Getting lucky in finding wrecks

2nd June 2012 – 3.17 pm

Fin may be here in spirit, but not much looks to be happening. As I wait for my glorious leader to get back from the khazi I scan the home system, free from pesky mining sites for once, for our static wormhole and jump to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system. A typical sight of a tower with no ships appears on my directional scanner, which gets me off to a slow start, but I always know there could be opportunity elsewhere. Even elsewhere in the same system, if it's big enough and the locals are shooting Sleepers, or space-loopy enough to be collecting ore. As is weirdly common in my travels, only a single planet is out of d-scan range from the K162 I'm sitting on, which makes finding activity here unlikely.

I warp across the system, confirm there are no pilots out here, and launch probes to scan. A blanket scan reveals one anomaly and seven signatures, two of which are picked up as wormholes almost immediately. The connections being so close together makes scanning the pair quick and easy, so much so that I resolve a third wormhole before I even reach the first. At least exploration is looking promising today. The first wormhole is a K162 from class 5 w-space, the second a K162 from low-sec empire space, and the third the system's static exit to low-sec. That's not a great result, but far from bad. Now I ignore some rocks and gas, before finding a fourth wormhole, this one another K162 from low-sec. And that's my lot.

There's not much more w-space to be found, but the empire systems can always be scanned if C5a proves to be quiet. Or, holy crap, if it's the opposite of quiet and kinda puts the fear in me. Jumping through to the class 5 system has a whole bunch of ships on d-scan—and thankfully only on d-scan—including an interceptor, battlecruisers, battleships, a carrier, and a logistics ship. There's a tower visible in the system too, but finessing d-scan a bit shows that only the Hulk exhumer, Chimera carrier, and Helios covert operations boat there. The rest are elsewhere, and as the interceptor is not likely going to be used against Sleepers I'm not surprised to see no wrecks.

Some kind of engagement is happening here, or about to happen, and although I don't want to be a part of it I am curious as to what's going on. The fleet isn't around a planet, so they are not destroying a tower or customs office, and as they aren't engaging Sleepers they won't be in one of the few anomalies here. D-scan puts the fleet about 1 AU from a planet, 13 AU from the static wormhole, and now with an added Thanatos carrier. There may be some wormhole combat happening. I warp clear of all the ships and launch probes, a blanket scan of the system now showing four ships. I'm sure there were more than that. The ships really have gone when I warp back to the centre of the system, which is good. I can scan their position without them seeing probes and hurtling with all deadliness towards my exit.

The wormhole I find where the ships were is a K162 from null-sec k-space. The fleet makes sense now. I don't know what kind of fight they are looking for in null-sec but I'm not so curious as to throw my ship in to them as an aperitif. There is also unlikely to be a Noctis following in the fleet's wake, so I can safely ignore this class 5 system for now. Or, rather, I can ignore this class 5 system for my safety. I recall my probes, head back to C3a, and pick a low-sec system to explore instead. The one through the static wormhole sounds good to me, particularly as Fin is scanning for activity through the first K162 from low-sec in C3a.

I appear in a system in the Placid region, with a nice chap who explains the Yugoslavian origins of my name, before warning me about a gate-camp in an adjacent system. That's very kind, but where I go I don't need stargates. Three extra signatures in this system resolve to give me a K162 from class 3 w-space that's reaching the end of its natural lifetime, as well as a stable C3 K162. The stable wormhole is more attractive, so, given that Fin's found a similar EOL C3 K162, I see what I can find in what we label C3d. I see more ships—two Legion strategic cruisers, a Harbinger battlecruiser, Archon carrier, Viator transport, Orca industrial command ship, and Manticore stealth bomber—and more towers. Many more towers. Five of the blighters. And Sleeper wrecks! I move away from the wormhole and cloak, as my on-board scanner gets to work. One anomaly is returned, which for some reason I cannot bookmark.

I can warp to the anomaly still, which is good, and getting there shows me perhaps why I can't bookmark it: it has despawned. My timing was impeccable, I would say, picking up the anomaly moments before it became unavailable. I hope that my arrival through the wormhole was just as smooth and that I wasn't spotted. But I wouldn't bet on that, as the Harbinger is replaced by a Proteus strategic cruiser and, despite the wrecks floating unattended here, a Noctis salvager is nowhere to be seen. Well, until a salvager comes out there's no point me sitting in the cleared anomaly. I have my monitoring position made, and my time will be better spent finding the towers and noting what pilots are around.

Most of the ships are at the tower by the territorial control unit, naturally, and with pretty much every ship piloted. I would expect a fleet of this size to take the precaution of sitting a scout on any active wormhole to warn of intruders, and as the salvager still hasn't appeared I think it best to assume I've been spotted. Even so, not much happens beyond swapping a few ships around, and the Archon carrier looks to be prepped. Maybe they are getting ready to collapse the static wormhole in one swoop, trapping me in their system. I've been in that situation before. Or maybe they are simply casual about w-space life. No one warps away from this main tower, but a Noctis appears at another. Back to the site!

I get to my monitoring point in the despawned anomaly with enough time to spare to wonder if I should look for the Noctis directly. But the salvager warps in and I cut my warp engines, moving instead to align towards the wrecks. I may die now. I would say that I will be amazed if there isn't a cloaky escort for this Noctis, or a sufficiently quick response from the rest of the fleet. But if that really is the case then I shouldn't engage, I suppose. But here I go, warping to get closer to the salvager. All looks clear, without the Noctis acting suspiciously, as if he knows I'm here. I decloak, await the damnable sensor recalibration delay to end, and lock on to my target.

Launchers blaze missiles towards the Noctis, and I burn in to give it a nudge here and there. Whilst I'm close, I loot a pair of Sleeper battleship wrecks of their loot, as the Noctis pilot seems otherwise engaged to think about doing so, for some reason. No help decloaks, no fleet warps in. The Noctis pops and, despite my best efforts, the pod flees. I loot and shoot the wreck, and warp back to my monitoring point to calm down a bit. It's never only about who you are shooting, but who else may join in, and there is nearly always risk involved, particularly when you don't have time to reconnoitre properly. In this case, it all worked out.

The only response I provoke is for the salvager pilot to return to the site in a Tengu strategic cruiser, which then starts to loot the wrecks without salvaging. That stops me thinking about looting them myself, and instead I consider going home. If the fleet didn't know about me before they must do now, and even if they were entirely ambivalent to my destroying this Noctis they may get themselves together enough to blockade my way out. I check the wormhole back to low-sec using d-scan, and it looks clear. I decide to take my leave, and warp to the exit to low-sec and jump out. As I cross the low-sec system to get back to C3a I check my hold. I got a fair haul from the Noctis, plus the Sleeper wrecks I looted, giving me about seventy million ISK in profit. That's a good result. I pass through an empty class 3 system to return home, where I dump the loot and find a quiet corner to go to sleep in.

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