Deterring a Drake

15th October 2010 – 5.26 pm

The static wormhole clings to what little life it has left, collapsing almost an hour after it was expected to. But goes it does and now we can explore our new w-space constellation. A corporation scout resolves the new static wormhole in our home system and three more of us use him as a beacon to warp to. We hold and wait at the wormhole until the scout in the neighbouring system declares the directional scanner to be free from targets before jumping through ourselves. The only activity in this class 4 system is all of our probes zipping about scanning various signatures, the occupation that I noted on my last visit ten weeks ago having departed cleanly.

Our expert scout is the first to locate a wormhole and, again, we take advantage of the collaborative scanning effort to warp to his position when he sits on edge of two systems. The scout jumps through to the class 1 w-space system and spies a tower and a Drake on d-scan. As d-scan also reports some Sleeper wrecks accompanying the battlecruiser it looks like we have a target. The wormhole bookmarked, I turn my Buzzard covert operations boat around and head homewards to board a more suitable ship. But before I am even back at our tower the Drake disappears. My return is not in vain, as it lets me copy all the bookmarks our expedition has gathered so far to our shared can for the benefit of other capsuleers.

Rather than head out and continue scanning I swap in to my Onyx heavy interdictor in case the Drake returns. I take the HIC out of our system and plant it firmly on the wormhole leading to the C1, joined by a couple more pilots enjoying the thrill of the non-existent hunt, waiting for the Drake to return to the unfinished anomaly. In the meantime, our scout has found the static wormhole in the class 1 system, an exit to high-sec empire space.

I ask the scout to place his boat on the exit wormhole in the C1 so that our small offensive fleet can set up camp. He agrees and warps to the wormhole he has resolved. Camping a wormhole connecting to high-sec space is pretty futile, as any competent pilot can easily escape through the connection to safety in empire space. But occasionally a pilot will panic and reveal himself before the session timer ends, giving us a brief window of engagement. Besides, the w-space constellation is small today and, despite the camp's futility, if the Drake doesn't return we won't have much else to do.

The high-sec wormhole we have in the C1 is even less likely to bring in any targets, as our scout drops out of warp to find it reaching the end of its natural lifetime. Not many high-sec tourists will want to jump through a dying wormhole. Well, except for the Cheetah cov-ops boat who turns up as our scout sits cloaked nearby. We jump and warp to his position at the wormhole as another ship enters the system, the Drake returning from high-sec. It looks like he has come to complete the anomaly he started, warping away from the wormhole as he sees our fleet reaching it.

I doubt the Drake will want to remain in w-space now that he's seen us, but the wormhole camp becomes much more effective with him in the system. My HIC's warp bubble can be used to good effect to stop ships warping directly to the wormhole, and the battlecruiser's travel from the edge of the bubble to the wormhole will give us a good opportunity to test his shields. But our scout wasn't on top of the wormhole when we warped to him, dropping short to prevent getting decloaked, and in turn I dropped short of the scout's location to prevent decloaking him, leaving me twenty kilometres from the wormhole.

I engage my reheat and burn hard towards the wormhole, not activating my warp bubble just yet as the module reduces reheat boost to almost nothing. I cover the wormhole, in the optimal position to activate my bubble, but the Drake must have already turned around and been in warp, as he reappears on top of the wormhole and not listing on the edge of the warp bubble. It is a simple matter for the battlecruiser to jump back to high-sec, no doubt happy to leave the Sleepers behind and in return keeping his ship and pod. But the Cheetah is still somewhere in the system and my warp bubble is encompassing the exit wormhole.

An experienced cov-ops pilot would have no qualms about passing through the warp bubble of my Onyx, as a cloaked ship will remain cloaked even if it can't warp. Warp to the wormhole, hit the bubble, manually navigate to the wormhole and jump. But as we are here we may as well keep the operation alive. Scanning probes are now seen in the system, no doubt those of the Cheetah. It looks like he is probing the wormhole back in to the class 4 system connecting to our home system. The Cheetah has little reason to head that way except out of curiosity or to try to pull us away from the exit wormhole, so we simply split the group and send a couple of pilots to monitor the wormhole homewards, keeping my Onyx and a support ship covering the exit.

The Cheetah not only finds the K162 but jumps through to the C4. With the cov-ops ship in the other system we have a much better opportunity to catch him when he jumps back, holding his boat in the warp bubble and potentially 'bumping' him to force his cloaking device to de-activate. I drop the Onyx's bubble, as soon as its thirty second activation time expires, and warp to the C4 K162 to set up a new camp, w-space on both sides. But as I am in warp the Cheetah returns from the C4 in to this class 1 system, evading our Loki strategic cruiser and Federation Navy Comet frigate, and warping to the wormhole back to high-sec empire space as my Onyx is in warp in the opposite direction. He jumps out of w-space safely.

It was either blind luck or a clever ruse by the Cheetah pilot to jump through to the C4 and back again so quickly. He knew he had to get past two combat ships, one quite agile, and had no way of knowing that the wormhole would be free of the Onyx. Either way, he manages to escape. Our hunting operation winds down, with no more ships in the system and the slowly dying exit to high-sec unlikely to bring others in. We head home and swap ships for some Sleeper combat, clearing a radar and two magnetometric sites in our neighbouring C4. I get to end the evening piloting my Damnation command ship again and getting paid seventy million ISK for the privilege. W-space is treating me well.

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