Patience Pays Off

Patience Pays Off

I have a confession to make: I still occasionally get the shakes during PvP.  The adrenaline starts pumping with the anticipation of a kill, and my hand will shake badly enough that clinking on the target is difficult.  This doesn’t happen every time, mind you.  I’ve commanded fleets of hundreds while ice water flowed through my veins.  But two times recently, while engaged in solo/duo roaming, “the shakes” became an issue.

Both kills are unremarkable.  Battlecruisers downed by cloaking T3′s.  I’ve probably destroyed hundreds, if not thousands, of Battlecruisers in the past.  Anticipation, though, made the kills special.  So before we get to the kill reports, let’s talk a bit more about Blackfall.

A Quiet Island

For those reading the blog for the first time, I recommend the following entries to catch up: Welcome to W-Space, Long time no see!, and Favorite Screenshots from Blackfall. To summarize, just over two months ago Crimson Serpent Syndicate left Caldari Factional Warfare for J164507, codenamed Blackfall.  A week or so ago, CSSYN left W-Space, and are presently making preparations to re-join Cal Mil.  Myself and a few others left before that, are are walking a different road.  But back to the story…

While in Blackfall, we had a dearth of PvP.  Kek organized two “official” roams over that two month period.  The first, a bomber trip into null through a wandering wormhole.  We flashed back into W-Space deep in Providence, and roamed to-and-fro looking for unsuspecting targets to explode.  This op led to zero kills, unfortunately.  Hostilities between Of Sound Mind and Proviblock left any potential targets we saw in local extremely wary, and a defense fleet was dispatched post haste.  We suffered a single bomber loss in return, the pilot forgetting to equip a Covert Ops cloak and instead opted for an Improved.

The second roam started much better.  Another wandering wormhole spit us out in Placid, just a few jumps from some of the major combat systems of Cal/Gal Mil FW.  Again we fielded stealth bombers, with a smattering of covert T3′s and recons.  A couple of early kills (Myrmidon, Algos, Corax) only fueled our greed for more.  That same greed got us killed a few jumps later, seconds from the already-established end to our roam.  A Vexor sat 20km off of the Nourv gate in Tama, and the call was made to engage.  Rather than insta-popping under our combined firepower, the bait-tanked Vexor tackled one of our now point blank T’3 (we’d gone for a bump) and lasted long enough for his pirate friends to land.  An expensive lapse in judgement (Proteus, Tengu, Proteus), and no PvP ops were scheduled afterward.

So now fast-forward to this past week, and the two routine kills that led to the shakes.

Hurricane Down

We had occasionally seen Jarn Skjoldr pop in and around our home constellation.  In each case, though, we’d been otherwise occupied and not in a position to pursue.  That was almost the case again late on the night of October 17th.  One jump away from our HQ, the gas harvesters on each of our Ventures frantically pulled in one of the necessary components for booster manufacturing.

“Plus one in local,” I remarked.  ”Hey, its Jarn again.  Nothing on D-scan.  Wait…he’s in a Hurricane.”

This piqued our interest.  While our three mining frigates certainly couldn’t take on combat battlecruiser, or even scratch its armor, our T3′s lay docked right next door.  So we hatched the plan for one to remain in local, innocently harvesting gas in a Venture, while the other two in fleet hopped into a Proteus and Tengu to try and track the target down.

“Target is gone from local.  Did he jump to you?” I asked.

“He’s not here,” the others replied.

Well, crap.  That meant the target might have existed the constellation, or proceeded one jump further in to a system accessible both from our HQ, and my current location.  ”I’m ging to check where he went.  Undock and head to your side of the Sakht gate just in case.”

Our other pilots undocked and got into position as I jumped in from my system.  Three neutrals were present in local, not uncommon on our border to nullsec, but not our quarry.  A quick check with the squad said they didn’t have him either.

Double crap.

“Okay, check Omi.  I’ll continue into null.”

