Trapping a transport

15th January 2012 – 3.36 pm

Fin saw a Crane go out to low-sec and is looking to catch the transport ship on its way back to w-space. I turn up as my glorious leader boards an Onyx heavy interdictor to set up an ambush. That sounds like fun, I think I'll help. The Crane's going to be a tricky ship to catch, and although the Onyx's warp bubble will ensure the Crane doesn't warp clear our target is agile and nimble. We could probably use a ship that could throw out a bit of damage but I imagine I will be more useful in my interceptor, using its speed to counter the target's agility and getting close enough quickly enough to break any attempt to cloak.

I follow behind Fin to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where she tells me 'the tower is somewhere'. Maybe three towers, which I have listed in my notes from a previous visit only ten weeks ago. Then again, at least one tower is off-line, as sitting on the static exit to low-sec empire space should have the tower within range of my directional scanner, and nothing is showing. The other two towers I noted the last time I was here are both on planets out of d-scan range, but now's not the time to worry about them. Besides, the Crane probably isn't even local to this system. Two K162 wormholes both from class 4 w-space connect in here, and it is likely the Crane came from one of them.

The wormhole to low-sec we're sitting on is throwing a wobbly, reaching the end of its natural lifetime, so we suspect our wait won't be long tonight. We shoot the breeze for a bit and, sure enough, the wormhole flares without too much of a wait. My interceptor sitting on the wormhole probably looks a bit threatening, but Fin's Onyx doesn't. She's cloaked, holding until the Crane reveals itself and tries to warp clear before inflating the HIC's warp bubble. I activate my micro warp drive in preparation for a burst of speed, and there's the Crane, making a break for it. I surge towards the transport ship as Fin decloaks and bubbles the wormhole. We've got him.

We throw a few missiles at the Crane as he is decidedly trapped, unable to warp out of the bubble and reduced to a crawl thanks to my interceptor. It's all going to plan so far. Naturally, the Crane jumps back out of w-space to escape death, but I'm right behind him. Fin holds in the C3, the Onyx's bubble not up to snuff in low-sec, being a banned weapon in empire space. It's okay, I can chase the Crane well enough, and I have him in my sights in the low-sec system. I activate my micro warp drive and, um, it overheats the mid rack without turning on. I try again, but still the module refuses to respond, leaving me with a still-impressive but frankly disappointing turn of speed in this rather crucial moment. The Crane cloaks and, presumably, warps clear as I curse Amarr engineering.

I manage to clear the overheat, but not before my micro warp drive takes a fair amount of damage, the effect apparently having been started back in w-space, and I sit on the K162 in low-sec and take stock. The Crane pilot leaves the system, but I have nowhere else to go and I suspect he doesn't either, so I wait, keeping Fin informed of what's occurring. The Crane returns to the system a minute later but doesn't approach the wormhole, at least not without his cloak active. I'm happy to wait a little longer, although aware of the dying wormhole behind me, as there are no corporate colleagues of the Crane in the system yet. There is a constant churn of pilots coming in and out of this system, though, so I keep my eyes and scanner monitoring the situation.

Still no obvious help comes for the Crane, but the combat probes whizzing around concern me a little. I can still be found and engaged by other fleets from arbitrary corporations, and I think I might just be. Whereas most ships appearing on d-scan disappear again a few seconds later, indicating transit across the system, a Vigilant cruiser, Thorax cruiser, Vagabond heavy assault cruiser, and Cyclone battlecruiser all persist for a little too long on my scanner. As such, I'm not surprised when the Vagabond drops under ten kilometres from my position and targets me. I have already mentioned to Fin that I may tell her to back off quickly, and I give the command as the Vagabond vaporises my shields in one hit.

I jump back to w-space and warp away from the wormhole, seeing Fin burn away herself and cloak. I get clear without problem and Fin's slow-but-steady cloaked crawl gets enough distance between her and the wormhole for the following Vagabond not to be a direct threat. I return home and swap to a Falcon ECM boat, just in case, but the rascals from low-sec don't venture far from the wormhole. The Vagabond is joined by a couple of covert operations scouts, one of who launches probes, but all three ships jump back to low-sec within a couple of minutes. Well, that was exciting.

I return to the wormhole to low-sec in my interceptor and Fin crawls back to the wormhole in her Onyx, resetting our ambush. I am tempted to poke my nose back out to low-sec, to which Fin says, 'Go for it'. It's good to see she's as cavalier with my ships as I am hers. The Crane pilot's still out here somewhere, but the Vagabond has moved on. However, Fin spotted a cov-ops scout in the C3 when I was out in low-sec, so it's possible the Crane pilot has enlisted help in determining if it is safe to return. The scout can see if Fin and I remain on the wormhole and communicate this to his colleague, so I doubt we'll catch the Crane returning to w-space as long as we sit here so obviously. In that case, we shouldn't be so obvious.

I head back home again and drop off my interceptor, swapping it for a Manticore stealth bomber. The Manticore can cloak, lock quickly, and is pretty nippy when it wants to be. It may not be quite as adept at catching a Crane as the interceptor, but loitering cloaked on the wormhole to remain unseen is the important factor now. Fin warps away from the wormhole too, so that whatever scout may be there will see us retreat, and I warp to the wormhole to maintain the ambush. Unfortunately, my Manticore lands almost directly on top of the invisible and yet still-interactable deadspace signature of the wormhole, some seven kilometres from the wormhole itself, and my ship decloaks.

I suppose that's that. The idea of moving our obvious ships away from the wormhole was to give whatever scout may be watching the impression that we've cleared the pocket and given up waiting for the Crane. Showing that we've moved different, cloaked ships in place instead really doesn't help our chances of a second shot at the ambush. I don't even consider waiting any longer, merely turning my Manticore around and heading home, a little disappointed that bugs and the vagaries of space thwarted our good intentions to kill an innocent hauler this evening.

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