Friday, May 10, 2013

Two on One

This is post one of two today in a special SC&S double-header. The next post, looking at the new content CCP uploaded to the test server two days ago, will be along in an hour if I can find another one of these special rats!

It's Fiction Friday! Your initial escape pod is here to how the QCats achieve something a little bit special on Eve's 10th birthday!

Still here? Well this story is basically told from the perspective of the crew of one of the two ships that tried to take me down Wednesday evening.

Two on One

The two starships glided through the warp tunnel at speed. Whilst they were both frigate class hulls, they couldn't have looked much different. The first was Caldari. Blue-grey steel in hard lines gave the ship a 'boxy look'. That was the Caldari way, functional. With never having to content with atmospheric flight and therefore air resistance, there was no need for a sleek and aerodynamic look. Some even considered the Hookbill ugly.

Beside it was its exact opposite. Sleek lines on a rusty red hull with wings that curved to the front and ended in wicked points. The Guardian Angels pirate faction had engineered the Daredevil to look menacing, and had succeeded.

The two ships dropped out of warp by the massive stargate. After only a few seconds both vanished into artificial wormholes and reappeared light-years away in a different star system.

"Systems 100% XO. Jump successful!" replied a bridge officer on the bridge of the Hookbill.

The Executive Officer sat in the captains chair on the bridge for the simple fact the captain of this ship would never sit there, ever. The captain was a capsuleer and was suspended in his pod deep within the belly of the ship. With this brain and central nervous system hardwired into the ship he could perform faster and more accurate Capsuleer ships needed less crew and performed better thanks to the Jovian technology of the hydrostatic capsule.

"Noted. I see we have another capsuleer in system. A wanted pirate. I think our captain is scanning for him now."

The Hookbill and the Daredevil sat by the inbound stargate as the ship sensors swept the system narrowing down the position of the pirate.


"There! The egger got a hit on a 30 degree scan. I'll be the pirate is in that Federation complex."

Deep in the engineering bay an older man was pointing to a view-screen A younger technician stared as the old timer explained the subtlies of deep space scanning.

The noise in engineering grew as the warp core came on-line The two ships gently aligned to the beacon and slipped into warp.

"Of course this ain't going to be easy. We've got two frigates, but that pirate, he's in a Thrasher. A Matari destroyer, tough ship designed for taking down frigates."

The young technician continued to listen quietly and watch the view-screen They had switched to the camera drones and could see the two frigates drop out of warp by a massive acceleration gate. The huge structure dwarfed the frigates, arcs of blue electricity ran down the length of the gate.

"Now this is the tricky bit. The Empires tend to set up their military stations in low-sec in deadspace pockets. Bits of space where warp drive doesn't work. Something to do with the subspace field. Whatever, it stops you forming a warp bubble if the destination is anywhere inside the field. You can warp out, you just cannot warp in. This makes defence of the area easier. When we activate that old gate there, it'll grab us and accelerate us to near warp speeds and throw us into the deadspace pocket real deep. Problem is it aims all ships at a beacon and we'll stop two to three 'K' from that beacon. If the egger wants a fight, he'll be set up at optimal range."

The young tech nodded, not taking his eyes off the screen as he saw their Hookbill align towards the heart of the deadspace pocket. A loud hum resonated through the ship as the acceleration gate grabbed the small ship and flung it deep into space.

"Steady lad, now we find out whether our pod jockey had made the right choice going in first."

The Hookbill decelerated fast and the two engineers looked at the overview. The Gallente military outpost was there, protected by a lone destroyer. The pirate stood out on the overview, highlighted bright red due to his security status with CONCORD.

"Great news! He's 50km off and making range. He obviously got us both on scan and decided to move away. Now we have the advantage."

The Daredevil appeared moments behind the Hookbill and immediately took off in pursuit of the Thrasher.

"Now this is the dangerous part lad. See the tactical readout here and the speed readings. That Thrasher has a microwarpdrive fitted. He's going fast, but not as fast as that there Daredevil. He'll close the distance and get a warp scrambler on it and a stasis webifier. That'll slow him down, then we catch up for the kill!"

The young tech took it all in.

"But won't that Thrasher be able to take down the Daredevil before we get there?" he asked.

