Caught in a trap

20th September 2011 – 5.09 pm

Oops. Leaving our wormhole in a critical condition last night worked out well for me and Fin, but Mick took a stroll later on and had the connection collapse behind him. At least we now know it would have only taken one more jump for us to complete the operation, but it also means Mick is isolated. I need to scan an exit for his return. It looks like our static wormhole remains the sole extra signature in our system, and I resolve it and jump in to our—hey, that's a K162. It may be from class 3 w-space, but it's not the C247 I was expecting. I either need to be more thorough in my scanning or work out how to count up to six. I relaunch my probes to find the actual static wormhole and, as I am now sitting on top of the connection, jump in to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

Oh dear, there are combat scanning probes visible on my directional scanner. They even appear to be converging on the K162 I'm on, which only tempts me more in to swapping to an interceptor and sitting on the other side of the wormhole. Of course, that's what I do, but I still can't work out why. I'm ever the optimist, I suppose, hoping that someone will actually jump through the wormhole whilst I'm waiting and that I'll be able to catch them. But no one comes. I swap back in to my Tengu and head the other way this time, jumping through the K162 to explore C3b instead. This time there are no probes for me to get unnecessarily excited about, and although there are also no ships there is a tower on d-scan.

I launch my own probes as I locate the tower, which turns in to two once I find it, and a blanket scan reveals that these occupants need to take better care of their system. Eight anomalies and twenty-one signatures makes the place look untidy. And there are core scanning probes here, I just couldn't see them from the distant outreaches of this C3. An Anathema covert operations boat appears briefly on d-scan but I'm not going to wait for him not to jump through the wormhole home, and simply start scanning this C3 myself. I suspect there's another K162 somewhere, which I find at the same time as a strategic cruiser appears there. My combat probes pick up the ship as I am scanning the wormhole, which means he's seen the probes and there's little point trying to hide them, so I continue to resolve the connection he's on.

It looks like I spooked the pilot of the strategic cruiser, which is a bit of a shame. He may have been coming here to shoot some Sleepers and I changed his mind. I loiter by the K162 from class 4 w-space he came through in case returns, but I doubt he will. A wormhole flare, however, suggests I'm wrong. I throw my probes out of the system to make it appear that I've got bored and left, which is a pathetic ruse but the best I can muster right now. It's not the strategic cruiser that appears on the wormhole, though, but a Myrmidon battlecruiser, who warps off in an apparently arbitrary direction. Perhaps he's here to harvest some gas and I try to determine his position using d-scan. As I do, a Loki decloaks on the wormhole and launches scanning probes, no doubt the strategic cruiser I saw earlier who apparently didn't leave after all.

The Myrmidon's position is odd. I have his rough location and distance, but he's almost 12 AU from me, and about the same from the farthest planet, which places him much too far away from where sites normally spawn. The battlecruiser disappears from d-scan. Warping out to the distant planet finds him again, this time in a more obvious position. He seems to be in a safe spot directly between two planets, and in fact only 0·5 AU from the closest planet. This is much easier to scan successfully, and despite my reservations about attacking this Myrmidon solo, with what looks to be a colleague of his in a Loki nearby, I scan his position and warp in to take a look.

The Anathema from earlier was back on d-scan briefly, and after scanning the Myrmidon I appear not to have thrown my probes far enough out of the system to be out of sight. The battlecruiser is now moving slowly in an arbitrary direction, apparently unconcerned about any combat scanning probes, including those of the Anathema, or a Proteus strategic cruiser appearing briefly on d-scan, so I'm not entirely sure what's going on here. What am I saying? Of course I know what's happening! The Myrmidon is bait. He moved from a difficult position to scan to one that is trivial to locate. He's moving to put some distance between whoever scans him and warps in, the time spent in warp changing the Myrmidon's absolute position from where he was scanned, so that he's not completely vulnerable. And the Loki and Proteus are somewhere here waiting to spring the trap.

And here comes a Hurricane. The battlecruiser warps in to where the Myrmidon was a few minutes ago, and the ship looks local. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the pilot of the Anathema. He certainly isn't a colleague of the Myrmidon, or the Proteus and Loki wouldn't decloak and attack him, both the strategic cruisers sitting sensibly in the wake of their bait. The Myrmidon turns around too and the Hurricane is completely overwhelmed. His ship explodes and the pod warps clear, the combat over in seconds and before a second Proteus and a Drake battlecruiser come in from the class 4 system to join in the ambush. They aren't needed but it is a clear sign of the firepower the ambushers have in store for anyone daring to engage their ship.

I'm glad I wasn't totally fooled by the Myrmidon bait. I was a bit slow, I must admit, but I noticed the signs before I did something stupid. After watching the Hurricane meet its fiery end I warp to the K162 from the class 4 system to see if the ambushers leave the system. Apparently not, although they disappear off my probes. Maybe they saw my scanning probes as distinct from those of the Anathema and are hoping for another capsuleer to bite their hook. It won't be me, not today. Instead I keep on scanning, looking for an exit to get Mick home.

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