Escort Duty

“…I’ll pick up any mantas, you go for the infest,” I said, 10k out from the gate. Rail’s terse “Roger” was more a function of the remaining distance and the focus required of an upcoming jump than of any nervousness on his part. The gate flashed around me, and I reappeared in Bronci Rift. Slewing ponderously around, I oriented myself on the anomaly, and watched 2 mantas, 2 snails and a squid pop into view and orient themselves on me in turn. The flash from behind made me cycle targets once again, and a third manta jumped in, oriented slightly above me. Knowing that the first two mantas would remain focused on me, I concentrated on the third. The angle was bad, but I managed a quick burst that got his attention as I hit the burners to tag an additional snail chasing Rail’s bomber – and not so coincidentally decreasing the time I was under fire from all 3 mantas.

Thumbing off the burners, I corkscrewed back 180 degrees. The roll rate for a Dragon is much faster than the rest of the axes, so adding a bit of a roll to any pitch or yaw increases the rate substantially. I glanced over to see Rail engaged with the single squid that spawned for him, then targeted the c7, which was nearest, due to its greater speed. A few seconds later, the hammering of the ammo ceased as I flew through a ball of expanding plasma, shields still alight from the trailing snails’ artillery fire. Shields were still holding, but getting low. Best let them recharge. I put a bit of yaw in, so as to watch the squid explode under Rail’s fire, then watched his Sabres head toward the infestation.

At 55%, I turned back toward the nearest manta, still untouched, who was gaining steadily.  Lining up the drift joust, I let loose at just under 5k, trailing the duelist very slightly. his shields collapsed, and I “heard” the muffled cracks as his armor was pounded. The damaged ‘flux blurred past, and I retargeted on the manta I had rudely summoned away previously. The angle was bad, yet again; so I managed only shield reduction once more, though significantly greater, as he was hit at least twice at nearly point blank range. In turn, his ammo weapons tore into my shields, and I “heard” a similar muffled crack as my armor, too, was compromised, if only slightly.  In my case, the damage was felt through my contact with the fuselage as much as anything.

As that c6 also passed me by, I retargeted on the crowd of snails trailing behind. With quick bursts, two were destroyed outright, and the third got a burst in passing. The squid, lagging behind his fellows, was sent to oblivion by a single squeeze of the trigger as we closed.  Shields were starting to come back up, but I still had two mantas a snail in pursuit. I had made sure both of the faster vessels were damaged, so as to give myself more breathing room to recharge. Conflux go evasive when damaged enough in a single pass, which takes more time, which means they don’t come after you as quickly – which means that whether they are faster than you or not, their evasive maneuvers give you room. Which is always a good thing.

I rolled slightly to get a better view of the nukes’ terminal run into the infest. Four hammered into the infest in succession, sending a coruscating shower of flaming debris outwards in all directions. A quick glance at the HUD told me that my shields were back up to 35%, so I reversed yet again to finish my stragglers off. They were still separated, which was all to the good. I lined up on the lead c6, and opened up on it, this time from a slight downward drift. It turned into a fireball at roughly 3k, which put the other c6 just in range. I lined it up, and went full auto, tracking its path up as it evaded, and it exploded nearly in my face. Chuckling over the “FluxGuts” which were undoubtedly now coating the entire front half of my Dragon, I lined up on the snail. 3 bursts later, and it, too, was history. “Back to the barn,” I ordered. I killed my delta vee, and lined up on the infest. Firing my single Glaive, I pulled sharply up to clear the firing arc, and veered toward the Public POS in-system. As I came to stop in the rings, the telemetry from the missile bounced back and reported a successful hit. Slewing toward the docking port, I nudged the throttle, and headed in. Time to do it again.

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