From a near-catch to nearly caught

27th June 2013 – 5.31 pm

Aii's somewhere. I can sense his presence. I can also see the bookmarks leading from home, through the neighbouring class 3 w-space system, and out to low-sec. And that's it, apparently. 'Nothing interesting', says Aii. Shall we kill the wormhole? 'Okay.' So Aii comes home and we throw some massive ships through our static connection, crushing it with the weight of a parent's disappointment in their spawn.

Five minutes have passed and there are no new signatures in the home system. That bodes well for our security, but maybe not for finding activity elsewhere. We can still look, so I resolve the replacement static wormhole and jump through. The system is familiar, kind of. I was only here six months ago, but already my notes are out of date. One of two listed towers should be in range of my directional scanner but it's showing me nothing. Exploring has the second tower also gone, leaving C3a unoccupied and currently inactive. I suppose I had better scan.

Ten anomalies in an empty system would look good for making ISK were any of them our favoured type, but they're all a bit too much effort for suboptimal gains, so I ignore them to look through the five signatures. Gas, gas, and more gas is good for Aii and will make us some ISK, but I have just the one wormhole, the expected exit to low-sec, and a constellation as limited and stale as the previous one. As Aii is happy to bounce between the sites in a Venture frigate, trying to see how much gas he can suck up before the Sleepers appear, I may as well poke low-sec to see if I can find more wormholes.

Exiting w-space puts me in a faction warfare system in Black Rise, where scanning finds nothing of interest. But with only the one pilot in the system, probably in a frigate and not wanting to have anything to do with me, I feel safe hopping through a stargate to try a second system. Three signatures is more promising, and they are. A radar site is dull, a weak 'unknown' type is the wormhole I'm after, and I can ignore the final signature for being rocks.

The wormhole is an N432 connection, leading to, what else, class 5 w-space. And jumping in sees a tower and ships, but the Talos, Oracle, and Brutix battlecruisers don't seem to be making any wrecks with the Damnation command ship's help. I don't suppose they would in a C5, but maybe they are sucking gas, old school. I warp out, launch probes, and blanket the system, returning to d-scan range of the towers to see a Nemesis briefly before the stealth bomber presumably cloaks. As the Talos is missing, maybe I missed seeing the ship swap.

The Nemesis was at one tower, the Damnation and Brutix are piloted at a second, and the third is empty. And as I wonder where the Oracle went, in it comes to join the two other ships at the second tower. Okay then. My probes reveal four anomalies and six signatures, and my augmented eyes reveal bugger all more movement from the ships in the tower. I may as well scan. Radar site, wormhole, radar site, and the Oracle starts moving. The Oracle stops. What a tease, trying to distract me from seeing the Brutix get swapped for a Scorpion and warping out of the tower.

Scorpion warps in to its own corporation's bubble

It looks like the battleship is heading to the wormhole I just scanned, so I throw my probes out of the system and see what he's up to. We may have another wormhole-collapser about to polarise himself ahead of an ambush. Happily, Fin's on-line and now heading my way in a suitable ship, and as the K162 from class 4 w-space is currently healthy it looks like I won't have to pounce now and hope for the best. There is also a slight delay as the Scorpion hits a bubble between the tower and wormhole, bounces off a different planet, and returns to actually reach the wormhole. Now he jumps to the C4, coming back seconds later in the obvious wormhole-collapsing manoeuvre. I watch the Scorpion return, warp back to the tower, and we both wait for polarisation effects to end.

Dominix contributes to a wormhole collapse

A Dominix warps to the same wormhole and also adds its mass to help kill the connection. I don't know if that complicates matters or just gives us a second target. It probably complicates any ambush we plan, if only because it shows there is a second pilot active, amongst the perhaps four that I've already seen. This may be trouble. But we should have a wormhole to jump through to escape, being particularly effective against polarised ships. That is, except for the Crow interceptor now warped to the wormhole. Now it's complicated.

The Brutix appears to unanchor the meddling bubble, but he's too far away and flying too fast to reasonably catch. Besides, I'm considering the Crow. It can catch and hold us easily enough, but can we deal with it? Neither of us are certain, Fin now on the wormhole with me and also pondering the situation. We nearly find out how one of us would fare against the Crow when it nearly decloaks me, as I was careless in not moving after exiting warp, a mistake I correct by manoeuvring to a safe distance from the wormhole.

Watching a Crow attempt to hassle a stealth bomber

It doesn't look like the Crow is standard procedure for the locals when collapsing a wormhole, or is specifically here to catch either of us. It's quite possible that my probes were seen, but it seems that the Crow is sat on the wormhole to prevent trouble coming from the C4. Just to show that there is potentially more than we know about, a neutral Purifier appears briefly, making a second appearance only to jump back through the wormhole when the collapse continues. The Crow chases but probably doesn't catch the stealth bomber, given how soon the interceptor returns. I don't think we'd be so lucky.

Scorpion and Crow is not a good combination to ambush

The Scorpion makes another trip, as does the Dominix, and the wormhole is, slowly, being crushed. More ships appearing on d-scan, including strategic cruisers, making the situation more dangerous with each pass and convincing me and Fin that we aren't going to do much here but lose a ship or two for no gain. We leave the locals alone with their operation, and don't even bother scanning forwards. They clearly watch for new connections and have the wherewithal to isolate themselves from unwanted attention. We turn around and head home, having gone from nearly catching a ship to nearly being caught in the middle.

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