That we’d lost him became clear a few minutes later.  He’d either left our constellation at the very beginning, or had burned through and into Khanid before we’d decided to give chase.  Either way, no kill mail to be had.  We docked up for a quick break, intent on finishing our gas site before heading to bed.

I’d just sat back down at the computer after grabbing a quick drink when, “Target is in HQ local,” came over comms.  This time there’d be no messing around.  We immediately undocked in our T3′s.  One of us headed to the system we’d originally seen him in to cut off an exit.  Another jumped into his next-most-likely path out of the constellation.  Meanwhile, I D-scanned outside our HQ station.

“Okay, I have him narrowed down to 90 degrees.”  Pause.  ”60 degrees.”  Pause.  ”15 degrees.  He’s…at the battlefield beacon? Warping in to check.  Make sure you’re in jump range.”

I exited warp inside the Abandoned Battlefield.  Truth be told, its an impressive site.  Wrecks everywhere, occasional rat spawns…and our target, sitting just over 30km away.  ”I’ve got him just outside scram range. Be ready to jump in and warp to – no!”  As I closed, something must have spooked Jarn.  With rats still on the field, including the most valuable in the spawn, he warped away.

“Damnit, he’s gone.  He warped to…Ana?  Pursuing.  Jump back into HQ and warp to the gate.”

Here’s where the shaking started.  Second away from a kill.  Blood pumping.  And now?  No release.  I fumbled clickong on the gate on my overview.  I had to click twice on the jump button, missing the first. Precious wasted seconds.  As Ana loaded on my screen, Jarn’s Hurricane disapeared from the grid.

Three gates in the system.  One we had covered (I’d just come through).  Geary moved through our HQ back into Sakht, which secured two of the three.  The last led to Khanid.  If the target took that route, we’d have to let him go.  Right now our engagement doctrine dictates a combat presence only in our home constellation and Delve.  I  mashed the scanner, expecting to see him vanish from the display.

…But he didn’t.  Instead, the second passed with him still somewhere in range.  I had Combat Scanner probes on-board, but Jarn still hadn’t seen what ship I was in, and I’d have to decloak to swap the charges.  Instead, I scanned patiently.  Second turned into minutes.  Two.  Five.  At one point, our target remarked in local, “Following me?  :(”  I didn’t answer.  I remained cloaked, silently orbiting the gate back at 5000 meters.

Abruptly, his ship disappeared from the display.  I’d narrowed him down to 5 degrees at an obvious safespot, and now he was on the move.  I informed the squad, while attempting to get another fix on his position.  60 degrees.  30.  15.  5.

“He’s at a belt?!”

I figure there’s no way he’d warp to a belt.  Much more likely was another safe somewhere between my gate and the belt.  I’d setup similar “pounce” bookmarks all over Geminate while on campaign there back in 2005-2007.  But on the off chance that he did the unthinkable, I warped in at 0.

And landed 3700 meters from his Hurricane.  Here’s where the anticipation of the last 15-20 minutes came crashing down.  The chase.  The near catch not so long ago.  The frustration on not being able to make rust explode.  Again the shakes hit.  My mouse skittered back and forth over the Hurricane on my overview.  Every time I’d attempt to mash the lock button, I’d miss.  Worse, the target began accelerating away.

“You will not miss this kill!” I said to myself, while at the same time ordering the squad to jump in and warp to me.

Lock achieved.  Scram engaged.  Launchers overheated and missiles away.  Unreal landed on grid with his HK (Hunter-Killer Proteus) in time to apply damage.  Jarn’s Hurricane exploded in a satisfying ball of fire.  Geary arrived just a little too late to get in on the fun.  With the objective met, the tension bled out of my system in time for much needed sleep.

Wow, that story went on far longer than I’d intended.  Rather than continue adding to the already massive wall of text, I’ll spin the yarn of Oracles, AFK’s, and orbits tomorrow.  Also waiting over the horizon, the story of Pirates, Ninjas, and 6/10′s.


Fly dangerous.

One Comment

  1. I am sad that you won’t be making the return to CalMil, especially now we have some numbers and are upping the tiers. As always though, good hunting!