Marlenus here. Jim Bridger finally shamed me into logging on.

After his recent battle Mammoth fun, I thought about setting up a classic BattleBadger. But, truth to tell, I don’t have Jim’s skill in small weapons. So I decided to stick with one of my old trusty combat Cranes.

Out to the belts. Second belt I checked, there’s a Retriever and an Osprey mining into a cluster of Giant Secure Cans. And by cluster, I mean six of them … a tight cluster, without the minimum 5 kilometer separation needed for anchoring.

Sadly, ever since they redesigned the graphics for the cans, my broken color vision makes it impossible for me to see whether a Giant Secure Can is anchored or not. There used to be a red nav light on anchored cans and a green one on unanchored ones, hard to see but distinguisable. In the redesign, they took this off, or made the shading more subtle, I’m not sure which … but now, the only way I can tell if a can is scoopable is to see it too near another can.

This cluster: too obvious to miss.

So, back I went for the big rigged bustard. Warp to the cluster of cans, silently scoop them. As my old friends in Suddenly Ninjas would have said: YOINK!

There was no sign that anybody noticed, so I docked.

Judging by the names, four of the cans “belonged” to the Retriever pilot, two of them “belonged” to the Osprey pilot. Between the six cans, there were four full cans-worth of Azure Plagioclase.

Then I went to lunch. When I came back, I had the following Notification in my mailbox:

Your contact level has been modified
From: Goa’ul Ra
Sent: 2010.06.22 17:57

Goa’ul Ra has changed your contact level to Terrible Standing

u mother f***ker i will get u

Charmed, I’m sure.

Remember, boys and girls, a Giant Secure Can is only secure when it has been anchored. That is all!

So. Yesterday. Your trusty correspondent Jim Bridger is still stuck in high sec waiting for a jump clone timer. Can flipping in an armed destroyer is a little too … obvious and is not passing the time. I’m remembering how much fun Marlenus used to have in the combat Cranes, but I can’t fly a Crane, and I don’t have a Prowler available inside of thirty jumps. I check the market, but they’re more than sixty million, and this 0.0 PvP stuff has left me skint.

Obviously, there’s nothing for it but to step next door into Jita and set up a nice cheap battle Mammoth.

A short fitting flurry later, the Pissed Pachyderm is patrolling the belts. What’s this? A Retriever mining barge, jet can out, flying a single Hornet I drone? Surely that’s got to be bait, right?

Quick check, the pilot has a corp, only one other pilot in the corp, not in system. He’s on his own.

Motor motor motor. Battle Mammoth is not speedy. Motor motor motor. Can is getting closer.

Pass my time investigating the pilot, one Xhaine. He’s a… what? Ohshit noshit, he’s a freakin’ 2003 character? I smell herring and buttfuckery.

But if I chicken out and shy away from this juiciest of battle Mammoth targets, I might as well put the ship away. Plus, here’s the can, and it’s mostly full of the juiciest veldspar. Take what I can put in the Mammoth, flip the rest. It’s my way.

He’s locking me. The Retriever is locking me. I start locking him back, waiting nervously for four Warrior IIs or some sort of long-forgotten unobtainium GM’s-handed-them-out-as-loot-in-some-2004-event Drones-O-Death to launch and start nibbling my kidneys.

He’s locked. Still just one Hornet on me. He’s webbed, he’s pointed, and I am autocannoning him about the head and shoulders.

