Tracking transports

21st November 2012 – 5.28 pm

I'm looking for some action. There's none at home, so I move my search next door, to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system, which also looks empty. My directional scanner reports clear from the K162, and the only planet out of range doesn't hold a tower when I warp across to check. My notes from two months ago tell a similar tale, and point me to an unsurprising static exit to null-sec k-space. The system is visited regularly, it seems, as there are only two anomalies and twelve signatures, and knowing what I'm looking for has me resolve the weak static exit early. Then it's a radar site, rocks, gas, and, perhaps bizarrely, two K162s to finish.

The first K162 comes from class 4 w-space, and I turn my ship to warp to the second just as an Impairor frigate lands on the wormhole and jumps to C4a. I can't stop myself by the time I notice, and am in warp as the wormhole flares, but for now I just hope he didn't see my scanning probes. The other K162 comes from high-sec, so is probably the connection the Impairor used, and the frigate was piloted by a red, which is interesting. Before I investigate the movement further I exit to high-sec, appearing once more in the Kador region, to bookmark the wormhole for safety reasons.

There are no reds in the local channel, and my atlas shows the system is half-way down a constellation arm that leads to a dead end, and so is probably not well-travelled. I think it's time to check C4a for activity. Returning to w-space has me swap the black hole of C3a for the black hole of C4a, and a clear wormhole. There is a tower visible on d-scan but no ships, and as locating the tower finds it to be owned by a neutral corporation there must be another K162 to find. I launch probes and scan, getting through the single anomaly and four signatures quickly, resolving a ladar and magnetometric site each, and a K162 from class 5 w-space.

As I recall my probes a Tengu appears on d-scan. I hold my position on the wormhole and, sure enough, the strategic cruiser warps to my position. Hello, Black Widow Yeva, I remember you. I interrupted a gas-harvesting operation, podding a hauler, before you chased me off. I wonder what you're up to today. I let the Tengu disappear through the wormhole to C5a, give her a minute to get clear, and follow. And tonight's exploration motif is black holes, as I swap the C4 black hole for a C5 one. But the system looks clear and, more curiously, is not in my notes.

Taking a look around shows that the system is unoccupied and so not the home of the reds, and I have more scanning to do. I launch probes, reveal three anomalies and ten signatures with a blanket scan, and start sifting. A likely looking signature resolves to be a wormhole, but I doubt the reds are taking a diversion through the K162 from null-sec and that I have another wormhole to find. And find it I do, but just as a pair of transport ships jump through the connection. The Impel and Prowler are probably heading my way, so I bookmark the wormhole from the scan results, recall my probes, and stay loitering on the wormhole to C4a.

The transports hit the next link in the constellation, the Impel landing first and followed shortly after by the appearance of the decloaking Prowler. Neither ship is a good target for me, as the Impel's increased warp strength will flummox my basic warp disruptor, and the Prowler's ability to cloak will evade even a target lock. But if I catch the Prowler I will hold it, unlike the Impel, so that's my target. The Impel jumps first and, after a curious delay, is followed by the Prowler. I follow behind.

Naturally, the Prowler cloaks immediately and baffles my targeting systems. I try to surge towards him to interfere with the cloak but don't manage to reveal him again. But I have another opportunity to catch the transport, assuming he'll head to the next wormhole in the chain to high-sec. I turn my ship towards the connection to C3a and warp there, cloaking mid-flight so that it is not obvious when I land. I keep d-scan updated, as I want to see if the Prowler jumps, which should be obvious. I also want to see if the cloaky Tengu comes in behind me.

Nothing appears on d-scan, so the Prowler has moved on and reinforcements haven't entered the system. I wait on the wormhole for a minute, at which point the transport finally decides to move on. He jumps, I pursue. I get my ship ready on the C3-side of the wormhole and, to my surprise, get a positive target lock on the Prowler, at which point my offensive systems activate. The transport's warp drives are disrupted and my guns blaze projectile ammunition in to its shields. The Prowler turns lazily, affected by the black hole, and returns to the wormhole, taking a moment before jumping back to C4a. I don't know what that looks like to anyone else, but to me that is awfully suspicious behaviour. I don't follow the Prowler back through the wormhole.

The transport evaded me without delay in C4a, and that he couldn't do it in this system is odd. If he was close enough to the wormhole so he couldn't cloak he wouldn't have needed to turn to jump. Otherwise, he would have just cloaked and gone on his way to high-sec. I locked on to him far too easily, particularly as I again accidentally targeted the wormhole first. This smells like bait, and I remain aware both of the cloaky Tengu I saw earlier and our previous encounter where their combat pilots were efficient and organised. It may be nothing, but I would rather not polarise my ship at the same time as piloting my way in to an obvious counter-ambush. I simply move from the wormhole, cloak, and wonder what to do next.

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