I need different ammunition for my Loki, which means another trip to empire space. One strategic cruiser will have to wait for another, though, as it's all quiet at home, Fin's here, and the system is bustling with Sleepers. We could probably do with making some ISK, at least to keep the wallet ticking upwards when we can, so we board our Sleeper Tengus and get going. One anomaly is cleared, then two, and three, which I thought would be my limit and a suitable time to stop, but all is going so smoothly that we push in to a fourth. Four anomalies cleared of Sleepers, four anomalies looted and salvaged, all without interruption. We drag back to the tower over four hundred million ISK in profit to give us a positive start to the evening.
Now to open our static wormhole and see what lies on the other side. I jump my Loki through to the class 3 w-space system and see on my directional scanner two towers, a Myrmidon battlecruiser, some drones, and a canister. The drones are interesting, but a lack of wrecks makes me think they are abandoned somewhere. The Myrmidon's probably empty at one tower, the drones discarded in a despawned site, and we'll be left scanning for wormholes. At least I'll be able to buy the ammunition I'm after. My notes guide me to both towers, with my last visit here being six weeks earlier, where I chased a hauler collecting planet goo. I think I remember that one, and I suspected the Iteron of having warp core stabilisers fitted.
I check both towers in this C3, which gives an interesting result. The drones are out of d-scan range, and so is the Myrmidon. Has he gone off-line, left the system, or is he simply out of range? And is he actually with the drones and active? I need to find out. I confirm a lack of ships and pilots at the two towers and warp back to the inner system, where the Myrmidon once again appears on d-scan. And he's off d-scan. I return to the towers, which is the only place I can really check for the battlecruiser, and see him sitting inside the force field of one. He has some kind of tank active, and has mixed-sized guns fitted to the ship. 'I like ships with mixed guns', says Fin. 'They die.'
The Myrmidon will only die if he leaves the tower again. But I don't know if he was in an anomaly, and salvaging as he goes, or clearing a mining site of Sleepers. Anomalies can be found easily, the mining site will need to be scanned. Rather than waiting to see what happens next, I ought to take the opportunity of the resting Myrmidon to launch scanning probes. The system is quite small, leaving little room to decloak and not be seen. I know that I can get out of d-scan range of the tower, but only as long as the Myrmidon continues to relax, so I'll need to be quick. I warp out, launch probes and throw them out of the system, and re-activate my cloak. But I warp back to the tower only to see the Myrmidon gone.
The battlecruiser's not really gone, just gone from the tower, as my combat scanning probes blanketing the system show. There is a ship in the system, and the only one I've seen so far is the Myrmidon. It looks like I only just managed to get my probes in to space before the ship became active again, which was close. Now I can hunt him. The Myrmidon isn't in an anomaly, and neither is the ship fit with gas harvesters, so maybe he is fighting in a tougher radar or magnetometric site, which will it harder to scan him in one hit. But I'm always willing to give it a go. A single wreck appearing on d-scan confirms he's shooting Sleepers, and that it is just one wreck makes me think he's salvaging as he goes.
I use d-scan to get a bearing on the Myrmidon and the site he's in, and then determine the range to the site. He's over 5 AU distant, and as most sites are within 4 AU of a planet there is probably somewhere closer I can sit to improve the accuracy of my probe positioning. I keep my probes where I've gauged the Myrmidon to be, warp to the closer planet, and check their positions again. No adjustments seem necessary, which is a decent result, I'd say. Fin's been waiting in the home system as I've been locating the Myrmidon, and has got a Legion strategic cruiser prepared. She warps to the wormhole as I warp to the other side of it, so that I can send us both to the Myrmidon once I scan.
'Jump and hold cloak', and with Fin confirming the order I call my probes in to scan for our target. It's a perfect result in one scan. I recall the probes and send my Loki and Fin's Legion directly to the Myrmidon, whose position I bookmark for reference once in warp. We won't need the bookmark, though, as we drop on top of the battlecruiser, who appears to be having trouble with the Sleepers. Half his structure is gone, although the capsuleer has taken take to fully repair his armour, presumably during his short break back at the tower. This should be straightforward.
