Crashing a corpse recovery

8th December 2011 – 5.00 pm

Hello, Mr Drake. A new battlecruiser has appeared in the tower of our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, which I find out only on a cursory check whilst on my way home to collapse our static wormhole. The constellation has looked boring so far, glorious leader Fin already shoving an Orca industrial command ship through the connection to start the process of killing it, but now a pilot has woken up. He's probably in the wrong ship for doing anything here, unless he has activated the only site in the system, a ladar gas harvesting site, and plans to pop the arriving Sleepers. Or maybe the young pilot is updating he skill training queue, disappearing shortly after I arrive at the tower. What a tease.

I suppose we're going ahead with collapsing our wormhole. On getting home, I push my Widow black ops ship through the connection, and Fin continues with her trips in the Orca, the wormhole disappearing on schedule. I scan the home system again, as if it were a brand new day, finding two unfamiliar signatures. One must be the new static wormhole, the other turns out to be another wormhole. It's not a new connection, though, as the K162 from class 2 w-space is wobbly and reaching the end of its natural lifetime. I don't think I'll be exploring through the wormhole, but I won't be ignoring it entirely either. The additional link presents a risk, but one we know about now.

The static wormhole is healthy, having only now been opened, and Fin has jumped in to take point. I wait on the wormhole in our system for a sitrep. 'Badger, Bestower, Drake, Drake, and corpse on scan—and tower.' That's certainly interesting, if only because of the corpse, but it also seems like we are late to the party, also because of the corpse. Fin locates the tower using d-scan, reporting all the ships to be there except the Badger. That's my cue, and I jump in to the C3 hoping to find the hauler at a customs office somewhere. Unfortunately, the Badger disappears seconds after my arrival, and although there is a planet out of range of my directional scanner warping out there doesn't find the missing ship.

Floating far out of d-scan range of the tower, ships, and corpse, but within range of some ECM drones, I check my notes for this system. I was in this C3 six weeks ago, when it was occupied by blue pilots. I still tried to pop a Noctis salvager that day, visitors to the system. And it looks like we won't have to be friendly today either, Fin now at the tower and informing me that the corporation here is no longer allied to ours. She also checks the name of the corpse, who turns out to be the only blue pilot in the system. She won't be much help in her current state. I launch scanning probes whilst safely out of range before joining Fin monitoring the tower, who sees a piloted Cormorant destroyer warp in, followed by a Manticore stealth bomber. It looks like we've perhaps arrived only shortly after the engagement that created the corpse, and maybe we can surprise our no-longer-friends.

It may help our chances of ambushing the local pilots if we find the corpse. I open my system map and start to narrow down its position using d-scan. I am assuming the combat occurred on a wormhole, but adjusting d-scan's range shows the corpse to be far too close for that to be likely. Indeed, the corpse is really close to the tower, so close in fact that it almost must be around a moon. I switch back from the system map to the normal view of space and, with d-scan on its narrowest beam, check the moons around the current planet. Sure enough, there's the corpse incident with one of them, and with a Buzzard covert operations boat apparently in the same space. I let Fin know what's happening and go to take a look.

There's the corpse, and there's a giant secure container too. I can't say what happened here but I can say what's happening. The Buzzard warps back to the tower, the pilot swaps for a Manticore, and then warps back towards the corpse. I follow him too, landing just short of the corpse and hoping to catch the Manticore, but the other ship has appeared near the GSC instead. I warp up to the can to join him but before I get there he's already moving down towards the corpse. The Manticore is not cloaking because the pilot wants use of his propulsion module, burning at full speed to cover the distance as fast as possible. Trying to warp back to the corpse makes me realise why the Manticore is doing this the slow way, the corpse not a suitable object for warp engines to lock on to, but I simply use the bookmark I made of the corpse's position and warp to that instead, getting back to the frozen body in a fraction of the time the Manticore will take.

I point my ship towards the Manticore burning in my direction and plot an intercept course. Fin is with me and on the other side of the Manticore, as I'm hoping we can catch him on both sides at once. But the stealth bomber is flying fast, we'll need good timing if we want to catch him and not simply watch as he zips past us. He's almost in warp disruption range, certainly close enough that our paths are now diverging a little too rapidly for my cloaked ship to be able to correct, and so I drop my cloak and get my systems hot. I activate my micro warp drive and hope to get my Tengu back on an intercept course. But the Manticore pilot is alert enough to notice the appearance of my strategic cruiser, altering his path and cloaking shortly afterwards. I spur my Tengu on again, becoming passive when its focus disappears, but fail to bump in to the Manticore.

I cloak and warp back to the tower, seeing the Manticore appear a few seconds after me. And now I realise how stupid and impulsive I was. I know what I was trying to achieve, catching the Manticore unawares and when it would find manoeuvring away from me difficult, but there would have been a much better opportunity had I waited for the stealth bomber to reach the corpse. The target would have slowed to a crawl, been close to an object that would prevent it cloaking, and been in a completely predictable position for any interception that was needed. All I had to do was wait. I bungled the ambush. I apologise to Fin, who understands that sometimes the best plans are made retrospectively, and we sit and wait to see if anything will happen now.

The pilot of the Manticore says hello in the local communications channel, before dropping to his pod and disappearing. He's gone from the system but not off-line, returning a few minutes later in a Ferox battlecruiser, mumbling something in Russian possibly suggesting that I am stuck in this system, then actually goes off-line to leave us alone in the C3. That's it for us for tonight. I like to think I've learnt a bit more and that I'll know what to do for the next time. I'd prefer to be able to assess the situation a bit more clearly the first time, though. Never mind, there will be other opportunities. But, for now, Fin recovers the blue corpse and we head home and hit the sack.

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