Ripping open a Reaper

20th March 2013 – 5.27 pm

Haii Aii, are you still in empire space? 'Nope. I've mined 6k units of arkonor from a gravimetric site in the home system.' That's pretty impressive. 'And sucked up half of the oldest gas.' The man's a machine. As Aii does what Aii does best, I does what I does best. Do best. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the home w-space system, confirming just the single new signature, which will be our static wormhole, keeping Aii safe for the time being. But he's just finished his industrious activity anyway, so after resolving the signature I warp to it and jump to our neighbouring class 3 system to explore.

A tower appears on my directional scanner in C3a, along with a Nidhoggur carrier, Orca industrial command ship, and Occator transport ship. At most, I'm expecting only the latter of the ships to be piloted, and even then they could all be empty. Locating the tower is done manually, as my last visit, from ten months ago, had no tower in the system, perhaps explained by the static wormhole exiting to null-sec. And once located, I see that the Occator is indeed piloted. Rather than see what the two planets out of d-scan range potentially hold, I sit and watch the transport for a little while, in case he moves.

The capsuleer in the Occator has either wandered away from the cockpit, has dozed off, or is drunk. Or maybe all three. Either way, he's not moving, so I take my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser on a tour of the system, seeing nothing else of interest, and taking the opportunity to launch combat scanning probes. A blanket scan of C3a reveals thirteen anomalies and four signatures, which isn't much to sort through, and I resolve gas, a wormhole with a Buzzard covert operations boat on it—oops—and a second wormhole. The wormhole that isn't the static connection may have been neat had my probes not been visible when the Buzzard appeared in the system.

Resolving a wormhole under a Buzzard

The Buzzard looks to be active, as a core probe appears on d-scan. Do I return home to plant an interceptor in wait for the cov-ops? Sure, why not. I put my Malediction on the home side of our wormhole, ready to ambush the Buzzard if he comes my way, with Aii watching the other side of the wormhole for warning. 'Proteus on d-scan.' Well, damn, I'm sure my probes told me the scout was a Buzzard and not a brick of a strategic cruiser. '...in place of the Occator.' Oh, that's much better. Even so, the Buzzard takes his time, then disappears in a direction that doesn't bring him my way. Once again, I've waited for nothing.

I get back in my Loki and return to C3a, where a couple of new contacts are at the tower, but somewhat inconsequentially. A couple of ship changes makes Aii think we're watching a fashion show, and before too long one of the ships, a Cheetah cov-ops, takes a stroll down the catwalk. The ship warps out of the tower in the direction of our K162. Damn, maybe I should have stayed in my interceptor just a couple of minutes longer. Well, never mind, he can have a poke around our system. If we leave him alone for now he may come back and do something bigger, or at least do something in a ship we have a chance of catching.

Cheetah warps to our K162 and jumps to the home system

Whilst the Cheetah is gone, a Reaper appears on d-scan. The frigate is new and not at the tower. D-scan points me towards the fourth planet in the system, which seems an odd place for the rookie ship to be. But heading that way shows that he is indeed there, just not for long. I watch him warp away to another planet, and following sees the same behaviour again. The third planet he warps to has a jet-can some distance away, which the Reaper visits before warping to another planet. Maybe the canister has some significance, and rather than trying to keep up with the agile frigate I can wait here and see if it returns.

Reaper newbie frigate near an arbitrary canister in w-space

I don't have a long wait, as the Reaper drops back on-grid within a minute, but curiously not near the canister. That's rectified in a few more seconds, as the frigate warps towards the jet-can, towards me. I drop my cloak as the Reaper irrevocably warps my way, and activate my sensor booster to help catching him. It works, as the pilot can't get his ship back in to warp before I gain a positive lock and disrupt his warp engine. My autocannons spew projectile ammunition towards the Reaper which, good for him, shoots back. But it's a fait accompli, and the Reaper explodes without much encouragement. It's not much of a kill—almost nothing, in fact—but it was definitely a ship I could catch. It'll do.

Wreck and corpse of the Reaper

I catch the Reaper's ejected pod too, and turn that in to a fresh corpse for my collection. After I scoop, loot, and shoot, I poke my nose in to the jet-can to see what's there, and am bemused by the single unit of tritanium ore I find. That will be the desultory gift given to all pilots of rookie ships, like a lump of coal at Christmas, and it seems that the pilot dumped it purely to give him a beacon to warp to. Quite why he didn't then bookmark the position of the canister is beyond me, but there's more to what he was doing than first appearances.

The cov-ops from our home system returns to C3a, and says he likes our system. He says this almost to no one in particular, but then warns Aii that he has other hostile pilots in the system. The Reaper maybe is one of them, and even though he didn't seem particularly threatening there is probably more going on that we realise. What was a rookie ship doing bouncing around the planets anyway, and why is a second apparently doing the same? From their actions and the comment of the local pilot, perhaps the rookie ships are piloted by disposable capsuleers, setting up tactical perches that will be of use to the veteran pilots that don't care to show their ships at the moment.

As if to confirm my suspicion, the pilot of the Reaper returns within half-an-hour, in another Reaper, and resumes where he left off. Seeing this, I wouldn't be surprised if the pilot intentionally let his pod be caught, to give him a quicker jump to a station. I consider bouncing around after him again, but with no jet-can as a focus I won't be able to predict where he's going. And as the locals are aware of the hostiles, and of at least one of us, they are not going to be careless with their own actions. Happy with my minor adventure, and knowing we're not going to get anything more, I head home to go off-line.

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