Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Fight Nearby

It's the weekend, afternoon local time.  Prime time in Europe.  When I play in European time, I often find targets.  Today I am more interested in scanning a decent connection to kspace, because my corp needs to get PI goods in and out.  But I am in my Manticore, and I will certainly take a target if I can find one weak enough.

Our static connection links a C4 system.  C4b has a static C3, through which C3a has a lowsec exit.  It's fairly deep in lowsec, and far from Jita anyway.  Not helpful.  There were a couple characters in C3a apparently doing nothing, in a Loki and Proteus.  I watched them at a tower for a while as I scanned.

There's also a second C3 connected to C4b.  This one also has a lowsec static, but in this case it is usable in a pinch, being adjacent to highsec and about 16 jumps from Jita.  The lowsec system had four characters in it, so not great but not awful either.

There is one more system to try hanging off of C4b: a C2.  I left this one for last.  The good news here is that C2s that connect to C4s are almost always doing so through a static.  C2s are all dual static, and those with a C4 connection also have a highsec.  So I am guaranteed that.  The bad news is that pretty much all of the C2s with highsec statics are lived in, usually by fairly strong corporations.  (That's why I left it for last: so if I attracted attention on the far side with my probes from when I scanned down C4b, anyone trying to camp the hole coming in would have plenty of time to get bored.)  Let's see about this one.

I warp to the C2 and jump.  There's nobody at the wormhole, but dscan shows a lot of towers, force fields, and ships.  T3s, a couple Epithals, a Viator, other ships.  Lots of dead towers too; it appears this system is moon-locked.  It's not looking good for running goods, but it is possible all those ships are just sitting empty.  I'll find the Epithals first.

I move off and cloak, then use dscan to find two of the three Epithals at one planet.  I fly to that planet, which has three active towers.  I get lucky; the random moon I flew to has a tower where there is a Loki, manned.  Ugh.  Not looking good.  (I get the corp: Anomalous Existence.)  But I find the Epithals after some dscan work, and get in look range of their tower.  By the time I find them, there is just one.  I look around at all planets in range for the other, but it is not out gooing, at least not in range of me.  It might be at an outer planet, or it might have logged off.  I watch the other Epithal.  I try to use my force powers to suggest that it wants to move, but it remains stubbornly immobile.

I am sitting and watching for quite a while.  Meanwhile, I am also dscanning, and I can see that the other ships I have seen on scan are active.  Some disappear, others appear.  This system is altogether too active for my taste.

A second Epithal warps in to my tower.  So I watch both of them for a while.  Then the one that warped in logs out.  Oh well.  Back to the first one.  A Rapier logs in.

At this point I am starting to worry about getting back home.  So I figure I will scan out the highsec for possible future reference, then head back up.  I warp to the outer planet to fire probes... and land on an online tower again.  There is nobody at this one; it's just a reactor tower.  Still, there are ships on scan even out here.  I have not seen such a well-lived-in system.  I warp to a second moon, which has an offline tower.  Now I can fire probes.  I find a C2 connection, and nullsec.  The last of four sigs is the highsec.  I don't go out because I expect them to be watching.  I pull probes, then sit at the tower with the Epithal and watch it for a while.  Being boring.

Time to get out.  I can see the wormhole to C4b on dscan, and nobody is there.  (And no bubbles.)  They are not on the near side, anyway.  I wonder if there will be a Sabre on the far side.  I warp right to it, and jump.  I half expect something when I cross, but nobody is there.  I move off the wormhole and cloak, and I am safe.  Good for me.  Now I move out to 30km and just watch, orbiting the wormhole.  I am definitely not going to be moving goods with these people connected to my chain.  And all by myself, I am not going to pop our wormhole, either.  So, it looks like a slow night.  Time to surf the web.

I am doing other stuff for a while, when the wormhole sounds.  Let's see what it is.  It's a Falcon.  And a Sabre, a Proteus, a Stratios, and an Arazu.  They fleet warp off.  I can see the direction: it is  towards planet V and a bit down from it.  I wonder what's there?  I get the system map up, and check.  Ah, the wormhole to C3a.  Well, I want to see if they jump.  I pursue, warping to 30km from the wormhole.

I land on grid, and I see them.  I feel a bit exposed, since they may have more people warping up behind me.  I move off in the down direction to get off the ecliptic.  Then they all disappear.  The wormhole has not flashed nor sounded.  They did not jump; they must have cloaked.  OK.  Interesting. I get about 35km off the wormhole and down from it, then I sit and watch it.

Now a few minutes pass.  A new ship warps on grid: a Procurer.  A Procurer?  Ah, bait.  They must be trying to bait someone, probably the guys in C3a.  Was there an ore site?  The bait enters the wormhole.
Bait moves forward

Minutes pass.  Nothing seems to be happening.  Then the fleet uncloaks.
Falcon x2, Proteus, Sabre

They mostly sit; one orbits.  Perhaps they expect somebody to come across.  But this does not happen.

After a while, more of them warp up and park.
Falcon x2, Onyx, Proteus, Sabre, Sacrilege, Stratios, Vagabond

And then one by one, yet more warp up.  These are all T3s, presumably of the non-cloaky variety -- the better to kill stuff.
Falcon x2, Onyx, Legion x2, Proteus x3, Sabre, Sacrilege, Stratios, Vagabond
A Rattlesnake warps up too.  (No picture, sorry.)  Then suddenly, the wormhole flashes.  They are jumping, all of them.  I am left alone.  I consider jumping to follow, but I cannot do much against this fleet, and the risk is significant.  So I just sit.

Minutes go by.  A few more ships warp up individually and jump.  Then a pod comes through the other way.  Looks like they found someone.  I think about trying to get up close to ambush a pod, but even with my sebo I don't think I can lock fast enough, and again there is risk.  So I stay put.  A second pod crosses.  Then the Sacrilege returns.  More waiting.  And the Procurer.  I wonder whether someone took the bait or did they have to search further.

Finally the bulk of the fleet appears.  Presumably victorious, losing two of their number for more of some enemy.  A few more stragglers trickle out, then things are quiet.  I have not kept careful track.  But I think enough of them have left.  Curiousity gets the better of me and I go in to look around, to see if I can find any trace of a fight.

C3a has no wrecks anywhere.  I exit to lowsec to look around.  There is an ore site, which has a Gallente Frigate wreck in it.  This is not the fight I missed.  I drive up and loot it just on principle.  Then I cautiously warp home, none the wiser for what happened.

As I write this, a look at the killboards suggests they got a fight in a C4 that I had not even gotten to.  I think there was an EOL C4 connection off a C4 down there; maybe that was where it went down.

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