Waking up a miner

11th January 2013 – 5.12 pm

I collapsed a wormhole to a dull constellation, ended up in the wrong system when doing so, and took a tedious trip after getting Constance to scan a new route home for me. But as Constance also found a couple of K162s from class 4 w-space in our neighbouring C3 I think it's worth taking a few minutes to see what I can find beyond those wormholes. I have time. I take my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser through our stable static wormhole, in to an occupied and inactive class 3 system, pick one of the K162s arbitrarily, and warp to and jump through it.

Two towers, a Ferox battlecruiser, Retriever mining barge, and mining drones. How lovely! Judging from my directional scanner, I've stumbled in to a w-space mining operation, as a quick check shows that the barge and drones are not at the tower. Unfortunately, the operation is occurring in a tiny system, still cramped although holding a mere nine planets and four moons, and warping around has the Retriever in range of all of them. Still, it would be foolish to accept defeat so easily, and rather than turn tail back through the wormhole I pick a point in the system and launch probes as quickly as my launcher can cycle.

Probes are in space, and thrown high out of the system. My Loki is cloaked again. And the drones are still in space, seemingly still with the Retriever. That's a good start. And if the miner missed that on d-scan, he may also miss seeing them when I bring them in to resolve his position. But I've first got to find where to place them, and I'm getting handy at that. I narrow down the barge's position in space to a five-degree beam on d-scan, and place his range at around 3·7 AU, just as a Tengu blips on d-scan. I have no idea if that's a good sign or not, if the Tengu came and went, or if my probes were spotted and a stealthy strategic cruiser is now guarding the miner. There's one way to find out. I call my probes in to scan.

Well, that's not a good result. It's almost as if I completely ballsed-up the range estimation of the barge. Like, say, I pushed the range gate up to 3 AU, saw the Retriever appear, and reduced the gate to get a better estimate, but forgetting that this then reduced the integer part of the estimate. Yes, the barge is probably sitting 2·7 AU from me. I know that now. Actually, I knew it then, too, but I decided to ignore simple mathematics. If only d-scan were graded in AU and not kilometres, mistakes like these wouldn't occur. Or if I could do simple arithmetic. And, of course, I have recalled my probes, arrogantly believing that the first scan would be all I needed.

Now what? The barge still appears to be in space, mining alongside his drones. He didn't see my first launch, or the missed scan. Or maybe he did, and that Tengu is waiting for me. I must say, this does look suspiciously like bait now. If he is, I'll deal with it as the situation warrants. For now, I'll go for a second scan, and this time I'll get it right. And I'll do it quick. I could launch probes and throw them out of the system, but that initial scan would erase the fuzzy result of the Retriever persisting on my system map. I would rather use that as my guide, so as to reduce the likelihood of my cocking up again.

I launch probes and cloak, getting a basic scanning pattern arranged, and shift the lot down to where the Retriever somehow still appears to be. One scan later and I have 100% hit on the Retriever, drones, and gravimetric site, and am recalling my probes with good reason. Believing that I really am pushing my luck this time, with my ship and probes, between them, having been visible for a good thirty seconds or more, I warp in to the Retriever with all due haste, decloaking and burning towards my target as soon as my ship is once again responsive after warp.

I gain a positive lock on the Retriever, disrupt its warp engines, and start shooting. And I keep a watchful eye on d-scan for that Tengu. Nothing yet. Still nothing. Really, nothing? He's not coming, and I really wasn't seen launching probes and scanning twice within d-scan range. I should savour this moment, as the too-casually piloted Retriever explodes.

I don't catch his pod, the shield, armour, and hull alarms perhaps waking the capsuleer up from his stupor, but I have time to loot and shoot the wreck. Now I scoot, fleeing the gravimetric site back to the wormhole and through to C3a.

The wormhole flares behind me, and the Tengu makes its presence known. He's a bit late, but okay. I ignore the ineffective guard, warping across to the other C4 K162, hoping to find another careless miner. I find occupation and ships, but apart from an industrial ship swapped for a covert operations boat it doesn't look like anything's happening. That's fine, as I've had plenty of fun tonight, so I just head home to get some rest for the evening. I didn't expect to stumble in to a miner, and certainly not one that waited oh-so patiently for me to find him, which makes up for getting isolated from home earlier.

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