Following the ion trail of an Iteron

23rd May 2013 – 5.20 pm

Aii's here, but is Aii really here? No, he's back in empire space, still shuffling ships around. That gives me another reason to scan, to give him a new entrance, as well as looking to make new friends in w-space. The home system looks clear, and jumping to the neighbouring class 3 system looks just as clear. A tower with no ships appears when I update my directional scanner from the wormhole, but with nowhere to hide in this tiny system I'll take that result.

Launching probes and blanketing the system reveals nine anomalies and eight signatures, which give me, yep, some sites, plus two wormholes. The static exit leads to a low-sec system in Essence, a mutated handful of jumps to Dodixie, and returning to C3a and warping to the suspected outbound connection finds a T405. A wormhole to class 4 w-space is good indeed for further exploration, as it is guaranteed to lead to at least one more w-space system. Let's see where it takes me.

D-scan is clear, one planet sits out of range. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, giving me eight anomalies, seven signatures, and two ships. The ships must be out by that distant planet, which I am already warping to, and d-scan shows me two towers to go with the ships. I doubt the Thanatos carrier is piloted, but the Iteron hauler might be. But just because it's small doesn't mean it has a pilot. I've noticed a curious tendency for corporations leave a couple of industrial ships free-floating inside their force fields of late.

To find the ships means finding the towers. I narrow d-scan's beam and sweep it across the moons. The Thanatos is at one tower, and the Iteron is, oh, gone. But is it still in the system? Is it collecting planet goo? My probes can answer the first question, but I don't have time to wait for them to complete a scan. I just turn my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser around and warp back to the inner system where I see that, yes, the Iteron is still here and, yes, he probably is gooing.

I warped to an arbitrary customs office, not the first and not the last, but the Iteron isn't here. Pinging the other offices in turn finds the hauler with little delay, and knowing that he's not been out long I think I've got a fair chance of catching up with him. Instead of waiting for him to come to me I warp my Loki towards the Iteron, pinging d-scan every couple of seconds. He's still there, still there, still there... and gone. No matter. I swing d-scan around again and find the Iteron's new destination, by which time my Loki is ready to warp again.

I've been pretty quick in finding and keeping up with the Iteron, and the hauler hasn't shown the speed I associate with capsuleers of heightened anxiety, so when I land at the next customs office to see the Iteron still there I'm pretty sure I've caught him already. The hauler looks motionless but, to be honest, I don't think it matters if he's getting ready to leave. If he's aligning to warp back to his tower I will only get a shot if I decloak and aim for him now. And if he's going to another customs office, I can catch him if he cancels warp to try to flee to his tower, and will almost overtake the clumsy industrial ship in warp if he does get away.

Ambushing a planet gooing Iteron

Decloak, lock, shoot. My warp scrambler holds the hauler in place, but I burn towards it and give it a loving bump just in case it has a predilection for fitting warp core stabilisers. It's a straightforward kill, as it turns out. The Iteron is ripped apart, the pod is ejected, and even though it looks like I've stopped the pod in its tracks, my autocannons itching to fire again, the capsuleer uses some wizardry to flee. So it's just me and the wreck, until I loot and shoot it. I reload my guns, cloak, and warp back towards the towers.

Explosions as the Iteron is torn apart

That was a nice kill. Uncomplicated and fun, having to catch up behind an active gooing hauler is a bit more involved than following the exhaust trail from a tower. And back at the tower, the pod is thrown in to a Buzzard covert operations boat that warps to empty space shortly afterwards. I don't see any probes being launched though, so I probably won't see him again. Never mind, I have my own probes. I'll scan, if he doesn't want to.

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