Intercepting an Imicus

4th February 2011 – 5.52 pm

Two Tengus out to play, shooting Sleepers who get in their way. Fin and I are plundering the first of two anomalies in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, the only two sites of interest here. The system is occupied but inactive, a couple of haulers turning up briefly to do little of nothing before disappearing again. At least we can steal what little profit can be found here, and our HAMmy strategic cruisers are cutting through the indigenous fauna.

We don't get far with our culling of wildlife, though. An Imicus appears on our directional scanner, and although the frigate is far from a concern for our powerful combat ships its presence could herald the appearance of any kind of threatening force. Interestingly, the Imicus doesn't cloak, remaining visible on d-scan. The frigate is not capable of warping cloaked, so it could be travelling, or it may be an inexperienced pilot not understanding the dangers of being seen.

The exit wormhole from this C3 leads to null-sec, and it seems unlikely to me that a tourist from lawless k-space would be naive about cloaking. Even so, in the hopes of a quick kill, I send both of our Tengus in warp to the wormhole, hoping to catch the Imicus before it gets its bearings and apparently oblivious to the thought of flying in to an invading fleet. But he's not here. Even so, d-scan shows the ship not to be coincident with a celestial body, perhaps meaning a new wormhole has connected in to this system, bringing with it fresh opportunities for exploration and hunting.

We both warp and jump home, Fin swapping in to her new Crow interceptor and me in to a Buzzard covert operations boat. I shall be looking for the new wormhole, flinging Fin in its direction once found for her to destroy the encroaching Imicus. But jumping back in to the class 3 system sees no frigate on d-scan. He must have cloaked. I warp to the other side of the system to launch probes, whilst Fin sits on the wormhole in case the Imicus turns up to scout the signature.

The Imicus reappears on d-scan, perhaps because he has entered warp. But he doesn't arrive at the K162 leading to our class 4 home system, and he isn't at the wormhole to null-sec. I bring my combat probes in to the system and start scanning his position. Normally I would take a few minutes to more carefully discern the target's location, before skilfully arranging probes to resolve the ship's position in a single scan, to minimise the visibility of my probes. But I don't think there's time for finesse, instead relying on speed of scanning to find the frigate.

I get a hit on a ship, and make successive scans to refine his position. Getting close to a solid signal, I warp back to our K162 and tell Fin to get ready. One more scan and I throw both of our ships in warp towards the uncloaked Imicus. Fin's Crow naturally enters warp more quickly than my Buzzard, and she's off. I decloak as I enter warp, not wanting my sensor recalibration delay to be a hindrance in locking the target. Fin's Crow and my probes have been visible on d-scan to the Imicus for a couple of minutes at least, my Buzzard can't be the tipping point that causes our oblivious target to flee.

I drop out of warp to see Fin's Crow already shooting the warp-disrupted Imicus, and lock the frigate to join in with my single rocket launcher. The fragile Imicus doesn't last long, the explosion launching the pilot's pod in to space. I lock and disrupt the pod, although I suspect Fin's systems were able to do that before mine, and both of our ships open fire again, until we're both looking at a frozen corpse gently spinning in vacuum. The corpse is scooped, the loot wrecked and popped, and we clear the pocket.

There was no wormhole. It looks like the Imicus pilot warped to a safe spot to scan the system. Using a safe spot is certainly wise, but it only increases security, not ensures it. The least he could have done was move, not stay stationary, but he really should have cloaked, making him all but impossible to locate. Perhaps it was an honest mistake, having warped to the wormhole and back and just this once forgetting to re-activate the cloak, or thinking he had but not checking closely enough. Even so, finding out that this capsuleer isn't a tourist but local to the system has Fin point out that 'once probes are launched, return to the tower!' More pilots need to pay attention to her.

But, really, for someone who has the resources to fit a Sisters expanded probe launcher he really should be flying a cov-ops boat for scanning purposes. The Sisters probe launcher survives the explosion, by the way, and Fin graciously lets me claim it as my own. The advanced electronics in the launcher have better error correction than in standard circuitry, improving the strength of the signal returned from the probes. This should speed my scanning times, either for general scanning or during a hunt, and is an excellent piece of loot to pull from a wreck.

It doesn't look like the Imicus pilot was looking for us specifically, although he surely must have seen our Tengus on d-scan. I can't believe any pilot can survive out in w-space without learning how to use d-scan. Then again, he hasn't quite survived, as we just podded him whilst being in full view of d-scan ourselves the whole time. Maybe he's still learning. A quick visit in my Buzzard to reconnoitre the local tower sees a Drake move forlonly inside the shields, but otherwise not looking like he'll go anywhere.

I monitor the Drake for a short while and it looks like the pilot's simply idling, maybe even nodding off at the controls. Fin thinks we can now continue clearing the anomaly safely—and I'm dropping her name there in case it all goes wrong. We jump home, get back in our Tengu cruisers, and return to the anomaly in the C3 where the Sleepers must have been wondering where we went. It's okay, silly drones of an ancient civilisation, we're back and we're shooting you.

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