Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Null Kill

I am out in nullsec tonight, ghostbusting.  I am in my trusty ghostbusting Tengu.  My exit system is C0O6-K, in Wicked Creek.  Lots of systems nearby with low numbers of jumps, although unfortunately none with zero.  This is good, though not great, terrain for ghostbusting.

I don't have a huge amount of time tonight, so I plan on going through the local cluster of systems I am in, then a large circle to the east.  I am not sure how far yet -- it depends on the timing.  So I set off.  My local cluster: C-LTXS, SJJ-4F, HD-AJ7, SR-4EK, 0RI-OV.  No sites.  I keep going.  L-Z9KJ, 7K-NSE, OR-7N5.  There is someone in this system, so I bother to cloak when crossing to the gate to 5NQI-E.  As I land at the gate, I see something unexpected: there is a ship on grid here, 280km off the gate.  5NQI-E is a cul-de-sac.  Is he waiting to try to pounce when I come back?  Maybe I should not go through.  No, wait.  He is in a Prowler.  Can't hurt a fly.

What is he doing uncloaked?  I don't know, but I am also jumping.  There are no ghost sites in 5NQI-E, and one character is present.  My guess is the guy at the gate is just a scout for this guy, to give earlier warning.  I burn back to the gate and jump.

The Prowler is still there.  That's... odd.  There is no reason at all for him to be uncloaked.  He must not know he is uncloaked.  This suggests he is AFK, or semi-AFK at best.  I wonder if I can kill him.  Still, I cannot get at him easily.  280km.  I look around for celestials.  The local planet is sort of in the right direction, so instead of just leaving, I bounce off the planet and return at 100km.  OK, that's pretty good, about 180 km.  I do it again, and I am no closer.  179 km?  Oh, forget it.
This is not close.
On second thought, don't forget it.  My Tengu goes 248 m/s.  180km at 248m/s is doable.  It is 720 seconds: 12 minutes.  I've hunted a lot longer than that, for a mere Epithal that I probably cannot even scramble.

It's a small system, but fortunately the furthest planet is just out of dscan range from here, at 15.5AU.  So I bookmark my location, then warp out to the far planet.  I deploy the mobile depot I carry for such occasions, then refit into a combat fitting.  It's designed for ganking frigates, so it has got weak DPS, but it should at least apply it fully.

I warp back before remembering to check the ammo.  I have EM missiles loaded.  I get info on the Prowler, and check its shield and armor hardness.  Its base shield hardness is 50, and armor hardness is 80.  My EM missiles are very bad here.  Explosive missiles or kinetic are about the same, and much better.  I need a reload.  Also, I notice that I forgot to put on the target painter I have.  So I warp out again to the outer planet, deploy my mobile depot, and wait.  Then I get the scourge missiles loaded and my target painter mounted, and return.

And now the slowboating.  I point in the general direction of the Prowler, and go.  (It seems you cannot use "Approach" at great range.)  Now I turn my attention to the web, since it is going to be a while.

Will the guy notice he's sitting uncloaked?  Is he AFK?  I will find out soon.

At 100km, I can look at him and also Approach.  So I do that.
Still not close.

At about 30km, I can't focus on the web any more.  I am getting combat adrenaline, which is kind of stupid for a gank, but then I don't really see much combat.  So I just sit and watch me crawling across space.  By now I am pretty sure he is AFK and thus dead.  But there is some possibility that the guy in the next system might try to come.  So I rehearse scenarios in my mind.

I plan to head straight into him: if I am on top of him, he cannot cloak.  That should give me enough time to lock him.  From there, my warp scrambler will secure the kill.
At just over 2000m, I uncloak.  Then I try to lock him repeatedly as my sensor recalibration delay of 4s dissipates.  I lock him, and my missiles fire.  They are rapid lights, so lots of firing but not so much damage.  The Prowler turns, which I think is from my bumping.  He's into armor, then structure, and boom.  Now I go for the pod, and kill that.  Plans work better when the enemy is AFK. 
Die, cruel pod.

Loot time.  I am surprised at what I find: siphons.  I had noticed two of them at the outer planet when I was refitting.  Now I am guessing this guy was ninja-siphoning moons out here.  I can only imagine he must have forgotten to cloak, and was AFK.  Not much of a kill, but a kill nonetheless.

In retrospect, I can see maybe there was some danger.  He had tackle fitted, and a covert cyno.  I think I might have been hotdropped?  I am not really sure how that stuff works.  Well, I got away with it.

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