Getting ahead of a hauler

9th August 2011 – 5.37 pm

I'm back and fed, but there doesn't appear to be anything new to see. Colleagues are continuing with the tear-down of our tower in the class 5 system, taking ships out to empire space along the shortest route, which leads out to low-sec but is conveniently only one hop to high-sec. I take my covert Tengu strategic cruiser out to reconnoitre the route, pretending I am being useful as a scout but really just shirking my responsibilities. I think it is because I've treated the C5 system as a bivouac, only having brought the single ship with me, that is causing my ambivalence. It hasn't felt like home, I haven't made myself comfortable enough here, and without having 'moved in' I can't get excited about moving out.

It's all just excuses. I should be helping with moving ships, it's part of my responsibility, but instead I travel through our neighbouring class 4 w-space system, exit the C5 to low-sec, and start scanning. New Eden is helping keep me distracted today, offering a K162 from class 1 w-space for me to explore. I jump in and see two towers on my directional scanner, along with a Badger hauler. Hoping for someone to shoot mercilessly, I search for the towers and Badger, to see if the ship is piloted, but by the time I am floating outside one of the towers the Badger has disappeared from the system. I check to see if there are planets out of range of d-scan, wanting the Badger to be collecting planet goo, but none are. At least the hauler was piloted, I suppose, but it looks like I was a little too late.

I ask if any colleagues are currently out in the low-sec system, but Mick is the closest to being there and he is a couple of jumps out. By the time he reaches the system there is no sign of a Badger, so I don't even know if the hauler went out to market. But with the C1 now empty I can scan the system for further wormholes, or sites for ambushing no one in particular, and all I find are two ladar gas sites to accompany the sole wormhole I already know about. There's no more exploring to be done. I jump out to low-sec and, well, wait on the wormhole for the Badger to come back. For all I know the pilot has taken a nap, and I really should be helping move ships. I'm a bad person.

Waiting goes according to plan, time passing with nothing happening, when a change in the number of pilots in the local channel shows me my target. I hadn't got eyes on her before but I have made members of the corporation occupying the C1 readily obvious, and a Badger is now visible on d-scan. I estimate I have maybe twenty seconds before she appears on-grid with the wormhole, and ten more until she jumps home. Even though we are in low-sec, and the Badger will be a valid target either side of the wormhole, I spring in to action. I decloak and jump through the wormhole before the Badger gets close enough to see me, and I lurk beneath a session change cloak.

Sure enough, the wormhole flares roughly twenty seconds later. My session change cloak still holds, making me invisible and unknown, without impeding my targeting systems with a recalibration delay when I choose to show myself. And, as expected, the Badger, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, breaks her session change cloak immediately to warp to her tower. I pounce! I drop my cloak and lock the Badger, disrupting it's engines before it can enter warp, and start slamming missiles in to its hull. The flimsy hauler doesn't last long, certainly not long enough for the session change timer to end to enable her to jump out to low-sec to try to escape, and the ship explodes.

The ejection of the pod starts another session change timer but the pilot is savvy enough not to try to flee through the unaccepting wormhole, keeping her wits enough to safely warp away to her tower. I am left with a wreck full of liquid ozone, the hauler obviously having gone to market to stock up on some tower fuel, which I can only carry a small portion of. I stuff what I can in to my hold and shoot what remains, keeping in tone with my whole 'bad person' image, and exit the system. I'm happy with my quick kill, as well as the keen implementation.

The timing was important, because had I jumped in to the system too late the Badger could have seen me on-grid and decided not to follow. But too soon and my session change cloak would have dropped and the edge it gave me lost. As I say, it didn't really matter in this instance, as I could have followed and engaged the pilot out to low-sec, but had the wormhole been in high-sec I could have used the same tactic to get the kill in w-space. Hanging around in empire space waiting for the pilot to appear in the local channel gives more warning and preparation time than having to react to the flare of a wormhole too. But it is still just a simple hauler kill, nothing special in itself.

I leave the C1 behind me, if only because ship evacuations have stopped and Mick has spotted a Buzzard covert operations boat perhaps making a target of itself in the main body of our w-space constellation. I'm heading his way to continue my roam.

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