Compensating for bad timing

17th December 2011 – 3.48 pm

I'm out in low-sec, the hauler's got away, and it looks like a carrier is left to take care of an unanchoring tower. But the evening's not over yet. On scanning my way out of the home w-space system, across low-sec, and through more w-space to the deadly class 6 system where the tower was being torn down, I also happened upon a second outbound connection in this system in low-sec empire space, one leading to class 3 w-space. It would be remiss of me not to at least take a quick look in that system for some hapless industrialist to shoot.

Jumping in to the C3 has a Moros dreadnought and Onyx heavy interdictor visible on my directional scanner, the curious combination of the two leading me to suspect them both sitting in the tower also to be seen on d-scan. And finding the tower turns out to be remarkably simple, as I am pointed the way by my notes. Normally this is quite usual, my notes after all being made specifically for such occasions, but my previous time here was around eighteen months ago and anything I have scribbled down from that long ago is generally so stale that I don't even care to mention an earlier visit. Amazement at the tower's stable presence in w-space aside, both ships seen on d-scan are indeed unpiloted and the system looks thoroughly inactive.

The hour's already late, having tested my patience in watching and waiting for the Bestower hauler to take an unanchored hangar out of w-space only to blink and miss him, so I wasn't planning to scan this C3. Never the less, I would kick myself if I didn't at least take a cursory look around with my combat scanning probes, the decision having nothing to do with my making a newbie error and failing to bookmark the wormhole back to low-sec. Thankfully modern ships keep track of visited wormholes in their system maps, which once a blanket scan has shown me no other ships and nothing of interest, lets me cluster my probes around the wormhole I entered through and resolve it in one scan.

I'm thinking about heading home, but my waiting in low-sec for a hauler that doesn't appear and bumbling around in the C3 has whittled away enough time for the tower in the C6 to be nearly ready to be scooped. Even if the Nidhoggur carrier will be doing the scooping, it being the ship left alone in the system, I am still interested in seeing it happen. I warp across low-sec, jump in to C5a, move straight on to C5b, and then back through a K162 to C6a, where I warp to a good vantage point that I was setting up when the Bestower serendipitously made his exit. I have five minutes until the tower unanchors and can be collected, five minutes until I see if I have a target.

It takes me three of these five minutes, spent idly tapping on a keyboard, for me to realise that the tower could be scooped by anyone, and that currently there is no one from the owner corporation to be seen. Rather than bring my covert Tengu strategic cruiser back here I could have brought my Crane transport ship, racing against the Nidhoggur or whoever to be first to scoop the tower and claim it as their own. Now, surely, it is too late to return across half-a-dozen systems, swap ships, make the same journey back and still have a chance of stealing the tower, even if the tower's current owners are a little tardy in remembering when they have to be somewhere. I suppose I'm stuck waiting in my Tengu.

The five minutes pass, the tower unanchors. No one comes. I keep updating d-scan, not with the same urgency as when engaging Sleepers but still frequently, and yet there is no sign of the Nidhoggur or Bestower to suggest they are warping in to collect the tower. I'm waiting no more, I'm off to get my Crane. If the no-longer-locals don't care to recover their tower I will be happy to do it for them, despite the distance between it and my Crane. I warp to the wormhole back to the C5, make a cursory refresh of d-scan as I jump, and see the Bestower appear on the results. My cursing is only swallowed by the wormhole throwing me between systems.

I wasn't expecting to see any ships when I updated d-scan before jumping, I just wanted to confirm there were still none arriving! Damn my bad timing, and not for the first time this evening! I was getting in position to strike the Bestower when it warped away, after spending long enough urging it to do just that when it was invulnerable inside the force field. I gave chase but took a wrong turn. Now I leave the system moments before the hauler returns to an entirely predictable position where I could have engaged him with almost no risk to myself. It doesn't look like being my evening.

I am quite tempted to jump back to the C6 and warp in to assault the Bestower as he collects the tower, but I refuse to compound bad luck with error. The Bestower may have already scooped the tower and be in warp to the wormhole, which could cause us to cross paths and I'd be chasing him again, a situation that has already ended in the hauler's favour. Not only that, but if I make a second transit through the wormhole so soon my ship will be polarised, and even if the Bestower lands on my Tengu on the wormhole he would be safe to jump and warp away for a couple of minutes at least. I am best served sitting on the wormhole and waiting for him to come to me.

