3 Dec 2007

Hunting down a manticore isn't easy!

The hunting is the main thing, the chase, the scan, the anticipation and then the pounce. Especially, if one is chasing something that is designed to be stealthy and hidden; chasing it down is even harder but when (if) you get the kill - it does taste so sweet. So here I was in Eifer once more and the Independence channel had many new faces in it. Very happy to see old and new pilots alike and oddly, no Black-Flag pilots this time round.

I welcome all new pilots to the channel, so long as they are loyal to the Gank - then all is ok. MattCaladan and Nova Blackadder were in the channel and in local and we were hunting down some innocent pilots, completely oblivious to their imminent, fiery demise.

Spotting a thrasher - both Nova and I vectored to it. Due to a mix up, Nova warped and arrived at one cluster and I, at another. I was lucky. The thrasher was there, hovering over the still sparkling wreck of a destroyed Angel cruiser. No doubt, he was eager looting and salvaging the wreck. There is much money to be made.

Unfortunately for me, I had landed about 45km and was slamming my assault frigate into a tight turn and screaming towards him, afterburners pushing the weak-looking frame to its limits. I prayed to the various Gods to mask me, to make me swift like a hunting hawk, for a wave of confusion to confound him. My sudden appearance in his immediate vicinity must have given him a fright however, as he tore his thrasher-class destroyer out of the belt within a few seconds.

Disappointed, I tracked his ship and saw it was heading towards a gate.

Having some experience, I waited. No point in giving chase, I could at least check the wrecks. In the back of my mind, I also knew that for many pilots - losing a wreck or interrupting their salvage produces an almost irrestible urge to return. Sometimes within minutes. I have hunted prey like this for years. Patience I said to myself as I busied over the still smouldering wreck of another Angel cruiser. My automated salvage units removed some useful ammunition but that was all.

Glancing down at my system scanner, it was empty. No matter, I pulsed the engines and drifted quietly to the second of the Angel wrecks.

"Patience", I said, "patience."

Reaching the second, I checked the scanner. There was a blip. It was the thrasher and it was back and close by. Grinning, I had a familiar feeling building up inside me, a tingling and sharpening of my senses. Combat was imminent.

No doubt, the thrasher pilot had warped back to the planet and was scanning the belts and must have caught the tell-tale return of my wolf-class assault frigate. He also probably thought that his thrasher should be able to shred me and in some cases, I agree - if the thrasher could control the range of the engagement.

The thrasher came in and landed close to the wrecks - clever boy, he had bookmarked the wrecks before leaving. However, it meant he was now 2km from me. This was my kill-range and nothing dishes out pain like a fully-locked and loaded Wolf-class assault frigate.

On came the disruptor, pulsing and wrecking his warp core containment fields. My four T2 200mm ACs spat death in the form of EMP and Hail. Screaming and tearing into the shields of the thrasher. However, the destroyer replied in kind - it's eight turrets boomed out, and hit my wolf head on. I had zero transversal and took the full brunt of an eight-artillery barrage.

No matter. Shields and armour be damned. I wanted the kill and my third salvo punched into the hull and exploded the destroyer. He should have fitted auto-canons; he may have killed me sooner. I gleefully tracked the pod and killed the pilot. Disdaining the need to ransom him. Wasn't in the mood today. I looted the wreck and collected the sad looking remains of the pod pilot.

Throughout this fight, I was also aware that there was a manticore stealth bomber in the system. Chances are, the stealthy craft may have been tracking and watching me. Matt and Nova meanwhile, were doing their level best in tracking the manticore as well. I zipped to one of my usually scan spots and with one scan narrowed him down to a belt. Surely not?

I informed Nova and Matt to align to my ship when I was nearing the belt. Would the pilot be so bold I thought? Ever if i couldn't lock him, I would at least be able to identify the pilot.

"Align." I said in the Independence channel and I recieved affirmations from them both.

