Sleepers after a Hulk

4th April 2011 – 5.18 pm

It's just me and Fin again. Mick chased an Orca industrial command ship collapsing a wormhole, and the wormhole collapsed. He's isolated out in empire space until we can find a new entrance for him to use. Scanning is a daily task, though, so hopefully we can get him back this evening. We scan our home system and find the static wormhole, jumping through to class 3 w-space to explore today's constellation. A tower but no ships is returned by our directional scanners, and the system has loads of anomalies and other signatures. I locate the tower for reference, easily found anchored to the only moon around one of the planets, and we begin to sift through the signatures to look for wormholes.

Fin finds a couple of wormholes quickly enough, using an eliminative scanning probe configuration, both of us resolving one for efficiency. One wormhole is the system's static exit to low-sec empire space, the other a K162 coming from class 4 w-space. The K162 interests me and, hoping to find activity, I jump through to investigate. D-scan reveals two towers and a bunch of industrial ships floating around somewhere. As it is difficult to discern active pilots from inert ships I need to find the towers to get a visual identification of the ships. The first tower has a couple of haulers sitting unpiloted in the shields, the second an Orca, Crane transport ship, and Zephyr exploration ship are all piloted. And now I can see that a Hulk exhumer is unaccounted for, and a jet-can looks to be with it. I have a target.

I need to launch probes to find the mining Hulk, and ideally this should be done covertly. I warp to the opposite edge of the solar system, hoping to get out of d-scan range of at least the Hulk, if not also the towers, but don't manage it. All planets are in d-scan range of all other planets, which is good defensively but awkward for me at the moment. My only chance is to launch my scanning probes and move them out of the system as quickly as possible, and hope the pilots aren't paying close attention to d-scan. I point my ship in an arbitrary direction, pulse my reheat, and start launching probes. As soon as I have enough probes launched I fling them far out of the system and hit 'scan', re-activating my cloak as I do. I just hope I've been quick enough.

I warp back to the tower to monitor the reactions of the local pilots. Unfortunately, it looks like my presence has been spotted, as the Hulk warps back in to the force field within a minute of my probe launch. He doesn't stir, either to change ships to collect the ore or head back out to continue after a snack break, ending my hunt early. The jet-can is still in what must be a gravimetric site, though, and I can scan for the site in case the miner is foolish enough to go back a bit later. Of course, as he was vigilant with d-scan this time I doubt that he will return, but I can at least practice scanning again.

I get a bearing and range on the can, wondering why I am having a bit of trouble narrowing down the angle until I realise the site is around 14 AU away from the tower, almost on the limit of d-scan range. Any small changes in angle will be magnified over that distance. I should get closer to the target, to reduce such errors in variance, and to make placing probes easier to gauge, but feeling this to be a dummy run makes me more cavalier about succeeding. And my lack of care shows in the poor result of my first scan, resolving the site not even to a single point but a sphere of uncertainty. It takes two more attempts to resolve the site fully, but it's a good reminder to get as close as possible to the target to reduce errors.

I warp in to the site and see the jet-can remain, making a note of the asteroids nearby and bookmarking the can if only because I spent the time finding it. Monitoring the tower again sees the local pilots alerted in to inactivity and, as the exit to low-sec in the C3 is reaching the end of its natural lifetime, we may as well pass our time shooting some Sleepers. The plentiful anomalies in the C3 include six of the more profitable and easier to complete ones, and there is also a magnetar phenomenon in the system, its damage-enhancing influence promising to speed up combat. Fin and I return home, swap in to our Tengu strategic cruisers, and head out to the first anomaly.

Sleeper combat is fast and smooth, the homogeneity of the first two waves making kill-order irrelevant, the magnetar helping to destroy the battleships quickly, and we are speeding through the anomalies. Before we know it all six are cleared of Sleepers and it is time to salvage. I ask Fin if she's ready to die to an ambush, knowing that we are in an occupied if inactive system, with an active but perhaps carebear-populated system adjacent. 'It's the best time to die', she replies, as we jump home to pilot a Noctis salvager each.

Returning to the C3 sees a new ship on d-scan. The Bustard transport ship doesn't represent a threat in itself, but it will hold a pilot and it is entirely possible he could thwart our salvaging efforts, or even prevent us returning home. It depends how alert he is, and how recently he scanned this system for anomalies. For now we ignore him, in as much as we plough on with salvaging but aware of the potential threat. The Noctis is the perfect ship for swift salvaging, designed specifically for this purpose, and I have cleared three sites of loot and salvage and am heading home as a Probe frigate is appears on d-scan, along with scanning probes. The locals are looking for us.

I could head to the final site to help Fin salvage, but simply head home instead. It may be quicker to add a second Noctis to salvage, but it also makes for a second target and puts all of our loot in one place. It's better to get some of our profit home intact and return in a combat ship to protect Fin, which is what I do. Thankfully my stealth bomber is not needed, Fin warping home as I jump back in to the C3, although she says the scanning probes were closing in on her as she was finishing. I warp to the local tower to see what the pilots do next, and the Probe is swapped for a Purifier stealth bomber before warping off in a direction I don't recognise.

I imagine the Purifier's gone to the new static wormhole, no doubt thinking we are low-sec tourists stealing their Sleeper loot, and the absence of the earlier EOL wormhole adds weight to my guess. Fin comes back in a scanning boat to resolve the new exit, and monitors it for jumps for a while, seeing none. A quick check of the C4 has nothing new happening external to the tower there, leaving us nothing else to do but head home for the night. We don't get to ambush any pilots, but we rake in the Sleeper profit and salvage under pressure, and the three hundred million ISK in profit makes it a rather successful evening.

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