Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In a Tangle of Rocks

It's late.  We ran sites in our system, which is zipped up.  Then I spend time hauling PI goop.  I am going on a trip IRL, so I needed to get ahead on my PI.  But now, I'm done.  There's a half hour left before I need to head to bed.  Let's see what C4b has today.

I swap out the Epithal I was in for my Manticore.  Our static is bookmarked, but I don't fly directly there yet.  I want to be as close as possible to it before I instantiate it.  I warp to the closest planet, then align, and only then do I warp to the static.  Now I cross, and dscan from the wormhole.

Dscan shows a paladin and a shuttle.  No wrecks, and two force fields, so they are probably at one of those POSes.  Still, that's a better result than the nothing I usually get.  I slide off the wormhole, cloak, and start searching down the towers.  Dscan shows one of them at a planet with one moon.  OK, that's easy.  I warp over.  No ships here.  Bookmark and look for the other.  Eventually I find it at a planet with two moons.  My first guess is moon 2: wrong.  Moon 1 it is.  And sure enough, there are the ships.  The shuttle is empty as expected.  But the Paladin is manned.  That's... interesting.

What is a Paladin anyway?  Can I expect it to do anything?  A click or two and I am reminded that it is a marauder.  That's kind of good, in that it might start trying to run sites on its own.  But it's kind of bad, since I cannot kill it alone.  With a mobile tractor unit, a marauder can do sites completely solo, salvaging as it goes.

This train of thought leads me to look at the scanner again for sites.  There are very few sites here: four sigs and three ore sites.  There are no combat anoms at all.  So this guy has nothing to do.  (I wonder if I just missed some action as he cleaned out the system, just as we were cleaning out mine.)

Two of the ore sites are out near an outer planet, 33 AU from me.  So out of dscan range from here.  Now I am wonder whether this guy might be doing some mining.  I'll go out and check.

I randomly pick one of the ore sites and warp to it at 10km.  While still in warp, I dscan and can see there is a tower at the planet, and there's a Venture out here somewhere.  This gets me a little exited, until I land on grid and it's not there.  I narrow-beam dscan at the planet, and I am surprised to see the Venture is not there either.  How about the other ore site?  Yes, he's in the other ore site!

TARGET!  Woo!  Hunting time.

I warp to the ore anom at 10km, while I look in my cargo.  I need a second warp scrambler.  For a while I was carrying around a mobile depot and two extra warp scramblers.  The idea was to refit, so as to be able to catch Epithals (and Ventures).  But I never actually did refit like that, because finding Epithals is rare enough and when you do you almost never have time and/or the privacy for a leisurely refit.  Ventures, same deal.  Eventually I gave up carrying them around.

I land on grid, and there he is.
In a maze.
The Venture is deep in an awful tangle of rocks.  I am not sure I can even get in close to him where he is without being decloaked by an asteroid, but he is moving, apparently orbiting the rock he's mining.  I watch him hit a rock and slow to a crawl, then move around it and speed up.  I should be able to get close to him somewhere, although the movement does make it a bit iffy.

I am aware that the discovery scanner is, even now, blaring my likely presence across the system -- or anyway it will as soon as anyone updates his scanner.  The clock is ticking.  It makes hunting a bit tense.

The Manticore is the wrong ship here.  Even if I can get close and lock, torpedoes do poor damage against tiny little frigates, and especially bad damage if the thing moves fast.  Just like last time I got a Venture, I am going to have to go home and reship.  I've still got my ghostbusting Tengu and it is still a pretty good fit for killing Ventures, since it uses rapid light missile launchers.  It's got extra scramblers in cargo, and a painter, so it should kill the thing quick if I can lock it.  (And assuming it does not flee.)  I'll reship.  No time like the present, so I warp off to my static wormhole.

The paladin is still on scan, and nothing new, as I land on the wormhole and jump.  I hope he did not see that.  I expect he did not, because he's probably not dscanning; if he is doing anything at all it should be strobing the discovery scanner to find my wormhole.  That the Venture is still out mining suggests he has not done that, suggesting that he either does not know how it works or that he is AFK.