Faster than you’d think, he pops. No surprises, no tricks. Just kaboomage. Turns out he didn’t even have a fitting on the barge, just two strip miners and four mining drones he wasn’t using:

2010.06.21 02:11

Victim: Xhaine
Corp: Internet Gods Inc.
Alliance: None
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Retriever
System: [redacted]
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 2241

Involved parties:

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 5.0
Corp: Steel Fleet
Alliance: Important Internet Spaceship League
Faction: NONE
Ship: Mammoth
Weapon: 200mm AutoCannon II
Damage Done: 2089

Name: Thorn Rocket / Guristas
Damage Done: 152

Destroyed items:

Dense Veldspar, Qty: 16953 (Cargo)
Mining Drone I (Drone Bay)

Dropped items:

Strip Miner I, Qty: 2
Mining Drone I, Qty: 3 (Drone Bay)

If I’ve ever shot at an ’03 character before, I don’t know it. And I still can’t quite figure this guy. A seven-year-old mining alt would be in a better barge, surely? Even a purchased character shouldn’t be that broke — anybody with the billions to make the buy would have some more isk available for the purchased character, right? Just can’t figure out how anybody could be simultaneously that old, that broke, and that clueless.

But it was a great first outing for the Pissed Pachyderm!

Hey everybody, Jim Bridger here. My apologies for the lack of good salvage tales here lately; I can’t speak for Marlenus, but as for me, I’ve been too busy in 0.0 to develop any good salvage exploit tales. Down there it’s all brute force and no finesse … you don’t have to outwit anybody, you just need to blow their shit up. And in a weird sort of reverse incentive program, the fleets I’ve been flying with tend to give all the loot to the people who get blown up, which takes much of the fun out of looting and salvaging, even if it is the brotherly thing to do.

But tonight, see, I was passing through Ironfleet’s home system, with time to kill while I wait for a jump clone timer. I docked up and what did I find but an ancient and creaky Thrasher, fit with meta four guns and so old it still has at least one large rig on it. And a hauler named “Ore Relocation”, parked right beside it. Par-tay time!

So, I had to go out and prowl the belts for some ore.

Found some, too. First potential victim was a three day old in a mining destroyer, who jetted a can right in front of me. I ate his Scordite, found it bland and insufficient. Was feeling preemptively bad about taking candy from babies, when he called me a fat fuck in local. That made me feel good again, warm and fuzzy even. But, sadly, he warped away without attempting to teach me a lesson.

Next potential victim was jet can mining in an Osprey cruiser. Lots of lasers going, two Hobgoblin I drones out. Too much scordite to eat, so I flipped it. Hobgoblin me, baby!

Sadly, no. He warped away in silence.

I waited. He came back in a Badger. Really? Oh, please oh please.

No. Prudence prevailed. Badger docked up without reclaiming “his” ore.

It felt really *weird* prowling the belts looking for cans to flip. When I left here, I was a PvP noob — I had some ability to fight in the limited can-flipping situations I created for myself, and I’d learned some fleet combat during faction warfare, but I had only the most limited ability to judge a fight in advance, and I didn’t really know what fights I could hope to win in the ships I was flying. Now, a year later, after constant 0.0 craziness, I still don’t consider myself a serious PvP guy, but I’ve got a totally different outlook on combat. Patrolling the belts in .7 space, I feel dangerous in a way that I never did before, and confident that I’ll be able to assess potential fights as they develop. I hadn’t really noticed the change until I dropped back into old familiar ground.

So, no suicidal noobs got harmed tonight, and I had a few moments of hopeful fun, plus cussing in local. Tomorrow I’ll be back down in Providence again, shooting at Amarrian roleplayers, those slaving bastard fucks. Nice shot of nostalgia for me this evening.

Got a double-deep-space message beacon from Jim Bridger late last night, flash priority. Signal quality was so bad, I thing the message drone must have had a hell of a trip before it ever got withing range of a Concord beacon.

Bottom line sounds like Jim’s deep in a wormhole complex, staring at an offline tower surrounded by most of a deathstar’s armaments, just sittin’ there waiting for an adventurous salvage corp to come along. I’m supposed to round up some battleships and haulers (and shovels and rakes and implements of destruction) and be ready to haul ass halfway across the known universe, when-and-if Jim finds some deeply-implausible chain of wormholes that doesn’t lead back to the ass-end of Syndicate where he started.

I called up the Empress of Greater Mars (you remember her? She’s the lady who managed the logistics for my one long sojourn into wormhole space) and she’s game. She’s standing by with the wormhole-fit laser battleship and an impressive array of hauler minions.

