A kill is a kill

2nd March 2012 – 5.04 pm

I have a shiny new marauder, with only a few scratches from a Dread Gurista so far. But as much as I'd like to pilot the Golem in to anomalies to blow the crap out of some Sleepers, if there's one lesson that's been rammed home to me in the past week or so it's that you can't make plans in w-space. By the same token, just because I'm not expecting an easy ride in to class 3 w-space full of anomalies and no additional wormholes it doesn't mean that's not what I'm going to get. After all, my glorious leader is on-line and the w-space constellation looks to be already mapped out to low-sec empire space, so maybe we can have a quiet evening of thunderous torpedo explosions after all.

My tentative plan is going awry already. Fin is unresponsive, and this time I can't even stir her by jumping through our static wormhole. That's okay, I can take a look around as I wait for her to stir, starting with our neighbouring C3. It's my fourth visit to this system, the last being ten weeks ago, although it looks like one of the two towers has been torn down since then. I think I'll find the one still on-line quickly too, as a Dominix battleship and Orca industrial command ship both appear on what was a shipless result from my directional scanner a moment ago.

The two ships do not appear to have come from the tower but rather low-sec, which is the second most obvious place to look for appearing ships. I am glad Fin has already scanned the system, as it gives me a direct bookmark to the exit wormhole to low-sec empire space without my having to launch probes and potentially spook the pilots, whatever they are up to. I warp to the wormhole in time to see the Orca cloak, which as it can't warp cloaked means he'll be loitering here for now, along with its battleship escort. But I don't think the Dominix is an escort in the normal sense, more that he is helping by being big rather than dangerous. I suspect these two ships are collapsing the wormhole.

I really need some help here. This is a great opportunity to catch a wayward Orca in deep space, just after it collapses its only escape route and has nowhere to go. I would do it myself but for the Dominix, which would rip me apart before I could wear down the hull of the Orca. If I could get Fin here with me in a Widow then we'd have the massive firepower needed to reduce the Orca to a wreck whilst using the black ops ship's ECM to jam the Dominix and prevent it from retaliating. There's not much I can do to wake Fin from whatever reverie she's in, though.

The two pilots in front of me are slow at collapsing this wormhole, perhaps overestimating the delay caused by polarisation issues, but I can't work out if that's good. It gives me more time to try to attract Fin's attention, of course, but because I continue to get no response it simply ends up meaning I am watching the Dominix do nothing for minutes at a time. If they finished the operation efficiently I could get on with being disappointed as I scan for the new wormhole. They must at least be near the end of the operation, as the Orca is now remaining in low-sec whilst only the Dominix jumps back and forth, no doubt in a bid to critically destabilise the wormhole for the Orca's final trip home.

There goes the wormhole, shrinking to its smallest size. The Orca will return shortly and I still don't have Fin's attention. It's so sad, as this is the perfect chance to cause mayhem and destruction but there is no way I can hold off a Dominix long enough. So maybe it's good that he warps away from the wormhole before the Orca returns. No, it isn't really. Even when the pilot swaps to a Cheetah covert operations boat, no doubt so that he can scan for the replacement static wormhole, it would take me so long to destroy the Orca by myself that he'd have plenty of time to swap back to the battleship—or another, even pointier ship—and blow me to smithereens. I can't take the Orca on by myself in this situation, as much as I'd like to.

Maybe I can take a shot at the Cheetah instead. I don't consider it an option at first, what with cov-ops being agile and mostly cloaked, but the pilot warps back to the wormhole and sits in plain sight. If he stays like that for a minute longer I'll get my kill, even if it's small and puny. I bounce off the planet holding the local tower and back to the wormhole at range, dropping close to the still-visible Cheetah. I decloak and hope I'm somehow not noticed for the duration of my ship's sensor recalibration delay, although happy to see probes launched and surrounding the cov-ops that will hinder any attempts at it cloaking. Still a sitting duck by the time my systems are all functioning normally, I gain a positive lock on the Cheetah and start shooting, as behind me the wormhole collapses and the Orca reappears in the system.

Destroying the Cheetah is straightforward, even when the ship tries to make a run for it. I aim to catch the pod too but being flung out of his ship has the pilot sufficiently alert for him to escape cleanly. I turn around and burn hard for where the wormhole used to be, only to see that it is now also where the Orca used to be. There was a slim chance that had I podded the second pilot at just the right time I could have been able to engage the Orca one-on-one. As it turns out, I don't catch the pod and the Orca has warped back to the local tower even in the short time it took me to blow up the Cheetah. Oh well, a cov-ops kill is better than nothing.

I swing by the local tower to see what response my attack provokes, catching the ex-Cheetah pilot board a Tornado battlecruiser and the Orca pilot go off-line to be replaced by a Legion strategic cruiser. As I am still flying solo I think that's my cue to leave. I warp back to our K162 and hold for a couple of minutes, knowing that I should be able to see any ships dropping out of warp at my position whilst allowing me enough time to jump home and clear the wormhole safely. Judicious updating of d-scan helps me spot any potential ship changes, particularly to hulls that can warp cloaked, and I see that the Legion leaves the tower and launches scanning probes. Maybe he's not as tough as I first thought, although still tougher than a flimsy cov-ops. But still, I've done all I can accomplish here alone. I jump home and get a relatively early night.

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