Watching Sleepers rattle a snake

7th May 2012 – 5.08 pm

All alone in space again, so sad. It's just me and my gas. Hey, maybe that's why I'm alone. I need to get rid of the gas! Damn, I think I'm suffering from space madness, so enough of the high jinks and on to exploring the w-space constellation for today. I resolve our static wormhole and jump in to the neighbouring class 3 system, which looks terribly ordinary with its tower and lack of ships on my directional scanner. Scanning finds two anomalies and eight signatures, and for some reason I resolve each signature until I can bookmark it. I suppose I'm hoping for pilots to arrive and do something, in a crazy fit of optimism, or maybe it's that I'm not expecting this constellation to go anywhere and am using scanning as a time-sink.

There are no other wormholes to find in this C3 beyond its static exit to low-sec, which leads to a system in our favourite region. Hello, Aridia! And for once I don't shout this in the local channel, as there are a dozen other pilots here with me. That's anomalous, but never mind. Activity stops me ratting in low-sec—well, as there's a station and nowhere to hide it's not so much 'activity' as the threat of docked pilots coming out to play—but it doesn't stop me scanning. There are no more wormholes to find, though, which pushes me back to w-space, where there is no change from a few minutes ago. I either collapse our static wormhole or find something else to do this evening.

I jump home, board an Orca, and get my maths head on as I start jumping the industrial command ship back and forth between home and C3a. I note the mass I push through the wormhole with each trip, and when the wormhole's stability decreases, and the conditions look favourable tonight. I swap to a Widow black ops ship for the final round trip, stressing the wormhole going out and over-stressing it on the way back, so that I'm floating in very empty space. Hey, it worked. Okay, I'm back to square one and scanning for our static wormhole, hopefully to find a more neighbouring interesting system than the last. Yes, this looks more interesting, with an Arazu recon ship, Zealot heavy assault ship, Taranis interceptor, Curse recon ship, Dominix battleship, Helios covert operations boat, Bestower hauler, and Orca all on d-scan.

The ships all look interesting and varied, but there is also a tower on d-scan, and no wrecks, no cans, no probes. Just as I imagine, I find all of the ships unpiloted inside the force field of the local tower, which is not really an improvement over the system I just isolated us from. A blanket scan of C3a reveals no surprises, just seventeen anomalies and nine signatures, and this time I merely identify the signatures and don't resolve them. A chubby wormhole sticks out nicely, with a weaker wormhole signature being a nice contrast, but that's all I find that isn't rocks, gas, or radar sites. The chubby wormhole is a neat K162 from class 3 w-space, which would make the weaker signature a static exit to null-sec, so I ignore the exit and continue through to C3b.

Three canisters and nothing else are visible on d-scan, which is no real indication of occupation or activity, and only one planet is out of d-scan range. I suppose I'll be looking there for a tower and pilots. D-scan shows me a tower as I get close, and finding the tower shows me pilots! A Hyperion battleship and Apocalypse battleship both sit capsuleer-infested inside the force field of the tower. I warp away again, launch scanning probes, and blanket the system, revealing a puny three signatures and healthy twenty anomalies. I return to the tower, where all I have to do now is hope that the pilots do something.

Clearly, the two pilots are not going to do anything right now. And it looks like the two signatures I don't know about are far out of d-scan range of the tower, which should let me resolve them whilst these lazy boys fritter away their evening. Done. A ladar site and a wormhole, which is an exit to low-sec. I poke my nose out to be in Aridia again—hello, Aridia!—again in a system with a dozen other capsuleers. Is Aridia gaining in popularity for some reason? It's a toilet. Whatever, I'm not scanning here when I have w-space pilots to watch, so I return to C3b and watch pilots.

There's no change in the two battleship dullards, but a new contact arriving in a Tengu could be interesting. The new pilot ditches his strategic cruiser for a Helios cov-ops and warps away, towards one of the wormholes. I guess that he's going to check the exit to low-sec and follow, but my Tengu doesn't quite go in the same direction as the Helios. Ah, of course, the pilot has gone to scout w-space and not see how popular Aridia has become, and warped to the N968 to C3a. I correct my position and loiter on the other wormhole, but remain firmly in the dark as to what's happening. I have no idea if the Helios actually jumped, and am out of d-scan range of the tower so can't tell if he warped back there or if the two other pilots are preparing dual haulers for some planet goo collection.

