutes of pounding from my blasters, and the damage indicator seemed stuck with the Caracal holding at 85% shields. As I gave him some time to run out of cap, I checked his employment history on the public nets; he was quite a bit more experienced than I at piloting star ships. Given his skills and experience, and seeing as how I had plenty of time, I decided to ransom the fellow; he could have some pricey modules fitted, and perhaps some costly implants in his clone to go with them.

I waited for his tank to break--which it did--then opened a private ransom channel with the Caracal pilot. I asked for 20M ISK; quite a large ransom for a Caracal, but then I would be quite happy to kill him and take his loot instead. He questioned the amount at first, then asked for time. He'd already used up most of his 30 seconds, but I generously offered him another 10. I shut down all my blasters but two, and kept my ECM drones busy. The Caracal was holding at about 15% structure.

That's when the Deimos appeared on my overview. Curses! I'd neglected to keep scanning space, and it looked like backup had arrived. Defiantly I re-activated all guns, and the Caracal popped. Next I turned my ECM drones on the Deimos, and tried to get out. No good! I was scrammed! My good-for-nothing shields melted, and I was taking damage to my armor. Now a Dominix was on the scene! But wait--I wasn't taking damage; my drones had jammed the Deimos! Again I issued the command to warp out; this time I received no indication I'd been jammed. My warp engines fired up agonizingly slowly; I recalled my drones, imagining they might make it into the bay just as I got out of Dodge. But no--they had plenty of time to saunter back over to my ship and make themselves comfortable in their bay. In frustration I hammered my navigation console, willing the warp drive indicator to jump me into safety. Finally, it crawled up, and I was out of there, intact and with a bay full of drones. Sweet relief!

I sent a "gf all" out on the public frequency, and received a well-deserved "nice one mate" in return. After transmitting my combat report to headquarters, I saw that the Caracal had dropped almost 13M ISK worth of high-tech modules I could have scooped; but on balance, I was content just having survived the engagement.

Finding a safe spot in space to let my heartbeat slow down, I went down the corridor to the drone bay. Lovingly I cleaned my five Vespa EC-600's from the char of battle, and polished each drone with affection. I never would have killed the Deimos and Dominix, but by jamming the Deimos efficiently before the Dominix could get a lock on me, my sweet babies had saved my life.