Ah, movement. I missed the hauler warping around collecting planet goo, and now maybe I can miss catching the Abaddon doing whatever it's gone to do. The battleship's pretty easy to trace, particularly once his drones appear on my directional scanner, as that almost certainly places him in an anomaly, engaging Sleepers. Sure enough, there he is.
Sadly, the Abaddon's not sitting still in the anomaly but is moving around, not making him a straightforward target to drop on top of. I would be happy to tackle him in my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, but I fear that without some energy neutralisers fit I probably wouldn't be able to overcome the battleship's defences. And rather than attempt and fail, I would prefer to wait for what must be the inevitable appearance of a salvager and a much more likely outcome of a successful ambush.
So I sit and watch. I also notice that the Abaddon isn't just moving to mitigate some of the incoming damage but appears to be aligned back towards his tower. Whether this is because of the imminent completion of combat or a precaution I can't tell, but it confirms that I would probably have little luck in dropping a non-covert ship on top of him. So I sit and watch, as the site is cleared and the battleship warps back to his tower. Well, nearly.
The Abaddon warps to a safe spot first, presumably so he can avoid the warp bubbles, which makes no sense to me, but there you go. Will we see a salvager now? Not immediately. Ah, but there we go, the battleship is stowed and out comes... a Harbinger? That's weird. This pilot is weird. Why does he want the battlecruiser, particularly one obviously fit with guns and not tractor beams and salvagers? Apparently so he can shoot Sleepers in a different boat, as he warps away from the tower and towards a second anomaly.
I follow behind the Harbinger, watch as it struggles against the first wave of Sleepers, and gets swapped back for the Abaddon to clear the site. Hurry it up, sir, I could be doing other activities. Okay, the second site is clear, now the Noctis? No, not the Harbinger, please. Okay, the Harbinger, and a third site. And, again, the battlecruiser pokes the initial wave and the battleship is brought out for the finishing blows. This seems like an awkward strategy to me, but let's see if it pays off, Cotton.
The combat really has taken quite a while, as has watching it. By my reckoning, the wrecks in the first site will start disintegrating soon. Does the pilot realise this? Elory Skimms suggests that I should send the pilot a mail to let him know, saying 'it would be the courteous thing to do'. But Skimms is an idiot. We've got the local channel in w-space, you know. It's just that I may have forgotten how it works.
Okay, the third site is clear, the pilot warps back to the tower. Now it's time to salvage. Isn't it? Why are you back in the Harbinger? Does he really just want to watch the Sleepers burn? I continue watching and waiting and, what's this, a Noctis sighting! Not only is the salvager pulled from a hangar, but it warps directly from the tower towards the first site. No bouncing off the weird safe spot now, maybe because those first wrecks aren't long for space.
Thankfully, the wrecks in the first site are still intact, which at least won't fuel the pilot's suspicion that something is up. I sit in my perch and watch what he does, happy to see the Noctis mostly stationary, only moving towards wrecks, which bodes well for an ambush. Actually, that's weird too. Noctes have a long reach with tractor beams, he shouldn't need to move. But whatever, I think I'm fine with waiting until the second site to spring my ambush.
The first site is cleared of wrecks and we both warp to the second, albeit with different intentions. I wait a little while longer, watching the Noctis scoop more loot in to its hold, before warping close and lining up my target. All looks good, even with the Noctis burning towards some wrecks. His speed suggests reheat, not micro warp drive, and I can make up the distance between us with my Loki's micro warp drive whilst sensors spend seconds recalibrating. In I go.
Decloak, burn, lock. My warp scrambler grabs the Noctis and my autocannons rip it apart. I aim for the ejected pod but it warps clear pretty easily. I don't mind, as I have the wreck to loot and shoot, and, as it turns out, to analyse. Along with the forty million ISK of Sleeper loot and salvager, I recover a warp core stabiliser, with space dust indicating a second was obliterated in the explosion. So that's why the Noctis was moving to the wrecks, because the reduced targeting range imposed by the stabilisers severely hampered the Noctis's ability. And two of them weren't even enough against my three points of warp disruption.
Ambush successful, I reload my guns, cloak, and warp to the tower to see the pod sitting forlornly in the force field. No immediate ship change generally suggests the pilot isn't coming back out, and there is a third site of wrecks left to salvage. The site sits out of d-scan range of the tower as well. Hold on, I may be getting an idea. I warp back to our wormhole, jump home, and head to the tower to swap my Loki for a salvaging Cormorant destroyer.
Returning to C3a has nothing on d-scan, so I bounce off my perch in the third anomaly to the wrecks, and go wild looting and salvaging in my destroyer. The wrecks are white again, letting me use my tractor beams at will, significantly reducing the time required to salvage all of the wrecks. This turns out to be good, because as I am working on the penultimate wreck and moving towards the last the pilot reappears. I see him on d-scan first, and then the Drake—differently piloted, as it turns out—drops out of warp thirty kilometres from me. Battlecruiser versus destroyer won't go well for a destroyer fitted with weapons, so my destroyer's salvagers are going to fare rather worse against the Drake, so I bug out quickly.
Well, I don't bug out entirely. I head to the second site, on the assumption that the Drake is there to salvage and will pick apart that last wreck, which should give me time to steal the few wrecks left in the ambush site. Had I known I'd be back in a salvager I'd have left the Noctis wreck intact, but never mind. I loot and salvage the few wrecks remaining, seeing the Drake disappear from d-scan within seconds. And he left that final wreck. I may have mentioned this before, but that's weird.
I have no idea why the Drake came this way if he didn't intend to salvage, and I can only assume that he bugged out because he thinks my Cormorant is actually a second pilot. Whatever the reason, he left that wreck behind. I'm gonna nab it. And I do, with no sign of the Drake returning. Now it's time to go home, not even caring to see what he does next. I got the explosion I wanted, along with forty million ISK in flotsam and another sixty-five million ISK in plunder. I have to say, it was almost worth the wait.