Stalked whilst stealing Sleeper sites

17th January 2012 – 5.46 pm

A quick scan of the home system reveals no new signatures cropping up since I went to get food. Snacking can be a lengthy affair, so it's best to check. Fin's here and one step ahead of me, in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, reporting all to be quiet. The anomalies are still there, so before we collapse our wormhole to look for better opportunities we may as well make some profit. Fin returns and we both suit up in our Tengu strategic cruisers fit for Sleeper combat, heading out to plunder some anomalies.

I open my system map in the C3 and check the position of the anomalies in relation to the tower. I remember making a bit of potential blunder a little while back when, out of three anomalies, the first site we engaged Sleepers in was in range of a tower and the other two were not, leaving the wrecks visible to any locals turning up, whilst keeping the appearance of the locals opaque to us. That kind of situation would put us at a disadvantage and I am keen not to repeat the mistake. This time, all three anomalies are clustered close together in the inner system, all appearing to be within directional scanner range of the tower. With no obvious drawbacks to fighting in any of them, I pick one at random and warp the both of us there.

Combat is smooth, as it should be after so much practice, and having the tower in d-scan range lets us monitor it for new arrivals, none appearing. But warping to the second site reveals my sloppy scouting again, this and the remaining anomaly actually being out of d-scan range of the tower, exactly the situation I was trying to avoid. 'You can blame me if I get us both killed', I say to Fin, but she shrugs it off. Fin's probably right, we're unlikely to see company, and if we do it is less likely to be because wrecks are visible and we're not, so it shouldn't be an issue. Still, lucky us, the scenario I hoped to avoid becomes a reality when we move to the third anomaly and a pilot announces his presence in the local communication channel.

We can't see him, but he can see our wrecks, and he's not happy. There's not much we can do about that, though. Another fleet must have passed through earlier too, probably opening the N968 that was at the end of its life earlier and gone now, as the local pilot bemoans the loss of most of his anomalies, whereas we have cleared only two and are working on a third. It may work to our advantage if he thinks we're that dedicated. Personally, I'm ready to bug out, particularly as we are out of range of the tower and don't know how many capsuleers are there or what they are piloting, but Fin is fearless as always. She holds fast and, despite being squad leader and having the ability to warp us both clear, I am compelled to stay by her side.

A second pilot makes himself known, a bit stupidly in my opinion, by mocking our use of two Tengus for class 3 anomalies. That nonplusses the two of us, unsure what else we should use when we have powerful and flexible strategic cruisers available to us. Maybe we should break out the Merlins to give us a proper challenge, instead of doing our best to make ISK-generation as simple and efficient as we can. Still, at least we know there are at least two pilots, one of who must be in a cloaked boat within d-scan range of us, or even in the anomaly. The anomaly is nearly cleared, so we align back towards our wormhole, only having planned to clear three of them anyway, and when the final Sleeper battleship explodes we warp clear.

I think we should be quick in returning to salvage, in case the locals take on the task themselves, but, of course, precautions must be taken. Fin will salvage in a Noctis, I will be her escort and protection. I ponder my options on what to fly. I need to keep our salvager safe but would prefer to repel the attack aggressively rather than passively. A Falcon recon ship would probably be a safe choice, breaking target locks and letting Fin escape any attack, but it would not actually deter the attack or be able to launch a counter. A couple of stealth bombers wouldn't even need to lock the Noctis to stand a chance of destroying it. So as anti-bomber protection, I choose my Malediction interceptor again, knowing that it won't repel anything bigger. But I also realise that our Sleeper Tengus were left unmolested, so the neighbours may not have anything much bigger for capsuleer combat themselves.

We go back to the C3 and Fin starts salvaging, as I orbit my Malediction around her Noctis, hoping to look suitably aggressive. The first site, in d-scan range of the tower, lets us see a new Tengu in the system. The second pilot remains unseen. The first site is cleared, so is the second, at which point Fin splits the recovered loot in her hold and we both take half to reduce the risk of lost profit. The third site is swept clean by Fin's Noctis and it is only when we are almost in warp homewards that I finally see scanning probes in the system. I would have thought that would be the first action the locals would take, attempting to find our wormhole. Still, it works to our advantage, and we get home safely having cleared the three anomalies as planned, over two hundred million ISK richer.

Sitting in our tower we ponder our next move, when a Dominix battleship appears on d-scan. We wonder if the pilots are scouting our now-found home system or are trying to collapse the wormhole. Let's take a look, I suggest. 'In Widows', Fin says, 'just to give them a cocktail story'. It sounds good to me, and we both board a black ops ship each and warp to the wormhole. We could possibly engage whatever comes through or perhaps even help destabilise our wormhole, happy to see this connection die, but no more pilots jump through from the C3. Hmm, no more pilots appear, but an Anathema covert operations boat is in the system somewhere, as is a Helios cov-ops, both ships blipping on and off d-scan occasionally.

It's possible the C3 pilots pushed a scout in to our system and warned colleagues of our Widows. But if that's the case I can't work out why the ships would keep blipping on d-scan. The benefit of a cov-ops ship fitted with a cov-ops cloak is that it can stay cloaked. The only times one really needs to decloak is when jumping through a wormhole, and we haven't seen any jumps here. And so it dawns on me: maybe a new connection has opened in to our home system. With permission I leave my station and swap back in to my scouting Tengu, launching probes and confirming a new signature in the system. Resolving the signature finds another wormhole, a K162 from class 2 w-space that is already critically destabilised.

We were looking in the wrong direction. It's true that I checked for new connections before we started shooting Sleepers in the C3, but w-space can change at any time. But not only did the wormhole open to our system it has already been nearly collapsed. The Dominix we saw wasn't from the C3 but this C2, trying to sever the connection between our two systems. And now it looks like the cov-ops are coming and going in a bid to collapse the wormhole, small scanning boats being sent through to deplete the wormhole's mass to oblivion. I interrupt the operation when a Helios decloaks immediately upon entering our system and I attempt to engage him, but I watch as the cov-ops warps away moments after I decloak.

My ill-fated attempt to catch the Helios has an effect, as once the cov-ops returns and jumps home no more ships come through the wormhole. Their static connection will live until it dies of old age, giving them no new class 4 system to explore or exploit, but it also gives me and Fin little else to do. That's a shame, as it means we have no easy target to catch should the collapse leave a ship on the wrong side of the wormhole. But it's also fine, as the hour's late and I've already had plenty of excitement worrying about being jumped when shooting Sleepers in our Tengus. It's time to curl up for the night.

  1. 2 Responses to “Stalked whilst stealing Sleeper sites”

  2. Strange that they chose to get all chatty instead of shooty. At the very least you'd expect them to try yoink some wrecks or your salvager.

    Worked out well for you though :)

    By Mdih Lihu on Jan 18, 2012

  3. Except for my mild panic attack, yeah, worked out fine.

    You'd think they'd have risked looting some wrecks, but maybe we scared them. I suppose if he thought we'd blitzed our way through most of his system in a pair of Tengus we may be rather formidable. The fool!

    By pjharvey on Jan 18, 2012

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.