Chasing cov-ops

10th June 2013 – 5.38 pm

A pair of bookmarks bookending our static wormhole wait for me, but they are a day stale. What's new? Just the replacement wormhole, so scanning says. I could take this opportunity of a bit of quiet time to deal with correspondence, but there may be other pilots to shoot nearby. 'There's always people to pew', says Elroy Skimms, trying to agree with me but, really, just jinxing my evening. And so I jump to a neighbouring class 3 w-space system that's occupied but inactive. Thanks, Skimms.

I warp out, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system. Three anomalies and six signatures isn't much, and I identify gas, gas, rocks, Fin, a weak-arse wormhole, more gas, and a chubby wormhole. The wormholes could be a static exit to null-sec and a K162, or an exit to low-sec and a random outbound connection. I'm leaning towards the former as being more likely, so head to the chubby wormhole first, hoping to and indeed landing next to a K162. This one comes from class 5 w-space.

Hullo, a final check of my directional scanner shows that there are core probes in C3a now. Has a scout entered from the null-sec exit, or this C5 K162? Well, obviously the K162, but not because the directional properties of opening wormholes. The null-sec connection could have been opened earlier, letting people come through its K162 too. I am sure the scout has come through from C5a because my blanket scan picked up six signatures, and, along with our own K162, I ended up identifying seven. This wormhole is new.

Just to show my reasoning is awesome, a Buzzard appears well over a hundred kilometres from the K162 I'm sitting on and warps away. Quite why he decloaks to warp, and stays visible, I can't say. Maybe the pilot is still in training to fit the covert operations cloak that can be fitted to his covert operations boat. It makes him easier to catch, though. Not by much, admittedly, and I still need to get close to him, but still easier.

The Buzzard didn't head to our K162, which is a shame for Fin in her Flycatcher interdictor waiting on the other side, and by the time I reach the K346 exit to null-sec in C3a I can't tell if the cov-ops has cloaked or jumped. I get a better idea of what the pilot did when the wormhole flares a minute later, bringing the Buzzard back to w-space and warping off a moment later. He's still not going to our K162, which makes me think he hasn't scanned it, somehow resolving the much weaker null-sec connection only. But back to the C5 K162 we both go.

Buzzard jumps back from null-sec to class 3 w-space

I drop out of warp to see the Buzzard stationary near the wormhole, for long enough for me to get close and consider either engaging or waiting to see if different ships will be brought in to the system. I suppose not, if he saw my combat scanning probes, but before I can call Fin in to drop on top of the cov-ops the Buzzard jumps to C5a. I don't follow. The cov-ops will be agile enough to evade me, and there is still a chance a better target will come our way. I pause for a couple of minutes, to make the sure the Buzzard is clear of the wormhole, and then, well, still do nothing, as the K162 flares once, then twice.

Buzzard returns, and with a friend in a Helios

The Buzzard is back, and he's brought a friend in a Helios cov-ops with him. Both ships warp away, I think both towards the null-sec wormhole, and I am again too slow to see either of them leave the system. This time, though, I get Fin in to the system and sitting on the K346, in case the ships return. The plan is made more awkward when we realise neither ship actually left. The Helios is seen on d-scan in C3a, and when I finally check C5a for activity I see the Buzzard is somewhere in that system. At least we know that now.

There is still movement to be considered. Fin's not doing much good on the null-sec wormhole, but planting her Flycatcher on the C5 K162 could be useful. As she does, I look for the Buzzard. He disappears, so I launch probes and scan for another K162. I find a couple, the K162 from more class 5 w-space almost being inevitable, but its dying state not really making me believe the Buzzard came from that way. The second is a K162 from null-sec, which doesn't look any better, but given the pilot's interest in the other null-sec system it seems more likely. A third wormhole, a C140 exit to low-sec, is just an annoying complication.

Checking the null-sec K162 in C5a lands me in a system in the Stain region, with no sign of the Buzzard, Helios, or any other pilots. And core probes are visible in C3a again, Fin spying a Buzzard on d-scan briefly, named differently from the previous cov-ops. We have new contacts, and from a source unknown. When some combat probes also appear we think it best Fin heads home, which she does for long enough to swap to a cloaky ship. But, as it turns out, adding more invisible ships to a system doesn't really help with hunting. All the probes disappear without any ships replacing them, leaving us staring at empty d-scan results. There may be a handful of ships in the system, but none are wanting to be found. I don't think we can do anything else here.

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