Aiming for space

17th July 2014 – 5.30 pm

I'm going home, but I don't get there. Thankfully, it is not a fleet of dozen strategic cruisers and their heavy interdictor pal waiting on the other side of a wormhole that stops me, but just my directional scanner. Specifically, seeing two Venture mining frigates in a class 3 w-space system that weren't there before. That they are here now may be indicative of new activity.

This C3 has had faux activity for most of the evening—ship swapping and bringing tower defences on-line mostly—so I'm not holding out much hope that anything is happening now. Still, I can't resist swinging past the tower on my way through the system, particularly as it takes little time and effort. If both Ventures are there I can go home. If not, I have potential targets.

One Venture is at the tower. I update d-scan again. Considering all the ship swapping I saw earlier I may have just missed one boat being put in a hangar whilst I was in warp. Not this time. The second Venture is still on d-scan, its indeterminate range making it clear that I really am not seeing it inside the tower's force field.

I'd like to find that Venture, maybe introduce it to my guns. To that end, I warp away from the tower to a distant planet, launch scanning probes, and throw them out of the system. I perform a blanket scan too, partly out of habit, partly to give me an initial, if rough, bearing on the frigate. The blanket scan completes as I drop out of warp back at the tower. I don't yet know if I have to get closer to the Venture to hunt him effectively.

I see the blip of the frigate under my combat scanning probes. It is a rough bearing, though, because of the extreme range of my probes being used, but it's a start. I'm also kicking myself a little for not having fully resolved and bookmarked the gas sites in the system when scanning it earlier. I can't really blame myself. There are several wormholes leading here and there, and there are few pilots who would huff on gas in such a Swiss-cheese of a system.

That's a good point. The wormholes are all resolved and bookmarked, with their signatures referenced. I can ignore them, if only to declutter the scanning results. That leaves three signatures, plus the ships. Now to find the Venture. I swing d-scan around on a sixty-degree beam until the frigate is in view, then keep on narrowing the beam and making adjustments until it is down to five degrees with the Venture showing up.

The range is easier to gauge. Start at 1 AU, and keep shifting it upwards an AU at a time until the Venture appears. Now halve the step and go down, and continue making similar adjustments until I can't reliably position a probe with a further level of adjustment. 2·75 AU. I can gauge that by shifting the probe range sphere between 2 and 4 AU and estimating. Done. The Venture should be sitting almost at the centre of my cluster of probes.

I check the Venture's relative position in space, leave the system map, and accelerate my ship in that general direction. That should save a bit of time when entering warp. Now to scan. I call my probes in and... nothing. Damn, I must have caught him with a full hold. I throw my probes back out of d-scan range of the system, not as smoothly as I'd like but it gets done, and watch for movement at the tower. Yep, the Venture warps in.

Probes find nothing this time

Will the Venture go back out again? I wait for a minute, hoping he's just ditching some gas, not entirely au fait with just how much gas a Venture can hold, or how much is in an average gas cloud. Actually, Penny, look at that scanning result again: there's no Venture, but there's also no gas site. No, I don't suppose he's going back.

I hold out a couple of minutes longer loitering by the tower, in case the Venture plans to clear another site, hopefully having been distracted enough by warping out of the previous one to have seen my probes looking for him, but it seems not. I get the hint when the Venture is swapped for a Cheetah covert operations boat. Never mind. After all, it is quite late already. I'll just go home and kick back.

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