It's not that I'm going to engage this Hulk in my Helios but the truth is, most mining ships look like bait to me. Mostly because they often are. I got within viewing distance of this Hulk and found his mining lasers active but no drones out. Maybe suspicious but worth jumping back through the chain and getting in a more capable ship. Jump, jump, jump and into my trusty Nemesis. Jump, jump, jump, polarization be damned, and back into the Ore field but instead of a Hulk, I find an Occator. I fly an Occator. I know that it has built in stabs but the thrill of the hunt gets the better of me and I move quickly to engage with still only the Noctis on Dscan. Pew pew, the hardy Occator barely gets scratched in shields by my torpedos before the target calmly warps for home. I cloak and follow.
Wormhole resides are peculiar folk. They often hate wasting time and I suspect that if I am patient enough, this pilot may return to his belt to continue what I rudely interrupted. He reships to a Prospect and idles at the tower. I also fly a Prospect. I know it does not have the built in warp core stabilizers of its Venture cousin but it does have ample low slots that can be filled with more stabilizing power than even the Venture. I check my Nemesis' hold. I remembered to pack my mobile depot but not a warp scrambler to be found. I check the idling Prospect again. Jump, jump, jump. Back to home to scrounge up two scrams which may not be enough anyways but worth a shot. Jump, jump, jump. Return to the tower to see the Prospect still idling, but not for long. Pop. The warp sound rings and I see the Prospect fly off in the direction of the Ore Field. The hunt is on again!
I warp in to my previous position and see the Prospect setting up on a rock, lasers flying, engine humming. Orbiting is always an excellent safety mechanism for the w-space miner, something he was not doing in his Hulk. I move carefully through the rocks, making sure not to decloak myself and position myself along his orbit where I can move to intercept from the front, hopefully bumping him where I can apply scrams, slow him down, and apply my DPS. It all goes swimmingly except my combat experience or lack thereof begins to show. I had the right approach, I achieved the lock and applied my weapons but my use of orbit vs. approach was ill timed and resulted in my ship slowing and turning away from the target and him slow burning out of scram range. Truth be told, my torpedoes were not the right weapon system here either and my damage was anemic resulting in the pilot yet again escaping my clutches for the safety of his tower. I was determined now. I knew what I had to do.
Jump, jump, jump. Hello Astero.
My trust Astero that has been my go-to companion in my w-space adventures. I fitted him up for dual scram plus web and headed back to the hunting ground. At this point, either this guy was stupid if I found him in the field again or he was pretty certain that I was incompetent and wouldn't have any luck ruining his day. If that is what he thought, he was pretty much right. But I wasn't going to let that be the last word.
I returned and found him back to his mining in the Prospect. Back to my spot. Intercept course plotted. This would be a little trickier though. The Astero has a delay in targeting after decloak. As he came around, I moved right at him, again going for the bump and decloaked. This is where things get fuzzy. I got the lock, got the scrams, got the web, remembered to turn on my defenses in case he had a trick up his sleeve and set into a tight orbit. The drones were out and had no trouble eating through the Prospects meager defenses. I noticed I was taking damage but my PvP fog couldn't figure out where. As his ship exploded, I hurriedly hit warp thinking that a trap was inbound or already sprung. This is again where I failed to assess the situation.
As I warped out, I saw that the damage was coming from a Manticore. My target did indeed have friends, but the kind that I knew from direct experience only minutes before would have trouble dealing with a small frigate target like myself. Once my warp ended, I quickly returned to the field at a slight distance, uncloaked again, reconnected to my drones which the Manticore was apparently scooping and set them to attack. Startled, the Manticore quickly retreated because I had not engaged effectively. I had not been within scram range, had chosen the cautious approach, and denied myself a second kill. But with the field mine, I looted the wreck, made off with some goodies, and considered it a successful, albeit disappointing session.
Fast foward to Friday and we are preparing for "corp night" where we will PvE to fill the fuel coffers. I scout out our C5 static looking for choice gas or relic sites and find another odd sight. Two towers, two corps, same alliance but one is offline with ships floating at it and the other is fully active. I ping my corpmates and investigate this for a honeypot configuration. The tower is certainly anchored, not just online without a force field and the ships are your garden variety Ventures and a Tayra. I can't fly the Tayra but my alt can fly the Venture so I bring him in to test the situation. Warp, board, warp and I am the proud owner of a new, used Venture. My corpmates are ready now and there is a Personal Hanger as well as two SMAs to blow up all of which could contain untold riches.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Not exactly Blackbeard's treasure but enough. We make away with the collection of ships and chalk another one up to observant scouting.
Corp night went well with a zipped up hole and a dozen anomalies netting us a significant chunk of loot for the coffers. Being late I opted to wait for a convenient exit to take the loot out to market. The next evening I scanned our system and found our static C3 had a very nice high-sec in Rens. Doesn't get much more convenient than that so I loaded up the Occator and jumped it all out. On my return trip, however, I ran into a not so welcoming welcoming party.
In retrospect, my Occator was setup for Empire tanking as I like to call it. Hardners, reppers, relying on the natural bonuses of the ship to both to ride through a gank attempt and survive until Concord saves the day. It was not, however, set up for w-space escape using a full rack of stabs. I did have the micro jump drive but that is useless in an ambush where the attacker is on top of you with scrams. More learning to do. At least I didn't have the corp loot when they attacked, just some leftovers I was bringing back with me simply because I didn't want to mix personal and corp loot in a shipment.
Lastly, I had a great encounter with a Talwar that was doing things I had never seen in w-space. Kiting sleepers out to 200+ km from a Relic site then warping to the cans, hacking one while the sleepers slowboated back, warping out again to 200+ km once finished and repeating the process for the entire site. Not exactly how I would run a site but not all that different in principle than my C5 relic running. Needless to say, he did not tank my HICs railguns or bubble after using my alt as the warp in. I knew that attack was going to be tricky with the presence of 4 or 5 sleeper cruisers so I went with the tankier option than just using the Astero straight up. It also ensured a pod kill which is always an added bonus.
Encouraging encounters for a wormhole space which has, most recently, been very very quiet. I hope this is a sign of improved activity especially with the changes coming in Phoebe.