Cheap and cheerless

30th March 2014 – 3.18 pm

No Sleepers for me today, even though a couple of new sites have spawned in the home system. I'm off exploring. It's just our static wormhole to venture through, so through it I venture to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where I am frustrated by the discovery scanner. Just two signatures are in the system, obvious without any need to scan, or even be in a boat capable of scanning. One is the static wormhole, the other our K162 that becomes a shining beacon of inevitable intrusion to any active pilots. If only it had more signatures to hide in.

Nowhere for our K162's signature to hide

I'm kinda hoping there is no one home now, my directional scanner showing me three towers and no ships from our wormhole, and clearly there are no K162s to find. I warp away to explore. In warp, I check my notes. My last visit was four months ago, when there was no occupation. Some corporation has been busy populating the system and cleaning it of sites. Really quite busy, seeing that I bump in to two more towers on the edge of the system, this time with some ships on d-scan too.

Wanting to see if there are any pilots with the ships, I locate the two towers. The first has no ships, at least until I turn and head to the second tower, at which point a Retriever mining barge warps in to the force field. Damn. And at the second tower there are four empty ships, and one piloted Cheetah covert operations boat. The good news is that this leaves a Venture mining frigate, Procurer mining barge, and two Retrievers out in space. The bad news is the discovery scanner.

Miners mining in w-space

An ore site sits above the ecliptic plane nearby, matching where the first Retriever warped from. Taking my Loki strategic cruiser to that site finds the miners, mining away, still apparently oblivious to our K162. Sure, but for how long? Well, damn the discovery scanner in w-space, I'm not going in with my Loki. It's the wrong ship for this ambush. I'll either catch them all or none of them. No half-arsed measures for me, and if not being quick enough to beat the discovery scanner means I lose this opportunity, then so be it.

I warp my Loki back to our wormhole, pausing when a new Tengu strategic cruiser appears on d-scan in the inner system, but jumping home anyway because what difference will it make? On my way to our tower I consider my options. My first thought is to drop an Onyx heavy interdictor on the miners, as its bubble should ensure no ships get away and their pods get trapped. But the targets are spread somewhat apart and I have only a rough warp-in point. It's not like I felt I had time to be professional about this.

Maybe the Flycatcher interdictor is the better option. It can launch temporary bubbles, having about the same effect as the Onyx, whilst remaining mobile. The Onyx's bubble severely restricts what the ship can do whilst the bubble is inflated. Then again, I know the Onyx has the firepower to pop the barges pretty quickly and it can take a hell of a beating itself, and I don't think I've flown the Flycatcher in anger before. But I'm not really expecting any return fire, and the Flycatcher is much more agile, so I'll decelerate out of warp more quickly. The interdictor is also much cheaper. I'll take the Flycatcher.

I return to C3a and warp from the wormhole to the rough point in the ore site that I think should be central to the ships. But, of course, I get there to see a different sight than before. The Venture and Procurer remain, the Retrievers are gone. Now my plans are in a little disarray. I should have been in the middle of some ships, now I'm on the edge of them, the Venture 27 km away, the Procurer 22 km.

Not much left of the mining operation on my return

How big is the interdiction sphere's bubble? I don't actually know, which is an oversight, but, again, I didn't really have time to check. Rather the pop it where I am, I activate my micro warp drive to get comfortably closer to the ships, giving the Procurer the extra second it needs to complete his warp drive activation and leave the site. Great. Okay, it's just me and the Venture, the frigate able to leave any time it wants, given that my single point of warp disruption will do nothing to stop it. Still, I'm confident the Flycatcher's rockets will rip the frigate open with little resistance. And they do.

Popping a Venture with rockets

Cracking open the Venture's pod

I pop the interdiction sphere as I pop the frigate, snaring the pod and turning it in to a corpse easily enough. I scoop, loot, and shoot, bagging myself some really crappy modules and an empty-headed cadaver, and align out of the bubble back towards our wormhole. I see a Wolf assault frigate on d-scan, but only on d-scan, and I escape my bubble and warp to our K162 with no resistance, waiting the seventeen seconds of polarisation to jump home safely.

No one is either side of the wormhole. I warp to our tower, dump the pitiful loot, and swap back to my Loki, warping to our static connection to see if anything will happen. But damn the discovery scanner, ruining a potentially destructive ambush and malicious slaughter. Instead, all I manage to catch is the cheapest, crappiest ship and its sleeping pilot. It's a sad state of affairs when w-space mining in an easily found ore site doesn't lead to wrecks and corpses scatted everywhere.

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