Following behind a Bestower

9th January 2012 – 5.07 pm

Home alone, there aren't even intruders here. I am kept company by two new signatures, some ISO standard rocks and ZVQ gas, although the signature identifier for the gas doesn't fit in to a pun quite as well as that of the rocks and pretty much ruins a snappy start to another day. Never mind, I find the wormhole to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, interestingly enough where we left the previous one to die, but pause before warping to it. I am bouncing my ship in to the gravimetric and ladar sites to activate them, where I find not just rocks and gas but also Sleepers. I imagine Fin was here earlier and activated the sites first, which is why the delayed Sleepers have arrived. I may as well take the two minutes to pop the frigates and salvage their wrecks to make some pocket iskies.

And here is my glorious leader! She helps me pop the Sleepers, and my salvaging gives us only pocket iskies, no great salvage letting either of us buy new clothes, although exporting skirts and boots in to space is apparently pretty expensive business. Fin tells me of a cocky Russian in our neighbouring C3, one who had 'two surprises' in his hauler when collecting planet goo. They were both warp core stabilisers, it seems, which isn't much of a surprise but unfortunately prevented Fin from ravaging the Russian's ship. Sleepers popped, we jump through the static wormhole to see what our neighbour's up to now, which turns out to be not much. He's gone off-line.

Fin didn't scan this system earlier, preferring to stalk the planet goo hauler, so we launch probes and do so now. Resolving six signatures doesn't take long, and we have rocks, gas, gas, wormhole, and wormhole, but not in that order. One wormhole leads out to the Derelik region in low-sec empire space, the other comes in from class 2 w-space, where there are ships and towers visible on my directional scanner. I see a Rorqual capital industrial ship, Orca industrial command ship, Noctis salvager, Ferox battlecruiser, Bestower hauler, and two Badger haulers. With no wrecks or jet-cans on d-scan we're unlikely to catch the Ferox out of the tower harvesting gas, but the dominance of industrial ships gives me a warm feeling that we may catch a pilot being careless.

Locating the towers has a Badger and Bestower piloted. Warping out to launch probes finds a third tower, this one with a piloted Buzzard covert operations boat. Fin holds station at the tower with the piloted haulers whilst I warp even further out to launch probes, which I manage to do without bumping in to more towers. A mere three signatures sounds eminently scannable, which we really ought to do to have a hope of catching a hauler moving between systems. I quickly throw my probes around to resolve a static exit to high-sec that is reaching the end of its natural lifetime, and another K162 from class 2 w-space. Fin watches the locals for action as I press deeper in to the constellation.

The second C2 is a vast system, giving me a nice and clear d-scan from the wormhole. Exploring finds two towers on the outskirts of the system, one not really defended by some guns that are not currently on-line, the other not even bothering with the pretence of anchoring defences around it, relying instead on an unpiloted Mammoth hauler to keep it safe. It's a bold gambit, and although I wouldn't mind shooting these towers I find I don't quite have four hours to spare doing nothing else. And as there are only two signatures here in total, the two static connections that lead to class 2 w-space and exit to low-sec, I turn my boat around and return to C2a.

Fin's given up on watching the haulers. One going off-line soon after we arrived, the other refusing to move and then going off-line himself. It looks like another quiet evening, Fin heading home through C3a and me lagging a system behind, when my glorious leader spots a Cheetah cov-ops in the system. She warps to the tower to see the pilot swap in to a Crane transport ship, a positive indicator that the pilot will be active. I am approaching the wormhole and moments away from joining her in C3a when the Bestower reappears in C2a. I want to see what he's up to, so turn around and warp across to the active tower.

The Bestower isn't at the tower. D-scan doesn't put him at the second tower in range either. I open my system map and point a narrow d-scan beam at the wormholes, not seeing the hauler heading to high-sec, braving the dying wormhole. Dismissing the system map I swing d-scan around the planets in the system and find the Bestower at one of them. He's probably collecting planet goo from the customs office, so I warp my covert Tengu strategic cruiser there, dropping short so I don't decloak. There's the Bestower. I don't decloak to engage as it looks like the hauler is aligning out, getting ready to warp, which makes sense as I am straggling behind him, and I don't want show myself if I won't have time to lock his ship.

I can see where the Bestower's heading next, no doubt to another customs office and not the planet itself, and align my Tengu on the same vector. He warps, I warp. Sure enough, we both land near the customs office, and now I have a much better shot at my target. I decloak, burn, and bump the Bestower, locking, pointing, and shooting. The magnetar phenomenon in the system makes this brutally quick, the Bestower exploding in a shower of blue sparks.

The pilot's ejected pod doesn't get clear by the time I have locked on to it and disrupted its warp drive too. I launch missiles at my second target until I have a new corpse to scoop. Once the execution is complete, I loot the wreck of some toxic metals, leaving the expanded cargoholds, although it seems I shoot the higher-cost items when destroying the wreck. No matter, we have plenty of expanded cargoholds from previous piracy.

Job done, I leave the C2 to help Fin stalk the Crane, but I jump in to the system as the transport ship warps out of the tower. It is long gone through low-sec by the time we catch up with it, the slippery little bugger, although that probably means it will be returning. I loiter in the low-sec system looking for the pilot's appearance in the local channel, whilst Fin swaps ships to gain the portable warp bubble of an interdictor, and we set up an ambush. But checking the atlas shows that I am far from any civilised space, meaning the pilot could be gone for a while, and it's already getting late. Rather than wait for an agile, stealthy ship to maybe return the way it came we decide that perhaps we'd benefit more from a sensible bed time, and head home.

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