Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Run Through Indian Country

Nevermore
It's a new day, and we still don't have our Ravens.  That means, hole rolling time.  But not yet.

I log in and check the probe scanner.  Two signatures.  One will be our static, but what is the other?  Perhaps nice connection from C2?  One way to find out.  I warp out and launch probes.  The first site I scan is our static.  I bookmark the sig but I don't fly to it; I don't want to unzip yet.  The second sig is a gas site.  Well, I am glad I did not instantiate our static.  Since I am here alone anyway, I think I will just slurp some gas while I wait for Jayne to show up.

I activate the gas site immediately on finding it.  Then I do stuff on the second monitor, safe in my POS, waiting for the sleepers to show up.  After about 20 minutes, I warp over in a Drake.  There they are, two sleeper cruisers.  And here are my Scourge missiles.  Oh yeah, and hobgoblins.  Pound, pound, buzz buzz buzz.  (Those latter are my imagined drone noises -- bees.)  The sleepers are both dead and I return in a light salvager to salvage.  But no nice nanoribbons.  All told, I get about 500 thousand ISK.  Woo!

Now the site is clear, and I get a Venture gas miner and put it in orbit of the C72 cloud, and start sucking.  I am ice mining on the other monitor.  Boring squared; time to read a book.  I can bat an eye at the discovery scanner every few minutes and it should be good enough.  So long as no new sigs appear, I am zipped up and 99% safe.  Even if a new sig does appear, the site has to be scanned down, and I am moving, and I have +2 warp core stabilization.  So, it should take at least a minute or two for even the best ganker to kill me.

After about 20 minutes, Jayne shows up.  He usually does PI immediately, so I watch his characters come and go for a bit as his PI alts are logged on and off.  Once things stabilize I tell him about the gas and he joins me at the gas site.  The mining is much faster with three, and techII miners.  Soon we are done, the gas clouds are gone, and sig vanishes.  Back to a nice, tidy one signature. 

Now it's time to start searching for a decent route in to import our Ravens.  I bought the Ravens yesterday; they are all ready to go in Jita, just waiting for a transshipment station to point the freighter at.  Let's see what C3a has today.

I open the hole by flying to it in my cloaky Tengu.  We have not fleeted yet, so we pause to do that.  Now Jayne can warp to me, and both of us can enter C3a.  Staticmapper, tell us highsec static!  Bzzt.  Sorry, try again.  It's lowsec yet again.  Well, there are eight sigs to look for.  We do that.  None are highsec.  Two are lowsec.  Where do they go in kspace?  Jayne pops out to look.  The better one is 26 jumps to Jita and 5 of them lowsec.  Not good enough.  Time to roll.

We back out and spike the hole.  It dies when it is predicted to, without drama.  Then we scan down the new hole, and go in.  Excellent -- highsec!  There is no live tower on dscan from the wormhole, but there are warp bubbles.  Strange.  The outer planet is outside of dscan range, so I warp out to have a look.  Uh oh.  Two active towers out here, and there are ten ships on scan, and not types one normally sees idling at towers.  There is a variety of combat ships including an Onyx.  And there are warp bubbles, and I see some cans and drones.  These guys may have a trapped tower.

I dscan from the moon I am at to locate the towers among the 6 moons.  The larger tower with six ships at it is at one moon, with lots of bubbles and assorted cans that might decloak me.  Another moon has the other tower, and it has no bubbles.  I figure that even if the locals do have traps set up around their POS, they are unlikely to have trapped the direct warp between the two POSes, since they probably want to do that.  So I warp to the safe moon first.  There is a medium POS with four ships, including the Onyx, and all are manned.   I report the manned ships on coms.  These guys seem ready for PVP.  Could it just be PVE?

Jayne has been scanning down the the system.  He reports that he has found the highsec static -- and it is completely warp-bubbled.  My first thought is that the guys are gearing up to run sites.  Maybe we can gank someone.  But what about that other tower?  Are those ships manned or not?

Not literally
I fly over, prepared to try to GTFO if I fall out of warp at a bubble and there is something close.  But there is no such problem.  Instead I see a tower in a bubble-wrap.  It has a reinforcement timer with about four hours left.  Suddenly my gestalt shifts: this is not a corp gearing for PVE action, but a siege!  Sure enough, I get info on the owner of the tower, and the ships.  They are different.  The siege appears to be a Russian corp, judging by the Cyrillic in the corp description.  That, and the timer, suit me.  It's about nine PM for me; that means in Moscow it is about five AM.  The ships we see have got to be a skeleton crew manning the siege to prevent breakouts before the timer exits.

