Bagging a Badger

8th September 2010 – 5.33 pm

I load my Buzzard's nav-comp with bookmarks from our can and start exploring. My covert operations boat doesn't get too far, our static wormhole no longer where the bookmark guides me. But the K162 wormhole, opened in to our own system from another, is still alive and I jump through the distinctive black-and-orange mix to the class 5 system beyond. There isn't much to see. I find a tower with a mining barge parked inside its shields but there are no capsuleers or signs of activity. I return to the home system and launch probes to scan for the new static wormhole. The connection is easily resolved, there being only the K162 and the static wormhole to be found, and I am soon jumping in to today's neighbouring class 4 system.

I perform my standard check of the system using the directional scanner. I do this before breaking my session change cloak as it lets me decide whether to launch probes or simply move away from the wormhole and engage my cloaking device. Seeing a Hulk exhumer and jet-cans on d-scan is a good reason to delay launching probes, instead bookmarking the wormhole home and warping to a planet out of range of the Hulk to launch probes more covertly. Once launched, I throw the combat probes far out of the system and punch the scan button, putting them outside of the d-scan range of any ship to keep the probes hidden until I need them. Now I move back closer to the Hulk and start locating its approximate position using d-scan.

Getting a good position of a ship using d-scan is quite an art and can be frustratingly fiddly, particularly when dropping d-scan's beam angle down to five degrees. Then whilst figuring the range of the ship from your position is relatively easy it is more difficult to position probes accurately on to that position in three-dimensional space. But I give it a go. I think I know where the exhumer is and I move my probes accordingly, hitting scan and getting ready to recall the probes the moment I get a solid hit. My positioning isn't accurate enough and I have to make an adjustment, but even the second scan doesn't find the Hulk's position. I move the combat probes out of the system again to reduce the time they are continuously visible on d-scan.

It looks like I am again too slow at combining d-scan with probes, as the Hulk disappears, replaced by a Badger hauler. I scan again anyway and am able to find the gravimetric site itself, if not the ship. I warp to the site, having recalled my probes, and see three jet-cans still floating close together in space. I bookmark the most central one and warp back to the wormhole home, jumping and returning to our tower to swap ships. The Badger may be piloted by the same capsuleer as the Hulk and collecting the ore at the end of a session, and if so may not have seen my probes on d-scan. If he makes more than one trip to collect the ore I may still be able to ambush him. And now I have help too, a couple of colleagues turning up. I swap the Buzzard for my Manticore stealth bomber and am joined by a Harbinger battlecruiser and a Phobos heavy interdictor for maximum disruption.

I warp back to the wormhole and hold for a few seconds to allow the other two ships in the fleet to warp to me. I jump through to the C4 as the other two hold position. I need to ensure the Badger or Hulk is in the site and a valid target before getting the Phobos to warp in, lest we reveal ourselves too early and scare it away. But I have made an oversight, as I didn't check to see what direction the wormhole was in relation to the rocks or jet-cans in the gravimetric site. Warping in to the site could easily get me decloaked by bumping off a rock and, again, I don't want to give the Badger a chance to evade us. I take a risk and warp in at a reasonable distance in the hopes that I avoid the rocks.

My tactics seem like a good idea as I drop out of warp still cloaked and away from any rocks, until I realise that I have stupidly put myself too far from the jet-cans, being significantly out of range of my warp disruption module. The Phobos won't be able to warp any closer to the cans either. There is only one can left and I doubt that I can cover the distance if I crawl cloaked towards it. My only option is to warp away and back again, although at least this time I know I can warp almost directly to the cans without breaking my cloak. I just hope I don't miss the Badger.

As I warp back to the site, within twenty kilometres of the jet-can, the Badger is there and looting the final can. I drop my ship's cloak and get my warp disruption module hot, locking the Badger and successfully preventing it from warping out. I burn towards the hauler to ensure I keep it in range but hold fire for now, calling back to the fleet to jump and warp to my position. My colleague in the Phobos has his confidence shaken a little, noting that 'this is a pulsar system', the phenomenon boosting shields and penalising armour, 'I shouldn't be here in a Phobos'. We are fighting a Badger, an industrial ship that is less dangerous than its animal namesake, we probably don't need an optimal configuration to succeed. The Badger doesn't even have drones to threaten us with and I am happily holding the point and waiting.

The conclusion is inevitable. The Badger crumples quickly once my colleagues arrive, and the warp bubble of the Phobos prevents the poor capsuleer's pod from escaping. The corpse is scooped, the wreck looted and destroyed. The Phobos and Harbinger leave the system and I cloak again to set about finding the tower here. I finally check my notes and realise that I've been in this system twice before, the last time only three weeks ago. Finding the tower is easy when it hasn't moved from the last time I was here. A Cheetah covert operations boat is piloted inside the tower's shields but it disappears when I'm not paying attention. It has probably gone to find a route back in to the system for his colleague's new clone to follow. And I should probably get back to scanning too.

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