Bait and baiter

21st February 2013 – 5.06 pm

The Noctis has been destroyed, the Legion has gone. I can slow down and explore our neighbouring class 3 w-space system properly. The two ships weren't local, as neither the salvager or strategic cruiser retreated to the tower visible on my directional scanner, so there is probably a second wormhole to find as well as the static exit to low-sec empire space. I have a bunch of signatures to wade through too, as there are plenty of gas and rock sites that the pair were clearing Sleepers from. Actually, scanning can wait. A Venture has appeared in the system.

The mining frigate is new, and has the same kind of name as the now-destroyed Noctis. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that the Venture is piloted by the salvager, and is salvaging the remaining Sleeper wrecks. It's a curious circumstance, returning to the system where you've just lost a ship, but I think I know what's happening. The Venture has increased warp core strength, which I'm supposing the pilot is trusting to let him get away from me. And as they know I'm around, this could also be bait. Lure me in to engage the Venture, have the frigate evade me, and counter-ambush me with the Legion. Well, I can't disappoint them.

Scanning for the salvaging Venture frigate

My combat scanning probes are launched and have been monitoring the system. The pilots clearly know I'm here and are probably expecting me to attack a second time, so I don't proceed with any subtlety. I chase the Venture with my probes openly, going for a direct scan without any initial use of d-scan. I miss the Venture at one site, as he moves on before I get a solid scan, but partially resolving a wormhole gives me a better idea. I can find their K162 connection and catch the ship as it returns. I may not be able to catch up with the frigate, but maybe I don't have to.

I resolve the wormhole my probes have accidentally clustered around and warp to it, and rethink my plan when it turns out to be the C3's static exit to low-sec. I doubt the ships have come through this connection, and trying to pluck their K162 from the mess of other signatures—in a system 105 AU across, mind you—could prove tricky in the short time I have. I return to concentrating on the Venture itself. This time I find it. A couple of scans resolves the frigate's location, and I throw my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser in to warp immediately.

I normally aim to drop a little short of my target, to give me a chance to assess the situation and hold my cloak if I find something unexpected. This time, because the Venture is fast and agile, I warp directly to the ship. I need to get close and stay close, particularly as I have a warp scrambler fitted with its limited range. Oh, and that's right, it's a Shadow Serpentis scrambler too, with three points of warp disruption, enough to counter the Venture's extra two points of warp core strength. This will be my first surprise.

Finding the salvaging Venture

There's the Venture. He's got almost ten kilometres away from my scanned position during the time I've been in warp, which isn't unexpected, and, more importantly, not quite out of range. I shed my cloak and get my sensor booster running as my engines spool down, letting me lock on to the frigate as soon as possible. It looks like he's making a break for it, so I flick on my micro warp drive as my targeting computer gets to work, and burn towards the Venture. Pop! It's gone. The frigate was more fragile than I expected, as it seems to have been obliterated in one volley. I didn't even get to shout 'surprise!' Not only that, but my autocannons hit the Venture so hard that it hasn't left a wreck.

Aiming for the pod of the destroyed Venture

I'm almost too startled to aim for the pod. Almost, but not quite. But, like with the Noctis before, the pod evades me and warps clear. Never mind, I still have the wre—well, not even a wreck, but the loot the Venture was collecting has been safely jettisoned in a canister, which I can nab. And I'm okay taking my time about looting, even as the Legion seen earlier appears on d-scan. I don't care to cloak, or warp clear, and instead pretend to be blissfully unaware of the strategic cruiser returned to the system, right up until it drops out of warp almost on top of me.

Hello, Legion, I've been expecting you

Trading blows with the Legion

The Legion locks on to my Loki, disrupts my warp engines, and starts pricking at my shields with its lasers. The pod of the destroyed Venture even warps back to the site, albeit a safe hundred kilometres away, presumably to gloat over my imminent destruction. The combat Legion has an obvious advantage over my covert Loki after all. The pod doesn't stay long, though, and bounces right back out of the site when he sees my second surprise. Another ship decloaks, approaches our little scrap, and engages the first Legion with me. It's my glorious leader!

Legion, meet my glorious leader, in her own Legion

I saw the Legion in the system earlier and wondered if he'd be protecting the Noctis, so got Fin to join me in one of our ship killers in the hopes that the Legion would protect the salvager. We weren't able to bait the Legion during the Noctis kill, but in trying to lure me in to my own destruction they've successfully managed to bait themselves. Now Fin's energy neutralisers are sucking the Legion's capacitor juice, and my autocannons are pounding away at the strategic cruiser's armour.

Thanks to fighting the Navy Issue Megathron battleship the other day I know that I can hold a relatively tight orbit with my micro warp drive active, which mitigates most damage without draining my capacitor too heavily. That the Legion has a warp disruptor fitted and not a scrambler lets me run my micro warp drive. This bit of speed and the occasional pulse of my ancillary shield booster keeps my Loki quite healthy, thank you, right up to the point where the Legion is no longer shooting me. I first think that he's switched targets to Fin, but realise that his capacitor must instead be empty and he's got no juice to fire his lasers. That's unfortunate.

Legion explodes under combined fire

With no incoming fire I can deactivate my micro warp drive and save some energy, slowing down to a lazy, mocking orbit as my autocannons rake through the Legion's armour, no longer being actively repaired. The fight is over. The only uncertainty now is whether I'll catch the pod. The Legion's armour depletes, the hull takes a short pounding, and the strategic cruiser explodes. The pod escapes. I almost don't mind this time. Not catching the pod from the Noctis got us the Venture kill, and ultimately snagged us the Legion, our prize kill of the evening. Still, I doubt the pilots will return with more ships, but their spirit in devising an ambush and coming back for revenge almost deserves them getting their pods out safely. Good on them.

  1. 2 Responses to “Bait and baiter”

  2. I am either seeing a lot more or noticing a lot more bait attempts in wormholes, probably the latter. The residents who remain are brazen and very willing to flaunt their, "Just Try and Kill Me" attitudes.

    The real question will be whether I have learned anything or keep falling for, "Oooh, this is obvious bait" and still go in both neuts blazing.

    By Kename Fin on Feb 21, 2013

  3. It seems like a natural consequence of acclimatising to w-space.

    With proper scouting, we should be able to better recognise bait. That's not to say we won't fall for it, just that we can say 'I told you so' afterwards.

    By pjharvey on Feb 24, 2013

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