Look at all of these anomalies. It looks like we are due a passing fleet any day now. Until then, I'll be my own passing fleet of one, scanning my way out of the home w-space system and in to our neighbouring class 3 system. There's not much to see in this C3, with two warp bubbles on my directional scanner and only an off-line tower to discover floating around the planet out of d-scan range. It's my fifth visit to this system, each time it being unoccupied, making me unsurprised to learn from my notes that it holds a static exit to null-sec k-space. I suppose having a regular connection to null-sec isn't good for your survival, but having the occasional connection available could be good for my security status.
Ten anomalies and eleven signatures should be quick enough to sift through, but a K162 sticking out like a sore thumb makes me recall my probes and go exploring backwards through wormholes. It being the first signature I resolve will make picking up scanning where I left off a simple matter, should I hit a boring dead end and come back this way. I jump in to the class 4 system to see core probes on d-scan and I cloak and hold position to see what comes my way. But an adjustment of d-scan shows the probes to be quite distant, so I ignore them and warp away to explore. There are lots of warp bubbles scattered around the system but no occupation to account for them. Assuming there is another K162 to be found I launch my own probes and start scanning. Once again, I pluck a wormhole on a first attempt out of twelve signatures, and recall my probes to continue my rapid exploration.
Another warp bubble greets me on the other side of the wormhole, and I don't need d-scan to show me this one. The bubble has been planted on top of the connection, making it fresh. Well, either fresh or an amazing coincidence. The warp bubble doesn't concern me, partly because there is no one obviously monitoring it, and partly because my Tengu strategic cruiser has the interdiction nullification subsystem and can warp through bubbles as if they aren't there. I cloak and move away from the wormhole, checking d-scan to see four big ships and a tower. Another repeat visit, I was last in this system about sixteen months ago and have no notes about occupation. I need to start from scratch.
Locating the tower is straightforward enough, made easier by only one planet being in range of the wormhole, where I find a Thanatos carrier, Orca industrial command ship, and Chimera carrier all floating empty near a piloted Rorqual capital industrial ship. The piloted Rorqual is interesting and makes me wonder what may be elsewhere in the system, an Occator transport ship warping in to the tower and back out again making me more than curious. I follow the Occator as best I can, warping my Tengu to a planet along the transport's general vector, where d-scan shows me the beautiful sight of two Hulk exhumers and two flights of mining drones sitting in space. The hunt is on.
The hunt stalls. I have nowhere safe where I can launch scanning probes, which I'll need in order to find the Hulks in their gravimetric site. The Hulks are in range of all but one planet, and the one planet that is out of range holds their tower, where the Rorqual pilot sits and the Occator is pinging back-and-forth. I'll have to take a chance with launching probes quickly and hoping no one notices, and my best chance is out of range of the Hulks, even if it is in range of the tower. I would imagine the Hulks are more concerned with their safety than the Rorqual, and with any luck the locals have placed far too much trust in the bubble 'protecting' their wormhole.
I warp away from the miners and launch my combat scanning probes, flinging them out of the system and reactivating my cloak as soon as possible. I return to get close to the Hulks, monitoring them indirectly with d-scan and happy to see the mining drones not being recalled. That's a fair sign that the launch of my probes has gone unnoticed. Now I need to scan their position. I have a fair idea of where the Hulks are after watching the Occator warp out, presumably to haul back some ore, and I start narrowing down their position using d-scan, stepping-down the angle of the scanning beam and using a probe's box as a datum point for each refined search. Once I get the Hulks' position within a five degree d-scan beam I adjust the range gate to gauge how distant they are. And with both bearing and range estimated I position all of my probes around where I think the Hulks are. It's time to scan.
My probes are called in from far out of the system, guided to the boxes I've carefully positioned, and set scanning. The results are good, as I get a 100% hit on the Hulks, their drones, and the gravimetric site. It's essentially a perfect scan. I recall my probes and warp directly to the Hulks, not waiting to see if they react, if they've seen my probes on d-scan. Even if I have been spotted, Hulks are slow to react and I still may have a chance of catching one if they decide to recall their drones and warp out. I haven't been spotted, which is good but gives me a new dilemma. I have two Hulks in my sights and only one point of warp disruption in single module.
