I had been feeling a little dissatisfied with my recent performance. My last two kills were cheap, non-combat vessels that were worth so little to their owners that they had left them afk in lowsec. While I was quite pleased that I had been able to scan them down, I had not been pushing my actual combat skills, and I wanted something more challenging.
I was also aware that the goal I had set myself at the end of my 3rd quarter review (to destroy more ships than I lost in the last stage of the Punisher Plan) had been achieved. With my security status dropping rapidly, I knew that I wanted to apply to the Tuskers as soon as I completed the Punisher Plan - the logistics of moving to Hevrice would be far simpler if I still had access to high security space. It made sense, therefore, to make sure that I met the Tusker's kill requirements before I ran out of Punishers. All I needed was one more above class kill.
Although this is the story of a single fight, my Punisher against a battle cruiser, and it spans the better part of a day. It is a long post because it is a long story, so I have departed from my usual formatting in an attempt to make it as easy to read as possible.
Although I knew I wanted an above class kill, I did not have a specific plan. However, when I first saw the Drake, I recognised at once that opportunity had come knocking. I could not have asked for a better target.
The pilot was only about a month old, but he was flying a battle cruiser, which is about as high as a frigate pilot can reach on his own. He was missioning out of Clarelam, a high sec island with very good Theology Council agents that had the bad habit of sending mission runners into the local low sec.
Unfortunately, I spotted the Drake only about 30 minutes before downtime, and I was a dozen jumps from my scanning ship. I knew that it was very unlikely that I could I get there, get back, scan down the Drake and engage him in 30 minutes. Equally, I was certain that I only had one shot at this. A failed attack run meant that he would retreat back to high sec.
Instead, I decided to play the long game. For the next half an hour I ratted in Tastela, the mission system, letting the Drake get used to me. Every time he hit the D-scan I wanted him to see me surrounded by the wrecks of belt rats. I thought about opening up a casual conversation with him, but immediately rejected the idea; that's not how I like to pirate.
The whole time we were in system, I kept my focus on the Drake, trying to better understand my target. Apparently, he was finding the missions a little tough and he needed to warp out from time to time. When he did, he liked to use a particular gate as a warp out point. I also saw that he liked to finish up his missions in a Bestower - presumably to salvage and collect loot.
I did not know it at the time, but this information would prove quite relevant later.
After downtime I logged on as soon as I could and raced back to Amarr to collect my Magnate. Rushing back to Tastela I gave my Magnate the same name that I had given my Punisher. If the Drake was not looking too closely at the D-scan he would hopefully not notice I had changed ships. I then settled down to wait.
The Drake did not log back on for several hours, so I sat in my safe spot, cloaked, while I did some research. I looked up possible fits, and considered my tactics in the battle to come.
The local rats did EM damage, which meant that he would almost certainly have closed his EM resistance hole. That meant that I would want to be using Navy Multifrequency rather than Scorch, because it had a higher Thermal damage component.
Of course, orbiting close enough to hit with Multifrequency meant that I could not orbit at maximum speed. Tracking was irrelevant for him, but the faster I was moving the less damage he could deal. So I would take more damage in close - I'd have to monitor that.
However, there was no guarantee that I could break his tank on my own, even with his low skills. I had never fought a player controlled battle cruiser before, and the Drake's passive tank is legendary. Ideally, I would want him to be engaging the npcs when I struck.
This made timing a very sensitive issue. I wanted to give him enough time to get stuck into the mission, but not so much time that he was too far from the gate - if he saw me coming he could just warp out, and that would be the end of it. Given the time it would take me to scan him down, I would need to move fast.
Eventually, the Drake returned. I gave him a minute to get settled into his mission and launched my probes. If he checked the D-scan now he would see what I was doing immediately, but it was only the two of us in the system and I hoped that my earlier ratting had left him feeling secure enough to focus on the npcs.
I worked the scanner as calmly as I could. Scan, adjust. Scan, adjust. Almost there. Scan, adjust. Scan - and a lock!
Bookmarking the Drake I recalled my probes and warped to the nearby gate. Because Tastela has no stations I had been forced to leave my Punisher in the next system. I jumped into the next system, docked, and waited out my session change timer. Into my Punisher - last minute fittings and ammo check - and into space.
Jumping back into Tastela, I immediately jumped to my mission bookmark. It was only after I had hit "warp" that I noticed that the Drake was sitting on the gate next to me. For a moment, I was worried that I had just blown my opportunity to take him down.
Pausing for thought, I considered the situation. I knew he often took breaks by sitting on the gate. And I had worked hard to convince him that I was ratting in my Punisher. What could be more normal than seeing me bounce around the system? As long as I did not do anything stupid, this could be salvaged.
