Yesterday when I logged on I decided that I had had just about enough of exploration. Sure, finding radar sites and the occasional Domination rat with sweet loot is nice, and the actual scanning mechanics are quite easy now (I do have to practice using combat probes though; never know when that skill will come in handy) but ever since my little trip to Providence and Catch I've been wanting to go back to flying dangerous so after the scanning of my home system and the system next door, which was crammed with anomalies and signatures but nothing came out of it, I decided to give my yet-to-be-blooded Firetail a spin. I knew how effective that ship can be when going for turret equipped targets having fallen victim to it in a Jaguar not too long ago, but hopefully now it would be my turn to do the killing.
My current exploration HQ is in the South-East of the Heimatar region (looking at the Dotlan maps) so from there the hunting grounds are plentiful. My first choice of destination was towards the Eifer system by way of Gusandall, hoping Mr Kane Rizzel was around because I know he's a good sport. But unfortunately he wasn't on and on top of it the area was very quiet. So much for that idea. I then flew towards Metropolis and Evati, but at some point (don't remember which system) I had faction cruisers, BC's and BS's on scan... and these people were active. Right, not such a great idea then. So I backtracked to head towards Molden Heath for what I call the "Tour de MH", with sneak-peeks into Etherium Reach and Great Wildlands. The way to Skarkon and L4X-1V was also quiet with barely a ship flying in space; those I could scan down always ended up being POS'ed up, and L4X was empty, not even a bubble left from a previous camp. But this being xxDeathxx space I didn't want to stick around too long. I then resumed the tour and what did I find? More emptiness. When people say Low-sec is dead, it is no rumor. I then made a beeline for the Egbinger system, and from there Great Wildlands was calling.
I had already roamed a lot at that point and knew that my gaming time was running short so instead of taking a long-ish road in search of stuff I took the straight path between B-VIP9 and 7Q-8Z2. This would take me through 2 of the 3 station systems in the region so if anybody was active, big or small, this is where they were bound to be. Once again, quiet space for a while but in the first station system, M-MD3B, we were 16 in Local. Only some small stuff out in space at the moment I passed by, but I didn't want to stick around long; I know from experience how hungry a bunch of people living in Null-sec can get! I then jumped into E02-IK, and this one was quieter; only 3 in Local and nothing in space. But the closer I get to the 7Q system the more bookmarks I have for safespots, offgrids and tacticals, so it's much easier to take time to see what kind of traffic is flying through. And it was finally in 7Q where I finally saw some possible action.
As I was sitting on a 200km tactical above the Khabi gate in 7Q, which sported a fail-anchored catch bubble, a Hydra Reloaded Dramiel landed, and after waiting a few seconds to see what my immobile Firetail was doing, he burned towards me like only a Dramiel can. I wanted to play some mind games a bit; I was looking positively AFK as he was closing the distance but when he got to around 40km I warped straight to the gate, jumped out, and reapproached the gate. Sure enough, a few seconds later the Dramiel jumped and as soon as he decloaked I jumped back to 7Q. I guess it did have an effect because when he followed me back in I was already at my tactical, and to help matters when he decloaked the rats that were on the gate aggressed him. Yay Angels! He easily out-distanced them and warped out; had he come towards me again I would have started the dance, but he didn't. So much for the Dramiel, or so I thought at the time. A few minutes passed before I saw more traffic and it arrived in the form of a Claw interceptor, from another alliance. Oh goody! Exactly the type of ship I wanted to hunt. When he landed on the gate (I was aligning to the bubble but yeah, it failed) he too started to burn towards me but I had much better confidence against a Claw, so I started the transversal spiral. And sure enough he got too close and I latched onto him with scram and web. Let the feeding begin!
Things were going well as I got rid of the Claw's shields but he was clearly armor-tanked because the armor was going down slower, but he was still going down. And what appears in Local? Mr Hydra Dramiel! Being now NOS'd by 2 ships and the battle taking a bit longer than I expected my capacitor got drained and a few of my mods turned off, but as soon as I regained some and was able to restart my afterburner and NOS it was looking like I may still get to kill the Claw; I don't know if the Dram pilot had pulled his drones or forgot about 'em, but I swear I don't remember seeing drones on me. Quite the fail if that's the case! But just as the Claw was entering structure a Crusader showed up and soon after he landed my cap went out and so did all my cap-eating mods, and finally the Firetail went poof and I was warping my pod first to a planet, and then to a safespot.
Props were given all around as this was a fun little fight. It was hard for me to judge who was flying with who as I had no idea if these guys were friends or foes. The Claw pilot did have a good point: next time have Barrage and get a bit more range instead of going for Rep Fleet EMP in the face. He did give me a comment that I found funny: "Real Men Fly Claws". I would tend to agree as I own quite a few Claws myself and have had much success with them. But do Real Men get on the Bat Phone when it looks like the fight is going the wrong way? That is debatable :) In any case, I had a great time coming back to The PvP even if I was on the losing end. But my point was to try this new Firetail fit, and I must admit that until I got out-numbered 3-to-1 it was working like a charm. I not only replaced it right away, but I also bought a spare. We shall try this again!
Fly dangerous; it's the only way to fly!