Destroying the destroyer

24th May 2012 – 5.18 pm

The hauler's gone one way, the combat ship the other, and the scouts have all gone home. I still don't think there's anything we can do in our local w-space constellation. At least, not without expecting a nasty surprise at some point. So, as is the case when I run out of w-space, I'll press on to k-space and see what I can find there. I've uncovered a static connection to high-sec empire space in our neighbouring class 3 system, but one that's reaching the end of its natural lifetime. It's possible the class 5 w-space inhabitants connecting in to our home system today have sent their hauler through the link to high-sec, but it's also possible that there's more to find in this C3. I have my probes out, so I'll take a look.

Another wormhole is an good result, and although the K162 from low-sec doesn't give me any more w-space to explore I wasn't expecting to find such a connection here. Besides, I've discarded the constellation as dead, what with our C5 pals apparently having been everywhere first. But the low-sec system may hold more wormholes, and it's those I'm interested in finding, because they're less likely to have been found and desecrated. Jumping to low-sec puts me in a system in Sinq Laison with one other pilot, who isn't affiliated with the C5 corporation. I ignore him and launch probes to scan, resolving the three extra signatures to be a boring dirty site, and two more wormholes. One is a K162 from more class 3 w-space, the other a nifty K162 from class 1 w-space. I'll check the C1 for activity first.

My directional scanner is clear when entering C1a, and I warp away to launch probes safely. A blanket scan of the system shows me ships and drones along with signatures and anomalies, which sounds good to me. Exploring the system locates a tower with six ships floating unpiloted inside its force field, which would be a dull result except for the Cormorant destroyer and drones that are elsewhere. It looks like I have a target, although I'm not quite sure what it's doing. The destroyer is not in an anomaly, and neither is it with the drones. That's not going to stop me finding it, but having it warp in to the tower moments after narrowing down its position to a five-degree d-scan beam will.

Well, technically I've found the Cormorant, I suppose, but not in a position where I can do anything to it. But that's okay too, because it warps out again a couple of minutes later, its vector taking it to the same position as before. I can only think it is harvesting gas or, as Fin suggests, who's floating near me in a stealth bomber, mining rocks. That would give us a soft target to pop, if I can resolve the site it's in without my probes being spotted first. I get the destroyer back in a five-degree d-scan beam and start to determine its range. And continue to determine its range, right out to almost the limit of d-scan. The Cormorant is over 14 AU distant from the tower, which will make accurate positioning of probes using d-scan almost impossible.

I've failed to follow one of my own guidelines when hunting using d-scan, where you should get close to your target before refining his position. Because I couldn't see the Cormorant from the wormhole and could from the tower I assumed he would be in a site situated near this planet, but it seems I was wrong. I have to get closer. I warp to the inner system to a planet which must be the closest to where the Cormorant is presumably gassing, and find him again. This time I get his position with an estimated range of 1·5 AU, which is much better, as my azimuth error will be minimal. I arrange my probes around where I judge the Cormorant to be and get ready to scan.

Fin's joined me in my new position and is keen to ambush the destroyer, so I hit 'scan' and let my probes do their work. Perfect! The target ship appears as a green icon dead centre of my minimum-range probe cluster, giving me a solid 100% hit on both him and the ladar site. I chose a tighter arrangement of probes than normal partly because the ship is a smaller hull than my usual targets, and also because I needed to resolve the ship and not the site for the hunt to be successful. Resolving a ladar or gravimetric site but not the ship would have us warping to be anywhere up to a hundred kilometres from the target, and we don't want to waste precious seconds bouncing out and in to get to where a better scan could take us directly. But now's not the time to admire my scanning skill, as we have a destroyer to destroy.

I warp the two of us to the Cormorant's position in the ladar site. Fin's Manticore has no sensor recalibration delay on decloaking and much quicker locking time than my relatively sluggish Tengu strategic cruiser, so my glorious leader has point, which she relishes. I get in to the site to see the more agile bomber already targeting the Cormorant, and then throwing torpedoes its way as I am still locking on. It's a simple matter for our two ships to pop the poor destroyer, and Fin's bomber latches on to the pod too, which we crack open to add a new frozen corpse to our collection. We scoop, loot, and shoot, and cloak and leave the pocket. There wasn't much to grab, but a successful hunt is reward in itself.

I reconnoitre the tower before leaving this C1, seeing an unsurprising lack of change amongst the empty ships, and Fin and I jump back to low-sec. There is stil the C3 K162 to explore beyond here, and although the system is occupied, and a Drake battlecruiser and Tengu strategic cruiser are sitting inside the tower, they are empty and no one is home. It's time to go home. We've had a pretty good evening, particularly when we thought we'd be stuck cloaked and watching ships for the night. I'm glad we pressed on and explored further, as it gave us a hunt that resulted in a podding.

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