Back shooting Sleepers

12th September 2012 – 5.25 pm

I'm putting my detective hat on. The puppet's here and the corporate wallet is drained, so I am deducing that we have new Tengus to replace the two strategic cruisers we lost recently. 'I have ships for us.' Brilliant, Holmes! 'But the wormhole died as I jumped out of w-space', hence there being no trail of new bookmarks. I had better scan to get our japanese rock star colleague back home.

Three new signatures in the home system resolve to be a radar site, new gas, and our static wormhole, giving me one direction to head. The neighbouring class 3 w-space system has a tower, Badger hauler, and Buzzard covert operations boat visible on my directional scanner, and although my notes from fourteen months ago don't point me towards the tower it is easy enough to find as being around a planet with a single moon. I warp there to see both ships unpiloted, which is a little disappointing but gets me back to the main task in hand.

My notes also tell me that I'm looking for a static exit to high-sec empire space, which is good not just for bringing the puppet home, but also because so I can adjust my expectation of signature strength for the wormhole accordingly. In class 3 w-space, wormholes to high-sec are weaker than those to low-sec, but nowhere near as weak as connections to null-sec. And having no pilots in the system turns out to be beneficial for the time being, as there is nowhere to drop out of d-scan range and so I have to launch probes overtly.

Two anomalies of our favoured kind would be good if we had ships to clear them with, and twelve signatures won't take long to sift through. I resolve the exit to high-sec soon enough, easily identified by knowing what I'm looking for, and I call Aii in to the system and fling him towards the connection whilst I continue scanning. There's nothing else of much interest to find, beyond a single magnetometric site, giving us a minimal w-space constellation.

The static wormhole leads out to the Essence region, once more linking us to Gallente space, but at least it's high-sec. I scan and find nothing as the puppet makes his way across to us, and end up monitoring the tower in C3a until the time comes to pick up the new Tengu. I drop to my pod at our hangar and warp nekkid to high-sec, collecting the Tengu and taking it home, where it is fitted and ready for combat. And there's no time like the present, so with three pilots, two new ships, and anomalies waiting for us next door we send the Tengus out for their maiden combat operation.

I don't join in with the combat, and it's not because I'm gun-shy from our recent loss. C3a holds a black hole, which makes the Golem sad. The decreased missile flight time reduces the range of the marauder's torpedoes, which already struggle to hit the waves of Sleepers when they first appear. Rather than looking pretty and doing nothing most of the time, it will probably be better if I salvaged behind the fleet. And, now that I think about it, rather than waiting to be called in to the cleared anomalies I really ought to be sitting in C3a with combat probes blanketing the system watching for new ships or wormholes. So that's what I do.

There is a slight moment of mixed confusion and excitement as jumping back to C3a sees a Tengu and Noctis on d-scan. The excitement comes from thinking our Sleeper operation has become a hunt, the confusion from wondering if both ships are actually ours. We quickly regain composure and see that Fin is in the Tengu but the Noctis is local, and I warp my covert Loki to the tower to see the new contact in the salvaging boat. A single pilot in an industrial ship is no particular threat to us, so I call for the operation to continue as I monitor the pilot and evaluate any change in circumstances.

Our Tengus warp to the first anomaly and start shooting Sleepers, and the pilot in the tower swaps to a Heron frigate and leaves the tower. He only moves a couple of hundred kilometres away, though, and if I had my probes launched I could maybe catch him. I bounce off the nearest planet to get my probes ready, as the Heron launches his own, but the frigate cloaks before I can resolve his position. That's okay, I need my probes out anyway, and I blanket the system, confirm no new signatures are present, and ignore them all for a clear slate. Now I can properly watch what's happening.

'Probes.' Yes, the Heron's. Don't worry until I tell you to worry. 'Got it, chief.' The Heron scans, I keep my probes actively blanketing the system. Nothing changes until the Heron returns to the tower, where he makes no sudden moves. 'First site is clear, moving to the second.' The Heron goes off-line. Okay, the coast is clear, there are still no new signatures, so don't die; I'm getting a drink. 'Great, our scout is getting drunk. This sounds more like null-sec.'

After the second site is cleared our fleet moves to the magnetometric site I resolved earlier, and there are still no new signatures. Not only am I getting drunk, but I'm abandoning my post. The cleared anomalies have despawned and the wrecks are just sitting there, and as it would now take combat scanning probes to find a ship in them I jump home, grab a Noctis, and return to the C3 to start salvaging. Nothing ambushes me as I sweep over a hundred million iskies in loot and salvage in to my hold, returning to the tower and swapping back to my Loki strategic cruiser as the final site is being finished.

Now I act as scout and escort. Aii takes a Noctis to salvage the magnetometric site, Fin boards an analysing cruiser, and I loiter between the two whilst my combat probes continue to confirm no new connections in to the system. This goes against my normal instincts, and as I sit cloaked between two ships pulling profit in to their holds I have to remind myself that they are on my side. I must not ambush Aii's Noctis.

Thankfully I manage to resist temptation, even if I try to playfully catch the salvager on our wormhole as it heads home, and another hundred million ISK in loot is returned, plus whatever the artefacts will fetch. We got everyone home, new Sleeper ships, and back in to Sleeper combat. I'd say it's been a good evening.

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