Orbiting an Orca

29th April 2010 – 7.42 pm

It's time to roam. Earlier scanning has a route to high-sec mapped, and with a couple of occupied systems on the way there may be a target or two to find. First I need to choose my ship. I only scanned for wormholes and located towers earlier, so if there are any miners around I'll need to be in the Buzzard to find the site they are in. But it's quicker not to have to swap ships and maybe I'll get lucky, so I jump in to my Manticore stealth bomber and head out to look for activity.

The unoccupied neighbouring system is empty, so no one has ventured in to it yet, and the next system along is also quiet, with no activity at the tower. The low-sec exit wormhole that was EOL has now collapsed and gone, and I prepare to move on when an Orca appears on the directional scanner. These very expensive industrial command ships are juicy targets, I'd like to see what it's up to. I warp to the wormhole that leads to the system holding the high-sec exit I scanned earlier but the Orca isn't there. Oh, but the low-sec exit is this system's static wormhole, this one is a K162. The Orca may be using the new static wormhole, meaning I need to get my Buzzard to scan for it.

I swap in to my Buzzard quickly and head back, but before beginning my scan I check the location of the Orca. It is now back at its tower, apparently inactive. It's quite possible I have missed my opportunity to snare it, or that I will have a bit of a wait if it is picking up ore from a mining operation occuring in an adjacent system. Then, as ponderously slowly as Orcas move, it turns to point away from the tower again. Finding the tower of occupants in the system has one obvious advantage, in seeing what ships are currently sitting in its shields and if they are piloted, and thus being able to tell what is in the system that isn't at the tower. But it also can provide some other intelligence.

Using the 'look at' option to get a close look at the aligning Orca, I use this opportunity to get some good information on where it is headed. From this view I get an excellent idea of its direction of warp and, using my system map, I realise it is heading towards the wormhole I have bookmarked, the K162 in the system. It dawns on me that I recognise this behaviour. Orcas do not travel quickly, so repeated jumps of short intervals through a wormhole can only mean that the pilot is collapsing it. This also means I know exaclty where it is headed and that it is due back. My suspicion is confirmed when a quick last check of the wormhole shows that it is now critically unstable. The window of opportunity is short!

I dash back to the tower, where a colleague is now waiting in his Arazu. I have excitedly told him of this Orca and now we have to act quickly. Our two-man fleet is already formed, I jump back in to my Manticore, and warp back out. I can't delay to wait for my colleague to copy the bookmarks, nor do I want to wait whilst he bookmarks them on the journey. Time is scarce, and he can follow. I get back in to the target system and warp directly to the K162 wormhole being collapsed. I am not planning to launch a bomb, only get close enough to warp disrupt the unarmed Orca to prevent it escaping. My torpedoes will then be more than suitable to get my message across.

Dropping out of warp 10 km from the wormhole, I arrive to see it collapse in to empty space! I wonder if I am too late, if this is a visual echo of the event, and then the Orca sheds its jump-cloak and starts to align. And that's when I decloak myself, off its port bow, and lock, disrupt and open fire. I update my colleague and he soon warps to my position to help provide menace. We have already agreed to ransom the Orca, hoping to make an easy hundred million ISK each or so by letting it go. But just as a conversation is opened to the Orca pilot he logs off. This is really disappointing, as it gives us little choice but to coninute firing. If we disengage just because someone logs off it sets an easy escape route for future engagements. We must finish the assault.

There is no satisfaction when the Orca is turned in to a large and rather impressive wreck. I return to our tower to get a salvage boat to at least hope to make some profit out of the ruined hull, whilst the Arazu loiters in the system to protect our disappointing spoils. It is during the time I am jumping between w-space systems that a colleague of the Orca pilot opens a conversation in the local channel, my own colleague responding. It turns out that we perhaps made a bigger faux-pas than we realised, as another member of our corporation was seen hauling through this system earlier and the occupants tried to send a message that they were planning to collapse the wormhole, in case she was still using it. Oops.

Never the less, the fellow and the Orca pilot, when he returns, don't seem terribly bitter about the affair. The Orca wasn't alone, his colleague was scouting for him to make sure the systems were clear, but my Manticore was cloaked and I had a bookmark to their position. The Orca pilot celebrates his insurance windfall but clearly would have preferred to have kept the ship, as getting a new Orca and shipping it to w-space is not straightforward. My colleague ruefully says that we too would rather have got a few hundred million ISK than the five metal scraps of salvage I manage to recover from the huge ship. The ambush didn't really work out well for any of us.

I almost apologise, saying that I just like to see explosions. The Orca pilot asks if the explosion of the ship looked good and if the wreck is impressive. 'Do you want to bring your pod out to take a look at it?', I ask him, but he declines gracefully.

'Just go', says his colleague, 'they are nice decent people'.

During this time I have brought back my Buzzard to continue looking for the new low-sec exit—the system's static wormhole that has disappeared since earlier—concered that with the K162 gone our scan man may not have a route back to the tower now, unsure whether he has made his way back in or not yet. I find the wormhole lurking on an outer planet and, whilst the conversation continues, keep scanning for a little longer to see what else is in the system. I bookmark a gravimetric site or two, but I don't think even I have the blackness of heart to return to ambush any later mining operations. Acknowledging the new position of the static low-sec exit, we leave our new acquaintances alone. As we exit the system the Orca pilot says goodbye, telling us, 'it was a blast meeting you'.

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