Gas site salvager

4th November 2012 – 3.13 pm

I'm fed and watered and back in w-space, in the hopes that other pilots are out and about. A quick check confirms a lack of new connections in the home system, so I point my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser towards our static wormhole for a roam through the w-space constellation that I scanned a little earlier. The neighbouring class 3 system is dead still, and I cross it to exit to low-sec empire space, which holds a K162 from class 2 w-space. The wormhole is now reaching the end of its natural life, but given its stability from earlier, and my brief time off-line, it should stick around for another couple of hours or so. In I go.

All looks quiet, so I continue through the constellation to C2c, which is also boringly inactive, and I push in to C5a. Earlier, some gassing was happening, which I maybe interrupted just by entering the system, or maybe I didn't. I couldn't tell for sure, even though I suspect I was spotted. There is activity now too, albeit looking a little different. A Legion strategic cruiser and Noctis salvager are both visible on my directional scanner, along with a bunch of wrecks. That looks a bit weird, as a solo Legion should not be capable of much in a class 5 w-space system, but when an update to d-scan sees just the Noctis in range it seems possible that the Legion has warped away to rejoin a bigger fleet. The system is big enough to hide them, after all.

The Noctis is joined by a Nighthawk command ship on d-scan, which also is not enough ship for C5 anomalies. And, sure enough, I can't find either ship in any of the few anomalies in the system. On top of that, sweeping d-scan around on a tight beam shows that the wrecks are not clumped together but spread out. I suspect the fleet is small and making best use of their limited capability by clearing Sleepers out of rock and gas sites, making ISK where they can find it. In that case, maybe I can find one of the sites and wait for the Noctis to appear in it.

It looks like I can attempt to locate a site, and better than I hoped. I warp to the most distant planet in the system to see that no ships are in range, letting me launch scanning probes covertly. I also notice that there are a few Sleeper wrecks within range of this planet too. I was planning to 'hunt' the wrecks, using d-scan and positioning my probes, waiting for the Noctis to appear before scanning, but if there are no ships in range I can scan the site directly. This only works because the wrecks are in mining sites, which won't despawn just because the Sleepers are gone. I can't scan the wrecks, but I don't need to wait for the Noctis.

I don't scan casually. There is a chance a ship will appear before I'm close to the site and be alerted to my probes, so I hunt the wrecks normally. I don't need to be too precise, though, as a quick correction to resolve the site now is probably better than fiddling to get it perfect only to have the Noctis appear and spot my probes. I get a bearing and range on the wrecks, arrange my probes, and check d-scan for ships. There is still nothing in range, so I call my probes in for a scan, getting a perfect result on the ladar site. I recall my probes, and bookmark and reconnoitre the site.

My glorious leader has come on-line as I'm warping in to the ladar site. I give her a sitrep as I bounce off a planet, knowing that I need to enter the site as laterally as possible to avoid the clouds, and Fin starts making her way across systems and through wormholes to join me. As Fin travels I make a suitable waiting point in the site. This is probably more out of habit than necessity, as the wrecks are close together, giving little risk that the Noctis will appear far from where I choose to wait. Still, having a position in the site I can warp to and from lets me evaluate the situation as it occurs. Should the Noctis appear with an escort I can abort without being in any danger, or if reinforcements arrive early I can warp out to a known spot quickly.

Or if the Noctis warps in alone, like he does, I can be aligned and warping to his position in seconds. Fin's made it to C2c and is sitting on the wormhole, so I call her in and, as I am close to landing on the salvager, tell her to warp to my position. It would be better if we could warp in together, but a Noctis sweeping up five wrecks doesn't give us a big window of opportunity. I can hold the salvager for Fin to provide the death blow. At least, that's the plan, and as with most of our plans it goes wrong after the first step.

I lock on to the Noctis and activate my offensive modules, disrupting its warp engines and unloading projectile ammunition its way. I try to give the ship a bump too, to knock it out of any alignment it may be aiming to achieve, but it's a poor effort. I vaguely nuzzle against the salvager, not really getting a decent run-up, which turns out to be an important mistake. The Noctis has warp core stabilisers fitted, perhaps because of the threat the same pilots saw in this system earlier—that would be me—and the ship warps clear of my attention before Fin even reaches the ladar site.

Maybe I should have waited for Fin to join me in the site before engaging, to add her extra points of warp disruption to the assault, but a Noctis with a bit of luck can really clean up the wrecks. Waiting may have got us watching the salvager warp clear just as we got ready, and I considered time to be critical in this case. Either way, the early reconnaissance, and situational awareness of the wrecks and sites, got us a shot at a Noctis, which is more action than it feels like we've seen for a while. I think we can be happy with that. Besides, we still have time, and there's more constellation to uncover yet.

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