Iterons galore

15th April 2012 – 3.05 pm

Scanning new rocks and a new wormhole is not particularly exciting. A second wormhole on the outskirts of our home system being a K162 from class 2 w-space is rather more interesting, though. And it gets better, as jumping in to the C2 sees a tower and Iteron hauler on my directional scanner. I move away from the wormhole and cloak, and get to locating the tower to see if I can catch the industrial ship being careless. I drop out of warp outside the easily found tower to see the Iteron piloted and unmoving, but hopefully that just gives me time to get settled and ready to pounce.

A second contact appears in the tower, also in an Iteron, but this one smaller than the first. Judging from his vector, this pilot's just returned from collecting goo from planet out of d-scan range, which either means I have already missed my opportunity or I am about to see him warp to his next destination. But no, instead the larger Iteron warps out of the tower. He doesn't head towards a customs office, though, but empty space. A wormhole, I imagine. Now, do I scan for that wormhole or keep watching this smaller Iteron? Scan, I think. I have a good idea of where the wormhole will be in space, as I watched the Iteron leave, so maybe scanning will be quick.

I warp out, finding a second tower on the edge of the system which the smaller Iteron may have come from instead of collecting planet goo. I ignore it for now, with no other ships visible on d-scan, and launch probes. And as I launch probes I note a Buzzard covert operations boat appearing on d-scan. My timing's off again tonight, it seems. Never mind. I have probes out and I blanket the system, revealing fourteen anomalies and sixteen signatures, which won't be trivial to sift through. But what I also notice is that the wormhole leading to our home system lies in the direction that the Iteron warped, so it could be that the hauler is passing through our system to use the exit in our neighbouring C3. As the smaller Iteron has now been swapped for a Thanatos carrier, and is less of a target to me now, I think I'll investigate a possible secondary route to empire space.

I jump home, warp across the system, and enter C3a. D-scan shows me a tower, a Heron frigate, and an Iteron hauler, but the Iteron is smaller than the one I'm looking for, even if it's larger than the other one in C2a. Iteron hulls come in a variety of sizes. I have the location of the tower listed from a visit eight months ago, but not the type of static wormhole to be found, and as a sweep of d-scan shows the Heron not to be in the tower I think I'll look for him first. Ah, that was easy. He's warped back to the tower after launching scanning probes. Mission accomplished, albeit without punctuated by an exploding ship, I launch my own probes to scan.

I bookmark four anomalies and resolve a ladar site, wormhole, and, oh, that's it. There's not much here. The static connection leads out to low-sec space in the Khanid region, which either means that if the Iteron did indeed come this way then the second static wormhole in C2a leads to null-sec k-space—which seems unlikely—or deepest Aridia. Despite the Heron scanning a mere three signatures, the Iteron being piloted, and a new contact in a Buzzard warping in to the tower, it really looks like nothing's happening here. I'll go back to C2a to see what the other static wormhole really is.

C2a is sleepy when I enter. The Thanatos has gone from the first tower and the second remains empty. I launch probes and start sifting through the sixteen signatures, finding a wormhole that rather coincidentally lies along a similar vector from the first tower to that of the connection to our home system. So the Iteron didn't pass through our system and did use a different wormhole, one that I find to be a static connection to high-sec. That's disappointing, as I'm unlikely to catch a ship unawares there. It's almost as disappointing as finding a second wormhole only for it to be a K162 from high-sec, which I do, but at least the third wormhole in the system makes up for it, as I've found another K162 to class 2 w-space.

Jumping in to C2b has a tower and Myrmidon battlecruiser on d-scan, where my notes place me in this unremarkable system seven weeks ago. I have the location of the tower listed, as well as the static connections being to class 2 w-space and low-sec empire space, one of which I've found already. I warp to the tower to see the Myrmidon piloted but, as seems typical this evening, inactive, so launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. There being only three anomalies and seven signatures encourages me to take a poke around. I'm not expecting to find anything, which is good as the static connection to low-sec is reaching the end of its life, and another K162 merely comes from high-sec. But a third wormhole is nifty, partly because it's an outbound connection to class 1 w-space and partly because the Myrmidon is now sitting on top of it.

The question on my mind is whether my covert Tengu strategic cruiser could successfully engage the Myrmidon. I may be in a much more expensive ship but its combat capability is compromised for being covert and fitted for exploration, and although the pilot may only potentially be confident in tackling class 1 w-space Sleepers he could also be pretty competent in flying battlecruisers and more than a match for me. It's hard to say. Either way, I would be foolish not to follow behind even if just to reconnoitre the situation, so I wait for a minute, to give him time to clear the wormhole, and jump in to the C1.

Ah-ha. I suspect the Myrmidon is not here for the Sleepers but to escort home his colleague in, yep, an Iteron, both ships appearing on d-scan with nothing else nearby. With the battlecruiser flying escort it looks like I'll get to see how my covert Tengu will fare against it, and I'll have to decide quickly. The Iteron drops out of warp on the wormhole and jumps. If I go back I'll be polarised and unable to jump back here to evade any unwanted attention, but if I don't follow the Iteron the vulnerable hauler will go free. So I jump, a second or two after the Myrmidon lands on the wormhole himself. This could be interesting.

The Iteron decloaks back in the C2 and I pounce. I lock, point, and shoot. Phew, that ship's made of tissue paper and good intentions. Or it was, as three volleys of missiles rips it to shreds. I aim to catch the pod too but it warps cleanly away, leaving me with just a wreck to loot and shoot. Actually, that's a good point, as I am left with just a wreck. Where's the Myrmidon? Even after looting the wreck and cloaking I don't see the battlecruiser coming to his charge's aid. Maybe I overlooked one advantage of flying a Tengu, covert or otherwise: they have a certain reputation. It's possible the Myrmidon thinks strategic cruisers are all-powerful, all-capable ships, not realising their true strength lies in their flexibility, and simply didn't want to face one. That's fair enough, I'm sure we've all felt that way about a ship class before.

After a minute or so the Myrmidon jumps through the wormhole back to the C2, perhaps after he's counted down his polarisation timer, and he warps away to his tower. I remain cloaked. Maybe the battlecruiser pilot doesn't think he stands a chance against me but I'm not about to prove him wrong. The wormhole flaring a second time is interesting, though. Is another hauler coming home, the Myrmidon's second charge? I go for broke and decloak, getting ready to engage—oh, whoops—a Proteus strategic cruiser! I attempt to gain a target lock anyway, planning to dash through the wormhole at the first sign of competence, but the Proteus merely cloaks and warps away. That's pretty funny, as that could have ended badly for me.

The Myrmidon sits at the tower, the Iteron's pod now looks to have gone off-line, and the Proteus pilot swaps ships to be in a Nemesis stealth bomber. And looking at the loot I plucked from the wreck shows me an interesting collection of parts. There are the usual expanded cargoholds, but also a bomb skill book, bomb launcher, warhead rigs, a ballistic control system, co-processor, and sensor booster. They all look like parts for a Penny-special stealth bomber. I have some more spares for the extra Manticore I have yet to collect from Dodixie.

Maybe because I stole these stealth bomber parts the Nemesis doesn't look like he's coming out to play, so I leave these pilots alone. I return to C2a and check the high-sec exits, both of them today being close to Amarr—one in the Tash-Murkon region being five hops from Amarr, the other in Domain and two hops out—and although later I think maybe I should have used one of them to collect some more fuel for our tower I simply ignore the rather convenient connections and head home to get some sleep.

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