Missing by miles and minutes

17th July 2013 – 5.27 pm

Home is looking bare. Visitors stole our sites, our own industrialists have harvested the resources. That's according to my dwindling bookmarks, though, as my probes show that the Sleepers and resources are already returning. Everything looks normal. All I need now is a hauler floating idle inside a tower in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to watch for a couple of hours.

Jumping to C3a has nothing visible on my directional scanner, and although the presence of fourteen anomalies makes me wonder if the system is unoccupied my notes suggest otherwise. Whilst out of range of anything I launch scanning probes, then warp off to see if either of the two towers listed from three months ago remain. The first does, empty of ships, and the blanket scan has three ships light up my combat probes along with six signatures, all of which are at the also-remaining second tower.

The Iteron hauler and Viator transport are idling on a technicality, being pilotless, but the Heron has a capsuleer inside it doing nothing. I can scan. There aren't many signatures and, as it turns out, the few present are all out of range of the Heron, so I can scan covertly. Not that doing so results in much, just some rocks, gas, and the static exit to low-sec. The Heron refuses to move, forcing me to head through the wormhole to low-sec, appearing in Metropolis. Dullopolis, more like. Have I used that one before? Never mind, I'll scan for more wormholes.

Five extra signatures don't start out promising, with two Rogue Trial Yards, some rocks, and a crappy dying K162 from class 3 w-space. But the last signature is weak, and a wormhole. Could it be the fabled outbound link to class 5 w-space? My probes give me a solid hit on the signature, I warp to it, and drop next to a wormhole of type N432. Back of the net.

Entering C5a doesn't look particularly positive, with a couple of capital ships on d-scan obviously floating unpiloted in either of the two towers in the system, but at least I have more w-space to look for. I launch probes and scan, except that's not me scanning. It's a Cheetah covert operations boat. I get confused sometimes. But where did he come from? Low-sec, behind me? A new wormhole? I doubt he's local, as the cov-ops looks to be at the star, which seems like an awfully careless place to launch probes in a system where you should have a chunk of safe spots available.

I warp to the star to see if I can catch the Cheetah, but he's not here. Not here, but close. I have combat scanning probes launched so set them on a minimum-range scan pattern and call them in to hunt the cov-ops. 99.6% isn't quite good enough to warp to the tiny ship, and wiggling my probes around and trying a couple more times doesn't seem to help. But the Cheetah looks to be at the first planet, so rather than waste more time I warp in that direction and hope I get lucky. Almost. The Cheetah's right next to me, but only on a cosmological scale.

Cheetah sits uncloaked near a planet's customs office

The Cheetah sits a hundred kilometres away, unmoving, uncloaked. I bounce off a planet in a bid to get closer, but utilising a sixth sense the pilot enters warp just as my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser returns to be within ten kilometres of the cov-ops. He warps in the direction of one of the towers too, making him local. Being tagged as orange kinda gave that away, Penny. Pay more attention.

I follow behind the cov-ops, not yet having broken my cloak, only to have the Cheetah warp back to the first planet. I follow again, aiming to drop short to where the Cheetah was the first time. But this time he cloaks, and I have no idea where he is. Not only that, but I also have no idea why I'm even looking for him any more. Still, I find him, when he decloaks less than five kilometres from me, but I don't follow suit. He's aligning to warp, and I don't stand a chance of stopping him.

Okay, sod it. I'm scanning. I have no idea what the Cheetah is doing, particularly as I can't even see probes that may belong to him, so I'm moving on. I ignore gas, rocks, radar sites to get to the static wormhole on the final signature, and jump to class 4 w-space. Class 4 w-space with a Noctis salvager and single Sleeper wreck visible on d-scan from the K162. I think I played with the Cheetah for too long.

There are no anomalies in C4a, not that finding them would find the Noctis, and warping away to launch probes only bumps in to tower with plenty of ships. I don't really mind, as a single wreck won't take the Noctis long to salvage. I've missed him already. Instead, I locate the tower, note the piloted ships, and start watching for further movement. The piloted Badger hauler interests me, as does the Heron scanning frigate sitting over two hundred kilometres above the tower.

The Noctis returns to the tower and swaps tantalisingly to a Bestower, but not for any real purpose. Not much is happening, and I am left wondering if I should aim for the Heron. I'd need scanning probes to lock on to his ship to reach him quickly, as sub-warp speeds would bore me to tears before I even got close. I return to the now-empty inner system, launch probes, and hide them as I warp back to the tower. My only concern now is how long I'll have to ambush the Heron before the tower locks on to me. Or, I suppose, his colleagues in strategic cruisers come to save him.

Wondering whether the Heron is being used specifically as bait, or if it's protected by the tower, are answered as I am interrogating my databanks to calculate the range of the tower's warp disruption batteries. The frigate cloaks. Okay, I think I've determined that my timing is off tonight, and that I'm only going to get more frustrated. Rather than continue forwards I head back, passing through empty systems to get home for the night.

  1. 4 Responses to “Missing by miles and minutes”

  2. Have you ever ganked near a tower? I am curious as to how possible it is. Does the tower have to lock you, or just the individual pos-parts? How long do you have before being jammed out and/or nuked? (I assume you get no closer than 150km so that warp disruptors cannot get you.)

    By Von Keigai on Jul 17, 2013

  3. I have. Mostly successfully, once embarrassingly badly. I will have to return with details, as I'm a bit busy for a bit.

    By pjharvey on Jul 17, 2013

  4. And I get to kick myself for not frapsing a corp mate taking down a covops outside a FF with an Atron again....
    Each individual POS module need to lock you. You have about 20-30s clear time before the guns open up. The E-war modules, including webs/scrams/points take a bit longer so you'll get a bit of a warning that you need to get out.
    Note: The weapons are actually one step larger than their names, so smalls are the same as medium ship weapons, mediums are large ship guns, etc.

    Also the POS modules have two values for their range. The actual range and the activation range. You're looking at over 300km off the FF or so to be clear of most of the activation ranges, though I think a couple have a bit longer than that. Show Info will tell you. Obviously that means nothing if there's a POS gunner in there...

    I'll also note that there seems to be safe warp vectors to and from POS's that allow you to fly through (at least friendly) bubbles. I've personally flown straight through the middle of a large bubble (with a Taranis, fyi) warping to a Customs Office from the POS. I've also seen a hostile Domi fly through a bubble I placed outside the activation range of POS guns as a trap. It may have missed the edge but it sure didn't look like it :/

    By BayneNothos on Jul 18, 2013

  5. Bayne's got my back on this one.

    My successful engagements outside a tower are either in a Manticore, which gives a quick locking time with no recalibration delay, or against frigates, which don't take much to rip apart and allow quick re-cloaking.

    There was that time we caught a Raven outside a tower, and we were able to web it hard enough, whilst under fire from the tower's guns, to destroy it before it could crawl back inside the force field. That was a good kill.

    By pjharvey on Jul 20, 2013

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