Covetor comeback

20th July 2011 – 5.22 pm

The class 4 w-space behind me has been routed of hostile capsuleers, where 'hostile' means 'not us', and I'm moving on to continue exploring the class 1 system ahead. Other corporation pilots are here and scanning, so rather than saturate the system with scanning probes I mosey over to the local tower and lurk cloaked in my Tengu strategic cruiser. The shuttle and Brutix battlecruiser remain unpiloted, and the system devoid of activity. An exit to high-sec empire space is resolved by our small fleet, which, apart from the connection we used to enter the C1, is the only wormhole to be found in the system. All looks quiet, until a Drake battlecruiser arrives at the tower.

As should be predictable, the w-space inhabitant swaps to a scanning boat and warps out of the tower. A single combat scanning probe appears, perhaps because he saw a colleague's probes and is checking the integrity of the system, and then the Magnate decloaks and starts launching a handful of probes to begin scanning proper. Maybe with the single probe he was simply checking the number of signatures in the system against known sites and will now check the new ones. But a quick sweep of my directional scanner on a tight beam may have found him, and I warp to the second planet in the system only in time to see his probes clustered over a hundred kilometres from me.

I try to flush out the Magnate as the pilot scans, guessing his position and vector from where the probes were and the position of the planets around us. I have no idea how close I get to the frigate, but it's not close enough. We can try to catch him in other ways, though. Glorious leader Fin in her Tengu is sitting on the wormhole leading out to high-sec, I move to the K162 back to the C4, and Mick and another colleague are in a heavy interdictor and interceptor pair in the C4 on the other side of the wormhole waiting for the Magnate to jump through. The pilot is slow at scanning but eventually reappears on d-scan at the second planet, warping towards the exit to high-sec.

We get ready to engage when the Magnate jumps and returns, but he only warps to range from the wormhole before heading back to the tower. He just wanted to bookmark the wormhole for reference, it seems, although if we manage to catch him he may wish to have got the name of the exit system. But at the moment we are no closer to bagging another kill. I warp back to the tower to follow the pilot and see him switch enticingly in to a Covetor mining barge, giving us a bigger and more satisfying target to shoot! If only we'd taken the time to resolve the gravimetric site here.

I have a probe launcher and scanning probes on my Tengu, and once the Covetor warps away from the tower, and with no one else around to see it, I am safe launching my probes around a different moon. I fling them out of the system then warp inwards to get a fix on the barge. My choice of planet to sit on whilst looking for the target is a good one, being almost directly underneath the gravimetric site and under 1 AU away. This will make it really easy to scan. I cluster my probes around the point where I have a fix on the Covetor and prepare to scan, but the ship warps out before I do, deflating the hopes of my colleagues who were all ready to pounce. But the tower is out of d-scan range of the site, making it an excellent time to scan in case he comes back.

I hit 'scan', get a solid result on the gravimetric site on the first go, and recall my probes. I warp in to reconnoitre the site and there aren't even the Sleeper defenders arrived yet, so I don't know why the Covetor left. There's a new contact at the tower, though, an Iteron hauler now with the Covetor. With both wormholes in the system out of d-scan range of the tower we sneakily move our HIC over to the high-sec wormhole, which we bubble. If the Iteron moves to high-sec he can be caught short and destroyed, if either ship moves anywhere else I can spot it and the HIC will cloak to keep us covert. It's a good plan, if only either ship would move.

Iteron or Covetor, and it's the Covetor that moves first. Our HIC cloaks as the mining barge warps back to shoot more rocks and returns to the tower almost immediately as the Sleepers turn up to shoo him away. Even better for us is the Drake sent in to the take care of the Sleepers, giving us a proper target. I sit a safe distance away, trying to get a decent bookmark to let us warp on top of the Drake, finally getting the object I need when a Sleeper pops and leaves a wreck. I warp hurriedly over to the exit to high-sec, where Fin and Mick have been patiently waiting, call for the HIC to drop its cloak, then send us all in to the gravimetric site to introduce ourselves to the locals.

We drop on top of the oblivious Drake, the HIC's bubble trapping him, as we call in another couple of ships who have been waiting in the C4. And not only is the Drake in the gravimetric site, popping the Sleeper frigates, so is the Covetor, blissfully mining ore some seventy kilometres away. I am tempted to burn across to the Covetor to get a second target, but I need to remain focussed and ensure we take down the one. All firepower is aimed at the battlecruiser and his shields drop quickly under our combined damage, the pilot's pod ejected in to the amber of the warp bubble, giving us a corpse to scoop as a trophy.

The Covetor has long warped out by now, leaving us the battlecruiser wreck to loot, space high-fives to give, and a pocket to clear. But just as we are congralutating ourselves on a decent hunt and clean kill we get a surprise, the Covetor warping back in to the site. I'm not quite sure what the pilot was intending to do, but with our warp bubble still active he gets dragged to the edge and well within our attack range. Before his warp engines have completely cut out I am burning towards him to make sure he has no chance of escaping, and my colleagues are all thinking the same way. It is a lamb to the slaughter, the mining barge ripped apart and a second pod trapped and crushed in short order.

That was quite a mistake for the Covetor pilot to make, and I don't think we'll know his motives. Even if he didn't know about the effects of the warp bubble it was peculiar to warp in to the gravimetric site itself to see if we were still there, especially in the Covetor. There must be other ships he could use that would be more agile, and d-scan is your friend at times like this. But we are appreciative of the lemming-like action, looting the wreck of the barge, as well as those of the pre-popped Sleepers for some extra pirate profit. And with another system cleared of hostile activity the fleet turns around and heads back to the C5 bivouac for the night.

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