And staying for an Anathema

21st September 2012 – 5.19 pm

I've podded a planet gooer and waited for his clone's return. That's perhaps a little malevolent, but I am often curious to see what precautions a pilot will take when coming back to a dangerous system. It seems at first that the pilot will rely on a colleague to escort him home, even if the stealth bomber is barely a credible threat to my Loki strategic cruiser, but when the Purifier fails to warp from the tower for a good while I think it's best that I move on from this class 3 w-space system. I doubt the new clone will be coming back soon. That is, until his shuttle warps back in to the tower, from the direction of the system's static exit to low-sec empire space.

Missing the pilot's return is a little disappointing, after waiting specifically for a sign, but I suppose I had little chance of catching a shuttle anyway, so it's no big deal really. And now that he's here I am genuinely interested in seeing what he does next. What he does is board an Anathema covert operations boat and warp out of the tower. I follow behind, as it looks like the boat has gone to the customs office where I popped the hauler, where I see the pilot do a u-turn and head right back to the tower. It seems like he was reconnoitring the customs office, perhaps to see if there was any loot left in the wreck, and if that's the case he'd have been disappointed. I scooped his corpse, and looted and shooted the wreck.

Shot. Maybe Scoopied. It doesn't scan so well in the past tense. Whatever, the cov-ops doesn't stay for long back in the tower, bouncing out to the same customs office again. Maybe this time he's checking to see what is waiting to be collected, wondering how much he transferred to the ill-fated Mammoth before I destroyed it all. Except that doesn't make sense, as I pretty much ambushed the hauler before he dropped out of warp. I don't know what's happening, but the Anathema keeps doing it.

I think I can catch the cov-ops if he keeps this pattern up. There is no way I can intercept him by following the boat from the tower, as it enters warp quicker than my Loki, has a higher warp speed than my Loki, and pretty much turns around and is in warp again by the time I reach the customs office. But if he's going to revisit the same office several times I could sit at one of them and wait for him to come to me. The pilot doesn't even seem to want to activate his cloaking device for these trips, which would give me early warning to his arrival too. But by the time I work this out it seems that the pilot has given up on... whatever he was doing, and has returned to the tower to bring some defences on-line.

Fun over, I creep through the constellation I scanned backwards from our home system, wondering if anyone else has woken up. But I greatly exaggerate the extent of the constellation in my mind, and it doesn't take long to determine that all two of the class 2 w-space systems remain as quiet now as they were when I first explored them some half-an-hour earlier. Never mind, here's Aii. I can hand the baton of w-space roaming to him and go off-line for food. Or I could, if the Anathema in C3b hadn't gone back to bouncing around customs offices.

I just can't help myself. I watch with fascination as the cov-ops boat warps out and back in again, repeating the same trip a couple of times. I must try again. I watch him visit one customs office and head back to the tower, and I sit and wait at that office in case he comes back. This time, I have Aii watching the tower, and I ask him to let me know if the Anathema comes back my way. It does. 'Anathema heading your way', says Aii, and I update d-scan to see if the pilot will cloak this time. He does. That makes the ambush a little less certain, but I should still have a shot.

As I said, I have little chance of following the Anathema, with it being more agile, particularly with the sensor recalibration delay when my Loki decloaks, preventing my ship from locking any target for six seconds. I had hoped that the Anathema would continue to fly decloaked, so that I could gauge when it was going to drop out of warp and soak up the delay. But all is not lost. The Anathema will be automatically decloaked by its proximity to the customs office, which will also prevent it re-cloaking, and I will be already here and waiting, without any additional delay of having to exit warp myself. I just need to have good reactions and strike before the target can turn around and flee.

I am ready and moving closer to the customs office, preparing to try to bump the tiny ship if I can, when the Anathema blips on to my display. I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and surge towards the ship. As expected, the Anathema cannot cloak to avoid my attention, being too close to the customs office, and not quite as expected I am able to gain a positive lock before he can warp clear. I disrupt his warp engines and start shooting, and my guns make short work of the cov-ops. Again I aim for the pod, and again I get a positive lock. It's just not this pilot's day, as a second clone of his gets turned in to a corpse.

I scoop, but don't loot or shoot. My hold is still full from popping the same pilot's Mammoth earlier, even if reloading my guns frees enough space to let me stuff one corpse on to the other, in some bizarre form of zombincestuous display. I'm not going to turn that surviving covert operations cloaking device in to space dust, though, so call Aii in to loot and shoot the wreck, giving us maximum profit and minimum residue. Job's a good 'un.

I almost feel bad for podding the same pilot twice, but not quite. The first time was unfortunate, the second poor judgment. The pilot clearly knew the system was hostile, after already being podded, and recognised the potential continued threat by virtue of making highly inefficient planet goo runs in an Anathema. There was planet goo in the ill-sized hold of his cov-ops, so he clearly was trying his best to collect what he could in a ship he thought was safe, but didn't account for the predictable nature of his actions. The spider caught the fly by sitting in wait.

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