Mangling a Merlin mashing

26th September 2012 – 5.27 pm

Fin's next door, but through a K162 to more class 4 w-space and not our static connection. 'No one's home, but they don't run their sites anyway.' As she scans for further K162s I head to our unvisited neighbouring class 3 system. Seven scanning probes light up my directional scanner, but a tower from fourteen months ago that should be in range isn't. The probes aren't that close either, so I'm not expecting a scout to come this way soon, letting me warp out and launch my own probes. Two anomalies and seven signatures isn't much, and really shouldn't take long to resolve, and the single ship my combat probes pick up could be the active scout. I warp across to find out.

D-scan shows me an Ibis frigate, so it's safe to assume that this isn't the source of the other probes, even before I locate it floating unpiloted inside a tower's force field. I warp back to the wormhole to scan, wondering if the scout will jump past me, when another ship blips on a second blanket scan. I've just left that region of space and d-scan shows me nothing, the ship disappearing from my probes before I am able to turn around. I start scanning out by the tower, expecting to find a wormhole that the scout used but only resolving a radar site. Fine. What else is here?

I resolve the static exit to high-sec, a K162 from class 4 w-space, some gas, rocks, and a K162 from low-sec empire space. Oh, and a second tower. Nice scouting, Penny. I didn't realise this planet was out of range of our K162, but there are still no ships or pilots, so I haven't missed much. Checking C4b through the K162 has two towers and a territorial control unit on d-scan, but still no ships. It's all a bit dull. I launch probes and scan again, the single anomaly and four signatures holding a single K162, again from class 4 w-space, but this wormhole critically destabilised. That's okay, as we have an exit, so I risk collapsing the connection and poke through.

The wormhole survives the passage of my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, only to throw me in to an unoccupied and empty system. There are anomalies, signatures, but no ships, so who cares? I don't even find any other wormholes when scanning, making me wonder who opened the static wormhole and why it is now critically unstable. Well, I don't wonder for long, instead simply jumping back to C4b and going straight back to C3a, where a Merlin is now on d-scan. The name of the ship and then d-scan suggests the frigate is at a tower, which is easy enough to confirm, and so I loiter, because apparently I like to sit and watch pilots do nothing.

In case the system is waking up, Fin joins me and gets eyes on the second tower in the system, which remains holding just the unpiloted Ibis as the Merlin pilot drops to his pod. 'My Japanese is weak', says Fin, 'but I think their tower is named 'We Mix Guns''. It almost sounds feasible, but I am getting that hang of Fin's translations. 'Or possibly 'Industrial Pansies'. It's hard to be sure.' The pod at the tower I'm watching gets back in to a Merlin and warps out of the tower, towards the static wormhole to low-sec. I blurt this out to Fin and give chase.

The Merlin is sitting on the wormhole as I drop out of warp, and exits to low-sec. I follow, but have a bit of space to cover before I can jump, and appear in low-sec to see the Merlin disappear. He won't have cloaked, and hasn't warped, because the pilot is no longer in the local communication channel, so he must have jumped back. That's good, as it means he'll be polarised and easier to catch. I jump back too and get ready to unleash the overwhelming force of a Loki against a basic frigate.

The Merlin is visible and near the wormhole. I set my ship to approach the frigate, intending to break my session change cloak and activate my sensor booster, which I really would like to have active before I attempt to lock on to the Merlin. The frigate is small and I will probably need all the help I can get if I am to prevent it warping away. But my sensor booster doesn't activate. I try again to get my ship moving towards the Merlin so that I can get my sensor booster working, but again the module won't respond. A third attempt has no better luck.

It's possible the Merlin is already in warp, which means my ship has no reference to move towards. Or maybe some latency in my systems is degrading the response time. Or perhaps, just perhaps, I'm pressing the wrong bloody button. I shift my focus across one step to the right button, get my sebo finally active, and start locking on to the Merlin, several seconds after my Loki has been both clearly visible and able to target the frigate. Naturally, the Merlin warps clear a split-second before I get the positive lock and disrupt his warp drive.

Mistakes happen, and at least this one hasn't cost me my ship. It's a bit frustrating all the same, as the Merlin was a sitting duck. Still, I also had time during warp to clarify my communication to Fin about the Merlin's movements, instead of leaving her with a cryptic clue about what the pilot was doing, which would have given us two ships trying to catching the Merlin. I suppose I'm not entirely on the ball, so decide to call it a night before I make a bigger mistake.

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