The pilot urges us to stop, first in Russian and then in English in the local communication channel. Fin gets to work trying to negotiate a ransom, but neither of us will feel a pang of guilt if we destroy the ship first, so we set the ransom high. We've made almost half-a-billion ISK so far tonight, the kill is more interesting than the currency. If we can get the kill, anyway. I think I mentioned needing different ammunition for my Loki. Well, we've not quite made it to empire space yet, so I am stuck with the rounds that vaguely dented an unimposing null-sec rat battleship. The energy neutralisers on the Legion will help prevent the Myrmidon repairing too much damage, but I can't say I'm doing too much damage yet.
On top of my woeful guns, the Sleepers are still here and joining in the fun. Although my Loki is designed to withstand some incoming fire, it is not supposed to hold together under sustained assault, and once the Sleepers target me my shields drop to dangerous levels. I don't want to lose the Loki stupidly so soon after getting it, so I take the prudent measure of warping away. I choose the closest planet to warp to, wanting my shields to recharge but happy enough just to break the target locks of the Sleepers, Myrmidon, and drones. I bounce back to where Fin holds the battlecruiser in place, but without my web slowing it down the Legion cannot keep pace. I need to be there, but I cannot stay too long.
I bounce out of the assault one more time, before going for broke. I plant my Loki's nose up the Myrmidon's exhaust port, overheat my guns, and hope for the best. The simple tactic appears to be working, as the battlecruiser's armour starts dropping significantly, even if the ransom negotiations aren't working. The pilot is slow to pay, and we don't like stalling, so we keep shooting and obliterate the half of the hull the Sleepers didn't touch. The Myrmidon explodes. I aim for the pod and, as a higher scan resolution is one of the few benefits over the Tengu, lock on and stop it going anywhere. I shoot the pod and... and it disappears.
For a second, I think that the pilot's gone off-line, but then I see his corpse. It looks like guns dispose of pods a bit more quickly than do missiles. And, what do you know, it is the same pilot of the warp-stabilised Iteron I chased a few weeks ago. We got him this time. Fin warps out, the Legion's armour sitting at dangerously low levels after the extended engagement, which leaves me to scoop, loot, and get targeted by a Proteus. Hang on, that doesn't rhyme. What's happening? A new ship has appeared nearby, the strategic cruiser decloaking within ten kilometres of me, and has locked on to my Loki. I turn to run but my micro warp drive is not responding. The Proteus is close enough to scramble its signature. The same module is also preventing my warp drive from activating. This doesn't look good.
I was updating d-scan whilst engaging the Myrmidon, but only occasionally and looking for local support. What I didn't expect was our ambush to be ambushed. We have most likely been scanned whilst fighting, judging by the Proteus's proximity to me at the end of the combat, because the Myrmidon was fleeing out of the site as we engaged. And now I'm dead. Fin's gone, thankfully, and surely can't return before my already heavily damaged Loki bites the rust. I return fire at the Proteus, fully depleting its shields and giving me a moment of hope until I realise it must be armour-tanked. All I can do is align my ship out of the site and hope the Proteus makes a mistake.
There is a slight reprieve from the onslaught, which I first take to be the Proteus reloading its weapons, but it turns out to be the pilot waiting for his colleague in a Sleipnir command ship to come along and give me a swift kick in the prow, spreading the love. Now I die. Bye bye, PewPewlitzer, I barely knew you. I barely knew how to fly you, that's for sure. At least you got a kill before explo—crap, I should have ejected. I forgot about the loss of skill points involved with losing a strategic cruiser. Ah well, it doesn't matter. My skill queue isn't doing much at the moment anyway. I warp my aligned pod away cleanly, bouncing off a planet to get back to our wormhole, where I jump home and return safely to the tower.
I clamber back in my comfortable Tengu and return to the wormhole, but only to monitor and reflect. Maybe if I'd watched d-scan more closely I'd have seen the probes. But I imagine the Myrmidon didn't see mine, which is the point of effective hunting. Maybe if I had noticed the corpse sooner, or hadn't stopped to take a pretty picture of the death, or hadn't needed to warp out a couple of times. But I didn't see the corpse, I always try to take a screen grab when I don't think I'm in danger, and if I hadn't warped out my Loki would have died to Sleepers. We just happened to get ambushed after we ambushed our own target. And you know what? It was freaking awesome! Sure, I lost my new and rather expensive ship, but this is the kind of engagement that defines w-space for me. You never know who's watching.