I have written before about my most favorite ship in EVE Online, the Nemesis Stealthbomber. Curvaceous, nimble, vulnerable, secretive and deadly, this is a boat hard to master, easy to kill and feared with reason by enemies and pilots alike. I fell in love with this ship the first time I flew it – then still the old hull design – and I have yet to find a ship that fits my playstyle better than this one. Sure, there are Drakes and Tengus and Orcas and whatnot but they are utilitarian to me. If I need to shoot sleepers, I take the Drake. I don’t “want” to fly that thing but sometimes I have to. The Nemesis however, I really enjoy.
And so today, my corp mate and I were scouting our neighbor after the customary PI management and in our C2 neighbor happened upon 2 Ferox Battlecruisers, a Drake, some wrecks, a Noctis Salvager and some pos-floating battleships. My corp mate proceeded to find and identify all the POS in the system (4 of them, geez, what a fuel bill they must have) and I focused on trying to find the ships without probes for now. We were too late to catch the Noctis, he was already nuzzled up to a Hangar Array back in the POS Shield by the time I got a bead on him. The Drake also vanished leaving the two Ferox somewhere in system. Ship names always make me laugh since they often give the purpose of the ship away. One of the Ferox was called “Can” something indicating that it was a converted to suck ladar sides dry. Using a Ferox is a very common and relatively intelligent way to take down valuable gas, it has lots of high slots, a (small) drone bay to load ECM or Warrior IIs and can fit a very substantial tank. They are not easy targets and we are looking for two of them.
One downside of my bomber fit is that it can not use combat probes. I would have to fit an Expanded Probe Launcher and in order to online that, I will have to offline something else. When I get good at the game, I will learn to be quick at that but for now, I value every second I am decloaked and work as fast as I can. In addition, Core Probes may (…) indicate that I am a harmless Helios scanning my home or something. Not a Badass on the prowl. And I am trying to find a Ladar site after all….
There is nowhere to hide in this small C2 and I warp to some safe spot, drop probes, guide the probes out and get oriented. From D-scan, I know the guys are sucking gas at P5 somewhere, my corp mate has eyes on the POS and in 3 cycles I have the ladar site locked down. But unfortunately, the Battlecruisers were gone by the time I land. They are not totally stupid and likely saw me in my Bomber on Dscan or – if not, saw the 7 Core probes come to kissing distance in rapid time. They must have known their jig is up and they rightly bailed while I bookmark the two gas clouds for later use. The assumption is that there will be some time of intense but fruitless scanning and quasi-PvP activity with threatening display of Tengus etc while I get a coffee. But it wasn’t to be. They scan down the hole to our system which evidently they had not seen yet and proceed to jump in, well watched by my corpmates inside. We do not engage – catching a Covops ain’t easy and will give up our intentions. Let them scan us down and once they are convinced that they safe, they likely will suckle the gas site dry. Greed > Brains.
But they are not that hapless. They actually bring 2 Raven Battleships, well known to be useful to close holes and in quick succession jump them through our hole, then back and warp off. They are playing it cool and safe. We have at that time 3 people in the C2, cloaked, watching various places (the POS, the hole, the gas site) and we need to make a decision, they are slamming the door to our home shut. We could engage the Ravens but they will at best tank us and jump back across the hole and at worst blow us out of the sky. We don’t pack bombs and while I do have Falcon, its on the other side of the hole in our POS.
So, whats our decision tree look like? Our strategic situation is that our home system is safe from invasion, we have scanner ships who can get us a new route in when the static collapses. Tactical situation is a little bit more complicated. We have 3 scanning bombers in the enemy hole but other than the Ladar site, no signature scanned. We know that this space has a static High Security hole and a Static C1 – so we can find a route out – if we start to scan. But then, we would give our intentions away. So, we gamble. One of our number runs out of time and in a safe interval where both Ravens are their POS, jumps home. That leaves 2v2 in our C2a with one difference, we know where they are, they have no idea about us.
The decision is made to let them close the hole (which they do) and resume their gas sucking operation – which they also promptly do. My last worry was that they will have only one Ferox in the site harvesting and some form of bodyguard backing him up. It doesn’t take much to ruin a Bomber’s day and pretty much anything would have been deterrence enough. Heck, an Assault Ship properly used, an Ishkur, a fat, drone-packing Dominix would stopped our attack cold. But no. They fly both Ferox Battlecruisers into the remaining cloud. We don’t hesitate. A C50 cloud getting pounded on by – presumably – 10 Harvesters doesn’t live long and we don’t have much time to waste. We coordinate our warp in, “3-2-1 Tora Tora Tora” and warp to zero km on to the bookmarked cloud. Targets had been assigned before and we launch torpedoes into the vacuum and scram the two Ferox Battlecruisers into place.
This is where things can go horribly wrong. Our bombers have no tank to speak of. A Ferox can pack a lot of it. We can not outrun drones and a Ferox can fit a few as well. We are missing at least 1 hostile pilot and maybe another in the system. Means, this could be a gorgeous ambush. The two Ferox as bait with a cloaky Proteus nearby. The Ferox re-fit with guns and beastly tank could take us down in no time. We have no bookmarks to any other wormhole at this time – scanning would have given our intentions away. If this is a trap, we will not only lose ships but we will have to pod ourselves out. This assault is a lot riskier than we discussed on Teamspeak and yet we both knew it. My corp mate is- as discussed before – one cool customer.
Torpedoes slam into my target but do little. Both targets are warp scrammed and each has a painter on him. Decision was made for each of us to target 1 Ferox only – that was likely a mistake. If we had scrammed both but shot at only one, we would have taken it down faster. But I wanted both pilots to panic, not just one and I underestimated how long they can last against the onslaught of my Caldari Navy Torpedoes. Both our bombers us run out of cap, my corp mate loses his point even but regains it quickly. I had the Sensor Damp running – silly me – and that sucked my cap dry. But we are winning this.
My target blows up and I try to snatch the Pod but the other Ferox is still somewhere in armor and I am concerned that some trap still may slam shut. So I don’t worry about the pod but pound on the other Battlecruiser, my painter adds even more signature. He goes down quickly and I watch D-scan carefully in case the first pilot jumps into something more beefy. He doesn’t. Small systems have an advantage, I can see what he does through observation on Dscan.
Second target goes down and we warp out – just in case something drops on us. I reload during warp (damn, how many torps did these things swallow?) and we regroup. Booyah’s on TeamSpeak.
I might as well scan for the exit now. I fly to a previously made deep-safe spot, launch core probes and find the high security hole in a couple of minutes. The other one, C1, just in case the high-sec route drops us in some ghastly island surrounded by pirates. My corpmate stalks the 2 untouched wrecks. We check our 2 killmail (One and Two) – they dropped nice stuff and he lusts after the T2 Gas harvesters, always a nice touch. My cargo bay is full with Chiral Structures (don’t ask, why) and I double-back to the site at safe torping range to bail him out if his improvised salvage operation runs afoul. I kinda’ want it to. I must admit, it would be nice if their Manticore jumps ours just for me to rain hell on him. We have the high security hole scanned down now. We can risk a little real PvP.
But they don’t. We say goodbye to this lovely C2 that has given us joy and ISK and while my corp mate does a last Topgun-Style flypast by their POS, I relax when I find out that the wormhole spits us out 10 high security jumps from Dodixie where I need to go anyway for more torpedoes and implants. We are thoroughly pleased with ourselves – a well-planned ambush flawlessly executed. What more can I ask from a Sunday morning?