Catching a cov-ops off-guard

15th November 2012 – 5.27 pm

All is quiet on the w-space front. Will the one unexpected signature lead anywhere? Yes, it resolves to a second wormhole, a K162 from class 5 w-space, but let me check through our static connection first. I should be prudent in finding an exit and route back to w-space should I end up caught being stupid, which is quite likely. Jumping to C3a sees two towers and a Helios covert operations boat on my directional scanner, and as opening the system map shows there to be nowhere to hide I suppose I may as well launch probes and get scanning.

My last visit to this system was four months ago, when there was only a single tower on-line. The old tower remains, and it is the second tower nearby that holds the unpiloted Helios. An empty ship means no one is watching, so I sift through the lone anomaly and five signatures, resolving rocks, a wormhole, more rocks, and a new contact in a Buzzard cov-ops, which warps before I can clear my probes out of the system. I hope he wasn't paying much attention. And whatever he was doing, he's back pretty soon. Maybe he was checking the state of the static connection, and finding it gone, as the Buzzard warps out again and this time launches probes before returning to the tower.

If the Buzzard is scanning then he's probably not watching d-scan, and I've only got one more signature to resolve. I bring my probes back to find a second wormhole. The first is the static connection to low-sec empire space, and the second is a K162 also from low-sec that doesn't give me many options. I loiter by the tower and see what the Buzzard wants to do before making my own mind up. I consider planting an interceptor on our wormhole, as it has been a while since I've wasted time doing that, but I don't know yet if this is a scout who looks at wormholes from afar or jumps through them, so abandon that idea. And although waiting to see which way the Buzzard warps could be beneficial, both wormholes are almost in a line from the tower, and I doubt I could distinguish which way the Buzzard warps.

I'll just check low-sec for opportunity. It's not like I'll catch a cov-ops anyway. Exiting through C3a's static connection puts me in a Gallente faction warfare system, which makes me feel about as dirty as it's possible to be in one system without it also being in Aridia. But I scan anyway. One extra signature is just some damned drones—so typically Gallente—so I jump back to C3a, warp across to the K162, and almost puke when I exit to another Gallente faction warfare system. It's in the Black Rise region instead of Placid, but I don't see how that makes it better. Resolving a wormhole from the four extra signatures is an improvement, but the K162 from class 1 w-space is reaching the end of its life, and I only peek through to see a tower lacking ships on d-scan before returning to low-sec.

All remains quiet. Let's see what the Buzzard is up to in C3a. Nothing. Or, rather, it's not in C3a any more. At least I can explore C5a, beyond our home system, now that I have a route back, however stinky, for a possible future clone. I jump home to see no Buzzard and no probes, and press on to C5a to see nothing on d-scan but some probes, so hold on the wormhole to see what comes my way. It's the Buzzard from C3a. I didn't expect that. I suppose I was in low-sec longer than I thought, head spinning in confusion and disorientation. And as the Buzzard jumps right past me back home I imply that there are no more K162s to be found in this direction, so I give the cov-ops a minute to get home and follow behind.

I get back to C3a hoping to see the Buzzard pilot get busy only to see him gone again. Maybe he's gone to low-sec. I hold at the tower and wait, seeing a new contact appear in a shuttle after a short while. She doesn't do anything, though, so I continue to wait for the Buzzard to return. And here he is. Now I'll see some excitement. Huh, maybe I need to adjustment my levels of sarcasm, as I may actually see some excitement, with the Buzzard swapped for a Talos battlecruiser, which then... ejects a Cheetah? Oh, I see. The shuttle pilot swaps to the new cov-ops, and the pair of ships align and warp to presumably the static wormhole. I align my ship and follow, interested to see what they'll get up to.

It looked like both ships were warping, but my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser leaves the Talos behind in the tower. At least I guessed that the Cheetah's destination was the static wormhole, where it now sits stationary. Maybe the Talos is still expected to come, maybe for some low-sec exploration, so I hold for a minute. But nothing happens. Maybe I can shoot the Cheetah and catch it off-guard, but even with the slightest attention being paid it can jump to low-sec to escape. Maybe maybe maybe. Just do it!

I line up the Cheetah and approach under cloak. When I am close enough to jump through the wormhole myself I drop the cloak and burn towards the cov-ops. I doubt I could bump her away from the wormhole but I'm going to try. I also may not actually startle her just yet, because if she's expecting the Talos to join her my appearance on the overview won't be suspicious. Not until I target her, anyway, which I do once the recalibration delay wears off. And if that doesn't get her attention my autocannons will. The first volley destroys the Cheetah's shields and a chunk of armour, the second the rest of the armour and some hull. The third has my target explode.

That was quick and brutal, as is catching the pod and corpsifying it. I scoop, loot, and shoot, and this time there is actually some loot beyond expanded cargoholds. A Sisters probe launcher is nice, as are some artefacts from exploration sites, but sadly the X-large Ancillary Shield Booster blueprint doesn't survive the explosion. Neither does the Talos, who has disappeared from d-scan and not come my way. That's okay, I have my new buddy in corpse form, so I take her back with the loot to our tower, add her to the tea party table, and go for a proper look in the C5. Don't worry, corpse lady, I'll do introductions later. There's not much to see in C5a anyway, just an empty tower, and as I assume there are no more wormholes I don't even scan. I just go home and sit down for a cucumber sammich.

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