"Nah, this will be a piece of cake. You see that Thrasher will be armed with autocannons. Our Daredevil will orbit at max scram range and therefore outside the effective range of his AC's." replied the old man.

"How do you know he's fitted with autocannons?" replied the boy.

The old man smiled.

"Experience lad. Look at his speed, we know he's got a micro warp drive fitted. Generally MWD's are used on boats with close range weapons like AC's that need to get in at point-blank range. Secondly, MWD's need a lot of power as do artillary cannons. If he was packing both MWD and top-of-the-line arties he's struggle with powergrid. Look, our Daredevil nearly has him!"

The two watched the tactical read out and saw the Daredevil was only 20km from the Thrasher. They looked on as fire spat from the Thrasher and directly hit the Daredevil. The tactical outputs showed the volley had scratched the Daredevils shields. However it also showed the Thrasher also had engaged him with a warp disruptor.

"Well I'd be! He is artillery and long point fit, what a strange set up with that speed! I would...."

The old man was cut off as the Thrasher fired a second volley. This time the Daredevil was closer and in optimal range of the 250mm guns. The tactical readout on the Hookbill showed the volley took down all of the Daredevils shields and the armour was down to 50%.

"Well sheeeeet." the old man said rubbing his chin.

"What is it?"

"No need to worry lad. That Thrasher has hit the 'devil hard but look here" he pointed to the screen "The Daredevil is now 2 clicks from the Thrasher and has shut his own microwarpdrive off. See those mircowarpdrives give you a great speed boost but the electromagnetic output lights you up like a supernova. The enemy tracking systems can hit you much more accurately when you have your MWD runnin'. Now he's in close and has shut off the Thrashers own MWD with a scrambler and also webbed him so he'll be going under 100 metres per second. Our Daredevil can then orbit tight at speed, where those big-ass arties cannot track and wait for us to catch up."

The young tech nodded as if he agreed but had a strange confused look on his face as the Thrasher fired again. This time it missed the small frigate.

"What is it lad?"

"Well. I understand what you just said, but looking at the tac readings here, that Thrasher hasn't slowed that much."

The old timer looked back at the view-screen in disbelief. He kid was right. The Thrasher had slowed but was still going very fast. In fact it was going faster than the Daredevil. It didn't make sense. The Daredevil had him webbed and scrammed. That Thrasher should have been almost sat still with all that ewar on him.

"Oversized AB?" the kid asked.

"Hur?" the senior was confused.

"I've heard about some eggers fitting cruiser sized afterburners to their destroyers. Particularly the Coercer, but the rumours are the Thrasher works too. They need ancillary current routers to get it to work, but they do fit apparently."

The old timer nodded slowly. It never failed to amaze him how even after all these years the capsuleers could come up with something new like this.

"So what will the plan be?" the kid asked eagerly, enthused as he had contributed technically to the conversation. The old man looked solum.

"Well our friend in the Daredevil now has two choices. He can activate his MWD and try and burn out of range. Other option is to sit there whilst the Thrasher makes range."

"What would you do?" ask the kid.

"If he activates his MWD the signature increase will mean those guns will be able to track him. One more volley and that Daredevil is dead. On the other-hand the Thrasher is now pulling away from the Daredevil. In a few seconds the increased distance will put the Daredevil in optimal range of those guns. One more volley and that Daredevil is dead."

The young tech looked at his senior.

"You mean....?"

Both men sat in silence and watched the tactical readout as the distance between the two ships increased. The Thrashers 250mm 'scout' artilleries roared again and the Daredevil vanished in a bright explosion. The speed of the destroyer fluctuated suddenly. With the destruction of the Daredevil the stasis webifier that was slowing it down stopped and its speed started to increase. Then it dropped suddenly. The Thrasher had been moving away from the Hookbill during the engagement with the Daredevil, now it had turned to face them. It's speed started to increase again.

"Now what?" the young tech asked.

"Well there is 50km between us. Our capsuleer has a number of tactical options in this situation and needs to choose one quick before that Thrasher gets within 24 clicks and points us."

Engineering vibrated as the warpcore spun up.

"And thankfully our captain has chosen the same one as I would have done. Now, we run!"

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