Looking in the wrong direction

15th May 2011 – 3.11 pm

Despite not popping the Moa harvesting gas I am not expecting the cruiser to be back in the ladar when I return from eating my sammich. Rather than roaming in a stealth bomber I take my Buzzard covert operations boat through our neighbouring class 3 w-space system and in to the connecting class 4, in case I need or get the opportunity to scan the C4 more fully. Hullo, as I move away from the wormhole and cloak after jumping in to the C4 a Hound stealth bomber jumps behind me in to the C3. Maybe I should have brought my Manticore after all, but there's not much I can do about it now. I note the possibility of being bombed and, seeing core scanning probes visible on my directional scanner, loiter on the wormhole to see if the Hound returns. I could use a Fin right about now.

The Hound doesn't come back to stalk me, and maybe he's simply waiting for me to turn around and fly in to his clutches. I'm happy in this C4 for now, particularly as I entered through a random outbound connection in the C3, giving me this system's static wormhole to find at a minimum. I warp away to launch probes and start scanning, feeling no need to be coy now that I've been seen and with probes already in the system, returning to monitor the wormhole to the C3 for any movements. There are few signatures in the system, and the ladar site from earlier already disappeared gives one less to worry about. There is only a gravimetric site to resolve along with the static wormhole, and although the connection to class 2 w-space would normally be alluring it is currently at the end of its natural lifetime.

A Tengu strategic cruiser and Heron frigate appear on d-scan, and I find both ships inside the shields of the local tower. The probes I see could belong to the Heron, or he could be a new arrival, and the Tengu's appearance may turn out to be interesting if he decides to leave the tower. Fin returns from her absence as the Heron pilot swaps to a Badger, making me hope he will believe the passage of time has made his system safe again, if he and the Hound don't talk to each other, and I prompt Fin to get herself in a stealth bomber and over to this C4 in the hopes of an easy kill. Or, better still, maybe we can flush out the Hound.

Fin makes her way to the T405 in our class 3 neighbouring system and loiters. I head back to the K162 side of the same wormhole, getting ready to jump back to the C3. If the Hound is still waiting for me Fin can counter the attack and give the pilot a bit of a surprise. The only way this brilliant plan can fail is if the Hound isn't actually waiting for me, and jumping through the wormhole shows this to be the case, leaving us both sitting expectantly at the wormhole doing nothing. The five core probes on d-scan in the C3 are interesting, though, and I go home to plant my Malediction interceptor on our static wormhole, whilst Fin takes a look around. She reports the probes getting closer to our K162, but then they all disappear abruptly and there is no sign of a scout investigating either our wormhole or the static exit to null-sec.

The C3 quiet again, Fin explores ahead in to the C4, seeing the Hound on d-scan there, along with the Tengu, the Badger pilot back in his Moa, and a new Prowler, all found at the tower. It seems possible, if peculiar, that the Hound was the scanning boat, not waiting for me and responsible for the probes seen. But that's okay, as it turns out, as a routine check of d-scan at home shows five probes clustered around my Malediction. Actually, as they are core scanning probes they are clustered around our static wormhole, and I am merely there contingently. And also because they are core scanning probes, and not combat scanning probes, they have not directly detected my Malediction being here too. It looks like we have a K162 opened up in our home system, and I may yet have the chance of catching a scout. I jump through to the other side of the wormhole and resume waiting with some level of patience in the C3.

There are some movements afoot in the C4. Fin reports the Hound warping around, perhaps to the wormhole back to the C3, and hoping to catch him I thrust my interceptor towards the other side of the same connection. I see no Hound, nor a flare indicating a jump, and head back to our K162 in case I miss the other scout coming through. It's only back at the K162 that I see the Hound on d-scan, showing his entry to the system and my missed opportunity. He must have seen me now too, and is not only cautious about approaching our wormhole but is mobilising ships back in his C4. A Drake battlecruiser is launched and set to sit on their side of the wormhole. On top of that, a Legion strategic cruiser and Vagabond cruiser become piloted, all of which makes me want to call it a flare!

I was going to call it a night, but what I see is a flare, leaving a half-written message to Fin in our communication channel. A ship has jumped through the wormhole I'm sitting on, and it is probably the owner of the scanning probes I saw. Judging by his reluctance to shed his session change cloak I think it's safe to say he's wary of my interceptor. I activate my micro warp drive, and get my weapon and disruption systems hot. I'm not sure if the pilot will try to flee in to the C3 or just head back the way he came, so I need to get an eyeball on him quickly and look for the tell-tale signs of his ship jumping. Finally, his ship appears, I get a quick target lock, and I hear another flare. The Helios cov-ops shimmers at the same time and I know he's making a break for home. I get my Malediction through the wormhole to follow him.

Back in our home system I shed my session change cloak immediately and get all my systems hot again. The Helios doesn't wait for the session change timer to end this time, knowing that it will work against his hoping to beat my reactions, but I am alert and ready. I gain a second positive lock on his Helios and disrupt his warp drive, not even needing to bump his ship to decloak him. My ship is faster, better armed, and fully in control, and to all intents and purposes it looks like the Helios gives up. Indeed, it's not long before the ship pops under the incoming fire of my rockets and laser, but just before its structure disintegrates I drop one of the two warp disruption effects I have active in preparation. My sharp targeting systems snag the pod, and the now-spare point holds it in place to deliver a fresh corpse for me to scoop.

I let Fin know what's happening, backspacing over the part about calling it a night, and apologising for sending her on a wild goose chase to watch capsuleers shuffle between ships whilst I stumble over a Helios podding. I could have called her over, but although warping across two systems and making a single jump doesn't seem like it takes much time it actually takes at least twice the session change timer to achieve, and it seems rather impolite to effectively invite a colleague to come and look at a corpse you're scooping. Even so, I think we can ignore the C4 now, as they held some interest but have done little since some fool bombed their Moa earlier, but there is more to be done. For a start, there is the K162 to locate in our home system.

I exchange the Malediction for my Buzzard and start scanning. I soon find a new signature, the wormhole undoubtedly the K162 the Helios used to enter our system, and I bookmark the deadspace signature, copy it to our shared can, and head off to explore. I swap ships again, taking my Manticore to roam the new connection, on the assumption that the connecting system is the origin of the Helios pilot. The K162 connects back to more class 4 w-space, and jumping through and punching d-scan excites me with a display of a Hulk exhumer, Prowler transport ship, and Orca industrial command ship. The additional presence of a tower predictably enough means I find all the ships safely nestled inside its shields. They are also all unpiloted, and the only ships in the system.

The owner corporation of the tower in this new C4 matches that of the Helios pilot, so I at least know he came from here and don't need to find another wormhole. But with this C4 sleepy and the other boring it looks like the evening really has come to an end. Fin takes a little time to collect some planet goo, and I shadow her in my interceptor in case a stealth bomber has followed us home and is being sneaky. But Fin is rather good at living in w-space and particularly cautious about superficially routine tasks, keeping her safe from any attempts to follow her route. Once all the planet goo is collected and stored in our hangar we both hit the sack, after another interesting and occsionally eventful evening.

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