Between a wreck and a planet

11th June 2013 – 5.06 pm

'Just scanned home and bookmarked the wormhole. I'm killing Sleepers in the gravimetric site.' So my glorious leader welcomes me on-line. 'And someone cleared all of our anomalies.' All of them? 'All of them.' Those pig-dogs, tidying up our system like that! I suppose we have little to do apart from look elsewhere for entertainment. After all, Fin's finished with her minor Sleeper patrol, even having looted and salvaged the wrecks, so there's nothing more to do in that gravimetric site. She even beats me to our static wormhole, and jumps ahead of me by a few seconds.

So it is that I hear 'Drakes! Wrecks!' moments before updating my directional scanner in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to see them for myself. Three Drake battlecruisers, a Scythe cruiser, and drones and wrecks too, with no sight of a tower. A passive scan reveals seven anomalies, but before I can get too concerned with where the ships are engaging Sleepers I need to move away from the wormhole. With almost a kilometre for my Loki strategic cruiser to cover before it can become cloaky again I am worried I may scare our prey off too soon.

Fin's moved and cloaked, and ships and drones remain on d-scan. I follow her lead, feeling terribly visible for a few seconds, and update d-scan repeatedly once my cloak is active again. The ships don't disappear, and drones are coming out again. I think we have some ships to hunt. They're easy to find too, indeed being in one of the standard anomalies. I warp to the anomaly to assess the circumstances, creating a perch on my way in.

The Drakes are getting dirty with the Sleepers, but the Scythe is some distance from his colleagues. And judging from the blue beam emanating from the cruiser, the Scythe is transferring shield energy to the Drakes, no doubt helping the battlecruisers if they sustain too much incoming damage from the Sleepers. Maybe keeping the logistics ship separate from the Sleepers is helping to spare it. I can't quite tell how far away it is, but it's far enough to potentially cause us a problem.

With the Scythe boosting the Drakes' shields, even if one at a time, we will have a much harder time trying to break the battlecruisers' already significant capability. Of course, if we pop the Scythe first then the Drakes become normal Drakes again. But that's why its separation from the fleet is an issue. We don't want to engage the Drakes without shooing away the Scythe, but if we can't get to the Scythe easily then we may just be banging our heads against impenetrable shields. Luckily, it looks like the Scythe has wandered in to a convenient position.

It's not the Scythe's fault. He's sitting above the Drakes, which normally makes a ship difficult to warp to. But taking a good look at the site shows that the Scythe is now sitting quite neatly between one of the newly created Sleeper wrecks and a nearby planet. I tell Fin to hold in our perch whilst I take a punt at dropping on top of the cruiser. I bookmark the wreck and bounce off the planet to warp back at a not-even-estimated range to the Scythe. It's a good complete guess. Better than good, really. I drop out of warp ten kilometres from the Scythe, close enough to ambush him whenever we please.

Dropping out of warp ten kilometres from the Scythe

But let's not jump the ships immediately. The third wave of the anomaly has appeared, which includes annoying frigates and a couple of battleships. Let's let the fleet take out the frigates and one battleship before pouncing, so that if the Sleepers take a disliking to us we're more likely to survive. Once the Sleepers are whittled down, Fin can warp in to engage the Drakes, keeping one close, whilst I take care of the Scythe. What a good plan. Nothing can go wrong.

We watch the combat progress, and I have a little chuckle to myself as I see the Scythe not being far enough away to avoid the attentions of the frigates. They come buzzing up to annoy the cruiser, as the Drakes send their drones this way to pop the tiny Sleeper ships. Uh, oh. Right. 'This way', as in, towards me too. I even got closer to the Scythe than the ten kilometres, to avoid any rounding errors with range and ensure my warp scrambler activates immediately. The Sleeper frigates don't just buzz around the Scythe, they buzz around and bump in to me. Oops.

