Wrecks are a salvager's worst enemy

11th October 2011 – 5.00 pm

Scan, resolve, jump. It's like any other day, except for the Nidhoggur carrier and its fighters appearing on my directional scanner in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. I occasionally see a carrier floating unpiloted in towers in lower-class w-space, somewhat overkill for the Sleeper infestations they must face, but today one is out and seeing action. He's not in an anomaly, as the passive scan I complete only finds one in the system and that is out of range of d-scan, but there are some Sleeper wrecks scattered around. I'll need to launch probes and scan properly to find the site the Nidhoggur's in.

A distant planet lets me launch scanning probes covertly. At least, I hope it does, as returning to the inner system and locating the tower here sees a Buzzard covert operations boat appear. And as I can see combat scanning probes on d-scan that aren't mine I can only assume that it's already game over, man, as the Buzzard will see the new wormhole opening in to their system and put the locals on alert. I leave the tower and warp to the K162 home, sitting a safe distance away to see if the Buzzard jumps through to explore, as I try to locate the Nidhoggur. There are only four other signatures in the system, besides our wormhole, which I suppose doesn't actually make him easier to find but is good to note anyway.

The Buzzard appears some distance from me at the K162, but doesn't approach to jump. Instead he launches some core scanning probes and cloaks. I don't know what he's up to but the Nidhoggur hasn't stopped shooting Sleepers, so I continue looking for him. I think I have his position and put my probes around where I think he is, and hit 'scan'. Carriers are big ships, and although I don't get a positive result for the magnetometric site he's in I resolve the Nidhoggur in a single attempt. Now I watch and wait to see what reaction I get. I warp in to the site to take a look at the Nidhoggur, and it doesn't look like he spotted my probes. The wrecks are also being left by the carrier, so I may even get a chance to surprise a salvager soon.

I've thrown my probes back out of the system instead of recalling them, so I can continue to blanket the system and look for additional contacts, but so far it seems to be just the Nidhoggur and Buzzard. That bodes well for a potential ambush, although when the Buzzard is swapped for a Drake and is warped in to the magnetometric site I wonder if maybe the battlecruiser will salvage instead of a squishy ship. But it looks like the Drake is brought in just to take care of the Sleeper frigates, as he doesn't touch any wrecks and as soon as the frigates pop he warps back out, leaving the Nidhoggur to take care of the final Sleeper battleship.

Wanting to keep eyes on the second pilot, keen to see if he swaps back to the Buzzard or in to a Noctis salvager, I follow him back to the tower. I am a little tardy in my decision to follow so d-scan shows me the Noctis before I get visual confirmation, and I feel a kill coming my way soon. And then I fly directly in to the tower, decloaking my ship right in front of the piloted Noctis. What a lapse in concentration, and what a time to make it! I didn't pay attention to my own bookmarking convention and now all I can do is warp out and cloak, leaving the Noctis to take a good look at my Tengu strategic cruiser as I head back to the wormhole home. I don't think I can pretend he hasn't seen me either, as he says hello in the local channel.

How embarrassing. My cover is blown, my stalking apparently coming to naught, but at least I have the presence not to warp directly to the wormhole when I flee the tower. I drop short, letting my cloak hold, and I wait in the system to gauge the reaction. I may not be getting a Noctis kill but I can see what the locals do and maybe scan my way further in to w-space, or out of it, to continue tonight's adventure. Sure enough, the Nidhoggur leaves the magnetometric site and the pilot swaps to a Rapier recon ship, which may not be a threat in itself but when paired with a second ship will no doubt mean curtains for my Tengu should it catch me. The Rapier warps in the direction of the site as the other pilot has abandoned the Noctis for his Buzzard and warps away to cloak somewhere.

I don't think I'm in trouble yet, but I also don't think there's much else to do here. I continue lurking, if only to see if the Rapier shows itself, to make sure I can get home safely, but all I see is the Drake return to finish off the Sleeper battleship in the magnetometric site. It takes me longer than perhaps it ought, but I realise this isn't the same Drake pilot. It was flown by the Buzzard pilot before, but now it's the Nidhoggur/Rapier pilot aboard, which means the Rapier is no longer a threat and that all there is for me to worry about is a Buzzard. I like that. Even so, it looks like the Drake is brought out not just to clear the site but to protect the salvager, the Buzzard reappearing on d-scan and warping in to the site in the Noctis shortly afterwads. Or, um, maybe the Drake will warp out of the site, leaving the Noctis alone with a hostile Tengu in the system. Okay.

Maybe the Drake's pilot is going to swap back to the Rapier, or another pointy ship, which means I may have to act quickly. I have at least the time it takes for the Drake to warp to the tower and warp back, which should be long enough to pop the Noctis, as long as I can get to him. Luckily, I am sitting at a range where I can warp directly to the Noctis, if only I had a suitable point for my nav-comp to lock on to, like a wreck, perhaps. The Noctis is pulling wrecks right up to itself so it can salvage them, which are wonderful beacons to use for an ambush. I pick one of the wrecks currently being salvaged and warp in, decloaking as I get close and getting my systems hot. The Noctis has no chance to escape.

My missiles slam in to the Noctis, taking chunks out of its shields and then armour, as my warp disruptor prevents the ship from fleeing. All the pilot can do is eject early in a bid to keep his current clone, which he does. I have been refreshing d-scan during my assault and I have a chuckle when I see the Drake swap not to a prickly ship but to a Buzzard, letting me pop the Noctis easily and loot the wreck almost at my leisure. There's not much in the way of spoils, having hit the salvager early, but anything is good. I move away from the wreck and cloak, waiting to see what happens now.

The pilot now in his pod swaps to a Rook recon ship and returns to the magnetometric site to wander around aimlessly for a bit. The other pilot boards a Broadsword heavy interdictor, which is suitably threatening, but he doesn't do much in it apart from test its bubble outside of the tower's force field. I'm happy with my kill and it doesn't look like the locals will be analysing the artefacts now, so I turn my Tengu around and head homewards. Jumping through the K162 sees combat scanning probes in our system, so I loiter by the wormhole and wait for the Buzzard to get bored looking for me and for him to jump back to the C3 before I warp to our tower to drop off the loot. Let's keep him guessing where I am, keep the paranoia levels high.

It seems like an odd choice to press ahead with the salvaging operation once a hostile presence has been confirmed in the system, and they definitely saw me. I can only suppose that the pilots thought they were safe in the magnetometric site until they at least saw scanning probes trying to find it. I think it's safe to say I proved that a dangerous assumption to make, having scanned the site with the Nidhoggur in it earlier without being spotted. What is a more curious choice is to have the Noctis salvage without support, when a second pilot was clearly available. I can't say I know why these pilots made those choices, but I'm glad they did. Their mistakes trump my own, and I'll sleep soundly tonight having notched up another Noctis kill.

  1. 2 Responses to “Wrecks are a salvager's worst enemy”

  2. Nice, very nice. I'd be very happy with such a kill and I assume you were too. :)

    By GrammatonCleric on Oct 12, 2011

  3. I thought I was going home with nothing, maybe not even my ship, so, yes, I was very happy with this kill.

    By pjharvey on Oct 14, 2011

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