Stalking Sleeper slayers

18th December 2010 – 3.26 pm

My clever ploy to manoeuvre out of the system first instead of chasing the ships goes slightly awry. I am able to warp sneakily to the wormhole leading back to the class 3 w-space system, bridging both our class 4 homes, but jumping through sees a Cheetah covert operations boat moving towards me. The Cheetah is actually moving towards the wormhole and cloaks shortly after seeing the flare announcing a ship's passage—my entrance. I hold my session change cloak, hoping for the Cheetah to ignore me and jump home safely, but no jump comes, the Cheetah waiting to see who is exiting their system. And then I realise it is probably best that the pilot does indeed see me. After all, I need to convince him, and the others, that I'm not a threat, and a puny Buzzard cov-ops will do that well enough.

I move away from the wormhole and cloak using my standard procedure, appearing on the overview for no more than a few seconds. But that's good, as the Cheetah pilot can confirm my non-combat ship whilst I pretend to act normally. I decide not to wait to see what the Cheetah does now, instead warping homewards to continue with my original plan, hoping to catch the salvaging Cormorant destroyer as it follows three Drake Battlecruisers and a Dominix battleship in to this class 3 w-space system, where sixty-two anomalies wait to be plundered. I swap the Buzzard for my Manticore stealth bomber and return to the C3, warping to sit at range from the K162 wormhole coming from the class 4 system home of my targets. In fact, I arrive to see the Cheetah jump home, which makes me wonder if he perhaps saw my Manticore on his directional scanner briefly, definitely scuppering my chances of an ambush.

I sit and wait at the wormhole. I don't dare jump through to see what the targets are doing, as any more movements are much more likely to be detected and any sign of my stealth bomber must surely change their operation to my detriment. I have to sit patiently and hope they come to me. The first ship to pass through the wormhole is the Cheetah, making me think that perhaps he didn't see my Manticore enter the system a little while back. He moves and cloaks, and I wonder what his purpose here is. He may continue scanning, through the two other wormholes leading to C4 systems, or hope to provide early warning of other ships in the system. But I can't concern myself with him, for whatever he can do won't alter my own operation.

A short time after the Cheetah returns, the big guns jump in to the system. The Dominix and three Drakes all appear, as does the Catalyst, and they sit silently on the wormhole. It is a little previous to plant the salvager in the system before any ships become wrecks, but sitting on a wormhole is relatively safe, as long as you are paying attention. The combat ships align together and warp off, the Dominix a little slower than the battlecruisers, and it looks like I have been disregarded as unimportant. Of course, maybe I haven't, I'm not to know, but I shall work on the assumption that all is well. I open my system map to see the sixty-two pins indicating bookmarked anomalies, now glad I took the couple of minutes earlier to note their positions roughly, and sweep my d-scanner around in a tight five degree beam until the four ships and a bookmark align. That's their first chosen site.

I warp in to the site at range, hoping I don't bounce off a structure, and see the ships striking Sleepers. The Drakes and Dominix are not moving, letting their long-range missiles and drones do most of the work, which makes it more convenient for me. The Sleepers move to the targets and all the wrecks are closely bunched together as a result of the lack of ship movement. The cluster of wrecks makes a much better reference point to bookmark, as the Catalyst will likely start there, or at least spend a good portion of time salvaging there. And with a juicy bookmark made I return to the wormhole. I don't want to loiter in the anomaly. My presence will keep the structures from despawning after the destruction of the last Sleeper ship, which experienced pilots will notice, and even if that weren't the case I am better served by watching and basing my own actions of those of the Catalyst.

Returning to the wormhole is interesting, as the Catalyst is now over two hundred kilometres from it, but not moving too fast. Part of me thinks that if I had been here to watch this I could maybe have caught him unawares without him being able to jump home, but my cloaked ship would not have been able to keep up with the destroyer even if it only has a reheat and not a micro-warp drive fitted. And there is no celestial body beyond the Catalyst I can use to 'bounce' off and return closer, so I merely have to watch him increase his distance away from the wormhole. But I align to my bookmarked wreck, a really convenient new feature of our flight systems, and when the Catalyst warps away I am only a couple of seconds behind him.