Sleeper frigates and Drake drones decloak my Loki prematurely

Fin, engage the Drakes. My cover is blown, and there's no way I can activate my cloak and pretend no one saw me. Even less chance of doing that when I am actually recognised and addressed in the local communication channel. But I'm already locked on to the Scythe and stripping its shields. I doubt this will take too long, as I'm assuming the Scythe has no local repairs running, or offensive systems either, but it's still no hauler.

Recognised in w-space

I engage the Scythe and Fin holds on to a Drake

I look behind me to see Fin bravely brawling with all three battlecruisers, and try to ignore the obviously distraction tactics being employed by Firstly, one of the pilots. I have to admit that he's either a genuine reader of my journal or does some impressively quick research. But I need to get this Scythe down, so that the remote repairs disappear and I can help my glorious leader against the combat ships. And there she goes. The Scythe pops, the pod flees quickly, and I bounce off our perch to join Fin, shaking off the Drakes' drones and reloading my guns as I do.

Scythe exploding

Fin plus Sleepers minus logistics equals damage. The Drakes know the jig is up, the two that can flee fleeing once their Scythe is down, but Fin is keeping a tight hold on the third. His shields are gone and is taking armour damage by the time I'm close enough to add my guns, probably having caught the ire of the two Sleeper battleships as well, and, as we're all getting chummy in local, he admits that it's time to melt. And melt he does, the Drake's armour and hull dropping quickly and easily to our combined fire.

Two Lokis, a Drake, and a Sleeper battleship warp in to an anomaly...

Ambushed Drake explodes

I aim for the pod of the pilot ejected from the wrecked Drake, and I get a positive lock too. Quite why he manages to warp away is a mystery, until I realise that I still haven't turned off the function to automatically return a set number of target locks. I have to admit, I like the more obvious feedback as to when I'm being targeted, but in this case, as others, it has let a target slip away. I got my offensive systems hot so that they would activate immediately on a positive lock, but because I had automatically returned the lock of the Sleeper battleship my commands were translated to activating my warp scrambler and guns on the current active target, which is the battleship. Silly Penny. It's time to change that.

Even without the pods we get two good kills. Fin was brave as buttons to warp in amongst the three Drakes and hold them at bay as I popped the logistics, and I am pleased that I identified the threat of the Scythe and was able to manoeuvre my Loki in to position to enable us to strike simultaneously. It was rather more interesting than a straight duck hunt. The other Drakes have retreated and aren't coming back, so I loot and shoot the wreck, grabbing the loot from a nearby Sleeper wreck too. I looted the Scythe as I was aligning back to the perch, and don't care to make another trip to destroy its wreck. Once safely out of the anomaly and cloaked, we can relax a little.

Flashing Firstly on a wormhole

Pilot Firstly hangs around to chat for a bit, but is scared away when Fin's scanning resolves the K162 from class 5 w-space he's sitting on. They fleet came through there from null-sec—Firstly trying to expand his colleagues' horizons, a plan that we may have mangled by our ambush—and although I gave my word that we wouldn't engage him if he wanted to stay I can't blame him from leaving the system. I warp to Fin at range and manage to land on top of the wormhole, decloaking and no doubt looking a mite threatening. But I gave my word, that was merely an accident. I just get curious as to wormholes in space.

Firstly's scout returns from low-sec and across to the C5 K162

There's nothing else interesting in the system. The static exit to low-sec leads to a system in Black Rise, which Firstly's scout in a Tengu strategic cruiser investigates before Fin gets there. There is no occupation and we've killed the activity. I doubt there is much happening in the class 5 system either, what with the null-sec pilots passing through it safely. I think we're finished for the night. But that's okay. We've had a short but satisfying hunt, with some variation over our normal targets, and not forgetting our standard need to improvise a little. And we had a nice chat afterwards, with tea and scones. Well, Fin and I had tea and scones. They're a w-space staple, after all. Maybe Firstly can remember that for the next time.

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