The massive Matari construct rumbled to life, dormant systems awakening from their slumber into activity once more. Lights flash as energy coalesces, forming a sphere between the two spires of the device. The sphere expands, growing in size and brilliance until it erupts, sending shock waves perpendicular to the machine which spawned them. Its purpose achieved, systems along the leviathan construct power down, and once more fall into a standby state. Peace resumes around the device.
In an instant, the stargate had thrust the Cyclone battlecruiser over an unimaginable distance, its pinpoint accuracy depositing the ship of war at the nearby inhabited system known as Ennur. Breaking from the protective cloaking field afforded by the gate, the Cyclone lurched to life, aligning towards a distant stargate within the system. Despite its size, the ship moved ably, accelerating until the warp core took over, thrusting the ship into a warp tunnel. Millions of kilometers passed in the blink of an eye, and after a few seconds computer controlled navigation systems slowed the ship until a safe exit velocity was achieved. The Cyclone exited warp a mere kilometer away from the destination stargate. There was no hesitation before the cycle began anew, and stargate lit to life, preparing to send the ship one hop further along its journey.
It had been roughly forty minutes since that journey had begun, a duration which comes to define the term ‘lackluster’ exceptionally well. System after system housed dull faces, images of which reflected back at my glittering eye, all secure behind station walls or a withering battery of POS weaponry. Little stirred this night, and with my roam coming to a close, I looked forward to nothing beyond a warm drink and comforting food.
A new scene erupted before my eyes. The last stargate activation landed me in the Skarkon system, which housed only one local. Habit drew the cursor over the scan button, and all pertinent objects in space within 14.4au collected themselves neatly as data before my eyes. An anomaly came up; Falcon on scan. The cursor flicked over to the other pilot’s portrait in local, and a dossier appeared soon after. This Falcon was flown by an anti-pirate. How quaint.
The Cyclone’s warp drive deposited me on the Mirimor gate, and I jumped through without another thought. Mirimor was unusually busy, and I set to scanning the locals, sorting known POSed ships with unknowns. I hadn’t been at it for any more than ten seconds before the stargate adjacent to me flashed. The Falcon had entered local, and after a few seconds hesitation proceeded to warp his ship to what appeared to be the top belt.
With the addition of the anti-pirate Falcon into local, my latent paranoia screamed setup. However, it could be a poor setup. Exceptionally poor if the Falcon pilot was as sloppy as I believed him to be. I warped to the top belt at 100km and held my breath.
The warp tunnel collapsed, and I welcomed a view of asteroids drifting in lazy rotations, their number stretching several dozen kilometers in a rough semi-circular pattern. Aside from the dirt balls and my Cyclone BC, the belt was empty. I had expected to land on top of the Falcon, decloaking the recon ship in the process and blasting him into scrap, however it seemed I misjudged the Falcon’s destination. With determination wrought from routine rather than excitement, I began scanning celestial pockets for ships once more. Then a Falcon decloaked two kilometers away from my ship.
Now, after about forty-five minutes of traveling through empty systems, warping, scanning and jumping for a net result of nothing, this sort of opportunity is something every solo PvPer savors. There is nothing worse than an ECM ship dropping out of cloak or warp a dizzying distance away to render your targeting ability useless. Retaliation is impossible. The only worthwhile activity at that point is to mash the warp command towards a celestial to save the pod. So, to say the least, there was a little pent up aggression as I sank my fangs into this hapless cruiser.
I locked the Falcon with practiced haste, and proceeded to slam ordinance into my fragile opponent. Between the surprise of warping on top of his quarry and my vicious onslaught, the Falcon pilot didn’t even manage to return a sensor lock before his ship buckled and blew apart around his pod. It had only taken three volleys to demolish the Falcon.
I scooped loot, and initiated warp towards an old safespot in the system. Minutes ticked down as the GCC diminished towards zero, and I posted the mail. Roughly three minutes had elapsed before one of the other pilots in local sought to confirm my ship type. I confirmed it, to which he countered with a 1v1 request. Chuckling while I typed, I agreed, and warped to the first planet of the system to meet him. Sometimes quiet roams turn out alright as they concluded, which is why it’s important to stick to them. Any kind of roam, quiet or otherwise is more productive than sitting in a station.
My foe piloted a Myrmidon battlecruiser, which if fit properly could deal near double my damage, tank all mine, and still have spare midslots for EWAR modules. Lacking a turret bonus meant pilots used anything from lasers to cap warfare modules in their highslots, all of which combined to an unpredictable, deadly combatant. I had warped to the planet at 10km, and landed an identical distance away from the Myrmidon. MWDs flared to life as pilots jockeyed for position
My plan of attack was to destroy all the heavy and medium sized drones of the Myrm’s drone flight, then peck away at the ship itself with the majority of its arsenal eliminated. Upon landing, I pulsed my MWD away from the enemy BC to draw its drone flight into a low transversal approach pattern, and then set my armament against them. The Myrmidon managed to webify me, however lack of a scrambler to counter my own meant I was able to dictate range at will. Heavy drones were quickly shredded as my Cyclone sped away.
The more agile medium drones provide elusive, and even MWDing away I couldn’t track them without the aid of a webifier, which I didn’t have. Deciding I would have to manage with their presence, I reversed course and returned the fight to the Myrmidon itself. At close range, the Matari and Gallente vessels exchanged fire, drones dancing about ships as pilots tested their opposites’ tank.
I wasn’t dictating range well enough, and the Myrmidon had unleashed its full rack of blasters upon me at their optimal range. Along with the remaining medium drones in the field and an energy neutralizer my tank had no way of keeping up. I retreated once more, taking potshots at the drones as I maneuvered out of webifier range and back to a standoff distance.
I dipped into range for one more go, however once more I neglected to maintain appropriate distance and was forced to retreat, this time with significant armor damage. Unable to break the Myrm’s active tank, or eliminate the drone flight that was pounding my shields, I left the field to the Gallente battlecruiser. We exchanged congratulations and chatted for a few minutes about the fight before he went on his way. I waited down the renewed GCC, and the remainder of the trip home to Egbinger was quiet.
It’s often the fights you lose or end in a stalemate that hold the most valuable lessons. Something so simple as kiting a blaster boat while using longer range weapons is so innate to my combat doctrine that I was shocked to realize I didn’t do so in this fight. Additionally, my flight of ECM drones offered little help interrupting incoming damage versus the drone ship. With damage drones I’d have been better able to cope with drones while giving my overall damage a boost. Still, there are those ‘OH SHIT’ moments such as a few days ago with the Broadsword and Astarte where ECM drones played a large role in escaping.
Ah, the conundrum of flying Matari: a myriad of choice which can leave a pilot duct tape crazy.