I've popped a hauler without even knowing where it's come from. That seems a little impolite, so I'm heading the way it was, before it fled my unwanted advances, to see if I can rectify the situation. I assumed this class 4 w-space system was the end of the constellation, as it leads to a class 2 system that itself leads to our own home system and high-sec empire space, but apparently not. I didn't scan earlier, but now I will. Still no one local is home, and the pod of the hauler is nowhere to be seen, so it's just me and my probes. At least, until I resolve a K162 from class 3 w-space. Maybe I'll find a capsuleer or two through there.
Hello! A Tengu strategic cruiser, Legion strategic cruiser, Dominix battleship, Abaddon battleship, Navy Apocalypse battleship and Drake battlecruiser is more than a capsuleer or two. That's a fully fledged fleet, and without a tower in sight! It's also too much for me to handle alone, but with all the wrecks visible on my directional scanner, after a minor adjustment, I imagine this fleet will have a salvager flying in their wake. I can wait for him. All I have to do is move away from the wormhole, activate my cloak, and run the on-board scanner to find all the anomalies here. All two of them. Hmm.
The fleet isn't in either anomaly, which means I'll have to scan their position in whatever magnetometric or radar site they're in. I warp out, launch probes, and head back to where I know the fleet is, now with added Thrasher. I suspect the destroyer is the salvaging vessel, which is rather an old school method of sweeping up. It's also harder to catch and pop than a Noctis salvager, as well as cheaper, which I hope makes up for the hassle of salvaging the hard way. The bigger, combat ships are warping away, which I realise as I start to get a bearing on the site. That's both good and bad. It's good that the fleet isn't guarding their salvager, but bad in that my probes won't have any particularly massive ships to lock on to. I'll have to be more accurate with my scanning.
As I try to locate the site using d-scan I occasionally spread the beam wider. A Tengu is loitering somewhere, as is a Helios covert operations boat. A Manticore enters the system, and I think that the Thrasher will have protection, particularly when the stealth bomber apparently warps in to the site with the destroyer, but I'll find out soon enough. I call my probes in to scan and get a solid hit first time on the Thrasher, giving me a coordinate to warp to and bookmark, even if the radar site and Manticore remain quite fuzzy. The Thrasher is salvaging, unsurprisingly, but it looks like the Manticore is hacking the Sleeper databanks. Okay, I didn't expect that, but I'm cool with it.
Standard stealth bombers aren't normally much of a threat by themselves. But if the Manticore has a warp disruptor fitted and has friends nearby for assistance I could be in trouble if I ambush the Thrasher. The Navy Slicer now on d-scan doesn't help my nerves. As a ship, it's still not much direct threat to me, but as an interceptor-like fast frigate it could hold me in place long enough for the big guns to arrive and easily pop me. Still, nothing ventured, nothing destroyed in a fireball.
I warp in to the Thrasher, decloaking when I am close, and get a positive lock. I disrupt his warp engines and web the ship to what I hope is a crawl. As I shoot the Thrasher the Manticore locks on and shoots me, but he's not stopping me warping clear yet. I concentrate on the destroyer, aligning back out to my safe spot nearby in case trouble warps in, and watch as my missiles wear through the shields, armour, structure. The Thrasher's thrashed and explodes. The pilot's pod warps clear almost immediately, but I can stay a bit longer. I transfer my point and launchers across to the Manticore, as I notice that my vector out of the site happily coincides with the ex-Thrasher's. I'll be grabbing the loot whilst I'm here.
I examine the wreck and—woo!—I may have hit the jackpot. Lots of Sleeper loot has survived, all of it scattered around. I select it all, scramble to deselect the metal scraps, and transfer it across to my hold. Two seconds later, the Manticore stops shooting me long enough to pop the wreck of the Thrasher I've just looted. It looks like he saw what I was doing and wanted to deny me my spoils. And as I left the metal scraps behind the wreck wouldn't look empty to the Manticore pilot, making him think he was successful. Nope, denial denied! I got it all, thank you.
Thinking his job is done, the Manticore turns and flees. Still aware that help could warp in at any moment, I think about fleeing too. But, somewhat against my better judgement, I turn back towards the Manticore and get my micro warp drive hot, burning in his direction to close the gap. He is still caught by my warp disruptor and clearly started moving to get out of its range. But I'm faster. I close to within ten kilometres and get my web on the stealth bomber, at which point he can kiss his ship goodbye. A few volleys of my assault missiles rips his tiny hull apart, and this time I nearly catch his pod. He gets clear, though, and so do I.
I warp back out to my monitoring point, cloaking as soon as I can, and wait to see what happens. Actually, I'll count my loot, the loot that the Manticore thinks he denied me. Oh, that looks much better when stacked, particularly as I can now see the salvage that also survived. A hundred and twenty-one million ISK in loot, a hundred and twenty million ISK in salvage. That's beautiful, so very beautiful. And it's mine. If only that damned Slicer would disappear off d-scan I'd go back for the Manticore wreck, particularly once the site despawns after a few minutes of inactivity.
The Slicer didn't exactly come to the aid of either ship, and I have no idea where the fleet is, but I saw a Purifier stealth bomber appear on d-scan when I was shooting the Manticore, so I can't be entirely sure it's safe to loot the remaining wreck. I'd like to think the fleet would send another ineffective stealth bomber at me, but most of my targets wise up after the first attack. And it looks like these are no exception. A Drake entering the system piques my interest, as do the host of Sleeper wrecks still floating around somewhere that I have been oblivious to so far. I suppose once I found all the ships I didn't think to look for anything else, nor did I need to in the end.
It looks like the Drake is acting as salvager, which seems both sensible and probably more than my solo Tengu can pop. And here's the Slicer, warping in to the now no-longer radar site. And there he goes again. What a twonk. Quite why he left the Manticore wreck alone is beyond me, but now seems like the best time to loot it myself, so I warp in, grab the datacores and decryptors the Manticore had recovered from the databanks, and shoot the wreck before warping out again.
That's another little chunk of ISK for me, thank you. Seeing a pair of Rifter frigates on d-scan helping the Drake makes me think it's time to leave. I can happily ignore them.
Rule 1: Never go back.
Rule 2: Definitely never go back with a quarter of a billion ISK in your hold.
My only concern now is getting out of the system safely. I have to expect that the fleet knows of the T405 wormhole back to the class 4 system, but pointing d-scan at it shows there to be no ships obviously waiting for me. I warp across, jump, and get clear on the other side without any threat. Maybe there are more wormholes to find in that C3—although that would make shooting Sleepers a pretty risky proposition in the first place—or maybe the fleet is merely guarding its route home. Hang on a second, that's reminding me of something. Ah! I was looking for the Badger's home system. Meh, I don't really care any more. I got myself two good kills and am a quarter of a billion ISK richer. Bye, chaps! We should do this again sometime.