Education through explosions

13th August 2010 – 5.26 pm

'We're going to bomb someone.' That sounds exciting but, sadly, I am a couple of minutes too late to join the party. The two-man fleet has warped off quickly in order to catch the target and, with no one else around, didn't take the time to copy and drop off the bookmarks for the scanned wormholes. I can hardly blame them, as copying bookmarks takes an inordinate amount of time for them only being small packets of data, and time is often critical when catching someone being foolish. In this case, the foolish capsuleer is piloting a Rook recon ship outside of a newly installed tower, bringing defences on-line. The two corporation stealth bombers crumple the Rook in to twisted metal easily, looting the wreck of the surviving modules.

My colleagues loiter in the distant system for a while longer but neither of the two pilots at the tower leave the safety of the shields. This gives an opportunity for one of the fleet to return and drop off the bookmarks for me to copy in to my nav-comp. The excitement may be over but I still have the urge to jump in to my own Manticore stealth bomber and roam the currently mapped systems.

I was in our neighbouring class 4 w-space system five months ago with a fleet, stealing a tower. Another tower has been anchored since then and the system is occupied again, but there is no activity at the moment. Jumping through the static connection puts me in another system I've visited before, this one ten weeks ago. I have no note of occupancy in here, perhaps because I was merely travelling through the previous time, and a check of the system reveals no towers and no activity. The next jump has me in the system where the Rook was popped.

My colleague who returned with the bookmarks has swapped back in to his scanning Proteus strategic cruiser to continue looking for wormholes. Whilst he scans I warp to the tower to see what's happening. In warp, the scout finds this system's static wormhole, leading to a class 3 system, and sees a Probe frigate appear some distance away from the wormhole before cloaking. The scout thinks he got a good bearing on the Probe and moves his own cloaked ship to try to intercept, hoping to 'bump' the other and decloak him. I warp close to my colleague's position and get ready in case the Probe is uncovered.

I start moving towards the wormhole, on the assumption that the Probe will jump through to the C3, but alter course to move roughly in the scout's direction. I may not be able to catch the Probe if it jumps through the wormhole and I want to be in range to disrupt the Probe's warp drive if the scout decloaks it. Three cloaked ships, only two are sure of their mutual presence and no one knows precisely where the others are. Somewhere, the scout is moving silently towards a point, and I am trying to move towards him. Where the Probe is only its pilot knows. Empty space has never looked so threatening.

The Probe decloaks, as does as the scout, as the two ships bump in to each other. The vector was right! I decloak my Manticore and take advantage of its lack of targeting delay to lock the Probe and launch a volley of torpedoes. Although I am still too far away for the warp disruption module to work it doesn't matter, as the flimsy frigate pops and throws the capsuleer's pod in to space. The pod flees before we can trap it, returning to the tower in the system.

A quick check of the C3 system shows it to be unoccupied and lacking activity. Returning to the tower in the previous system finds a Drake battlecruiser making use of the tower's control panel to put modules on-line inside the safety of the shields. There are more modules sitting unanchored inside the shields that will need to be positioned externally but it now isn't likely to happen today. The Rook pilot has either learnt or will be told about the control tower's interface after the loss of his ship and maybe the Probe pilot will understand the safety of not sitting still even when cloaked. We leave the system behind us and return home.

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