Dispersing gassers

25th February 2013 – 5.29 pm

I'm all alone today. Or am I? I see bookmarks already made to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, and to a class 6 system that connects in to us. The bookmarks are only a couple of hours old too, so they look good. I still launch probes and scan, because anything can happen in the next half-hour w-space in that time, but I don't find any unexpected signatures. I also find the K162 is not quite as deadly as its bookmark suggests, as it only comes from class 5 w-space. That's cool. Let's see what's there.

The wormhole is clear in C5a, and my directional scanner shows me no ships in range. There are eleven towers, though, which is quite a few. Opening the system map shows me that all the planets are in range, all seven of them, and that there are, what a surprise, eleven moons. This class 5 system is saturated. But there's still no one home. Maybe there's a K162 to find that heads further back in to the constellation. Actually, there quite probably is, as a Venture appears on d-scan, and it isn't at one of the towers.

The mining frigate's appearance is enticing, but my question now is whether I can get out of range of wherever it has chosen to chew on rocks. The C5 is small, after all. And although the diameter of the system is more than the range of d-scan, the Venture has, perhaps wisely, perhaps fortuitously, planted itself in a position where I cannot escape its oversight. Well, I say the Venture, but what I mean is both Ventures, as there are now two.

If only I'd been quicker in getting in to the system, or more bold in launching probes, I could have a hunt on my hands. As it is, the four Ventures will probably spot me and run away before I can even hide my probes. I try one last trick, which I don't think has worked yet, and passively scan the system for anomalies. There are quite a few, and some are beyond the outer limits of the most distant planets. Maybe that extra 2 AU will be enough to drop me out of d-scan range of the frigates.

I warp to the anomaly, dropping far short so that I don't bump in to the Sleepers and making a tactical bookmark a few thousand kilometres out of the site, but soon see that it's not enough. Even in the anomaly, as physically far out of the solar system as I can get my ship, the Ventures appear on d-scan. Well, even if I can't be covert, I could still potentially spoil the operation. I drop my cloak, launch combat scanning probes, and reactivate my cloak as I throw the probes out of the system.

Hey, circumstances are actually improving. There are five Ventures now, although I can't quite believe that four active pilots didn't spot a Loki strategic cruiser visibly launching probes. And I'm pretty sure they did indeed spot me, as an Anathema covert operations boat blipping on d-scan suggests. I think the Venture pilots are being canny, not careless, and are aware that I'll need to scan for them before I become a threat. They'll probably watch for my probes appearing a second time and scatter. That still doesn't stop me hunting them.

I get close to the Ventures. That bit's easy. Narrowing down their position in space using d-scan is fairly straightforward too, although I perform the occasional broad scan, aware that the Ventures may not scatter but instead call in some anti-Loki support. But all looks clear. And as the frigates stay in space as I refine my estimate of their position, I even start thinking that maybe I wasn't spotted. Maybe the pilots are amateurs, or relying on herd behaviour to keep them safe. Maybe I need to think about how to pop the maximum number of ships.

Going back for an Onyx wouldn't work, as the wormhole is in range of the mining operation, even if the warp bubble would counter the increased warp strength of the Ventures. But the one Venture that I've previously engaged exploded in a such a vicious fireball after one volley that it didn't leave a wreck. I think I'll target as many as possible, put my warp scrambler on one of them, and spray autocannon rounds amongst the others until its just me and the snared frigate left in the site. Yeah. Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm ready to scan.

Getting a good hit on the gassing Ventures in class 5 w-space

No, ignore that image, I'm not quite ready. I ought to be as quick reaching the site as possible, given that the ships are probably watching out for me, ignoring the fact that a frigate can probably enter warp from stationary quicker than my decloaking recalibration delay wears off. But I may as well think positively. I align my ship in the rough direction of the Ventures and accelerate, which will get me in to warp almost instantly on command. Now I call my probes in, and get a good result. Perfect on the ships, who cares about the site. It's a ladar site too, so the adaptable frigates are sucking up gas and not chomping on rocks, but whatever works. I recall my probes and get my Loki in warp to the Ventures, bookmarking the position of one as reference.

No Ventures remain in the gas cloud

As I drop out of warp on the edge of a gas cloud sporting no ships sucking on its tendrils, it looks like I was right. Thankfully, I was right about the pilots looking for the reappearance of my probes, and not right about them scheming a counter-ambush. The frigates remain on scan, but only for the time it takes them to warp back to whatever wormhole they came from and jump through. One by one, the Ventures leave the system. Never mind. The hunt was never going to be simple in such a small system, and I was probably better being cautious than trying to rush when entering class 5 w-space. I warp back to the wormhole leading home, and stand down my aggressive posture.

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