Klingon manoeuvres

18th November 2009 – 5.31 pm

Patience is a virtue, and capsuleers of stealth bombers need to have it in abundance. Sitting in their lair of a quiet pocket of space, waiting for unsuspecting pilots to wander in to the kill zone, stealth bombers are not ships for the impatient. I can't be entirely sure if the Purifier I encounter on the exit wormhole to k-space is going to be patient or not. It is likely that he warps off pretty quickly, particularly as the wormhole to what I assume to be his home C5 w-space system was close to collapse when I went visited. Never the less, my advantage is that I can lounge at the corporation tower, distracting myself by banging the drums, for as long as I like whilst the bomber has to sit patiently and attentively if he wants to spring the trap. It must be pretty boring, particularly waiting for a low-value target like myself.

I take the Crane out of the hangar a few hours later to return to the exit wormhole. In the C3 system, there are no ships showing on the directional scanner, so I warp directly to the wormhole and slide through. I make it safely to k-space, finding myself in a high-sec system too. It is now a simple matter of bookmarking this side of the wormhole before warping back to the tower at corporation headquarters, where I can refresh my ME research jobs in the laboratories. Once the jobs are set-up for another week I return to w-space by the route I came, making it back to the tower safely. My earlier scanning session is a success. As well as getting me back to k-space to take care of industrial matters, I also now have two gravimetric sites from which to profit.

Swapping the Crane for a Retriever, I head in to the first of the gravimetric sites in our w-space system, to settle down for some relaxing mining. No ships show on d-scan, nor any probes, making me alone in the system. It promises to be a quiet evening, which is what I could use after the earlier excitement of Absolutions and Purifiers. Entering the asteroid field, I bookmark the location of the lone arkonor rock and warp out and back in. The strip miners lock on and start ripping the asteroid apart, as I monitor the d-scan and move the mined ore to a jet-can. Can-flipping isn't a concern in w-space, because aggressors can simply shoot me with no Concord interference. Out here, transferring the mined ore to a jet-can to be hauled separately is safer than having an extra ship sit vulnerable close by.

So it is that I spend a while transferring ore every few minutes from my hold to the canister, and occasionally hauling a full load back to the tower. My vigilant eye on the directional scanner is trying to make sure no hostile ships appear in the system, either by spotting the ship directly or deducing its existence by the presence of probes. But nothing appears. I keep filling up the jet-can. With a third full jet-can of arkonor transferred back to the tower, I decide I've been productive enough not to fill up a fourth, and wait for the current strip miner cycle to finish before heading back to the tower. And it is half-way through this final cycle when a Manticore decloaks off my starboard bow!

I know the Manticore is a stealth bomber, I've invented a few. I miss seeing the ship on d-scan because it was undoubtedly cloaked, but I have no idea how I miss seeing any probes. And now it's sitting almost on top of me. Needless to say, I engage the warp drive back to the tower as quickly as possible, although I am certain I won't make it. The Retriever is sluggish and flimsy. Whilst my ship aligns I make a final, resigned check of the directional scanner. Still no probes register on the scan. I am fairly sure I haven't been negligent. It's possible the Manticore pilot scanned the gravimetric site earlier and simply warps to the field in the hopes of finding the lone miner. It looks like it has worked and he's got an easy kill.

As I somehow enter warp, the Manticore disappearing in my wake, feeling rather flushed and with pounding heart I wonder why I am still alive. The capsuleer has got the right idea about 'stealth', but needs to work on the 'bomber'. I collapse in relief at the tower. Popping back an hour or so later, I am able to retrieve with a few trips in my Crane all of the arkonor I left behind in the jet-can. There is no more excitement for the night, although I have already had plenty. I may not know why, but my second encounter with the pointy end of a stealth bomber also ends with my survival.

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