Catching a Crane

31st March 2012 – 3.13 pm

I have no idea where that battleship went. I popped his scouting colleague on a wormhole, whose pod then fled across this vast class 3 w-space system, but where they both ended up I don't know. I doubt they went to our home system, as there are no K162 wormholes there, and they are unlikely to have gone to high-sec through the static connection here because of the Onyx heavy interdictor sitting bubbled on the wormhole. Maybe they are local to this system, coming home from wherever and going off-line quickly. I would take a look for new wormholes if there wasn't still the Onyx to think about.

I'm assuming the Onyx is still here, anyway. The wormhole to high-sec is over 100 AU from here, placing it well out of range of my directional scanner. I'll warp across to take a look. The Onyx is a brick of a ship, making it less of a direct target even if it weren't sitting on a wormhole connecting to high-sec empire space. But it had a Drake accompanying it earlier, and even though the battlecruiser is also brick-like it was skirting the edge of the bubble, giving it a distance to run until it could get through the wormhole to high-sec safety.

Not that I can take out either ship by myself, but the connection to high-sec gives us options. Our sister wormhole system has itself a high-sec connection too, and it's possible we could jump in a handful of battleships to surprise the Onyx and Drake. It all depends on where the exit the Onyx is sitting on leads. And the Onyx is still there, although the Drake is gone. That's okay. I'll need to jump past the HIC to reconnoitre the exit system, giving my colleagues a route to follow, which will alert the Onyx to my presence and may have him call the Drake back to help. It's not the most solid of plans, but it seems sound in theory.

My main concern with baiting the Onyx to call on the Drake is our lack of further intelligence about this corporation and their current state. I could jump out, the Onyx call for reinforcements, and we return to see a much bigger fleet than a HIC and battlecruiser. The worst that could reasonably happen is that we'd all jump right back to high-sec, I suppose, so it's not disastrous, but as I know that the two ships come from a K162 from class 5 w-space in this C3 the least I could do is scout that system to look for numbers and capability. I'll do that first.

Jumping in to the C5 sees little, so I go looking for a tower. I find it easily enough, along with the Onyx's pal still in his Drake, floating inside the tower's force field. An update of d-scan around the tower has a Crane transport ship appear, probably returning to the tower, from which direction I can't tell. But this looks like it. We may be able to draw the Drake back to the wormhole and there doesn't look to be much more firepower they can call on. I'll head out to high-sec past the Onyx, see where that leads, and maybe call the fleet in. Actually, I'll follow the Crane, as it's moving.

I doubt I'll catch the transport, as it can warp cloaked and is pretty agile, and I'm also unsure where exactly it's heading. I saw it warp to a planet, but there isn't even a customs office there. I follow anyway, wondering what I'll find. Updating d-scan along the way shows me that my scouting was once again substandard today, as a second tower appears. It must be around the single moon of this planet, and is probably where the Crane has gone. I make a mental note to scout more thoroughly in the future and plan to turn around and head to high-sec once I land, but my plans once again change with new information. The Crane did indeed come to the planet, and not the tower.

There may not be a customs office around this planet currently, but one is being assembled. The Crane is sat next to a customs gantry, which I presume to be the framework for the offices, and making himself an attractive target. I crawl closer, still cloaked, so that any sudden movements of the Crane can be countered by a surge from my ship bumping in to it. Close enough, I decloak, burn, and bump the transport as I count down the recalibration delay, before locking, pointing, and shooting. My missiles chew through the shields, boosted by a local pulsar phenomenon, and then shred the flimsy armour and hull. The Crane sends its pilot's pod in to space explosively, but not enough to disorientate him. The pod flees.

I loot the Crane and completely fill my hull, having to leave a couple of shield modules to be destroyed with the wreck. Covert operations cloaking devices are pretty bulky, and this is the second I've stolen tonight because of the earlier Helios. Two agile and cloaking ships caught by my relatively clumsy Tengu, it must be my lucky day. It looks like those two are the only kills I'll get, though, as I've managed to draw the Onyx away from the connection to high-sec. He drops out of warp on top of the gantry and inflates his warp bubble, but he's neither close enough to find me nor inconveniencing my strategic cruiser with the bubble. I take his picture for my records and warp away.

Whilst the Onyx is dicking around looking for a covert ship that doesn't want to be found, I leave the C5 behind me. Back in C3a I take advantage of the lack of HIC on the static wormhole to jump to high-sec, finding myself in a system in the Forge region. It's a little far for the fleet to have come this way, so our ambush wouldn't have happened anyway, and although this connection could be useful under other circumstances it's security is dubious. That's okay. I got two kills tonight. I'm happy to head home and make myself a celebratory slice of toast.

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