I did not scan the C6 earlier, not wanting to spook the pilots, but I also didn't see the need. I entered through a K162 and it made sense that this wormhole is its static connection and the wormhole the pilots will be using. And when chasing behind the Bestower earlier I caught sight of him on d-scan in this class 5 system, so the odds are good that he will return this way, bringing the tower with him. I hold on the wormhole and wait, rewarded before long with a flare signalling a ship's passage. I don't care much for the element of surprise that my cloaking device gives me right now, only using it whilst waiting so that I would not be visible to any scouts that may have warned the Bestower. Now that he is presumably in front of me the cloak will only force a delay on my targeting systems, so I shed its disguise immediately and wait in full view. Besides, a Tengu sitting menacingly on a wormhole must be surprise enough for a hauler.

The ship just entered the system through the wormhole sits and waits, holding its session change cloak, which is a good indication that it is the Bestower. I sit coiled in front of my controls, ready to pounce, knowing the hauler cannot maintain its hidden state forever. And there he finally is. I lunge towards my target and activate all my systems, and this time luck is on my side, as the ship has appeared too far from the wormhole to jump straight back. My missiles slam in to the soft belly of the hauler, exploding violently enough to cause the pilot to eject early to try to save his pod. I see the pod and swap targets immediately, the Bestower exploding moments later anyway, but despite getting a positive lock and activating my warp disruptor some latency in the effect lets the pod warp clear anyway. That's a shame, but I won't say my new-found luck is faltering just yet, as the destruction of the hauler did not take the control tower with it.

Now I have a decision to make, whether to destroy the wreck and the tower inside, or leave it intact and try to recover the tower myself. I could easily do either, preferring the loot to be lost than recovered by its previous owner, but I would like to at least try to realise the ISK myself. I have a fair distance to travel to get my Crane here, and no inkling if the owners will send a second ship, perhaps with an escort, to pick it up themselves, causing me a wasted trip. It seems better to try to collect the tower than blow it up with such little regard for the rightful spoils I could recover, and turn my Tengu around leaving the wreck intact on the wormhole.

I jump from C5b to C5a, out to low-sec, in to C3a, back to home. I swap the Tengu for my Crane and make the same journey back, through C3a to low-sec, in to C5a and across to C5b, where the wreck remains visible on d-scan. But d-scan cannot tell me if it is looted. I warp to the K162 from C6a cautiously, dropping a little short in case I stumble in to ships I'd rather not see. But all that is there is the wreck and wormhole, and d-scan stays clear of any obvious threats. I approach the wreck, am decloaked when I get too close, and transfer the tower from the wrecked Bestower to my Crane's hold, burning away from the wreck and reactivating my cloak when done. My Crane spins around and warps back along the route I've taken several times this evening. I would say this has been a successeful evening, and the wait was worth it in the end. I not only get the Bestower kill I was looking for but snatch a hundred million ISK or so in loot for my effort.

  1. 4 Responses to “Compensating for bad timing”

  2. oh yay so you snatched the tower anyways. \o/ I love a happy ending

    By Planetary Genocide on Dec 17, 2011

  3. Yes, am getting to like these cliffhangers. Great job on snagging the tower.


    By Zandramus on Dec 18, 2011

  4. I stole a tower in a c1 not too long ago... I had been camping the hole for about a week. The people living there were not very accomodating...

    So one day we had noticed a lot of traffic and I warp to the tower to find that all the mods are gone aside from a lone mammoth. Burning way from the tower that is unanchoring. Too far out to get a good bead on the hauler, I rally my buddies and out wit the mercs hired to fend us off by making the static critical and traping most of their fleet outside.

    We didn't get a fight, which would have been nice... but got an Amarr tower out of the deal.

    By M. R. Moore on Dec 18, 2011

  5. Thanks, chaps, and nice job, Mr Moore. Destabilising wormholes is a sneaky but effective use of w-space.

    I'm glad I was able to keep my head and catch the hauler, and even happier that the tower survived the explosion. It's not often I bag some big iskies from a kill.

    By pjharvey on Dec 18, 2011

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