Giving up an ambush for Sleepers

21st June 2010 – 5.13 pm

I'm going to be nosy next door. Our static connection has been opened and the bookmark dropped, but little else seems to be scanned. I jump in to the neighbouring class 4 w-space system and check my directional scanner. Seeing only celestial bodies I launch probes and switch to the solar system map. I note my position in the system and the range to each planet, and with one planet out of the 14 AU range of d-scan I warp to it to make sure there is no one around. D-scan is again clean, making the system unoccupied. My records show that I last visited this system about six weeks ago and it was unoccupied then, but one of these days I'll return to a system that has changed.

Scanning only finds gas and rocks, narrowing down the number of suitable signatures to the point where I question whether this system actually has a static wormhole. When there are only three signatures left to resolve I puposely pick the weakest signal, just to be contrary. It turns out to be the wormhole and, of course, it leads to a class 5 system. I jump through and repeat the same checks as before, a standard routine for entering a new system and only slightly more thorough than entering any w-space system. D-scan returns only one planet within range, which at first isn't peculiar but opening the system map reveals a vast system. I may be close to the fourth and outer planet of the system but the star is 130 AU away, and the nearest planet is 97 AU distant! I don't think d-scan could ever return more than one planet in this system.

I begin scanning the system planet by planet and find out that the C5 system is occupied. A closer inspection of the tower shows that perhaps it is only recently occupied, though. One of the defences is currently being anchored and, after I return from checking the other two planets in the system, is then brought on-line. Someone is here and active. A Viator transport ship warps in to the tower and I am thinking that perhaps the hauler will move more defences out of the shields to position them. The tower only has defences at one point outside its shields and there must be over a dozen more sitting unanchored inside the shields. It may be possible to catch the ship as it positions the defences. Or perhaps it is more likely that it will make a run to empire space for more resources, which will mean finding the static connection it is probably using.

The Viator is swapped for a Dominix battleship and it sits motionless inside the shields. I notice a Cheetah covert operations boat in the system too, and some combat probes are visible on d-scan. My presence has been noted, it seems. Fin has her Onyx heavy interdictor on the other side of the wormhole in to this system now, hoping like me that we can catch a careless ship, but it looks like these capsuleers are cautious. I find the static wormhole in the system, which leads in to another C5, but don't jump through and instead monitor the tower again. The Cheetah is still out scanning and the Dominix is refusing to move, sitting surrounded by the modules still to be positioned. Considering the massive distance between the wormhole in to this system and the tower, the capacitor requirement and time needed to traverse the distance would make an ambush difficult to co-ordinate, even if the ships presented themselves as targets, and the embryonic operation is abandoned in favour of assaulting Sleepers.

I get back to the tower and board my Guardian, adjusting the fitting after another capsuleer apparently took the logistics ship out for a spin. The lack of armour maintenance drones is irritating, whether they were shot by Sleepers or lost at a site, as there are no replacements and the pilot didn't think to write a quick note explaining the situation. Having common resources only works when everyone treats them with the same level of respect as they would personal items. But the fleet is ready and we warp out to the static wormhole, now reaching the end of its natural lifetime. We should have a couple of hours at least before it collapses, although an EOL WH always makes me nervous.

We start clearing anomalies, the two Guardians not having terribly much to do in the wolf rayet system. Our Rook jams the Sleepers' targeting systems, an Abaddon blasts through their armour, and our salvaging Ishtar clears up the wrecks as quickly as they are created. But it goes wrong in the second anomaly, a disconnection causing problems for the other Guardian. It looks like our capacity to repair will run out and we'll lose a ship if we stay in the anomaly and the squad is warped out, but bad luck has the disconnected Guardian also warp-scrambled and it remains in the anomaly. The pilot returns but not in time for us to warp back, only to announce the destruction of the Guardian. Losing a ship in this manner is frustrating.

The spare Guardian is brought out from the ship hangar and jumped in to the system, and we warp back in to the anomaly to finish clearing it. Combat goes smoothly but a scanning probe appears on a routine d-scan check. Only one probe is needed to find all anomalies in a system quickly and our ships will be in plain sight, so I suggest warping out and home for safety. Given that anomalies can be found without probes at all we are perhaps facing a lone scanning boat, but I would rather find that out back at the tower than face a hostile fleet in the anomaly. We warp out cleanly and get to the wormhole home, still quite wobbly, where five scanner probes can now be seen on d-scan. It looks more like a single scanning ship is in the system, but even then we don't know what resources he can call on if we persist in making ourselves fat targets. We jump and warp to our tower with only a meagre haul for the evening, but at least we are safe.

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