Hunting a Buzzard

14th April 2010 – 5.55 pm

A mining barge sometimes isn't enough, particularly a mining barge used as bait. With Sleeper destruction wrapped up for the evening I visit our connected w-space systems to look for any activity. Nothing in our neighbouring system's tower has changed, and four more systems across the wreck of the mining barge is still in the warp bubble where I left it. Whilst at the edge of today's w-space border, I poke my nose through the null-sec exit. I turn up in HB-1NJ in Great Wildlands. Checking my star map gets me excited, as it now shows a single point of light for my recent visit to B2-BCK! The star map now updates when a system is visited, regardless of the point of entry. This will get me jumping through wormholes in to more null-sec systems.

On my way back home, I note that the Buzzard is now missing from our neighbour's tower. It cannot be coincidence that I spotted probes on the direction scanner when travelling through the previous system. I think I'll camp the wormhole in this system for a while, and Fin is happy to join me. Another corporation colleague scouts for a few minutes but says he doesn't have the patience to wait, and I can't blame him. Sitting stationary on a wormhole for an indeterminate period of time is not the most thrilling activity, if it can even be called an 'activity'. And it's only for a Buzzard. At least, that's all we're expecting. He could be scanning for an exit to bring in a small fleet of battleships or strategic cruisers, and just as he doesn't know who is waiting for him on the other side of the wormhole neither can we tell what will be coming through, not without a scout.

I am in my trusty Onyx, its warp bubble perfect for springing such ambushes on ships jumping through wormholes, even if it also happens to be pretty much the only really aggressive combat ship I can pilot. My plan is pretty much the same as when I ponder how to catch a small ship with a heavy interdictor, being rather the same situation. When the ship jumps in it gets trapped in my bubble. If it jumps back, I follow and get my bubble up again, at which point his ship is polarised and cannot jump back. And this time I have help, as Fin is in her brand new Nighthawk command ship. Not only does it look suitably mean but it has a web fitted, which will help by dramatically slowing down the small and agile ship should it try to flee. I still don't think we'll have much chance of catching a Buzzard, but it's good to try.

Camping a wormhole can be tedious, it really depends on the company. There is plenty of conversation to be had, and not just on potential tactics for the eventuality of a small fleet of nasty ships surprising us by not being a Buzzard. But even we have a limit to our patience, with several systems all holding many signatures for the Buzzard to scan, particularly at this late hour. Fin wants to move one system across to potentially reduce our waiting time. We are conveniently out of d-scan range of the tower in this system, and I doubt that a second ship has moved to scout the wormhole for his colleague, so I think we're safe here. I am also concerned about passing the Buzzard whilst in warp, whereas here we are perfectly set and waiting. But a mis-click sends Fin next door, so we move one system across anyway to avoid polarisation problems, placing a new camp on the next wormhole along.

Five more minutes is all we can really devote to waiting, particularly as we've sat on one wormhole or another for much longer already. And just as we reach the seventh of those final minutes or so, the wormhole flares. My warp bubble is already up, our systems are hot and waiting only for a target to lock. No ship appears, no flare signals a secondary jump. We wait a bit longer, tension rising. The Buzzard, if it is he, must be pondering his options on seeing an Onyx and Nighthawk hovering on the wormhole. He makes a break! The Buzzard appears and starts trying to push through to the edge of my Onyx's bubble. All systems lock on to him and we open fire, Fin's web slowing the Buzzard down to a crawl. The Buzzard crumples under our heavy fire and the pilot's pod, still mired in my bubble, is targeted and fired upon. And then it's gone.

The Nighthawk jumps through the wormhole, quickly followed by me as soon as I loot the Buzzard's wreck, but no pod is on the other side. The kill-mail turns up and we get notifications for the destruction of both the ship and pod. Jumping back to where the Buzzard was destroyed we are surprised to find the corpse floating in space. The pod was blown apart quicker than we could even notice. We recover the body and warp home quickly, leaving the pocket with suitable speed. Our ships completed the ambush with aplomb, setting up a good trap and being fitted with suitable systems to prevent escape. And it is first blood for the Nighthawk. The kill is also probably rather more problematic than normal for the pilot and corporation. We clearly kill a scanner who was no doubt returning to his tower with a ship's system full of current bookmarks, none of which make it back. Let's hope they have at least a second ship and pilot capable of scanning.

  1. One Response to “Hunting a Buzzard”

  2. We may have been fitted well but the Buzzard should have been able to escape easily enough, simply by cloaking. It should be able to move away from the wormhole and cloak to prevent our ships gaining a positive lock. Judging from the fitting and complaints from the pilot, he is inexperienced and panicked.

    Our director calms him down in an authoritative display of diplomacy and almost manages to recruit him to our corporation with a promise of guidance and opportunity.

    By pjharvey on Apr 14, 2010

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