God sheep are stupid. Fucking hate those animals. Anyway. I digress.
I scan the system and discover our high sec exit is only a few short jumps from a market hub. Convenient, since CB wants to pick up a heavy tackler cruiser I'm trying to talk him into naming "Huggy Bear". He declines, but does head out for a little shopping.
While he travels, I go through all the sites currently showing up in the system and realize that while we were hunting our neighbors the night before, I activated the 'three days until I vanish' timer on a couple of gas clouds in the system. We should probably do something about that, such as harvesting the gas before it dissipates. This also works with our limited timeframe tonight, because gas clouds don't take a tremendous amount of time to hoover up (at least the ones in our system don't). The main problem with that we only have one gas harvesting ship between the two of us (Gor has one as well, but the fittings are too advanced for our crappy gas harvesting training).
Luckily, I have worked up a few theoretical designs for gas harvesting cruisers (of course) and have CB purchase the parts for a Thorax-class hull and appropriate modules while I finish scanning. After that, it's a simple matter for me to run out and pick up the ship, then race his new Celestis-class tackling-cruiser back to the wormhole.
CB > "This thing looks like they took a piece of every Gallente frigate in the game and welded it together into one slightly-larger ship."
CB grabs the Vexor-class cruiser we already had in system, I stay in the Thorax, and a few minutes later the Exxon Valdez and Peace Pipe are headed out to do their work.
We each take a cloud and spend the next 10 or 15 minutes sucking gas into our holds, watching the directional scan, and talking about corporate Alliances.
Currently, our corp is a member of a larger alliance of corporations that looked like it was going to be a good fit for us. When I first started talking with one of their members on the Gallente Hero channel, it seemed like a group full of folks just like us, and I think that was actually true... for the time prior to our joining.
However, not long (15 minutes or so) after we joined, the Alliance CEO got it into his head to become very involved in industry activities in null-security space. He decided he wanted to start making capital ships, and that basically means nullsec is required. To his credit, he was able to strike an agreement with one of the big Alliances in the game that holds a fair amount of nullsec territory; said agreement involved our alliance paying rent for the system, gaining nominal sovereignty in said system, and making use of the system to build ships that it then sold... to the Alliance we were already paying rent to.
I checked out the so-called 'secured' system when it first opened up, lost a ship about 20 feet from our front door to some pirates who hadn't gotten the memo about our system supposedly being "deep inside totally safe territory", and somewhat lost interest in this scheme.
I think we found our wormhole the next day and decided to try that out instead -- serendipity, that.
Indeed, we have never regretted not joining the rest of the Alliance out in the Catch region under the not-so benevolent fist of some larger alliance. The only real frustration with the situation as it stands is that the Venn diagram describing our interests and the interests of everyone else in our alliance contains two non-intersecting circles.
In short, we've been looking for a different alliance to join for quite awhile now. The main problem with this is that wormholes don't really lend themselves to alliances -- it's hard to help your allies out when the connections between systems are randomly generated every day. Not impossible, but hard, and most people can't be arsed to do it, so they stick with single corps, beholden to none but themselves.
That's fine, but joining a corp we don't have complete control over presents a number of security problems for Gor, due to the fact that he's got... umm... some stuff from a few years back... that we're not going to get into... that's kind of valuable, and it's harder than hell for a mere corporation member to keep that stuff (or knowledge of that stuff) out of the hands of the guys who run the corp. The only solution to that is to BE the guys that run the corp.
So we need a wormhole alliance. Except there really don't seem to be any extant in the game.
Or so I thought, until I found one.
That alliance is what CB and I are talking over while we suck up gas clouds -- looking over the pros and cons and generally seeing a lot of checks in the "plus" column. Eventually, the Exxon Valdez fills up and CB flies back to the tower to empty his hold. His return to the gas cloud is all the local sleepers need to wake up, and a half-dozen small, fast frigates warp in on top of CB to say hello.
This next bit is kind of embarrassing.
"Don't worry," I tell him, "same thing happened to me last week. Just kill em with your drones -- that ship can take the damage."
"Sure. Three frigates? They'll be dead in no time."
"There are six."
"Six?" I frown. "Oh, right. Then you better fucking run."
He does so, muttering under his breath, and the sleepers head my way, which is luckily almost 100 kilometers distant; it gives me plenty of time to distract them while CB gets into a proper combat ship, then warp away before they can get within range of my more fragile ship. I arrive back in the tower just has he's heading back out.
"What are you flying?"
"The... dude, that's a PvP ship. And a cruiser. With blasters on. That's not going to go well."
"It'll be fine... they're frigates!"
I think about a minute passes.
"How's it going out there?"
"Yeah... I'm... yeah. I'm gonna die. On my way back."
Now its' MY turn to get into a combat ship, and I go for the Hurricane that I used very successfully against sleeper frigates the day before. I head back to my gas cloud as CB returns, not nearly as beat up as he'd indicated, but ready to switch into a more appropriate ship all the same.
Once again, I find myself over eighty kilometers away from the sleepers, but the small ships obligingly move to close the gap, and have just about gotten in range of my autocannons when CB returns to the field of battle in a drone boat.
"Jesus, you're like 100 klicks away from me."
"Whatever, come clos-- oh, nevermind, they just switched to me. Sweet."
And so they have: sensing a new target (or an old nemesis), the sleepers do a hard 180 and take off back to CB, leaving me unable to shoot them worth a damn thanks to the short range on the projectile weapons on the 'cane. I start after them, engaging my afterburner, but it is going to take time -- even a fast battlecruiser is still a battlecruiser, and not the speediest ship in the game.
Then, just as they got in range of CB and his drones... they switched back to me.
"Dammit, I had a lock on one for about 10 seconds and now they're too far out again."
"Good. That means they're coming back to me."
Except it didn't, because as soon as they got in range of my guns...
"Oh great, they're killing my drones now."
"Jesus, this is embarrassing."
"We're like Keystone Kops out here."
"This is when we get jumped by like eight battleships from the next system over."
"We're fine; they'd be too busy laughing at us to shoot."
Eventually, they died.
I promised CB I wouldn't say how long.
Gor logged in right after we'd reshipped back to our harvesters.
Gor > So what's going on tonight?
Ty > Gas harvesting.
CB > Yuuup.
Gor > Any excitement?
CB > Nnnnnnope.
Ty > Fraid not.
CB > Pay no attention to those sleeper frigate wrecks.
Ty > We'd rather not talk about it.
Gor > Do I want to kn--
CB > No. You really don't.
Ty > It's for the best.