Having been rocked by the reverberative percussion of the allied Republic Fleet Firetail exploding within 10km, the Rifter abruptly changed course once more, jerking its nose 45 degrees upward and starboard.
The shallowness of the angle retained as much velocity as possible as the Rifter crew objective shifted to evasion. The Succubus took on an intercept course, diving directly toward the Rifter.
As their paths merged, the Succubus’ equipped True Sansha Small Focused Beam Lasers tracked the Rifter perfectly, landing penetrative hits with each volley even at maximum transversal. The Republic Frigates equipped 200mm Light Gallium Machine Gun landed consistently at range, and on approach. Under the more extreme conditions of the encounter, they struggled to find their mark.
Meanwhile, the upgraded armor installed on the Rifter held against the expensive enemy guns admirably.
Zipping past on this high angle approach, the armor was robust enough to allow the Rifter to escape range of the Succubus’ weapons entirely. Eventually, the long range tackling module dropped out of range as well as the microwarpdrive carried the Rifter to safety. In the moment that Kleo would’ve escaped, a mistake was made.
They say you should make your decision, commit to it, and to never look back. Capt. Patroklus, after having decided to save an ally, was faced with another choice; either stay and fight completely outmatched or flee and wait for another possible advantage. Patroklus chose to flee, slamming the throttle on the frigates microwarpdrive to greater than maximum and aligning the ship outward, away from the assaulted outpost in contested space. But then she looked back.
About 50km from the two remaining fighting frigates,a group of Minmatar allied frigates slid smoothly to a halt, shifting the advantage. Instead of fleeing, this check over the shoulder prompted Capt. Patroklus to pull back toward the fray. Tightly pivoting in a brightly crackling slash across otherwise reddish yellow skies, the Rifter slid deliberately back within range of the Succubus on the turn, thrusting directly toward the outpost.
There was hope that the entire group might engage together, the only chance they had at bringing down such a specialized and expensive pirate ship. If Kleo could survive for long enough to join the group, the Succubus would be more vulnerable to combined focused fire. The only cooperation needed from the enemy then would be for him to continue the chase and be led into the waiting jaws of ensnarement.
One of the rescuing frigates, another Republic Fleet Firetail, left the group and charged into the Succubus’ path.
Although valiant, this stunt completely negated the initial sacrifice of Kleo’s engaging the Succubus at all.
More importantly, with the frigates split up yet again they stood less of a chance of surviving at all, let alone of destroying this extremely powerful enemy. Cutting the throttle to the engines entirely, the Rifter slid under momentum to an eventual stop within range of the Minmatar outpost.
Gratefully, the captain swung the nose of the vessel toward the allied fleet. From 120km, it could just be seen that the Firetail’s tiny outline was maintaining its distance from the other silhouette. It had caught the Succubus!