Trying to stay safe

5th August 2011 – 5.48 pm

There's some activity today, but sadly only in a w-space system far away. One of our colleagues has got himself isolated and is passing the time by ninjaing Sleeper loot from under the noses of a couple of dreadnoughts. At least, he is until Sleeper frigates get hold of him, disrupting his warp engines and leaving him a sitting duck for just about everyone in the escalated anomaly. Causing trouble to the end, he jettisons the loot he's already stolen and shoots it, to prevent the locals getting it back. Riyu really knows how to make enemies. As he steels himself to face the one-way suicide trip to a clone vat in high-sec, I turn my attention back to our home system.

Mick and Fin are out scanning in our neighbouring class 4 w-space system but before I head out to join them I take time to update my bookmarks of the local sites. It doesn't take long, we keep a clean system, and I can confirm there are no new wormholes connecting in to us. I jump next door to a C4 with three towers, an Archon and Thanatos carrier sitting unpiloted in one, a Chimera carrier unpiloted in the second, and the third holding an empty Orca industrial command ship and Rorqual capital industrial ship. If that's what they have just floating around I imagine the locals have plenty of hardware stowed in their hangars. But for now the system remains inactive, unlike the class 3 w-space system this C4 connects to.

A Buzzard covert operations boat is spotted loitering on a wormhole in the C3, and Mick gives it a poke. It's a pretty hard poke, cracking the ship to get a Sisters probe launcher, and smashing the pod to scoop a fresh corpse. Interrogating the Buzzard's systems shows it to belong to the corporation in the C4, so either the system will stay quiet, now that we've podded the only active pilot, or it will wake up, now that we've podded one of their pilots. Either way, scanning is completed quickly, the C3's static exit leading to null-sec k-space and there being no other wormholes, and with a minimal constellation we find we have little to do. There is a single anomaly in the C4 which would be profitable, and we tempt fate by forming a fleet to steal Sleeper profit our neighbours.

I have to borrow a stinky Tengu strategic cruiser to participate, which doesn't sit well with me. I am far from good at fitting ships but I have ideas about what works for me, and piloting another capsuleer's ship makes me feel uncomfortable, like staying in a hotel room. It's pleasant enough, but it's not my own. You never know what fluids the previous occupant has leaked all over the place. Never the less, we get four Tengus up and running and blast our way through the Sleeper ships as if they weren't there. Combat over, we need to salvage, and rather than send out a vulnerable salvager and assume he'll bring home the bacon safely, we keep a Tengu or two available for protection.

As the salvager salvages, I scout the local towers. They are out of range of the directional scanner from the anomaly, which afforded us some arguable protection from easy detection, but also prevented us from seeing new ships arriving. As I get in to d-scan range of the towers I see a Purifier new to the system. I warp between the towers to get an eyeball on the stealth bomber, finding him stationary in one of them, but not for long. The bomber stirs in to action, warping away in a direction that could be the cleared anomaly. I warp to my colleagues and remain cloaked, ready to pounce on the bomber should he decide to strike against our Noctis, but either its Tengu escort discourages the Purifier from taking a shot or he didn't come here in the first place.

We get our Noctis home safely with our loot, making me some iskies from Sleepers for the first time in quite a while, and start to collapse our static wormhole. A Helios cov-ops boat is spotted on the wormhole but whether he jumps or warps away is not determined. Throwing an Orca through the connection to destabilise it flushes out the Helios soon enough, sending him back to the C4 and leaving us alone again. Or mostly alone, as Mick has an Arazu recon ship on d-scan in the C4. I take my covert Tengu back in to take a look around, this time seeing piloted a Guardian logistics ship and Dominix battleship at one of the towers, a Proteus strategic cruiser also appearing on d-scan there. It looks like the system is waking up.

Any danger that could currently be thrown at us doesn't look insurmountable. The remote repairs of the Guardian could be mitigated by my cloaky Tengu sneaking up on it unawares, and with that out of the way the Proteus and Dominix could be countered by our own ships. The Arazu's finglonger could present a problem but one perhaps not so dangerous if we have a wormhole to jump home through. But our wormhole is already stressed and a more prudent plan would be to complete its collapse, and we press ahead with that. Even so, just because we want to collapse the wormhole doesn't mean our neighbours will let us, and the Proteus, Dominix, and Guardian all warp there to greet Fin's next trip in the Orca. No doubt the Helios has imparted intelligence on our ship movements and numbers to his own fleet.

The wormhole doesn't destabilise critically on Fin's jump, leaving us unsure whether it will collapse on her return. She cloaks the Orca to try to remain safe as we organise a suitable ship to go through to add some more mass, but the hostile fleet aims for the space they saw the Orca disappear, hoping to bump it, and Fin is forced to return. The wormhole shrinks as it destabilises critically, but it doesn't collapse and that isn't good enough. Naturally, the hostile fleet doesn't follow, understanding well enough the folly it would be, but they loiter on the other side for long enough to see Mick's Loki jump out to give the wormhole one last push. The push works, but sadly on the way out, to leave our colleague stranded from our home system yet again. At least his strategic cruiser is a scanning boat and we already have an exit out to null-sec, which he is able to use once the hostile fleet is easily evaded.

We have a new wormhole to find, a new constellation to explore, and two colleagues to bring home. The wormhole leads us to a class 4 system with four ships sitting empty inside a tower and almost two dozen signatures to sift through. Resolving those signatures reveals two wormholes amongst the rocks and gas, one the static connection to another C4, the other a K162 from class 2 w-space. The C2 sounds interesting and, as usual, I opt for the interesting path, albeit with an excuse that the C2 will also have a connection to k-space. Sadly, the C2 is a little too interesting.

I initially see an Anathema cov-ops boat and a Proteus on d-scan, along with five small Sleeper wrecks, and expanding my results sees three active towers. A passive scan reveals five anomalies but the Sleeper wrecks are not in any of them, which means I may be looking for a gravimetric or ladar site and will need to scan. I warp away from the wormhole to try to launch probes covertly, which I only manage to do once I have avoided the three other towers on the edge of the system. Scanning with combat probes reveals two more towers, making eight in total in here, with piloted ships spread across nearly all of them.

It could still be possible to scan for the mining site, if the Sleeper wrecks are there and the miner goes back to shooting rocks or sucking gas. But when a colleague decides to try to steal from a container outside an occupied tower the locals show they are paying attention, swapping from their benign Iteron hauler and Buzzard in to a Manticore stealth bomber and Celestis cruiser, and a new contact appears in a Stabber cruiser. It looks like any action occurring here will now be weighed against us, and trying to keep track of multiple pilots across several towers is bound to cause problems for us. It's also late, and although we have colleagues to get back home my help will have to wait. I'm heading home to get some sleep.

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