Upsetting negotiations

26th April 2011 – 5.27 pm

I need to kill some time, but killing a miner seems like a good alternative. I'm pootling around looking for something to do when a newly piloted Retriever warps out of the tower of our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, apparently off to strip some rocks of ore. I'm already loitering in the system in my Manticore stealth bomber, which may be great for shooting the mining barge but it won't let me find the gravimetric site to get close enough to do it. Thankfully, Mick turns up right on time and comes in to the C3 in his scouting Loki strategic cruiser, ready to put his scanning skills to use.

A bit of work with my directional scanner puts the Retriever between 325 and 350 million kilometres almost directly above the fifth planet in this system, which I hope helps Mick get an initial bead for his own passive detection. He gets a five degree bearing and a similar range, positions his probes, and the Retriever disappears from d-scan. The miner can't have seen us yet, surely. I warp back to the tower in this C3 to see him sat inside the shields and inactive. I urge Mick to resolve the gravimetric site anyway, which is actually a good idea considering the site is out of d-scan range of the tower, where his probes will remain undetected.

The Retriever warps back out of the tower again after a couple of minutes, returning to the gravimetric site. And Mick is there too now, seeing the miner continue stripping a crokite asteroid of ore. I warp in to join the two of them, Retriever oblivious to Loki and Manticore, and we are preparing to take our shot when Sleepers gatecrash the party. The piddly Sleepers are of little concern to us, as we can pop the Retriever and probably pod the pilot quickly enough, even if they were not out of their own range. Sleeper missiles fall short of the Retriever, whilst the pilot seems entirely unconcerned about the incoming fire, taking time to approach the crokite instead of trying to warp out.

We have a quick decision to make, and let the Retriever warp out of the site. It seems likely that a combat ship will be brought in shortly to deal with the Sleeper presence, before the miner can continue chipping away at rocks, and a harder target would be a more satisfying kill than another unarmed boat. I'll probably need a more capable vessel for the escalated assault, and warp home to swap the Manticore for my Legion strategic cruiser, still waiting to see some real action. I warp back to our static wormhole and hold, waiting for Mick to call me in when our target is ascertained. Fin's here and waiting on ship selection for the same reason, seeing if we need additional firepower or if we can instead take a heavy interdictor in to trap the pilot in a warp bubble. But no ship comes to shoot the Sleepers in the gravimetric site.

Mick reconnoitres the tower in the C3, seeing the miner switch from his Retriever to a shuttle and head out to low-sec through the system's static wormhole, confusingly enough. We assume that perhaps he is heading out to collect a ship in which he can engage the Sleepers, somehow not having one fitted and available in the hangar nearby. Still hoping for the kill we wait, although Fin decides to get back to her previous task instead of wasting time. She continues moving a puppet across to our previously connected C3, which was unoccupied and the occupant of this C3 was interested in buying. 'This is the pilot you're selling to?' Mick asks. Yep! I realise it may hurt negotations a little if we podded a colleague of his, but it would be pretty funny.

After a short while the pilot returns from low-sec, but only in the same shuttle that he left in. He gets back to the tower and promptly logs off. That's disappointing, and a little peculiar. I don't quite understand why he'd leave the Sleepers alone, unless they perhaps get bored and wander off within a day. Even so, they are hardly more than flies to swat aside before getting back to mining. Maybe the pilot just wanted to activate the site, grab however much ore he could until Sleepers arrived, then wait until the next day before getting stuck in to the mining. It just goes to show you can never really tell if you should take the shot or not, as we could have easily popped the Retriever and only restrained ourselves with the hope of a bigger prize.

Even if we can't upset negotiations by killing our potential buyers, we can steal profit from their system. There are three anomalies in this C3, all of them out of d-scan range of the tower. Fin's got the puppet in to the other C3, ready to sell if we agree a price, or stay in there to look for other buyers later, and rejoins us for the Sleeper combat. My Golem marauder joins their two Tengu strategic cruisers, and we warp in to the first anomaly. The outpost frontier stronghold is fairly straightforward, even in a black hole system that significantly hampers my torpedo range, as all the Sleepers come rushing headlong towards us. The first anomaly is swept clean of Sleepers in short order.

The oruze construct and fortified frontier stronghold are not quite as simple as the first anomaly, though, as some of the Sleepers we encounter prefer to stay at range. At least my Golem's target painter isn't affected by the black hole phenomenon and can still improve the damage of the Tengus' missiles. We clear all three sites without problems or interruptions, my Golem looting and salvaging as we go. We get home with an uninspiring but worthwhile hundred and fifty million ISK in profit, which won't be counted as part-payment of the system for sale, if the locals even notice their anomalies have disappeared.

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