Hitting a Hurricane

23rd November 2010 – 5.49 pm

Local empire space may be lacking wormholes again today. Our base system has nothing to find, and although one jump out finds a wormhole to a class 3 w-space system it is reaching the end of its natural lifetime and is not much use. I resolve only two magnetometric sites in a third system, as Fin flies in to low-sec space to find even less. Rather than leave the magnetometric sites to rot, or be found by other capsuleers, I decide to venture in to them now instead of at the end of the evening when I inevitably end up back in dock. I board my Damnation command ship, suitably configured with analysers and a salvager, and drag Fin with me for the ride.

Magnetometric sites in w-space are particularly dangerous, guarded by significant Sleeper presence, but with good rewards for survival. Magnetometric sites in high-sec empire space, on the other hand, are dreary affairs. The ones I've found have 'no hostiles, no spawn triggers', Fin tells me, checking her intelligence. Lots of armour, lots of firepower, and nothing to shoot. At least I snatch an electronic superiority skill book from one of the cans, but that's all. Suitably disappointed, I return to scanning. But even scanning is disappointing, searching system after system and not finding any signatures. Five systems are completely bare, the sixth only holding an anomaly.

Not wanting to get such an early night, Fin and I head across the border out of the region, each heading in a different direction that our well-situated base allows for. And now we get results. The first system in the next region has two wormholes to be found, both outbound, both stable, one to a class 3 system and one to a class 2. I jump in to the C3 first, hoping it be more likely to lead in to dangerous w-space. A punch of the directional scanner returns a large number of structures in the system, and I count twelve active force fields, which means twelve active towers. It's no surprise to see a whole lot of silos present. I don't take time to look for the towers, instead warping to the outer system to launch probes, where my attempt to be covert fails as I bump in to three more active towers on the three moons out here.

Scanning the C3 finds a wormhole, but the static connection leads right back to high-sec empire space. I go back the way I came and head to the class 2 system, which at least guarantees a connection in to deeper w-space. Jumping in gives a clear d-scan return, but the system is quite big. Warping around, after remembering to bookmark the wormhole back, locates a tower, with battlecruisers and logistics ships inside, but no pilots. I start to scan as I warp around, resolving an exit to null-sec space, but I notice a Hurricane battlecruiser and a Sleeper wreck on d-scan as I warp through otherwise empty space. I expand the scanning range of my probes and position them to encompass the area where the Hurricane is likely to be, but without putting the probes within his d-scan range, and find just the one anomaly. He must be there, and warping in to the site sees him indeed shooting Sleepers.

I alert Fin to this lone capsuleer in w-space, and she returns to our base system from her explorations to board a suitably pointy ship. She chooses an Onyx heavy interdictor, to stop both the ship and its pod from fleeing, as I bookmark a couple of wrecks and exit the system myself. We'll need more than just an Onyx to destroy the Hurricane, and my Buzzard covert operations boat won't be any help. The problem is that the Sleepers are spread out and the Hurricane moving, and as our base system is a few jumps away, taking us time to get there and back again, I cannot guarantee we can return to land near enough to the battlecruiser to disrupt it. I'll need to return in another stealthy ship, so that I can sneak in to a position for Fin to warp to.

My only choice for a cloaky ship with any real firepower is my Manticore stealth bomber, which isn't ideal but will have to do. I rush back to the high-sec system where the wormhole sits, having shared the bookmarks I have with Fin, and jump back in to the C2. I tell Fin not to be coy and jump in herself, the wormhole being out of d-scan range of the Hurricane, which should save us a few seconds. I warp back in to the anomaly to see the Hurricane still there, engaging a Sleeper battleship. But my position when I warp in is now almost seventy kilometres away from our target, and looking around finds no suitable celestial objects in the system I can 'bounce' off to get closer. I'll need to crawl cloaked to get in to position, and hope that the Hurricane doesn't finish and warp away before then.

It takes a while, but I get close enough to the Hurricane to call in Fin's Onyx. As she enters warp I change vector to get my Manticore out of her impending bubble, to stop myself from becoming a target and position me in to bombing range as a combat option. The Onyx lands, the bubble is inflated, and the Hurricance is trapped. I confirm with Fin that the Onyx can take a bomb before decloaking and launching, remaining at a decent range to start throwing torpedoes at the Hurricane. But its tank looks to be holding quite well, and now the Sleeper battleship has started shooting Fin instead of the Hurricane, and her buffer tank cannot take the combined assault. As the shields of the Onyx drop dangerously low I tell her to drop the bubble and warp clear, but the warp disruption field generator has just cycled and she is just as trapped as the Hurricane, and now in a bit more danger.

The Onyx explodes, thankfully destroying the bubble too to let Fin's pod warp back to the wormhole to empire space. I cloak and watch as the Hurricane warps away, seeing on d-scan it loiter for a while before exiting the system. I take a bit of time to recover the surviving modules of the Onyx, as well as looting one of the Sleeper battleship wrecks, before heading back to high-sec myself. On reflection, we could have used a bit more damage against the battlecruiser, but needing a second effort to reconnoitre the site limited our options. Or, perhaps, my collection of ships limited our effectiveness. Perhaps a Pilgrim recon ship, able to warp cloaked and fitted with energy neutralising modules, would be a good addition to my hangar.

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