One module can't simultaneously prevent two ships from warping, as it can only be active on one at time. I have, however, mused on this before, in the quiet times in space, and I think I can hold these two ships with a single point, thanks to also having a web module fitted. As a ship needs to reach three-quarters speed to enter warp and a web module reduces a target's speed, my theory is that, against sluggish targets, I can cycle the web and point across each target, slowing them down enough so that they never get a chance to reach warp speed. But I'll need to be careful. To prevent web modules acting as inadvertent warp disruptors, a web reduces a ship's speed by reducing its maximum speed, so that it still has facility to reach its three-quarters speed needed for warp. It is in this way that it is possible to slingshot ships in to warp more quickly, by webbing them at the right moment, such that a ship's current speed instantly becomes greater than its maximum speed. And it is this effect I must avoid.
My theoretical holding of two targets with one point is as follows. I point and web the first target. I deactivate the web, and then the point, and then point the second target, followed by webbing the second target. The first target is sufficiently slowed that it needs to accelerate up to warp speed before escaping, and whilst the first target accelerates I am preventing the second from warping and simultaneously slowing it. I remove the web then the point from the second target and return them both to the first target, the second now slowed and needing to accelerate to warp speed, as the first is brought back down to a crawl. I repeat this tactic for as long as necessary. At least, that's the theory. I must get the activation and deactivation order correct, or the web will slingshot a Hulk in to warp, and I can't dally with the changeover, or even a sluggish Hulk will accelerate to three-quarters speed. And I have little time to consider this further, as I have both Hulks in front of me. I need to put theory in to practice.
Pointing and webbing the first Hulk is pretty easy, and I start shooting missiles in to its shields. I am not entirely convinced my theory will work but I remove the web and then the point and transfer them to the second Hulk, as I still shoot the first. If my theory goes wrong now at least I should still have the second Hulk as a target. But the first stays as I cycle the two modules back to it. A couple more cycles of switching back-and-forth and the first Hulk explodes. I ignore the pod and concentrate on keeping the second ship in my sights, this time keeping the point and web on it as I shoot. I make a slight error in trying to snare the Occator too, forgetting that the transport ship has increased warp strength and is essentially immune to my warp disruptor, but luckily I don't lose the second Hulk during that lost cycle. The exhumer soon explodes as did the first. This time I try to catch the ejected pod, but the pilot has had plenty of time to get used to the idea of losing his ship, and he warps away cleanly.
That was beautiful. Using the point and web gave the Hulks no chance of escape, as neither ship was physically able to accelerate fast enough to enter warp. They were both pinned in the gravimetric site and at my complete lack of mercy. Of course, a second point instead of the web would have been just as effective, and less hassle, but the web is a useful module to couple with the point in different situations, and the utility of having both fitted outweighs the rare occasion when I encounter two feasible targets. I am really happy to see my theory work in practice, even if I realise that it will only really work with ships that are slow to accelerate.
Now I need to tidy up. I shoot both Hulk wrecks and cloak, not even bothering to see what they have dropped, as mining gear and ore tends to be voluminous in a way my Tengu's cargo hold isn't. Only after I cloak do I realise there are still two jet-cans floating nearby, no doubt holding even more mined ore. With d-scan clear of all but one of the Hulks' pods—and I don't bother trying to find or chase him, knowing he can easily warp away before my Tengu finishes dropping out of warp—I decloak and pop both cans, destroying what was inside, if only to be brutally efficient in my assault. Cloaking again, I wait for the reaction to my destructive attack. And here it comes. The Chimera warps in to the gravimetric site, soon followed by the Thanatos and a Dominix battleship. An overreaction is a wonderful sight indeed.
There is not much two carriers and a battleship can do against a cloaked ship, any more than my covert Tengu can do against two carriers and a battleship. I sit quietly and I watch. It looks like the big ships are there mostly to look big, as a Viator warps in and collects the drones left behind, which is all that remains of the mining operation. Once done, the ships warp out until none remain, and the pilots start going off-line. I leave the system behind me, heading back the way I came through the ineffective warp bubble on the wormhole, and reflect on what a thoroughly satisfying start I've had to this evening.