Miner on a plate

20th November 2012 – 5.16 pm

Nothing but static. My zen approach to scanning. I resolve the wormhole and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. A Retriever mining barge pings my directional scanner, as do four Warrior II drones, but nothing else. I would say my evening is off to a lucky start, and I suppose it is, but opening the system map to see swathes of space between the meagre planets scattered around could put a different person in a more pessimistic state of mind. Why couldn't the Retriever be mining on that distant planet, almost 100 AU away, far out of d-scan range, so that I would have no chance of being spotted immediately on entering the system? Because he wants to be found, I say. I move from the wormhole, cloak, and watch d-scan for any reaction.

The Retriever keeps mining, as far as I can tell. He's not warping away, at least. I do, creating a safe spot out of range of planets in case I need it, and stumble in to a tower that's not the same from around six months ago. Along with the tower I spy more ships, and although the two haulers are not piloted, and so unlikely to be called on to collect cans of ore, a Daredevil and Heron have capsuleers aboard. Both are frigates, but with vastly different functions. The Daredevil is fast and potentially threatening, in tandem with a pointier ship, the Heron a scouting boat, and I imagine those were his core scanning probes I saw as I warped half-way across the system.

Now I warp the rest of the way across the system, looking for further occupation or activity and, finding none, launching my own scanning probes in preparation for finding the Retriever. But warping back to the K162 has the barge gone from space, and although I am able to find him again I didn't really want it to be at the tower. But he may not be finished, and just dropping off a load of ore, so, as I have probes launched, I perform a blanket scan of the system to see what's out there. Five anomalies and nine signatures. Of course, what I should be doing is scanning the gravimetric site far out of d-scan range of the tower whilst I know the Retriever is safely inside the force field.

I'm bouncing my Loki strategic cruiser backwards and forwards trying to make up my mind, and by the time I get my brain in gear and my Loki loitering outside the tower's force field the Retriever has gone. If I miss out on a kill I'll only have myself to blame. But warping back to the wormhole has no sign of the Retriever still. Maybe he's gone, but even if he is I'll want to scan the signatures out here, so call my probes in and resolve what turn out to be three gravimetric sites. Rocks, rocks, rocks. It's good that I didn't stop at the first site and assume I had found where the Retriever was mining. Even better, the Retriever returns and enters the third site I resolved.

After scanning the three sites I threw my probes back out of the system as a precaution, and it's probably good that I did. A switch to d-scan sees the Retriever, but did he see my probes? I interrogate each site using d-scan to determine where the barge has gone, and warp in to see his reaction. And his reaction is to set his lasers to 'mine' on a chunk of arkonor. It looks like I'm a lucky predator tonight. I get my ship in to position, warping close enough to smell the exhaust fumes, and start a cloaked approach.

D-scan is clear. I decloak and activate my micro warp drive, doing my best to dent the Retriever as my sensors recalibrate from being cloaked. Time's up, my targeting systems are hot, and so are my weapons. I lock on to the barge, disrupt its warp drive, and start shooting. This time it's no trap, and I strip armour from the Retriever as it strips rocks from roids, the mining barge having no chance of escaping my clutches. It explodes, and although I get close to snaring the pod I can only watch as it warps clear of my autocannons. I loot and shoot the wreck, leaving no trace of my attack, and withdraw to a safe distance.

I doubt anyone is returning to claim a lack of wreck and an absence of jet-can, so rather than lurking in the gravimetric site, far out of d-scan range of the locals, I warp across the system so that I can monitor the tower directly. The pod pilot swaps ships, but disappears. The Daredevil moves, apparently just to prove he's not asleep. And, as I decide to scan, realising that the locals really ought not to be surprised by my presence, a Blackbird cruiser appears, followed by a Hurricane battlecruiser, and the two new ships duel outside of, but near to, the tower's force field. Otherwise, my ambush goes unnoticed.

I find more rocks. All rocks, in fact, apart from the static exit to low-sec. The locals appear to be good at clearing other sites, but it seems their miners keep getting killed before getting rid of the rocks. No matter, I doubt I'll have more excitement in my favour in this system, so I head out to low-sec to look for more wormholes. I don't find any. A single extra signature in the system in the arse-end of Kador only resolves to be a drone site. The appearance of a couple of the C3ers in the system intrigues me for a moment, until I realise they not coming but going.

The Daredevil and Blackbird jump past me, heading straight to a stargate, and leave me with little to do. I don't care to engage either, as a buzzing frigate and ECM cruiser sound frustrating to fight. I could collapse our wormhole and start again, or hop through a stargate or two to scan further systems. But I've popped a miner and explored a couple of systems, and an early night would be a satisfying end to the evening in space. I turn my ship around and head home.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.