I'm returning home through empty w-space after a scanning expedition. I had to divert through low-sec empire space to continue the constellation, but finding an outbound connection to class 5 w-space only led to unoccupied and empty systems. The occupation I've come across tonight has been in spurs from our neighbouring C3, both through N968 wormholes to more class 3 w-space, but the only activity has been a few ship movements, all detected and none seen. I'm ready to call it a night and go off-line, but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least poke the nose of my covert Tengu strategic cruiser through the two outbound wormholes to look for changes.
Hello, four Drakes and a lot of drones certainly looks like a change in the first of the two systems I check. The battlecruisers would be a change in itself, the presence of drones suggests they are also shooting Sleepers, so although I can't handle four Drakes alone there may be a salvager to come that I could ambush. Unfortunately, the Drakes must be updating d-scan regularly as the drones disappear soon followed by the Drakes leaving the system, shortly after I move away from the wormhole and cloak. Oh well, at least I know they're not local.
I still have a slight advantage here. The number of Sleeper wrecks amount to several anomalies' worth of destruction, which means that a salvager hasn't been clearing up behind the fleet, and they are unlikely to want to leave so much unrealised profit behind. The fleet may even realise that having left the anomalies to despawn makes their locations impossible to find without using combat probes to scan a ship actually in the site, and they may feel safe enough to take the risk of sending in a salvager. My advantage is that I was here earlier and took the trouble of bookmarking all the anomalies, just for this kind of eventuality. All I have to do now is wait for the salvagers to appear.
I keep a close watch on d-scan as I reconnoitre each despawned anomaly and make better bookmarks. D-scan may have alerted the fleet of my presence but it works both ways, and I can see what the fleet is bringing in to counter my Tengu. I hope it's only a flimsy stealth bomber, but all I see to start with are a Punisher frigate and Thrasher destroyer. I find it hard to believe that the pilots are having the destroyer salvage whilst protected by a puny frigate, and thankfully my faith in all pilots not being complete idiots is restored when a Falcon recon ship blips on d-scan before cloaking. Now the first two ships warp in to a despawned anomaly, no doubt relying on the ECM of the Falcon to let them escape should I attack. Despite the protection employed, I won't disappoint them.
Continuing to monitor d-scan for further ships I warp in to the despawned anomaly to get a better look at what's happening, seeing both the Thrasher and Punisher salvaging, albeit rather slowly compared to a Noctis. The dedicated salvager is also rather bulky and can take a relatively long time to flee, when compared to these smaller hulls, which perhaps explains the choice of ships. If I have a shot, it will be brief one way or another, and probably interrupted by the Falcon, but I'm going to give it a go. For my first target I pick the Punisher, for no other reason than I hope to pop it pretty quickly. I warp in, drop my cloak, and target the frigate as soon as my sensor systems finish recalibrating themselves.
The Punisher burns away from me, a bit faster than my Tengu can manage, but it doesn't matter. The Falcon decloaks about thirty kilometres away and locks on to my ship, jamming my targeting systems almost immediately. I'm not surprised, either by the recon ship's appearance or its successful ECM, and I simply turn my Tengu around and warp back to my vantage point a couple of hundred kilometres away, recloaking as soon as I enter warp. Both salvaging boats have fled, the Falcon disappearing again soon after I'm out of sight, and it looks like the ships leave the system. Not much happens for a few minutes, so I take advantage of my disrupting influence to start looting wrecks in a different anomaly to earn some iskies for my efforts, but I only empty three wrecks before a Cormorant destroyer appears on d-scan.
I hide again and try to locate the new destroyer, feeling sure that he is only back to help spring a trap. Sure enough, here is a Hurricane battlecruiser on d-scan. Instead of merely keeping their pilots safe, the fleet wants its loot and the wreck of my Tengu. Then again, the Cormorant is back in the anomaly where I was shooed by the Falcon and the Hurricane is in a different anomaly. Maybe the battlecruiser is just another salvaging ship. And even if he isn't, I must have a good few missile volleys in me before he can come to the aid of the Cormorant. Today's a good day to die, I'm going in again.
I warp to the Cormorant's position, decloak, and gain a positive target lock. The destroyer starts burning away from me much as the Punisher did, but I can just about match his speed, if not agility, which would mean more if I had reacted more quickly. I am concerned about the Hurricane warping in and don't want to be caught blindly chasing the Cormorant to my doom. But my hesitance means the destroyer pulls out of my heavy assault missile range, and only just breaks free of my warp disruptor as I match and perhaps start to exceed its speed. Thankfully, this works to my benefit, as the Falcon reappears flanked by a second recon ship, a Pilgrim.
Of course, the fleet is more prepared now and acting aggressively, not just defensively. But their bait isn't actually bait, it was a salvaging destroyer, and his successful attempt to break free lets me escape too. The Cormorant just out-ranges my warp disruptor and activates his warp drives to flee, which drops his reciprocal target lock on my Tengu. And when his lock drops from my ship I am free to cloak, which I am able to do as I chased the destroyer away from any wrecks that may have interfered. Safely cloaked I head at best speed to the wormhole leading homewards, the Hurricane warping in to join his colleagues as my ship is still making its turn.
The hostile ships can do nothing once I cloak. There is nothing for their sensors to lock on to, and they are too far away to try to interfere physically. I shouldn't have taken the second shot, as I already know I should never go back, and it is only luck that lets me escape. Had the ships appeared a few seconds earlier, or the Cormorant not have entered warp for another couple of seconds, I might have been toast. As it is, I am glad that inexperience was working on both sides of the engagement, mine for attacking a second time and theirs for not being willing to sacrifice a mere destroyer for a strategic cruiser. My beeline to the wormhole sees no ships waiting to intercept me, and it is a simple trip across one more w-space system before I am home, where I get myself safe and go off-line. No kill today, but no stupid death either.