Saturday, 30 May 2015

My Eleanor - Part 2

Previously on The Flying Target:

After stalking out a particular wormhole for 4 days after spotting my Eleanor, a Noctis floating in a POS shield, Eleanor's pilot finally logs in....

I quickly check whether the Noctis is piloted but it appears to be pilotless at this point.  What I do notice is a couple of pilots warping out to combat anomalies in a pod and a Zephyr, which turns out to be an exploration ship which sleepers won't lock up.  The pod and the Zephyr take turns warping in and out, making tactical bookmarks at a guess.  I do the same in the couple of anomalies that I watch them doing this in the hope that this is a precusor for the locals to run those sites a bit later on, which in turn will hopefully mean my Eleanor ventures out of the safety of the POS shield.

My attention switches away from the pod and Zephyr duo when my watch list chimes announcing a few more of the locals are logging in and a couple of battleships appear on Dscan.  This wormhole currently only has the C5 static (I scanned all the new sigs earlier that night) and I correctly assume that the locals are going to roll the hole to run the sites in relative safety:

Rolling the Hole.
This is part of the appeal of wormhole space to me - the lack of local means you never know who might be sitting cloaked not far off you watching your every move.  I've always been of the lone wolf kind of guy when it comes to playing Eve, so being able to find and watch people go about their business and choosing the perfect moment to strike really appeals to me.  I watch the locals go a couple of passes through with battleships before it the hole becomes mass critical.  I expect a HIC to come through and finish the job, but instead a Wreath transport ship lands on the hole.  This is a bit unexpected, but it becomes clear what the locals are intending when the Wreath poops out a couple of mobile large warp disruptors either side of the hole, before warping back to it's POS.

They must be worried about the hole collapsing behind them and locking a pilot out, or they don't know about using a double bubble HIC outwards and a oversized afterburner back through.  It's an interesting idea though to just bubble the hole, as this won't stop anything from coming through, but I suppose that if they have eyes/ears on the hole as a warning the bubbles allows enough time for the capitals they will be using on the field to bug out back to their POS.  It's also pretty a pretty expensive way to do it, with the large versions of the mobile warp disruptor going for about 10 million ISK a pop.    There's not a lot else doing at this point that I can see, so I decide to wait out the 8 minute anchoring time of the bubbles so I can get a screenshot. This looks like it is actually going to happen, my days of stalking might actually generate a payoff.

Gah!!! You are going to ruin everything!!!
My spirits are dashed when about halfway through anchoring period the wormhole activation sound throws my whole attempt at Eleanor into jeopardy.  An Astero sheds its session change cloak and warps off.  It's not a local and assuming the hole is watched this has probably blown the whole opportunity.  If the locals know there is another pilot in system with them it's unlikely they will risk running capitals through a combat anom.  However, the bubbles finally go up and I see battleships being swapped for Archons at the POS - can it be the locals didn't have eyes on the hole?

Pretty....  ineffectual....
It looks that way, the locals have a Damnation orbiting their POS providing links and a Moros and a couple of Archons warp away towards combat sites.  Most importantly though - Eleanor is now piloted.  I was worried they might just use MTU and cheap destroyers to do the cleanup, but it appears this corp likes to use a Noctis.

4 days of waiting to see this
Oh well, I don't have any qualms in taking advantage of people who make mistakes, especially if it means I can get some gank going.  I'm not too worried about the Astero being around, it would probably kill me if I got into a fight with it but the odds of that happening are pretty slim.

I follow the Moros to a combat anom at the outer planet and find it merrily slaying sleepers.  The value of killing sleepers is in the blue loot drops and the salvage - there's no bounty payments for sleeper kills so I know that Eleanor will eventually be coming this way.  I set myself up with a high perch above the solar plan at 150km so I can warp to the mobile depot I have bookmarked, before settling in to wait.

