Scanning and scouts

5th September 2011 – 5.18 pm

I'm making an earlier start than normal, somewhat determined to get Pengu back home. My Tengu strategic cruiser configured to engage Sleepers is still in empire space, separated from the bulk of our ships and in need to be brought back so that we can start making iskies again. But I say 'somewhat' determined because when I resolve two wormholes in the home system I can't be single-minded about my objective. I first need to determine how safe the constellation is, which means exploring through the K162 in to more class 4 w-space.

This isn't my first visit to this C4, but as I was last here a year ago I doubt my notes will tell me much that can be relied upon. For a start, they suggest the system is unoccupied. Although my directional scanner is clear from the wormhole, and it's possible the scout who opened the connection could have come from a different system still, the C4 is fairly large and a tower could easily be on the far side of the star. I launch probes and blanket the system, finding a lone ship amongst the dozen anomalies and five signatures.

Following the signature of the ship I am able to locate the on-line tower here, d-scan identifying the vessel as an Orca industrial command ship before I have singled out the right moon where the tower is anchored. Warping to the tower finds the Orca unsurprisingly unpiloted. Maybe he's considering collapsing the system's static wormhole by himself, which would give me a fat and defenceless target. And maybe I'll loot my very own pony from his cargo hold. I sit and watch the Orca anyway as I scan the system, all but one of the signatures outside of d-scan range, keeping my activity undetected for now.

Maybe my scanning is not entirely undetected, as a Buzzard covert operations boat warps in to the tower as my probes whiz around the inner system. Stupid cloaked ships. The Buzzard warps out again almost immediately, heading in what looks like the direction of the X877 connecting to our home system. I keep scanning, on the assumption that he's either seen my probes on d-scan or if he hasn't looked already he won't look now. I resolve a gravimetric site and two wormholes, still leaving the signature near the tower untouched.

The wormholes are both K162s from class 4 w-space, and both worse for wear. One is sitting at half-mass, the other wobbly at the knees in reaching the end of its natural lifetime. I'll leave both of them alone for now, even if the unstable wormhole could easily withstand a return trip from my Tengu. I still have our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to explore, so I jump home to head in that direction. But in the home system I detect the presence of my white whale, core scanning probes visible on d-scan implying a scout is busy at work here. I must lie in wait for him!

Warping to our tower, I swap the Tengu for my Malediction interceptor and fling it towards the wormhole out to the C3. I assume the Buzzard coming from the C4 connecting in to us will head in this direction, so I jump through to the C3 and sit on the K162 ready to ambush the cov-ops ship. I take care to check d-scan in the class 3 system, and to consult my notes, seeing nothing in range of d-scan in the system and no information about previous visits here. And contrary to previous experiences I do not have to wait an age before my prey appears.

The wormhole flares and I get my systems hot. I watch as the Buzzard appears, and spring in to action! My ship surges to intercept the cov-ops boat, at least in theory. In practice I seem to fly off at full pelt in a rather arbitrary direction. I still don't have the hang of this, it seems. The Buzzard either warps clear or feels quite safe sitting cloaked where he appeared near the wormhole, and resetting my position on the wormhole I keep watch of the system using d-scan. There is no sign of the Buzzard, or any sign of probes being launched, and the system stays this silent. I imagine my aggressive posture has stopped the scout in his tracks, and he's just waiting for an opportunity to get home again safely. Or maybe he's calling for reinforcements to arrive.

I'm aware of the additional pilot back in the C4, and that I am perhaps a little vulnerable to the right counter-attack, and return home for now. I loiter on our side of the wormhole a little longer, monitoring d-scan for any potential threats, just in case the Buzzard tries to come back, but nothing appears. I return to the tower, swap ships back for the Tengu, and head off to see what the pilot in the Orca is up to. Reaching the tower finds the pilot but not the Orca, as he has swapped to a Purifier stealth bomber now. It looks like I got here just in time too, as the bomber bounces off a hangar once before warping away, presumably to the wormhole.

It's a bit of a shame that I didn't wait longer, as my experience is that an interceptor could melt a stealth bomber easily enough, although that might be assuming a competent pilot. Even so, I warp back the way I came to try to keep track of the Purifier, but don't get to see any jumps when I reach the wormhole. It's possible the fast ship was able to cross the large distance quick enough to clear the system before my Tengu could cover the space, but I'd rather wait here for now and see if the ships return—and maybe trying to collapse their wormhole in response—than try to find a cloaked stealth bomber.

Nothing happens. I don't see the Purifier leave this C4 and eventually jump out myself, not even getting bombed as I reappear in our home system. I may as well make use of my time by scanning the C3 whilst I'm here. Warping across to the wormhole gets me there at a good time, as the connection flares as I drop out of warp. There's the Buzzard, coming back, even if I'm in no position to catch him this time. I follow him back to the K162 to see if he jumps home but again see nothing. It's only when scanning probes appear in the system that I decide to check the pilot's details and see that he is not the same pilot I saw earlier. This is a different Buzzard.

I'm not going to sit in wait a second time and my hijinks have taken enough of my time for now, so I leave the w-space constellation to take care of itself for a while as I take a short break. Maybe I can get to Pengu a bit later. I haven't actually forgotten my goal, I just get distracted easily.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.