Harassing a Heron

23rd August 2010 – 5.10 pm

Wormholes die regularly. The static connection in our neighbouring w-space system finally reaches the end of its life and collapses, the uncertainty of its continued existence no longer preventing us from exploring further. But instead of finding the new wormhole straight away we leave it undiscovered, and therefore 'closed', in order to shoot some Sleepers for fun and profit. I take my Tengu along with a small fleet of other strategic cruisers in to the class 4 system, one I've visited twice before.

This system has been unoccupied on both previous visits and apparently still is, but I see customs offices on the overview. I ask our salvager to warp his Cormorant destroyer fifty AU to the outer planet to check for occupation, which he does and reports no towers visible on the directional scanner. It looks like the system remains unoccupied, although it is odd to have planetary interaction stations here. W-space connections change daily and being able to visit the same system again is based on pure chance, so deploying structures outside of your home w-space system that require regular attention will only result in losing those structures. Whatever the reason the customs offices are here, we are safe to continue shooting Sleepers.

A scout scans for and resolves the system's new static wormhole, a fresh connection leading in to a class 2 system. He is hoping to find an exit to high-sec space and continues through to the C2, spying a tower on the directional scanner in that system. Our fleet recruits another member, this one to sit near the newly opened wormhole to monitor any ship movements through it. We don't want to be surprised. Two anomalies are cleared of Sleepers and the wrecks looted and salvaged, each participant gaining seventy-two million ISK in profit, including the salvager and scout monitoring the wormhole. With the new connection opened I join the hunt for high-sec, as I need another replacement Onyx, recently losing my heavy interdictor to prepared gas miners.

Returning to our tower I swap the Tengu for my Buzzard covert operations boat to help with scanning an exit from w-space. I travel through our neighbouring C4 system and in to the C2, where I locate the previously reported tower, now with a piloted Maelstrom battleship, Hurricane battlecruiser, and Heron frigate sitting in its shields. Scanning the system finds a wormhole leading to a class 1 system, another scout resolving the exit to high-sec empire space that we were hoping for. We share our results, warping to each other's location, and jumping through the exit puts me only seven hops from Amarr, which is convenient. I bookmark the high-sec side of the wormhole and return to w-space.

Before buying a new ship I want to check what the occupants of this C2 are doing, just in case they pose a threat. All three piloted ships are still in the tower and it looks safe to go shopping. Except I only now notice that one of the ships isn't in the tower, the Heron is sitting above it, nestled in the tower's defences outside of the shields. This isn't a threat, it's a target. I bookmark one of the defensive batteries and warp homewards, already with two colleagues getting ready to ambush the frigate.

Stealth bombers are the ship of choice to engage a capsuleer outside of his tower. I am soon sitting in one of two Manticores accompanied by a Hound. We each have a copy the bookmark I made of the tower defence, where the Heron was seen sitting, and have equipped the same type of bomb. Two of us have done this often enough before to know the plan, which we share with the third as we warp out. On reaching the C2 system my two colleagues warp off to a celestial body in different directions and I sit on the wormhole. Once we are all in position we warp to the bookmark's location, aiming to drop out of warp thirty kilometres short. Now we are all in different positions and at the optimal range of a bomb launch, but without being in danger of decloaking each other.

It is easy to co-ordinate the actual attack. All three stealth bombers decloak and launch a bomb almost simultaneously, each ship cloaking seconds later and changing vector for safety. Two bombs isn't quite enough to pop a Buzzard but I am confident that three should turn a flimsier Heron inside-out and I re-activate my cloak rather than risk getting attacked by the tower's defences. As it turns out, only two bombs are needed to pop a Heron, the third's detonation destroying the ship's wreck instead.

It's a clean kill. There shouldn't be anything more to do here, as our ships are all cloaked and the occupants won't be able to retaliate easily. But the capsuleer's pod, fresh from being ejected from the Heron, is not warping away to safety before returning to the tower. He's slowly crawling directly towards the tower to get back in the shields. This is too much temptation for one colleague. I respect his decision and join him in decloaking, risking the ire of the tower defences once more, to lock on to the foolish pod pilot. Getting a positive lock shows that the third bomb looks to have caused a fair bit of damage to the pod, it already being in low armour. Only a single volley of torpedoes is needed to wake a new clone in a station somewhere.

I have been caught by a tower's defences before but the past couple of days have shown that relying on the defences for safety is no replacement for sitting inside the tower's shields or warping to a safe spot. And if you're acting as bait you should expect to be bitten. The main lesson, though, is if you find yourself in a pod you should be mashing that 'warp' button to get you safely away to any celestial object in your overview tab dedicated to showing them.

A cursory check in my Manticore of the class 1 system connecting to this C2 shows no occupancy and no activity. There is no one else to shoot for now. I return to our home system, swap in to a shuttle, and head out to empire space to replace my lost Onyx. Being close to a trade hub makes it a simple matter to buy the ship and all its fittings. I set the name of the new HIC to 6502 Inside and am able to return home safely to rest for the night.

  1. 2 Responses to “Harassing a Heron”

  2. Some pilots have started leaving an alt in a suitable WH system equipped with a cloaky hauler for PI. It is pretty safe and the returns are much better than PI in high sec. Chances are that system has a static highsec exit.

    By Jaggins on Aug 24, 2010

  3. That would certainly explain it, thanks for the information.

    By pjharvey on Aug 24, 2010

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