I'm on-line a little earlier today, hoping this time to catch someone actually awake. Aii has sucked up the home system gas nice and efficiently, leaving a data site and our static wormhole as the only two signatures present. I resolve the new connection and jump through to see what's in store for me next door. Not much, it seems, with only an off-line tower visible on my directional scanner, but there is more to see of our neighbouring class 3 w-space system outside of d-scan range. I warp away from the K162 to explore.
A bare tower sits empty of ships and pilots elsewhere in C3a, leaving me to wade through the twenty-one anomalies and ten signatures. Actually, that tower is really rather bare indeed. It has no defences, not even any hardeners, and is a small tower. I'm tempted to take a punt at its shields, to see just how weak it is, but I scan first just in case there are K162s that could potentially bring ships in to interrupt my fun. And it's good that I do scan, as the dying static exit to low-sec is joined by two more wormholes.
The K162 from null-sec could be problematic for staying safe whilst sitting in an obvious position shooting a tower, but the K162 from class 2 w-space looks more like an opportunity than a threat. I stick with w-space and poke through to C2a, where opportunity greets me with open arms. At least, it does according to d-scan, which shows me seven Retriever mining barges, as well as a couple of towers. But all seven can't be floating inactive, right?
The J-number of this class 2 system looks awfully familiar too, and so it should. I was only here yesterday. I still have the bookmarks I made, and although the connections will have died by now I know exactly where the towers are, as well as the ore sites. Sadly, pointing d-scan at the sites sees no mining barges, in much the same way that pointing it towards one of the towers finds them all. Even so, I warp in that direction, as I don't remember these ships being parked yesterday, and see that all of the ships are piloted. Piloted and stationary.
Actually, one of the mining barges starts moving. It's only to a hangar, where the ship is swapped for an Orca industrial command ship, which seems to be some beautiful misdirection. As I wonder what the Orca will do my overview shows changes in ship velocities. Five of the six Retrievers accelerate and enter warp, all heading in the same direction, mere moments after my arrival. If I think that's a beautiful sight, I may not be prepared for what comes next. Warping to the rock field behind the Retrievers sees all five huddled around the same arkonor rock, promptly joined by the sixth. I think I'm tearing up.
Now I face a dilemma I've not had for months, maybe years. Do I pounce now and almost certainly get one ship kill, and maybe the pod, or do I head home to swap ships and try to get them all? Home is relatively close, just two systems away, but the wormhole to leave this system is in range of the miners. With six pairs of eyes potentially monitoring d-scan my ship may well be spotted as it decloaks to jump, which would end the ambush before it begins. And in the time I am out of the system I lose all intelligence on the operation.
What the hell. Opportunities like this come up so rarely that I would rather miss all six then bag merely one. I bookmark the arkonor rock, turn my Loki strategic cruiser around, and warp home, best speed. I jump to C3a as smoothly as I can, then forget my standard procedure and warp point-to-point. Getting home has me dusting off the Onyx heavy interdictor in our hangar, and I pause briefly to modify its fit. I strip some power cores from the low slots, not entirely sure what they're doing there, and slap on some ballistic control systems. The cloak comes out of a high slot, as does a second warp disruption field generator, in favour of two more launchers. I load up on missiles, and warp back towards C2a.
I enter and cross C3a as quickly as I can, and jump to C2a, holding on the wormhole just to get my bearings. Where are the miners? D-scan puts them in the same rock field, which means that they are most likely still around the same rock. Without further thought I thrust my Onyx in to warp, aiming to drop on top of that rock. Now comes the further thought. I have a niggling sensation that this must be a trap, that I was spotted first entering the system by a scout, but I think that's just paranoia brought on by so rarely seeing a mining operation in w-space these days.
All is still not quite certain yet. My Onyx will be plainly visible on d-scan for the entire time I am in warp, so it is possible the miners will see me and bug out in time. So it is a pleasant sight to drop out of warp with only two of the Retrievers entering warp, the other four milling around and perhaps asking what is an Onyx? I show them, inflating the heavy interdictor's warp bubble as I land, stopping the four remaining Retrievers in their tracks.
A bit of caution is needed. The two escapees may well return in combat ships, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now, my missiles are needed. I lock on to all four Retrievers and start shooting fish in a barrel. Pew pew! One Retriever explodes, ejecting a poor, still-trapped pod in to space. I'll ignore the pod for now, and crack open the other ships. Pew pew! A second Retriever explodes, it's really not taking much time in my Onyx. I'm glad I took a moment to change its fitting for more firepower.
Pew pew! The third Retriever puts up just as little resistance as the first two, and now I see that one of the capsuleers is getting a little cheeky. He's trying to take his pod to the edge of the warp bubble, hoping to escape. We can't have that. He's not too far away at the moment, so it's a simple matter to lock on, web him to a crawl, and shoot the crap out of his pod to get me my first corpse of the day. And as I've started shooting pods I may as well continue.
Pop! Pop! The other two pods are cracked open, exposing two more capsuleers to the harsh vacuum of space. Now for the final Retriever, and after that maybe the, uh, Tornado? It seems I have company, the battlecruiser perhaps trying to prevent me killing the last of the trapped miners. Should I be worried? I align my Onyx to the wormhole just in case, even though the Tornado has my warp drives disrupted, but now some sense kicks in. No, I shouldn't be worried. I'm in a tank of a spaceship, and although I don't have significant firepower I am far from defenceless. The Tornado may have a lot of bang for its size, but not relative to my shields, and I think all I'm seeing here is another target.
The Tornado either has second thoughts, seeing his mighty mighty weapons merely scratching my shields, or decides that there is little point in trying to save a Retriever that's already a wreck. By the time I've cracked open the fourth pod, deactivated the bubble, and loaded the infi-point script for further reach, the battlecruiser has warped clear. That's a shame. But it does let me prance around happily in my lovely Onyx collecting corpses and shooting wrecks. I care not for the mining modules and ore inside, just the dead bodies.
Four wrecked Retrievers and four capsuleer corpses. Oh yeah, the decision to get the Onyx paid off this time. Totting up the kills puts the cost to the miners at a little under half-a-billion ISK, which is much more than my little Loki could have done to this operation. And I did it all myself. It's been so long since I've wreaked such mayhem that I feel young again. Look at me, I'm tingling!