Avoiding and discouraging hostilities

12th November 2011 – 3.04 pm

Another early scouting expedition finds me in an occupied but inactive class 3 w-space system. That's just fine, because it means I can take a good look around our neighbour's home now and come back to surprise them later, no probes required. At least, that's the plan. I locate the tower, bookmark the two anomalies, and scan the dozen sigantures, finding rocks and gas. Actually, it's mostly rocks, with just the single ladar gas harvesting site, which is perhaps an indicator of what the locals do to pass the time. Because the ladar site is by itself, and perhaps new, I take time to reconnoitre the site and make a decent bookmark from where I can pounce. I also resolve the static wormhole, which today leads to high-sec empire space. As it is reaching the end of its natural lifetime, and the only wormhole in the system, it looks like my scouting is over.

With nothing else to scan I resolve a few more sites and make rough bookmarks to their locations, as I have a little time to spare, and make another fly-by of the exit wormhole before I leave. Ah, the connection has collapsed, and that gives me a new one to find. And find it I do, the new wormhole being quite obvious in a freshly scanned system, and I jump through the pristine link to high-sec. The system in Metropolis is unremarkable but offers a few more signatures to resolve, one of which is an Angel vigil, the other two wormholes. The first wormhole would be a more interesting K162 from class 1 w-space if it weren't in its death throes, but the other K162 is from class 2 w-space and quite healthy. That's worth taking a look through.

Hello! I don't suppose I'm doing much else but heading straight back to high-sec to avoid this rather well-prepared fleet. I don't pay too much specific attention to most of the ships but I notice the energy beams passing between three Basilisk logistic ships, and the warp bubble of a heavy interdictor is hard to miss. The others are probably pointy and dangerous ships but I honestly don't care. This camp is overkill for any tourist that blunders in here and panics, shedding their session change cloak early and offering a target, but the presence of logistics ships suggests they are more looking to prevent pilots from leaving w-space than entering, requiring repairs to their own fleet as much as inflict damage to others. Either way, I wait until I can jump back to high-sec before doing so, returning home as scouting has definitely come to an end for now.

It's later on, and glorious leader Fin is out and scanning. She finds nothing else of interest in the still-sleepy C3 neighbouring our own system, which gives us another chance to make some iskies. The anomalies in the class 3 system are rubbish, relatively speaking, but my thorough scanning revealed two magnetometric sites, which hold better Sleeper loot, both from the greater number of ships and the artefacts to be analysed. We swap to our Sleeper Tengu strategic cruisers and start combat at the first of the two sites. It's been a while since we've attacked a magnetometric site but we do a pretty good job of limiting the Sleepers' advantages, although I manage to bring the next wave in a little early twice in a row. We clear the site without any real hassle, though, and just before we do Shev turns up and is happy to volunteer to sweep up behind us.

Shev gets an analysing boat from the hangar, warps to the wormhole, and warps back again, at about the same time I fling Fin and myself towards our K162. A Drake has appeared on d-scan, and whether the battlecruiser is local or has come in from high-sec is unknown. A local boat may not be too much of a problem. A single ship sent in from empire space to lull us in to a false sense of security, making us happy to engage it only to get our warp engines disrupted, holding us in place for the full fleet, is much more deadly. We don't jump home just yet, as I would prefer to see what happens next. We should be able to jump out and clear the wormhole should d-scan become threatening, but until then we have Shev now in a scouting boat to reconnoitre the tower and rest of the system.

Our colleague jumps in and checks the local tower as combat scanning probes cluster on our position on the K162 home. Rather than wait for the probes to complete their scan, and with Shev reporting no ships on d-scan or at the tower, Fin and I jump home. Fin boards a rather deadly cloaking ship and returns to the cleared magnetometric site, ready to strike any who would ambush us. Shev remains at the tower, where he sees the local pilot warp in, swap the Drake for a stealth bomber, and warp out again. Hearing this I swap also to a cloaking ship to watch our side of the wormhole, so that none of us are visible, which hides our numbers and capabilities nicely, whilst monitoring important points in space.

There are no jumps at our wormhole. The stealth bomber may be lurking nearby or scouting other locations in the C3. We still want to get our loot, and drawing the Nemesis in to the open wouldn't be so bad. Shev returns from scouting to jump home, swaps to a Noctis salvager, and heads to the magnetometric site. I am nearby, ready to engage if the Nemesis decloaks on the wormhole, but he remains unseen. Shev starts salvaging, I follow behind and get decloaked, but it's not so bad that we're seen to be defending our Noctis. The salvager may survive a bomb blast and we may get a kill, but it's probably better to recover all our loot without incident. And we recover the loot and salvage, all we need now are the artefacts.

Again, I follow behind Shev as he returns the Noctis home, and we both change ships. Shev prepares to analyse the artefacts, I look as dangerous as I can, boarding my ship killing Legion strategic cruiser. I follow in to the C3 and magnetometric site and shadow Shev's cruiser at a distance, Fin still cloaked and nearby in her own ship killer, the two of us monitoring d-scan as Shev recovers the artefacts. A Buzzard covert operations boat appears on d-scan, the same as noted by Fin a little earlier, and is obviously swapped to a Crane transport ship. I wonder aloud if he's simply heading to high-sec, but Shev's completing analysis of the artefacts and heading home finds the Crane's actual purpose. The local pilot has anchored a warp bubble on our wormhole.

'That is just not neighbourly', says Fin, and I have to agree. It's also rather ineffective if it isn't monitored or patrolled, but I suppose it can have a deterrent effect, particularly if a fleet thinks it has to negotiate the bubble if it has to flee homewards. I have time to ponder this, as well as my hypothetical fleet acting a bit simplistically, as I target and shoot the bubble in to oblivion with Fin's help. It doesn't take long, making it 'quite possibly the shortest bubble', as Fin puts it, as the anchoring time ends and the bubble inflates a couple of seconds before exploding under our combined fire. It seems like the Crane pilot wasted some ISK. We, on the other hand, made a handy profit from the magnetometric site. Even though the artefacts are mostly rubbish we still pocket almost ninety million ISK from the one site. And it was a good exercise to scout and recover loot with a hostile presence.

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