Gunning for gas miners

28th September 2010 – 5.16 pm

The Bhaalgorn has gone, the C2 is quiet again. I take my Manticore stealth bomber back in to the previous class 4 w-space system and onwards through its static wormhole to another C4, where some minor activity has been seen. A Drake looked to be sweeping a ladar site of Sleepers but instead of going out to mine swapped in to a Helios covert operations boat and disappeared. I jump back in to the system, to join a colleague in his scanning ship, as the Helios is still nowhere to be seen. I warp to a safe distance from the tower in the system and wait.

It doesn't take long before the Helios returns. The pilot now swaps in to a Thorax cruiser, a conventional choice for gas harvesting, and warps off. We wait, wondering if the Thorax has started to mine, and soon see a jet-can appear on the directional scanner. We have a new target. Only much later will I realise that the time the Helios was absent would have been well spent scanning the system for ladar sites in preparation, negating the need to hunt for the ship's location now. But hunt we must and it is what we do.

My colleague is a better scout than me, regardless of my being in a stealth bomber, making me confident that we are going to catch the Thorax. Even better, a second pilot turns up at the tower, boards a Myrmidon battlecruiser, and warps out in the same general direction as the Thorax to present us with two targets. Our plan is for the scout to find their general location with d-scan, use scanning probes to get a beacon to warp to, then squad warp both of us and a third colleague to the targets. Our third member has been alerted to the targets and has a suitable ship ready, but one that isn't stealthy. We congregate on the wormhole in to the system so that he can jump in and be carried by the squad warp command.

Whilst the scout narrows down his search the targets are prioritised and what limited strategy required discussed. We have enough points to hold both ships but we need to make sure we don't all arbitrarily point the same ship. Thinking about it, I start to get concerned about the gas mining ships being fitted with warp core stabilisers, which would let them warp away despite our warp disruption modules. A heavy interdictor's warp bubble would prevent escape but it would mean travelling back two systems to swap my Manticore at our tower. I think it's worth it and the hunt is paused as I get the more threatening ship.

I jump out of the system, my Manticore's cloak dropping for the couple of seconds during the transition, and the scout alerts us that the miners are moving. The Thorax and Myrmidon have gone from his narrow d-scan beam and must have warped out of the ladar site. It looks like they had a really good eye on d-scan and a solid evacuation plan, although they still risk sending an Iteron hauler in to the site to collect the harvested gas from their jet-can. Even if I had managed to get my Onyx back to the wormhole it looks like the targets would have exited the site whilst we were all visible in warp.

The hunt is not quite over yet. The two capsuleers swap their cruiser hulls for frigates and head out to scan, no doubt looking for the wormhole they weren't aware of. I eschew my Onyx heavy interdictor for the fast-locking and -moving Malediction interceptor, sitting on the other side of the wormhole they are scanning. Our scout remains in the active system to monitor the targets. He sees the probes disappear from d-scan and we get ready for any jump through the wormhole, but none comes. Unsurprisingly, it seems that the capsuleers just wanted to find the wormhole and not throw themselves in to an ambush. I can't blame them. And it's late anyway, so I head home to get some sleep.

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