A few months ago, I was in sort of a slump. The members of the small corporation I had been leading in wormhole space [MFGM] for the last few months had gone inactive. I took down our wormhole operation and left our C2. (Sorry Quintus. If you ever log back in, I hope you have a probe launcher).
I found myself without a real home. Wormhole space, with it's random connections to empire space, had left me with ships and other assets scattered around various systems all over the place. Chasing incursions (before they turned into the farming-fest they are today) had further compounded that problem. I was at home everywhere I went. I joined quite a few public channels and made friends in many different circles. Running incursions with one group one day. Following an expedition chain in low-sec the next. And using bombers to pester wormhole dwellers the day after that. But most of the time I flew solo.
By far the most fun I had was during a week and a half that I haunted Decon and it's neighboring system, Sharuveil. The two systems form a low-sec pocket just a few jumps from Dodixie. I fit out my recon of choice, a cov-ops cloaky, 650mm arty, combat proby, nanoed mwd speedy, web scrammy Rapier. Even with 5 hobgoblin IIs and 2 650mm arties firing faction ammo, I barely manage to put out 130 dps. So I had to limit myself to scanning down frigs, interceptors, and the like. Decon is a great system for that. Lots of pilots wander in, not realizing the danger that can lurk in a .4 system. Sharuveil is a monster of a system, with no station and 7 combat probes barely able to cover the whole system.
I chose the rapier for its ability to disengage at will. If things go south, I can simply web my opponent, burn out of point range, and warp off. I nabbed a few T1 frigates, noob ships, and even a dramiel who was unlucky (stupid) enough to log off at a deep safe while he still had agression. Combat probes picked his ship up and hobgoblins made short work of it. I even attempted to take on a new player in a vexor. He made a pitiful attempt to fend me off, and I was slowly working through his armor when a rifter came and started to burn toward me. The rifter was the larger threat, and not being able to keep tackle on both, I was forced to kill the rifter while the vexor got away.
After a while, I moved out to try something new. And now, looking back on the success I had had with the Rapier, I decided to take it out again. I quickly scanned down a velator at a safe and popped him. Yes, very sporting, I know...
Anyway, after scanning down another velator mining in a belt (what's with these guys?), I locked him up and scrammed him. I really didn't want the sec hit for a ship kill on a velator, so I was hoping he'd try to fire back. I opened a convo to try to prod him in that direction. While distracted by my not-so-tasty morsel of a rookie ship, an ishkur that had been popping on and off dscan (docking?) for the last few minutes suddenly showed up 10km off of me as a big red entry on my overview. Ah! Finally a worthy target!
Target lock engaged, orbit set to 21km, drones deployed, scrammed, webbed, webbed again, guns engaged, microwarpdrive acti-- no? Scrammed! Luckily a rapier is faster than a dual-webbed ishkur. I was able to get out of scram range, cycle my mwd to pull some range, and watch as my meager dps started stripping the ishkur's shields. Slowly, ever so slowly... My drones! One hobgoblin II goes pop. I swap over to an overview tab with drones enabled to target his up. It's then that I realize I don't have a chance to take this ishkur down with my drones without getting them blown up. While I can't engage them, he can't engage me without risking his drones. We're at a standstill.
I've taken him down a bit into armor by this point. Not seeing any reps active, I figure I can whittle him down with my two 650mm artillery cannons. Except that I'm missing now. His shields were actually recharging! Even at a 20km range, this would take some manual piloting to reduce transversal. The ishkur has a small signature radius to begin with, and the pilot later told me that he was using an x-instinct booster to further reduce his signature.
I do a quick check on dscan and see a new tengu out in space with a name similar to that of the ishkur. Do I stay and try to work on the ship or do I get out before that tengu can tackle me? I reduce dscan to a smaller radius around the asteroid belt and initiate a rapid scan, which will give me enough warning should the tengu or another hostile ship be warping in. But after a few minutes of unsuccessfully shooting the ishkur, whose shields had nearly fully recharged, I decide to withdraw.