I should probably head back to the tower. I don't want to jump in behind the Helios and give away my position, if he went this way, I'm not about to catch a cov-ops without a degree of luck anyway, and am better served by waiting for his return. And, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appears. I cut my warp engines as the wormhole flares, heralding the return of the Helios. He warps clear, bouncing off a point in space I don't recognise that is likely to be a safe spot, and we both end up back at his tower. Now there looks to be activity looming, as the Helios is swapped for a Rattlesnake battleship which, after a few minutes of preparation, warps towards the centre of the system.

I leave the tower behind to locate the snake, d-scan putting him in a local anomaly. That stymies my idea to grab my Legion and engage the battleship directly, as I'll have an extra system to traverse that will soak up time, and he'll have two pilots in the same system that could possibly be called on for rapid support. I suppose I shall watch and wait for a salvager, and I'm glad to see the Rattlesnake isn't looting and salvaging as he shoots. But he is having problems, warping out at one point and even leaving his drones behind. That's my cue to leave the anomaly too, as the presence of my cloaked ship will prompt the Sleepers to continue popping the drones, which will be a dead giveaway to the pilot if he also knows this.

The Rattlesnake returns to shoot the Sleepers a bit more, but withdraws again. Either his drones are taking too much of a beating or his ship is, but it's enough to make the pilot rethink his choice of hull. That's the last I see of the Rattlesnake, but the night's not over, as the pilot returns to finish the anomaly in his Tengu. Maybe the Rattlesnake is relatively new and he is either under-skilled in piloting it or he hasn't quite worked out how to use it effectively against Sleepers. I don't mind, I'm just waiting for the Noctis salvager to appear. And after some more painful minutes of watching the Tengu gradually wear down a Sleeper battleship—a tedium I know from personal experience—the anomaly is clear.

I warp out along with the Tengu, and to my relief we both go to the local tower. It seems neither of us want to see him struggle through a second anomaly alone. The Tengu is stowed and a Noctis boarded. This is what I've been waiting for, and not just tonight but for a week or more. I need no more encouragement and warp back to my monitoring point in the cleared anomaly before the Noctis even leaves the tower. I am in position and aligned towards the wrecks when the Noctis warps in. All I have to do is choose the wreck closest to the salvager, engage my warp drive, and in I fly to take another crack at a defenceless industrial ship. I decloak, lock on to the Noctis, and disrupt its warp engines, happy to see missile explosions envelop the ship.

The Noctis looks to be aligning, so I get my Tengu to give it a couple of nudges to try to prevent it flying straight, but the salvager's not going anywhere. The ship explodes in beautiful blue flames. I aim to catch the pod but the pilot was ready for this moment and warps away almost immediately. Judging by the targeted and burst ECM modules fitted, the pilot was hoping he'd be warping away with more than his pod, but the capricious nature of ECM didn't benefit him today. I loot the wreck of what little booty he'd managed to grab so far and the few modules that survive the explosion, before shooting it, cloaking, and warping back to the tower to gauge the reaction.

A second Noctis is already out, piloted by a capsuleer who was in a battleship. The fled pod is in the tower too, maybe deciding what ship would best scare me off, but the third capsuleer is missing. Off-line or already cloaked and in the anomaly, I can't say, but it doesn't really matter. Never go back. Besides, I got me a Noctis kill, using patience and precision. It's late, too, what with having to collapse our static wormhole to get here. I'm heading home. Well, after I grab the seven million ISK loot in the Sleeper battleship wreck left in the anomaly, apparently not learning the lesson in greed from last week. I get the loot with no hitch though, and after a detour through the until-now unvisited static exit to null-sec in C3a—appearing in a system in Cloud Ring hosting the requisite dozen other pilots—get home safely to settle down for the night.

  1. 5 Responses to “Watching Sleepers rattle a snake”

  2. You write so often, and so well, please never stop, it's very much appreciated and enjoyed

    By Chris on May 7, 2012

  3. Do you not wait for them to finish/near finish salvaging, so that you have the chance to get some loot also?

    By Death ToU on May 8, 2012

  4. Thanks, Chris.

    Death, sometimes I try to, but the red mist comes down and I just have to shoot the ship.

    I wonder if there is an optimal time to strike. Are salvagers least on their guard when warping in to the site, half-way through salvaging and focussing on the wrecks, or near the end when they think they're safe?

    By pjharvey on May 8, 2012

  5. I'd say half way through, at least based on my own salvaging.

    By Mick Straih on May 9, 2012

  6. I think you're probably right, Mick.

    By pjharvey on May 9, 2012

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