Trapping a Cheetah

20th September 2010 – 7.58 pm

Some food recharges my system and I come back to have another look around today's w-space constellation. I take my Buzzard covert operations boat out, not seeing any sign of activity in our neighbouring class 4 system or the second C4 connecting to it, but seeing scanning probes on the directional scanner in the C3 makes me wonder if I should have a scanning boat more capable of combat. Perhaps a Manticore stealth bomber fitted with a probe launcher instead of bombs would be suitable, being far cheaper than a strategic cruiser and also offering no targeting delay on decloaking. It's something to ponder.

The presence of the probes in the class 3 system is suggestive of a new wormhole opening in to this crossroads. The two wormholes that were EOL and leading to C3s are now gone, and a new wormhole is indeed present, the jazzy JTQ signature resolving to be a K162 from a class 5 system. Jumping in finds a Thanatos carrier sitting unpiloted at a tower but no sign of activity. I don't bother scanning, having already found the static wormhole from the other side, instead beginning to think about catching the cov-ops boat that is in the C3.

I consider planting my Malediction interceptor on the C4 wormhole leading in to the C3, on the assumption that the scout will find it and jump through, but I doubt I'll catch him. I've already removed the sensor booster from the interceptor after I find even the boosted sensor strength isn't quick enough to lock a cloaking frigate. A colleague offers to drop a warp bubble on the wormhole to help slow the cov-ops pilot, which sounds like a good idea until I realise the pilot would simply jump back to the C3 and evade my clutches there.

But what I can do is swap to my Onyx heavy interdictor and have my colleague join the ambush in his Jaguar assault ship. My HIC's warp bubble can follow us through the wormhole and the Jaguar should be fast enough to 'bump' a cloaking ship to reveal it. So now we wait. And waiting is not always much fun, particularly if we are not sure if the target is still in the other system or has got bored and gone home to make a sammich. We call on another colleague to board a stealthy ship and take a look in the C3 for continued signs of scouting.

I drop the Onyx's warp bubble as our own scout enters the class 4 system, so that he can warp directly to the wormhole, but mere seconds after the module is deactivated the wormhole flares! I don't think it's out scout, my intuition confirmed as he drops out of warp next to me, and I quickly re-activate the warp bubble and get my weapon systems hot. Moments later a Cheetah cov-ops boat decloaks, obviously panicking at jumping in to our ambush and trying to flee back in to the C3.

The Cheetah's return jump fails, as his session change timer is far from expiring because of his fearful response. And as he is expecting to jump through the wormhole he doesn't try to cloak, letting both me and my colleague get a positive lock on his ship. The Cheetah quickly pops under our combined fire. The poor pilot's pod pivots in my HIC's bubble, a new session change timer initiated for having left a ship, however violently, stopping him from jumping even now and giving us ample opportunity to ransom his pod. But we just shoot the crap out of him.

I scoop the corpse, the wreck is looted and shot, but we don't clear the pocket. Not having seen any other activity, nor expecting any, we aren't in a rush to avoid retaliation. Instead, we send our scout in to the C3 anyway and then on to the C5, hoping to find something more to do, but there are no signs of life in either system. Our ambush is successful, even if it exhausts today's opportunities. Job's a good 'un. We head home to drop off the meagre loot and add another body to our morgue.

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