Chasing a cheap pod

11th August 2013 – 3.17 pm

New signatures in the home system give me a second wormhole plus a couple of sites. The K162 from class 4 w-space could be interesting, so I head backwards to start the evening, jumping in to the system to see a Cheetah covert operations boat on my directional scanner. Still on d-scan, still on d-scan, and gone. Why no cloak, Mr Cheetah? I shall explore to see if I can uncover a clue. Or not. Opening the system map sees that all is in range of d-scan, so there isn't anywhere to explore. Instead, I shall scan.

A blanket scan of C4a reveals a whopping thirty-five anomalies, which is about right for an unoccupied system, but only twelve signatures. I sift through the signatures for the inevitable K162 but don't find one. So who opened the wormhole? The Cheetah, I suppose, perhaps living a nomadic existence. Maybe he has a cousin in a bigger ship carrying other ships and supplies. I'd like to meet him. But with no sign of activity I'm not staying here watching empty space.

I jump back home and head in to the neighbouring C3, where d-scan is clear, not a cov-ops in sight. That's how it should be. A blanket scan reveals eleven anomalies and six signatures, and my notes remind me that Fin and I tried to catch a name-changing Stabber cruiser about six weeks ago. Two towers present then are gone now, replaced, or perhaps consolidated, by a single one in a different location. Scanning resolves a couple of signatures, one a K162 from null-sec k-space, the other the static exit to low-sec empire space.

Cheetah jumps in to low-sec

Checking the low-sec exit puts me in Aridia, naturally, with one other pilot in the system. But not for long, as two new pilots enter, at least one through the crackling wormhole I'm sitting on. It's the Cheetah from C4a, and it jumps straight back to C3a. Do I give chase to the polarised cov-ops? Sure, why not. But my deliberation gives the pilot plenty of time to warp away from the wormhole, my only sighting of it being a blip on d-scan as it no doubt returns the way it came, through our K162.

Buzzard jumps from low-sec to class 3 w-space

Polarised myself, I cloak. And the wormhole crackles again. This time a Buzzard cov-ops comes in from low-sec, and aligns and warps to the null-sec K162. I don't bother trying to catch this one, because de-activating my cloaking device would trigger seconds of recalibration delay before I could even attempt to gain a positive lock. All I would do is give away my position, so I take the sensible option of staying hidden. I think that's probably my share of excitement for tonight over, so I may as well hit low-sec and scan.

Death, or English lessons?

Five extra signatures, spread over the system, take a short while to reduce to two wormholes and two sites, and apparently long enough for a chatty local fellow to offer me lessons in English. Or maybe irony. Who can say? Ignoring the local pilot I look to return to w-space, but not through the dying C5 K162. The healthy K162 from class 3 w-space should provide some shelter, though, but perhaps not for the Heron visible on d-scan on entering the system.

Heron warps to the wormhole whilst I wait

I start looking for the scanning frigate when, thanks very much, she drops out of warp near the wormhole. And only near the wormhole, not on top of it, but certainly close enough for me to reach out and touch her with my autocannons. The session change cloak of transiting systems has no associated recalibration delay, so I surge towards the Heron and activate my guns, getting a positive lock as I burn to get within warp scrambling range. Ensuring I get closer doesn't matter, though, as the Heron explodes with no more encouragement than loosing a couple of rounds of fire.

Heron no more

The frigate may have exploded almost before the pilot could react, but she's not too disorientated by my surprise appearance. The pod flees before I can stop it, although I do see which way it goes. The capsuleer is seeking to take refuge around a planet, and hasn't headed to the apparent empty space that would signify a wormhole. I disregard the wreck of the Heron as unimportant, and instead of looting and shooting it I warp towards the pod, wondering if the fled pilot now has an unwarranted sense of safety.

Nope, she's gone. Gone from the planet, but not from space, as d-scan shows she's still in the system. I was going to launch probes to scan anyway and my presence is no longer a surprise, so I get my combat probes out and working, looking for the pod. I find it a couple of times, but the pilot is bouncing around the system. Except now she seems to have stopped. I bookmark the location and repeat the scan, once, twice, and the pod remains. I may as well see if she's stopped paying attention.

I warp to the pod, knowing that it can easily warp away with plenty of time before I can lock it, but not wanting to give up just because. Decloaking early, I drop on top of the capsuleer's egg and start targeting, but the pod warps clear as expected. Upwards this time, though, which is taking it back to the wormhole to low-sec. And an Atron is on d-scan now. That's neat, as frigates are easy, even with an added Griffin that appears whilst I'm in warp. I just have more targets now.

Griffin and Atron guide the pod to the wormhole

Dropping out of warp on the wormhole see the three ships, the two frigates and pod, and I want to join the party. I aim for both the Atron and Griffin, but they jump out to low-sec pretty quickly, leaving just me and the pod. And the pod is sitting away from the wormhole, roughly where I popped her Heron. Well, this is why I chased her, so I go for a lock, get it, and get my autocannons active again. One more shot and the pod is a corpse.

Finally cracking open the pod

I'm not sure why the two frigates came in, and if I didn't have some weird fetish about collecting corpses then maybe I could have caught one or the other polarised on the wormhole in low-sec. But I grab the corpse, hoping that I at least gave her a lesson in why you don't bookmark the wormhole signature from the scanning interface, and cloak again as the Atron returns from low-sec. That's weird.

The frigate warps away from the wormhole, perhaps expecting me to give chase, but I'm not interested. Come in number 21, your time is up. I've scanned, hunted, and chased already. It's been a good evening, and I simply head home, through a low-sec system now populated with a few of the Heron's presumed colleagues, and an inactive C3a. Even when I can't resist a last look in C4a, the presence of scanning probes isn't enough to keep me around longer. I hide in the home system and go off-line.

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