Executing an ambush

8th February 2012 – 5.13 pm

My expectation for today is to indulge in a little light ratting, nothing more, but I'm willing to be offered a different opportunity. Maybe some sightseeing first, as our neighbouring class 3 w-space system sports a wonderful example of a magnetar phenomenon. The w-space anomalies are all quite impressive, but perhaps none so much as the magnetar, not even the the three-star systems of a cataclysmic variable, maybe because of the magnetar's influence that boosts damage and so makes it as deadly as it is pretty. And I may have some ships to shoot here, or at least watch from a distance, as there is a Tengu strategic cruiser, Cyclone battlecruiser, and Cheetah covert operations boat all visible on my directional scanner.

I imagine the three ships are all sitting inside the tower also visible on d-scan, if only because there are no Sleeper wrecks to betray combat in progress. I locate the tower easily enough and find the ships there, but even though they are surprisingly all piloted a passive scan of the system returns no anomalies. There may not be anywhere local for these pilots to make themselves vulnerable. Even so, the Cheetah warps out somewhere, and I watch his vector to get an idea of where he's heading. As I can't do much else without scanning, I warp out—catching sight of a second Tengu warping in to the tower as I leave—launch probes, and blanket the system, which at least shows me four signatures here. It's not much, but I can continue exploring through the static wormhole, once I've found it.

The Cheetah is back when I return to the tower, but not for long. He warps out again, followed by a Tengu. Not only do I get a bearing on their exit but, thanks to the Tengu remaining in the system, I get a range too. When the Tengu returns to the tower I scan where he had been and, sure enough, resolve a wormhole. It's not the system's static connection, though, but a K162 from class 2 w-space. I imagine the Cheetah is scouting that system, either for sites or targets. I'll leave him to it and resolve the other two signatures here whilst the pilots may not be paying too much attention to home.

The other two signatures are a magnetometric site and the static exit to low-sec empire space, which leads to Aridia, our favourite region. There are plenty of anomalies in the low-sec system and enough pilots to deter me from ratting, but one less pilot when a shuttle zooms past my cloaked Tengu and jumps in to the C3. I give him a minute and follow behind, warping back to the tower to see the shuttle swapped for a Legion strategic cruiser. Now the Legion and both Tengus warp out, but not towards the C2 for some anomalies but to the local magnetometric site. I like the look of that, as it means Sleeper combat, which will likely result in a Noctis salvager being deployed.

I bounce off a planet, to get some decent separation from having separate warp-in points, and head in to the magnetometric site. I watch them shoot Sleepers, patiently biding my time until the site is cleared, and wondering if they'll make use of the spare pilots to guard their salvaging boat. Apparently not. All three ships warp out of the site as one, which is a positive sign, although that doesn't mean they won't bring back a guardian or two. I keep track of ship changes using d-scan, seeing the Legion get swapped for an Executioner frigate, and the Tengus for a pair of cov-ops boats. Those are curious choices indeed.

The Executioner warps in to the magnetometric site and starts analysing the artefacts. The other two ships drop off d-scan. Maybe the connected class 2 system is unoccupied and riddled with signatures, their scout in the Cheetah asking for help. It makes sense, but still leaves their loot vulnerable. Now I have the choice of hitting the frigate or waiting to see if he returns with a Noctis. The Executioner is small and nippy, but he's collecting the more valuable loot. And I think he's missed an artefact, which he realises after he's plucked the others clean. This gives me an excellent shot, as I know exactly where he's headed and have a perfect reference point where I can bump right in to him.

I wait until the frigate is within a few kilometres of the remaining artefact, so that he'll be slowing down and distracted by analysing and looting, before warping in to land nearby. Seconds before my warp engines cut out I decloak, hoping to soak up some of the sensor recalibration delay caused by my active cloaking device, and get my systems hot and ready to snare and shoot the frigate. I start to target the Executioner, burn towards him, and watch him warp cleanly away. Damn. What I probably needed was my stealth bomber, with its lack of recalibration delay on decloaking. I probably could have gone home to get it too, considering the lack of awareness shown from the locals when I scanned their system.

Missing the analysing ship also probably means I won't get a shot at the salvager either. I warp back to the tower to see what reaction my failed attack will provoke, and kick myself for not having done so immediately. The Executioner warped out of the magnetometric site directly to his tower, which just happened to land him in one of their own warp bubbles. The frigate is forced to crawl slowly through the bubble to get back to the safety of his tower, and I know from recent experience that I probably have enough time to pop a frigate stuck in a bubble without having the tower's defences attack me. If only I'd reacted quicker.

I couldn't realistically have known my target would get trapped in his own defence. And even if I had spotted it sooner I may not have been able to get close enough in time to help him out of his predicament. My vantage point at the tower puts me too close to warp in to the bubble, and too far to cross the distance cloaked, and bouncing off a suitable planet may have taken long enough for the Executioner to get untangled anyway. Still, I get a good chuckle out of watching him so inconvenienced.

And I see what reaction I've provoked too. The cov-ops ships return to their tower from wherever they were lurking, one of them swapping to an Arazu recon ship. That's a fairly dangerous ship in the right hands, and I don't care to find out how skilled this pilot may be. I turn my ship around and head home, happy to have had another an entertaining evening, even if I didn't get a kill.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.