Going for a gasser

27th March 2014 – 5.19 pm

A healthy set of anomalies has accumulated in the home system. We ought to sweep through them soon, culling the herd, before some scumbag roaming fleet does it for us. There's also some gas, but that's someone else's problem. I make a note of what's here and what we should do, before resolving our static wormhole and heading to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

Updating my directional scanner from the K162 shows me a Tengu strategic cruiser, Vulture command ship, and a pair of towers. There are no wrecks, so the two ships that go well together probably aren't up to anything. And they don't actually go that well together, not when I realise that the second is actually a Venture mining frigate, and not quite as suitable for engaging Sleepers in w-space whilst boosting the capabilities of its buddy as I first thought. The lack of activity makes more sense.

Referring to my notes shows my last visit from six months ago had a single tower in the system, and that the static exit leads to null-sec. I sweep d-scan around in the system map to check the tower I know, which holds the Tengu, and locating the tower I don't, which, uh, doesn't hold the Venture. Expanding d-scan's beam to full coverage shows the frigate is still in the system, and rather than the Venture indicating a lack of activity it seems the mining frigate could be mining.

I need to be quicker than this, much to my continued and perhaps annoying-to-others frustration, as the discovery scanner could ping our K162 to the Venture pilot at any moment. Why it is difficult to remain covert when entering a newly spawned and undetected wormhole in to another system, and why it was considered undesirable enough to warrant a change in environment, is a constant source of bafflement to me. But I work with what I've got.

I warp across the system. I'm not able to get out of d-scan range of the Tengu but the Venture drops from the results, and on the assumption that the Tengu is unpiloted or simply not paying attention I launch probes. I get the probes in to the blanket-scanning formation, outside d-scan range of any ship in the system, and return to the wormhole to start hunting the Venture. There may be a closer, more convenient place to hunt him from, but I am guaranteed to see the ship from the wormhole.

Back at the wormhole I rush my d-scan hunt, dropping the scanning beam from sixty degrees, to thirty degrees, down to fifteen and finally five. I'm lucky with my refinements and don't have to fiddle too much, and close enough for the angular error not to be too bad. I estimate the Venture as being around 4·7 AU away, letting me position my probes with some feeling of accuracy. I make one last check, all looks good. Finally, I accelerate my ship in the rough direction of the Venture. I am ready to scan.

Hunting a gassing Venture

I call my probes in and get a perfect result. Venture and gas site are both resolved at 100% on the first scan, giving me a target to aim for and bookmark for reference. I recall my probes and initiate warp, speeding away from the wormhole within a second, aiming to drop directly on top of the ship. But I don't. All I see when my Loki strategic cruiser decelerates is empty space. No ship, and, come to that, not even any gas clouds.

I suppose I wasn't quite quick enough. It looks like the Venture finished sucking on the gas clouds and warped away from the empty site just as I resolved its position. My skill was good, but my timing was bad, and the circumstances quite coincidental. But the Venture is no longer on d-scan, and relaunching my probes and performing another blanket scan sees he's out of the system too. Oh well. I should have located the ships sooner, particularly after the initial misidentification. But I so rarely stumble in to any gassing these days, it just didn't occur to me.

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