"Our targets are not, probably, going to be other frigates and destroyers." Icarus's voice on comms is as calm as he seemed on the militia chat. "We can kill them, obviously, but with the Amarr, especially the new pilots, you can expect they'll see how many we are and bring way more than that, because they have a lot of new guys who can only fly frigs and dessies, and want a fight."
It's a hard point to argue. The "fleet" assembled under Icarus's command is all of seven ships, most of them frigates: three Rifters, one Punisher, my Incursus, a "Jaguar" variant of the Rifter, and a single Thrasher-class destroyer.
"So..." one of the pilots is fresh into both New Eden and Faction Warfare, but makes up for it by asking lots of good questions. "We're going for single frigates we can gank and then get away?"
"We looking for Cruisers and Battlecruisers we can kill and then get away," Icarus replies.
The comms are silent, as if the pilots are trying to decide if he's joking, but I nod to myself. After flying with Agony and the Open University of Celestial Hardship, taking down big ships with wolf packs of smaller stuff is very familiar ground to be on.
The problem is, of course, finding a target. We're fast and nimble, but in faction warfare most of your opponents are as well; frigates, destroyers, and the fastest of cruisers are the order of the day, and the Amarr militia is out in force tonight, with our intel channel reporting at least three fleets roaming the warzone with twenty or more pilots, each. We spend close to an hour moving along the front, dodging forces far too big to engage, and having no luck finding our desired targets.
"Everyone hold on this gate," Icarus comms. "Rez and I will hop into the next system and see if there's anything good."
I land on the gate and, rather than sit still (never a good idea in a small ship), nudge the frigate into a close orbit around the gate. Something goes amiss, however, and Rocinante wanders too close to the automated gate, which activates and hurls my ship along its interstellar path.
"What?" Icarus responds.
"I j-" I stop myself before I say the one word absolutely forbidden on comms. "I... went through the gate. By accident. Stupid, stupid mistake."
"Yes," Icarus replies without rancor. I'm glad for his honesty. "But let's make something useful of it. There's still only three of us in system, and
there's a lot of complexes here, and a war target -- see if you can help find him."
I don't expect much -- probably a fast frigate that will rabbit as soon as any of us get close -- but I'm eager to make up for my error. I check my overview and start an in-system warp to the nearest minor complex to see what --
"Check." It's Rez, who's flying our lone destroyer. "I've got a Ferox on scan."
"That's a good target for us."
"Yeah. I'm -- I'm warping to where I think he is."
"Matar Minor Complex."
"Sure. He's probably camped the acceleration gate to kill any frigates that warp up there.
"Ty, where are --"
"I was already in warp there," I cut in.
"Is he there?"
"Yes." The answer comes from Rez and me, as we land and answer in unison.
"Get a tackle. I'm in warp." Icarus says. "Everyone else, Jump!"
'Get a tackle', he says.
"I've got a long point!" Rez calls out. His Thrasher is built for longer range combat, so his warp disruptor is able to affect the battlecruiser from over twenty kilometers away, though it's not strong enough to shut down his microwarpdrive.
"Ty, can you get a scram?" Icarus knows the Ferox isn't truly pinned down until we can get a proper short range warp scramble on him and shut down his MWD.
"Yeah." I'm spiraling in toward the massive ship in the Incursus, trying to keep my traversal speeds high enough to stay ahead of the battlecruiser's guns, but closing more slowly than I'd like and spending way too much time inside his optimal firing range. My overview is a sudden mess as the Ferox disgorges light combat drones -- ideal for killing smaller ships -- just as Icarus drops out of warp.
"Scratch that, get the drones, I'll get the scram," he snaps.
The Ferox’s close-range blaster cannons finally score a hit, shorting out my frigate’s shields and melting half its armor into slag. I let the ship roll with the hit, slipping into the tightest orbit I can manage around the battlecruiser and activating first one, then the second armor repair module. The Incursus may be small, but so are bricks, and the little ship can take a pretty good hit and keep coming, especially if it doesn't run out of power.
The drones -- as small to me as I am to the Ferox -- are not so durable, and vaporize almost as quickly as I can target them.
"He's targeting me," Rez calls out. Working at longer ranges, he's going to be an easier target for the bigger ship. "Shields gone. I'm going to lose the point when I drop."
"I've got the scram," Icarus replies. "Get out if you --"
The sky lights with the detonation of the thrasher's engines.
"Get your pod out if you can," Icarus continues as if that was what he meant to say all along. "We've got him pinned, everyone get in close."
Everyone? I look up from my targeting display and see the rest of our small fleet has made the field, using the distraction of the thrasher's explosion to get close orbits while the Ferox pilot was occupied.
"Drones are down," I call out.
"Everyone on the Ferox," Icarus replies. "Wrap this up."
It takes surprisingly little time.
"He's not even hitting me," says the new pilot, his tone half surprise and half suspicion.
"He's a good target for us," replies Icarus.
A much bigger, much brighter explosion lights up the sky.
"Well..." one pilot quips. "He was."