Greed is good when you're not caught

1st May 2012 – 5.05 pm

The static wormhole is dead! Long live the static wormhole! For sixteen hours, at least. But that still gives us plenty of time to explore what is hopefully a more interesting w-space constellation than the one we just isolated ourselves from. A first look in the replacement neighbouring system doesn't get my hopes up for any action, though. All my directional scanner shows me is empty space, with just a single planet out of range. If there's any occupation here I don't suppose it will be doing much.

Only an off-line tower sits at the far planet, giving us an empty and inactive system to scan in. But even if the eleven signatures don't give us anywhere to go the eleven anomalies offer us the opportunity to profit, as long as we are actually isolated. And right away Fin spots a suspicious signature amongst the clump and it resolves to be a wormhole. I warp in to take a look, finding an N968 connection to more class 3 w-space, which could be better than here. I jump in to see, as Fin continues to scan C3a. Ah-ha, ships! I see a Tengu strategic cruiser and Tempest battleship on d-scan, with only an off-line tower for company. There are no wrecks, though, so I'm not entirely sure what the two ships are up to.

Three, sir! There are now two Tengus with the Tempest, and added core scanning probes on d-scan. A passive scan of the system reveals some anomalies but aiming d-scan at each of them doesn't find the ships, which isn't surprising as there also aren't any wrecks, but it doesn't explain where the ships are. I get a better bearing of the three ships using d-scan, placing them in empty space almost 8 AU away from the K162 I'm sitting on. They could be in a radar or magnetometric site, but I'm guessing they're also sitting on a wormhole, probably the K162 from their home system. And now a Cheetah covert operations boat jumps past my cloaked Tengu in to C3a.

Fin's still scanning in C3a, making her probes immediately visible to the cov-ops. I think that's actually really good, as it gives the idea that a scout has opened the N968 without yet having passed through. Now I'm imagining the Cheetah sitting on the wormhole to spot any ships passing by whilst his colleagues in the combat fleet shoot Sleepers with the illusion of security. But I don't have to imagine it, as Sleeper wrecks are appearing on d-scan, which I soon place in one of the dozen or so anomalies I have already detected. I'm sorry that Fin has to probably sit this one out, but it looks like I could have a good shot at a Noctis salvager here.

I warp in to the first anomaly, making a monitoring point as I do, to see the two Tengus and Tempest popping the Sleepers but not salvaging as they go. They clear the site and move on, with me behind them, as I keep watch on d-scan for a Noctis to appear. There's no salvager yet, though, and by the third site I am expecting the fleet to continue until fed up and to return with a salvager or two after combat stops. That's fine by me. I continue to bounce in and out of sites, using the excellently placed wormhole high above the ecliptic plane to avoid structures in the anomalies, creating monitoring points until five anomalies are complete and the fleet warps to where I presume their wormhole is.

The two Tengus leave the system but the Tempest remains. I don't feel much threat from the battleship, particularly one probably fit only for Sleeper combat, and am more interested to see if an escort will come with the salvager. Here's the Noctis and he looks alone. The salvager warps in to the first site, where I'm waiting, and as I wonder if I should attack now or wait until he's got more loot in his hold a Sabre interdictor appears on d-scan. Okay, I'll shoot now. I've kept Fin updated, and copied all my bookmarks to the corporate folder, so she's sitting on the wormhole waiting. Knowing we have a Sabre potentially protecting the Noctis Fin jumps in as I warp in to ambush the salvager.

The Noctis remains alone as I decloak and gain a positive target lock. I disrupt its warp engines and start shooting, but only get to ablate a quarter of his armour before he shows just how ineffective my warp disruptor is, as he flies clear. It looks like this corporation isn't easily fooled, or takes a sensible belt-and-braces approach to w-space survival. I call the ambush off and Fin and I both hide in one of the anomaly monitoring spots for now. We have chased away the salvager but will the fleet decide to leave its loot behind? I suspect not, now that a Loki strategic cruiser blips on d-scan.

The cloaky Loki could be anywhere but isn't too much of a concern to either of us. The Scorpion battleship that follows in to the system isn't really a concern either, more of an object of frustration, telling us that we won't win any engagement we try to get involved in, not without more help. But before we leave to go home we could snatch some of the loot for ourselves. Fin and I warp to different anomalies and start looting the battleships, grabbing as much profit as we can to deny the fleet what should be theirs, right up until the Loki appears thirty kilometres from me in one of the sites. I cloak easily enough and warp out, as the Loki burns towards my previous position, but it looks like time to leave.

Leaving would be simpler if the Sabre weren't guarding the K162 back to C3a. The interdiction bubble is hardly a threat for our nullified strategic cruisers, but the ship itself could still lock and point us. The odds are slim, I'd say, but we could still get spat out too close to the wormhole to cloak immediately. Even so, we're confident we can make it. We coordinate our movements to try to get to the wormhole at the same time, but a little confusion and enemy ship movements stagger our arrivals. I jump first, pulling the Sabre and Loki behind me, and I indeed appear too close to the wormhole to cloak straight away. I pulse my micro warp drive to try to get clear but before I can cloak the Sabre has locked on to me, preventing me from cloaking, and his warp disruptor is keeping me close. Apparently I'm not as good at evading ships on wormholes as I think.

I pulsed my MWD to get me away from the wormhole more quickly, increasing the separation between my ship and the hostile ships, which makes it more difficult for them to bump me and force my cloak to drop. But the side-effect is that when I don't manage to cloak all I have managed to achieve is to get further away from the wormhole, which becomes my only hope of escape. And so, once again, I find myself over seven kilometres from the wormhole, with a Sabre and Loki disrupting my warp drives and webbing me. I think I'm boned. But I realise that I am being pointed, not scrambled, so my micro warp drive is still operational. And despite being webbed the MWD gives me a big enough boost to my speed that I should make it back to the wormhole. And if that's not enough, C3a holds a black hole, boosting speed further.

I turn around and burn towards the wormhole, hoping to evade my aggressors on the other side. I jump and get clear of the wormhole, but not really according to plan. The staggered arrivals of mine and Fin's means that I return to C3b just as Fin jumps to C3a, in to the path of the Loki and Sabre. They repeat the same dance as with me, and it ends the same way. Fin gets caught but manages to return to the wormhole and comes back to C3b too. We both get clear of the wormhole on this side, Fin with some rather deft manoeuvring, and so we wait for our polarisation to end before trying again.

I create a suitable monitoring point at the wormhole, where I can watch the ships and also warp there at a moment's notice, and see the Scorpion jump back and forth. I think he'll get bored before he completes the sixteen polarisation-interrupted jumps to collapse the wormhole alone, but kudos for giving it a go. Fin, meanwhile, wants to get more loot whilst trapped here, so warps back in to the anomalies to maximise our profit. As she does that the Loki on the wormhole disappears, and I didn't see the wormhole flare to indicate a jump. 'The Loki's warped.'

'Ack, here!' Now the wormhole flares and the Sabre and Scorpion return, warping away immediately upon re-entering the system. I know this doesn't look good for Fin, but the wormhole's clear and I can run for it. I also know that all I could do in the cleared anomaly is either watch Fin die from a distance or get killed with her, particularly with a Scorpion's ECM available to the aggressors. I warp to the wormhole, jump to C3a, and get myself clear. Fin ejects from her Tengu to save her skill points but her pod is still caught in the Sabre's interdiction sphere, so she wakes up in a new clone in empire space. 'Greed killed me.' Maybe so, but greed is good. I go home the conventional way and, as it's late for both of us, will scan the new Fin back to w-space another day.

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