Hunting and hunted

1st June 2010 – 5.09 pm

The rabbit hole goes deeper than the current bookmarks suggest. Our scout takes a closer look at the C2 system currently limiting our exploration and finds some more wormholes. The system has a static exit to high-sec empire space, another connection to a C3 w-space system, an EOL wormhole coming in from a C2, and another wormhole leading out to a C5. It's quite the crossroads. The scout returns to drop the bookmarks in to our shared can and I copy them to go exploring further for my own curiosity.

A quick check of the C2 system first shows a Heron frigate and Deimos heavy assault ship now piloted. I suppose they have perhaps been alerted to an attack, after our stealth bombers incidentally damage their defences with a co-ordinated bomb launch against a Drake outside the tower. The two pilots don't appear to be active. I leave them behind, warping to and jumping through the static connection to w-space. The class 3 system is occupied and I find the tower using d-scan, made simpler as it is anchored to the sole moon of a planet. I am pulled in to a warp bubble outside of the tower, but not decloaked, and as I drag my ship out of the bubble I check d-scan again. There are no ships at the tower but I see two Loki strategic cruisers and some Sleeper wrecks.

I narrow the beam of d-scan to get a bearing on the ships, which indicates that only one of the Loki cruisers is in combat. I broaden my search again, whilst activating my on-board scanner to locate all anomalies in range, and can no longer see the second Loki. I warp around the system to confirm that this second ship is no longer present before returning to find the Loki fighting Sleepers. There are a few anomalies to search and getting a rough bearing on the Loki's position lets me find him within a couple of guesses. He is alone. I relay this information to my colleagues and there is some discussion about whether we could successfully engage the strategic cruiser. Perhaps we can but we'll need to be quick, as he has almost cleared the anomaly. In fact, the last Sleeper is destroyed and no more warp in. He has finished.

It is possible that the Loki pilot will warp to another anomaly, but he hasn't been salvaging the wrecks as he has progressed so it seems more likely that a salvager will warp in behind him. I alert my colleagues, as a lone salvager is much more vulnerable to attack. I try to find the Loki to see what is happening but can find no trace. The ship doesn't appear on d-scan and there is still no activity at the tower in the system. But then a Thrasher destroyer appears, more likely a salvaging boat than not. I warp back to the anomaly, having bookmarked a suitable wreck, keeping my colleagues informed. The Thrasher is there and salvaging. The pilot is the same as was in the Loki, indicating that reinforcements may not be quick in coming to help him. This is an ideal opportunity to snare a vulnerable ship and steal some valuable loot.

Unfortunately, the efficiency of the Thrasher pilot and the horribly sluggish interface of the bookmark system sees the salvaging operation finish with a minimal fleet still two systems away. I tell them to hold on the unoccupied side of a wormhole, waiting to see if the Loki returns to continue Sleeper combat. Even leaving enough time for the pilot to drop his loot, swap ships, and return there is no more activity. We missed our chance. But maybe he is simply continuing in his home system. The Loki pilot clearly isn't operating from this system and was not seen in the C2, so there must be another active connection leading in to this system. I launch probes and start scanning. I earlier noted his vector when warping out and begin my look for the wormhole in that approximate direction.

I reason that I am looking for a K162 wormhole, the pilot having entered from his system. I quickly find two wormholes, even after ignoring the connection to the C2 I entered through, and both turn out to be K162s. I am supposing that the entrance from high-sec space is not the wormhole I am looking for and jump through the other in to a class 5 w-space system, making sure it is stable before I do. I move swiftly away from the wormhole and it is good that I do, as the wormhole flares behind me shortly after I enter the system. A Prowler hauler appears, piloted by the same pilot as I saw in the Loki and Thrasher, and warps off. I don't think he saw me. I note his direction and, bookmarking the wormhole, warp towards the same planet to look for his tower. I find what I think is his tower but there are no ships there. A more careful look at d-scan shows that there are at least seven towers in the system. I think I'll leave.

I warp to the wormhole at range, taking care not to warp in to danger, and I see a Typhoon battleship sitting on the wormhole, piloted by still the same pilot. I take a tangential route to the wormhole but a big pulse of energy from the Typhoon gives me pause for thought. It is possible it has just activated a smart bomb, trying to decloak any ships within range of the wormhole. Maybe he knows I am here after all. The Typhoon is swiftly joined by a Brutix battlecruiser. It looks like they are perhaps getting ready to collapse the wormhole. Not wanting to get trapped in here, but also not wanting to explode, I set my view to look at the Typhoon directly, seeing if it will detonate the smart bomb again. I need to be able to get to the wormhole, jump through, and warp away safely. With the Typhoon here I may be in danger from the smart bomb and if the Typhoon jumps the same danger applies, more so because it will see the wormhole flare from a non-allied jump. I need to wait for the Typhoon to jump back to make my move.

