Hunt and peck

5th May 2010 – 7.59 pm

The high-sec exit is tempting our man to buy a new Arazu recon ship. Actually, it's a replacement, after losing it earlier when counter-ambushed engaging a Mammoth. But he was headed out to empire space to go shopping anyway, so he just has a ship to add to his list. Personally, I am more interested in the information that the capsuleers in the class 1 w-space system are back in the now-dissipated anomaly, salvaging Sleeper wrecks. They were flushed from the anomaly earlier when we unsuccessfully try to catch them unawares, and maybe I have a second chance. I won't risk the quite visible Onyx heavy interdictor this time, favouring the rather more covert Manticore stealth bomber.

I make the couple of jumps through wormholes to the C1 and make sure that I cloak as soon as possible when entering the system. I like to think I know how to move away from wormholes cleanly, yet the salvager ship warps out from the remains of the site before I get close to him. He is either really lucky or vigilant when punching his directional scanner, or someone was monitoring the wormhole. My skill is called in to question briefly, before a Buzzard is seen returning to the local tower, joining the salvaging Harbinger sitting in the shields. There are only a certain number of ways to reduce your visibility and eliminating wormhole flares when jumping is not one of them. If someone is monitoring the wormhole directly your presence cannot be kept hidden. These pilots are clearly aware of the dangers of w-space and take steps to remove uncertainty. I won't catch them, so head back home to leave them alone.

The journey back to our home system is uneventful, thankfully. There are continued reports of rather dangerous ship movements through our system, mostly industrial ships being escorted by combat ships again. There is also now a Vagabond heavy assault ship on our static wormhole, which is a rather aggressive stance. It is also a rather juicy target, particularly as it is circling the wormhole at a range of thirty kilometres or so, too far to escape quickly. We have two stealth bombers monitoring the Vagabond's position, ready to launch bombs as an initial strike. A Lachesis could then tackle and neutralise the hostile ship whilst another piles on the damage. Again, we delay a little too long over the details and by the time we decide to strike the Vagabond has moved almost within jumping distance of the wormhole. But we'll put the plan in to action anyway.

Our twin bomb strike is co-ordinated and bombs are launched! The first hits the Vagabond but my bomb, launched a split-second later, only hits the wormhole, the HAC having jumped to the adjacent system to avoid the damage and the rest of our small fleet warping in. One Manticore warps away cleanly, I am able to re-activate my cloak and manoeuvre away from my initial position. The fleet returns to the tower rather than giving chase, not wanting to engage on anything but our own terms. Now we wait to see what repercussions our attack has. An Impel transport ship comes back escorted by a Tengu, but the Tengu doesn't leave our system. It instead sits cloaked on our side of their wormhole. A Flycatcher interdictor joins the cloaked Tengu but, apart from this defensive attitude and more ship movements, no overtly aggressive reponse is directed towards us.

I have no qualms about attacking these ships, but their defensive posture disarms me a little. If I were to rationalise it, I suppose they have nothing to attack and so we cannot see their full intentions, and their main operation is clearly to make use of the high-sec exit. It is also possible that our more aggressive posture at defending our system and the wormhole connections is helping to discourage direct attacks against us. We make one last effort to catch one of their ships, as I take an Onyx to sit cloaked on our static wormhole. I want to be cloaked so that I am not visible on d-scan, and so I can make the choice of whether to trap the incoming ship. I don't want to be caught by a strategic cruiser or two. My positioning on the wormhole is a little unfortunate, though, as a Falcon force recon ship warping to the wormhole decloaks me. Rather than jumping through he engages my Onyx, and I return the gesture, locking and firing my heavy assault missiles. But the Falcon jams me with its ECM and I only get a couple of hits before my ship becomes little more than a floating chunk of very difficult to destroy metal.

A Manticore decloaks and joins in shooting me, so without any offensive capability I warp back to the tower, engines not disrupted. My decision is the safe one, particularly when a Proteus strategic cruiser and Rapier force recon ship enter the system and warp to our static wormhole, obviously called to help tackle and destroy my Onyx. But I am safe and take this as my sign to retire for the evening. There may not have been much shooting, or fast action, but the intelligence gathering and ship manoeuvres has meant today has been quite an adventure.

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