Disrupting an ad-hoc supply line

4th October 2010 – 5.32 pm

Our static wormhole is collapsed, we are again isolated and can start to earn some ISK to pay for the ships we lost to the returning strategic cruisers. An anomaly and radar site are currently in our system, offering easy opportunity for iskies, and the fleet reforms to engage the Sleepers within. I board my Damnation, fitted with codebreakers as Hack Hackz Maru, and we warp to and clear the radar site first. Rather than add my unnecessary Damnation to the combat in the anomaly, or waste time changing to a more suitable ship to do so, I swap in to my salvager and sweep up the wrecks in the radar site before heading to the now-cleared anomaly to do the same there.

Each fleet member pockets twenty-three million ISK for their efforts, which won't much pay for a new Dominix battleship but should defray the costs of lost battlecruisers. Now we can scan and open the new static wormhole in our system and hope for more opportunity in the class 4 w-space system beyond. The small fleet reconfigures again and I join several scouts for some exploration. The static wormhole is easy to find in an otherwise empty system and we jump through to an unoccupied C4. Scanning probes are launched as we examine the resources and connections in the system.

I soon resolve a wormhole in the C4 and warp to it, forgetting that perhaps we want to keep the connection inactive should we want to engage in more Sleeper combat. But it turns out to be a wise decision, as the wormhole is a K162 opened from a connecting class 5 system. I let others know that I am at the wormhole, so that they can warp to my position to bookmark its location themselves, then jump through to the C5. As I reorientate myself on the other side of the wormhole I see a ship on my overview. A Hoarder is eleven kilometres away from the wormhole and moving slowly.

With little pause I frantically click on the ship in the overview, decloaking and moving my Buzzard towards the Hoarder, taking care to lock on to the ship and activate my warp disruption modules. I call for my colleagues to warp to the C5 K162, and correcting myself for them not to come through as it looks like the Hoarder will instead jump unsuspectingly to them. My Buzzard is only a covert operations boat but it has a single rocket launcher fitted, and the Hoarder's shields are already depleted by the time it reaches the wormhole and jumps through. I follow to see it locked and attacked by the rest of the fleet, one scout's scanning Loki strategic cruiser no doubt causing the Hoarder pilot some panic. He tries to flee back to the C5, and although my Buzzard is polarised from the two quick trips the rest of the fleet isn't. Two colleagues follow in to the C5, popping the Hoarder and podding its sorry pilot.

My experience is starting to show. I know on sight that the Hoarder is an industrial ship, posing no threat. I also know that although de-activating a cloaking device causes a targeting delay dropping the session change cloak doesn't. I saw the Hoarder, identified it, checked my surroundings, and attacked, getting the rest of the fleet in to position quickly as I did. I'm pleased with that and we get a new corpse for our morgue as a result. Now I am curious as to what a hauler is doing by itself out here. The class 5 w-space system is unoccupied and there is nothing else visible on the directional scanner, so we start exploring further.

A scout finds two wormholes in the C5, one inbound and one outbound connection to null-sec k-space. Just as I am thinking that this still doesn't explain the Hoarder's presence a pod appears at one of the null-sec wormholes. The pod belongs to the pilot of the Hoarder, no doubt because he is based in null-sec. The pod is spotted jumping in to the C4 and warping away from the K162, but we still haven't fully scanned that system yet. A more concerted effort finds the static connection in the class 4 system, which leads to an unoccupied class 1 system. And now it seems likely that the Hoarder pilot was hauling goods between null-sec and empire space, using the relative safety of unoccupied w-space systems to do so. It is unfortunate for him that a new connection opened in to his route.

More scanning reveals the exit wormhole in the class 1 system, indeed leading to high-sec empire space. Finding the wormhole also finds a Buzzard jumping in through it. The different affiliation of the pilot suggests he's a high-sec tourist and has accidentally stumbled in to the action. Meanwhile, a colleague has taken the initiative and swapped in to an Onyx, planting the heavy interdictor on the C5 K162 in the hopes of trapping more unwary capsuleers. There are a couple of flares whilst she sits there, one explained by a Manticore stealth bomber apparently roaming between null-sec, the C5, and the C4, but he cloaks and is able to move out of the Onyx's warp bubble.

Even with my agile Buzzard and a Harbinger battlecruiser for support we aren't quick enough to catch the stealth bomber on its return. It sneaks through the bubble to jump through the wormhole and, although we follow, is able to warp away on the other side. As we rue the escape of the Manticore the Buzzard seen earlier is spotted in the C5, explaining the second flare of the wormhole. The class 5 w-space system connecting to null-sec k-space may be active but the travellers are not going to be caught so easily now. And it is getting late for me. I leave my colleagues to their continued stalking and return to our tower in the home system to get some sleep after an evening of capsuleer hunting.

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