I quickly started my stopwatch. It took me 30 seconds to warp from the gate to the mission point, so it would probably take him about 60 seconds. As soon as I landed I used the acceleration gate. Warping into the mission I saw a number of wrecks, but more importantly, plenty of active npcs. The mission was definitely not over - he was just taking a break.
Now I was faced with a dilemma. If I stayed where I was the acceleration gate would drop him right on top of me. On the other hand, he would have no npc aggro when we fought. Reluctantly, I noted the names of the wrecks and warped back to my safe spot.
From there I kept my D-scan focused on the gate. I wanted to know the instant that he moved off the gate.
After a few minutes he disappeared from my narrow beam scan; he had clearly moved off the gate. I aligned to the mission point and focused my scanner on it. I waited the 60 seconds it would take him to reach the mission and started scanning. Seeing him appear, I knew it was time to warp
Mid warp, I renamed my ship again. Events had given me access to his mission info, so I changed the name of my ship to match the wrecks floating in the deadspace pocket. If this bought me even a second, it might make the difference between catching him and losing him.
I landed on the acceleration gate and immediately activated it. This was it.
Landing in deadspace, I spotted the Drake about 27km away. Overheating my afterburner I raced towards him. As in the past, I refrained from targeting my quarry, not wanting to give him any additional warning. Twenty kilometers. Fifteen. Ten. In range now. Target and.... lock!
Whatever happened next, one of us was going to die in this system.
With my scram activated, I settled into orbit at 1500m, activated my guns and my nos, and took the overheat off my afterburners. Only then did I actually look at my surroundings. It seems that the Drake was currently engaging two npcs with "elite" in their name. One was untouched, but the other was about half way gone. The Drake seemed to be tanking them without issue.
I could sense the Drake hesitate. Finish of the npc, or target me? He decided that finishing the damaged mission rat was the best option, so for the moment I was safe.
The Drakes shields began dropping. Slowly, though. Painfully slowly. I resisted the temptation to overheat my guns - I would need maximum dps once he hit about 30% shields, which would be his peak regeneration point.
At about 50% shields the Drake popped the rat he had been targeting and turned his attention to me. I was gratified to see that even without the second npc the Drakes shields were still inching lower, but I quickly became concerned about the amount of damage his missiles seemed to be doing - about a 130 damage per volley.
I started pulsing my repper. This was where the fight really began. I could tank his damage, but only as long as my cap held out. To maximise my cap generation I tried to keep my capacitor around the 34-40% mark, even when this meant letting damage build up.
Looking back at the Drake's shields, I cursed CPP for not giving me a percentage readout. I would have to guesstimate, and it looked like about one third left to me. Over heating my guns, I waited to see if I could break his tank.
Heat damage. His shields. My armour. My cap. Repper. Heat damage. His shields. My armour. My cap. Repper.
My attention moved from display to display, trying to keep on top of all the information coming at me. On a small grey bar, the difference between 25% and 20% is negligible, but I could not afford to be wrong.
There. That had to be less than 20%. Well, it had better be; my guns were 75% gone, so I turned off the overheat. And still the shields dropped. I had crossed the regeneration peak.
Lower and lower his shields went, and I dared to hope. Apparently, the thought also crossed the Drake's mind, and he tried to convo me. I rejected the convo; I needed to focus and there were too many things that could still go wrong. I was juggling cap and armour as best I could, and my margin for error was small.
Then, after the long agony of his shields, he hit armour. And then, just like that, he hit structure and was gone.
It took a moment to sink in. Once I realized that the Drake really had been destroyed, I immediately convo'd the pilot to wish him a good fight. He did not take it well.
In broken English he demanded to know why I had attacked him. Even without the language barrier, I don't know that I could have explained it to him. It's just not something that carebears can understand. I broke off communication.
I then proceeded to loot his wreck and lament the fact that of his 7 weapon modules (the most expensive modules on the ship), 6 had decided to explode. Well, I had already had enough good luck today - I could skip on the profit.
Lest any of my readers fear that I am on my way to becoming a suave, sophisticated killing machine, I will share this final part of story.
As I have been hanging out in the Tuskers Public Channel - which I highly recommend, even if you have no intention of becoming a Tusker - I excitedly announced I had just soloed a Drake! Not unreasonably, they wanted to see the killmail.
Unfortunately, my head was a mess - I was practically incoherent with excitement. So when I cut and pasted a killmail into chat I actually posted a lossmail by mistake. At which point Suleiman gently pointed out what I had done and suggested that I stop spamming chat and instead post a battleclinic link.
Yeah. I am that smooth.