Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cat? Mouse?

It's late in the eeevening... the EVE-ning... time for some pixel violence.  If only popping a few NPCs.  But there's always the hope that people are playing where I can get at them.

I log on, as usual in my Manticore off in a quiet corner of my system.  The system map shows there is just one sig our in our system.  I look for a wormhole bookmark, and there is one.  So I won't need to fire probes, and I cloak up.  A look at corp chat shows Jeedmo is on.  He's evidently been out exploring.  Good; I won't have to.

I wave, he waves.  We start talking.  It seems that we have some guests in our system.  Jeedmo was out exploring, saw them, then watched the hole cloaked.  At that point there was a cloaky scout in our system.  Then he logged in his alt at our tower and got in an Epithal.  After that he saw an Astero enter our system.  I commend him on this idea: obviously the scent of planet-gooer in the water brings sharks.  Of course, there's no use in attracting sharks unless you have a way to kill them.  Right now, we don't.

And there is also a third ship in our system: a Prophesy.  It's circling our wormhole.  I warp over to look: yes, sure enough.  It stops and puts out some Gardes.  I look up the info on the ship type: Amarr ship, lasers and drones.  I am not attacking a drone boat in my Manticore.  So I start to think about ships at our tower I might use.  But that's premature.

There's two problems with attacking the Prophesy.  First, I assume they have eyes on my tower; if I switch ships, then presumably they will see it and have the option to bail if they don't like the potential matchup.  That's no win for me, and a lose if they do like the matchup.  The second problem is worse: I have no idea what's on the other side of the wormhole.  And if my experience in wspace has taught me anything, it is that you never, never engage someone on a wormhole unless you have eyes on the other side, or otherwise have good reason to believe that nothing is there.  In this case, it's their system over there.  So first order of biz here is to get eyes on.  But there's a problem with this, too: I can't get across the wormhole without being seen.

I watch the Prophesy for a minute or two, as I try to think of something that would work yet not too risky.  Before I think of anything, he pulls his Gardes then heads at the wormhole, and leaves.

OK, that's my cue.  They may have eyes on the wormhole.  But at least I don't see any.  It's as good a time as any to get in their system.  I log on my alt, Otto, who's in his exploration Cheetah.  He warps to the wormhole and jumps.  Nothing on the other side.  He moves off to orbit the wormhole cloaked.  Now I have my eyes on the wormhole.

I also have eyes on their tower -- sort of.  With dscan, Otto can see the Prophesy and a Venture there.  Uh, a Venture?  What?  Jeedmo has been to the tower, and tells me the Venture is sitting there empty.  OK, mystery solved.  There may be cloaky ships out, of course, but I think I have a decent picture of where things are.  It appears the enemy has perhaps four characters, perhaps two guys playing them.

With eyes on, I can see there is not a fleet sitting on the wormhole waiting to jump on anything I do.  I can also see no fleet sitting at their tower, or otherwise within 14 AU.  So, I have a wider range of things I might do.  I start to think about that.  I also ping Jayne via text.  No answer.

I think there is a chance we can bait out the Astero.  Asteros are good ships for hunting Epithals in, since they armor tank and have four midslots to pack in the silly number of warp scramblers needed to overcome the inevitable three or four warp core stabilizers that all non-stupid pilots use on their Epithals.  But Asteros also turn on a dime and are very fast; they can escape easily given almost any warning.  The only ship we have that I think would have a chance is our Sabre.  It's not quite as fast as the Astero, so it would eventually be outranged.  But a web would work.  I could take off the sebo for the web.

The big problem with the Sabre is that I am not in it, and I can't get in it without them seeing.  (Probably.  Assuming they are hunting at all, they should be watching my tower.)  So, I start to think of a plan to get the Astero off the tower.  Here's how: my tower sits at the outer planet of my system, 20AU away from the rest.  So, we get our bait Epithal ready, then make a run to one of the other planets.  A fake run: go to a moon instead.  Hopefully the Astero sees it align, then warps to the CO.  It finds nothing.  The Epithal returns home.  Meanwhile, I warp home, get in the Sabre, then fly to the CO of our outer planet and cloak.  Then, after a wait to let the Astero re-acquire the Epithal, we fly it to the same CO.  And we see what happens.

