We've chased away a Loki and got ourselves a quiet w-space constellation again. Now it's time to make some iskies. Our neighbouring class 3 system has plenty of anomalies to plunder but I would prefer to eradicate the last of the Sleepers at home, a couple of anomalies sprouting up since the last intruders came through. Besides which, it puts us a further jump away from the shooed strategic cruiser, making us a little safer. Glorious leader Fin suggests collapsing our static wormhole first, to isolate us better, but I think that's unnecessary.
Actually, it's more that collapsing the wormhole will take time that I don't want to do it. I am feeling a little muddled and perhaps have enough energy to clear the anomalies or collapse the wormhole, but not both. And as collapsing the wormhole is not today an end in itself there seems little point doing so and then going off-line, so I'm happy to jump straight in to our Tengu strategic cruisers and warp towards the first of the two anomalies. Maybe I'm a little too muddled to even engage Sleepers, as I appear in the anomaly by myself, Fin asking which one I went to, and I don't know if I initiated an individual or squad warp command.
Fin catches up with me just in time, warping in to the anomaly as I am aligning out, my shields dropping below 10% as she activates her remote shield transfer module. My Tengu's defences come back up to full strength within a few cycles and now it's smooth sailing. The anomalies are familiar to us, we know the triggers for each wave of Sleepers, we know which Sleepers to shoot first, and we know how to avoid the worst of their EWAR and to mitigate enough of their missile damage to survive. It all gets to be much the same each time, and finds me distracting myself in our public communication channel.
And I am still distracted when the hostile fleet warps in to the anomaly. Only far later than I should have reacted do I try to warp both Fin and I out of the site, immensely pleased to see Fin warp clear, our current direction of travel in relation to the Sleepers putting us in close alignment towards our tower. I, however, am not so lucky, the warp bubble of the Onyx heavy interdictor activating and trapping me like an insect in amber, as the predators start to swarm towards me. I note with some chagrin that our acquaintance in the Loki is with them, having guided the fleet to our system, perhaps to mete out some vengeance for our earlier impertinence.
I am near the edge of the warp bubble, giving me hope that I can still get clear, and I burn as hard as my Sleeper Tengu can manage, but it's not enough. I get clear of the HIC's bubble but now have half-a-dozen other warp disruption effects preventing my engines from engaging, and I'm not going to be out-pacing the fast ships that have closed to within a couple of kilometres. I am a sitting duck, shields dropping fast, armour disintegrating as only a Caldari ship's armour can, and still I don't have the presence of mind to eject and prevent the skill point loss. I remain in the ship as Pengu, my first strategic cruiser and stalwart of Sleeper combat for a long time, explodes around me.
At least Pengu managed to get me out and stay out of the warp bubble. My ejected pod warps cleanly away from the hostile fleet, leaving behind the Onyx, Loki, three Tengus, Drake battlecruiser, and Scimitar logistics ship brought out here to teach us a lesson about how to catch a strategic cruiser. It's a good lesson too. I needed to learn it. The quiet summer period, with almost no one around, has made me complacent in my approach to w-space operations. Fin said we should collapse the wormhole, and we should have. Of course, maybe our big ships would have been intercepted on the wormhole, if the fleet had been fast enough, but at least we'd have been paying attention. I spent most of the Sleeper combat looking elsewhere.
Had I been refreshing my directional scanner more frequently I would have seen the ships warping in to the anomaly, giving us plenty of time to react. Instead I only started fleeing when the ships appeared on my overview, and even then I took a couple of seconds before I realised what was happening. An amusing aspect is that had we gone to the C3 to shoot Sleepers I would have been more paranoid, watching d-scan more intently, concerned that being out of the home system for some reason is inherently less safe. It is less safe, I suppose, but only because of the wormhole jump needed to get home, all the other risks and dangers are present regardless of the w-space system you're in.
Shooting Sleepers isn't boring. The actual combat may be, but there is plenty that needs paying attention to. The number of pilots I chastise for getting involved in an activity when a hostile ship has already been spotted keeps growing, and today I join their ranks. The Loki was a threat, and we should have mitigated that threat. I should have. Fin wanted to. I'm glad Fin got away, this wasn't her mistake. And I'm kind of glad I didn't, in a way. It is an expensive way to learn it, but I need this complacency purged from my system, even at the cost of losing Pengu. For now, both of us board our covert ships and hide, watching remotely as the fleet clears the anomaly, shoots the wrecks to deny us any loot, and leaves the system. Job's a good 'un.