So now we wait. Updates as events warrant.

Update, a day later: The wormholes were not friendly; there’s currently no good route for the ships needed to get in there, and the mods to be salvaged aren’t worth using a bad route. So I parked a probing minion in there to wait for better wormhole conjunctions.

On a brighter note, while exploring wormhole chains I found a very-badly-defended (but alive and shields up) small tower with an Orca parked inside the shields. That’s more than Ironfleet can handle, so I passed the intel along to TEARS, in hopes that some of the merry thugs in that fine organization may be able to put together the small expedition required to liberate that Orca.

Dear Marlenus. What a time I’ve had! After tonight’s adventure, I knew you’d want another postcard.

I remember fondly the Ironfleet forays into the wormholes with The Empress and on TEARS ops. But, since I’ve been down in 0.0, I just haven’t seen very many wormholes at all. And the few I have found, didn’t lead to anywhere interesting.

Until tonight. One jump out of my “home” in 0.0, I found a wormhole leading into unknown space. As I was in a covert ops ship, I jumped on in and warped around a bit, checking for locals on my directional scanner.

It quickly developed that the system contained one armed POS and had two ships in space — a Retriever mining barge flying T1 mining drones, and a hauler. So I went to a distant location, uncloaked, dropped combat probes, recloaked, positioned the probes very carefully, and did my best “speedy probe” evolution. Just as soon as I had a warp-in on the mining barge, I pulled the combat probes back in, then warped at 100 to see what was what.

And there they were, merrily mining Arkanor from the Retriever into the hauler, via a transfer jet can. There was *nobody* else visible on directional scan, but of course there might be other cloakers like myself.

So, back “home” I went (2 jumps) for a combat ship. Normally I would have recruited some other guys from the alliance, but everybody else in local was vigorously engaged in a long-running and futile-seeming effort to bait and trap a cloaky Vagabond that’s been hanging out in “our” system. So, I didn’t want to try and pull them away for a wormhole mission that won’t advance our local military interests.

Instead, I decided to jump in my trusty Sabre light interdictor, which I’ve trained on for years but never actually flown much. (I did lose one shortly after getting to 0.0, in the process of which learning that I don’t know how to use them properly in fleets. So, my other two have been gathering hangar dust.)

My reasoning is that I could hit the wormhole, warp directly to the barge/hauler pair, pop a bubble, and with a bit of luck maybe even get two kills. And (I hoped) if I could pod the hauler pilot clear out of the wormhole, I might even get a chance to sneak back in later and salvage some of the yummy Arkanor they were mining.

Like any military plan, it did not survive contact with the enemy intact. Here’s how it actually went down:

I hit the worm hole and warped right to my Retriever bookmark. Unfortunately, he must have been alert (or lucky) with his d-scanning, because by the time I got there, the Retriever was gone. (I know he left in a hurry because his mining drones were still there.) So, I popped the bubble and engaged the hauler.

Weird, it’s some Amarr hauler I’ve never seen before. Impel? Which one is the Impel?

And right about then I noticed, this Impel is isn’t dying as fast as I’d hoped. In fact, it’s pretty crunchy. Did I really catch me a Transport?

Turns out, I did, a genuine no-shit Deep Space Transport kill:

2009.09.12 02:18:00

Victim: Hauling Styx
Corp: Division of Dying Stars
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Impel
System: J151516
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 6441

Involved parties:

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 2.0
Corp: Steel Fleet
Alliance: Ocularis Inferno
Faction: NONE
Ship: Sabre
Weapon: 250mm Light ‘Scout’ Artillery I
Damage Done: 6441

Destroyed items:

Medium Cargohold Optimization I, Qty: 2
Expanded Cargohold II, Qty: 5

Dropped items:

Expanded Cargohold II, Qty: 2
Arkonor, Qty: 1503 (Cargo)

He died well. No bribe attempts or blubbering. But of course, I had to pod him anyway, just in case he had a spare hauler lurking in that POS:

