Intimidating an Imicus

17th September 2010 – 5.31 pm

The evening starts with Sleeper combat. Specifically, it started some time ago with Sleeper combat and I am turning up half-way through the corporate operation. I launch Pengu, my Tengu strategic cruiser, and warp off to the location of the copied bookmark. Jumping through our static wormhole puts me in to a class 4 w-space system with a pulsar phenomenon, the bonus to shield capacity welcome in my Caldari ship, and I warp to join the rest of the fleet. Apparently I'm helping with a serious massacre, the anomaly I warp in to being the tenth the fleet has cleared so far this evening. There is a brief moment of heightened tension as a new corporation application arrives, causing the mail icon to flash. As my colleague notes, 'getting mail while killing Sleepers is scary. The last three times it was insurance'.

Sites are finished quickly with five strategic cruisers shooting any red cross that moves, the salvaging destroyer not able to keep up with the pace. Sixteen anomalies are cleared in total, wiping the system clean, and I return Pengu for Marxian Principles, my Cormorant destroyer, to help salvage the wrecks. Salvaging is smooth, the pulsar phenomenon also increasing targeting range, helping instead of hindering pathfinding like in a magnetar system. I rake in a generous seventy-five million ISK share of the profits for my limited involvement, only imagining what a full share of all sixteen sites would be.

Sleeper combat over, I take my Buzzard covert operations boat out to scan today's w-space constellation. There is now little to find in our neighbouring class 4 system beyond rocks and gas, although a single radar site is resolved before being left with the final signature in the system. I warp to a static wormhole in pristine condition that leads to a class 5 system and jump through. My standard check of the directional scanner reveals a tower in the system but no ships. A careful review then finds no force field on d-scan, making the tower off-line. There are no modules to plunder and no other signs of activity in this system, so I start to scan.

A second scout with me finds a static connection to the deadly w-space of a class 6 system and a bit more scanning confirms there are no more wormholes to find in this C5. Entering the C6 and checking d-scan shows an Orca industrial command ship and Imicus frigate along with a tower protected by a force field, but there are no defences at all. I quickly locate it and suspect that the tower is being set-up. This looks like a good opportunity to catch some unwary pilots! Both ships are piloted and inside the shields, and although they are currently inactive there still needs to be modules to import and defences to configure, which will make them occasionally vulnerable.

I check the rest of the C6 system but find no evidence that the tower is being moved or any other activity, and I launch probes to begin scanning. I need to find the wormhole these capsuleers are using to import ships and modules. My activity may go unnoticed, as the Imicus has launched his own probes and is scanning, so his attention may not be focussed on d-scan. And scanning should be quick, as there are few signatures in the system. Three, in fact. One is the wormhole I entered through, another is a ladar gas mining site, and the third is the system's static wormhole to a class 5 system. That's odd, I would expect to find a K162 that these capsuleers are using.

I jump through the static wormhole in to the following class 5 system, hoping to shed some light on how the capsuleers can enter a system the wrong way through a one-way connection. I find another tower with no defences but it belongs to a different corporation in a different alliance, but whatever I found would be unlikely to quell my curiosity. I don't scan any further and go back in to the C6, pausing only to check the tower before returning home to swap the Buzzard for my Manticore stealth bomber. There is nothing more to scan here and I could use a better weapons platform whilst maintaining a stealthy profile. Suspecting that I'll be trying to catch frigates, and knowing about my previous failures to do so in the Manticore, I refit the stealth bomber with a sensor booster, which decreases its time to get a positive target lock.

Back at the tower in the C6 there is no change. The scanning probes of the Imicus are still visible on d-scan, suggesting the capsuleer is distracted. No one can take this long to resolve three signatures. A bit of loitering sees some activity, a second Imicus appearing at the tower. I have positioned my Manticore close enough to the tower that my remote systems can switch to the viewpoint of the ships inside. I have also taken care to open the system map and note the relative directions of the two wormholes with respect to the tower. When the first Imicus aligns and warps away I am thus disappointed when I make an elementary mistake.

