Catching a coincidental Curse

24th October 2010 – 3.19 pm

My Malediction interecptor is launched, I board it and warm up its systems, then plunge it towards our static wormhole. A new connection has opened in the w-space constellation, bringing with it active pilots, and the hunt is on. I warp through our adjoining class 4 system to the connection to a C2, where I join fleet members in a Curse recon ship and Navy Comet frigate. We have a scout inside the class 2 system scanning for the new wormhole, which he finds, a K162 from a C5.

The scanning probes of an unknown scout in the C2 disappear, increasing out alert level. The class 2 system is unoccupied, which means that the pilot will need to jump to make some sort of progress, the only question is where he will go. Apart from the two K162s—the one coming from our neighbouring C4, and the new one from the C5—the C2 holds wormholes leading to another C5 and exiting to null-sec space. Normally we would wait for the cloaked ship to make itself known before revealing our own force, but we haven't been quiet up to this point. An earlier fleet engaged Sleepers in this C4 and I have already thrown torpedoes at a Tengu strategic cruiser.

As we suspect the scout in the C2 is either the same pilot or affiliated with the one from earlier, and so knows about our activity already, I jump my interceptor in to the C2 and warp close to our own scout as he sits near to the new C5 K162. Doing so lets me bookmark the wormhole for reference, instead of only our scout knowing its location, before warping to cover a different wormhole. Now the exit to null-sec space is the only wormhole we aren't monitoring, which should let us spy which way the scout moves.

I loiter on the C2's static connection to a class 5 system, but not for long. The wormhole flares and I get my systems hot, ready to engage. A Wolf appears! I target, lock, and tackle the assault frigate, moving to enter a rapid orbit around it. But the Wolf is fast, its guns ripping apart my shields in a couple of shots before I reach optimum speed. I need to warp out or my Malediction will pop long before support can reach me. The agile interceptor evades the Wolf and enters warp without fuss, and as the wormhole disappears behind me I also notice a second ship, even if I hadn't noticed the second flare. A Guardian logistics ship accompanies the assault frigate, information I share with my colleagues.

The Wolf and Guardian pair warp away from the static wormhole to appear at the K162 to the C5. Our own scout sees them arrive and jump in to the class 5 system, and follows. I am back at the K162 leading back to our neighbouring C4 system, the other side of which the rest of the fleet waits patiently. Hearing our scout call for assistance brings everyone through the wormhole to the C2 side where I sit, and the earlier contingency now shows its value. Ensuring a second pilot had the new wormhole bookmarked lets me warp the fleet to its position, rather than having us flounder with scanning ships or sitting stupidly helpless. In quick time we are at the K162 and jumping through to help our colleague.

The Wolf is on the wormhole shooting our scout's Loki strategic cruiser. With our reinforcements the assault frigate should be in trouble, but he is surviving and shooting, his companion in the Guardian providing plenty of repairs to keep the frigate intact. The logistics ship has moved to a good position seventy kilometres from the wormhole, too far for us to engage but easily within range of his own systems. We should be able to kill the Wolf, but removing the Guardian will make it easier and seventy kilometres isn't so far for an interceptor to travel. I burn towards to the Guardian at five kilometres per second, covering the space between us in little time, locking his ship and counting the seconds before I can get a point on him. The logistics pilot unsurprisingly turns tail and runs, realising my threat soon enough to let him warp out.

Without repairs the Wolf simply cannot withstand our damage, his ship popping shortly after his Guardian support has gone. Despite chasing the Guardian away my Malediction is able to turn back and return to the wormhole in time to lock and point the Wolf pilot's pod, giving him a couple of seconds to feel the fear of death before waking up in a new clone in a station in empire space, his fresh corpse floating in front of us in w-space. My Malediction finally has blood on it. And as we relish the small victory a lone Curse recon ship warps in to our position on the wormhole to offer a second target.

Weapon systems lock and fire again, the luckless Curse getting pummelled by a fleet still fuelled by adrenalin from a seconds-old kill. The Curse jumps through the wormhole in an attempt to flee, but is only followed and finished in the C2. At least he is able to get his pod away cleanly. But the pod remains in the system and visible on our directional scanners. It is possible he only has that one wormhole bookmarked, particularly as he doesn't seem to be a colleague of the Wolf and Guardian pilots. Indeed, piecing together the events looks like we interrupted a hunt by coming between two skirmishing parties, our presence a surprise to all involved. The Curse probably warped to our position expecting to see only the Wolf and ending up getting more than he bargained for.

The pod is vulnerable and has only one way home, blocked by a fast-locking interceptor. He sensibly starts warping between celestial bodies, and we start trying to find him. Although he does not move continuously the pilot has plenty of time to see our ships drop out of warp at his location to spur his tiny pod to fly off in a different direction before our drives even disengage. We enlist a new pilot's help, asking for a stealth bomber to be brought in to the system. The bomber can warp whilst cloaked and has no targeting delay when decloaking, which combined may let us sufficiently surprise the pod pilot. But a Tengu strategic cruiser is seen briefly on d-scan, which the pod seems to rendezvous with as both vessels disappear from the system.

I suspect the Tengu has been called to help guide the pod home. Assuming that the ship is a w-space occupant I warp to the C2's static connection to the C5, where I see the Tengu as it warps away, almost directly upwards. Without checking my navigation systems I warp to the C5 K162, thinking that's where the Tengu is headed, dropping out of warp as the strategic cruiser jumps in to the C5 past a colleage lurking on that wormhole. I follow a second later, just long enough to let the Tengu cloak on the other side. Flinging my interceptor in his general direction doesn't bump our ships and decloak him, and it seems that he warps away cleanly. I ask my colleague on the other side of the wormhole if he saw the pod jump through, but as he saw neither the Tengu nor myself jump just now I cannot rely on his answer.

I imagine the pod was guided back to the wormhole, where it jumped and headed homewards. The lack of a pod on d-scan in the C2 suggests this is the case and that the action is over. The hunt was exciting, the execution was excellent. Successfully using my Malediction in anger finally makes me glad I have one, too. Happy with the evening's events I head home to down a Quafe and relax.

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