2009.09.12 02:20:00

Victim: Hauling Styx
Corp: Division of Dying Stars
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Capsule
System: J151516
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 407

Involved parties:

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 2.0
Corp: Steel Fleet
Alliance: Ocularis Inferno
Faction: NONE
Ship: Sabre
Weapon: 250mm Light ‘Scout’ Artillery I
Damage Done: 407

So then I spent the next little while chortling as I hauled 1504 units of Arkanor (3 trips in my Prowler blockade runner) home to my hangar. (With my refine skills at the local station that’s roughly 2000 Megacyte and 1000 Zydrine — quality salvaging in anybody’s book!) The Retriever pilot was briefly on scan in a Heron, but I never encountered him again.

Wish you were here!

So, late last night the hyperspace telephone rang. “Marlenus, this is Jim. Sorry I’ve been too busy to write! No, I’m doing good. Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you bring me a Prowler full of Nitrogen Oxides? No, no, just part way, you don’t even have to leave high sec. Just twenty jumps, yeah, I’ll meet you there, I know a guy with a covert jump bridge who is taking me the rest of the way. When? Well, he’s waiting now, how quick can you get going?”

It turns out he and his boys have been using bombers to drive ice miners out of the ice belts, then going in and scooping the mined ice in blockade runners. The scooping part, of course, was Jim’s idea. Talk about “in the best traditions of Ironfleet!” How could I refuse?

I couldn’t. Not even when he said “…oh, and by the way, would you pick me up a couple of bomb blueprints on your way? We’re running short down here, but we’ve got minerals coming out our ears from all the hauler spawns and rat loot.” 180M ISK, Jim? Sure, no problem. You can owe me.

I’m glad he’s having fun down there…

Dear Marlenus:

Still having a good time in 0.0. My ship losses aren’t too bad so far, and I’ve had quite a bit of luck getting faction mods off the local rats.

Last night I had a fun encounter in the system next door to the Steel Fleet home base. Some of the boys (and one girl) were forming up for a combat roam that I was not planning to go out with, due to it being my bedtime; so I went out in my Cheetah covert ops ship to look for faction spawns and whatnot. Basically, I was just cruising around looking for opportunities and trouble.

When I jumped into the system, I found an unknown neutral (Ferry092 of GNocide corp) in local, who immediately hailed me in friendly fashion:

Ferry092 > Woah
Ferry092 > The legendary Jim Bridger
Jim Bridger > LOL, hello
Ferry092 > What’s happenin
Jim Bridger > not much, just wanderin’ around
Ferry092 > lol, syndicate is a pretty bad place.
Ferry092 > LOTS of pvp down here.
Jim Bridger > My guys are based out of [one jump away], we do OK most days
Ferry092 > Cool cool
Ferry092 > Huge No Trademark gang around here
Ferry092 > Attemping to avoid them while still finding some pvp
Ferry092 > So what brings you solo out here?
Jim Bridger > just exploring
Ferry092 > Ahh. :P

I took his “legendary Jim Bridger” greeting to mean that he’s a reader of Ironfleet.com — I guess word gets around!

While we were having the quoted conversation, I was warping cloaked from belt to belt, checking the rats. About the time he asks “what brings you out here?” I picked up his Myrmidon and Hobgoblin II drones on my directional scanner, and a moment later I landed (cloaked) in the belt where he was ratting … with his drones still out.

So, of course I get on Ventrillo with the Steel Fleet cutthroats who were (when last seen) sitting on “our” station undock, shooting aimlessly at each other and bullshitting about ship fits.

Break, break, I’ve got eyes on a ratting Myrmidon battlecruiser, he’s sixty clicks away from me with his drones out, I am cloaked and approaching him, can I get a fleet invite so you bastards can come warp to me and blow him up?”

