Trapped by an ambush

1st October 2010 – 5.23 pm

Today's exploration is underway. I go to join a scout through our static wormhole where the class 4 w-space system should be familiar. I was last here only three weeks ago but both towers listed in my notes are no longer present. Indeed, the system is now uninhabited and apparently inactive. An initial blanket scan with my probes reveals plenty of anomalies and signatures, which could take time to sift through to find a wormhole. I notice one signature mimics that of the K162 of our own system's static connection, both currently split between two points of uncertainty and of a similar strength, and choose to resolve that first. The signature is a wormhole, warping to its location finding it to be a K162 from a class 4 system, which explains the noted similarities.

My Buzzard covert operations boat drops out of warp close to the centre of the wormhole but not so close as to decloak my ship. I call up the information panel for the wormhole, finding it to be stable—as stable as wormholes get, at least—and bookmark its location. As I register the signature's identity and the class of the two systems the wormhole connects a Helios cov-ops boat decloaks in front of me and jumps through the wormhole. I am almost sitting on top of the connection but somehow the Helios doesn't get close enough to my Buzzard to interfere with the cloaking effect and I remain unnoticed. I also don't jump immediately after the Helios, as my Buzzard is unlikely to be able to catch or destroy it alone and I don't want to give my position away. But I will follow, hoping to find further signs of activity, and after waiting about a minute I break cloak and jump.

The other side of the wormhole is clear of ships, so my entrance is probably unnoticed. Hitting the directional scanner shows in the system some strategic cruisers, two Orca industrial command ships, the Helios, and a Stiletto interceptor. I move cleanly away from the wormhole to engage my cloaking device but before I can go looking for the ships on d-scan one of them comes to me, a Proteus strategic cruiser warping to the connection and jumping through. The Stiletto follows closely behind but stays on this side of the wormhole instead of jumping. I recognise this behaviour from my own. The Helios saw scanning probes in their neighbouring system—assuming this is their home system—and anticipates a scanning boat to jump through the K162 at some point, at which point the interceptor will snare the unsuspecting ship. It's a shame for their plan that I saw their Helios return and followed before they could scramble any ships. It's also a shame for me that I am now stuck in this system.

My own attempts to use an interceptor to catch cov-ops boats on wormholes may so far be disappointing but I shouldn't expect other pilots to be lacking in experience. The Stiletto looks like a real threat to me, and when it is joined by a Taranis interceptor and a Legion strategic cruiser, the latter of which then cloaks on the wormhole, I start to get concerned. I assume the Proteus that jumped previously has also cloaked and is lurking on the wormhole to act as eyes in the other system, as well as additional firepower for any ship that tries to flee back the way it came. It looks like I'll be here for a while, so I may as well explore the system.

Making sure I have the wormhole bookmarked I warp away to get more intelligence on this class 4 w-space system. There are two towers anchored here, one of which holds the two Orcas, both unpiloted, and the Helios seen earlier sits in the second tower. That was some exciting exploration, I suppose I'll head back to the wormhole where the two interceptors and probably the cloaked Legion still lurk. I am certainly not going to launch scanning probes. First, I already know and have bookmarked the system's static wormhole, as it is the way I came in. Second, I would rather not let the occupants know that they also have a cov-ops boat in their system. They are currently waiting for one in the adjacent system to come through in to their ambush, if they think there is also one wanting to get out they will probably be more persistent.

Actually, that's an interesting point. I am working on the notion that the ambushers don't know I am in their system, which fits with their positioning of scary, pointy ships on this side of the wormhole in full view and nothing on the other side, as confirmed by my scouting colleague. If their potential target disappears there should be no need for the ambush, and the pilots may get bored and disperse. I ask my colleague to recall his scanning probes and jump out of the system. If the cloaked Proteus is paying attention he will see the probes disappear from d-scan and then it is simply a matter of seeing how long the hostile pilots are willing to wait for no one to show up. It sounds like a good plan to me. I know that I can wait on a wormhole for a stupidly long time waiting for a potential ship to jump through, but if the target travels in a different direction I am quick to abandon the operation.

Now all I have to do is let the Proteus pilot tell his colleagues that the probes have gone, then maybe wait a few minutes as they hope in vain for a cov-ops ship to innocently jump in to their trap before getting bored and warping back to their tower. Except now an Anathema cov-ops boat from the same corporation warps to the wormhole and cloaks, then the Helios pilot turns up in a Sabre interdictor. A lack of activity has actually escalated their response. I may have picked the wrong wormhole to jump through today.

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