Transports from high-sec

20th July 2012 – 5.09 pm

I want to be more successful at shooting ships today. Yesterday saw me bite at bait and flail at a battleship, which although not fatal for me the engagements were hardly inspiring. Before I can shoot a ship I need to find one, which means scanning. Actually, my first task is to repair my armour damage. Rather than return to the tower to repair yesterday I chose to hide and deny a scout what limited intelligence he probably already knew, but now that no one is in the home system I can enter the force field and fix my ship. And with that done, I resolve the static wormhole and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

A single drone appears on my directional scanner, with an off-line tower being the only other sign of capsuleer interference in this system. I launch probes, blanket the system, and explore. The towers that were on-line eight months ago are gone, but a single ship on my probes guides me to a new tower near a distant planet. The ship is a Cheetah, and it is piloted, but the covert operations boat doesn't look to be doing anything. The six signatures in the system are all in the inner system, out of d-scan range of the tower, so I can resolve them without the Cheetah pilot knowing what I'm doing, which is handy.

Scanning finds a gravimetric site, a wormhole that's clearly not the static exit to high-sec, a magnetometric site, a wormhole that will be the static exit to high-sec, and another magnetometric site. The exit leads to Domain, the system seven hops to Amarr, and the second wormhole is a K162 from class 2 w-space, which is neat. I jump in to take a look around, only for a bubble to greet me on the wormhole. But who cares? Fin cares, that's who. My glorious leader has appeared and sees the bubble as 'another target!', and one that won't shoot back. But I suggest leaving it for now, in case we give away our presence or intentions to anyone passing by.

My notes let me know that this C2 has static connections to class 3 w-space, which I came through, and high-sec empire space, which I apparently shouldn't have to scan for. Shev appears and tells me he scanned the constellation earlier, and I seem to have misread the corporate bookmarks, decided they were stale, and deleted them. I'm not used to having other people around. I explore the system, noting the new positions of the three towers, and that the only ship visible is an unpiloted Revelation dreadnought. I am about to launch probes when a different ship appears on d-scan. It's a pod, and it warps in to a local tower.

The pod is joined in the tower by a Mastodon transport, and then it jumps in to its own transport, this one a Bustard, and warps out. With both ships being deep space transports and boasting increased warp core strength, and the second wormhole being a direct connection to high-sec, this doesn't bode well for my wanting to be successful at shooting ships. The Mastodon leaves soon after the Bustard, in the same direction. I warp out, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan, revealing a pretty bare system, with no anomalies and four signatures. And having seen which way the ships went I have a good idea of where the wormhole is.

Before I can scan the second connection the two ships are back again. Wherever the wormhole leads it must be pretty convenient, or maybe they are shuttling items already delivered to a nearby system. Either way, it leaves only a small window to scan undetected, but also could give an opportunity to catch the transports. As the ships leave the system again, I resolve the wormhole in two scans, Fin adds more points of disruption to a Legion strategic cruiser, and Shev is returning from high-sec to the C2 through the wormhole he scanned earlier. Now if we can surprise the transports when they return early enough to be polarised, we may be able to pop one of them.

I get to the exit to high-sec as the Bustard jumps back in to the system. I don't engage because we're not in position yet, but it seems likely that the transport will make another trip. Sure enough, the Bustard warps to the tower, does whatever it needs to, and jumps back to high-sec. I mark the time. Fin has arrived, after burning through the bubble that perhaps we should have shot after all, and we are ready, which is just as well. Fin's Legion hits the wormhole's damned cosmic signature and decloaks, and just as the wormhole flares. That would be okay, because we want to ambush the ships anyway, except it is a Helios that jumps in to the system and not a transport. The cov-ops warps away easily, and it looks like we've been rumbled too early.

We may have been spotted, but with a minute left on the Bustard's polarisation timer the wormhole flares a second time, and it is the transport that appears. We move to engage, but fail to get a positive target lock as the Bustard cloaks, dropping the cloak a moment later to enter warp immediately, having used the cloak to make his ship invulnerable whilst aligning. The pilot knows what he's doing. And even though we have actively engaged the first transport, the second jumps in to the system also with a minute of polarisation remaining. But this ship slips away too, even though it looks like both myself and Fin got a positive lock. And just to rub our noses in our failure, both transports head back out past our ships to high-sec for another run. They don't care.

We will make the transports care. We may not be able to stop them using conventional means, but a warp bubble would prevent the ships warping. And if they are cocky enough to still disregard the polarisation timer they won't be able to return to the safety of high-sec either. All we have to do is get our Onyx heavy interdictor here, which Fin dashes away to do, once again going through the bubble that I really should have let her shoot. The transports come back, and go out again. Fin gets home, swaps to the Onyx, and makes her way back to us. She burns through the bubble once more and enters warp before the transports appear again, and it's looking good to surprise them.

The wormhole flares as Fin is only just dropping out of warp. The Bustard appears and tries to warp, but Fin activates the warp bubble just in time and snares the first transport, as the second appears on the opposite side of the wormhole. Shev and I aim for the Bustard, as does a surprise guest. Mick has seen our chatter about the transports, followed the breadcrumbs that are corporate bookmarks, and can't stop himself joining in the fight, even in a Helios. The more the merrier, I say, particularly when trapping deep space transports on a wormhole to high-sec. The Bustard is going nowhere, even surprisingly when the Onyx's bubble deactivates, after a bit of panicky button pushing to get it active on Fin's part, and we rip the transport to pieces.

The pod escapes whilst the bubble is down, which is unfortunate, but the bubble is reactivated with the Mastodon still in it. We move our weapons systems across to the second target, and I burn hard towards the transport and give it a decent shove away from the wormhole, applying my web once achieved to stop the Mastodon from getting out of the bubble or back to the wormhole. The transport is shredded, the pod is trapped, and we have two wrecks and a corpse to clean up. I would call that a success! Popping a couple of deep space transports on a wormhole to high-sec is an uncommon circumstance, and I think we deserve a solid pat on the back for our efforts. The pilots were a bit too cocky for their own good, and we made them pay. And if we can recover the two capital jump drives from the wrecks we can profit from the kills too.

Mick volunteers to get a hauler from our tower to scoop the loot, and we leave the wrecks intact for now. It's only after Mick's Iteron crawls through the bubble on the wormhole connecting to C3a, with me guarding his ship, that I realise we should just shoot this bubble, and Shev and I get rid of it finally. The wrecks are looted and salvaged, and all looks quiet. I suppose we've seen all the action that will happen in this C2 tonight, and probably more than we realistically should have in the first place, so we head home through a bubble-free wormhole. It's been a hell of a time having a gang together again.

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