Showing my shadow

3rd July 2012 – 5.16 pm

I've been absent for a few days, and now I'm back to see what's changed. There are no obvious visitors in the home system, letting me get on-line and settled without any stress, and my probes pick up three signatures plus one for our static wormhole. With three sites resolved and bookmarked by my colleagues I'm having an easy start to the day. Ah, but looking for the wormhole shows one of the sites has disappeared, so I have one signature unaccounted for, which turns out to be a second wormhole. And my scanning Loki decides to stop working.

I turn my strategic cruiser off and back on again, only to have it crash a second time. So much for a smooth start, and now I'm wondering if I should even leave the home system. I suppose I can try, and rather than take the easy route through our static wormhole to class 3 w-space I opt to explore behind the K162 from class 5 w-space. If I'm to explode because of a systems failure, I may as well do so in more dangerous circumstances. I spy a Tengu and Helios in the C5, along with four towers, and the way my ship's holding together so far I imagine both the strategic cruiser and covert operations boat are a serious threat to me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The ships in this C5 are only a threat if they are piloted, and hopefully if they are I can be a threat to them first. Three towers without ships are anchored to moons around the twelfth planet in the system, so I warp towards the ninth planet and the one tower holding both the ships. Both the Tengu and Helios are piloted, which is good to know, but the Tengu won't be doing much by itself in class 5 w-space, and the cov-ops will be a slippery bugger as always. I watch the two ships for a minute or two but, with nothing happening, head back the way I came. I can always return later.

I return home, warp across the system, and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system where, holy crap, my directional scanner is full of ships. Battlecruisers, strategic cruisers, battleships, a salvager, four Guardian logistic ships, and a heavy interdictor are somewhere in the system, plus core scanning probes, plus combat scanning probes, and a single tower. There are no wrecks, but there are drones. Maybe the tower itself is being attacked, which would make sense for all these ships being here. Let me investigate.

The tower is in the same place from nine days ago, and free from direct harm. It seems most of the ships are inside its force field—with a Tempest and Scorpion battleship piloted—but some are not. And now I see a couple of wrecks. I count thirteen ships at the tower, twelve elsewhere, and now the wrecks are gone. They can only be created and salvaged so quickly if the Noctis is in the site during combat. Is the salvager tagging along with the fleet, being repaired by the Guardians from any unwanted Sleeper attention? That would be a clever use of plentiful capsuleer resources.

A passive scan of the system reveals a healthy twenty-nine anomalies, which makes locating the fleet a little fiddly, and I suspect a pointless task, but I find them and warp in to see what they're up to. They're leaving, that's what. But the Noctis leaves last, which is interesting. The other ships were out of the site with a long enough lag for the salvager to leave to make it possible to tag him, but not so long to make the timing easy. I think it's worth following the fleet for a little while, at least. I saw which way the ships left, and quickly orientate myself in the system map to find the next anomaly and become their shadow.

With this number of ships in a class 3 anomaly the site is cleared quickly, but the fleet doesn't move on immediately. Two or three ships leave, which I'm not really paying attention to with my focus on the salvager, but the rest of the ships mill around. There are no more Sleepers and no more wrecks, but there is also no impetus to continue. I warp to track the Noctis more closely, only to have it cloak, which is interesting. And within a minute the other ships return, the fleet aligns and starts warping out. The salvager decloaks and I prepare to engage, but the Guardian stays with the salvager and they warp out as one.

I have no chance of popping a Noctis that's being repaired by a Guardian, and probably not much chance of popping the Guardian before help can return either. I think it's the Noctis alone or nothing for me tonight, and maybe the next site will give me my opportunity. I follow behind the ships again and watch them clear the next site. I warp in close to the Noctis as before, as I can't be delayed in engaging with such a short window as the fleet enters warp, but am wary of a Zealot heavy assault ship that's zipping around. The HAC doesn't decloak me but gets close enough to encourage me to keep my distance from the Noctis.

The fleet's moving on again. As before, the command is given and the ships align and warp out as befits their class. The strategic cruisers and battlecruisers disappear, followed by the more massive battleships. The Guardian and Noctis are the last to leave as before, perhaps because they aren't needed in the next site immediately, and it looks like the logistics ship will beat the salvager in to warp. This is my chance. I have to make sure the Guardian can't cancel his warp command, and once I'm sure he can't I decloak, burn towards the Noctis, and re-activate my cloak.

I was barely visible by the time the Noctis entered warp and disappeared towards the next anomaly. But I was visible all the same. I haven't had much experience in catching ships entering warp, particularly when trying to pick off the slower and weaker members of the fleet, and it looks like I need more practice. Not tonight, though. It's not that I can't afford to lose a second Loki in a week, more that I don't want to lose it stupidly quite so soon after the first. I'll make this my first and only attempt to ambush this fleet's salvager.

Checking d-scan has it look like the fleet has bugged out of this C3 after my failed ambush attempt, giving me a moment of confused victory. The Noctis was safe, the fleet is capable—as well as probably not local, so keeping two battleships at bay in the system too—so why would they run? I would think they'd just make sure I could be caught if I tried again, particularly as I saw one of the ships warp scramble a Sleeper frigate. But I remember there being a planet out of d-scan range, with a few anomalies around it, and, out of curiosity, warp out there to see the fleet continuing as if I were nothing more than a mosquito buzzing around. I head home, happy with a short and exciting evening over a long and dreary one.

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