Engage and retreat

8th May 2011 – 3.20 pm

Ah, great days. The last time I was in this class 3 w-space system we pop a Machariel battleship, narrowly missing getting a second kill too. That was ten months ago, though, and the two ships I can see on my blanket scan of the system are not where I have the tower listed. Even if the tower were in the same place it's hardly likely that we'd have a second opportunity to catch a faction battleship fighting Sleepers in an anomaly. But there are ships to be found, and glorious leader Fin and I are ready for some action.

I warp off to locate the tower, finding both ships at the same time. A Mammoth hauler is unpiloted, a Cynabal cruiser piloted but inactive. My blanket scan also revealed sixteen anomalies and seventeen signatures, which will take a while to sort through, but with most of the signatures out of directional scanner range of the tower I can probably resolve most of them without the pilot realising I'm here. I start to position my probes to begin sifting through the signatures when a new pilot appears, turning up at the tower in a Nighthawk command ship, shortly followed by another pilot, this one in a Pilgrim recon ship. The system is waking up.

The Pilgrim warps out of the tower and is replaced by an Anathema covert operations boat. I won't get much scanning done now, and if the Anathema pilot is careless I may get a lucky shot at his boat, but I'll want a different ship myself in that case. I warp homewards to swap in to a Manticore stealth bomber, noticing now that there are probes everywhere in this C3, none of them my own. I eschew the stealth bomber for an interceptor, which I plant on our static wormhole, waiting for a curious scout to jump in. But now I can't see what the locals are up to, whether they are still scanning or not. And the seventeen signatures may take them a while to get through before they find our wormhole.

Fin volunteers to take up a lurking position on our wormhole in an interceptor, allowing me to board my Manticore and sneak back in to the C3 for reconnaissance. Jumping back in to our neighbouring system I see only probes on d-scan, none of which are particularly near our K162. I warp to the tower to keep tabs on the pilots, noting the Cynabal and Nighthawk are here and the Pilgrim still gone. The Anathema is not to be seen either, and when the Pilgrim warps back in to the tower I wonder if maybe I imagined the cov-ops boat and the recon ship went out to scan instead.

Shortly after the Pilgrim gets to the tower he's warping out again, but it doesn't look like he's heading towards our K162. I check my system map, letting me poing a tight five-degree d-scan beam towards the bookmarked K162, and the Pilgrim is coincident with it. Okay, he did warp to our wormhole, and I'd better follow to see what he's up to. I drop out of warp to see no ships, except the Pilgrim is still on d-scan. That's curious. And now he's gone from d-scan, and he isn't back at the tower either. Maybe he's finally found the button that activates his cloaking device, but I still have no idea where he's cloaked.

Four of the nine probes disappear from d-scan. That makes sense, as nine probes is too many for one scout to handle, suggesting two are active and maybe the locals have one searching for the other. The Anathema, certainly not imaginary, appears on d-scan, but not at our K162, and disappears again. This is very strange. He's not at the tower, although a Falcon recon ship appears as I warp away again, and finally Fin reports a jump in to our home system. Someone's found our wormhole, at least. Fin has also swapped in to an Onyx heavy interdictor, to suitably threaten any of the ships we've seen so far, which works perfectly on the Anathema that has entered our system.

I get back to our K162 and decloak. The cov-ops boat will be fleeing as quickly as possible from our HIC, wanting to warp immediately on re-entering the C3 to avoid the warp bubble. I don't think being visible will affect the pilot's decisions, and this way I can have my sensor booster active, giving me a better chance of catching him. He jumps back and appears straight away, as expected, but the agile ship is still too quick for me, entering warp before I can get a positive lock. It was close, but we have also highlighted ourselves as targets for the C3 locals who outnumber us. I cloak up and reposition my Manticore, Fin swaps the Onyx for a Buzzard cov-ops and cloaks at a safe distance from our static wormhole.

Checking the tower finds the Nighthawk, Cynabal, Falcon, and Anathema, accompanied by a second Cynabal and Anathema. One cov-ops warps towards our K162 and I follow, hoping maybe to decloak him after he lands if he doesn't move off his vector, but I give up trying to bump him when a Cynabal drops out of warp at the wormhole too. The cruiser jumps in to our home system and loiters on the wormhole, but we're not presenting a target any more. The Anathema decloaks forty-five kilometres away from me and burns to increase the distance quickly. He hasn't seen me, I think he's just getting out to warp range of the wormhole, which is confirmed when he warps from his distant position to be on top of the K162. For that time that took I don't know why he didn't just burn towards the wormhole, frankly.

The Pilgrim makes a reappearance, also at our K162, making our disappearance look more prudent, and the locals soon get bored and leave our system and the K162 behind them. There are plenty more ships movements, though, with the Cynabals, Anathemas, Pilgrim, and Falcon all showing up on d-scan, none of them really sure what a cloaking device is for, and I am convinced that there is another wormhole almost on top of our own. It is the only explanation for the curious movements. As Fin is in her Buzzard she gracefully comes in to see if she can find anything, and indeed resolves a wormhole close to our own, the system's static exit to null-sec k-space.

It seems that we have probably confused the C3 occupants, or at least added to some confusion. I suppose the locals have been looking for a scout and thought they found the source when we tried to ambush their Anathema pilot, but when we cloaked and denied them information they assumed some misdirection and kept poking the wormhole to null-sec. But whatever else is happening time is marching on. With a little care we collapse our wormhole, using the Orca industrial command and Widow black ops ships, no one apparently monitoring or following us as we do. Isolated again, we get some rest back at our tower after an interesting evening, albeit one without shots fired.

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