Threatening a Thrasher

24th September 2010 – 5.53 pm

It's scanning time. Our static wormhole has been collapsed in a smooth operation and there is a new one to find, and a constellation of w-space systems beyond it to explore. Keeping our home system relatively clear of anomalies and signatures makes wormholes easy to find and resolve, and I am soon jumping through to our neighbouring class 4 system. The directional scanner is clear and a bit of warping around shows the system to be unoccupied. I launch probes and start scanning, finding a couple of anomalies and a dozen signatures. Corporation pilots form a small fleet of strategic cruisers to clear these two anomalies whilst our exploration progresses, leading me to an H900 wormhole, indicating passage to a class 5 system.

Jumping in to the C5 finds probes in the system, as revealed by d-scan, but there are no other obvious signs of occupation. I check the two planets sitting out of d-scan range from the wormhole but neither holds a tower in orbit, although there is a Thrasher visible on d-scan. I quickly sweep a narrow beam to see if the destroyer is sitting on a celestial body but when I go looking for him the ship disappears from d-scan. Scanning probes are still visible in the system somewhere, so I add to them and start my own scanning. Warping back to the wormhole brings the Thrasher back on d-scan, apparently above the K162 I am sitting on. I concentrate my scanning probes in that volume and reveal a second wormhole, which makes sense, as it is probably where the Thrasher came from.

As I resolve the location of the wormhole the Thrasher appears at the K162 and jumps through to our neighbouring class 4 system. My companion scout in his Loki strategic cruiser on the wormhole no doubt scares the Thrasher pilot, as he sees the destroyer warp off with some alacrity. But as the Thrasher is moving further away from his system he will no doubt want to head back at some point. The corporation fleet stops shooting Sleepers and I recall my probes to return home for a pointier ship. I swap in to my Onyx heavy interdictor and jump back in to the class 5 system to sit on the K162. Hopefully the Thrasher will want to escape and return home and, thinking the connection to the C5 clear, jump through to my waiting warp bubble. But only if he's not paying attention.

My scouting colleague is concerned with the Thrasher's lone appearance, suspecting it to be bait for a larger fleet behind it. As I am loitering in the C5 I keep a careful watch on d-scan for any such fleet appearing, but all I notice is a lack of anything except celestial bodies. Indeed, the scanning probes noted earlier are now absent too. I can't see why a capsuleer would choose to go scanning in a destroyer, which neither gets bonuses to scanning systems nor can fit a covert operations cloak, but that's what it looks like this pilot is doing. My colleagues keep an eye out for the Thrasher in the C4 and I hold station in the C5, but no movement is seen from either direction. Another possibility is that the Thrasher pilot has seen our strategic cruisers and informed his waiting fleet of battlecruisers that we would overpower them. Either way, nothing happens.

Our minor hunting operation ends and pilots head home to swap ships around, accommodating the now greater number of available pilots with a battleship fleet supported by Guardian logistic ships. I'm wondering if the Thrasher is sitting cloaked and will make a run for the wormhole if he sees us leave. After jumping back in to the C4 and warping to the wormhole home I immediately turn around again and warp back to the H900. But the Thrasher pilot is either more cautious than to make a mad dash or hiding by virtue of being logged off. Not wanting to waste the corporation fleet's time I return to the tower and get my support ship ready, tonight being able to fly my Damnation again.

I fit the command ship with analyser modules, as we are engaging Sleepers in a couple of magnetometric sites and need to be able to unlock the secrets of their artefacts. The combat is smooth, d-scan is watched for the Thrasher or his unseen friends, and the first artefact always seems harder to access than the others. I quite like analysing whilst combat rages on in the background. The laser fire and explosions is distant and muted yet it affects my companions in a way that is evocative of a certain capital ship fight that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but with fewer cuts to teddy bears in a forest.

The fleet engages Sleepers in the two magnetometric sites and I recover the artefacts, before moving on to clear the system of combat sites by warping to the remaining anomaly. Rather than refit the Damnation or swap in to a different combat ship I instead get my salvaging Cormorant destroyer out of the hangar and start looting and salvaging the wrecks in the magnetometric sites. I am sure the fleet can cope with a simple anomaly, and they do. The anomaly is finished quickly and a second salvager comes out to clear the site of wrecks before I have looted both of the magnetometric sites. All the loot and salvage is taken back to our tower and counted, and a split of over a hundred million ISK is deposited in to my wallet. There is still no sign of the Thrasher and I decide just to forget about him and get some rest.

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