11 Dec 2007

Lost two caracals. Not happy - shall I pack for range or points?

Here I was, in my jaguar and enjoying the new GUI when I spotted a caracal. It was a known belt-ratter and I had killed him before. He was very skittish and never hung around long enough to loot the wrecks. Instead, he would cruise the belts in a seemingly random pattern and knock out the juiciest Angel cruisers and battlecruisers.

Like I said, I had killed him before and this time, as soon as he was aware of my presence - he would bolt. So it would be a tricky hunt but this is part of the fun and after chasing him, I discovered that his seemingly random belt ratting was not - there was a pattern and I managed to crack it after chasing the fool over twelve systems. Each time, missing him by mere seconds. I would arrive just as he would warp out. By studying his vectors, I gave chase only for him to be exiting as I arrive. Fun for a while, but irritating over time.

After the 13th or 14th system jump, I gambled and based on his previous pattern, I jumped ahead of him. Seconds later he landed on me. I grinned with satisfaction and on came the warp disruptor II. My auto-canons spat out destructive EMP rounds and yes, it was going to be a good kill. I love these ratting caracals. Just love 'em!

However, Hhairsenk (the caracal pilot) was slamming missiles into me with gusto. Now this jaguar was configured in the 'classic' shield tank setup. Basically a named Medium Shield extender and an invulnerability field. I switched on the latter as I had no armour repairer on. My capacitor went down as the shield module came on, drinking deep into my energy reserves to slake it's thirst. This was dangerous and in hindsight, I should have not installed it let alone activate it.

Yes, you all guessed it. My cap ran out. My disruptor - already slaking it's thirst for energy since the beginning of the engagement, turned off as it was now starved of energy. The caracal, burst out from under me, racing for the nearest star gate. The cruiser was down to about 15% hull, one more shot from ANY of my guns would have done it. However, it ran and got away from me. In frustration, I almost self-destructed the ship. Cursing myself for poor capacitor management, I could imagine what Hhairsenk was thinking.

I waited for the criminal countdown to end and ambled home. What did I see, yes - a thorax and a caracal. I chased the rax in the jaguar but he was having none of it and managed to get into high-sec space, leaving the caracal.

Using the scanner and selected overview settings, I quickly pinned him ratting in the IX-1 or IX-2 belts. I gunned the Jaguar into warp, wanting desperately to kill something. I landed amidst wreckage in the first belt and without pausing, jumped to the second belt - checking the wrecks as I was warping out to confirm that this second caracal was indeed ratting. In warp, I told myself that 'Cap is life, cap is life'.

Exiting the warp and landing on top of the caracal was pure joy. Once again, I locked quickly and started to hammer him. The caracal had decent shields but with EMP ammunition loaded, it made short work of it. I checked and rechecked that I had the disruptor on and that it had enough energy. The invulnerability field did not come on. Joy it was scrambled. It was going to die. It was.....


The caracal turned and warped away to a belt at no armour. I blinked once and starred at my gui. Damn. Not enough points this time and I was one or two salvos from killing it.

Okay - from experience; once a ratter has survived an attempt like this. He gets cocky. Probably doesn't anticipate that I would come back with more points. I waited for 15 minutes and then jumped out. The caracal had been in system as well with me. I quickly docked up and switched to a Dark Blood scrambler, all 10KM range, 2-point goodness. That should be enough points but did I have the range?

I warped back into the target system and I saw SNURA in his harpy. Damn. He was hunting the caracal too. He had a blaster-harpy and I needed a webber to keep him out of range. I ducked out again and refitted a webber, dropping the invulnerability field and extender and going for a MAPC and a 400mm plate with SAR II. Back to armour tanking the jaguar.

Returning the belt, I saw the caracal flash past me! Snura was in local complaining about the stabbed caracal......NO! Apparently he had engaged the caracal but only had one point (or the caracal had x2 WCS) and this time the caracal had left local on fire. Much like last time.

I wanted Snura in his harpy and we tried to track each other - a little unsure who was the hunter and the hunted. However, eventually - he left local; either bored with me or cautious that I had help in the next system....which I did.

So ended a rather interesting, fun and frustrating day.

Now here comes DT.