Losing profit to w-space neighbours

7th April 2010 – 5.19 pm

Intruders! There are capsuleers in our home w-space system shooting Sleepers, and it's not us. And as the external fleet has a Legion strategic cruiser, two Nighthawk command ships, two Basilisk logistic ships, and an expensive Tempest Fleet Issue battleship, these are not people we could scare away or fight off. But maybe we can show our disapproval. We may not have enough numbers around to offer resistance, but we have a few stealth bomber pilots and ships available.

Our scan man is out and monitoring the intruders' progress, so we know their location. As a Cormorant destroyer is spotted coming in to salvage the wrecks our stealth bombers are sitting nearby, waiting for the right moment. When the salvager moves to some of the futher wrecks my colleague takes the opportunity to strike, launching a bomb and hitting the Cormorant solidly, but not enough for a hull breach. My pause, partly caution and partly lack of coordination, allows the Legion to move closer to its comrade salvager, making me wonder how quickly it could lock and fire on me. I sit and watch, staying cloaked for now.

Our tenacious Nemesis pilot comes back for a second strike, and the Legion locks and shoots back! The strategic cruiser misses and the Nemesis flees safely, and with all attention on his re-appearance I consider this a perfect time to launch my own bomb, hitting both the Legion and Cormorant. But the enemy fleet is prepared after the first bombing run and their Basilisk logistic ships are actively maintaining the integrity of the destroyer's shields. Perhaps a more co-ordinated initial attack would have been successful. Now we're just throwing bombs away.

I fly off-grid to reload, which cannot be performed whilst cloaked, and return to try to find their next site. The Cormorant isn't taken with the body of the fleet, yet remains visible on the directional scanner. He is alone somewhere in the system. Our scan man drops some combat probes to find him, and gets a signature! He warps our small fleet, hoping to drop on top of the destroyer, disrupt his systems and blow him up, but he has warped off by the time we get to the scanned location. I presume that he hasn't taken time to make safe spots, and he is likely experienced enough not to be warping to planets, which means he is probably sitting in a previous, cleared anomaly. A quick check of our current location on the system map confirms this, as we are sitting on top of an old bookmark.

The Sleeper wrecks appearing on d-scan don't diminish, so the Cormorant hasn't warped in to salvage yet. I warp around trying to find him, although as I turn up a little late my on-board scanner can only find the current anomalies, which doesn't include the ones they have already cleared. But now the small Sleeper wrecks have gone from d-scan, salvaging must have started. We warp cloaked to their finished site to keep track of them. A Crow interceptor turns up, a ship that is fast and quick-locking, no doubt intended both to deter us from interfering with their operation and to make sure that if we do interfere we only get the one chance. My colleague in the Nemesis wants to blow up the Sleeper wrecks, to put a dent in the profits they are taking from us. I think it's a bit of a waste of bombs, but I have to admit that any explosion can be a good explosion.

He warps in to the site and launches his bomb, whilst 80 km away from the closest enemy, successfully destroying the several wrecks aimed at. The hostile Crow swoops down to try to catch the Nemesis, and holy crap that interceptor is fast, but our pilot warps away cleanly. I have no idea if we're annoying them or not, but sneaking around in stealth bombers gives us something to do. Dropping off-grid to reload prevents them from knowing where we are or when we are coming, and helps to hide our numbers a little too. I don't think they are particularly concerned about our minimal threat, but the presence of the Crow shows that we are certainly disrupting their smooth progress.

I warp around a little more looking for the Cormorant as the hostile fleet moves to the next anomaly. The destroyer blips on my overview! It looks like I warp in to the anomaly he is in just as he is warping out, so he is probably warping continuously between sites and will be almost impossible to catch. When the new anomaly is cleared the destroyer goes in to salvage, and our Nemesis pilot wants to blow up more wrecks. I am in the anomaly at range and am able to make a bookmark of a cluster of large Sleeper wrecks suitably distant from the fleet's current position. I share the bookmarked location with the Nemesis pilot and he warps in, launches his bomb and destroys more profit cleanly. I just continue watching.

What I don't expect to see is the Nemesis reappearing a minute later, on the other side of the anomaly, lining up towards some more wrecks. It looks like he grabbed another bookmark during his last bombing run and wanted to do more damage. But no bomb is launched. It turns out that he forgot about the bomb launching delay, which is preventing him from launching for a little while longer, and in the confusion the Crow has pounced on the Nemesis, locking and warp disrupting him. The Legion follows behind the Crow, and the Nemesis explodes. Our capsuleer's pod thankfully escapes, the enemy fleet finishes salvaging the site, and then they all jump out of our now-empty system.

Disrupting the intruding fleet was a fun distraction, but the loss of the stealth bomber is rather unfortunate considering the circumstances. Although we would prefer to clear the anomalies ourselves the main reason they are still present in our system is because it makes more sense to save them for dry times. We normally jump to an adjacent system to plunder sites elsewhere first, often from occupied systems. The mirror held up to our activities does not go unnoticed, and the intruders clearing our local anomalies is not taken bitterly or as affront, merely capsuleers making profit from Sleepers just as we do. We'll find new sites, explore new systems, and continue to operate as we did before. And we need to make some more ISK so our pilot can replace his Nemesis.

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