Sabotaging another salvaging operation

7th June 2010 – 5.50 pm

Systems have been scanned, there are bookmarks waiting in the can. I make copies and follow a corporation colleague as he goes off to roam in his Arazu recon ship, choosing a Manticore stealth bomber for myself. I have visited our neighbouring class 4 system twice before, the last time about a month ago, and it remains unoccupied. There are probes visible on the direction scanner, indicating the likelihood of a covert operations boat looking for sites or wormholes. I jump back to the home system and change the Manticore for my Maledication interceptor at the tower, warping back to sit on our static wormhole, waiting for the scanner to find the other side and jump through.

My colleague starts to anchor a warp bubble on our wormhole, hoping to make the scanner easier to catch, and we get a surprise as a Nemesis stealth bomber warps on top of us. He must have come from the class 5 w-space system that connects in to us today. The Nemesis drops on top of the wormhole and cannot be caught before he jumps. I follow through to the C4 and try to engage before he can warp off or cloak but he evades me and my lacking interceptor skills. I know from experience that an interceptor can survive a bomb so I don't jump back home immediately, as that would entail polarisation difficulties, and linger on the wormhole in the C4. The probes are still out and, by adjusting the range to which d-scan is effective, I can tell that the scanner is looking for the wormhole I am on.

All of the probes get within 0·5 AU of the wormhole but don't move away or disappear. The scanner may have gone AFK, is getting a couple of ships to scare away the Malediction he can see, or is safely scouting the wormhole whilst cloaked and is waiting to see if I leave on my own accord. The bubble on the other side of the wormhole is now anchored and my colleague wanders off, heading through this C4 to the connecting C3 system, where he spies a Harbinger battlecruiser, although it is sitting inertly at the tower in the system. It all looks quiet, until a Cyclone battleship appears on d-scan. The probes disappear from the C4 too. The Harbinger warps away and the Cyclone is no longer on d-scan, but a Proteus strategic cruiser is. My colleague tries to locate it, but the lone Proteus is soon joined by a second, as well as a Legion strategic cruiser, Tengu strategic cruiser, and the Cyclone and Harbinger. They are not looking for us but we can still look for them.

I get in to my Buzzard and head to the C3 to start looking for possible anomalies where the fleet could be in combat. There are no anomalies I can detect but there is a bookmark to a magnetometric site. I warp to it and find ships but not the scary combat fleet, instead a Catalyst and Helios. The Catalyst looks to be assuming the regular destroyer role of salvaging whilst the covert operations boat is poking the artefacts for Sleeper treasures. It looks like we have an opportunity to cause trouble here, but the window is small. I bookmark a wreck that is likely to be late on the salvager's route and warp out and back in to the bookmark to get a good position, calling in my colleague in his Arazu, who then wants to get more ships here. We have some allies coming in from empire space, the low-sec exit from this C3 being their designated entrance to w-space, but although they are in the system with the wormhole I do not think we can spare the time. Good salvagers are quick, we need to take the shot now.

We seize the moment and decloak, focusing on the Catalyst salvaging. I am able to target and warp scramble the destroyer in my Buzzard, my colleague starting to shoot as he also sends drones to engage the analysing Helios. The Helios is quick to warp away, too far from the salvager to be snared by a warp disruption module, but the Catalyst is not as lucky and is quickly despatched. The salvager's pod gets away cleanly as I loot the wreck of its collected Sleeper bounty, before making my own clean escape. My first thought is to clear the system, warping to the wormhole heading home, but I pause on my return journey and realise the extra firepower we have waiting for a potential second strike. I change course and warp to the wormhole leading to low-sec empire space, jumping through to give our allies a beacon to enter w-space.

A Cyclone battleship and Drake battlecruiser are in the magnetometric site now, keeping the site 'alive'. If all ships leave a site empty of Sleepers it despawns quite quickly, which would remove all of the artefacts or databanks present. By keeping a couple of ships in the site the Sleeper artefacts are prevented from despawning until it is safe again to get a ship to analyse them and recover the profits within. But they can only guess at their safety, and maybe they haven't seen the squad of stealth bombers enter the system. Having guided the new people in to the system I return to our tower to drop off the loot—thirty million ISK of profit brought back from a single kill, which is another answer as to why we attack defenceless salvager ships—and swap back in to my own stealth bomber.

The magnetometric site is once again thought safe, a Rupture cruiser salvaging and the Helios back analysing, although the Cyclone and Drake loiter as a threatening presence. Our own group is being co-ordinated to make them feel less safe. The bombers are being lined up and assigned targets, a Rook is waiting on the C4 side of the connecting wormhole, and we are getting ready to attack. I point out that the Helios looks like it is getting close to finishing, understanding again the need to strike quickly more than accurately sometimes, but there is a lot to organise, made more difficult by not being able to see any of the cloaked ships. The Helios warps off, apparently having analysed all of the artefacts, and the two combat ships soon follow, no longer needing to keep the site from despawning.

Our moment has passed, but trying to co-ordinate the biggest PvP fleet we have yet fielded, whilst everyone is cloaked, took some effort. We have all gained some experience from the operation at least. The fleet is taken back to our tower in our home system for cake.

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