Mangling Merlins

10th February 2012 – 5.31 pm

I have time for a quick poke around, see what's happening. Sleepers are breeding in the home system, adding some infrequent rocks and a bountiful gas site that I activate in the hopes they will go away again soon. I turn my attention to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, although the two off-line towers visible on d-scan on entry to the system probably don't require much attention. It's my fifth visit here, the last being only four weeks ago when Fin and I chased a Crane transport ship to low-sec empire space, and I got shot by a Vagabond cruiser for loitering too long in low-sec. There's nothing in my notes about a jet-can named 'thx for the loot' but it sounds awfully familiar, either subconsciously remembered from my last visit or we left it there ourselves some time ago. But, no, a little digging through the archives shows the can's not ours. Fin can spell 'thanks'.

Despite having only been here under a month ago the active tower that was then is now thoroughly off-line, which is a little sad. The system sitting fallow has brought Sleepers back in force, with twenty anomalies and twenty-one signatures returned by my probes on a blanket scan, which I start sifting through to look for the static exit to low-sec. I find it easily enough with some broad scans, letting me ignore a dozen gravimetric and ladar sites at the same time, but I won't stop with just the one wormhole. Continued scanning finds a weaker wormhole, probably outbound, and a third and fourth. That's enough for now, I don't want to appear greedy.

I jump through the static exit to appear in Aridia, hooray! There are no anomalies in the system, though, and I'm not going to scan when there are systems still to explore behind me. I return to the C3 and warp around my bookmarks, revealing a T405 outbound connection to class 4 w-space that's sadly reaching the end of its lifetime, an N968 to class 3 w-space also EOL, and the fourth wormhole is dead on arrival. No, hang on, it's my systems that have given up the ghost. I switch my ship off and on again, and drop out of warp next to a second EOL T405. So much for w-space exploration.

I leave the dying C3 behind me and head back to low-sec, where this time I launch probes and scan. Seven signatures is a healthy result, even if the first is a site full of rocks populated with dumb drones. The second and third signatures are both X702 wormholes to more class 3 w-space, another wormhole simply connects this low-sec system to another low-sec system, a fourth wormhole is a dying K162 from class 3 w-space, and some Blood Raider rats complete my scanning collection. I think I have plenty to be getting on with.

I choose one of the X702 wormholes, name it as leading to C3b, and jump through. I see warp bubbles and probes on d-scan, then only the bubbles. I loiter on the wormhole for a minute, hoping to see a hapless scout warp on top of me, but none comes. A single moon sits out of range of d-scan, so I warp out to look for occupation and find it, a tower holding a Probe frigate and Rupture cruiser. Neither ship is piloted, though, and there is no sign of the scout whose probes I detected. With another C3 connecting from low behind me I decide to leave this system alone for now.

C3c is familiar to me, having been here four months ago. I noted a static exit to high-sec then, not that I care about that now, and the location of two towers. I can see two active towers on d-scan and two Merlin frigates, but nothing suggesting activity. My time is running low and I turn around to get a Drake battlecruiser to pop some low-sec Blood Raiders when one of the Merlins blips off d-scan only to return a few seconds later. That's interesting, as I assumed both ships would be unpiloted in a tower, as they are fairly useless for w-space operations. But unpiloted ships don't tend to move.

I spin d-scan around on a tight beam to interrogate the two planets supposedly holding the towers, and they still do, but the Merlins aren't there. I keep spinning d-scan, glancing off all the obvious celestial objects until I find them coincident with a planet. Or maybe a customs office. I warp to the customs office on a hunch and, yes, there they are. What they are doing there I don't know, but they appear to be the only ships in the system, at least until I decloak. I stop thinking about why and start locking on to the ships, disrupting the warp engines of one and hoping the other isn't paying attention.

The first Merlin pops pretty quickly, although he takes a spunky shot back at my strategic cruiser which may have inflicted some damage, it's hard to tell. The pilot's ejected pod warps clear, so I turn my attention and warp disruptor to the second Merlin, who is amazingly still in my sights. A few more missiles reduces his ship to a beautiful wreck too, and his pod also warps free before I can stop it. I loot and shoot the wrecks, not getting much loot but not expecting it, and reactivate my cloak.

I'm none the wiser about why the Merlins would be here, less so when I realise both pilots are in the State War Academy. Maybe they found an apparently inactive w-space system and decided to duel here. If they did, they really should have made a safe spot and not just warped to an easily found position. But that's still speculation on my part. And time really is running short now. I try to pop a few rats in my Drake to end the afternoon, and even though I manage to convert a high-value battleship in to a gain in security status I can't do much more. It's a bit of a shame, as it is the most promising system and site for ratting I've found in a while. Never mind, more opportunities will come my way.

  1. 2 Responses to “Mangling Merlins”

  2. "..which may have inflicted some damage, it's hard to tell".

    Hehe, classic.

    By Splatus on Feb 11, 2012

  3. At least it was able to shoot back, unlike the planet goo haulers I tend to ambush. Oh yeah, I'm totally stepping it up.

    By pjharvey on Feb 11, 2012

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