Noctis under guard

17th June 2011 – 7.41 pm

Our new neighbours remain busy. I left them after they popped a hauler trying to pass through their class 2 w-space system and now Mick is watching their Noctis salvager clear up Sleeper wrecks in an anomaly. He'd be shooting it, if it weren't for the Legion, Tengu, and Drake guarding their loot collector. The strategic cruisers and battlecruiser are enough of a threat to deter a straight attack, but a hit-and-run with stealth bombers may be possible. I'm too slow in getting through the K162 in our system, though, the Noctis salvaging the final wreck and leaving the cleared anomaly before I am close to being ready.

It doesn't look like combat has stopped, as only the Noctis returns to the tower. The ships aren't in an anomaly this time, it seems, and must have moved in to a radar or magnetometric site. This may be good for our plans to ambush the operation, as the pilots will want to hack databanks or analyse artefacts, which may take another combat boat out of the pocket. Mick finds somewhere out of range to launch probes and starts narrowing down their position in space. The best time to scan would perhaps be when the Noctis warps in to the site, the ship changes maybe distracting the pilots, so I monitor the tower to let Mick know when he moves.

The Noctis moves, Mick scans. He has the site and he warps in, guiding me there as well. Even though the Noctis has warped in none of the combat ships are leaving, there being no sign of a hacking boat for this radar site yet. We are also quite a distance from the salvager, and with the site on the outskirts of the system there is not a good shot to be taken. All the planets are behind us, so I cannot align to have the Noctis between my Manticore and a convenient celestial object to effect a quick exit. And as this class 2 system holds a black hole phenomenon, which decreases ship agility, turning to leave will take longer, which is just what I don't want when trying to evade the guard ships.

This is interesting. The Noctis has finished salvaging and has moved on to hacking the databases. One ship fits all for these capsuleers. But the extended reach tractor beams are useless on the static Sleeper databanks, making the Noctis alternate between being a sitting target and a slow-moving one. I have not sat still watching the salvager but instead moved from my distant position to being closer to the databanks, the black hole-boosted speed letting me get around to the other side of the structure so I can even align out towards a planet. And now the Noctis is slowly moving his way towards me. Mick heads home to bring a second stealth bomber for what now looks like a good opportunistic shot.

It seems Mick's re-entry to the system may have been spotted. The previously uninterested Drake warps out and comes back to the radar site in a Deimos heavy assault ship along with a companion in a Hurricane battlecruiser. That's okay, as the Noctis continues hacking the databases, even if the ships are holding a fairly close orbit to him at all times. We manoeuvre our stealth bombers in to position, realigning a couple of times as the Noctis successfully hacks a databank and moves on, and we're ready. With one last check that we are facing the Noctis and have an exit vector, we coordinate our launch, decloaking and throwing a bomb each at the target.

I am in warp as my bomb detonates and I see no explosion, but Mick reports the Noctis's destruction. We got him! Both of us clear the pocket too, showing that the combat ships were not much protection after all, although we are not able to remain to loot the wreck for ourselves. Mick goes back to give it a go, but because of the proximity of the wreck to the structure in the site, and the need to turn almost right around to warp out again, the Deimos catches and pops his Nemesis in a slightly misjudged approach. I warp in at range, not really relishing losing my own bomber, but when the combat ships leave the site I sneak a peak inside the wreck. As expected, all that is left are some metal scraps, any items of value already recovered by the locals at that point.

The wormhole leading home remains clear of any ships, the locals either not aware of where we came from or just not particularly bothered. Either way, there's not much else we can do here for now. They have superior numbers and are alert to our hostile presence, and it is probably best we let the situation calm down, at least for the moment. We head home to take a look at what's happening in the other direction, through our static wormhole.

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