Shoot first, think later

13th January 2012 – 5.43 pm

There are four signatures to scan at home, and they all look a bit different to what I'm expecting. No matter, four is not a big number, which I'm pretty sure about even with my shown deficiencies with counting, and resolving them all is short work. I bookmark a magnetometric site, two radar sites, and one each of the rock and gas mining sites, both of which I activate. Along with the static wormhole, that makes six signatures. I honestly don't know how I've survived this long in w-space some days. I suspect it has something to do with clones. I warp to the wormhole, bookmark it, and jump through with my glorious leader to explore today's w-space constellation.

This class 3 system is much-visited, relatively. It's my fourth time here, the last only two months ago and already the occupants have moved out. There are no traces of their tower so it probably was by choice, but it leaves us an empty system, one with a mere three anomalies that we could plunder. First we scan, sifting through the seventeen signatures to look for other opportunities, and the several wormholes revealed suggest there may be adventures to be had. After ignoring the usual rocks and gas we resolve between us a static exit to low-sec, two K162 connections coming from class 4 w-space, and a neat outbound connection to class 2 w-space. I'll be looking there first, whilst Fin chooses the first of the C4s to reconnoitre.

Another system I've visited before, all looks a bit plain in this C2. There is a tower visible on my directional scanner, along with a Noctis salvager, which is probably empty and left floating inside the tower's force field. I know where the tower is likely to be, if it hasn't been moved in the four months since I was last here, so rather than trying to find it I start to warp away in order to launch scanning probes. But a refresh of d-scan now shows no Noctis but an Orca. I'm sure I saw a Noctis first, the industrial command ship either having taken its place or giving me a sign I've been struck by space madness.

Fin confirms that I said Noctis, but that proves nothing. However, warping out has the Orca appear on d-scan without the tower, so it's moving! I sweep d-scan around but the ship isn't sitting at the customs tower where I am, and I assume it is heading towards a wormhole. But the Orca persists on d-scan, floating somewhere with little apparent regard for its safety. I need to launch probes! I warp to the other side of the system, lob probes from my launcher as fast as they come out, and throw them out of the system. Turning around, I head to a different planet, hoping to get a better approximation of the Orca's location. During warp, I configure my probes for a blanket scan and confirm that one ship remains visible in the system. I should be in good position to find it.

I'm in a better position than I think. I checked the outer planet's customs office for the Orca but I didn't realise I was in range of a second planet too, and a quick check with a tight d-scan beam suggests that's exactly where the industrial command ship is. By now I've called Fin across from the C4, both of us excited for such an expensive kill, and she jumps in to the C2 as I warp to the customs office. I've found the Orca, I call Fin to my position, and then I realise that my finding is a little more curious than simply an incautious pilot. The Orca is empty.

The Orca has no pilot. Now I'm confused. I swear that I saw a Noctis, and only a Noctis, when I entered the system, which changed to the Orca, which must have happened at the tower. Now I've found the ship but it has been abandoned. It could be bait, for a cloaked fleet sitting nearby, but that would be rather elaborate. We should be safe to do what we want with the Orca. I think we should steal it, but am told that an Orca won't fit through wormholes connecting in to class 2 w-space. That's a shame, as it would fetch a pretty iskie on the market, probably even pay for the Legion I carelessly lost recently. Neither of us think the Orca should be left here, unmolested and free for the owner to recover despite abandoning it, so we decloak and start shooting.

It may be surprising to learn just how easy it is to pop an industrial ship without a pilot. Pretty easy, particularly considering the pilot's main job is not to fight back but provide greater structural integrity, so we tear through the hull in a way I couldn't do against previously targeted Orcas that had pilots. We loot the wreck and then wonder what to do with it. We could salvage it, but we're unlikely to recover enough to compensate for jumping two systems, bringing a salvager, then switching ships again. We could shoot it, but we've both just reloaded our launchers and re-activated our cloaks. Instead, we just leave the wrecked Orca outside the customs office as a gift to its previous owner.

