I came up with this great idea. Instead of flying around looking for illegal miners, smugglers' transport ships, and other neer-do-wells (which usually lead to lots of flying, but little action) I would instead act like one of them to catch a pirate. Excellent!
First off, I wanted to find a dead-end system so that I only had to watch one entrance. Looking at the map, it appeared that Ragnarg, just a few hops from Hek, would be such a location. I headed out in "Mothra" - my latest top-secret rifter and put my plan into operation.
First I found an asteroid belt with 3 rats - two frigates and a cruiser. Second I remembered that I was going to pack some cheap ammunition to deal with these vermin instead of shooting my expensive faction ammo. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about "Second" when back in the station, so these were going to be some expensive rats. Third I killed the rats, left their wrecks floating in space and pulled off a ways to give myself some leeway in case pirate visitors dropped in at zero...
Then I waited.
Nothing happened. The system was empty except for me.
I waited some more.
More nothing happened. Still an empty system.
I got tired of waiting and decided that since the system was empty it might be a good chance to set up some undock locations from one of the local stations. I warped to one and then immediately undocked to set up the undock marker. As I was cruising along waiting for a suitable distance for the warp point, suddenly Khardia Melanchton appeared in local. Hopefully my pirate had just entered the system!
I continued motoring along and started spamming the d-scan to see what ship had entered the system. Nothing on d-scan. I kept spamming the d-scan button. Still nothing. Hmmm... Maybe a cloaked ship that I missed when they cloaked up? I kept spamming the d-scan button. Then I thought, "DOH! Maybe not entering the system - maybe it was a local resident waking up!" That would explain it.
And a few seconds later there was a rifter coming out of the station that I was heading away from. A local resident.
As I've said before, I don't especially enjoy rifter vs. rifter matches - but the opportunity of some combat practice can't be passed up. So when Khardia offered a 1v1 in local I took her up on the idea. First I marked my undock point (I was now a warpable distance from the station) and then I warped off to the top planet to await my rival.
It was a good fight.
Khardia has been playing since 2008 - so I didn't have high hopes. I set the orbit at 500m and turned all the dials up to 11 activating both the autocannons and the rocket launcher. Everything was working and I made none of my usual blunders. From the start I was ahead. My ammo and rockets doing excellent work on Khardia's shields and then armor. Actually, when I say, "I was ahead" it was not by a large margin (in these rifter vs. rifter duels it's usually a close affair). But it definitely looked encouraging to see the red lines on her ship ever so slightly longer than the red lines on mine.
I was even aware enough to notice (something that's not often the case in my fights where it's all a chaotic blur...) that my rival was pulling away from me. My 500m orbit had stretched out to 3km then 4km, and then 7km. I hit the "approach" button and tried to follow. But eventually Khardia got outside my overheated scrambler range and managed to warp off. Leaving me controlling the field of battle. \o/
Afterwards we chatted in local recounting the fight and gossiping about the neighborhood. We both agreed that this is one for the "win" column of the "Jack Dancer Death to Flying Things Campaign" even if there wasn't an actual death. It turns out that she's a person of excellent literary taste - Khardia said she reads this blog. Hello Khardia!
It was a fun fight, very educational for me since I was flying an experimental build (that performed admirably) and I look forward to a rematch with Ms. Melanchton in the future.