Getting it backwards

21st July 2012 – 3.59 pm

Pilots! Friendly ones, too. Mick and Aii are out and about, and having a constellation already mapped is an unusual circumstance to come on-line to. But there appears to be nothing happening, and our static wormhole is at the end of its life, although no one's sure when it started to die. Despite the uncertainty, Mick is happily wandering the other end of the constellation, which is the way he rolls. I'm more content with poking my nose through the healthy K162 from class 5 w-space that is currently in our system. The C5 has been scouted and occupation found in the form of a tower, but there was no activity earlier and the system wasn't scanned. I can do that, though.

I launch scanning probes, blanket the system, and warp to the tower that has already been noted. An Iteron sits piloted inside the tower's force field when I arrive, which Mick says is 'very new'. But what will the hauler do? He'll watch a Ferox warp in to join him at the tower, just as I do, I suppose. The new contact swaps the battlecruiser for a second Iteron, which fills me with expectation. A newly arrived pilot boarding a hauler is a good indicator that he'll blindly head out to collect planet goo, and as the Iteron manoeuvres and accelerates I think I'm right.

Mick's on his way back from exploring the outer reaches of the w-space constellation, pausing only to get a pointier ship at our tower. 'Customs, planet three', I say, watching the Iteron align to the customs office around the closest planet. I align my cloaky Loki to point the same direction as the Iteron, and as it warps so does my strategic cruiser. Unsurprisingly, I find the hauler collecting planet goo from the customs office, so I decloak and lock on to my soft target, burning towards him and activating my guns. The squishy hauler explodes without much fuss, and although I think I've trapped the pod it escapes my clutches to return to the tower. 'You are quick', says Mick, as his Arazu recon ship lands to see the aftermath.

I loot and shoot the wreck of the Iteron, not caring much for the low-value planet goo inside, and warp cloaked back to the tower to gauge the response. Another new contact warps in to join the pod and first Iteron, also appearing in a Ferox like it's a standard issue rest and relaxation ship for this corporation. The new pilot swaps his Ferox for a Buzzard, warps the covert operations boat out of the tower, and launches probes. If they come looking for us we may have numbers to surprise them, particularly with the arrival of Fin to boost our support. Aii puts an Onyx heavy interdictor on the wormhole, Fin joins him in an interceptor, and Mick also loiters in wait for the scout.

I continue to monitor activity in the C5, in case ships come our way that we're not expecting. So far it remains just the Buzzard as active, the Iteron and pod doing nothing, so I add my probes to the system and scan as the Buzzard scans. There's not much to see, though, and I resolve three ladar sites, one gravimetric site, one magnetometric site, and no more wormholes. The Buzzard continues, and I warp around following his probes, as a Cheetah cov-ops appears on d-scan and launches his own probes. The Cheetah doesn't warp in to the tower, but I presume he's local because my probes report no new signatures having appeared.

Finally some probes converge on the static wormhole, which is curious considering that someone coming from the C5 must have opened the connection in to our system. After another couple of minutes the converged probes disappear abruptly, and we get ready. As tactics are confirmed, the Cheetah decloaks in front of me and jumps. I relay the information and decloak to prepare for its return, which the cov-ops does quickly. Really quickly. He jumps, burns away from the wormhole, and warps before I can gain a positive lock or Fin or Aii can get through the wormhole and prevent the polarised ship's escape.

At least we saw the Cheetah, confirming he's local. And not much else is likely to happen, particularly given the lack of reaction of the pod and Iteron still motionless at the tower. Our best course of action is to collapse the wormhole connecting our systems. Even if it isolates us from potential kills, it will also let us be productive without worrying if the C5ers will eventually consider a counter-attack. Massive ships are pushed through the K162 in our home system and brought back again, and with some confidence the wormhole is over-stressed and collapsed with everyone home and safe. Now we have to think about what to do next.

Our static wormhole is still EOL, and although there are tentative plans to collapse that too I suggest we instead shoot some Sleepers for profit. We have no incoming connections and the EOL wormhole should deter some scouts, if there actually are any in the constellation, and we have a few good anomalies in the home system. Mick borrows Shev's Tengu, Fin and I board our two regular Sleeper Tengus, and Aii waits patiently at the tower as our strategic cruisers head off to the first anomaly.

Three ships blast through the Sleepers quicker than two. Who'd have thought? Apart from messing with our reload schedules, combat is a breeze. Four anomalies are cleared of Sleepers with little fuss and Aii sweeps up behind us in a Noctis salvager, collecting all of the loot. It's all nice and smooth, and we end up with a little over four hundred million ISK for the four sites. And I think that's about it for the night. It's been a good evening, even if the order of a kill, hunt, and some Sleepers seems a little backwards.

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