I aim to drop out of warp at thirty kilometres or so from the wreck. I am hoping to get a quick bomb launch from this, without needing to crawl closer and risk losing the shot, but I am taking a separate risk. Other wrecks may have been created around my bookmarked wreck, and the combat ships may have decided to move, and I could be warping in a bit too close for comfort. Which I almost am. Although I am not decloaked, I find myself feeling a bit crowded by the Drakes still in the anomaly. It looks like my Manticore was spotted, or at least my presence taken as a threat, if the Drakes are staying to guard the Catalyst. Or maybe not, as the battlecruisers only loiter for a few more seconds before warping away, perhaps only ensuring that the Catalyst successfully used their Drakes as a beacon in to the site. Now the Catalyst is alone, or so he thinks.

I back my Manticore away a little. The thirty kilometre flight of the bomb and its fifteen kilometre explosion radius lets me get close enough to apply warp disruption effects with a twenty kilometre range on a target, but I don't want to push the envelope too much. Of course, if a pilot tries to escape the explosion by moving towards me it merely makes my warp disruption more likely to stick. I get to twenty kilometres away from the Catalyst before turning, making sure my Manticore is fully aligned with the target before decloaking and launching the bomb eighteen kilometres out. As the bomb sails quietly towards its destruction I grab a quick target lock on the Catalyst and get a point, successfully disrupting the warp engines. And I pause briefly, letting the bomb explode and blast the Catalyst's shields away, before launching torpedoes. Three volleys is all it takes before the salvager explodes, throwing the pilot's pod out in to space. I try to snare the pod too, but even my sensor-boosted Manticore isn't quite quick enough.

The salvager pop is a good kill, clean and efficient. I never expect to get the pod unless a warp bubble is present, so I am not disappointed at it escaping. I simply make sure my ship is away from any obstructions and re-activate my cloak. And it's good that I do, as the three Drakes return a second later, dropping out of warp where the Catalyst used to be, now only a wreck, which just so happens to be about five kilometres from me too. I am relatively safe, as long as I don't do anything silly. I move away from the ships, taking care to avoid the almost-invisible cosmic signature of the anomaly, just to make myself feel safer, and two of the Drakes warp out. But one stays, and it starts spewing missiles! I'm not quite sure what's going on or what he's firing, that perhaps there is a new guided weapon designed to seek cloaked ships, but my alarm subsides when I see the Sleeper wrecks being destroyed. I suppose if they aren't getting the salvage they don't want me to have it either.

I warp back to the wormhole to see the Drakes jump home. It doesn't look like they are coming back, either. And after a while the Cheetah seen earlier jumps home too. I'd almost forgotten about him. But there is no more movement through the wormhole, the sixty one anomalies now remaining will still be here tomorrow. My patience pays again, getting me the Catalyst kill, and I am glad I used a bomb this time. The damage from the bomb was significant and the Drakes turned up in such short order that torpedoes alone would not have been quick enough. And the Drake that shot the wrecks didn't quite finish off the wreck of a Sleeper battleship, which remains in the system. As the others are not returning I swap to my own salvager and sneakily grab the loot from the wreck, earning myself a little over seven million ISK, which is a fair prize considering I couldn't loot my kill. But I still don't have fuel for the tower, which was my original goal of the evening. I'd better get it in the next few days.

  1. 3 Responses to “Stalking Sleeper slayers”

  2. For your ozone needs, could you use any planets in your system to produce it?

    By Merchantus on Dec 18, 2010

  3. Probably. I think we have most PI products covered, but PI itself doesn't interest me much yet.

    By pjharvey on Dec 18, 2010

  4. It did take me awhile to understand how to set up a good production planet. However, it does become a handy side source of income.

    By Merchantus on Dec 19, 2010

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