I'd like to see if I can sneak up someone successfully today. The cautious salvager of yesterday was a nice find, and gave me a hunt, but didn't have the satisfying explosion at the end. A new signature in the home system is merely a magnetometric site, so I resolve our static connection and jump to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system. Oh, this is looking pretty good. My directional scanner is showing me a tower, an Orca industrial command ship, and two Covetor mining barges, ten mining drones, and three canisters. Whee, active miners!
I would be happier about spotting miners if I weren't in a position where they could spot me. Not only is our K162 in range of their operation, but I am spat in to the system under two kilometres from it. I have a little distance to move before I can activate my cloak, but I suppose it doesn't keep me visible for much longer than normal. And once cloaked and updating d-scan it looks like the Covetors are still mining. Or they are so panicked that they have left their drones behind in the rock field. I'll assume the former, and warp out to launch scanning probes.
Warping to the edge of the system shows a second tower on d-scan, but one without ships, so I take the opportunity to launch probes and throw them out of the system. Returning to the inner-system has an interesting sight. The Orca is with the Covetors. He's only there to retrieve the ore, though, as the whale returns to the tower within a minute or so, and I can't say I'm too concerned about that. There is not much chance I'd be able to pop one of the Covetors before the Orca could escape, and if I leave two pilots to return to their tower the chances are I'd have strategic cruisers or ECM boats headed my way long before my Loki strategic cruiser could chew through an Orca's shields.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to find the miners first, and get the drop on them. I start narrowing down the position of the two ships, using d-scan to get a decent bearing and range estimate, and position my probes in a pocket of space where I think they are. I call the probes in for a scan. It's good. Not perfect, with the gravimetric site only resolved to 71%, but that's not what I care about. The two Covetors are both resolved to 100%, as are their drones, and it's the ships I'll be warping to, not the site.
I recall my probes, surge my Loki in to warp, and bookmark the position of the two barges whilst in flight. It's not too long ago that I had a choice of three targets in a rock field, and impetuously let two of them evade me, by not considering swapping ships. In this case, because our K162 is in d-scan range of the targets, I don't want to risk my Loki being spotted on its way home and lose two ships for the sake of trying to get both. One will do today. And it seems like I wouldn't have had much option anyway. I drop out of warp in the gravimetric site ten kilometres from one Covetor, and fifty kilometres from the other.
The miners are chomping on different rocks. Whether this is for safety or for personal taste I don't know, but it limits the amount of destruction I can achieve. So be it. If I can only have one, I'll make sure I get one, particularly as I have already been decloaked by a nearby rock. I burn towards the Covetor within range and start shooting. The mining barge doesn't much like being raked by projectile ammunition and explodes without much encouragement. I aim for the pod and, despite my sensor booster not activating again, I snare it. I prise the pod apart, but I ignore the perished prize of the corpse inside.
The second Covetor is still with me, albeit a little distant, and its drones still working away. The corpse can wait. It will only get a little colder and preserve itself better. Instead, I turn my Loki towards the other mining barge and burn hard towards it, closing the distance at over a kilometre a second. What do you know, I've got myself in range. Even though he may not be paying attention, I disrupt the second barge's warp drive anyway, and start shooting. Again, my target puts up little resistance, and a second pod is thrown in to space. My sebo is obstinately refusing to activate, stupid module, but as the miners are obviously not paying much attention I manage to crack open the second pod, moments after the pilot wakes up and acknowledges me in the local channel.
That was easier than I expected. Sure, the pilots weren't exactly watching d-scan carefully, or their overview, but I couldn't have known that from any moment up until the ambush. And now that the only pilot left sits in an Orca at the tower, I can scoop, loot, and shoot, burn back fifty kilometres, and scoop, loot, and shoot again. I would say that two corpses in my hold is a good start to the day. Now I can settle down and explore a bit.
Ah, there is just one tower in the system. I didn't realise how lucky I was when I first launched probes. I didn't see a second tower, but the first without the Orca. I was able to warp far enough away from the mining operation, but not far enough away from the tower, so it was good that the Orca chose that time to collect the mined ore. I suppose he probably wouldn't have been watching d-scan when in the tower either, but it's always better to definitely have no one watching. I also see from my notes that we have been here before, three months ago, where Aii and I pop two Covetors whilst racing against a hostile Legion strategic cruiser with presumably the same intentions. I must say, I like this system.
I also find out why my sebo is malfunctioning. It isn't. An external application has rewired my console and is activating instead of the sebo. The same probably happened yesterday when trying to target the Noctis, and it wasn't my fumbling the controls. Now that I know the cause, I cut the offending application off and return the wiring to connect to my sebo once more. Problem solved. I feel positive about finding more targets now. But my hold is pretty stuffed with mining equipment and putrefying flesh. I should drop it off at our tower before heading further out, in case I can't loot more flotsam I happen to come across.