Shadowing a gassing battleship

7th April 2012 – 3.34 pm

We've reaped the profit from the popper Proteus, looting and salvaging the strategic cruiser and the Sleepers it engaged, and now our victim's gone off-line. The w-space constellation may not be entirely quiet, though, as the K162 from the Proteus pilot's class 5 home is not the only wormhole connecting in to our system today. A second K162, this one from a class 4 system, waits to be explored. I take my covert Tengu strategic cruiser in to take a look around.

There is nothing for my directional scanner to show me in this C4 apart from planets and moons. My notes put me in this system eleven months ago, when it was unoccupied, so if there is anyone to find I'll have to go looking. I move away from the wormhole, cloak, and warp away to explore. The wormhole is close to the centre of the system, with two planets out of range of d-scan in different directions, and picking one direction arbitrarily has me warping to a d-scan result that's just as clear. But on the other side of the system a Dominix battleship sits in what otherwise looks like empty space.

There is no tower here that I can see, just the Dominix. No wrecks accompany the ship, which would put him in a safe spot, on a wormhole, or, heaven forfend, harvesting gas. I make a rough approximation of the Dominix's position, putting him between 2 and 3 AU of the planet, then warp out to launch probes. I'm going to scan for him. What I'll do when I find him I have no idea, but maybe Aii can help with whatever madcap nonsense I dream up. It will probably involve throwing expensive hulls at the battleship and hoping for the best.

Before I can launch probes a Jaguar assault ship appears on d-scan on the other side of the system. He lingers for a little while and disappears. Aii remains in the home system and I give him a heads-up. My colleague is cloaked and safe, punching d-scan to confirm the Jagaur headed his way. The assault ship then disappears from our home system to reappear in this C4, and then goes again. It looks like he was making a simple reconnaissance jaunt through the constellation. It also shows that the Dominix pilot probably has some support he can call on, although if they have to make at least one jump it may not be all that timely.

The system's clear again, so I launch probes, throw them out of the system, and return to be near the Dominix. I start refining my estimate on his position, keeping track of my progress with d-scan by using a probe's scanning box for alignment purposes. I have his position on a five degree beam, and already have his range, so start placing my probes for a scan. But the Dominix disappears from d-scan. Actually, that may not a problem, and in fact could help me. I have a datum probe where I believe the Dominix was and I don't need any more adjustments.

I rush to place the rest of the probes and hit 'scan' before the battleship returns. I get a solid hit on the ladar site, sans Dominix, and throw my probes back out of the system. I warp in to the site to see a cloud of gas remaining, and make a suitable monitoring point which Aii joins me in. We could simply wait here, but I have my probes back in a blanket scanning configuration, and I make a quick check of what else is in the system with us. One other ship is here, apparently, so I leave Aii to watch for the Dominix as I see what my probes have detected.

D-scan shows me the Dominix again, now in a different part of the system. He's not moving or jumping, so I'll scan him again. I narrow down my search as before, using d-scan to gauge his direction and range, and position my probes for another scan. This time it's a bit tricky, as the Dominix looks to be directly below a planet, and the stupid system map cannot be manipulated to look directly above or below your current position. Even so, I pretty much know where the Dominix is. I call my probes in for another scan and get another solid hit, 100% on the Dominix. I don't fully resolve the ladar site, but I had to guess where it was rather more haphazardly than I would like, thanks to the inane interface. It's good that battleships are chunky.

This time I recall my probes, as I doubt I'll need them a third time. I warp in to reconnoitre the site again, this one with the Dominix still in it. I make another monitoring position and get Aii with me, and now we wonder what to do. Shoot it, I suppose, but maybe not with two covertly configured Tengus. As with the Proteus earlier, Aii is happy to tackle the battleship as I head home to get something pointier. I'm not quite sure what, though. Aii points out that this may all be in vain, as the Dominix could have warp core stabilisers fitted, which isn't uncommon for gas harvesters. We could still stop him warping clear by deploying a heavy interdictor and its warp bubble, but we then probably wouldn't have the firepower to destroy the battleship.

I secretly wouldn't mind if the Dominix has warp core stabilisers fitted. In my experience, they are pretty hardy ships and, being Gallente, is probably stuffed with drones. In this case, being fitted for gas harvesting probably hasn't affected the ship's ability to fight much. Us engaging and it warping away would probably be a good result. I head home to swap ships anyway, looking for a ship capable of doing lots of damage, and hold on the wormhole to our system for now. The connection is in d-scan range of the Dominix's new position and we probably shouldn't spook it. I'll need to jump to get home and swap boats, though.

The battleship warps out of the second ladar site. It seems like a good time for me to jump home when it drops off d-scan, so I do. I warp to our tower to swap ships as Aii waits to see if the Dominix returns, but it doesn't. It perhaps wasn't making a trip to its own tower to empty its cargohold of gas but got bored instead. It's also possible we were spotted, but I'm not sure when. Taking five minutes to react to seeing probes blip on d-scan is not particularly showing much sense of self-preservation. Even so, Aii spots an Anathema covert operations boat and Hound stealth bomber appear in the C4.

I get out of my pointy ship and board my own stealth bomber, warping the Manticore to the C4 K162 in our home system. I sit and watch the wormhole but see no ships pass through. Nothing happens in the ladar site, no more ships appear in the C4, and still nothing passes me on the wormhole. It looks like the system has gone dead. Whatever the reason, there is nothing else for us to do. That's okay. The Proteus kill earlier is a particular highlight for the two of us, and we got to chase a Dominix around a little, giving me more good practice in hunting with d-scan. Now it's time to get some rest and, hiding in a corner of the system, I go off-line.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.