Buzzed by a Buzzard

3rd May 2011 – 5.11 pm

Collapsing the wormhole isn't going to plan. Fin's been throwing her Orca industrial command ship through it, and Mick's added a battleship or two. But it takes the Curse of Penny to destabilise the wormhole to a critical degree, shrinking to the point of collapse on my way out of our home w-space system. I miss Fin's message to hold in the class 3 system and jump home instead, failing to notice that there are apparently now scanning probes visible on directional scanner, and maybe a scout to catch.

I don't think the presence of probes in the C3 gives us a potential target. My outward jump put the wormhole on the verge of collapse, which would make the scout foolish to pass through it and potentially lose his way back home. And even if he came through and we tried to catch him he would only jump back, and we would be foolish to follow. We probably have over fifty million kilogrammes of mass to work with, but risking isolation from our home system in pursuit of a mere covert operations boat seems unwise to me. Fin simply jumps home to see the wormhole collapse behind her, and we start scanning for the new connection.

Mick jumps through the next static wormhole to an exciting sight, two Covetor mining barges on d-scan with a jet-can timed from only seven minutes ago. These are bigger punching bags than a cov-ops, and we have the full mass of our wormhole to get suitably destructive ships through. There is also a tower in the system and in range of d-scan from our wormhole, but Mick finds a planet out of range of the miners and tower in order to launch probes. I am already in my Onyx heavy interdictor and warping to sit on our wormhole, and Fin boards a stealth bomber for some big firepower in a small package.

It looks like we've been spotted already, though. The two Covetors are no longer out in space, and one has been replaced by a Buzzard cov-ops. Mick locates the local tower and finds both ships there, seeing the Buzzard warp away to launch his own probes. It looks like we won't be catching these miners, but if they were sharp enough to catch Mick's entrance in to the system on d-scan then they would surely have seen his scanning probes if he had got around to hunting them. Even so, we may still have a target, as the Buzzard looks to be efficient in resolving our wormhole. Fin swaps in to her interceptor to combine with my HIC's warp bubble to be an efficient cov-ops trap.

I'm not expecting the Buzzard to jump in to our system. After all, the miners were vigiliant enough to spot a new ship in their system for the few moments it wasn't cloaked, and to not only retreat to their tower but also look for a new wormhole so that they have no surprises. It seems unlikely that the scout will put himself in any more danger than necessary, and simply note the wormhole's position and head home. So I am caught a little unawares when the wormhole flares without Mick announcing his jump, and I activate my Onyx's warp bubble as a precaution.

No ships appear, the Buzzard obviously holding his session change cloak upon seeing the HICceptor pairing waiting for him on this side of the wormhole. My full attention is on my systems now and I have the wormhole selected in anticipation of the Buzzard's return to his own system. And when his ship finally decloaks his first action is indeed to jump back, trying to avoid us, and I follow straight away. I decloak on the other side as soon as I can and activate my bubble, happy to see Mick ready and hot in his Loki strategic cruiser. The Buzzard makes his break, trying to get clear before my bubble can stop him, but he's caught. I even manage to get a positive lock on his ship, the pilot apparently not trying or able to cloak.

The Buzzard is helpless in my bubble, Mick and I have him locked and are shooting, and Fin has arrived to help ensure the kill. Our target is burning away from us quickly, no doubt with the aid of a micro-warp drive, but his shields are gone and armour dropping. He manages to get out of the warp bubble but he's stuck a little longer, as I have my longer-range infini-point on him as a precaution. And even though his ship is now deep in to structure damage it looks like he's getting clear. Mick's Loki is loaded with short range ammunition, my own heavy assault missiles don't extend past my bubble, and Fin's MWD hasn't engaged on her interceptor. We watch the Buzzard warp away with smoke trailing, so close to getting a fresh kill.

Cov-ops are hard to catch, and we did a good job just getting a positive lock. I think the Buzzard pilot's relieved, getting back to his tower and taking a break. Mick continues scanning the system, locating some anomalies and a magnetometric site, which he thinks we should plunder, perhaps as a release of steam. Mak's turned up to help us with the tricky Sleeper combat as well, giving us two Tengu strategic cruisers, a Loki, and a Golem marauder. We clear only the one anomaly, our preferred type, before moving in to the magnetometric site, both of which are in d-scan range of the tower so should shield us from any nasty surprises. But the system remains quiet and we blast through the Sleepers, recovering loot, salvage, and artefacts worth around a hundred-and-eighty million ISK. It's not a bad result for two sites, and we head home to rest for the evening.

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