Hobbling a Heron

5th February 2011 – 3.11 pm

Glorious leader Fin has blood on her new Crow, and now we're continuing to cake it on our Tengus. The interceptor caught an Imicus frigate—with a little help from my scanning—scouting our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, which we took to be a potential threat to our Sleeper operation. Rather than risk our strategic cruisers we found the frigate and popped it, podding the pilot at the same time. And now we're back in the same anomaly, one of only two in the system, shooting Sleepers once more.

Another pilot has been seen at the local tower, but he was idle and not looking to cause trouble. I still keep a watchful eye on my directional scanner, though, as his attitude could change, particularly if some of his colleagues turn up to provide support. And when the three probes on d-scan turn in to four I get concerned. Of course, three probes should concern me, but they are left in the system from the destruction of the Imicus, and I am discounting them. Four probes become five and I'm feeling less comfortable about continuing with our Sleeper combat.

It's irrational to be worried about extra probes turning up, really. A single probe would find the anomaly in just one scan, and d-scan would confirm our presence in it. In fact, a probe could be launched and positioned so that all the anomalies in a system can be found without the probe itself being detectable. I often use this fact to my benefit. The presence of multiple probes means the scanner isn't looking for us, or he's inexperienced. Even so, an active pilot is a dangerous pilot, or a target, and I'd prefer to know which.

The final Sleeper in this first anomaly finally pops and I send Fin home to get her Noctis salvager, whilst I remain in the site to protect her as she reaps the profits of our combat. Fin salvages, I watch d-scan. The probes disappear and I align to the exit wormhole I resolved earlier. I know that there are only two signatures in the system that require resolving, the exit to null-sec being one, the K162 heading home beind the other, and I am expecting the scout to visit one of them. I take a chance that he's heading to the static connection and warp there, as a Heron appears on d-scan. Another frigate!

As the Imicus, the Heron is incapable of warping cloaked, making it vulnerable to detection and far more susceptible to attack. Granted, it has only been a matter of minutes since his colleague was brutally left a corpse floating in space, not giving much time for them to learn from this lesson, but at least they could wait to scout until the two hostile strategic cruisers have left their system! The Heron pilot is lucky this time, not being at the wormhole to null-sec. A quick sweep of d-scan shows the frigate to be coincident with our K162 home and I throw my Tengu in to warp in that direction, but not quickly enough. The Heron has gone by the time I drop out of warp.

The Heron pilot didn't jump in to our class 4 home system, leaving him here, but as my Tengu is optimised for Sleeper combat it doesn't have any warp disruption modules. If I am to hunt the new target I ought to swap ships, and seeing as I am sitting on our K162 that's what I do. I pop home briefly to bring my Manticore stealth bomber in to the C3. My first stop is to check the local tower, to see if the Heron is there. Fin has meanwhile completed salvaging the Sleeper wrecks, perhaps a little flustered that I abandoned my post as protector—again—and is now back at our tower with a good haul from the single anomaly.

I find no ship or pilot at the tower in the C3, but warping to the inner system sees probes have been launched again. With only two signatures to scan I would have thought the pilot would be more thorough the first time, but apparently not. I lurk at the static wormhole, but as the probes aren't within 2 AU of this position yet there is plenty of time before the Heron gets here. Fin comes to the C3 once more in her Crow, happy to sit on the exit wormhole with an eye to swooping down on the Heron when it appears. I return to monitor the tower.

Yep, the Heron's at the tower now. Actually, he's not quite at the tower, more like 185 km from the tower, at a can sitting far outside the shields. No doubt the can acts as a convenient point for ships to warp to, making it easy for the locals to warp in and out of the shields instead of having to crawl slowly or warp off-grid. But, then, the drawback is that other ships can also warp to the can, 'other ships' being the likes of me. A can is certainly convenient, but it's convenient for everyone. A bookmark is just as useful, and can be shared with allies but not enemies.

I warp to thirty kilometres off the can and, after calling Fin to my position, continue pushing forwards under normal engines. At twenty-four kilometres I decloak and launch a bomb, locking and pointing the Heron at the same time, trying to stop it fleeing. Hopefully I have timed the bomb well enough not to hit Fin coming out of warp, but late enough that she doesn't miss the kill. As it turns out, a single bomb is enough to pop a target-painted Heron, although my first volley of torpedoes is already on its way to the non-existent ship. At least I didn't throw the torpedoes in to the bomb's explosion this time.

I have a new target. I lock and point the foolish pilot's pod, my sensor booster beating his reflexes, and fire a couple of volleys of torpedoes as quickly as the siege launchers cycle, fearful of the tower defences locking on to my own ship. I turn the pod in to a corpse, and re-activate my cloak without any harm befalling me, just as Fin arrives. Sorry, Fin. I acted quickly, not willing to let the pilot escape his doom because of any delays. I honestly thought the interceptor would get here in time, though.

Scoop, loot, shoot. The corpse and wreck are dealt with efficiently, leaving no traces of our second podding of the day, Fin wondering if perhaps we've isolated the capsuleers from their system. We have just sent two of the scouts back to empire space, after all. In an act of generosity, mixed with blackmail, Fin offers the pilots a bookmark to the wormhole leading in to their home, for the low price of three hundred million ISK. Apparently this is too rich for them. Besides, another pilot turns up in the C3, one who is confident in his abilities. 'Trust me', he lets Fin know, 'I'm not going to lose that tower. I may have been sitting there like a nub, but I have backup'. At this point, it just sounds like he'll make a new target for us to shoot.

More probes are launched in the system and it does indeed look like we have a suitably cocky pilot to hunt. And as we have both of the signatures in the system bookmarked, and he still doesn't, we probably have an advantage. The exit from the system even leads to null-sec, letting us plant an Onyx heavy interdictor on the wormhole that can use its formidable warp bubble on both sides. But, sadly, my time is limited and I have to leave. But I leave with Fin stalking the wormhole to null-sec in a cloaked Onyx, poised to react when the scanning probes are recalled. I rather fancy her chances more than the local's.

  1. 2 Responses to “Hobbling a Heron”

  2. Add the confident mofo as a contact and reward his confidence with rain of fire on his boat when given the chance! =)

    By Mdih Lihu on Feb 5, 2011

  3. Like I need an excuse to shoot someone. But I have the details in my notes, should we come across the same C3 again.

    By pjharvey on Feb 7, 2011

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