An unusual thing happened yesterday. It began when I took Space Ghost II out and scanned for anomalies in the home system as I do fairly regularly. I went out early in hopes of actually finding some that others hadn’t already eliminated. It didn’t help. I found only one. It quickly resolved into a wormhole. I decided I’d check it out. I had some time and there is something I’ve been looking for but more on that in a bit.
I got to the wormhole and determined it led to a Class 3 with a “normal” system on the other side. I entered the wormhole. On the other side, I found a nice 32AU system with nine planets and a giant orange star. A quick d-scan informed me that I was near the center of the system and there was… nothing. All but one of the Customs Offices was still run by Interbus. I showed no ships. There was only one medium cargo container on d-scan.
However, the two most outer planets were out of d-scan range. I was certain they’d be where the stations were. I re-positioned twice to d-scan them. I found nothing. The system was vacant. That is a strange thing. The only wormholes I’ve ever seen vacant were Class 5. I decided to setup a safe spot and probe the system in depth.
My probes convinced me the site was indeed unoccupied. D-scan had shown all the standard sleeper sites still intact. The probes showed me all the anomalies were there too and no player structures whatsoever. If there was a ship it was cloaked just like me and just passing through. I found one other wormhole to low-sec in the time I had and headed back. I had a board meeting and would need to return to complete my experiment.
I returned 12 hours later and confirmed the vacancy sign was still hung. All the previous sites, anomalies and wormhole was still present. I returned to base and re-shipped into the Prinz Eugen. It was time to see just how profitable sleepers are. I returned to the wormhole and quickly warped the Drake to safe. I then selected a standard site for my test.
According to sources, I could expect a frigate with neut, scram and web; a cruiser and possibly a battleship on the first wave of this site. The second wave would have five cruisers and four frigates and the last wave two battleships and auxiliaries. One of the BBs would be a remote repper – I’d have to see about that. This was an experiment, not a full out assault.
I warped in at 70KM. I figured I’d let them come to me and see what sort of range they have. The BB was present and immediately opened fire at 108KM. At around 100KM he started hitting for some serious damage.
[ 2012.05.13 05:27:06 ] (combat) Phantasmata Missile belonging to Sleepless Defender hits you, doing 640.3 damage.
My shields held. The frigate closed the distance very, very quickly. It was obviously an FF, a fast frigate. I wasn’t going anywhere fast when it got within 10KM. My only concern though, even with the neut-scram-web, was that someone would de-cloak and spoil the results. At around 50KM the CA started hitting and my shields started coruscating madly under the assault and losing buffer. Since the BB was was still outside my range, I opened up on the CA.
It was a tough drone, about what I’d expect from a rat Machariel – maybe a little tougher. It was tough enough I was hoping I could take down the BB. Seeing how slowly the CA shields dropped made me wonder if I could break the BB’s tank. I was glad this wave had no remote repping. I decided there would be no third wave for me. The Prinz Eugen has a good alpha but the DPS lacks. I have some training to do it seems. The CA popped and I immediately turned to the BB. It was a long fight. My shields never hit alarm but it got close a couple times. I eventually broke its tank and the BB exploded magnificently. Once they were out of the way I ignored the impotent frigate and took a good look at the site.
Sleepers have interesting construction. Anyway, with the FF getting more and more frustrated, I proceeded to loot the wrecks. This was my main goal after all. How much was 24 minutes of combat worth? I was tempted to pop the FF, as it was slowing my looting to a literal crawl, but that wasn’t the purpose of this engagement. I continued to loot with its neut-web-scram in place. Fortunately it appeared to be having capacitor problems. One of the three modules would turn off frequently. That would be my opportunity to get out with the loot.
Eighteen minutes later (rolls eyes) and many DS spams later, I had the loot.
I aligned to safe and waited for the scram to go offline. It did a bit later and I punched the warp button. The Prinz Eugen took of like a rock from a sling. I was back home in no time.
Once I was back in high-sec, I located a system where I could sell the loot. It was a good price, about the best available according to region price histories. This would give good results! So what is a Sleeper BB and CA and 24 minutes worth?
About four times what a similar amount of time would bring doing PI or mining in high-sec. I’m certain it would compete with level IV missions. With a friend or three, it might even be more lucrative than Incursions. With greater risk comes greater reward – and this level of profit may just outweigh the risk.
 I realize that I have not taken into account the time I spent finding the wormhole and determining it was unoccupied. That wasn’t the point of the experiment.