Saturday, March 8, 2014

Evading a Hunter

It's 11:00PM, and I have to get to bed within the hour.  I've been exploring tonight, hoping for a gank.  I found a gang in a C5 that appeared to be attempting to jump on someone out in nullsec.   But I missed whatever they did (if they did anything).   Now they are gone, and I have just the right amount of time left to ninja two nice gas sites I found.

I warp back up the chain in my Manticore, from C5a to C2a to C4c to C4b to home, C5a.  While I do this I log my second account.  Then I log off my main and get one of his alts on.  Both of my guys have Gas Mining V, and both get in an appropriately fit Venture.  I fleet them up, then I fleet-warp them off down the chain.

At each link I dscan, but nothing unexpected appears.  Finally I am in C5a again.  I dscan; nothing unexpected.  So I fleetwarp to the first Vital Core Reservoir.  As I warp across the inner system, I dscan again, and I see a Proteus.  It's the Proteus from the gang before.  Did he see me?  I can't know.  So now there's some risk here.  But I figure that (a) he might not have seen me, (b) I am in a hard-to-scan gas site, (c) in Ventures which cost almost nothing, (d) in Ventures which are naturally stabbed up, (e) and I'll be moving, and (f) I am bright yellow.  So, on with the show.

I land on grid.  No sleepers; the site has not been instantiated yet today.  This is good; if sleepers were here I'd have to leave immediately or die.  I microwarp both Ventures 40km to the cloud of C320, get in orbit, and start sucking gas.  This done, I get a dscan in.  No Proteus.  Perhaps I am clear.

A few minutes pass.  I am dscanning every 10 seconds or so, fully paranoid.  After about five minutes, I see Sisters Core Scanner probes.  I expect this means the Proteus is hunting me.  The good news is that he has not scanned down the system.  If he had, my first clue that he was coming for me would probably be when he uncloaked a few kilometers from one of my guys.  And it's also good news that he is using core probes.  Combat probes would lead him straight to me.  But the system has 11 sigs, many of which are quite weak, including the one I am in.  So I probably have minute or two more.  It depends on how fast he scans, whether he scans intelligently (by using dscan to find my general area), and whether he is lucky.  He might scan the site I am in first or last.

I want to keep gassing; can I do it safely?  Pretty much.  To scan down a weak site like this, I have to get the probes within 0.25 AU of it.  (In fact their scan radius is 0.25 AU; each probe is perhaps half that distance from the scanning area in the middle.)  Even with scan strength bonus from the T3, and top skills, I doubt that this guy will be able to resolve the site at anything higher than 0.5 AU (and even that is unlikely).  Both of my characters dscan ranges are current set to the maximum, 2147483647 km.  It is easy to chop a digit off the end the range.  I do this with my character on my right screen.  He scans at 214748364 km, which is about 1.4 AU.  He sees nothing; I am still safe.
I see nothing.  Nothing!

Now I return to dscanning, alternating between characters.  I can see the probes with the character on the left scanning at full range.  I cannot see them on the right.

Dscan, dscan, dscan.  Minutes pass.  I feel that at any second the probes will close in on me, but they don't.  This guy is taking forever.  My grandma can scan a system faster than this!  And she is in an unbonused ship!

Dscan, dscan, dscan.  More minutes pass.  My guys suck out all the gas from the C320 cloud.  I microwarp them up to the C540 cloud, and start sucking again.

Where there is one, seven follow
Dscan, dscan.  Finally, on my right screen I dscan and I see a single probe.  This is bad news; it probably means he is scanning for my sig.  He's not close yet, but it should only take him a few scans to scan it down.

Busted!
I dscan again, and I see seven probes, then eight.  Now I halve my range (more or less), by selecting the "2" in the dscan's range field and replacing it with a "1".  I dscan again, and again I see all eight probes.

This stuff pays well.
This is no time for math, but I estimate it's time to go.  I'd really like to go to the second gas site, but I have no way to know if it has been compromised.  And since it has taken so long, I figure the guy is likely to have found it.  So I give up the idea of mining it.  Right now the question is can I escape from the system?  If this guy has friends, they could set up a trap at the exit wormhole.  If they know where I am from.  In this respect, the many wormholes incident to the system help me.

I fleet-warp to the C2 wormhole. I know it's not bubbled because it is in my dscan range.  But what of the other side?  I think it is unlikely that this guy (who I am fairly certain is from null) will have anyone back there.   But it's possible, so I send one Venture through first.  Nobody there.  The second Venture jumps, then I fleet warp back up the chain, and finally home safely.

What's 15 minutes of gassing worth?  If it's the good stuff, 18.5m ISK.  Per character.  Well worth the time.

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