It would kind of fun to stay around to see what happens, but I don't intend to be awake in 4 hours.  And also the Russians would probably at least bubble cage our hole, and probably pop it, to prevent us doing exactly what we might try to do if they let us.  Can we get good PVP?  Maybe, but these guys seem ready for PVP and there are a lot more of them than us.  They've already scouted us.  Nope, not good odds.  Declined.

We cannot use the highsec here.  So we are going to pop it ourselves.  It's ironic.  First highsec we get in a long time, and we can't use it.

Meanwhile, Hiljah has logged in.  This is good -- we can use two Orcas now.  So this time I let Jayne and Hiljah do the popping, while I sit in C3a and watch the wormhole and dscan.  As I tell the guys, it is unlikely that the Russians will attempt to gank us.  They don't want this connection, so as soon as they realize we are popping it (which the Orcas make clear enough), they will probably just leave us alone.  Of course they might not, and so we have me on this side, and a Falcon and Scorpion on the other.  Opsec is important.

Just as the first Orca warps to the wormhole, Jayne reports a stealth bomber in our system at the wormhole.  It traverses the wormhole.  He says attack, but I cannot lock a bomber in time, so I don't bother to try.  The bomber moves away from the wormhole and cloaks.  I expect the pilot entered our system and watched until our Orca made it clear what we were planning to do.  The Orca jumps and jumps back.  Then after a bit, the second Orca and Scorpion.

Now we wait for polarization to abate.  Dscan, dscan, etc.  Nothing on grid and nothing on dscan.  Now another Scorpion pass, and then the final Orca.  I come through just before the end.  The outward pass of the Orca destabilizes the wormhole to critical, and all is well.  The return pass pops it.

Well, we are now back to square zero.  I have my probes out even before the Orca returns, ready to search.  It takes a few moments for the discovery scanner to realize the wormhole is gone, and for the new wormhole to be created.  Then I scan it down.  I warp over, and others warp to me.  We enter.

Jayne groans as he reports the results of the staticmapper lookup: lowsec.  I am intrigued to see two ships on dscan.  There's also two towers, so the ships are probably sitting at one empty.  I'll find out.  Are they at a tower?  I narrow-beam dscan and look around.  OK, inner three planets have no moons at all.  There's a single moon on planet 4: yes, there they are.  In fact, this whole system has only two moons, total.  I know where the other tower is if I need to go there.  But I warp to the tower with the ships.

The ships are manned.  But they are just sitting there.  Their alignment tells me they have not been idle too long, so that is encouraging.  But after a minute and they are not moving, I tell the guys to start scanning.

Scan, they do.  Quickly they find a nullsec, and the static lowsec.  Jayne pops out for a look.  There's good news and bad news.  Good news is: we are 6 jumps from Jita!  Bad news: three of them are lowsec and it's faction warfare (which generally means more pilots).  But we might be able work with this.  I ask Jayne to scout the systems to the edge of highsec.  There are few people in each system, but no camps at gates.  OK, good enough.

At Jita, my alt buys 16 warp core stabilizers, and throws them in the freighter with the Raven parts.  All told, about 750 million in ships and parts.  Now I undock and trudge towards Nourvukaiken.

Meanwhile, I see one and then the other of the two pilots in C3a log out.  OK, that is handy.  No interference.

Freighting in highsec is semi-AFKable, so while I do that, I return to our home tower and ditch my Tengu.  We will pod out with four pilots to fly in our four Ravens.  Pods are almost uncatchable in lowsec, so it should be pretty safe getting to highsec.  It is the other way I worry about.  On the way out, I notice that the last lowsec system is Tama.  Tama!  It's notoriously camped, and there are 17 pilots in local.  But they are not at the gate.  No change of plans.

My alt is the first to the transshipment station.  But soon Von is there and trades him for all four Ravens and parts.  I assemble the Ravens, imaginatively naming them "Raven 1", "Raven 2", etc.  It is a real station, not a POS, so save/restore fittings works here.  That makes the process faster.  The Ravens' lowslots get a damage control and four warp core stabilizers.  Let the pirates chew on that!

Holy Ravens, Batman!
The other guys arrive in pods or rookie ships, and I hand out Ravens.  Now we are ready to go, and it's time for our mad dash across lowsec.  I fleet warp us to the Tama gate.  We jump in and... there is one pirate at the gate, red, in a Navy Hookbill.  He can't do anything to us: he won't have three scramblers fit.  And even if he did, if he aggresses the gate guns will kill him.  Conversely, we cannot do anything to him, either.  With four warp core stabs fit, our lock time on a frigate is probably 2 minutes.  We warp without interference.  I am a bit concerned about the second system -- there might have been time for a gang to organize -- but nobody is there.  And we sail on through, and finally back into the safety of wspace.  When we get back I see a local has noticed us on his dscan.

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