Bargaining with an ambusher

25th April 2011 – 5.14 pm

Our neighbouring w-space system holds plenty of profit today. A full twenty-one anomalies wait to be harvested, along with whatever sites can be found amongst the other twelve signatures, the plentiful resources explained by this being what must be one of the few remaining unoccupied class 3 systems in w-space. There is a tower in the system but it is off-line, and the Sleepers are able to run free as a result of there being no settled capsuleers. I sift through the signatures here, scanning for wormholes, checking to see how isolated this system currently is, and amongst the gas and rocks find two connections.

Two wormholes in the same w-space system could be interesting, but both here connect to low-sec empire space. The static wormhole is healthy, the K162 reaching the end of its natural lifetime. There isn't much more to see here after all. I jump out of the static exit to find myself in Caldari space and only seven hops from Jita, which would be convenient if I had any reason to visit empire space. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to making another datacore run for some passive profit, but not today. I head back to w-space and our home system, where I plan to spin my ship waiting for colleagues to turn up.

Speak of the devil and she will appear. Fin turns up as I drop out of warp getting back to our tower. I give her a sitrep of our constellation and my own preference to collapse the wormhole and start afresh. There is a lot of ISK that can be made in our current connecting class 3 system, but I've shot many Sleepers recently and our wallet is looking healthy enough. Fin's okay with collapsing our wormhole and ten minutes later I'm scanning a second time. The new wormhole's signature is obscenely obvious beyond the outer planet in our still fairly tidy system, and I resolve it to jump through it to our new connecting C3.

My directional scanner is clear in this C3, letting me launch probes and get the signature identifier of the K162 leading home. But I actually get two wormholes returned on my localised scan, the second one sitting almost directly underneath where our K162 has appeared in the system. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and resolve this second wormhole, making a simple bookmark of the scanned deadspace signature for now, before throwing my probes out of the system to look for capsuleer activity.

I have visited this C3 before, some eight months ago, and there was occupation around a distant planet back then. My blanket scan of the system shows the tower is probably still there, and probably holds in its shields the only other ship in the system. I warp to the moon indicated in my notes and find the tower remains in the same place, but also that whilst the Probe frigate is indeed at the tower he is not inside the shields. I make a hasty bookmark to let me get back here quickly before rushing home to swap in to a better ship to shoot the careless pilot.

Fin and I board our Manticore stealth bombers and warp out to hopefully greet the Probe with torpedoes. But jumping in to the C3 a second time now sees the frigate on d-scan, despite the tower being far out of range. The Probe cannot warp cloaked and must be travelling, perhaps to the second wormhole I resolved below us. I move away from the wormhole and cloak, just in time to see the Probe come to investigate our K162. I think I concealed myself before he arrived, and now the Probe cloaks too. He dropped short by a hundred kilometres or so, clearly only looking to see where this new wormhole leads.

As the Probe pilot reconnoitres the K162 I align my Manticore from the wormhole towards the local tower, knowing that if he remains stationary for long enough I should bump and decloak him for a surprise attack. The odds are slim, though, and indeed he decloaks voluntarily long before I get close to him. I don't try to engage now, being seventy kilometres away still and with him probably already aligned to warp out quickly. Considering this C3 holds a black hole phenomenon, decreasing ship agility and as a result increasing align times, making sure you are aligned before dropping your cloak is probably second nature to the locals.

I follow the Probe back to his tower where he sadly lands inside the shields. But he comes right back out again, and on a reciprocal course. I imagine he's planning to jump in to our home C4, which is making me regret not being quick enough to agree to Fin's suggestion of her placing an interceptor on the other side of the wormhole. But it should be okay, he'll have to come back and his Probe will be quite vulnerable, even to our slower stealth bombers. We both lurk quietly on the K162 and watch the Probe jump in, then circle like sharks waiting for his return.

I initially sit on the wormhole with my sensor booster active, ready to get a quick target lock on the Probe. I think that having the sebo online gives a considerable advantage to catching the Probe, whilst not being cloaked effectively gives nothing away. But thinking further changes my mind. If the Probe jumps back to see our ships decloaked and waiting he will cloak, align, and decloak and warp, forcing us to bump his ship in order to catch him. Our small, agile boats may be capable of doing that, but it would be better if we didn't have to try so hard. And if the Probe comes back and sees no ships waiting he will probably simply try to enter warp directly, not only remaining uncloaked and vulnerable but also needing to cancel warp in order to activate his cloak. Being concealed will work much better for us, and I activate my cloak at the expense of the sebo.

The K162 flares, and the Probe indeed decloaks and initiates warp immediately, suspecting nothing is amiss. It's just as I expected, and Fin and I decloak as one and target the hapless ship for destruction. But the frigate warps away, before I even manage to get a positive lock! He must have been superluckyaligned on jumping back to enter warp so quickly, as even frigates can take many seconds to align for warp in a black hole system. That's rotten luck. And to compound the lack of a kill the evading pilot starts talking in local, asking if we come from the C4, either oblivious to or uncaring about our hostile intentions. I reply coyly at first, and when he seems pleasant and harmless enough get in to a little discussion about w-space systems.

The C3 Probe pilot's corporation is looking for a new home, and he entered our C4 in the hopes of finding a suitable system. It takes me a couple of minutes to realise we just collapsed a connection to an unoccupied C3 system, paying it no mind at the time despite even being asked earlier in the year to keep my eyes open. And both Fin and I deleted all our bookmarks, as there is generally no call for keeping them once the connection to our home system is gone. But I remember name of the low-sec system the static exit connected to, and that system will hold the K162 to provide access to the C3.

Knowing how to get in to the unoccupied C3 means I can start negotiating a price for the system. Fin kindly takes a puppet out towards the low-sec system to start scanning for the wormhole, through this C3's static exit to low-sec space. We can even plant the puppet in the system and sell it later, getting a new static exit to let the buyers in whenever it is required. Selling w-space systems is not really my scene and I'm not sure I'd want to get too involved in it in general, but I'm happy to broker a deal handed to me. The buyer just has to find the funds and agree the sale with his corporation, none of who are around. I'm okay to wait for the moment, but it means finding something else to do for now.

  1. 2 Responses to “Bargaining with an ambusher”

  2. Probably I'm missing something in game mechanics, but how is this possible?
    How can you make sure they'll pay if you give them the coordinates?
    How can they be sure you'll lead them to the right system if they pay in advance?

    Anyway - good luck in your sale! :) Hope you get a good price for it!

    By Mis'tral on Apr 27, 2011

  3. In both cases, we can't. If we want to make a habit of selling systems we need to show we're trustworthy. If the buyers don't want us turning up to the system we already know about with big ships and bubbles for the wormholes, they'll think about paying.

    Some sort of escrow system would work better, I suppose.

    By pjharvey on Apr 27, 2011

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