Probing with a Probe

18th January 2014 – 3.20 pm

Across to C2a and out to empire space to scan. The class 3 w-space system connecting to our home system is a veritable hub of w-space this evening, but the number of options available is a little crippling. Rather than potentially fan out even further, opening even more connections for threats to appear through, I think hitting an empire system and looking for a K162 to a simpler constellation may be a better choice to find an encounter.

I pause in the class 2 w-space system only to locate the tower and see if either of the two ships visible on my directional scanner is piloted. They aren't, the Prorator transport and Velator frigate both floating empty inside the tower's force field. At least I can discount them as targets when I come back this way. Now to high-sec. I don't even need to scan my way there, as my glorious leader has already scouted this way, giving me a convenient bookmark to the exit. I just align my ship and warp.

My cloaky Loki strategic cruiser lands a short distance from the wormhole, and once again I am glad I don't warp point-to-point when scouting. A last update of d-scan before leaving sees a Mammoth hauler in the system, and a pilot newly on-line is probably a pilot worth watching. I turn my Loki around and warp back to the tower, finding the Mammoth, and settle down to wait and watch what it does.

There's movement from the Mammoth. It's only towards a hangar, though, and a ship hangar at that. I don't think I'll be catching the hauler so easily, and, sure enough, the Mammoth is swapped for another ship, a Probe frigate. I imagine the Probe will start scanning for wormholes, which perhaps isn't so bad. If the pilot scans, she'll either warp to the wormholes, making herself vulnerable in a ship that can't cloak, or perhaps be content that nothing there is nothing untoward in the system and consider collecting planet goo.

Probe launches probes to probe

The Probe warps out of the tower, launches probes, and returns to be inside the force field. This is my cue to open the system map and orientate myself with respect to the wormholes. It's easy today. The connection to C3a is above the ecliptic plane, the one to high-sec below it. I should be able to tell where the Probe is going the moment it starts aligning. The only problem now is that guessing what the pilot will do in a ship that can't warp cloaked. Will she warp directly to the wormhole, or drop a hundred kilometres short first?

What the pilot will do is warp in an entirely unexpected direction. The Probe aligns almost directly away from both wormholes in the system, and not towards any site or signature I can see. But all is explained when the frigate lands back in its spot a couple of hundred kilometres outside the tower to relaunch the probes. I guess she pressed the wrong button and recalled her probes early. A bit more scanning and the probes disappear from d-scan again, presumably intentionally.

I've decided what I'll do when the Probe reconnoitres the wormholes. I'll just wait for her to exit to high-sec, as who can resist finding out where their wormhole takes them today, and catch her coming back polarised. I think it's a good plan, right up until the pilot drops from her Probe to a pod, and jumps in to a Hound stealth bomber, which aligns and warps out of the tower towards the high-sec wormhole.

I give chase behind the more agile ship, only in warp wondering why the pilot would scan in a basic frigate when she has the skills to pilot a stealth bomber fit with a covert operations cloaking device. Surely a Cheetah cov-ops boat would be a better choice. Whatever. Now my basic hunt has been made harder, as the Hound will have reached the wormhole before me, and not only can I not tell what range it landed at I can't reliably tell whether it jumped through or not. I think it's best that I assume not.

Hound exits w-space for high-sec

It's a good assumption. I approach the wormhole and wait for it to crackle in announcing the return of the Hound from high-sec, when instead the bomber decloaks and jumps out to high-sec. It got here sooner, but landed near the cosmic signature and not the wormhole locus, which gave me time to see it leave. Now I can wait for it to come back. A ship that can warp cloaked is harder to catch, but not impossible, and being ready for it will help. I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and approach the wormhole. And I wait.

I keep on waiting. A minute passes, which is more than enough time to note the high-sec system and its proximity to market hubs and return. A second minute passes, and I'm beginning to suspect that this pilot is being cautious. A third minute passes and I think it's all over. Polarisation effects haven't ended yet, but it seems that the Hound will not be returning until they have. I give it one more minute, still see no Hound, and move away from the wormhole to re-activate my cloak.

Belay that order, cadet! The wormhole crackles just as I shimmer in to invisibility mode. It's got to be the Hound returning, and as I am so close it's probably best to give an ambush a shot now and not wait for a second opportunity. Cloak goes up, cloak goes down. Sensor booster back on. There's the Hound. I go for a positive lock, and get it. Activate the warp scrambler, get the autocannons chattering, and after only three volleys the Hound disintegrates.

Hound returns from high-sec

I'm surprised I caught the stealth bomber. Perhaps the polarisation effect wasn't timed quite so well by the pilot. Now she's under the effects of a session change timer from being expelled from her exploding Hound, which is plenty of time for my sensor-booster Loki to lock on to her pod and rip it open with one more volley of autocannon fire.

Wreck of Hound and its ex-pilot's corpse

And so patience pays off again, getting me another sweet kill on a high-sec wormhole. The Hound is rather better than either the Mammoth or the Probe too. Forty million ISK in ship and fittings destroyed, and over a hundred million ISK in implants. That was worth the wait.

  1. 2 Responses to “Probing with a Probe”

  2. Hi Penny,
    I love reading your work, please keep at it :-)
    Looking at the kill from this post,it's from 7Dec13. I'd always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that your Blog was perhaps a day or so behind the eve activity that prompted it.
    Can I assume that with such a lag, there is a massive pool of awesome reading ahead? :-)

    By JT on Jan 18, 2014

  3. Thanks, JT. And that's the idea, yes. I've been ill for the past week, sapping all my energy so that I haven't written a single post. My back-log means I still have posts scheduled, but they are running out. I need to get better soon, for my sanity as much as for this blog.

    By pjharvey on Jan 20, 2014

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