I get Jeedmo on coms, and I am about to start explaining this plan.  But then Jayne logs in.  He logs in at the tower, twice, with Tengu and Stratios.  Well, that's awkward.  On the one hand, it makes things a bit easier, since I have more force on my team.  I won't have to go there to change.  On the other, it will make our guest a lot more skittish about engaging.

I get Jayne on coms and explain the situation.  Then Timmay logs in, at the tower, in a Proteus.  Oh well, the more the merrier.  We get him on coms too.

As we do this, Otto at the wormhole sees something.  A Loki appears at the wormhole and jumps.  I relay the info, then see the Loki on the other side with Von.  I assume it will move off and cloak, and I am starting to think about if we can take it and the Astero.  (We can.)  But then the wormhole flashes again.  Did it go back through?  Otto sees it warp off.  It went back.  I don't know what was up with that.  I guess he decided it was too risky, or maybe he got called off by real life.  (EVE is played by real people, who sometimes do things that are inexplicable from within the game.)

My new plan is similar to the first one, but a bit more straightforward.  The plan is: the Epithal makes its fake run, then goes to the nearby CO, and if it gets engaged, we all jump in and kill kill kill.  Seems good enough.  Timmay gets the Epithal, since it turns out Jeedmo's alt can't run a warp scrambler yet.   I warp my Manticore to one of our tower perches, so that I can warp in to the tower and reship as quickly as possible when things start happening.

Now we execute the plan.  Timmay runs out and back to a moon as specified.  Then he waits a bit -- it takes time to load and unload PI goo -- and warps to the outer planet's CO.  Nothing happens.  Waiting too long makes the baiting obvious, so I tell him to come on back.  He returns.  Everyone comes up with the joke to tell him to "fly casual".

I tell him to go to another CO.  Now we are slightly off plan.  This CO is in the inner system, so it is closer to our static wormhole (and thus to the enemy's assumed reinforcements), and further from us.  But I figure what's the worst outcome?  We spring the trap, lose the Epithal and the enemy escapes.  It's just an Epithal.  And maybe Timmay's pod.  But we'll buy him a new one.

Timmay warps to the CO, then pauses... and nothing happens.  Again, he turns and comes back to a chorus of "fly casual".  Jayne is beat from a long day, so we'll try one more CO.  Timmay warps, lands, and sits.  Nothing.  He warps back home.  That's disappointing.  We go through all the trouble to put out bait and they don't take it!

Jayne and Tim log off.  We have a connection to lowsec on the other side of C4b, but I am not keen to use it with the enemy still sitting at his tower, and maybe with a cloaked Loki out there, and maybe in my system.  Instead, I'll take the opportunity to go do combat exploration in highsec.  My Jita alt is gearing up for standings-scummage.  The new Gila makes it absurdly easy to do combat sites with minimal skills.  I get Otto back home, fly to the middle of nowhere and log out.  Then I log in my Jita alt and start exploring.

Meanwhile, as Von I watch our wormhole.

I chat with Jeedmo for a bit longer, but he is also tired from a long week, and he logs off.  (I suspect the prospect of PVP was already keeping him on longer than he wanted.)  I'm alone.

Von does not see anyone leave for two hours, although I am AFK for several chunks of that.

In the end, I am left in the dark about what happened.  Was that Astero still in my system, and laid off the bait?  (If you are reading, mysterious Astero pilot, I salute your spider sense.)  Did the Astero slip out somehow?  With no local, there is simply no way to know.  The whole thing could have been an elaborate pantomime for no audience at all.   Does it really matter whether he was there?  I amused myself thinking of how to trap him.  We amused ourselves quite a bit putting on the show.

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