Trapping a transport

8th February 2013 – 5.20 pm

It's all clear at home. Very clear, in fact. Just a handful of anomalies remain in the system, with the static wormhole being the only signature requiring probes to find. I do just that, and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to look for activity. Nothing appears within directional-scanner range of the K162 in C3a, although the sole planet out of range holds the same occupation as was here six months ago. I would bet there is still a static exit to high-sec too.

A blanket scan of the system reveals no anomalies and five signatures, which even though Fin arrives means we won't be making ISK from this C3, so I scan for wormholes. Even from the blanket scan the high-sec wormhole is obvious from its medium-strength signature. The others are all chubby, and all wormholes. I still visit the high-sec connection first, to get a safety net, although the wobbly wormhole at the end of its life may not be good for long. I risk the wormhole lasting for ten seconds and pop out to appear in the Tash-Murkon region, returning immediately to reconnoitre the other wormholes I've resolved.

How disappointing. A K162 from high-sec would be dull enough if it weren't also EOL, and although the K162s from class 2 and class 3 w-space would be interesting, they too are EOL and far from enticing. But with no other options in this stale constellation I poke my prow through the wormhole I end at, which comes from C2a. A Raven battleship and Iteron hauler appear on d-scan, along with two towers. The ships are empty at the tower, and I don't care to look for the Amarr rookie wreck that is elsewhere, not without any obvious signs of other pilots. I return through the dying wormhole to look through another dying wormhole.

A visit from a month ago sends me directly to the tower in C3b. I suppose I could have guessed that the tower would be next to the territorial control unit, which is functionally useless in w-space except for being an obvious beacon, and therefore a great place to create a bubble trap. Which this one is. My notes protected me somewhat. And even though a Probe frigate is piloted at the tower I am not staying to see what he does, not with Fin reporting C3a's static exit to high-sec having just imploded. That could herald the death of these other wormholes too.

Effective w-space decloaking trap around a TCU

I speed back to C3a, where the K162 from high-sec is also now gone, reducing our options somewhat. But the death of the static connection gives us a replacement to find. A bit of scanning later and I'm jumping out to a system in the Khanid region, which is unimpressive by itself, but gives me a new system to scan in. Two extra signatures resolve to be a radar site and a rather attractive outbound connection to class 1 w-space. That'll do nicely. Jumping to C1a sees a tower and Crane transport ship on d-scan, and locating the tower sees the Crane piloted.

The transport ship is agile and slippery, particularly as it can warp cloaked, but I'm not going to give up before I've even given chasing the Crane a shot. Just in case the transport will leave through the system's static exit, and not collect planet goo, I warp out and launch probes, blanketing the system. Six anomalies and eleven signatures are returned by my probes, holding my attention just as the Crane warps. The ship remains on d-scan, giving me a chance to see where it is, which is made easier by the Crane returning to the tower. Sadly, it looks like it did indeed warp out to collect planet goo.

I can only hope the Crane makes a second trip to a customs office, and so I pay closer attention to what it does. It moves again, but this time not to a planet but empty space. The Crane stays on my probes, still in their blanket-scanning configuration, and I hold until the transport disappears. Now I scan. Yep, he went to a wormhole, the system's exit to low-sec. I warp to the connection and exit C1a, appearing in a system in Solitude, alone. The Crane has already moved on.

It's a shame Mr Crane doesn't know about the high-sec entrance I found to C1a. His journey would be much safer from that direction, as well as probably shorter. Still, his best defence now is probably boring us in to leaving him alone, as we don't know where he's gone or how long he will be. In our favour, he's the only pilot we know about, so we are waiting for him for now. I loiter with intent in low-sec, as Fin heads home to get a ship more appropriate for catching a cloaky transport. Better still, Aii comes on-line and is happy to bring an interceptor too.

Now we wait. One pilot enters the system in Solitude, but he's not orange and is piloting a Proteus strategic cruiser. We aren't sure we can engage a brick of a ship, which is okay since the Proteus leaves low-sec without coming our way. A new contact comes a little later, this time a Tengu strategic cruiser scanning the low-sec system. His probes disappear, and although the pilot remains he doesn't jump to C1a. And just as we are getting bored with waiting, an orange appears in the local comms in low-sec. It's our man in the Crane.

I return to C1a through the wormhole, and break my cloak on the other side. With an interceptor and interdictor quite obviously lurking on the wormhole, there seems little point in trying to be sneaky in my Loki strategic cruiser. Before long we are greeted with the wormhole flaring. The Crane appears with little delay, perhaps hoping he can get cloaked and clear, but Fin's sensor-booster Flycatcher snags the Crane almost instantly, also inflating a bubble to keep it close. All our systems go hot, sending weapons fire the transport's way, for all of the few seconds it takes for the Crane pilot to decide to leave the way he came.

Crane transport bubbled and in trouble in w-space

The Crane jumps back through the wormhole to low-sec, polarising himself but escaping our immediate attention. We follow, but only to have the Crane successfully cloak and evade us. The interdictor's bubble launcher can't be used in low-sec either, so the Crane is probably in warp within moments. But we learn from the encounter, and realise that as soon as Aii and I were locked on to the Crane, Fin should have jumped to low-sec and primed her fast-locking Flycatcher for the Crane's attempt to escape. We'll know for the next time. But, for tonight, we've had our fun, flown as a fleet, loosed some ammunition. It's time to head home.

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