Spooking a transport

16th August 2011 – 5.41 pm

I'm not sure my pod goo is as pure as it ought to be. I think I've had some dodgy Quafe Zero—not that I'm convinced there is such a substance as good Quafe Zero—and all sorts of fluids are leaking out of me. As a result, tonight may be a short expedition to look for w-space. A positive start in finding a wormhole in the high-sec mission base system comes to nothing, as the K162 from class 1 w-space is reaching the end of its natural lifetime and there is a distinct lack of ships in the system. I could scan for a further K162 on the assumption that pilots from deeper w-space passed through and opened the exit to empire space, but the dying wormhole discourages me from spending time here on what could be a wild goose chase. I jump back to high-sec and continue my exploration in the next system across.

Three signatures could be a positive sign, particularly when I confirm that the wormholes I resolved here yesterday have all collapsed. But instead of new wormholes I resolve a Gurista Lookout, some crappy drone base, and a second Gurista Lookout, despite all of the sites having the 'unknown' signature type. In w-space those could have been nothing but wormholes, proving once more that empire space is stupid. I move on to another system, where although finding two signatures to resolve doesn't dash my hopes of exploring more w-space it also doesn't raise them. As luck would have it, both signatures lead to w-space.

One wormhole I find in this high-sec system is an outbound connection to class 2 w-space, the other a K162 from a C1. The outbound connection is quite pretty. Although it is less likely to hold occupation or activity than a system entered through a K162, there is a strong element of surprise in visiting a system through a previously unknown connection. I will still check the C1 first, as the wormhole must have been opened by someone and there is a greater chance of finding pilots awake and active there.

The class 1 system itself is unoccupied and currently empty, and as the wormhole leading back to empire space is stable I can take time to look for further connections. There being only two signatures in the system makes scanning simple and I indeed find a K162 leading to deeper w-space. I jump in to the class 4 system beyond but only to see an empty tower on my directional scanner, and still no ships. But that changes remarkably soon, as an Orca industrial command ship appears on d-scan, and as it is a new contact there must be a pilot aboard. I need to find the tower.

A Tengu strategic cruiser and Noctis salvager also turn up on d-scan, and although I perform a passive scan for all the anomalies in the system I do not locate either ship in the single site my scanner returns. Maybe the pilots have been clearing a ladar site of Sleepers, which could be why the Orca is active too, but when I locate the tower all I see is a Bustard transport ship and a Buzzard covert operations boat, the latter no doubt responsible for the deep space scanning probe somewhere in the system.

I can see no signs of the other ships any more and it looks like I missed whatever fun was happening. And even if the Bustard hauls whatever loot they've collected out through the C1 to sell in empire space I won't be able to stop him, the transport ship specially designed to have a stronger warp core strength that my disruptor cannot overcome by itself. Still, the pilot of the Bustard won't know I'm inadequately equipped to tackle him, particularly as it is easy to fit a ship that can stop a Bustard, and acting like you are capable is often enough to make people believe you actually are capable. So when the Bustard warps out of the tower and towards the wormhole, I head that way myself.

I am more agile than the Bustard and reach the wormhole first, decloaking to welcome him as he drops out of warp. Unsurprisingly, the Bustard jumps to the C1, and I follow behind. I decloak early on the K162 and get my systems hot, knowing I can't stop the Bustard but ready to do as much damage as possible as the laggardly vessel aligns to leave. The Bustard has other ideas, holding his session change cloak for as long as possible and, only when the cloak eventually drops, jumping right back to the C4. I'm pretty sure the transport could withstand a few volleys from my launchers, but depending on his cargo I suppose his prudence is sensible.

I jump back to the C4 and again get ready to fail to assault the Bustard, which moves from the wormhole and cloaks. A cloaked Bustard moves slower than a skill queue full of secondary skills and I should be able to intercept him, even in my Tengu, but I simply wasn't expecting this. The best I can do is loiter myself and hope I have time to lock and shoot the ship when it decloaks to warp away, as I didn't really pay attention to where he appeared or move to approach him. He could be just about anywhere, even the minimal space around a wormhole being vast when considering random interactions. As if to prove it, the wormhole flares again and a colleague of the Bustard's appears.

I was expecting maybe the Buzzard to appear, but instead it is a Tengu that decloaks and starts moving. Dive, dive, dive! The strategic cruiser is meters away from interfering with my cloaking device's effects and I move too in order to ensure he doesn't reveal my position. It may seem that this shows how likely a ship is to bump in to another, but in reality it proves how much space there is around a wormhole. The Tengu certainly got close to me but not close enough, and the integrity of my cloak remains intact. It also shows that I'm not going to get a clean shot at the Bustard, and now that the other Tengu has cloaked and we're just a bunch of ships floating around invisibly I think it's time to head back to empire space and take a look in that class 2 system.

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