Maybe an ambush, maybe not

14th February 2013 – 5.44 pm

Sleepers are breeding, bringing anomalies back to the home system. Maybe we can cull some of them before more dastardly blues come along to steal our ISK. Not today, though. I'm exploring and roaming again, heading through our static wormhole to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where my directional scanner is clear. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, as my notes direct me to a tower in the same place from six months ago. Thirty-two anomalies is a lot, twelve signatures isn't, and the two ships my combat probes reveal are interesting.

The ships aren't at the local tower, and warping to the other side of the system finds a couple of Nighthawks sitting in empty space. Well, I've not quite found them yet, and as the command ships are built like bricks I'm not sure if I should hunt them. My glorious leader is, as always, more confident, and is preparing a ship with more firepower back at our tower, so I start sweeping d-scan using smaller angular adjustments looking for the Nighthawks. I'm still confused, though. There are no Sleeper wrecks, or jet-cans, so I don't know what the Nighthawks are doing. The scanning probes on d-scan surely aren't theirs.

I get the command ships in a tight d-scan beam, some 3·7 AU from me, in time to see one Nighthawk disappear. As I am positioning my probes, and so don't have them in the blanket configuration, I can't tell if he's elsewhere in the system or not, but as one ship remains I press on. Then again, as I get my probes in position and Fin's not ready yet I warp to the local tower to see if the Nighthawk has returned here. Nope. There's no sign of the second ship anywhere in C3a. And now here's Fin.

I don't think this is an ambush. At least, not one for us. We've been pretty covert so far. There have been some probes flying around, so maybe the ambush is for another scout. If that's the case, not only would we be silly to fly in to it but the Nighthawks weren't exactly being subtle about it. Even so, given the choice between my scouting the site or warping the both of us in hot, Fin chooses hot. I warp back to our K162, we both align to the far planet, and I call my probes in to scan. Nothing. Well, no ships. And the Nighthawks weren't in a site, but on a wormhole.

Scanning where the Nighthawks were finds a wormhole

Okay, Fin holds whilst I reconnoitre the wormhole. It's a K162 from class 4 w-space, definitely without any obvious Nighthawks sitting on it. The wormhole is neither stressed nor aged, which just makes the command ships' loitering even more curious. Maybe I should take a look. 'Sure', says Fin. 'Maybe they will jump you.' We can only hope. I approach the wormhole and jump. The other side looks clear. D-scan shows me one of the two Nighthawks, along with two Drake battlecruisers and a tower. It all looks rather benign.

Fin warps to the C3-side of the wormhole, in case I need support. I'm not sure. I see a Helios covert operations boat jump past me from C4a to C3a, which we let go, but finding the tower shows the Helios pilot not to be local. I have no idea what's going on. Were the Nighthawks really scanning in C3a? If not, whose probes were they? And if there is another scout, were the Nighthawks waiting for a cov-ops? There's no way they could catch one. It's all a bit odd.

As I float outside the tower, the Nighthawk gets swapped for a Buzzard cov-ops, which warps away, and not to their static connection. That's curious too. And as the Drake brothers probably aren't paying attention I launch probes to scan, resolving a wormhole in the direction the Buzzard disappeared. It's another K162 from class 4 w-space. Maybe the Helios came from the direction. Either way, nothing is happening here, but a scout or two is now in C3a, and maybe about to find our own w-space system. Perhaps we can set up a better cov-ops ambush than the Nighthawks.

Fin heads home and swaps to a Flycatcher interdictor, as Aii comes on-line and acts as eyes on our K162. I get myself home too, to help Fin in the ambush, and this time remember I have more ships than my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, swapping it for an interceptor. Now we wait. And wait a bit longer. Aii lets us know that the 'probes are gone' in C3a, but no ships come our way. Sometimes I would like w-space explorers to be a bit more daring. Whatever, we can't sit here forever, so stand down the ambush and return to our scouting ships.

Aii goes to C4a, and I launch probes in C3a and scan more thoroughly this time, sitting on the C4 K162 as I do. My position lets me see a Helios—the Helios?—appear on the wormhole and jump, followed a few minutes later by an orange Loki. Maybe the Nighthawks were waiting for him. But they'd still have little chance of catching the cloaky strategic cruiser, so maybe not. I watch this as I scan, carelessly not being close enough to the wormhole to easily pursue the Loki, and resolve a couple more connections. The static exit to low-sec is normal, and the K162 from class 3 w-space at the end of its life uninteresting.

Activity seems to have died down. There are no probes in C3a any more, and as far as I can tell all the ships have headed back through the wormhole to C4a. Aii reports not much happening there, and even when I jump through the K162 I don't get ambushed by a waiting ship. Even a poke through the wormhole to C4b holds little interest, with a tower on d-scan but no ships. I don't think it's worth looking any further for other pilots, what with them all now being in cloaky ships. I wait for my polarisation to end, and head back home through C4a and C3a. The evening started with some potential, but turned in to a damp squib.

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