Planet goo piracy

8th October 2010 – 5.22 pm

An invitation to explore is returned with our scout, bookmarks for today's w-space constellation connections copied to our shared can. I make my own copies of the bookmarks and warp to our static wormhole in my Buzzard. Not all connections and systems have been mapped, so I am expecting to need my covert operations boat instead of a more combat-orientated ship. Our neighbouring class 4 w-space system is empty and I warp across and jump through its static connection to a C3, bringing me in to a system I visited only two weeks earlier. I have the location of a tower in my records, and now a current bookmark pointing to the same moon, where I find an Iteron hauler unpiloted inside the shields. The system is unnotable today as it was before and I move on.

I have a choice of two directions to head, either through the system's static wormhole or a K162, both leading to another C4. I jump through the K162 in the hopes of finding some activity and I may be in luck. My ship's directional scanner shows me three on-line towers and as many ships, an Orca industrial command ship and two Drake battlecruisers all sitting piloted inside the shields of one of the towers. Another ship warps in to the same tower, the pilot of the Cormorant destroyer swapping in to a third Drake, and this action suggestive of imminent combat gets me warping out of d-scan range of the tower and launching a combat scanning probe. I set the probe to its maximum range and perform a blanket scan of the entire system, letting me uncover every anomaly without revealing my presence. But before I get too excited here my scouting colleague has a rather more pressing discovery.

A Falcon recon ship has accompanied an Orca in warping away from a tower in a class 2 w-space system found a couple more systems deep. The unlikely pairing has our scout wondering what is happening, and even considering the Orca to be acting as bait for an unseen trap, but anyone else scouting, me included, is already rushing home to swap ships. I swap the Buzzard for my Manticore stealth bomber, thinking I should fit an ECCM module to counter the Falcon's jamming capabilities but deciding to scramble as quickly as possible rather than messing with fittings in the hangar. I am half-way through our neighbouring system when I hear that the two ships have been spotted at a customs office. The slow-moving, expensive Orca is being used to collect planet goo, protected by seemingly a lone ECM ship! These foolish capsuleers need to be shown that w-space is too dangerous for such a weak configuration.

I have bookmarks leading me in to the second class 4 w-space system but not in to the newly scanned C2. For that, the scout will need to jump out of the system. I am first in to the C4, swiftly followed by another colleague in a stealth bomber, and we warp to the scout sitting on top of the C2 connection. 'They're at the customs office at planet one', we're told, and I'm jumping through. I clear the wormhole cleanly and engage my cloak before warping to the customs office around the innermost planet, getting my weapons systems ready for combat. Dropping out of warp sees no ships in my overview, they must have moved on. Hoping that their collection of planet goo hasn't ended so soon I point a narrow d-scan beam at each planet with a customs office but find no ships. But there is one planet out of d-scan range.

There is no other logical choice of location for the two ships and I impulsively send my ship towards the customs office of the planet out of d-scan range. I drop out of warp to eagerly find the Orca and Falcon, but there is not much I can do yet. I aimed to drop short of the customs office so as not to get too close and decloak, but this has positioned my Manticore out of range of warp disruption effects of both ships. I am also the only ship of the fleet here, although I am calling and repeating the location to get other ships with me as soon as possible. At least waiting for support and crawling towards the ships gives me time to consider whether to launch a bomb or not.

A bomb would hit both targets but also require me to stay out of warp disruption range initially. The Orca probably won't be able to warp out before I could get within point range, although it's best to assume the pilot has taken the precaution to align to his next destination already, and the Falcon is unlikely to warp away to leave his charge unprotected. I think I am safe to launch a bomb. And I hear that I have support, the second stealth bomber in position along with our scout's stealthy strategic cruiser. Pilots are ready, time is of the essence, I decloak and launch my bomb!

What a spanner. My bomb flies off in completely the wrong direction, as I remember that not only did I have to close the range between my Manticore and the targets but I also had to manoeuvre around the customs office. My ship was pointing towards empty space on bomb launch. But it gets the attention of the two ships, particularly that of the Falcon who is now thoroughly jamming my targeting systems and preventing any positive lock on either of them. Having the Falcon's full attention is just dandy, as it allows my colleagues to follow my cue and decloak, lock, and pop the recon ship within seconds. The Orca is now a juicy, fat target for us all.

I get a positive lock on the Orca, disrupt its warp engines, and start pummelling its shields with torpedoes. The damage moves from the shields to the armour, and from the armour to the hull, our combined firepower reducing the industrial command ship to a wreck in surprisingly short order. The Orca's pilot escapes with his pod, as did the Falcon's, leaving us two wrecks to loot and the possibility of retribution to consider. I am able to loot the wreck of the recon ship but the Orca is stuffed full of goodies. The ship apparently wasn't emptied when it came out to collect planet goo and has all kinds of modules and fittings inside its hold, far more than we can haul back. Not without a hauler, anyway.

It would normally be as stupid to bring in a fragile hauler to loot wrecks as it is using an Orca to collect planet goo, but we have plenty of ships in the system and provoking a reaction could be to our benefit. Bringing the Iteron hauler in to the system to plunder the Orca's wreck also maximises the profits of our piracy. And there are rumblings of ship activity—a Legion strategic cruiser and a couple of stealth bombers scrambled—all watched by our now cloaked scout who reports little actual movement by the locals. Our Iteron will either return home with buckets of loot or act as bait for our still-lurking ships. But the only trouble we have is still not being able to carry everything. The Orca really needed more than a single Falcon for protection considering our cargo-optimised Iteron can't haul half what it was holding—the other half destroyed in the explosion.

Our Iteron gets out of the system cleanly and I follow. The locals don't look to be keen to retaliate, although they are apparently tracking our movements. A battlecruiser is sent in to clear up the remaining loot, taking its time and trying to appear inept. The only response it gets is a communication in the local channel asking 'do you think you could use a bait ship that's a little more tempting? I mean, a Myrmidon, come on!' although I doubt any ship would tempt them in to an engagement now. I have no idea what these capsuleers were thinking in taking the industrial command ship out for a routine collection operation where a much cheaper hauler would have sufficed, but it led to a lively start to the evening.

  1. 2 Responses to “Planet goo piracy”

  2. Nice job on the kill and plundering!

    By Ardent Defender on Oct 8, 2010

  3. Thanks! They made it pretty easy for us, but everyone pulled together and organised quickly enough to take advantage of the situation. It was a good team effort all around.

    By pjharvey on Oct 10, 2010

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