I started the morning off with a tour from Dodixie to Hek looking for more illegal miners. None to be found. But I did come across Rutkov (my nemesis from yesterday) at a gate and exchanged hellos. He was in his wolf and I knew that a rematch with that monster wouldn't be a Very Good Idea(tm). So I passed on the opportunity.
I pulled into Hek to look over more than 4,000 Foxfire Rage Rockets that I had purchased at an extremely good price overnight just to be sure they were in serviceable condition. They were. I also noticed that my arch-enemy Rutkov had shown up in local.
Just to show that I can learn from my mistakes, I left the station and immediately warped to my instant undock location. Safely past the one ship mini-gatecamp I noticed that Rutkov had switched from his wolf to a rifter. As I've said before, I hate fighting rifters. It seems like they always do pretty much what my rifter does, but better. On the other hand, Rutkov had made the effort to swap ships, so the least I could do would be give him a fight.
I mentioned that he was in system in the Black Rifter intel channel and received an offer of assistance, but I asked for this to be mano a mano between me and Rutkov. The Rebels certainly understand the concept of non-blob behavior and stood by.
The fight was a good one. I'm still at a loss as to what's happening during the 40 seconds of mayhem, but I put everything in motion as I should have (all systems activated and turned up to 11, orbiting close and spewing death from my autocannons and rocket launcher, armor repairer turned on when the shields were collapsing). I don't think I was ever ahead in the fight, but I was never too far behind. Eventually the sirens and red lights started and I exploded.
GFs were exchanged in local and Rutkov generously offered to return the surviving modules from my wreckage. I thanked him and told him to keep them.
In review there's nothing that I could have done differently or better. It was just (again) a case of the better pilot winning. I did see in the lossmail that Rutkov was equipped with 200mm autocannons. I don't have the support skills yet to replace my 150s with 200s, but it's the skill that I'm currently training. So in a couple weeks I should be able to try out the bigger guns in my standard rifter fit.
Current Death to Flying Things Score: 3-16-1