When I first wrote up this post, I titled it "Vengeance v Dramiel". However, before publishing the post, I had a couple of other fights with the same pilot, and I thought it was worth linking them together as they share some common threads. Hence the unusual title.
I encountered Darius for the first time when I jumped into Jovannion from Aeschee. He was in his Dramiel, and I was in my Vengeance. He was flashy, and I was flashy. You see where this is going, I hope.
So we engaged each other. In truth, he engaged me, as he was kiting fit and he was in no mood to get close. Darius opened fire, and launched his drones.
Being unable to target the Dramiel, I proceeded to target the drones. I destroyed one or two before they were recalled, and at that point the fight developed into a stalemate. He couldn't break my tank (or even my passive shield regen), and I couldn't get a scram on him, no matter how much fancy flying I tried.
I was fairly relaxed about the fight because I knew I could simply de-aggress and leave; had we been at a belt, I would have been stuck until help arrived, but this was not the case. Instead, I used the opportunity to practice my manual piloting. I managed to get an overheated web on him a few times, but never a scram. I could hit him with my Javelin rockets, but he would simply pull range until his shields regenerated.
Eventually, Wolf jumped in with his own Dram, and I invited him to have a go at Darius. Wolf was in a slower build, though, and with no web he could not hold Darius in place. After relaunching his drones Darius started eating away at Wolf's tank, but I quickly put a stop to that with my rockets. Without the drones, Darius could not break Wolf either.
Eventually, Wolf and I got bored and warped off (evading Wolf meant that Darius could not actually keep either of us pointed, so we did not have to use the jump gate).
Now my initial writeup ends here, because I don't usually comment on the character of my opponents unless it is in a positive way. However, what followed has some significance in the light of later events. You see, Darius started talking smack.
Not particularly creative or crude smack, but smack nonetheless. He denigrated the Tuskers and the fighting prowess of our corp, as well as our own moral fortitude for "running away". More bemused than anything else, I simply told him that he could not break our tanks and we could not catch him, so we would all probably enjoy spending our time doing something else.
This was my first real fight against a Dramiel, and I can't say I was too terribly impressed. Sure, the ship was fast, and it was certainly irritating to fight, but from where my Vengeance sits there are plenty of ships that can kite me all day.
At the time, I did not understand what Darius thought he would achieve by acting out in local. In the light of subsequent events, however, I now think I have a pretty good idea...