From snake to salvager

23rd July 2011 – 3.38 pm

I'm still in the class 5 w-space system bivouac, but glorious leader Fin is elsewhere. She's only as far as the neighbouring C4, scanning the constellation, so I go out to join her. There are two Orca industrial command ships, a Rorqual capital industrial ship, and a Tempest battleship all sitting unpiloted at the tower in this class 4 system, which I find out just as a second colleague scanning in a covert operations Buzzard resolves a wormhole leading to class 3 w-space. My MCP rides his beam to the connection.

The C3 looks interesting immediately. My directional scanner shows a Rattlesnake and a tower, but the presence of Sleeper wrecks suggests the faction battleship is not as inert as the previous ships. A passive scan reveals only two anomalies in this C3 and the wrecks are not coincident with either of them, so it looks like the site has despawned. A Noctis salvager appears and the wrecks start to clear. Our target may be a cautious one, taking care to ensure no ambushers lurk cloaked as he flies solo. But I have the location of the two remaining anomalies, all I need now is for him to go out shooting Sleepers again.

I locate and warp to the tower in the C3 to wait for the pilot's return, hoping he will continue his Sleeper slaying when his salvaging finishes. And indeed he swaps back to the Rattlesnake after dropping his loot, which bodes well. Now that my own colleagues are waking up we even have an excellent chance of successfully engaging the Rattlesnake, and our small fleet grows with pilots looking for combat. The battleship doesn't look to be going anywhere, though, and we now have new contacts in the previous system.

Fin is completing a full scan of the C4 and notices a Cheetah cov-ops boat on d-scan, who warps out of their tower and back. More pilots wake up in the C4 and their own fleet starts to form, with a Rokh battleship first to appear joined by a Megathron battleship, two Tengu strategic cruisers, an Ishtar heavy assault ship, Falcon recon ship, and a Phobos heavy interdictor. The Cheetah has warped out and jumped in to our C5, looking awfully like a scout for the fleet. Our own force must have been noticed before it mobilised and now a countering fleet has been gathered, one that is warping to our K162.

It's a shame that our fleet is being held, and by superior force, as the Rattlesnake has decided he wants to shoot more Sleepers and has warped to one of the two anomalies in this C3. If only we could get our ships here we could get a decent kill. As it is, my best hope now is that the pilot continues to fly solo and brings his Noctis in to salvage unguarded. At least any concern I may have about getting back past the hostile fleet vanishes with our wormhole, as the fleet jumps the Rokh through the connection, followed by an Orca, and collapses our way home. They may think they have only isolated themselves from a threat, not realising that three of us are still on the wrong side, but I doubt they care. I wouldn't.

The anomaly in the C3 is cleared of Sleepers and I warp back to the tower to see what the Rattlesnake pilot does next. My colleague warps out to a nearby planet and keeps watch on the anomaly using d-scan, taking care to stay out of the anomaly to let it despawn, which our target seems to sensibly use as a precaution. But not this time. No sooner am I dropping out of warp at the tower than the pilot switches to the Noctis and warps straight back out again. I follow behind, aiming a little short for safety, and find myself in an excellent position to engage the salvager.

Fin's heading my way, naturally losing interest in the occupants of the C4 and having no way home herself, and she has time to reach me. The Noctis is a quick salvager, but not that quick, and I am still crawling under cloak to get in to warp disruption range. Fin jumps in to the C3 and warps to my position, at which point I decloak and burn the last few kilometres towards the Noctis, locking and pointing the ship as I do. Popping an unarmed ship is super simple, particularly with two Tengus, even configured for covert operations, and the salvager explodes with little ceremony. The ejected pod warps cleanly away, leaving us a wreck to loot and shoot.

I grab about forty million iskies of loot from the Noctis, it having had time to loot and salvage many of the Sleeper wrecks, but it's not quite the victory or trophy of ambushing the Rattlesnake. Now we need to get home, and we scan the C3 to resolve the system's static exit to low-sec empire space. It's one short hop to high-sec from this small, three-system low-sec island in The Citadel, and I and my two fleet mates clear the C3 easily enough. Our colleagues back in the C5 have been busy too, having scanned their way through their new constellation to get a new exit, one we can immediately use to get home. The entrance is even in high-sec empire space.

Sixteen stargate jumps later and we've picked up the relevant bookmarks, contracted to each of us, and are making our way through w-space to the C5 system. I pause briefly in a class 4 w-space system as I see a Bhaalgorn, Apocalypse, and Abaddon on d-scan with drones and Sleeper wrecks. The battleships don't hang around, though, probably spotting Fin or me jumping in to the system, and they warp out of the anomaly there are in with more Sleepers yet to pop. I loiter for a couple of minutes but the locals really have finished for now, so I warp to the next wormhole and jump in to the C5 to bivouac down for another night.

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