Coming out of warp, thin gossamer plasma streams trailing off my ship, my eyes spotted the distinctive, boxy shape of the Caldari stealth bomber. Instantly, I mentally ordered the targetting computer to lock onto the bomber. However, the computer was still re-aligning itself after it's journey through warp space and failed, I ordered it to lock, again and again as I also toggled the afterburner and my weapons to 'insta-fire' mode. My anger was rising as the computer failed to lock for the third time. The fourth attempt the targetting cursor was blinking steadily and in a second I had a lock. I was 25km away and my disruptor failed. I drew closer and the stealth bomber pivoted and started to move away. 24km and I wished I had fitted an expensive tech 2 warp disruptor. 23km and the stealth bomber melted away.

It had cloaked.

Cursing, I pushed my ship to it's last known location and proceeded to do a series of high speed orbits around him. Hoping to crash into him. However, it was no good. He had gone. I had no idea if he was in the belt, above me, below me or alongside me. No idea at all. I left the belt and went to a safe spot. At least I knew who the pilot was: 'MU Kurlyz'. I decided to access his Concord pilot profile. This happened a couple of times, coming close, so close. Frustrating.

Matt and Nova were still around. The manticore had re-appeared and both Matt and Nova zipped off to various belts to try and flush him out. It was an admirable effort and I was grateful for their work rate. Both would become good pirates given time. MU Kurlyz left local, probably wanting to avoid the attention of Matt and Nova. I checked his last known location and decided he went back to Gusandall and proceeded to go there with Matt and Nova holding station in Eifer.

Back in Gusandall, the local space was busy and yes, the manticore was back and on scan. Was he baiting me? I scanned him down to another belt and I banked on him warping not to 0km but a bit off it. Maybe I could get lucky? I warped in, modules toggled to 'insta-fire' mode. Bursting out of warp, I had caught the tell-tale trailers of a recently exited ship. He was in the VI-I belt. I spun the ship round and went to this belt. Cat and mouse indeed.

Exiting warp, I saw the stealth bomber but maybe he miscalculated as he was only 6km from me! I had to get an active lock and hit him with something to disable his cloak. Once again, the computer had problems with the target acquisition. Damn these old, useless Minmatar computers! Why not the latest Gallente or stolen Caldari technology?

The cursor then became a solid and I had a solid lock. It also told me that the manticore had done the same. My weapons and disruptor came on just as his heavy missiles slammed into my ship knocking it sideways. My systems blanked out for a second but the tough, no nonsense Minmatar chips refused to die and maintained lock. A more sophisticated computer would have rebooted. The EMP shells (I had switched all the ammunitions to the EMP variety) obliterated the manticore's shields in my first salvo. I had no shield left and the second missile salvo took me down to 85% armour. It was so quick that I had no time to even activate the armour repairer. However, we build our ships tough - unlike the now shield-less Manticore. The EMP munition, while designed to be anti-shield was still effective agains the thin armour of the Caldari and I was shocked to see the last shell of the second salvo blow the ship to smithereens.

Get the fecking pod! I thought to myself as I tried to lock the blinking egg-like capsule however, MU Kurlyz had already activated his drives and was gone.

In less than 8 seconds, the fight was over. The manticore now a unrecognised wreck amidst an expanding sphere of debris. Matt and Nova came in to help but the warp itself took over ten seconds so they missed out. I checked the loot and was delighted to see a Tech 2 Raltech Hidden-Eye Advanced Covert-Ops Cloaking device and a Tech 2 ballistic control unit.

Nice score.

There was also a large amount of Caldari Navy Issue Scourge missiles - I left them for Matt and Nova to pick up. I said 'Good fight' to the pilot but he had already left the system. No matter, the chase was thrilling and I love New Eden.

Concord fired off an evemail confirming the kill.

2007.12.03 19:09

Victim: MU Kurlyz
Alliance: NONE
Corp: Project Rain
Destroyed: Manticore
System: Gusandall
Security: 0.4

Involved parties:

Name: flashfresh (laid the final blow)
Security: -10.0
Alliance: NONE
Corp: Independent Pilots
Ship: Wolf
Weapon: 150mm Light AutoCannon II

Destroyed items:

'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I
Cap Recharger II
75mm Compressed Coil Gun I
Tungsten Charge S, Qty: 800 (Cargo)
Cap Recharger II, Qty: 4 (Cargo)
Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters (Cargo)
Caldari Navy Wrath Cruise Missile, Qty: 23
Tungsten Charge S, Qty: 199