Back home, I warp across the system, get my Tengu, then spend a few moments refitting it.  Don't need the data analyzer or the cargo scanner.  Do need two warp scramblers.  Also, this may be a setup.  It does not look like bait, but you can never be sure.  Just to be safe I take off the 10mn microwarp and replace it with a 100mn afterburner.  Much better chance to escape with that, if it is a trap.  A sebo would be nice but I don't have one in cargo and I am not going to take the time to dig around our storage for one and a script.

Now I warp back to the wormhole and jump.  I'll be polarized, but I am not worried having seen no probes nor indication they know I am there.  Nobody at the wormhole.  But my dscan kills hope.  The Venture is in range.  Rats; the cursed discovery scanner has cost me this one.

Well, perhaps he is just dumping cargo.  And anyway I cannot leave right now because of polarization.  I might as well have a look.  I move off the wormhole, cloak, and warp to the POS the Paladin is at.  Sure enough, there's the Venture.
I sit and watch as it does nothing.  (The Paladin does nothing too.)  If it is just dumping off ore, it should be warping out almost immediately; dumping ore takes no time.  After a minute of nothing, I am sure I'm burned.  Since I've nothing to do, I look up the system at wormhol.es: it has a C3 static.  So, maybe I can scan out.  Actually my time is almost up.  I think I'll just wait my five minutes and head home.

As I think such thoughts, I am surprised to see my camera drop off the Venture and return to me.  Confused, I see the Venture align and it warps.  Just below and to the right of the sun -- yes, that's the direction the ore site is in.  Could he really be ignorant of my presence?  You never know.  I pursue, warping to the ore site at 10km again.

I land on grid, and he is only 12km off.  But he is rapidly moving back into the tangle of rocks.  I watch him zoom in, 35 km off, then arc around up and left.  Finally he turns on his beam, and seems to orbit a small hemorphite asteroid.
Not safe.  But how can I get in there cloaked?
Now raise my "Asteroids" tab on overview.  All the asteroids are at least 15km from me.  I head in, more or less straight at the hemorphite rock.  I watch the ranges slowly count down.  14, 13, 11, 9.  That's getting a bit close.  I stop and look around to see which asteroid it is.  It's a big omber one.  Then I turn and move somewhat to my right, trying to stay relatively far from the omber.  This works for a while but then I am getting close to another.  I stop when I am 7 km from both.  The Venture is just 15km... this close... but not close enough.  It's moving away from me though.  

I think I am close enough.  I hate to wait -- discovery scanner -- but I am going to have to let him come to me at least a bit.  So I wait.  I watch as he loops away from me, and hits a big rock.  He is slowed for minute, but then move to my left at speed and hits another rock.  He's only 12km off.  I think this may be my opening.  I regret not taking the time to find a sebo now, but there's nothing to be done about it.

Go time.
I start moving towards him, and the asteroids are getting close.  5km.  But now I am within 10km of him, so I am pretty sure I will be in scrambler range when I uncloak.  Closer: rocks at 3km.  He's at 7.  Good range.  I uncloak, or try to; I think the rock uncloaked me.  Did I lose time?  I start trying to lock; can't due to decloak delay.  Try again.  Etc.  I start locking him.  Now I get my systems on: two warp scramblers, painter, and finally light missiles.  Will he warp in time?

He does not warp in time.  He's locked, and two rounds of missiles do the job.  I am ready, and start locking the pod immediately.  He's stunned (or more likely just raising his window as he hears the beeps of his doom), and does not make it out.  Podded.  Totally empty pod; he's not a fool.

Now I think about my own safety, and turn on my tank as well as dscanning.  Nothing on scan.  OK, I collect a small amount of loot, then the corpse, then finally pack in hemorphite until I am full.  Then I burn off away from the asteroids so I can cloak.  I linger briefly in the site to see if there will be any response (I doubt it), and there isn't.  Then I notice the time and go home to log out.

1 comment:

  1. nice kill. Solo hunting a miner with a T3 in an occupied hole - brass ones. Congrats


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