Active denial of loot

11th March 2013 – 5.12 pm

I'm on my way back through the dull w-space constellation, from a class 1 to class 2 system, as my glorious leader dutifully watches a previously active wormhole. An Anathema covert operations boat jumps past Fin, from our neighbouring class 3 system through a K162 to a different class 2 system. This is interesting, as it shows that two battleships that were engaging Sleepers earlier either had a scout in the system as I entered, or quickly got one in.

Presumably the scout has been watching for my movements, or indications of my cloaked presence, after I startled the battleships, and is satisfied that I've gone. It's a fair assumption, as it's been a while since I stopped loitering and dove down a different wormhole. But it often seems that w-space is a battle of patience, and when a bunch of Sleeper wrecks are left in space, and you know they won't last beyond two hours, there is often motivation to stick around longer than you normally would.

'Flare', says Fin, as I jump from C2b to C3a, on the other side of the system to the wormhole from C2a. A Noctis salvager finally appears in C3a. That's good, but not great any more. I moved on, recalled my probes, and, in a system where there's nowhere to hide, that's a hindrance. It's more of a hindrance when considering the anomalies despawned before my on-board scanner could detect them, which means I'll need to scan for the Noctis to find it near the wrecks. So it's good that I have an alternative plan.

I don't need to find the Noctis in the despawned sites, because I know exactly where it will be at some point in time: on the K162 to C2a. There's little point wasting time and energy with a hunt that is bound to be unsuccessful. The pilots were wary enough with their directional scanners to see my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser enter through our static wormhole, so they are going to be looking for combat scanning probes. But having scanned and resolved their wormhole I already have my designated ambush point.

Pilgrim comes through the wormhole with the Noctis

The Pilgrim recon ship that accompanies the Noctis in to C3a doesn't even faze me. Well, it does a little, but my plan makes it far less of a threat. Engaging the Noctis on the wormhole will let me ignore the escort ship, shoot the salvager, and turn tail once the target is destroyed. Attacking in empty space would actually be much more dangerous for me. All I have to do is get in position and wait. And my position is on the wormhole in C2a. I could wait on the K162 in C3a for the ships to return, but I know they are going to have to jump home, so rather than jump with them, and have them see me directly, or wait and risk losing them on the other side, if I jump now I can perhaps still surprise them. Moreover, the earlier I jump, the less the risk of polarisation will be.

Fin holds in C3a. I jump to C2a and punch d-scan. Towers, a shuttle, a pod. Nothing too threatening, but more space reaches beyond the range of d-scan. And d-scan has thwarted me again, as the Pilgrim and Noctis dash right back to the wormhole in C3a, certainly not having had time to salvage any wrecks. I was spotted. But that's fine, as the ships are simply heading right to my path. I just won't get any good loot from the Noctis's hold. Well, I know they are coming, and they know I'm somewhere, so I may as well make myself obvious for my own benefit. I decloak on the wormhole in C2a and activate my sensor booster, ready to catch what comes my way.

What first comes my way is a Drake battlecruiser, warping in from a distant planet in C2a to bolster the Pilgrim's offensive capabilities. Before the Drake has stopped, though, the Pilgrim appears, and the Noctis almost immediately afterwards. The Noctis is my target. I lock all three ships, but activate my warp scrambler on the salvager. The Drake and Pilgrim will make nice trophies if I can get them, but they are both likely to hang around. The Noctis is definitely going to want to flee, and so is the ship to stop. Once I've destroyed the soft target I can consider a secondary one.

Ambushing a Noctis under guard

My guns rip in to the Noctis, pounding the shields to oblivion and ripping in to its armour. But the Pilgrim and Drake aren't just watching the show. My capacitor energy is being neutralised hard by the Pilgrim, and whatever the Drake is doing is probably working. The Noctis looks like it's going to explode, and I already know my secondary target is now the wormhole, through which I'll beat a hasty retreat, at least comfortable knowing that the Pilgrim won't be able to follow, being polarised. But a second or two before the hull integrity of the Noctis is dissolved, the salvager warps clear. Damn the neuts. My cap juice has run out, and with it my ability to power my scram. Okay, time to leave.

Heavily neuted, I have to leave or be destroyed

Sure enough, the Pilgrim cannot follow my drained Loki back to C3a, but the Drake can and does. I evade him simply enough, but Fin, still holding on the wormhole and now decloaked and ready to fight, does not. That's okay, as she gets a fight with the Drake, although has to bail out herself after a while. The only way to go is through the wormhole, where now both the Drake and Pilgrim are polarised, which would let Fin come home safely if it weren't for the Vigilant cruiser looking for her.

Drake gives chase but catches Fin instead of me

Fin warps out and back to the wormhole to stay safe, as we work out how to get her home. A fallback option is to scan C2a. My notes from six weeks ago show it to hold a static connection to high-sec, which we could combine with another high-sec connection in our constellation to sneak in the Ewok way. But as Fin launches probes to scan, the C2ers decide that they have made their point, and really want to realise some of the profit they spent time trying to accumulate from the Sleepers.

'Noctis coming back', and a Talos battlecruiser comes along to add more support to the recon ship and Drake still present. They all come to C3a and warp off to one of the two sites. That's a little disappointing, as we get no kill and don't even deny the targets their loot. Then again, updating d-scan shows that enough time has elapsed for the wrecks to begin decaying in space. There were definitely more wrecks before, and a subsequent d-scan update shows a whole chunk of Sleeper wrecks to be missing. No wonder the pilots wanted to salvage.

Resolving the salvager and its escorts in a despawned w-space anomaly

Fleet gets its defended loot at last

It's not a great result, admittedly, but with the ships protecting the Noctis Fin manages to get back safely, even if it means we have to leave the salvager alone this time. Still, we had a bit of a scrap with no losses, and caused plenty of disruption. I'd say it's been a good evening.

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