Creeping up on a Cyclone

10th December 2010 – 5.01 pm

Today we've had visitors. A second wormhole in our home system provides a link coming from a class 2 w-space system. I consider it more important to see who may be calling on us before preying in a different direction, and I point my Buzzard covert operations boat towards the K162. Jumping in to the C2 system sees two towers on my directional scanner, some Sleeper wrecks, but no ships. That's a curiosity, having wrecks but no pilots making them. It is possible that the anomaly has been cleared and the pilots have warped to another site, one outside of the range of d-scan.

I go looking for signs of activity. I launch a scanning probe, set it to its maximum range, and hit the 'scan' button. As the core probe gathers basic information about all the anomalies in the system I warp around, using d-scan to find active ships. I find none, but my probe gives me seven anomalies. I bookmark them all quickly, not bothering to note the signature identities, but don't visit any. If the site has been left for even a small length of time it will have despawned, leaving nothing for a probe to scan, and I won't be finding those wrecks now.

I would hope that whatever ships engaged the Sleepers will return, letting me hunt them in one of the current anomalies, but with no one visible in the system it seems a faint hope. I locate the towers in the system, three in total, as a Cyclone appears on d-scan. And goes again. I pass off the battlecruiser's brief appearance as unimportant and consider my options. I could scan for this class 2 system's second static wormhole, which should be an exit to empire space, or return homewards and explore the class 3 system beyond our own static wormhole. As I am here I launch additional probes, to more fully scan the C2.

A wormhole is soon resolved, an exit to high-sec empire space. I check the destination system, popping out to Minmatar space, eleven hops from Jita and thirteen from 'The Hub', as Fin calls it. I move away from the wormhole and cloak as I check these distances, not wanting to give away my presence. And it's perhaps good that I do, as the Cyclone reappears, on this high-sec side of the wormhole. He can't have seen me, and my name in the local channel shouldn't raise concerns with him, so I remain cloaked and watch. The Cyclone moves towards the wormhole and jumps in to the class 2 w-space system.

I wait for a while before following the Cyclone through the wormhole. By the time I jump he has moved away and, with drones visible on d-scan, it looks like he has warped to an anomaly. I'm glad I made the hurried bookmarks now and switch to the system map, after moving safely away from the wormhole, to locate the Cyclone. I match an anomaly with the Cyclone on d-scan and warp at range to the same site, coming to rest a safe distance away from any action. Glorious leader Fin has become available and I update her on events so far, the Cyclone looking like a target now.

As I move my Buzzard closer to the combat, to get a good reference point, I ponder our options. I am only too aware of the last time the two of us engage a battlecruiser in a class 2 w-space anomaly, losing an Onyx heavy interdictor in the process. We need more firepower than the Sleepers to break the tank of the battlecruiser, whilst having the shields or armour ourselves to withstand the capsuleer's and the Sleepers' combined fire. Anything less and we could face another loss. Or maybe we don't need quite so much. I get within fifteen kilometres of the Cyclone before it warps off, and I am pretty sure it hasn't been spooked by me or another ship.

It looks like the six Sleeper frigates have worn down the Cyclone's defences. The battlecruiser may well be a softer target than the Hurricane we faced before, but that doesn't mean we can be complacent. I am still taking this target seriously. At least, once he returns I will. From d-scan's returns, it looks like the Cyclone has left the system, and I would bet that the pilot is docking to repair his ship. His absence gives Fin and I a better opportunity to prepare an ambush. We will definitely use the Onyx, its warp bubble letting us capture the pilot's pod too, the only question is which other ship to bring along. We need some firepower, as well as some semblance of a tank.

I jump home and warp to our tower, copying the bookmarks I have so far gathered so that Fin has them too. Fin is ready in the Onyx, refitted with an energy neutraliser to help counter an active tank, and I swap the Buzzard for my Widow black ops ship. The Widow is overkill, and arguably too expensive for an operation like this, but there's no point buying one and then not using it. And if it can't destroy a Cyclone I'll be returning it and getting my ISK back. Besides, its affinity with cloaking aids my plan. We don't know when the Cyclone will return and can't just loiter in the system waiting for it, so I will get my Widow in to the anomaly and cloak, and when it returns Fin can jump in with her Onyx and warp to my position. The plan seems sound.

We both warp to the wormhole and I jump through, leaving Fin behind. Rather than warp directly to the anomaly I decide to 'bounce' off a planet, already having gauged relative positions of the planets and the anomaly when in my Buzzard. The bounce in to the site should let Fin drop short of my ship and land closer to the Cyclone. Except I don't get that far, seeing the Cyclone re-appear on d-scan as I get to the planet. I activate my cloak and hold my position, waiting to see what the other pilot does. He remains in the system and, noted with a refined d-scan search, warps back to the anomaly he was in to continue the combat where he left off.

I can't warp my Widow in to the anomaly without decloaking, but that's just fine. Before I warped out earlier I made a bookmark of my position near the Cyclone, which I also happened to share with Fin. There was no reason not to and, besides, information wants to be free. I give the order for Fin to jump the Onyx in to the system and warp to the spot in the anomaly, hoping that the Cyclone has returned to roughly the same position. It is our best chance of catching him now. I see the Onyx appear on d-scan, and align my Widow to the same bookmark. 'Let me know when you've got him.'

'Got him'. I decloak and hit warp, sending my powerful battleship towards Fin's position. As expected, the Widow bounces off the activated warp bubble, in which the Onyx and Cyclone are both trapped, but the Cyclone looks worse off at the moment. I try to wait patiently as the sluggish targeting systems of my big ship lock on to the smaller one, before launching devastating volleys of torpedoes towards the battlecruiser. The Cyclone doesn't last for long, its exploding hull spitting out the pilot's pod in to the welcoming embrace of the warp bubble, preventing it too from fleeing.

Again I watch the seconds count down as my targeting systems lock. But soon enough I am left looking at a corpse, along with five Sleeper frigates swarming around my ship. They are like gnats, though, and not even warp scrambling gnats. I consider swatting them aside but don't think it's worth wasting the ammunition. Fin loots and shoots the Cyclone wreck, I scoop the corpse, and we warp out of the anomaly. Fin jumps home, clearing the system, but I stay for a while, re-activating my Widow's cloak. It is unlikely that the pilot will return to this system, particularly as he looks to be a high-sec tourist, and he doesn't. I don't mind, it was a satisfying hunt and a good kill, and first blood for my Widow. I return home to sleep well, almost forgetting that I didn't even explore through our own static wormhole.

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