Avoiding another ambush

19th April 2010 – 5.15 pm

Stuck in empire space, I return to the reassuring information that our scan man is out on his regular reconnoitre of w-space. He is currently in the system neighbouring our own, which is unoccupied and holds a couple of dozen signatures, so scanning could take a while. With what I imagine is more skill than luck he finds a wormhole on his first attempt, and then he blasts through some other systems to find a high-sec exit. Giddy-up, it's only five jumps from where I am docked! As I haven't changed stations since getting stuck out here, I'm quite glad I didn't try to accomplish anything whilst in k-space now.

I hit vacuum and make the few hops to the system holding the wormhole, meeting my colleague sitting outside it. He jettisons a can of bookmarks and I start the journey home. One class 3 and three class 4 systems later—the last one curiously named J1226-0—and I am home again. Another wayward colleague is ushered in through the same route, bringing us all back together again. But we still don't have quite enough present to tackle Sleeper combat sites. Instead, the other two pop in to our neighbouring system to mine some gas and I swap in to my Drake battlecruiser to pop the minor Sleeper presence in several gravimetric sites also next door.

My Drake's fitting has been modified, highlighting yet another ship I failed to save the fitting for, and I am having trouble refitting it to how I think it once was. After a bit of frustration I give up, realising that for the frigates and flimsy cruisers—the only Sleeper ships I am planning to engage—the target painter, micro-warp drive, and salvager are probably ideal for the task. The target painter will make my heavy missiles more effective against the smaller ships, the salvager will make me self-sufficient in clearing up the wrecks, and moving quickly between them with the MWD negates the need for a tractor beam.

My Drake clears four gravimetric sites of Sleepers quickly, and a fifth is started when core scanner probes are noticed on the directional scanner. Although only probes are visible at the moment we all know the potential threat probes can mean. It could just imply the presence of a scanning boat in the system looking for wormholes, or it could signal the imminent arrival of a nasty fleet. We have been on both sides enough times to realise this, and the gas miners and myself bug out, warping to our wormhole and jumping home as a precaution. In case it is simply a sole scanning boat, I swap in to my Onyx heavy interdictor and inflate its bubble on the K162 side of our wormhole, in the other system. He may carelessly warp to the wormhole after scanning it and get a surprise. But when combat scanning probes come out I reconsider his intentions.

I don't see only one or two combat probes, but all four. This indicates that they are all within scanning range of me, and I have a strong suspicion that the scanner is looking for me specifically. It won't take long for the scanner to find my Onyx HIC sitting on the wormhole. Either he has resolved the wormhole's position already, and is only looking for confirmation that my signal intersects that of the wormhole, or he was initially looking for the sites that my colleagues and I recently vacated and needs to scan me completely. Either way, I keep a vigilant eye on d-scan. And I am right to do so.

Several ships suddenly appear on d-scan. I am ready to move before I even analyse the results to determine what ships they are, jumping back home through the wormhole as they begin to drop out of warp right on top of me. I warp back to the tower immediately on return to the home system, at which point I check the d-scan return more thoroughly. An Abaddon, Maelstrom, Pilgrim, Scorpion, and Zealot were all bearing down on me, no doubt with hostile intentions. Interestingly enough, they are from the same corporation that were recently depriving us of profit from local anomalies, getting a kill on a colleague's Nemesis as well.

My experience once again saves me from danger, albeit danger that I get myself in to. After all, it's not the first time I narrowly escape the Onyx being a sitting duck on a wormhole. We halt operations when first noticing scanner probes until we can prove there is no threat, but realise the threat is real when combat probes are then seen. Planting my Onyx on the wormhole was perhaps risky, but it reveals the size and strength of the hostile fleet. And as I had the HIC's bubble up when the attackers warp in, they bounce off it out of warp too far from the wormhole to jump through immediately. This gave me the time to jump and warp back to the tower. We can't counter their threat directly, but our operations were drawing to a close anyway. Suffering no losses to a skilled and well-equipped fleet is a good result for the evening.

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