Meddling with a Magnate

5th May 2012 – 3.37 pm

It looked like the night was over, but it seems there are more benefits in connecting to our sister w-space system than merely stealing ammunition. My attempt to collapse our static wormhole has resulted in a critically destabilised connection, one which I don't quite fancy pushing a ship through again, but Mick volunteers to come from the class 5 system to give the wormhole one last push. If it collapses on his way in, we scan him a way out and he can return to the C5. If it doesn't, he jumps back out and hopefully collapses the wormhole then. It all rather sounds so much like a plan that I realise I miss Mick being around.

Mick brings his Proteus across the class 3 w-space system that bridges our two systems and jumps the strategic cruiser through the destabilised wormhole. It survives, so he warps to our tower, fits an oversized propulsion module, and jumps back to C3a with the reheat active. Somewhat surprised at the mass of the Proteus, the wormhole collapses behind Mick, leaving me with an empty system and a new wormhole to find. Job's a good 'un. Thanks, Mick! Come and visit whenever you like. I scan the home system again, the replacement wormhole being the only new signature to find, and jump to a different neighbouring class 3 system.

I see some ships! A Nighthawk command ship and Probe frigate appear on my directional scanner, but as there is also a tower somewhere, and a lack of wrecks and scanning probes, I doubt anything is actually happening. As this is my third visit to the system I locate the tower without any searching, warping to it as I reminisce about the time six months ago when I pop a Noctis which ejects its loot, and then fail to catch a replacement salvager being brought through the static wormhole. But that ship and its fleet weren't local to this system, so doesn't herald any particular opportunity today. Indeed, the two ships in the tower are unpiloted when I find them.

A Heron, however, looks to be piloted, if only because it is new on d-scan, not at the tower, and launching scanning probes. If I'm to catch up with this scout it looks like I have a scanning race on my hands, with my opponent getting a head start. That's fine, as my ship is probably much more capable than his simple frigate. I warp out, launch my own probes, and start scanning. A simple blanket scan first shows me eleven anomalies and ten signatures, and trying to locate the Heron when it appeared makes me think I can resolve the wormhole it came through easily enough. There are only two signatures in that general volume of space, and the one I choose turns out to be a wormhole.

I warp to the connection to see a K162 from class 2 w-space, and loiter there in preparation for seeing the Heron decloak and warp to wherever he next visits. But for me to catch him at his destination I will need to resolve that too, so I keep scanning. I discard rocks and gas to come up with only one more wormhole, which must be the static exit to low-sec empire space, and recall my probes. I orientate myself with the exit to low-sec, which I keep unvisited for now so that I hopefully don't miss the Heron, and with our own K162 homewards. Now I wait. It wasn't much of a race after all.

I'm assuming the Heron remained on this wormhole after he launched probes, which I feel is a reasonable assumption, but what I don't expect is the wormhole flaring without first seeing the Heron. Instead, a Magnate comes through from the C2, another scanning frigate that can't warp cloaked, and piloted by a capsuleer red to our corporation. I am tempted to take my shot now, but I know the sensor recalibration delay from decloaking my Tengu strategic cruiser would let the Magnate warp clear easily enough, so wait to see what happens. I watch as the Magnate doesn't launch probes on the wormhole but warps away. And I see where he goes.

The Magnate warps to a planet and I follow. The only question now is if I have chosen the right distance to drop short, and the answer is no, I haven't. The Magnate pushed his ship further forwards and I am far too far away to disrupt his warp engines, leaving me sitting impotently watching him launch scanning probes before he cloaks. Still, I know roughly where he is, and he'll have to decloak again before he can warp, so I reposition my ship to be near to the Magnate, cursing the fact that cloaked ships can no longer decloak other cloaked ships, and lurk.

After a short while the new set of probes disappears from d-scan. I watch for the Magnate to reappear, but he decloaks a bit further from my ship than I had hoped. I don't try to strike, thinking I can't stop him from warping in time, and merely watch and follow as he returns to the K162 from C2a. He jumps, long enough before my warp engines cut out for me to consider chasing, and I am back to waiting for the Heron, whose probes are still out and about. Waiting, waiting, waiting. And again the wormhole flares, again bringing the Magnate in to this C3. And for a second time the Magnate warps away from the wormhole to a planet. I'll follow him again.

I choose to drop out of warp at a different range this time, hoping to land on top of the Magnate, but he has chosen a different range too. I keep on saying that being predictable in w-space will get you killed, and it's kind of refreshing that this pilot mixes up his routine, even if it means I don't get an easy ambush. I watch as he relaunches his probes, as I still can't do anything about it, and cloaks. I bounce my ship off the wormhole and try to get close to the Magnate a second time, and wait for him to reappear. A bit more waiting has the probes disappear from d-scan and I watch for the Magnate to decloak. There he is, and he's much closer this time, but again not close enough for his ship to bump mine. At least, not immediately.

The Magnate aligns back to the C2 K162 and, in doing so, interferes with my cloaking device. My Tengu becomes visible but only a second before the Magnate enters warp, and nowhere near enough time for me to catch the frigate. I do all I can, which is to warp behind the Magnate to the wormhole and ineffectively chase him in to the class 2 system. I appear on the other side of the wormhole in time to see him warp off and nothing more. I bookmark the connection, make a note of the system number and that d-scan is clear, and jump back to C3a. It looks like I've blown my chance here.

I suppose I didn't think the whole plan through. I had the idea that if I got close enough then I could decloak when the Magnate would, at which point I could strike the startled pilot. What I didn't consider was getting close enough that I would remain cloaked when the Magnate appeared but get decloaked as the frigate aligned away. Perhaps what I should have done was swap to a stealth bomber, which has a quicker targeting system, although taking your eyes off a target for a couple of minutes to jump home and switch boats never looks attractive compared with monitoring them directly. Still, at least I saw some other pilots, and chased one of them away, which makes tonight somewhat more interesting than most of the past week.

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