With a rebel yell

14th May 2011 – 3.58 pm

The static wormhole has been mapped for our home system, but nothing further. I copy the bookmark from our shared can to my nav-comp and head out to explore our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. Punching my directional scanner gets me a little excited until I realise all those Mastodon transport ships are merely giant secure containers given teasing names. I can actually see no ships in the system yet, only two off-line towers and those GSCs. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system, confirming a lack of ships but finding twenty anomalies and a similar number of signatures. Warping around also reveals a third off-line tower, perhaps indicating that this C3 has changed hands a few times.

I locate each off-line tower, which also finds the GSCs clustered around one of them. Glorious leader Fin brings in a Bustard transport ship to claim the GSCs as our own and, chomp chomp chomp, swallows them all up in one visit. And then, like Kaiser Soze, she's gone. I'm not going to shoot Sleepers alone, despite buying the Golem marauder ostensibly for these opportunities, and start sifting through the signatures to check for any secondary wormholes in the system. I will either confirm the system is relatively secure, or perhaps find more to explore.

Scanning is simplified in an unoccupied system. Rather than resolving each signature and bookmarking it, in case of potential ambushes, I simply identify the type of each signature and ignore it if it isn't a wormhole. Only needing to resolve the signature to 25% strength to identify it helps speed the process, only having to spend time resolving what turns out to be a wormhole. I bookmark the deadspace signature of the connection from the scanning interface, not wanting to visit it yet, but a second wormhole is interesting. Actually, the second wormhole makes the first one interesting, as the second is a weak enough signature to suggest an exit to null-sec k-space, making the first one I scanned more likely to be a K162.

I warp to the first wormhole I scanned and find it not to be a K162, but interesting none the less in that it is a T405 random outbound connection to class 4 w-space. I do indeed have more to explore. There are no more wormholes in this C3, so I jump through the wormhole in to the C4, where d-scan shows me a tower, Drake battlecruiser, and Moa cruiser. There is even a jet-can given a timed name somewhere in the system, which makes me think the Moa is harvesting gas somewhere. A quick spin with a tighter-beamed d-scan shows the Moa outside of the tower and coincident with the can, giving me a ship to hunt.

The system is big enough that I can warp outside of d-scan range of the tower and ships to launch probes, a blanket scan showing me four anomalies, four signatures, and just the two ships. The tower turns out easy to find too, being anchored to the sole moon of one of the inner-system planets, where I warp to check the status of the Drake. The battlecruiser is piloted, perhaps to clear any Sleepers that show up to interrupt the Moa, but it also adds a threat to my planned ambush. A Badger hauler, on the other hand, merely adds a second target. The pilot of the Drake has swapped ships and warps out, the jet-can in space disappearing as the harvested gas is collected and returned to the tower. The Moa stays out, though, so the operation hasn't ended yet.

I start locating the gas harvesting Moa. I get its position in space down to within a five degree d-scan beam, and 210 to 215 million kilometres from my position, which is just under 1·5 AU, its proximity making it easier for me to position my combat scanning probes. I arrange my probes around where I think the Moa is in space, take a breath, and hit 'scan'. It's a hit, and noting that I have at least one result at 100% strength I recall my probes so that they don't appear on d-scan for longer than necessary. I have the Moa's position, and the ladar site it is in, both of which I bookmark. I pause for a few seconds, checking d-scan for signs that my probes were spotted, but the Moa remains out in space. It looks like I've got him.

I head home, dropping short of the wormhole back to the C3 to again minimise my visibility on d-scan. Once out of the C4 I recklessly zoom across the C3 and our home system with no regard for being spotted, in order to save time. I stow the scanning boat and board my Manticore stealth bomber, not willing to risk the sluggish Onyx heavy interdictor when a second pilot is active in the target system, and return as quickly as possbile to the C4. I move away from the wormhole in the class 4 system and cloak, happy to see the Moa still on d-scan along with a new jet-can. Rather than burst directly in to the ladar site, though, I bounce off the tower to check on the second pilot.

The second pilot is back in his Drake, but is idling inside the tower's shields. Even if he reacts to my ambushing of the Moa I should have plenty of time to pop the cruiser, and maybe even catch the pod, before he can get to the ladar site. But the thought occurs to me that I could be even more cunning, and rather than catch only the Moa I could wait until the second pilot goes out in the Badger again to collect the gas, warping myself to the site to pop the Moa whilst the more laggardly Badger follows behind, unable to turn around, giving me a second helping of piracy. And, as luck would have it, I don't have long to wait at all, the pilot swapping the Drake for Badger not ten seconds after I decide to wait.

I am aligned to the ladar site in preparation, and race the Badger in to warp. I am aiming to drop out of warp twenty kilometres from the Moa, assuming he hasn't moved, as my experience with navigating gas clouds is not positive and I want to loose the bomb and start shooting immediately. As long as I can pop the Moa without fuss I should be able to snag the Badger before he can turn around to flee. The situation looks good as I drop out of warp, the Moa indeed a mere twenty kilometres from me and seemingly oblivious, and I have beaten the Badger to the site. I make sure I'm aligned before decloaking, launching my bomb, and locking the Moa.

Systems are activated, I wait for the bomb to detonate, and find out I am all fingers and thumbs when trying to follow up with torpedoes. It seems too long since I last ambushed an innocent industrialist in my stealth bomber and I'm all a-fluster. Not only am I tardy in cycling my siege launchers but I watch helplessly as the Moa warps away, barely losing half its shields. I assume initially that it had warp stabilisers fitted, shrugging off my single warp disruption effect, but I may have accidentally deactivated the point in the excitement. I honestly don't know which happened, and both are possible.

I've missed the Moa, but the Badger has turned up and must be a valid target. And it would be a valid target if the weirdo hadn't warped to the ladar site's deadspace signature and not the Moa's position, as he now sits seventy kilometres from my Manticore, far out of warp disruption range. Even so, I switch my attention to him now that we are the only two ships here, and burn towards him whilst gaining a positive target lock. Of course, I am nowhere near fast enough to cover fifty kilometres in the time it takes even a Badger to turn around, and my first volley of torpedoes disperses as they no longer have a target, the Badger warping away in time easily.

There's not much more for me to do now but re-activate my cloak and pretend none of this happened. It was a solid opportunity, with a great bit of one-shot scanning leading to a sitting duck of a Moa. It's a little embarrassing that I got it wrong, my only consolation being that it is quite possible the cruiser was warp-stabbed and its escape not my fault. I'm also quite pleased that I saw the chance of a double-ambush, and nearly pulled it off. But never mind, the moment's gone. Both ships are back at their tower and staying resolutely inside the shields. I think I'll head home and make myself a sammich.

  1. 4 Responses to “With a rebel yell”

  2. I've done the same sadly. On the bright side I did nab a hurricane harvesting gas with a nemesis. I've also taken care to fit 2 points to my bomber as I have missed the hauler on occasion.

    By Jhared Skyfire on May 14, 2011

  3. ...she cried Moa, Moa, Moa!

    I've gone with the sebo instead of a second point, in an attempt to be quick enough to catch pods. And it works on occasions, but I can't catch the pods if I don't catch the ships.

    By pjharvey on May 17, 2011

  4. I remember you well, sunshine... Warp stabs..? Nope, not that day.

    ECM burst my good friend :)

    Pretty exciting day, and an interesting read too...

    By Kerli Alexander on May 17, 2011

  5. A-ha, clever and effective.

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know.

    By pjharvey on May 17, 2011

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