My glorious leader has been scanning again. Thanks, Fin! She's nowhere to be found at the moment, though, so it's just me and space for a while. Even though I have a set of bookmarks for our w-space constellation ready for me I still launch probes and blanket the home system, as w-space is pretty changeable. There are the same number of signatures as the bookmarks indicate but, to prove my point, the wormhole marked as reaching the end of its life has now collapsed. That means one of the signatures is new. I call my probes in to scan and instead of picking up the new signature by itself there are some ships sitting under my combat probes. Switching to my directional scanner sees several Tengu strategic cruisers in the home system. They weren't there a moment ago.
I throw my probes out of the system and keep updating d-scan, but the Tengus disappear as quickly as they appear. I suppose I have answers to two of my questions, as the new signature is surely another wormhole, and the fleet did indeed see my probes as I started to scan. That's bad timing. There are no changes to d-scan now, so I call my probes back in to resolve the signature, shortly finding my covert Tengu sitting near a K162 from class 5 w-space. Is it that time of the week already? It would be amusing if this wormhole comes from the same C5 that has had capsuleers visit me two weeks in a row, as I have ended up profiting from them on both occasions. But as they saw my combat probes pretty quickly I suppose it's probably not them. Then again, the wormhole flares shortly after I get here, and an Iteron hauler appears. That's rum.
I can't quite believe that a fleet would send a hauler through a system they just pulled a Tengu fleet out of after seeing combat scanning probes. Then again, I've seen plenty of bizarre circumstances before, most of them involving pilots who apparently don't communicate with each other, so I'm not going to simply ignore this. I won't, however, engage on this wormhole. I may as well warp to our static connection to class 3 w-space, where I presume the hauler will go, if genuinely hauling. Fin's scanning helps me here, as I haven't had time to scan the system myself, and I will still be able to catch the Iteron between two w-space systems.
I warp across the system to drop short at the wormhole, as the Iteron follows behind me. Right behind me. The hauler drops short of the wormhole too, landing on top of my ship. My suspicions are mounting, but as I have been unwittingly decloaked by the hauler I may as well engage it. As far as I could tell no other ships followed from the C5, so I should be safe for now. Unsurprisingly, given my concerns so far, the Iteron has a hefty tank fitted and is soaking up my missile damage, at least long enough to survive until reinforcements arrive. This ain't no ordinary Iteron, it's bait. A Baiteron. I start to align away from the ship, right about the time that d-scan shows me a fleet appear in the system—a Myrmidon battlecruiser, Hawk assault ship, Talos battlecruiser, and Deimos heavy assault ship.
I'm ready to warp clear when the Iteron jumps through the wormhole to C3a. That's curious, as the ship is holding together well. Oh, what the hell, I'll follow and continue the assault. The other ships aren't on the wormhole yet and I can get a few more shots in before I have to disengage. The Iteron decloaks early on the wormhole, probably to get me visible and distracted, but the wormhole flares before I have time to do much more than activate my launchers. I knew it was coming, so activate my cloak and jink away from the threat. The hostile fleet appears and, knowing I'm nearby, the Deimos and Hawk execute a search pattern to try to bump and decloak my ship. They are unlikely to get close, but there's still a chance. To keep myself definitely safe I warp out, bouncing off a planet to return to the wormhole at range.
That was pretty smart. The pilots saw my probes, probably saw my probes disappear, and decided not to make themselves vulnerable. Instead, they push a soft and tempting target through the wormhole to flush out the scout, following behind with pointy ships to eliminate the threat. Even if I hadn't been decloaked by the Baiteron I probably still would have shot it. I'm weak like that. But at least I wasn't completely oblivious to the threat. I still probably shouldn't have followed the Iteron through the wormhole, though, not when I was free to warp clear. Now the fleet is continuing their smart tactics and is tempting me to jump home, by pushing battleships through our static connection to start its collapse.
A Dominix and Megathron battleship are sharing the duty of stressing the wormhole, which shrinks to its half-mass state. I'm not sure how much further they'll push it, but even if it collapses it won't be the end of the world. There is an exit to high-sec in this C3, already scanned by Fin, and I can easily get back to w-space another day if necessary. Of course, staying in w-space would be preferable. I keep watching the wormhole for changes, now with just the Deimos sitting on the K162. And now with the Deimos gone. He warped away, not jumped back, which makes me think that perhaps he wants the wormhole to look clear. On reflection, he could have been checking the system in high-sec empire space, to see if I was there, but a clear wormhole is rather tempting.
I warp to the wormhole, consider my options, and warp back out to my monitoring position. I would be a bit foolish to jump through right as they are expecting it. Then again, there probably isn't a right time to jump home at the moment. The Deimos returns to the wormhole and continues circling it. I continue to ponder my options. I could feasibly escape the ships they have waiting for me. Jumping home and trying to evade a fleet is far more interesting than sitting here and doing nothing. There's an exit to high-sec that I could use if I get in to trouble. And, the clincher for me, the corporation wallet is fat enough to afford a replacement Tengu.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I warp to the K162, Deimos still circling, approach and jump. There'll be no surprise for the fleet here, only for me. But it doesn't look too bad on the other side of the wormhole. A bunch of ships and a few flights of drones are all waiting for me, but I am over two kilometres from the wormhole and any of the ships, which should give me a chance to cloak immediately. I spot a planet I could warp to that will take me away from the wormhole and make my break. I pulse the micro warp drive, activate my cloak, and hit warp. But maybe not in that order. My cloak doesn't activate, and now a hostile ship has a positive lock on me it won't be able to activate. I'd better get back to the wormhole, as it's now my only chance of escape.
I would get back to the wormhole if I hadn't pulsed my MWD. I have managed to burn a couple of kilometres out of jump range, and now I am scrammed, webbed, and even bumped further away from the wormhole by an enthusiastic ship. Even if the warp scrambler wasn't disrupting my MWD as well as my warp engines, the energy neutralisers have sucked my capacitor so dry I have nothing to feed the MWD anyway. And the web is slowing my normal speed down to nothing, although I don't think I could get through the wall of ships between me and the wormhole anyway. Yep, I'm dead.
I don't think the change to my normal manoeuvre away from a wormhole helped. Rather than move away and cloak, then think about warping, I tried to enter warp more directly, which is now an unfamiliar sequence. Then again, having a competent fleet ready and waiting for me can't have helped either. At least I remember that I can eject and save myself the skill point loss before my Tengu starts taking armour damage. I get my pod out and warp it clear, bouncing off a planet before returning to the safety of our tower's force field, leaving poor, poor MCP behind. Maybe I should have waited a few seconds longer before ejecting, though, as the fleet manages to stop shooting quickly enough to claim my Tengu as their own. To the victor the spoils.