Looking to get a Noctis

31st December 2010 – 5.31 pm

We have big neighbours today, the class 3 w-space system occupied and holding a Chimera and Orca, amongst other ships. The carrier and industrial command ship float gently inside the local tower's shields, with an Onyx heavy interdictor and Drake battlecruiser nearby, none of them piloted. My probes find a wormhole on the first hit, which seems like canny scanning sense until I realise there are only four signatures in total, including the wormhole homewards, although there are also nine anomalies in this otherwise tidy system. The wormhole is an exit to high-sec empire space, but is reaching the end of its natural lifetime, making it not even worth checking the destination system. Instead, I resolve the two signatures waiting to be discovered as radar sites, bookmark everything, and head home to take a break.

I consider taking my Manticore stealth bomber in to the C3 a little later, hoping to find some activity to disrupt, but take my Buzzard covert operations boat out to look for the new exit to high-sec that should have spawned by now. My choice is good, as the C3 remains sleepy and with the same ships sitting inert at the local tower, and the aging wormhole I found earlier has imploded. I resolve the new static wormhole, easy enough when it is the only changed signature, and jump out to see if I am close to market.

Now that I have trained the skill to pilot a Noctis salvager I may as well buy one and see if there is any fuss to be made over them, so I lurk cloaked by the wormhole in high-sec as I buy a ship, along with some fittings I work out in a rush. I plump for a standard split of tractor beams and salvager modules in the eight high slots, then opt for a choice of propulsion module and capacitor recharger in the mid slots, and hedge my bets with more capacitor recharge modules and agility modifiers in the low slots. I doubt I'll need to expand the already significant cargo hold, particularly as loot from Sleepers can be efficiently stored in a pack of After Eights.

With my shopping done I jump back to w-space to head home, where I can leave my Buzzard behind and take my pod out to bring in my new Noctis. Except I see there are now scanning probes in our home system, which weren't there when I left. I doubt the C3 inhabitants have woken up and found their way in to our system—their system was unchanged as I passed through, and I would expect them to have jumped out to high-sec through their static wormhole before heading deeper in to w-space—which means that a new wormhole has opened in to our system. I won't collect my Noctis just yet.

It is easy to see that whatever scout is in our system hasn't found our static wormhole yet, as his probes are all many AU away from my position at the wormhole. If he's being methodical it will take a while for his attention to get over here, what with the two dozen or so signatures messying up the system, so I launch probes and look for the K162. I have an advantage, as I have all of the clutter already bookmarked and I simply need to look for the signature that seems out of place, and I quickly am in warp to a new wormhole. The K162 comes from a class 4 system, much like our own, but I don't jump through it and only bookmark its location instead. Now I can set an ambush.

I swap the Buzzard at our tower for my Malediction interceptor, hoping that the scout isn't too smart and isn't monitoring the tower, or at least won't think anything of my ship appearing briefly. Now I warp back to our static wormhole and jump in to the C3, where I wait. I can be almost certain that the scout came through the K162 in to our C4, and is looking to continue his exploration, which can only lead him to the wormhole I am now sitting menacingly on. When he jumps through, I will do my best to catch his hopefully unsuspecting self and pop his ship. But that means waiting, and I think I already mentioned the large number of signatures he has to resolve in our system.

I keep a check on my directional scanner as I wait, making sure that no probes or additional ships appear in the class 3 system, beyond those already noted to be at the local tower. And I wait for the flare of the wormhole, listening for its distinctive sound to alert me of a ship's passage. Inevitably, I get bored and jump back home, quickly check d-scan again to confirm probes are still in the system, and return immediately to the C3 to once again wait, wait, wait. Punch d-scan, note no changes, go back to reading on my secondary computer systems. I have my sensors tuned to the wormhole's frequency so that any flare will be amplified, helping ensure I miss nothing, and still I wait. La la la, I get bored again and jum—the wormhole flares!

I get my interceptor's systems hot. Warp disruption modules are brought on-line, the micro-warp drive is engaged, and rocket launchers prepared. A Helios cov-ops boat appears! He is feeling confident, as he broke cover before the session change ended, but I am alert and primed. I fail to gain a positive lock on the ship, but I expect that and concentrate instead on throwing my ship directly at his. Success! My Malediction bumps the Helios, decloaking it, and I get a positive lock before it can warp away. Now the Helios is pointed and my launchers are active, spewing newly effective rockets towards the captured boat. His shields are obliterated pretty quickly but not much more, as he returns to the wormhole and jumps back to our home C4 to evade me.

I follow him through the wormhole, but maybe a second too slowly as I fail to intercept him in our home system to get the bump I need. But thinking I would be chasing him the way he came is why I took time to scan for the K162 before swapping to my interceptor. I haven't caught him on our static wormhole, but I can warp to the K162 and try again. But again I seem to be a second too slow, dropping out of warp at the K162 without seeing either the Helios or a flare of activity. It was close, but I don't get a kill this time. At least I got some shots in and managed to use my interceptor effectively, which I am quite happy about. And the action may not be over yet, as I can still follow him in through the K162 in to what I presume to be his home system. But I won't do that in my interceptor, it being a bit vulnerable, particularly now that it has been seen.

I return to our tower and swap the Malediction for my Manticore, preferring the combination of stealth and firepower until I know what repercussions my attack will bring. I warp to the K162, jump through, and explore. I was here before, about four months ago, and I have a tower listed in my notes. But d-scan only shows me an off-line tower, which turns out to be the same one in my notes, only abandoned. It looks like this isn't the home of the Helios pilot and that he must have come from elsewhere, and I can't find any wormholes in my current ship. I can't see any sign of ships or probes in here either, maybe making it a good time to collect my Noctis.

Actually, maybe it's not a good idea to try to bring a defenceless ship in from w-space after having just shot another capsuleer and not knowing for sure if a counter-attack is being staged. I warp back to the wormhole home, planning to get back in to my Buzzard to quickly scan for a wormhole in this neighbouring class 4 system, at least to satisfy myself that the capsuleer I engaged is not seeking revenge. But I only get as far as the wormhole before realising that I have prompted a reaction, a second Manticore seen lurking nearby and cloaking as I approach. I warped to zero on the wormhole, landing me on top of it and deactivating my cloaking device, so I have little option but to go with my inertia and jump home, holding on the other side for a while to see if the other pilot follows. He doesn't, but it certainly isn't time to collect my Noctis, not just yet.

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