What we have here is a failure to think straight

9th October 2013 – 5.05 pm

Pod and Planet Fiction Contest: Honourable Mention

I come home from another extended w-space constellation to three Raven Navy Issue battleships, a Basilisk logistics ship, and Noctis salvager visible on my directional scanner. And, of course, all the Sleeper wrecks that are made by such a fleet. Here's me scanning wormholes and exploring dozens of systems over the past couple of days, and apparently all I had to do to find activity was wait patiently in the home system.

Had I waited patiently the situation would have been in my favour too. There's a slight chance that the plundering fleet has assumed our static wormhole hasn't been opened, but it seems they are being cautious and have a scout cloaked on the wormhole. I move and cloak my ship, and am greeted in the normally quiet local communications channel. They greet me by name too, so I wasn't merely spotted on d-scan. I can't quietly sneak up on the fleet's salvager and welcome them to our system.


In fact, I can't even find the anomaly the fleet is in, let alone the salvager. I got in to the habit of bookmarking all of our anomalies daily, just in case of situations like this, but that was a lot of busywork for minimal benefit and stopped a long while ago. So I can't find the fleet, but I still think I've gained overall, and not just because my chances of successfully ambushing the salvager are negligible. But I take a minute to bookmark all those we have left, just in case.

Still, the Noctis is not with the fleet and looks to be in empty space, so with a big enough system to hide from the fleet on d-scan, and with only core scanning probes in the visible system—dunno what they're looking for, with the ridiculous discovery scanner doing the job for them—I warp away, launch combat scanning probes, and hide them far above the ecliptic plane. Warping back to the wormhole I take a look for the Noctis using d-scan, but the salvager disappears before I am ready to scan.

Did the Noctis cloak or jump through a wormhole? As I'm not going to be doing much I call my probes in to scan where I last saw him. Nothing. No ship, no site, no wormhole. I hide my probes again, I'm not sure why, and, as I consider what to do next, see the fleet warp to our static wormhole and jump to the class 3 system on the other side. Now, why would they do that?

Fleet warps to our static wormhole

The fleet doesn't look like it originates from C3a, but this behaviour does look like a panic warp away from my combat probes. But the pilots know I'm here, what are they afraid of? A fleet behind me, perhaps. But you don't send the ships you don't want to lose in to the middle of a fleet coming to get you, you take them home, so I'm still at a loss as to this behaviour. When all the ships jump back moments later I can only suppose that the fleet is planning to collapse of the wormhole, probably to force me out of the system.

Collapsing the wormhole won't get rid of me. I live here. But I test my theory that they aren't afraid of my scanning probes by bringing them back in to the system to resolve their K162. That's simple enough, as it's the only new signature in the system, and I have it within a few scans. Hiding my probes, I warp across to what turns out to be a K162 from class 4 w-space to gauge the next reaction. Will they run again and, if so, which way?

Can't we be friends?

Here they are, on their K162. But are they running away, or running to catch me? I dunno, but they really want me to bugger off, as more local chatter shows. I've also been added as a contact—with terrible standing, naturally—so they can tell if I am on-line or not. And it seems that they've worked out I'm local. The fleet warps away from their K162, but not to our static wormhole or back in to an anomaly. The Ravens and Basilisk visit one of our customs offices and start shooting it.

Oh no, whatever will I do?

Whatever, dudes. Go ahead and waste your time blowing it up. You're using that threat on the wrong capsuleer. Besides, if they were serious, they'd go after our tower. This is simply petulant posturing. And they get bored pretty quickly, perhaps realising how much time it would take to accomplish essentially nothing meaningful, and warp away again. Once more to their K162, then to our static wormhole for another jump to push more mass through, and back again to their K162. This is all rather weird.

Our sister system, on hearing of the Navy Ravens, would like to come and cause some explosions. I'd like that too. But they have to finish their current engagement with Sleepers and make the trip over to do so, and I don't think our wormhole will last that long. Another round trip by the fleet destabilises our connection to critical levels, almost proving my point. It looks like they are happy with that, and although some strategic cruisers could still squeeze through the opportunity looks less inviting to my colleagues. That's fine, and such are the vagaries of life in w-space.

The fleet looks to be content with leaving the wormhole in critical condition and they get back to shooting Sleepers. I think I'll poke their system, if only for information. I warp to their K162, jump through, and, hey, it's the dash system. J1226-0, the only w-space system missing a number. That's easy to remember for future reference. And a last check of d-scan before jumping showed the Noctis visible again at home, so it was just cloaked. D-scan in the dash system shows me two towers and no ships, which also makes sense, with all the available pilots engaging Sleepers, salvaging, or scouting.

I sit and wait on the wormhole for a while, during which time two more pilots come on-line, board Navy Ravens, and warp to and jump through the wormhole to join the fleet. Still I wait, with a plan hatching to catch their Noctis on the wormhole as it comes home, hoping to pop it before the Ravens can crack my Loki open. And now I remember the fleet has a Basilisk. Never mind surviving the Ravens' fire, the Basilisk will simply repair any damage the Noctis takes. My plan is doomed to failure, but at least I realise now before I either wait too long or get caught out.

I think it's time to go home and go off-line, finally giving the fleet what they wanted all along. Then again, jumping home and pinging the ships sees the five Ravens and Basilisk as separate from the Noctis. Is this really how you operate with a known hostile pilot in the system? I almost can't believe it, but I see where the Noctis is and warp to him to see the salvager in a despawned and empty site alone. Not for long, as he warps clear. Did he see me? Was he warned? I don't think so. I see where he goes and d-scan tells me it's a site that has Sleeper wrecks in it.

