A cloaked ship is hard to find

7th June 2013 – 5.21 pm

I'm settling in to my pod goo as glorious leader Fin fires a stream of information at me. Safeties are on, so I don't fire back until I know what I'm doing. There are wormholes, w-space systems, and currently no pilots. It doesn't stay that way for long. 'C2 flare, Scorpion, they're closing.' That sounds like an activity we can interfere with. Form of a fleet!

I warp to the K162 from class 2 w-space where the battleship was seen, landing near a stressed but still-alive wormhole. Fin is decloaked and systems-hot waiting for the next transit, hoping to bump the ship away from the wormhole and start shooting. I'm not convinced that will work, unless the ship gets really unlucky and appears too far from the locus to jump back immediately. But that's okay, because the wormhole isn't likely to die on the next pass and we have probes fitted anyway. We can chase the ship back and engage in their system, them polarised and us able to run.

Of course, this assumes we can pop the Scorpion. I imagine we can, but a mass-optimised battleship will be heavy on armour, and rather than slowly chew through its defences I'd rather rip them apart. Fin is sitting tight, we have a couple of minutes before expecting the ship again, so I warp to our tower to get a rather pointier ship, one not compromised by requiring a cloaking device. Our Legion strategic cruiser is mean, and doesn't want to hide that fact.

I return to the wormhole shortly before it flares again. The time between transits, and not having seen a second ship, suggests it may be the single pilot collapsing the wormhole. That's good for us. Fin sends me through the wormhole before the Scorpion has time to orientate itself in our system. That's a canny move. I can see if there are any escorts, check my directional scanner to see what else may be in store for us, and get ready for the Scorpion's inevitable return. He won't want to stay in our home system for long.

The wormhole is clear in C2a. D-scan looks clear too, but that's not such a good sign. The battleship is clearly intending to collapse the wormhole, which is almost exclusively done by occupants of the originating system. A tower should be somewhere, and that I can't see it means I also can't see what ships and potential pilots are available. Still, the wormhole is clear, and as we have seen just the one ship so far remains a good indicator that no one else is around. I can keep d-scan updated anyway, just in case.

Fin probably scares the Scorpion pilot, and I imagine definitely startles them, but the battleship's return to its assumed home system was always going to happen. Fin follows, I'm already here, and the Scorpion gets lucky. He appears far enough from the wormhole to cloak immediately, and neither of our ships is suitably close or agile to intercept and bump it back to being visible. Still, a cloaked battleship is quite big, and definitely slow. If he intends to get away, we can probably stop him. It's now a matter of patience.

We could sit and wait for the Scorpion to decloak and run. The cloak will slow down the already slow battleship to a crawl, and it will take long enough to accelerate to warp speed for us to easily get a positive lock and engage it on our terms. But a slow crawl is still positive movement, and a pilot patient enough could feasibly open up a far enough gap to account for the acceleration time. That will take minutes, many minutes, and rather than definitely lose him in that time we do what we can now.

We boost out to the Scorpion's last estimated position, orbit the wormhole at different distances, and align towards a few planets from the wormhole, all to no effect. My notes for the system suggest a tower could be in one direction, but aligning towards it, in the expectation that the Scorpion will be aiming that way, doesn't get a result either. A cloaked ship is hard to find.

Fin cloaks and scouts the system, but we could have guessed the results. There's a tower and no more ships or pilots. Had there been any we'd have no doubt been introduced to them by now, one way or another. We have one final tactic. Fin gets in to position between the wormhole and the tower, and I jump back home. Sure enough, a few seconds later, thinking the coast is clear, the Scorpion decloaks and starts accelerating. So does Fin.

Unfortunately, the battleship stayed much closer to the wormhole than we anticipated, and despite Fin getting a positive lock and burning towards it, the Scorpion manages to enter warp and get clear. Space is big, and space around a wormhole more so. Maybe we need more drones. Or just some to start with. But that's probably it. The pilot is unlikely to return, and definitely not in his current configuration. That leaves us with an unwanted wormhole.

Luckily, as I jumped home the wormhole destabilised to critical levels. That the mass of a strategic cruiser did that, and knowing the limits of this type of connection, makes the maths pretty simple for finishing the job the Scorpion pilot started. Fin holds in C2a, I swap to a standard battleship at our tower, and jump to join my leader again. Fin comes home, I come home, the wormhole dies. Well, that was an interesting start to the evening. Didn't Fin mention other wormholes and systems too?

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