Failing to follow-through

14th October 2012 – 3.19 pm

The last signature in the class 3 w-space system resolves to be a radar site, just like the other two non-wormhole signatures. Those sites are pretty useless in w-space, which is why they tend to get ignored, but I don't really mind. I don't even mind that the two wormholes are the K162 back to the home system and a static exit to high-sec empire space. Popping a hauler trying to collect planet goo, after failing miserably to spot combat scanning probes so terribly obvious to any directional scanner, has started the evening in the right direction. Now to spread my wings and see what else I can find.

I'm exiting w-space to start with. There's no point going home, even with its own K162 leading to some class 4 w-space, because Aii is back there and poking planet gooers too. I'm hoping high-sec will give me more wormholes to find, and more pilots to go with them. I leave C3a to appear in a curious system in the Sinq Laison region. There is only one planet, 22 AU from the star, and no stations. And despite a couple of miners peacefully chewing rocks in a nearby asteroid field there are no other signatures to be found beyond the wormhole I'm sitting on. That's not going to stop me tonight, and I take advantage of the safety of high-sec to hop one system across to try again.

The second high-sec system doesn't look much of an improvement, but two signatures are better than none. And both signatures resolve to be wormholes. One is a K162 from class 2 w-space, which is enticing in itself as well as offering its second static connection to more w-space, and the other is an outbound connection to class 2 w-space that would look better than the K162 if only it weren't at the end of its life. I go to C2a, though the K162, to see a tower and lack of ships on d-scan. And scanning reveals a relatively bare system, with no anomalies and six signatures, three of which are gas and three are wormholes.

I don't much care which of the connections to class 1 or class 2 w-space is the second static wormhole, particularly as the wormhole to C2c is EOL, and jump to a C1 that has an impressive presence. Four towers light up d-scan from the K162, which seems rather a lot of infrastructure for the weakest class of w-space, but finding one of the towers and seeing it owned by a null-sec alliance probably explains it all. I wouldn't be surprised if I find a static exit to null-sec, but only if I scan, and as a Hound stealth bomber appears at a second tower I won't be scanning just yet.

The Hound is at the tower I was about to visit next, so continue on my merry way to loiter nearby and see what the pilot does. Of course, without scanning I can hardly follow the stealth bomber anywhere but back the way I came, and he may not know of my entrance wormhole yet. Still I watch. And I am rewarded by the sight of the Hound swapped for a Badger, the hauler turning, engines burning, as it aligns towards a distant planet. Or, more likely, the customs office around that distant planet.

I align my own ship and prepare for warp, following behind the Badger by only a second. Updating d-scan as I cross the system shows me a fifth tower somewhere, as well as a Heron frigate and some scanning probes. I am keeping watch because I haven't found all the towers, know that some planets are out of range, and have followed industrial ships before to see them not visit customs offices but travel between towers. I want to be aware of any potential threats and the possibility that the Badger won't be where I think it is. As it turns out, a solitary Heron is far from a threat to my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, and I drop out of warp a dozen kilometres from the Badger snuggling up to a customs office.

I'm in the right place at the right time. I drop my cloak, and issue commands to activate my sensor booster and surge my ship towards the Badger to soak up the recalibration delay. Now I can gain a positive target lock, disrupt the hauler's warp drives, and start shooting. For some reason I'm only getting glancing blows, and I'm not as close to the ship as I am expecting. I realise my micro warp drive isn't engaged, the command perhaps getting lost whilst decloaking, so activate the module and burn towards my target, aiming to bump it out of alignment in case it... yes, it has warp core stabilisers fitted.

The Badger warps away, suffering only slight shield damage from my devastating ambush. I reload, cloak, and warp back to the tower—actually, first to the customs office of the planet in case of pilot error by the Badger—to see the pilot's reaction. There's not much of one to start with, which gives me time to check my logs and confirm that my warp disruptor was active and I didn't suffer another fumble like with my MWD, but once he's got his wits about him once more the pilot broadcasts to the local channel. He seems pretty cool about the ambush, and as he evaded me I think he's got good reason to be.

I like to say that the thrill is in the hunt, and it is. I scanned my way to this system, located the pilot in his tower efficiently, and followed his hauler to a customs office. My execution was a little sloppy, and had I been less casual about a second goo-related ambush in one evening maybe I would have a couple more unnecessary expanded cargoholds to carry home. But it's all part of the experience. I can't rely on haulers being stopped with a single point of warp disruption, and need to be more diligent about the whole process. After all, if I get it wrong against a simple industrial ship, how will I react under pressure against a ship that shoots back? It's all practice.

I remember seeing the Heron across the system, along with probes, and wonder if maybe the frigate will investigate the wormhole I entered through and make a target of himself too. But warping across C1a a second time has the Heron disappeared, and I don't care to locate empty towers this late in the evening. I turn my Loki around and start heading home. C2a remains empty, I keep my head down through high-sec, and I warp straight to our K162 in C3a on the (correct) assumption that the pilot from earlier has gone off-line. I jump home, hide my ship in a corner of the system, and think about grabbing a snack before bed.

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