My care to detail lets me warp to the same wormhole as the Imicus but my impetus to hunt sees me warp to zero on the wormhole. Landing right on top of the wormhole is guaranteed to decloak my ship, whereas the Imicus may only be reconnoitring the wormhole and not intending to jump through. Sure enough, the Imicus is a hundred kilometres from the wormhole—the standard maximum distance to drop out of warp being dangerously predictable in itself—and my Manticore decloaks in full view of the other pilot. There is nothing else I can do but jump through the wormhole as if that was always my intention and pretend our combined presence is only a coincidence.

I move a little distance away from the wormhole in the adjacent system and activate my ship's cloak. I hold my position for a couple of minutes before jumping back, hoping that the Imicus pilot is fooled, or bored, and has returned to his tower. A glance at d-scan shows two Imicus ships visible and there are none in my overview, so one cannot be cloaked nearby watching the wormhole. Maybe my ruse worked. I warp back to the tower and resume my observation. The second Imicus moves to a canister jettisoned by the first, grabs the contents, and warps off. I suspect the jet-can held bookmarks but the direction of warp doesn't correlate to either wormhole in the system. I try to follow but fail to locate the ship, having it drop off d-scan. It may have cloaked or the capsuleer logged off, I'm not sure.

I return to the tower in time to see the first Imicus warp away again, this time to the static wormhole in this system. I don't warp to one hundred kilometres off the wormhole because I strongly suspect that the inhabitants already know about this wormhole and the pilot is going to use it. But I also don't want to make the same mistake as earlier and reveal myself unnecessarily, so I choose to warp my Manticore to ten kilometres from the wormhole which should, and in this case does, let me hold my cloak. My hunch is right, the Imicus drops almost on top of the wormhole and jumps through a few seconds later. Once his ship has disappeared I drop my cloak and burn the five kilometres towards the wormhole to get within jumping distance and follow.

In the other system, the Imicus is uncloaked and pootling away from the wormhole, giving me plenty of opportunity to shed the session change cloak, activate all my systems, and lock his ship. My siege launchers throw a couple of volleys of torpedoes at the frigate before it manages to jump back in to the C6, his shields and most of his armour destroyed. Again I follow, hoping to finish the job, but even my sensor boosted ship isn't quite quick enough, the Imicus warping away before I can get positive lock and disrupt its warp drive.

A conversation request appears as I activate my cloak and return to watch the tower. The first Imicus pilot is still around, it seems, and he wants a word with me. It is 'just plain rude' to shoot at his pilots in their home system, he says. I can only agree with that, I wasn't really trying to make friends. It seems he had a bad day yesterday and doesn't want a repeat today of the dreadnought and three dozen stealth bombers that 'kicked their ass', destroying their defences and tower. They are having to repopulate the system after the devastating assault, no doubt having a scanning ship first find a way out to empire space and pilots then hauling goods in through the scanned exit.

The director of the corporation offers me a future bribe to leave their system alone. It sounds like a good deal to me. I understand how w-space connections work and that after a day, when he promises to pay, I will not likely see this system again for months and therefore be in no position to extort payment should it not be made. I am also aware that the director of a corporation living in a class 6 w-space system would understand this and that the offer is likely an empty gesture. But what he doesn't know is that it is already later than I want to be awake and that I was ready to leave this system to go home after the Imicus escaped, fairly sure that the pilots would not come out to play again for a while anyway after the attack. If I can get some iskies out of doing what I was going to do anyway, all the better.

I doubt I'll see any payment, but I give the director my word that I'll leave his system and not return today. I also tell him that I'll advise my corporation not to bother his pilots, which I do to the couple of pilots still around, although neither of them were planning to go near the C6. And now I go to sleep, happy simply to have experienced the hunt another day.

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