Finding the right system

9th July 2011 – 3.58 pm

Despite there being stargates all around I'm going out scanning. Having moved my covert exploration Tengu strategic cruiser to our mission base I may as well make use of it. Besides, I still can't access the agent Fin uses, although I probably ought to get more involved in running missions to help with that. Still, I am by myself today and so cannot progress agent standings, so scanning I will go, and there are three signatures in the home system. One of the signatures is a magnetometric site, the other two are wormholes, a K162 each from class 2 and class 1 w-space. The class 1 system sounds like a gentler start to the day, and the K162 in to the C2 has a Tengu loitering nearby, so I jump through the wormhole leading there.

The C1 is empty and inactive, and a quick scan reveals a few anomalies and signatures, but resolving them finds no further K162 here. I jump back to high-sec empire space and move to check the other wormhole again, and as the previously seen Tengu warps in to the C1 K162 as I am warping out it may be clear to enter the C2. But it isn't clear, as an Ishtar heavy assault ship sits on the wormhole before either jumping or cloaking as my warp engines disengage. Being in a vast connected galaxy of systems I can afford to be picky about where I roam w-space, so instead of seeing if I can be easily spotted and maybe attacked I leave this wormhole alone and jump to an adjacent high-sec system to explore.

Only two anomalies are in the next high-sec system, and the one adjacent to that may have a wormhole but only one that pointlessly connects high-sec space to high-sec space. I scan through another system finding nothing before two signatures turn up on my probes, both turning out to be wormholes, and both K162s from class 2 w-space. I arbitrarily pick one to explore first and jump in to take a look around. The system is occupied but inactive, the only two ships present sitting unpiloted in the local tower, which at least lets me scan for the C2's second static wormhole. I find the connection to class 3 space easily enough, the only other signatures being the exit to high-sec, and a ladar and radar site, but jumping to the C3 puts me in an unoccupied and empty system that only exits to low-sec. I turn around, head back to high-sec, and investigate the second C2 I found.

Jumping through the other K162 puts me in the middle of an Onyx's bubble, a Vagabond cruiser and Hurricane battlecruiser keeping the heavy interdictor company. I suppose I'll turn around. I'm not concerned, as I'm sitting on a wormhole to high-sec, and all I have to do it hold my session change cloak until the associated timer ends, at which point I jump back. As I jump, a Probe Patrol covert operations boat gets pulled in to the bubble, making me realise that perhaps the ships aren't trying to repel high-sec tourists but are there to stop others from leaving the system easily. Best of luck to them, it looks like they know what they're doing.

I'll scan one more system for wormholes before calling it a night, and luckily the sole signature in the next system across is another wormhole. It looks like I'll have plenty of choice for exploration in my high-sec hiatus. This wormhole is another K162 from class 1 w-space, and there must have been some activity as the connection is already somewhat mass-compromised. It's not enough to stop me and my Tengu, so in I jump and start nosing around. My directional scanner shows me a tower, ships, and Sleeper wrecks, all the ingredients for a good hunt. But finding the tower only sees a Buzzard cov-ops boat piloted amongst the frigates and industrial ships. And I note that the tower doesn't have a ship maintenance array, so what I can see is what the three-member corporation has currently available.

I want to find the wrecks, even if there doesn't appear to be a Noctis salvager available to scoop the loot, but a passive scan doesn't reveal an active anomaly where the wrecks are. I warp off to the outer planet, actually hoping to find a second tower with more active pilots and the promise of a salvager to stalk, but all I find is more wrecks. At least this time the wrecks are in an active anomaly, and I warp in to bookmark a wreck in case a salvager turns up only to find the Sleepers haven't been fully eradicated yet. I don't know what's been happening here, so I do what I think is best and warp back to the tower to monitor the only pilot I know about in the system.

Oh, for a stealth bomber. The Buzzard pilot has switched to a Bestower hauler and is crawling very slowly out of the tower's force field to scoop a couple of unanchored defences. My Tengu doesn't have quite the destructive power of a Manticore, particularly compared with a bomb launch, and the added recalibration and locking time would make me more vulnerable to the tower's defences. But hold on, taking a closer look at the meagre defences around this tower shows them only to be ECM and other disruptive effects, there are no gun or missile batteries to inflict damage. Even if I get targeted I won't lose my ship, not unless other ships appear from nowhere. If only I realised this sooner, the Bestower would have been toast.

Thankfully, the Bestower is not finished. After scooping the defences he turns around and heads back in to the force field, unanchoring a couple more defences in another quadrant. I bookmark the defence, happy to see it being closest to the planet to give me an easy way to bounce back in to range, and wait for the Bestower to move again. And he does, even if it is still very slow indeed. Slow is good, though, as it looks like the industrial ship doesn't have a propulsion module fitted, and he isn't likely to turn and flee at top speed when I reveal myself.

I could warp in at just the right moment, dropping my cloak as my engines begin to cut out to be ready to target as soon as the recalibration delay ends, but I realise that if I am going to do that I am just as well served by sitting in position and decloaking, because I will still be visible for the same amount of time before I can gain a positive lock. So rather than worry about timing my approach I bounce off the planet to the defence now, get in to position a few kilometres from the defence, and sit in wait for the hauler.

A Bestower without reheat is slow. Waiting for a slow Bestower to get in to range to be ambushed has a time-dilating effect on top of its slowness. I must be patient, I must wait until the ship is sufficiently outside of the tower's shields, or I risk him getting back inside to safety. It's an obvious point to make, but being overconfident about attacking a defenceless target and failing to wait patiently can lead to mistakes, and I force myself to hold my cloak until the Bestower is almost scooping the defence. Here he is, and here I am. Surprise!

I decloak, lock, and point my target, preventing him from warping clear. Missiles slam in to the hauler, popping the ship pretty quickly, and now I get to see how experienced the pilot is as his pod is ejected in to space. He can't warp back to his tower, but he probably also cannot outrun me, thanks to my holding until he was this far out of the force field until I attacked. An experienced pilot will already have a celestial object targeted and be hitting the warp button, to get clear from the threat before warp back to be inside the tower's shields. This pilot doesn't seem to be experienced, as his pod doesn't get clear before I lock and disrupt that too. I have a new corpse to scoop.

I loot and shoot the wreck, only get a couple of expanded cargoholds for the kill, and don't have room in my hold to grab the unanchored defences myself. And by now the tower's defences are all over my Tengu, yet somehow I survive the ECM assault and am able to warp clear without taking damage. I warp back to the tower but, unsurprisingly, there is no one left to monitor. Happy with my brutal slaying of an innocent industrialist I warp back to the wormhole and return to high-sec. A few hops later I am once more in our mission base and in my second Tengu, helping Fin clear up another Angel extravaganza to end the evening.

  1. 4 Responses to “Finding the right system”

  2. Well done. I've had the opportunity to do likewise once, but I hesitated to long and ended up just sitting there like a dork, looking.

    By Akely on Jul 9, 2011

  3. Damn, no going back with a hauler? haha

    By Planetary Genocide on Jul 10, 2011

  4. Had I been a system or two away from our tower then, yes, I would have nabbed the defences to sell.

    By pjharvey on Jul 10, 2011

  5. It can be a tough call to make sometimes, Akely. Speed has to be balanced with patience.

    By pjharvey on Jul 10, 2011

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