Stalking and being stalked

12th April 2010 – 5.36 pm

I turn up to the familiar operation of trying to return a colleague home. Our scan man found himself on the wrong side of our static wormhole as we collapsed it, and piloted himself out to empire space. Now we are to get him back. I don't know how far progressed the operation to find an exit is, so instead I head out to look for targets at the 'badly configured Balkan tower' in our neighbouring system. I jump and warp to the tower, and again only remember once in warp that I need to bookmark the wormhole home. I am kindly told the signature of the return wormhole, but it doesn't help when I am in my Manticore stealth bomber and not a scanning boat. Luckily, a colleague still at the tower warps to the wormhole and jumps, providing me a beacon to warp to. There's nothing happening at this other tower anyway, just lots of cans floating around and no ships. I may as well be more active and get in to my Buzzard to help out with scanning.

I pass through our neighbouring system quickly, and the next system across is bypassed thanks to earlier scanning efforts, so I start scanning in earnest three systems out. And, just as the other day, I get distracted by a mining operation when trying to find an exit. A Hulk exhumer and five mining drones appear on d-scan in the system, along with a jet-can. Wormholes fade from my conscious and the hunt is on. Not wanting to push my luck with expecting oblivious miners, I practice my skills with the directional scanner. I get a good directional position on the Hulk and a rough distance, which I then use to position my scanning probes. It's a good first effort, as my probes return a single hit, already identified as a gravimetric site. But I cannot resolve the signature before the Hulk and drones disappear from d-scan. I warp to the site anyway and bookmark the positions of some likely asteroids just in case he returns, although my colleague informs me that the miner is changing ships at his tower.

An Ishkur assault ship warps in to the gravimetric site and loiters for a while before warping away again. This is not your average miner, and has clearly seen the probes and is ready for combat. Although as a fleet we may be able to put up a fight we still haven't found an exit wormhole, so I warp off-grid to decloak and relaunch my probes. I manage to resolve a wormhole on my first hit and, even better, it is an exit to high-sec empire space. I jump through to find out where it leads and relay the system information to our pilot wanting to come home. Jumping back in to w-space provides a small moment of alarm, as the Ishkur is now sitting on the wormhole with five Warrior II drones swarming around it. Oh well, my Buzzard is agile and has a cloak, and I warp away safely.

I warp back to the wormhole at range to scope the situation, but the Ishkur has gone. Apparently he was paying attention just now and was simply unable to lock me in time. The Ishkur pilot is hopping around, but perhaps is unaware that there are two of us in the system both in Buzzards. Fin heads inwards to our home system, the Ishkur seeing her jump out, which lets me lurk around hopefully unnoticed. The Ishkur pilot says hello to me personally in the local channel just as Fin leaves, but although he clearly saw me at some point I am unclear as to whether he knows it isn't me that leaves the system. Either way, I monitor his tower and d-scan for ship movements.

The Ishkur anchors a warp bubble near the high-sec exit, some 35 km off the wormhole, but I am unsure if he's aligning it with anything in particular. It certainly isn't aligned to the wormhole leading inwards, and the bubble doesn't snare me when I warp to the high-sec exit. He then swaps to a scanning boat, crawling out of the tower's shields to drop probes before returning to the safety of the shields to scan. Whilst he scans, our corporation colleague earlier stranded in empire space makes it in to the system and is guided through the network of wormholes back home. On his return, we have three stealth bombers present in this system just waiting for the right moment.

It doesn't look like the opportunity will arise, though. One of us takes a few pot shots at the bubble near the high-sec exit but with no reaction. Another finds a Dramiel frigate warping around the system, but moving far too fast to catch when it lands at a celestial body. And then a Viator transport ship turns up at the tower, after which this new pilot swaps in to a Nighthawk command ship. The occupants of this system are not going to be caught unawares or underarmed, and it is getting late. Never the less, it has been a successful operation. We have no kills, but no losses, and we have had some practice in scanning and stalking prey with good fleet co-ordination.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.