[interested fleet chatter]

“Roger, thank you, I’m in a covert ops ship, yes I’ve got a point but those Hobgoblin IIs of his will eat me alive, you’ll have to be fast as hell. Let me know when you’re ready to jump into the system…”

Right about this time I notice him pulling in his drones, and I see that one of our Steel Fleet guys has jumped in prematurely. There is cussing. Then the Myrmidon warps off in the direction of a planet. I tell my guys to hurry, and I warp to the planet at ten klicks.

Imagine my glee and surprise to find the battlecruiser ten klicks from me. Did he really warp to zero? Yes, he did.

“Guys, get your asses in here, tackler, please tell me when you’re in warp to me.”

Moments later, I heard a tackler announce he was in warp to me, so I uncloaked, pointed the Myrm, and went into the fastest orbit I could manage — which is pretty fast in a Cheetah.

The battlecruiser locked me (faster than I expected), warp scrambled me, and launched his drones. My pain began. Our tackler landed and announced a tackle, the whole fleet began screaming for me to disengage. Which I attempted to do, as by now I was in deep armor.

Then I discovered I was webbed, maybe even double-webbed. Yikes! I’m in structure now, and crawling for distance. The whole fleet has arrived and is pounding this guy, but will it be fast enough?

Finally I got some distance, and my warp drive engaged. I landed at another planet, streaming flames, with about 40% structure left. Too close!

Ferry092 got his pod away, and exchanged a few pleasantries in local before he left. He was pretty cool about the whole thing, at least until one of our guys got a little bit smacky. But I’m still wondering, why did he keep ratting after I effectively told him my guys were one jump away?

Dear Marlenus —

Still having a great time in 0.0. Since my last postcard, I’ve lost a covert ops ship and a couple more frigates, gotten podded once, and been in some fun (if usually inconclusive) fleet fights.

My Steel Fleet brethren, though, are strange bunch. They think nothing of losing two or three battleships a night in pursuit of mayhem — at which, they excel — but they shrink and quail from flying a 300,000 ISK hauler two jumps through 0.0 to clean up a mineral spawn. Today I was snooping around two jumps from our home system when I found a hauler spawn, three cruiser-sized haulers guarded by four cruiser-sized rats. When I announced this find in fleet coms, I was astonished to hear “naw, that’s too far.” Two jumps! In further discussion, these intrepid warriors explained that the two (then completely empty) systems were too dangerous for a hauler, we’d need to set up a fleet and get scouts out, and it wasn’t enough minerals to be worth the trouble.

Needless to say, my years in Ironfleet have trained me to view the world in a different way. “Well, then,” said the little red hen, “I shall simply eat it myself.”

I went back in a Rifter and killed all the rats. (If anybody had told me you could rat in a Rifter in 0.0, I’d have been out here long ago!) Got my first piece of truly excellent 0.0 loot when I did that — one of the hauler rats dropped a named mining laser upgrade (the “Elara” one) which is about a thirty million ISK module. Then I went back in my Mammoth for three loads of mixed tritanium and pyerite. In all this time and jumping, I never saw another soul in local. However, I was able to entertain myself by listening to the Steel Fleet boys on vent, who spent most of the same time sitting outside of “our” station, shooting each other and swapping insults.

All in all, a most productive afternoon!

— Jim

Given the proclivities of my alliance brothers in the Suddenly Ninjas corporation, CCP ought to post this sign on every deadspace warpgate:

entrance for ninjas only

Dear Marlenus,

Wish you were here. We are having a great time, and the salvage here you would not believe. Last night after a quick tussle with three optimists who were flying my beloved Thrashers (2 died, one escaped, they never scratched my Claw because of some godlike weapons disruption action by my friendly neighborhood Onyx pilot) I was warping between two asteroid belts when I saw a flash of cans go by on my overview about three million miles out.

Well, of course I had to do some old-fashioned safe-spot busting, the kind where you warp between bookmarks, dropping more bookmarks, until you narrow yourself down to where you’re on grid with the target. Took me about an hour because I am WAY out of practice.

Ultimately what I got was three standard containers containing about 600 cubic meters of local rat loot, so not really worth my time. But still, it was a lot of fun!

— Jim