The locals end up putting a couple of Archons on the field which triggers an escalation.  However, the capitals make short work of the sleepers and the mystery of all the ECM drones at unfinished combat anoms in this wormhole is revealed.  The capital ships purge all of the sleepers until there is a single frigate remaining, at which point the Archons dump a flight of ECM drones.  The drones break the lock of the sleeper frigate and draw aggro and the capitals warp out back their POS, crossing paths with Eleanor who warps in and starts cleaning the field.  It's not how I would have run it, but I suppose the sleeper frigate does complicate the gank in that it's an extra ship that can possibly pop anyone trying to get the Noctis.  Do I think at any point about aborting the gank attempt?  Not on your nellie.

I warp to my bookmarked mobile depot at 30km to make sure I'm not decloaked by any wrecks that might be tractored my way and on landing safely start to slow boat into position to launch my attack, pausing at one point to settle my daughter who is teething at the moment.  I get inside 10km and remember the best time to strike a Noctis is just as it's salvaging the last wreck, so I take a few deep breaths and get myself ready to go.  However, my hand is forced when Ozz Burtus in the Astero I saw jumping in at the C5 static suddenly decloaks < 10 km off Eleanor's starboard bow and locks her up.  There is no point waiting now, I need to get in on the kill before the locals can react, so I align to my perch, decloak and get everything active and overloaded.

I apologise for the lack of screenshots for this, the critical part of the story.  I became a bit fixated on watching Eleanors shields, then armour and then structure drop with each volley of my torps.  Tunnel visioned on Eleanors defences, I totally lost all situational awareness and I vaguely registered that I had moved out of point range at one point, but didn't think to correct that.  I didn't know if I was warp disrupted or getting shot at - it was just me, Eleanor and Caldari Navy Torpedoes all building to the crescendo of My Eleanor exploding in a glorious ball of fire.  As I came to my senses, I stopped sucking on my cigarette and took stock of my situation.  I was in about half shields, there were 3 additional ships on the field, all of which had me yellow or red boxed and one very pissed off Sleeper frigate.

I tried warping off to my perch, but of course I was inside 150km at that point having been aligned to it the whole engagement (note to self - 250km perches next time).  I struggled to find a celestial or bookmark close to my direction of travel and thankfully found my probe drop bookmark was nearly dead on.  I mashed the warp button and had an 'Oh Shit' moment when I realised that I was warp disrupted.   I let out a slight sigh of relief when I confirmed it was the sleeper frigate that had me only pointed and not scrammed before punching the MWD and overheating it, hoping to pull enough range to drop the disruptor and warp out.  After what seemed like an eternity the warp disrupt icon disappeared and I warped out and cloaked up.

A few deep breaths later, I took stock of my situation.  My shields were nearly gone, but thankfully I didn't get into armour.  All of my modules had significant heat damage, with my MWD at 86% damage.  Luckily I didn't need to pull range for much longer else I would have burnt the drive out and been a sitting duck.  But I had a half a billion ISK kill as per Zkillboard had my merry way with my Eleanor, exactly as I had hoped I would when I first spotted her floating in that POS shield all those days ago.

My Eleanor, exactly as I wanted her
I warped back to the site and there are 3 wrecks and one bemused sleeper frigate still buzzing around killing drones.

It looks like the Astero was hero tackle for a couple of stealth bombers and a Rifter (WTF is a Rifter doing there) that showed up on the field, and in hindsight I probably wouldn't have got the kill if the Astero wasn't there for tackle because Eleanor was stabbed.  The locals bought a Comet to save the Noctis which killed the Astero, and I believe the sleeper frigate killed the Comet before the Astero's friends podded the Comet pilot for his trouble.

I got convoed by one of the gang that jumped in not too much later:

Gunner GzR > o/
Havlac Agalder > o7
Gunner GzR > hey how are you running the sight wiht out a webber?
Gunner GzR > found that intresting
Havlac Agalder > Return (my ship fit)
Havlac Agalder > I was just after the noctis
Gunner GzR > ahh ok
Gunner GzR > 3rd party lol
Gunner GzR > that noctis was doomed

It certainly was Mr Gunner, it certainly was.

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