Irritating an Iteron

1st June 2011 – 5.34 pm

A couple of anomalies start the evening off with profit. There is not much else to do in this class 3 w-space system, being unoccupied and empty, just as it was six weeks earlier on my last visit. Knowing I am looking for a static exit to null-sec k-space makes it easier to look for the weaker signature, and I can rule out any K162s early, there being no fat-signatured wormholes present. But a null-sec connection looks surprisingly like radar sites and I only find the wormhole as the penultimate signature out of twenty-two in total. At least the system is quiet, letting glorious leader Fin and I swat the Sleepers for their loot, after which I head home to grab some food.

When I get back, Fin has collapsed our static wormhole and just scanned the new one, giving us more opportunity to explore. And jumping in to our new neighbouring system looks promising, with two towers and plenty of ships visible on my directional scanner. I find a planet out of range of any ships where I can covertly launch scanning probes, and I blanket the system to see what's here. Two anomalies and six signatures isn't much, but it will make scanning quicker and let us stay hidden. I locate the towers and, crap, they're blue. The locals are friendly towards us, although they have some non-blue friends also sitting in the tower. It looks like we aren't hunting here, but at least we shouldn't be hunted ourselves.

I scan the C3 to see if the exit wormhole leads anywhere interesting, only to find the perhaps-convenient connection to high-sec empire space reaching the end of its natural lifetime. These blues are rubbish, they can't even keep their wormhole alive for us. But a Heron frigate decloaks at the wormhole and warps away, and not to a tower. That could be interesting, but I didn't catch the pilot's name. As the local blues have non-blue residents the Heron could also be local and out of bounds, but as he didn't warp to a tower he could be a tourist and a valid target. I keep on scanning for now and resolve a second wormhole, which could be where the Heron is from. I warp to it to see a K162 coming from class 2 w-space, and jump through to investigate further.

The C2 looks clear, but I think some nearby moons are trying to tell me something. I risk launching probes at the wormhole, and blanketing the system shows loads of anomalies and signatures, but no ships. Stupid moons. Fin keeps a watchful eye in the C3, holding on our K162, knowing that the Heron cannot warp cloaked and that she will be able to see it coming, or at least going. I keep my Buzzard covert operations boat close to the wormhole back to the C3, so that if the Heron comes this way I can decloak early to negate the recalibration delay and try to lock the ship. I scan as we wait, resolving a wormhole, and I simply bookmark its deadspace signature for now, not wanting to miss the Heron. But my combat probes pick up what looks like an industrial ship in the system, which is gone or out of range by the time I switch to my directional scanner.

I move my probes to where I saw the ship appear in the C2, and resolve a second wormhole. With a new target I warp to the wormhole to check the destination, finding an exit to high-sec. It looks like we have a hauler going to market, the other wormhole I resolved probably leading to its home system, which turns out to be a K162 from class 4 w-space. If that's the case the hauler should return at some point and maybe we can bubble the wormhole to catch him. I need to reconnoitre the C4 first, to make sure we will be sitting on the right wormhole, and to ensure we get no surprises from what else may be jumping through.

Jumping in to the C4 has a Zealot heavy assault ship and Brutix battlecruiser jump past me in to the C2. I don't think they saw me, and maybe they are our new targets, depending on what they plan to do in the C2. I hold for a minute, jump back to the C2, and take a look around. The two combat ships are nowhere to be seen, maybe gone to high-sec themselves, for whatever reason. I'd better check the C4 more thoroughly now. And when I warp back to the K162 the Iteron and a pod jump in to the C2 and warp away. Perhaps they are breaking down the tower to move systems, taking ships out to empire space, which would give us an excellent chance of disrupting their operation. But jumping in to the C4 and finding the tower finds all the defences and hangars to be very much assembled and on-line. Maybe the exit to high-sec is simply conveniently close to a hub they want to use.

Whatever the motives of the C4 occupants, we have plenty of ship movements and the definite possibility of more. Fin brings her cloaky Legion to the C2 and monitors the high-sec connection whilst I head home to swap my Buzzard for a second Legion. Before I can rejoin Fin the wormhole flares, the Iteron returning. Fin follows behind it, looking for a soft kill, but only gets to the next wormhole in time to see the Iteron jump in to the C4 ahead of her. She makes the jump in to the C4 herself whilst I am in the C2 and warping to the K162, when the Zealot makes a second appearance, but he sadly warps before Fin's systems come back on-line after the jump. That's okay, the Iteron's coming back, and so soon!

Fin tells me to hold in the C2 on the K162, which I do, as the Iteron drops out of warp at the wormhole and jumps. Fin follows behind it and, with two Legions attacking an industrial ship, we easily melt the hauler. The pilot's pod gets clear, although perhaps only because I expertly prevent the wormhole from warping anywhere instead. His escape gives the pilot a moment to say 'thanks guys' in the local channel prior to jumping out to high-sec, our precious little snowflake maybe under the impression that non-combatants get free passage through w-space. Sadly not, and sadly all that was in the Iteron were empty containers. We perhaps caught the pilot going the wrong way, heading out for fuel instead of on his way back with a full load.

We loiter on the K162 for a little longer, hoping that the combat ships seen earlier would come and try to teach us a lesson, but no one jumps through to greet us. I suppose two strategic cruisers can be rather imposing. Fin warps out to check the high-sec exit, finding it indeed to be rather conveniently only two hops to Jita, which also explains the quick trips that were being made. Two pilots from the C4 can be seen in the local channel in high-sec, and it looks like they are currently reluctant to return home. We wait a bit longer, Fin checks the C4 to find it empty, and then decides we should 'head back before we die'. Of boredom? 'Or mistakes.' That's a good reason to clear the pocket.

Back at home there are combat probes in our system. It could be that Heron spotted earlier. I dump the Legion and jump in to my Malediction interceptor and plant it on our K162 in the C3, Fin doing the same with our Onyx heavy interdictor. And we're back to waiting. We're in range of the tower in the C3 but we're not molested, and if we're investigated it's only by a cloaked ship that I suppose would report back that we're blue too. That's a good benefit of having allies around. And Fin notes that we're protecting one entrance in to their system, which may be enough to convince one of the locals to go out mining in his Hulk exhumer. Either that, or they really are quite inexperienced and haven't noticed our Onyx and Malediction in their system.

We continue waiting. The Heron's taking his time. Fin's ready to give up and jumps home, but seeing probes still on scan convinces her to give the pilot a little longer to jump in to our ambush. But still the Heron takes his time. We only have a handful of radar sites and a single ladar site to resolve, it can't take this long to scan our system! It really is getting late and Fin heads home to sleep. I can't blame her, but now I want to convince myself I have not wasted this time and loiter a little longer. Eventually the wormhole flares, stirring me from my reverie and I get my systems ready. My warp disruption systems are hot, as is my micro warp drive, but I keep my weapons off-line until I get a positive identification on the target.

The Heron decloaks and starts moving. I surge my interceptor towards the frigate and get a positive lock, as I interrogate the ship for the pilot's information. As the information screen comes up and I see he belongs to EVE University I give myself clearance to shoot, but only to watch as the Heron warps away. I thought I had him, and surely my interceptor is too quick for a Heron to evade, but he's gone. I try to follow but he lands, cloaks, and moves away from his original position before I can catch him. Oh well, at least I made an attempt, and maybe this is the karma cost of having my Sacrilege heavy assault ship escaping the Hawk the other day. I'm okay with that. I head home and get some sleep.

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