Picking on a Proteus

6th April 2012 – 5.00 pm

All is clear, all is quiet. I launch probes from my hiding spot in the home system, configure them for a blanket scan, and warp cloaked to a safe spot nearer the middle of the system. All was clear and quiet from the edge of the system, but there is actually a Proteus and its drones out and about somewhere. My combat probes show the strategic cruiser to be the only unexpected ship in the system too. I adjust my directional scanner and see some Sleeper wrecks, which I quickly place in one of our two ladar sites. That makes sense, as a solo strategic cruiser would have trouble engaging Sleepers in class 4 w-space anomalies, unless it was fitted with ridiculously expensive modules, although I'm not quite sure why the Proteus would waste its time piddling around with Sleepers in gas harvesting sites.

Whatever the Proteus is up to I don't suppose there's much I can do about it directly. I have the ladar site bookmarked and warp in to create a monitoring point, seeing that the strategic cruiser has now moved on but left the wrecks, and curiously some Sleepers, which is encouraging for perhaps ambushing a salvaging ship. But the Proteus isn't finished yet, as my probes show him to be still in the system, although I have trouble finding him. I think I'm missing a bookmark, or that the other mining site is newly spawned and needs to be resolved, which I don't want to do when it would make my probes obvious on d-scan and I already have a site primed for an ambush. As Aii points out later, the Proteus merely bounced between the one gravimetric and two ladar sites in the home system, popping the Sleepers as he went.

Yes, Aii is here! What fabulous timing from my colleague. I ask if he's hidden and if he's available, and he says yes to both. That is just what I wanted to hear, because now we can assault the strategic cruiser itself. I warp to my monitoring point in the first ladar site, with four Sleeper cruisers remaining, to see the Proteus back and shooting them. I call Aii to warp to my position and, once he's in warp, I head back to our tower, holding outside the force field until I confirm that the ladar site is out of d-scan range. That's lucky for us, not so much for the Proteus.

Aii's happy to act as tackle. He has his covert Tengu strategic cruiser in prime position to warp to the Proteus and snare it, as I get Jeff K's Third Prophecy prepared for combat, the Legion strategic cruiser looking like it will live up to its role as a ship killer. Aii is ready to go. He warps in to the Proteus and decloaks, locking on to the target and disrupting its warp drive. When the Proteus has nowhere to go Aii calls me to warp to his position, which I do. I had my Legion aligned to the site in readiness, so I jump to warp almost instantly. I land a few kilometres from where Aii is holding the Proteus in place. Excellent.

I activate all my offensive systems, pointing, webbing, and neutralising the capacitor of the Proteus. He's already taken significant shield damage and some armour damage from the Sleepers, and now Aii and I are adding significant damage on top of that. The Proteus's armour looks to be holding up, but that only lasts until my neutralisers suck his capacitor dry, at which point the Proteus starts to disintegrate quickly, having no energy left to power his repair modules. I have asked if Aii has a sensor booster fitted to his Tengu, and hearing that he has I confirm that I have point on the Proteus and that Aii can deactivate his warp disruptor so that he can try to catch the pod.

The Proteus explodes, we aim for the pod, but it warps clear. That's okay, we just killed ourselves a Proteus strategic cruiser! Jeff K's Third Prophecy is nicely bloodied. I loot the wreck of all I can carry and warp the pair of us out to safety. I don't think we're in much danger from the lone Sleeper cruiser left in this site, but it may not be good for our health to stay in the pocket. A Manticore stealth bomber blips on d-scan briefly, but only once we're in warp and already safe. And although makes me wonder if we'll see any reprisal for the assault, a stealth bomber isn't much of a threat.

Aii cloaks and I swap the Legion back at the tower for my own covert Tengu. Oh, right, I had probes blanketing the system before. I should probably reconnect to them instead of just letting them decay in deep space. I loiter in the ladar site, near the Proteus wreck, and decide to scan. I think it's safe to say that whatever visitors we have are aware of our presence now. Before I get to arrange my probes I'm interrupted by the Manticore decloaking in the site, taking a pot-shot at the Sleeper cruiser, and warping clear. That was odd. What's more odd is that the stealth bomber isn't cloaking again, and I think I saw which planet he warped to.

Unfortunately, by the time I reach the planet the pilot has again found which button turns on his cloaking device and disappeared. One stealth bomber disappears, another one appears. A Nemesis decloaks near the Proteus wreck before warping out, under threat of Sleeper fire. It looks like they are trying to use their covert ships to loot the wreck of any surviving modules. I think this makes it worth getting closer to the wreck in the ladar site myself. I manoeuvre my Tengu towards the wreck and keep watch for the ships reappearing. And there they are! The Nemesis is about five kilometres from me, almost on top of the wreck, and the Manticore further away. I think they are trying to tag-team the Sleeper.

I decloak and wait the insufferable delay for my sensors to recalibrate before attempting to get a positive lock on the Nemesis. I am not quick enough, however, and can only watch as he warps clear. The Manticore is lingering, though, and so I burn in his direction. I have a positive lock on the stealth bomber and am firing missiles his way, but being over thirty kilometres from me means I cannot disrupt his warp engines and neither are my short-range missiles reaching him. My micro warp drive is getting me a kilometre closer to the Manticore with each second, but it's not enough. The ship turns and warps clear before my warp disruptor can snag the bomber.

The Proteus wreck is now empty, not that there was much left after I looted it. I suppose the other pilots couldn't have realised I'd done that, grabbing most of the modules to be melted down for profit, because by having to leave two modules the wreck wasn't shown by the overview as having the hollow triangle of an empty wreck. The pilots risked their two stealth bombers for maybe a few hundred thousand ISK. Personally, I think it's a shame I wasn't able to snare the Nemesis, as it was piloted by the same capsuleer who lost the Proteus. That would have been a sweet kill.

Now I scan. There are seven signatures at home, including the two ladar sites we know about, a new gravimetric site the Proteus also popped Sleepers in, a radar site, and three wormholes. I bookmark the sites and Aii gets a salvager from our hangar to recover the loot from the Sleeper wrecks, as I reconnoitre the wormholes. Aside from our static connection, we have two K162s. One connection comes from class 4 w-space, the other from class 5 w-space. I assume the Proteus came from the C4, because of the rather cheap fitting of his ship and his knowledge of class 4 ladar sites, so I check the C5 for additional threats first.

I jump in to w-space system J123546, so close to being harmonious, to see nothing on d-scan. Exploring finds a tower with an empty Iteron hauler in it, and it looks like I've unintentionally found the source of the Proteus. Of course, a corporation living in a C5 with a static connection to class 4 w-space will also be familiar with class 4 sites. Silly me. There's no one home now, and just a refinery running. As the pilots were last seen in stealth bombers its possible they are out and about and just cloaked, but I don't think so. After losing the Proteus the only reaction we provoked was for the capsuleers to try to recover surviving modules from the wreck. And with my additional attempted assault on their bombers I think we've seen the last of them.

I relay the information to Aii, telling him that this C5 is clear and that I think the capsuleers are probably gone, and he concurs. He pops the remaining Sleeper cruiser in the ladar site and completes his salvaging, including the Proteus wreck. This has been a splendid start to the evening. Visitors clean up our mining sites, give us a good Proteus kill, and we net all the profit from the Sleepers. It's all rather satisfying.

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