Awkward escalations

4th June 2010 – 5.28 pm

All is quiet in w-space. There is no activity in the systems connecting to our own, and the miner we extorted for iskies hasn't come out to recover his losses yet. I am told that we really ought not to bother him after successfully ransoming his ship earlier, and my idea of sending two different corporation members to do the same, under the guise of ignorance of earlier events, is met with respectful disquiet. With no visible activity in w-space Fin goes looking for trouble through the low-sec exit to empire available, hoping to surprise ratting pirates.

In her eagerness to cause disruption, Fin forgets to bookmark the wormhole back to w-space in the low-sec system. I ask what system she's in. 'Groothese', she says. Yes, they're very impressive, but I'm curious to know where you are. The misunderstanding is cleared up and I go to her aid, both to give her a reference point to the wormhole and an extra ship for piracy, but have trouble picking a suitable ship. I still seem to limited as to what I can pilot when facing other capsuleers, despite trying to focus skill training and ship purchases in that direction. I end up getting my Malediction interceptor out of the hangar, if only because it is definitely a PvP ship, won't work against Fin's Nighthawk like a stealth bomber may, and can use all its features in low-sec unlike the Onyx heavy interdictor. I jump through w-space and exit to low-sec, sitting on the wormhole—and making sure to bookmark it—until Fin finds a target.

The search for low-sec piracy, to combat with our own piracy, turns up empty, although Fin is tickled that the dozen or so capsuleers in the system are probably wondering where the Malediction in the system is. Having come through the wormhole, and not a stargate, my ship's location remains somewhat of a mystery to the empire pilots. And just as Fin gives up trying to find trouble and starts to warp to me a Magnate frigate drops out of warp ten kilometres from the wormhole! The poor fellow has just found the Malediction interceptor. It's time to lock and disrupt, and move in for the kill. Trying to lock-on to the Magnate brings up a Concord warning and my targeting systems refuse to engage. The short time taken scrabbling with my controls to clear the warning gives the Magnate the chance to warp out again and the opportunity passes. Empire space is silly.

Back in the lawlessness of w-space I feel more comfortable again. There is still no activity, but that gives our corporation the freedom to form a fleet and engage some Sleepers. Our neighbouring C4 system has a couple of radar sites and some anomalies full of potential profit. The K162 from the C3 system entering in to the C4 went EOL earlier and is now gone, isolating us further. A standard small fleet is formed and we start our plundering with one of the radar sites. The first wave of Sleepers is despatched with little ceremony and hacking of the Sleeper databases brings the next wave. To help increase our damage output a couple of extra pilots are brought in to the radar site, but they have an unintended consequence of escalating the engagement.

We have been involved in escalations before and they haven't caused problems, but this time the extra pilots warp in to the site during the last wave of Sleepers. There are already four Sleeper battleships in the combat, the escalation brings another. The four battleships almost overwhelm our remote repair capabilities when they focus fire on a single ship, adding a fifth battleship provides a bigger challenge. Some agile repairing and practical use of ECM—to jam a couple of battleships effectively instead of all of them ineffectively—lets our fleet start reducing the Sleepers to manageable numbers again. Before long, we are back in control and the site can be cleared of Sleepers with no further fuss. And we have a deserted Talocan cruiser to salvage as a result of the escalation. A dedicated hacking boat warps in as the rest of the fleet warps out to the second radar site.

The second radar site is cleared smoothly, with no escalation this time. It looks like that is all the combat we have time for and so it is time to salvage. It's not too late in the evening for me yet and I am more than happy to get in to a salvaging ship to help, still getting a perverse satisfaction from salvaging. It turns out to be good that I stick around, because when another salvager warps in to the second site to begin clearing wrecks it causes another escalation. This seems like an odd time for an escalation to occur and we have to quickly change back to combat ships to deal with the new Sleeper battleship in the radar site.

The escalation is only one battleship, though, and once the Rook combat recon ship warps in the lone Sleeper vessel remains permanently jammed, making my Guardian's presence a formality. Despite its startling appearance, the extra ship causes no problems and we return to salvaging and hacking. A healthy profit of around 90 million ISK each is recovered from the two sites, which along with the earlier ransom makes today a rewarding day in w-space.

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