Of course, we are told later that Orcas can fit through connections to class 2 w-space, that an acquaintance has made just such a trip this evening, and that we effectively destroyed half-a-billion ISK worth of ship instead of hijacking it and taking it out to sell. That's probably just lies and propaganda spread by bitter industrialists. Fair enough, maybe I didn't see any ship-building infrastructure in the C2, but that doesn't mean anything. Maybe we didn't want the Orca. Anyway, the threat of the unpiloted ship has been removed from the C2, I can take a better look around.

The tower is indeed in the same place as before, letting me loiter there as I look for the known wormholes to further class 2 w-space and an exit to high-sec empire space. I discard plenty of the nineteen signatures as rocks and gas, resolving the only two obvious wormholes, and jump in to C2b to continue my exploration. As I am greeted by another clear d-scan return, Fin has headed back to check C4b and has come across a second unpiloted ship outside a customs office, popping the Bestower hauler for having the temerity of not holding a pod. I have a single ship appear on my blanket scan of C2b, which turns out to be a Prorator transport ship sitting inside a tower's shields, this one piloted. How novel.

Two anomalies are easy enough to bookmark, even if I don't think the transport ship will visit them, and the thirteen signatures tempt me to scan them as the Prorator refuses to move. I think I will scan them, decision helped by the tower sitting on the outermost planet and far enough from the signatures that my probes won't register on the Prorator's d-scan. I resolve both static wormholes in the system, the only ones here, noting the exit to high-sec reaching the end of its natural lifetime and jumping through the connection to class 1 w-space.

This looks interesting, six ships on d-scan. There may be a tower too, but the mix of ships means any pilot here could become a valid target, whether the haulers collect planet goo or the Ferox battlecruisers or Exequror cruiser head out to harvest gas. The Drake battlecruiser may even look to engage Sleepers, it being more than equipped to do so in a class 1 w-space system. Locating the tower remains easy tonight, as I'm returning here from a visit six weeks ago, but sadly the ships are all inside the tower and empty. And it looked so promising a couple of minutes ago. Never the less, there is still the outer reaches of the system to explore, maybe I'll find something out there.

  1. 10 Responses to “Shoot first, think later”

  2. Ooh, Crucible graphics! Welcome to the future, Penny!

    By pjharvey on Jan 13, 2012

  3. i was going to say, you can definitely shove an orca through a C2... you wasted a good ship :(

    By Planetary Genocide on Jan 13, 2012

  4. Basically, it's always safer to try first :P

    By Planetary Genocide on Jan 13, 2012

  5. Doh, I would have jumped into the orca anyway and seen if it had anything in the corporate hangers before I blew it up. Very strange to find unlimited ships though that is definitely some kind of wh space sickness better check your immunizations.


    By Zandramus on Jan 13, 2012

  6. *Unpiloted silly iPhone....

    By Zandramus on Jan 13, 2012

  7. We probably could have tried, but warping back home and coming back in a pod seemed like a lot of effort. I suppose we could have ditched one of our ships in a safe spot in the system and piloted the Orca from there, but we clearly didn't think about that at the time.

    I think we both just want to see the galaxy burn.

    By pjharvey on Jan 14, 2012

  8. Did you ever find out why there was an un-piloted Orca floating around W-sapce?

    By JamesT on Jan 14, 2012

  9. Nope. It was the first day of Crucible, so possibly a bug, but we never heard from the corporation or saw another pilot in that system.

    By pjharvey on Jan 14, 2012

  10. Orca's have ship maintenance hangars, you could have ha Fin lock your T3 ( to prevent some one from grabbing it while you switched just to be safe) hop in the orca, scoop your T3, and run for it. Most C2s I have seen have 20 BS holes with an Orca being the single jump mass limit.

    But an Orca on the KB is always nice.

    By Alyxxa on Jan 15, 2012

  11. This is the kind of smart thinking we could use in our operations.

    By pjharvey on Jan 15, 2012

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