Isolated Sleeper combat

12th June 2011 – 3.25 pm

There is movement afoot in a nearby class 4 w-space system. An Anathema covert operations boat may be headed my way, spotted by glorious leader Fin sitting on the K162 connection between our neighbouring C3 and the C4. She has scouted the system and seen a couple of combat ships and another cov-ops piloted at the tower in the C4, but nothing more than a few ship movements since the earlier combat I detected. A pod jumps through to the C3 and evades Fin's grasp, but if it headed out to empire space naked then maybe it will be back in a ship that we can engage.

Fin returns home to swap her Buzzard cov-ops for a cloaking Onyx heavy interdictor, looking to make use of its warp bubble to catch unwary ship passages. I board my trusty Manticore stealth bomber, always my favourite ship when I'm not sure what else would work, and jump to the C3 to lurk and scout. It looked like the C4 dwellers were headed the way of the C3's static connection to low-sec empire space, and I jump through it to make use of the transparent local channel, looking for pilots of the C4 corporation before they get to the wormhole.

No one of interest is in low-sec space with me, but a Buzzard appears in the C3 before presumably cloaking. Maybe we're monitoring the wrong wormhole and our targets are using the connection to high-sec, which would make more sense and also make an ambush a little more difficult. Rather than stopping the ships on the exit we could trap them on their own wormhole, I suppose, but with a Drake battlecruiser and Legion strategic cruiser available at their tower we wouldn't have much time to engage and clear the pocket before we are potentially overwhelmed.

The appearance and subsequent disappearance at an unknown location of a Navy Issue Scorpion battleship in the C3 gives me enough of a bad feeling that I abort our embryonic operation at the 'I have a headache' stage. It's probably best that we head home and collapse our wormhole if we want to be productive. Mind you, the presence of core probes in our home system is not encouraging, particularly as they are first spotted when Fin is already warping to the wormhole in her Orca industrial command ship, but there is not much we can do about it now except continue.

Space remains clear as the Orca leaves our home system and returns. A second trip is similarly uneventful, making us suspect the scout to be from a new wormhole connecting to us than from already mapped w-space. Our wormhole is now critically unstable, on the verge of collapse, and Fin makes use of another piece of shared advice to help collapse wormholes and isolate ourselves. Refitting the Onyx heavy interdictor lets her exit the system a svelte 352 tonnes and return at 65 kilotonnes, enough to ensure safe passage out and collapsing the wormhole coming back. Job's a good 'un.

I scan our system and see no sign of a new wormhole, making me wonder where the scout was from, but he seemed to leave without us noticing as the only probes in the system are now my own. I resolve our new static wormhole and jump through to explore more class 3 w-space. My directional scanner is clear of any ships or structures, and I launch probes and perform a blanket scan. Before they give me any result I update my notes and see that we were here only six weeks ago, giving us an occupied system with a static exit to low-sec. Fin jumps in and, as I have two towers listed, we pick one each to reconnoitre.

I find an on-line but empty tower, Fin an unpiloted Noctis salvager at the second on-line tower. That matches with the single ship seen on my blanket scan of the system, but despite being the only two capsuleers we know about here Fin's Buzzard still explodes. It seems she became unintentionally decloaked and a target for the tower's automatic defence systems. Oh well, accidents happen, and I only have five signatures to sift through to find out that there is only a single wormhole that we can keep closed whilst we clear some anomalies to pay for a replacement Buzzard.

There is only one of our favoured anomalies amongst the nine present, but scanning also resolved a magnetometric site which could be full of profitable artefacts and worth visiting. Combat in our Tengu strategic cruisers is straightforward, if a little haphazard in the magnetometric site, and salvaging and analysing brings home a decent haul. The loot and salvage from the Sleeper wrecks covers the cost of the Buzzard nicely, and we have a bunch of artefacts as pure profit to end the evening on a positive note.

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