The Typhoon jumps through the wormhole and the connection implodes! Oh, except it doesn't. My view was on the Typhoon and now that the ship is no longer present on the grid my view resets to my ship. I don't notice the view resetting because I am cloaked and thus difficult to see, but the wormhole is still there, simply behind me. That's a relief. With the Typhoon in the next system I move closer to the wormhole, preparing to jump once the Typhoon returns. A Loki appears at the wormhole and starts circling, along with the Brutix, but I should be able to hold my cloak easily enough. Another ship jumps back, but it is not the Typhoon. A Rapier interceptor appears, quite a threatening ship even for my covert operations Buzzard. A second wormhole flare makes me hope to see the Typhoon, which I do, but I no longer see a wormhole. It really has collapsed this time. I am isolated.

The bigger ships warp off from the now-empty space. I watch for a few moments before warping away myself, to an arbitrary planet. I launch probes and start looking for a route out of here. At least the wormhole they collapsed was their static connection, one that led in to a C3 system, which gives me a good chance of finding a suitable exit. But as the occupants collapsed the wormhole I have a strong suspicion they know I am here and I imagine they will also be looking for the new static wormhole. Additional probes visible on scan confirms this. I find a wormhole and warp to it at range, not wanting to drop on top of an unknown signature in a hostile and active system, only to find it is a K162 from null-sec space. As a Loki turns up moments after I arrive I don't care to visit the system just for the exploration dot on my map, instead continuing my scan.

It takes me a while to narrow down the signatures until I find one that looks like another wormhole, and the occupants must have an advantage over me in that they can identify the already-present signatures quickly. Just as I am getting close to resolving the signature it disappears. I think they found and collapsed the new static connection too! They may well be hunting me actively, which is a little disconcerting. However, I get some luck. The signature I was resolving may have disappeared between subsequent scans—undoubtedly the static wormhole just collapsed—but a new one appears within my probes' scan range. This must be the next static connection. With all haste I resolve this new signature and find it to be a wormhole. I throw caution to the wind and warp directly to the wormhole, under the assumption that it not only leads to a C3 system that is rather more safe than being here but also that the occupants will find and warp pointy ships to it as soon as they can. I recall my probes only at the last moment, dropping out of warp to jump through the static connection.

I am through the wormhole and in a class 3 w-space system, moving swiftly and silently away from the wormhole. I monitor the connection for a while and indeed see a Loki jump through behind me. He circles the wormhole for a while before launching probes and cloaking. I warp away to a celestial body and do the same. Neither of us has the advantage now, both scanning a completely new system. I quickly find a new wormhole and warp to it, this time at range. I don't know where this one will lead, after all. The wormhole is a K162 coming from null-sec space, and the Loki has found this wormhole too, lurking nearby. I continue scanning.

I find another wormhole, another exit, this one to low-sec space. Predictably enough, the Loki warps in, surveys the wormhole, and jumps through. He is followed moments later by his colleague in the Brutix. I wait by the wormhole, continuing my scans hoping to find another wormhole for a better exit but as this is the system's static connection it seems unlikely I'll find anything better. Depending on the tenacity of the Loki I may even have to return through the null-sec wormhole. I wonder if I should have sacrificed a few of my probes in the C5 to make them think I was still present and scanning in their home system. But then the two ships jump back from low-sec and warp away from the wormhole. I may as well see what sort of journey I have back to the known high-sec entrance mapped earlier by our scout, which would get me home, and I jump through to low-sec.

What luck! My destination system is only a dozen jumps away, the first one of which sends me right back in to the safety of high-sec space. My nav-comp is already programmed and all I have to do is make a simple journey from stargate to stargate. The high-sec entrance I plan to use is now EOL but at least I am out of danger from my hunters. Meanwhile, I get to eavesdrop on my colleagues' plans to try to catch and kill two Deimos HACs in the C2 I am hoping to come home through. Maybe I can even help if I get back quickly enough.

The high-sec journey is calmingly uneventful and the wormhole entrance is still available when I warp to it. I announce my jump to the corporation so that I don't get shot when appearing on their side, and I am able to travel quickly and safely back along the earlier mapped route to our home system. The plan to kill the Deimos ships fizzles, but we have a neighbouring C4 that has a bunch of anomalies. I happily swap out of my Buzzard and in to a Guardian to clear three anomalies smoothly, returning whilst our static connection remains available, if at the end of its lifetime. It has been a long evening, chasing and being chased, and I note that my folder has nineteen separate wormholes bookmarked just for today. It has been quite an adventure.

  1. One Response to “Hunting and hunted”

  2. A most interesting Adventure you had Hunting and been Hunted as well. Guess some days your the Hunter and some your the unsuspecting Prey.

    However quite nice to hear you successfully evaded your Hunters and found your way back home to familiar known space as well. That's just all adventerous and so interesting to read and at the same time learn a few things and tricks inbetween the lines.

    I can only guess when you go scanning you take quite allot of scanning probes. Especially in case you need to be evasive and leave a few behind as decoys to throw off a hunting party. All interesting to learn while reading and gather thoughts. I guess it's just reading here that I'm aware that someone else scanning can be alerted to another ships probes as well.

    Recently I just picked up two frigates a Helios and a Magnate just for exploration and scanning signatures. Before had to use my Punisher frigate, so just good to have something more adequate for the purpose in my starting career as a budding signature explorer. It's a long way to go to being a future wormhole explorer, but it's a start.

    However your adventures are much much more exciting with danger as so much more inspiring.

    By Galo on Jun 2, 2010

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