Catching a Catalyst

6th June 2010 – 3.43 pm

A scout through today's mapped w-space systems shows little activity. Glorious leader Fin checks the high-sec exit from the C1 system whilst I loiter nearby, and moments after she jumps through an Omen cruiser warps to the same wormhole and follows. The cruiser warps away from the high-sec K162 and no doubt only coincidentally was just behind Fin, but the Omen may return. Fin stalks the high-sec side of the wormhole in her Pilgrim recon ship, I return to the corporation tower to get my often-piloted and never-used Malediction interceptor. As with other times the interceptor ends up slowly orbiting a wormhole with no purpose, as the Omen doesn't come back.

Meanwhile, a corporation scout has found a new wormhole in our neighbouring C4 system, a K162 coming from another C4 system. Hoping that I'll find more activity by venturing through an active connection I swap back in to my Buzzard and go to help scan the new system beyond. The connecting C4 is unnocupied and is a system I visited about a week ago. Scanning finds only one other connection, a K162 again from a class 4 system. Jumping through finds another previously visited system, this one from almost four months ago. The system was unoccupied then and it is unoccupied now, so we are again looking for a K162 in order to trace the origin of the scanner who opened these wormholes, but we find none. It is possible the corporation got frustrated with finding a chain of class 4 w-space systems and collapsed their static connection to start again. But their opening of the wormholes has given us more opportunities to clear anomalies of Sleepers, if we can get a fleet together. Or we could try to find the Drake just announced as visible on d-scan in the C2.

I move my Buzzard across to the C2 system and take a look. This is a silo system, creating enormous clutter on d-scan. Knowing I am looking for uncloaked combat ships I swap my return signal to show only matches with my active overview settings, letting me see quickly that there is not only a Drake in the C2 but a Proteus strategic cruiser and Vulture command ship as well. Another Buzzard is also visible. The symbols preceding the ship names suggest the Proteus and Vulture belong to the same corporation or fleet, as do the Buzzard and Drake, but that there are two distinct groups. However, refining my d-scan search shows the Drake and Proteus to be engaging Sleepers together whilst the Vulture and Buzzard are elsewhere. My guess is that the Vulture is sitting on a newly opened wormhole in to this system and providing warfare link bonuses to the two ships in the Sleeper site.

I can't find the Vulture but knowing that the Drake and Proteus are engaging Sleepers, as evidenced by the accumulating Sleeper wrecks on d-scan, should be easy to find using the on-board scanner. I use the passive scanner so as not to launch probes and alert the ships to my presence, although the silo system could obscure the visibility of probes to my advantage. An anomaly is found that matches the general direction of where d-scan suggests the two ships are fighting and I warp to the location. I check d-scan again and am interested to see a Catalyst destroyer now appear, particularly one named Scavenger. Fin is still nearby and has been cloaked and monitoring my communications about the ships here. Although we were considering what it would take to engage the Drake and Proteus it seemed unlikely we would win if the Vulture were to turn up to provide assistance, but now we have the prospect of assaulting a salvager ship.

I bookmark a wreck in the finished combat site and warp out and back in again to get a better position, and Fin uses my position to do the same. The Catalyst warps in to the site and prepares to salvage the wrecks, which looks promising except for the Proteus and Drake deciding to loiter instead of moving along. We cannot reliably engage the salvager, unarmed as it is likely to be, whilst two combat ships are so close. We sit and watch, holding our cloaks in my Buzzard and Fin's Pilgrim, hoping that the ships leave the Catalyst alone and, to our excitement, they do indeed warp away. Now we need to pick the right moment, one where we can engage the Catalyst as quickly as possible knowing that the Drake and Proteus will probably come to its aid.

I manoeuvre my Buzzard between some wrecks, careful to maintain enough distance for my cloak to hold. Fin warps out and in again, using a different reference point, hoping to gain a better position. We communicate as best we can our positions using points of reference in the site and a determination of 'north' from the system map. A check of d-scan shows the other ships still in the system but now there are some distant Sleeper wrecks, so they are busy shooting Sleeper ships again somewhere else. We have our opportunity, but Fin doesn't think she can catch the salvager. The Catalyst is burning between wrecks at full speed and we are limited by standard speeds when cloaked, and engaging when out of warp disruption range could result in a failed attack if the ship warps away from harm. I, however, am in a good position, the Catalyst heading towards me and within warp disruption and near warp scrambling range. Unfortunately, I am only in a Buzzard.

It's good that I have a warp disruptor, warp scrambler, and rockets fitted to my Buzzard. Knowing that the Catalyst needs to be snared and that Fin's Pilgrim can easily catch up once the salvager is tackled I dare to decloak. Waiting for the recalibration delay before I can lock my target seems to take forever, but I get a lock and activate both the warp disruptor and scrambler, keeping the Catalyst from warping out as well as preventing its use of a micro-warp drive to speed away. My rocket launcher starts to irritate the salvager's shields as Fin decloaks and comes closer to deal some real damage. The destroyer doesn't last long and, to our surprise, we even capture the pod and pop it for kicks. I was close to the Catalyst when I decloaked and only moved closer, engaging my reheat at one point, so end up close enough to the wreck to loot it quickly before clearing the pocket. The Drake and Proteus warp in just as I am leaving, Fin's heavy ship struggling to turn but also getting out safely.

I head straight to our connecting wormhole and leave the system, making the second jump back home. The booty I bring home isn't much, most of the Sleeper loot destroyed in the explosion, but the thrill of the hunt is reward enough. Fin holds in the C2 for a while, curious to see what happens. The pilot of the Proteus starts talking in the local channel, asking Fin 'why don't you come out and play with a gun boat?' Because we'd get killed seems too obvious an answer. 'I guess you like an easy target', the modern-day Sherlock continues. I can see how goading could work but it seems fairly ineffective. But I also suspect I know what's happening. I ask Fin if there are any probes visible on d-scan and she replies that there are. I am concerned that they are looking for our connecting wormhole to camp and catch anyone trying to leave. As entertaining as this chap's talk may be, listening to it is only giving them time to find us. I encourage Fin to return home and she moves to the wormhole.

Sensibly dropping short of the wormhole out of the system, Fin sees a clear connection waiting for her. As she approaches slowly, whilst cloaked, she points out that she is more concerned about what could be waiting on the other side. I can help! I am back at our tower and can easily jump in to the C4 in my Buzzard and warp to the wormhole at range, which is what I do. I am able to provide eyes for Fin in the other system, and now we know the jump will be safe. Even if there is a cloaked ship waiting it will suffer from recalibration delay before being able to target, allowing Fin plenty of time to cloak to prevent a positive lock. She jumps through and warps away cleanly, both of us returning home. Our home's static wormhole is now reaching the end of its natural lifetime, becoming visibly wobbly, which will probably discourage any further repercussions too. We have had another exciting piratical adventure, ending a rather drab day with an adrenalin shot.

  1. 3 Responses to “Catching a Catalyst”

  2. I think perhaps my favourite taunt of the evening was, "Come on Fin, man up and come fight," as if that was going to achieve some level of response. This girl likes the easy targets, just like everyone else. In point of fact, people like the easy targets. The difficult ones are rewarding, but almost anyone who shoots at other ships will take the easy targets.

    By Kename Fin on Jun 7, 2010

  3. We don't shoot the Sleepers that trigger the next wave as our first target in order to provide the most meaningful challenge, instead we prioritise targets and deal with them as required. I don't see why PvP engagements should be any different.

    By pjharvey on Jun 7, 2010

  4. No, no, no - we're missing the point. We're here to help boost people's killboards, doncha know? @.@

    By Kename Fin on Jun 7, 2010

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