Crows look like black monster shapes

11th February 2011 – 5.40 pm

It feels like ages since someone foolishly threw themselves in front of my missiles. Let's see if I cross such a capsuleer's path today. Scanning our system finds the static wormhole directly beneath our home planet, which provides some glorious views of the ringed gas giant when warping to and from the connection, but it's the wealth of scanning probes in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system that interests me more. There must be two scouts active, because of the number of probes visible on my directional scanner, and Fin suggests getting a HICceptor pair on our side of the wormhole to try to snare them.

An interceptor can be quick enough to bump a covert operations scanning boat and decloak it, but the boat could align quickly enough that it would still warp away before its engines can be disrupted. A heavy interdictor and its encompassing warp bubble will prevent the cov-ops from entering warp, but is too slow to have a hope of bumping a cloaked boat. Pair the two together, though, and you have a winning combination. Fin gets her Crow interceptor on the wormhole and waits for me to return, as I make a quick reconnoitre of the C3, finding an on-line tower but no ships. I add my own probes to those already in the system and perform a blanket scan, seeing five anomalies and fifteen signatures in total. Content that we may not have too long to wait before our wormhole is discovered I jump home, swap to my Onyx HIC, and join Fin.

And we wait. Fifteen signatures are not that many to disregard when they are mostly rocks and gas, and scanning should be relatively swift. But I suppose there is a time-dilation effect occurring, where being actively engaged in an activity will let time pass more quickly, and sitting doing nothing makes time drag. Still no one jumps through our wormhole, so Fin pokes her Crow through the connection and checks d-scan for continued activity. Half the probes are gone and a Buzzard cov-ops is visible, shortly followed by all probes disappearing and a second Buzzard decloaking. Maybe they are coming to us. Fin jumps back and we prepare for a possible incursion.

Of course, the appearance of the cov-ops ships on d-scan should mean they are either back in the local tower or are jumping through a wormhole, as Buzzards can warp whilst cloaked. That they weren't jumping through our wormhole whilst being visible on d-scan indicates that they aren't coming our way. I wish I could process information this quickly in the field, though. We wait a bit longer and still no ships come, and Fin goes back to the C3 for another look. This time, a Crow is on d-scan, the ship bearing the J-number of a w-space system as a name, but not that of the C3 itself. The interceptor is some 7 AU almost directly above our K162, most likely putting it on a wormhole itself.

I swap ships back to my Buzzard and go to the class 3 system to locate the Crow. Knowing roughly where he is to start with makes resolving his position easier, and I am soon staring at the Crow sitting on a K162 from a class 5 w-space system. The pilot is from a different corporation than the locals, so is more likely to be keeping pilots out than in. It makes sense. He could probably catch a few unsuspecting scouts if he sat on the other side of the wormhole, but by showing himself on this side he is telling pilots not to jump, if they know what's good for them. The deterrent factor is working on me. But it doesn't mean we can't engage him.

Fin and I swap to our Manticore stealth bombers. I doubt that we'll pop the Crow, unless he's not paying attention, as he can simply jump back through the wormhole to avoid a bomb's explosion. And we are more at risk from losing our ship than he is, realistically, because of the speed of the interceptor. But we can mitigate our risks and see what happens. I think I just want to shoot another ship. Our best bet is to launch a coordinated bomb attack and flee, not wanting to get close enough for warp disruption effects letting us modify our normal operation.

I think our best chance of a successful strike, and clean escape, would be to launch bombs at a range of around forty kilometres. The bombs' explosion will still catch the interceptor, and if he burns towards as at full speed, micro-warp drive on, he will have both further to reach us and more explosion to pass through before he does. Alternatively, to avoid the explosion he'd have to move away from us, letting us flee safely. It sounds like a good plan, at least.

Fin and I warp to the wormhole from different directions to line up our approaches without decloaking each other, and I run over the handy guide to stealth bombing for just such a situation. Align with the target, select a distant celestial object, decloak, launch, align out, and hit the warp button. The bomb will head towards the target, your ship will warp clear. I make sure Fin and I are in the position and aligned, at approximately the same distance from the target, and give the command. We decloak, launch, and cheese it.

Both bombs hit the wormhole, but not the Crow. The interceptor jumped back to the C5 a second before the explosion, which may well have saved his ship. I'm happy with the result, though, as we shooed the Crow and are both still alive. Fin warps back to the wormhole to see the Crow reappear, warp away, and return. I coincidentally managed to warp away from the wormhole to the local tower, somehow selecting a moon from my display, where there appears to be some minor activity, and my curiosity holds me at the tower for a short while. But it looks like the activity is winding down and there is nothing more to see. The Crow's reappearance, meanwhile, certainly suggests he is acting as a scout or deterrent to entering the C5, which is as good as confirmed when a Prowler transport ship jumps in to the C3 from the C5 and warps away.

I return home and board my Buzzard again, this time to scan the C3 more thoroughly. As I start my scan a new Buzzard appears on d-scan, and a few quick adjustments narrow down his general location, letting me find the wormhole he's on. I warp there to see a K162 from null-sec k-space, and the Buzzard jump through it. That may well be a newly discovered wormhole and the Buzzard was just taking a quick look in here. My continued scanning resolves four more wormholes here—the static connection to low-sec empire space, an EOL K162 from low-sec, a K162 from a class 2 w-space system, and a K162 from high-sec—before I stop looking. Perhaps the earlier laggardly scouting from Buzzards was because they were investigating all the connections. All but our own, it seems.

The connection to class 2 w-space is most interesting, offering more opportunities for hunting and exploration, and I jump through to take a look. A Probe frigate appears to be scanning, doing so sensibly from the safety of his tower, as there are probes on d-scan, but nothing else of interest. I scan the system myself, finding only four signatures, which are the two static connections, a ladar gas mining site, and another wormhole. It's a busy night tonight. The two static connections lead out to the C3 and high-sec empire space, the K162 comes from low-sec.

I seem to finish scanning at the same time as the Probe, watching him head off to the wormhole to high-sec. I follow, picking a distance to land from the wormhole that hopefully will let me engage, but he lands at zero and jumps out before I am even out of warp. Never mind, I have plenty of scanning complete. I'll head back home, get back in my stealth bomber, and see if my roaming can catch a juicy target.

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