Returning reinforcements

30th April 2010 – 5.17 pm

Any help is appreciated, and I have a bookmark for the home system's static wormhole waiting for me. It's an invitation to jump through and explore today's local systems. Next door is a big system, big enough to encourage me to scan each planet's space individually, rather than try to expand and position my probes to cover as much of the system as possible. Although I won't get complete coverage of the system by scanning each planet, the stronger scan strengths, faster reset time, and more methodical approach at least shouldn't hamper my scanning efforts. Whilst I scan I also warp around the system, using d-scan to look for any towers but finding none. The system is unoccupied.

A Cheetah appears briefly on d-scan. Local activity is always interesting. I find an incoming (K162) wormhole leading to dangerous w-space. Whilst I am making notes about the newly found wormhole a Prorator transport ships appears, although I somehow miss what happens to it. Without more information about the system and ships I assume I have missed them and continue scanning. I find the system's static wormhole and finish resolving the only remaining signature, which turns out to be a magnetometric site, before jumping through. A Prorator is visible on d-scan, most likely the same as before, so I remain cloaked on the wormhole and wait. He warps to the wormhole and jumps. I follow. This is why my Buzzard has a warp disruptor, web, and rocket launcher.

The Prorator notices me following him and cloaks and, presumably, warps away. I grab my Onyx and a colleague to camp the wormhole for a short while before I realise that the transport ship has probably just gone back in to his system, not out from it, and so may well not be returning. Knowing the 'direction' of wormholes helps, and realising that K162-class wormholes are exits can give implied information about likely flow of traffic. I swap back in to my Buzzard and head through the K162 wormhole I found, believing it to be the occupied system. Indeed it is, with a tower visible on d-scan, along with a Dominix battleship, Damnation command ship, Orca industrial command ship, three Hulk exhumers and four jet-cans. The Hulks and jet-cans interest me, as it looks like a mining operation is occurring, even with the presence of the combat ships.

D-scan helps me find the occupants' tower, where the Orca, Dominix and Damnation sit, now with added Cheetah, all of the ships piloted. Attacking this mining operation could be risky, but it will be interesting. I don't want to drop probes and start scanning for the gravimetric site, or for the ships directly, as starting from a general scan could take several minutes. That is far too much time for probes to be visible and still hope to catch capsuleers unaware. I need to practice my scanning skills, which includes making use of d-scan. I warp to a distant planet, out of d-scan range of the any other ship, to decloak and launch my probes. The probes will stay there until I perform my first scan, but I can still cloak and warp back to the tower to keep tabs on the ships in the system, which is what I do.

Now I need to use d-scan to help get a bearing and distance on the miners. I enter the system map and use d-scan from within it, centred on my position, which still lets me use d-scan effectively whilst also offering an easier way to approximate the relative area to position my probes. I get a good idea of where the miners are, within five degrees of arc and half an AU in distance, but my inexperience with placing probes accurately using this information makes me make an initial scan with probes with a range fo 2 AU. It works, though, and I get a strong hit for a gravimetric site, and no other signals. One more scan and I am warping to the site, probes recovered. I see the Hulks and their jet-cans, bookmark one of the cans they are closest too, and warp back to the wormhole quickly to get in to a more suitable ship.

As I leave the system I notice the Cheetah is anchoring a warp bubble near the wormhole. The capsuleers are clearly active and definitely aware of my presence, and they are also adopting a defensive stance. I don't think the Onyx and Nighthawk pairing would be effective this time, but as another colleague turns up we may be able to gain a bit more firepower that can help should combat ships move to protect the Hulks. The extra firepower would help, but the new arrival wants to take a look at the situation for himself, which may be wise for survival but time is always of the essence when attacking other capsuleers. The more time spent amassing your own force only gives your opponents the same time to amass their own defensive force. Whilst our Cheetah warps off to scan, I jump in to a Manticore stealth bomber, my readied colleague doing the same, and we head back to drop in on the miners.

Jumping back in to the occupied system shows that even the small amount of time we spent considering our options has not been wasted here. The Damnation and Dominix are out of the tower and staring at the wormhole with their ten helper drones, a couple of warp bubbles in place too. Their presence only bothers me in that we are not going to catch the miners, as I know how to move away from a wormhole cleanly. I move and cloak smoothly, but if the combat ships are paying any attention they'll have seen the wormhole flare twice and noted the brief appearance of two stealth bombers. I take my chances and warp both of us to the position of the Hulks I bookmarked. One Hulk remains, mining lasers firing, and I launch a bomb as soon as I am even vaguely lined up. The Hulk warps off slightly before the bomb explodes, obviously warned in advance, and I destroy only jet-cans of ore. Now the problem remains of how to exit the system.

I know which area around the wormhole the warp bubbles are anchored and warp the two of us to a planet on the other side of the wormhole. Warping at range to the wormhole from that planet lets us monitor the situation better without being snared by the warp bubbles, and despite the hostile Cheetah jumping between systems occasionally the two of us are able to crawl to the wormhole and jump through safely. No one follows, which seems sensible from their point of view. We sit on the wormhole for a while deciding what ships would be best to take to that fight, when a pod jumps through from the other system and warps away. A scout of ours jumps in to get an update of the situation, and still the Damnation and Dominix are waiting, and they have been joined by a second Dominix, perhaps the other Hulk pilot. But someone went out, and they are likely to be coming back.

I get back to our tower and swap in to my Onyx heavy interdictor again, going to camp the same wormhole as earlier, after seeing the Prorator come through it, but this time with the understanding that someone will be coming back through it. It is not a long wait before the wormhole flares, and as a Hurricane decloaks as it aligns for warp I drop my Onyx's cloak and activate its warp bubble. It must be quite a shock for the pilot, as he jumps back through the wormhole, only for me to follow and get my bubble up again. I call for assistance and get it in the form of a stealth bomber and Megathron. The Hurricane is trapped, as his hull is polarised from the two wormhole jumps in quick succession and my bubble prevents him from warping away. With our combined firepower his ship is popped fairly quickly and his pod ejected.

I am persuaded to try to ransom the pod, although I point out that we need to be quick as the polarisation effect will wear out otherwise, allowing him to jump and escape. A ransom demand is made, a paltry sum is offered, and we accept it for the sake of expediency. But it is still too late, as the pod jumps through the wormhole and is gone before I can follow and re-activate my bubble. I bet the pilot was only too aware of the countdown until his polarisation dissipated, happy to stall for time in his pod instead of being shot. It is a good tactic. I doubt we could hold a pod on a wormhole without two HICs as well, so perhaps we either needed to pod him or let him go. Either way, we get another kill and no losses on our side, making it a successful assault. And with this minor success we leave the other system alone.

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