I follow behind the salvager, making a perch as I do, and drop in to the anomaly to see the Noctis still unescorted. The fleet is active elsewhere. This is too good to be true, but the only cloaky ship I've seen so far is a Cheetah covert operations boat, which explains the probes; the fleet composition has remained unchanged, with no boats mysteriously leaving; and the only additions I've seen, whilst watching their wormhole, were more Ravens. I think I'll take a crack at this Noctis, all or nothing.

The salvager is moving between the spread-out wrecks in the cleared anomaly, which means he won't always be aligned to warp and I have time to get the ambush right. And, to get good images of his or my destruction, I think I'll let him move out of that blinding cloud before I warp in to say hello. There he goes, moving to the wrecks high in the z-axis. It's time.

Finding the Noctis inexplicably alone

I warp in, getting nice and close, and get a spot of luck as the Noctis turns just as I start my approach. He can't be aligned, now is the time to strike. I decloak, burn towards the ship, and get my sensor booster active. I am acutely aware of the ships in the system, the threats made towards me, and how stupid this could be. But I want to find out who is being more stupid.

Ambushing the Noctis of the angry, hostile fleet

I gain a positive lock on the Noctis, disrupt its warp drives, and start shooting. Shoot, update d-scan. Shoot, update d-scan. The fleet's current anomaly is out of d-scan range of this one, so their appearance on d-scan now would give me a heads-up that they are on their way. And it's looking pretty sweet so far. No fleet on d-scan, no ship decloaking two kilometres from mine. The Noctis is going down. I need to take a good picture of this one.

Boom, shake the room!

What a splendid explosion. The pilot is perhaps quietly weeping—or confused as to why his two warp core stabilisers apparently did nothing—and my Loki catches his ejected pod. A couple more volleys of autocannon fire, one more than normal, just to chill the capsuleer with some more shield and armour alarms, and a corpse appears in front of my ship, ready to be scooped. Scoop it I do, and I check the wreck of the Noctis for any loot. The fleet's arrived, but I've got time.

Noctis wreck and corpse, with ample time to scoop and loot

I've got time because the fleet warped to the anomaly's cosmic signature, not their ailing salvager, and so are seventy kilometres from my current position. If only that was their smallest mistake of the evening. I snatch all I can carry from the Noctis wreck, leaving behind the bulky cloaking device, and casually warp back to my perch, activating my fitted cloak when able to. The fleet does nothing—can do nothing—but watch.

Hi fellas, thanks for the corpse and loot

That was glorious. I have 300 Miskies of loot in my hold. Over 600 Miskies of loot were sadly destroyed in the explosion and so not recovered. Only a little sadly for me, very sadly for the fleet, who have lost a billion ISK in potential profit for all their effort so far against the Sleepers tonight, all the threats against me, all the attempts to get me to leave. I have no sympathy for them. They knew I was here, who I was, what I was piloting, that this is my home, and that I was on-line. And still they let their Noctis, slowly accumulating wads of loot, salvage unescorted.

The fleet takes one more shot at the same customs office as before, the poor sods punching a brick wall to vent some of their frustration, upset at their own miserable failure. And when they inevitably give up on that, after only a couple of minutes, I watch as they give up completely, heading home without another word, threat, or indication to return. The Ravens jump through the wormhole with the Basilisk, the Cheetah shortly afterwards signalling their defeat, and even an Anathema cov-ops after that.

I spy a Proteus strategic cruiser jump in to our system after a short while, as I linger expecting to see the wormhole collapsed, and when it cloaks I wonder if they will start again, this time with protection. But I don't care. It's really late, I've destroyed a billion-ISK Noctis, and thoroughly thumbed my nose at an impertinent pilot. I dump the loot and corpse at our tower, and hide in a corner of our system to go off-line, knowing that I will sleep well tonight.

  1. 13 Responses to “What we have here is a failure to think straight”

  2. I wish I could run into Noctises (Noctii?) as dumb as this.

    By CCP Eterne on Oct 9, 2013

  3. Well done that.

    I've come to expect people doing stupid things. Ever once in a while it's a trap, but way less often than not.

    By Akely on Oct 9, 2013

  4. Thanks, Akely. And, yeah, this kind of behaviour is making bait and traps increasingly difficult to ascertain. I'll pay for it one day, mark my words.

    Is that really CCP Eterne asking about the plural of 'Noctis'? Well I never.

    By pjharvey on Oct 9, 2013

  5. Good read today! Congratulations, that is a very nice nights work

    By Tol on Oct 9, 2013

  6. Glorious. And lovely pictures.

    By Von Keigai on Oct 9, 2013

  7. You have these opportunities because you work to make them available. A great read.

    By Evehermit on Oct 10, 2013

  8. It's a panda!

    By pjharvey on Oct 10, 2013

  9. Bravo Penny, well done! o/\o

    By Tarunik on Oct 10, 2013

  10. this has got to be one of your best stories ever. it would only be better if you had a sammich at the end :P

    By eli stark on Oct 10, 2013

  11. It was too late at night for a sammich, but going for a hot chocolate would have ended the story nicely. Maybe I can edit that in without anyone noticing.

    By pjharvey on Oct 11, 2013

  12. What kind of silly WHers... Lol, good work on that haha.

    By Dredastttarm on Oct 11, 2013

  13. So lazy to not even drop the loot every couple of sites at a safe.

    I also used to use a Hurricane to salvage in OPW even though it's slightly less efficient, it's far more intimidating.

    By AkJon Ferguson on Oct 16, 2013

  14. The battlecruiser would also survive longer than a standard industrial ship, long enough for support to turn up, for example.

    By pjharvey on Oct 16, 2013

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