Sneaking up on a sneaky salvager

13th December 2012 – 5.09 pm

All's clear at home, with no ships or incoming wormholes to muss up the system. It's so very quiet, until I resolve our static wormhole and jump to the neighbouring class 3 s-space system. I don't find activity, but my glorious leader comes on-line. I almost ignore the Gila cruiser, Drake battlecruiser, and Armageddon battleship, which are probably all at the tower also visible on my directional scanner anyway, what with there being no wrecks. The combat scanning probes are interesting, and sitting cloaked on the wormhole as I give Fin a sitrep seems like a good way to see if a ship comes my.

Nothing does come my way, not until Fin jumps in to the C3 behind me. We're left staring at the same three ships—which Fin reconnoitres at the tower, finding them all empty of pilots—until the combat probes disappear. Whoever scanned apparently isn't interested in jumping through whatever wormholes he resolved, but I am. I launch my own combat probes and scan, and even though I already know about the nine anomalies from a passive scan when entering the system, I am a little surprised to see a mere four signatures. Surely the scout wasn't that slow to scan, particularly as all four signatures are chubby.

It takes me a minute or two to resolve a gas site and two wormholes. The second wormhole is no surprise, as the lack of pilot returning to the local tower was a convincing sign that the scout was a visitor. And he's less likely to have come through the static exit to low-sec, particularly given the K162 from more class 3 w-space that connects in to the system. The exit leads to a system in Genesis, and the K162 to a C3 that looks clear from the wormhole. Exploring finds an unoccupied and empty system, one that holds a static exit to null-sec, so the scout has probably come from another system back, which could explain why he was reluctant to delve even deeper.

I scan again, reducing seven anomalies and eleven signatures to one obvious wormhole, a K162 from class 4 w-space, just like home. Jumping to C4a has no ships in d-scan range, but plenty of Sleeper wrecks. That's interesting. I activate my passive scanner, revealing one anomaly that holds no wrecks, so obviously the fleet has finished and is probably looking to salvage. Not being able to find the anomaly is inconvenient, but no impediment to ambushing a salvager. I just have to hunt the wrecks and scan for, presumably, the Noctis that will come. I just need to be able to launch probes covertly.

Exploring C4a finds two towers, with a Vulture command ship in one, and a Purifier stealth bomber and Noctis salvager that both disappear before I can see them. It looks like salvaging is starting, maybe with a soft escort. Fin brings her ship to the wormhole to C4a but holds her position for now, as I try to launch probes and locate the ship. This isn't so easy, as I can't get away from the towers—where the Vulture is piloted—or the Noctis. But I shall assume the Noctis will be paying more attention than the Vulture, and launch my probes in range of the tower. I doubt the command ship pilot is sober enough to care at this point.

I throw my probes out of the system and return to the inner system to see the Noctis still working away, with no sign of the cloaked Purifier, funnily enough. I have already determined that there are multiple sites cleared, as suggested by the number of Sleeper battleship wrecks, and that I simply need to find a site the Noctis isn't in, 'hunt' those wrecks, and get my probes ready for the Noctis's entrance. And that I do. I find a site, get a good d-scan bearing and range, and get my probes arranged. Having the site just under 2 AU from me makes the process quicker, as using a reference probe set to a range of 2 AU makes arranging the others simplicity itself. And just in time for the Noctis to enter the site.

I tell Fin to get ready, and go for a scan. Perfect. 100% on the Noctis lets me bookmark and warp to its position. I call for Fin to jump in to the system and hold as I am in warp, already getting the command ready for her to warp to my position. But I drop out of warp further than expected from the Nocits, who looks to be aligned out of the site. Indeed he is aligned, as a couple of seconds later the salvager warps away, back to his tower. I suppose the Purifier is not flying escort but scout, sitting on the wormhole watching for intruders, as the Noctis's reaction was far too slow to be caused by seeing my probes.

I recognise the pilot too. Or, in retrospect, I recognise the sister of a pilot I've encountered more than once before. It's a shame we can't get reacquainted today. At least, not yet. I follow the Noctis back to the tower, where I see it swap to a Cheetah covert operations boat and warp away. Fin admits to not standing a chance of catching the cov-ops, and nor can I, but if the scout saw Fin enter, maybe seeing her leave will get the Noctis, or at least another salvaging ship, back in the site I already know about. Fin agrees, being glorious, and makes a show of leaving the system and warping away in C3b. But the Cheetah doesn't return to the tower to swap boats again.

Rather than wait for the Cheetah, I go looking for it. I find it, too, back in the site I reconnoitred, looting and salvaging one wreck at a time. That's interesting, and probably a little careless. The Cheetah may be harder to catch than a Noctis under normal circumstances, but it won't be able to cloak when next to a wreck, and when not fitted for salvaging will take its merry time stripping each wreck. And that's just what I'm seeing. The Cheetah is sitting on top of a battleship wreck, taking cycle upon cycle of its salvager modules just to clear that one wreck. I think I've got a shot here.

I wait for the current wreck to be salvaged, as there's no point rushing, and see which one it heads to next. Another battleship. The pilot is aiming to maximise their profit for the time and risk involved, which makes sense. I hope to ruin that for them. I warp close to the next wreck and, as the Cheetah snuggles up to it and gets cosy, start creeping forwards. I keep my cloak active until the last moment, then activate my micro warp drive and burn towards the cov-ops, as my sensors recalibrate from decloaking.

The Cheetah cannot cloak being close to the wreck, nor align out when given a solid thump from my Loki strategic cruiser, and my targeting systems get a positive lock on the tiny ship. I disrupt the warp engines of the cov-ops as my guns start firing, pretty much missing entirely on the first burst, as the bump sends both our ships off course, but once they start tracking the Cheetah its shields, armour, and hull are rapidly destroyed. The Cheetah explodes, its pod jettisoned, and despite my best efforts the pilot gets clear. She was clearly ready to flee.

I loot the wreck, bagging me some juicy Sleeper goodies instead of just expanded cargoholds, and shoot it for giggles. Mmm, Sleeper loot. And when I realise I'm surrounded by it I decide to take advantage of my situation, knowing that there's probably only a Purifier in the system—elsewhere in the system at that—and snag the loot from the remaining battleship wrecks, netting maybe fifty million ISK for the kill. I think that's probably it. Fin notices our old friend is in the Purifier, having jumped to C3b, but he doesn't try to bomb me when I leave the system, on my way home. It's a shame, but I suppose he knows a single bomb against a strategic cruiser probably wouldn't do much good, particularly with a second, probably allied strategic cruiser still loitering somewhere.

  1. 2 Responses to “Sneaking up on a sneaky salvager”

  2. Great read and your patience on the hunt makes the account all the more compelling. To me, your quiet, predator work is what makes the 'dark' side of Eve so appealing. Well done.

    By Flashfresh on Dec 13, 2012

  3. Thanks, Flashfresh. I like the way you make me sound like a big cat stalking its prey.

    By pjharvey on Dec 16, 2012

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