Looking for action

11th April 2011 – 5.21 pm

Fin's educating me on how to shoot Sleepers. We've collapsed our static wormhole, to remove the exit to null-sec k-space and look for better opportunities, and found another occupied but inactive class 3 w-space system. It's arguable whether we've found a better exit, though, even if it leads out to low-sec empire space, as Aridia is hardly convenient for anything but isolation. At least there are three sweet anomalies out of six in this C3, which we can run for profit before collapsing the static connection a second time. I naively think it is merely adding a second Tengu strategic cruiser that is speeding up combat, but Fin isn't as simple as me.

I've just been shooting standard heavy missiles at the Sleepers so far. Fin, however, has been switching to advanced heavy missiles to hit the Sleeper battleships harder, and the good C3 anomalies make this tactic easier. We can warp in to the anomalies with launchers initially loaded with Fury missiles, destroy the first battleship, switch to standard missiles for the cruisers and then frigates, before loading Fury missiles back in to the launchers for the final two battleships. And that also leaves Fury loaded for the next anomaly. It's a neat tactic, and one that clearly makes Sleeper combat quicker. Fin jettisons a thousand Fury missiles so that I can join in the fun.

Three anomalies are cleared of Sleepers nice and quickly, and our two Noctis salvagers sweep up the wrecks even more quickly. We bring back a hundred and forty million ISK in profit, which accumulates with the rest of the loot in our hangar. We ought to sell this as much as buy some fuel, although we need a better exit before we can do either. And if we get to sell our stash I may be tempted to splash out on a new ship, one that hopefully will make further solo Sleeper slayings less time-consuming than in the Tengu. But we'll see.

We start to collapse our static wormhole again, as Mick returns to us, using the Aridia connection, from an earlier roam through w-space. I spot scanning probes in the home system, which may make the operation a little dangerous, so I guard the Orca industrial command ship with my Malediction interceptor. As we didn't see probes in the C3 their presence at home is suggestive of a new wormhole connecting in to our system, giving us more to search for when scanning shortly. A Buzzard covert operations boat is spotted briefly on directional scanner, making it more likely a mere scout exploring beyond a new connection and not threatening in itself, and we complete the wormhole's collapse without interruption.

Collaborative scanning lets me resolve our new static wormhole whilst Mick looks for the implied K162. He does better than that, resolving two K162s instead. One comes from class 5 w-space, the other class 2 w-space. There are three wormholes to explore through and three of us, and it's a simple matter to decide who wants to go where. Mick heads through to class 5 w-space, Fin checks the class 2 system connecting to us, and I jump through our static wormhole in to class 3 w-space. An initial d-scan reading in the C3 looks promising, with two towers and loads of ships in the system, but the lack of wrecks doesn't bode well for any actual activity. I bookmark the position of the wormhole home and warp off to explore.

The first tower I find has battleships, battlecruisers, and industrial ships all sitting inside its shields, and all unpiloted. A single ship is visible on d-scan that isn't at the tower, but I also have a second tower to find. Sure enough, the Sleipnir command ship is at the second tower, and also unpiloted. I warp out of sight of the tower defences to launch probes and scan the system. Yow, twenty-eight anomalies are waiting to be plundered here, and loads of other signatures accompany them. We could cause a lot of damage here, but it depends on how active the other systems in our current constellation are. We are also looking for a good exit, so I sift through the signatures to find the static connection, it naturally leading to low-sec empire space, and find no other traces of wormholes. Popping out to low-sec puts me in the Placid region, which is about as dull as it sounds, and I simply head back to see what the others have found.

Mick's exploration of the class 5 system connecting in to home finds no activity or occupation, causing him to look for a further K162, which he finds. The next system along is also class 5 w-space, but jumping through has an unexpected effect. The wormhole collapses behind his Loki strategic cruiser, apparently too weak to take that much mass. We should have told the wormhole it wasn't Mak in the Loki, I suppose, but it's too late now. The unexpected collapse of the connection isolates Mick from us again, so soon after his return, and he is left scanning his way from system to system to get back to k-space, from where he can hopefully make another safe return.

Fin, on the other hand, has found some pilots, if not actual activity. I follow in to the C2 behind her, where she initially takes time to guide me towards the system's second static connection and another K162 coming from class 5 w-space. The static wormhole is an exit to high-sec empire space, which could be great for getting fuel—or a new ship for Sleeper combat—if it weren't reaching the end of its natural lifetime, and we leave it alone to monitor the locals. There is a piloted Merlin frigate at one tower in this class 2 system and a piloted battleship at a second tower on the outskirts of the system, but their co-existence is not quite as benign as it first appears. All of the defences of the first tower have been incapacitated and the tower itself is in reinforced mode, whereas the second tower is very much on-line and quite prickly with active defences. It looks like we have stumbled in to the middle of a corporate war.

The siege-in-progress would also explain the warp bubble near the exit to high-sec. At first blush it looks rather poorly placed, capturing no ships that warp to the wormhole, but a more directed look shows it to be placed in-line with the sieged tower, acting to prevent quick access to the wormhole for removing ships, or bringing in reinforcements. The bubble would only be a significant inconvenience if it were monitored, however, and although the movements at the second tower are minimal there seem to be occasional reconnoitring trips to check on the Merlin pilot's activity. It looks to be a rigorous effort to expel the first corporation from this system.

Rather than treat both sides as hostile Fin talks to the Merlin pilot, trying to make an ally instead. There's not much for me to do here, so I warp to the K162 and jump in to the C5 to explore there. D-scan is clear on the other side of the wormhole and I launch probes to perform a discreet blanket scan of the system. There isn't much to find, even with the eleven anomalies, as the sole signature in the system must be the wormhole I just jumped through. There are ships somewhere in the system too, which I find all to be sitting inside the shields of a tower. The ships are almost exlusively industrial, which would account for the complete lack of any mining sites in the system.

A single Bestower hauler is piloted at this tower in the C5, and the hint of a ship wandering about collecting planet goo is enough to send me home for a stealth bomber. I make the swap, return to the C5, and park outside of the tower, watching the Bestower stare intently at a jet-can containing bookmarks. I have hopes that he'll head out for planet goo collection, or to use the exit to high-sec in the C2, but he just sits and stares at this jet-can. It's not terribly interesting watching a ship do nothing, but I still may be able to be productive. It all depends if the exit to high-sec has died of old age and caused a new one to appear, giving access to the market in empire space. I head back to the C2 to find out.

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