Going after gassers

17th September 2011 – 3.33 pm

My time today is short, but not so short that I can't take a quick look around for a soft target. Scanning at home should remain simple enough, with five registered sites and, um, five signatures. Either we don't have a static wormhole today or one of the sites has decayed. Luckily, it doesn't take long to check the presence of five bookmarked sites and delete the errant one from my records, the extra signature resolving to give me a way out of our home system.

The neighbouring class 3 w-space system has a tower visible on my directional scanner, where I find the also present Orca industrial command ship inevitably unpiloted. Scanning has plenty of anomalies, all of which I ignore today, and a dozen signatures. I skim over the rocks, gas, and radar sites to get to the static wormhole, an exit to low-sec empire space and the only connection in the C3. I may have limited time but I'm not going to stop here. I jump to low-sec and scan for more wormholes.

Scanning the low-sec system in the Domain region finds three extra signatures, two of which are wormholes and one is a dirty site, whatever that is. I've found two K162s, one from class 2 w-space and one from class 5 w-space. With my time running out, scanning never that quick, I'll limit myself to roaming the two systems, looking only for ships to shoot and not wanting to scan any deeper. Picking the class 2 system first I jump in to see a tower and three ships on d-scan, although a Megathron battleship, Arazu recon ship, and shuttle are a curious combination.

As I suspect, the three ships in the C2 are all empty and floating inside the shields of the tower. My notes also help me here, letting me know that the system has static connections to low-sec and more class 2 w-space. The second C2 is tempting to look for, but I don't want to waste my time scanning when I already have another system waiting to be explored. I jump back out to low-sec, warp across the system, and jump through the other K162 to class 5 w-space. And I appear to have found activity.

A Tengu strategic cruiser and Nighthawk command ship are both in the system, no towers in sight, and Sleeper wrecks on d-scan. But no sooner have I entered the system than the two ships disappear, leaving only a handful of wrecks. It looks like they were vigilant with d-scan and caught sight of my Tengu as I was moving away from the wormhole. Or maybe they were only clearing a ladar or gravimetric site of Sleepers for a mining operation, which would explain the small number of wrecks left behind and the Noctis salvager now appeared.

I performed a passive scan of the system when the two combat ships were present, and the wrecks are not incident with any of the anomalies here. But, in a serendiptious moment of discovery, I've managed to narrow down the location of the site to be on a five degree d-scan beam directly between the wormhole and a nearby planet, and only a smidge over 1 AU away. This will make finding the site almost trivial, as long as I can find somewhere safe to launch probes.

A distant planet sits out of range of any ships and towers, repeated refreshes of d-scan revealing no occupation on my way out here, despite my notes having a tower nearby only three months ago. The static connection is also listed as leading to class 4 w-space, so the exit to low-sec must be random. But I'm getting distracted, and now that I'm out of warp I can launch probes, get them clear out of the system, and warp back to the wormhole to monitor the Noctis.

I return to the wormhole simply as a convenient landmark, and to confirm that my d-scan placement of the wrecks was accurate and I wasn't imagining it. The Noctis is still there, and although I'd rather wait for it to leave before I scan the site the appearance of a Myrmidon and Ferox on d-scan makes me think I won't get an opportunity to scan whilst there are no ships around. Perhaps impetuously, spurred on by a ticking clock, I decide now is the best time to scan, whilst the ships are hopefully talking to themselves and getting in or out of the site.

I position my probes, and I really can't remember having an easier site to scan. I move all my probes as one, so that they are in a direct line between the wormhole and the planet, the edge of the probes' 1 AU radius scan range scraping the wormhole. Now to adjust the scan ranges for the probes to their minimum and spread them out in to a standard scanning pattern. I hit 'scan' and get a 100% result on both the Noctis and the ladar site it is in, recalling the probes the moment I get the positive result. If only all scanning could be this easy.

Not wanting to waste any time I warp in to the site at range to reconnoitre the gas clouds and hopefully get a good reference for the two incoming battlecruisers. Sadly, in my haste I am careless, and my Tengu flies in to one of the clouds and decloaks. Had I been in less of a rush I would have bounced off a suitable planet to give me less of a vertical vector in to the site, which would have avoided the gas clouds. It also seems like I picked the wrong time to scan and should have waited until the gassers were more settled, because it looks like my probes were spotted. If they hadn't been seen the two ships should either already be in the site or in warp to it now and too late to turn around, but I see no ships on d-scan.

I've been rumbled, and it's my own fault. I'll never get to be a dread pirate if I keep making silly mistakes like this, almost being handed soft targets on a plate yet not getting the kill. It doesn't help that I've spent more time recently avoiding hostile fleets than engaging them, but that's not much of an excuse. All I can do for now is kick myself as I head home through empty systems, and try to learn from my errors of the past couple of days.

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