Decisions, decisions. Which way to turn in the w-space constellation? Behind me is a class 5 w-space system, holding a K162 through which I podded a gasser in class 6 w-space, whose home system beyond that C6 I have yet to find. But ahead of me, in our neighbouring class 3 system, there looked to be a hostile takeover in progress, with one tower, owned by a small corporation, being harassed by an affiliation of three other towers in the system. I think I'd rather go forwards, but my conscience wants me to make sure nothing is happening behind me first.
There's no change in C5a, with a tower holding three frigates being as it was earlier. Well, there's some change, in that the K162 to C6a is now reaching the end of its natural lifetime, making it unsuitable for further exploration. By the same token, the dying wormhole makes excursions coming this way less likely, which is good for my safety, and I'm happy to consider this direction checked and head back homewards and through to C3a to see what's happening there instead.
A Claymore command ship and pod are visible on my directional scanner from our K162 in C3a, which is less interesting when both considering the towers also in range of d-scan and that the Claymore was here earlier. What is interesting is the system's static exit to high-sec, which, although bubbled, leads directly to Dodixie, a rather bustling market hub in Gallente space. And the warp bubble is not actually on the wormhole but being used as a drag bubble, positioned to prevent a quick exit from the beleaguered tower.
The wormhole leading to Dodixie remains, and now has a couple of canisters around its event horizon, perhaps to prevent travellers from cloaking. It seems a bit of a waste of time, considering anyone even vaguely sensible could simply return to high-sec to avoid any aggression, and to prove it a Badger jumps in from Dodixie as I ponder the cans. I don't engage the hauler, knowing he could jump to safety, and merely watch him warp clear. The Badger leaves in the direction of one of the hostile towers, out of d-scan range of our K162, where now a couple of Basilisk logistic ships, two Rokh battleships, and a Raven battleship all sit piloted.
I'm curious to learn the plans of the pilots in the tower. I suppose they could be preparing to engage Sleepers in anomalies, but that seems rather cavalier considering the conditions. A direct connection to a market hub and a tower apparently under threat don't make for benign w-space activities, after all. I watch and wait, rewarded with seeing a Megathron battleship warp in to join the fun, if preparations can be considered fun. A Loki strategic cruiser turns up soon after, followed by two Maelstrom battleships. The locals seem to be taking sitting in a tower quite seriously.
Eventually, the fleet shows movement. Half the battleships all appear to be aligning, and it is obvious from their collective pointing that they will be heading to the targeted tower, which it seems they don't want in this C3. So what am I still doing here? I can't touch a fleet of battleships with external repairs coming from dedicated logistic ships, and certainly not with the threat of tower defences picking on me too. Well, I've told my corporate colleagues about this little shindig, and the too-convenient-you've-got-to-be-joking connection with Dodixie, and they are currently waking pilots up and forming a fleet to counter the one I've been keeping tabs on.
It's not that we particularly want this tower to be protected. We have no affiliation with the corporation that owns it, don't know the pilots in that corporation, and don't really care about who owns the C3. But a bunch of big ships, not expecting any bother, sitting in an obvious and easily found position for an extended period makes for an enticing target. The only spanner thrown in the works is when I finally remember that C3a is a pulsar system, and an armour fleet is not really a suitable prospect. Silly me. I flit between such systems so often that I forget sometimes what effects they can have.
As our fleet reconfigures for the shield-boosting pulsar, the defences of the targeted tower are systematically incapacitated, watched not just by me but also by the owners of the tower. The two pilots seeing their home being destroyed have joined our fleet, invited by our fleet commander, one of which I recognise as the Sabre pilot from earlier. He is apparently still in his interdictor and crawling cloaked around his tower, getting information on the battleships, and feeding it to the fleet, much as I am doing. But as the fleet is still getting ships ready and out to high-sec, there probably isn't much need for me to get less than ten kilometres from the enemy battleships as I accidentally do. Awooga, awooga! Proximity alert!
I back off from the battleships and take a more relaxed view from a few hundred kilometres away, making some strategic bookmarks at the request of our FC, which will help our own fleet movements. But I'm not sure they will help, not now that all of the tower defences are incapacitated and the enemy fleet is warping back to their own, quite healthy tower. That's disappointing, particularly as our fleet is finally forming in Dodixie, around an innocuous planet and not the wormhole. And at the hostile tower, one Basilisk is swapped for a Tornado, the glass-cannon battlecruiser providing a hint that the fleet is merely take a break before returning to attack the tower directly, able to take thinner ships with more firepower now that the defences are disabled. But otherwise there's no movement. We're back to waiting.
It takes a while, as capsuleers pee, smoke, whatever, but there is new movement. As before, several ships align to the target tower, and a Tornado warping in that direction looks to herald the main part of the operation. Other ships follow, including my own, and our response fleet returns to a state of readiness. Circumstances even look better than before. Much better, in fact. Rather than the battleships being sprawled around the force field, trying to get in range of the defences, the tower fleet is clustered neatly in one concentrated spot.
Without the tower fighting back, there is no need for the logistic ships to repair the fleet, so they have been swapped for more battleships. Despite facing a Tornado and ten battleships—four Ravens, three Maelstroms, two Rokhs, and a Megathron—what looked to have the potential for a mighty brawl, fighting a capable fleet on equal terms, now looks to be weighted massively in our favour. We just need to get the details right.
Our friendly Sabre pilot will play his part, as will a newly arrived Aii. Aii prepares a third Basilisk at our tower, for me, before jumping in to a Onyx heavy interdictor, which will be used to keep the hostile fleet in place as our combat fleet mobilises. The plan sounds good. The Sabre will manoeuvre close to the fleet, decloak, and launch an interdiction sphere. As he burns back in to the safety of his own tower's force field, Aii will warp to his position and replace the temporary bubble with the HIC's, at which point our fleet will enter the w-space system and bring the big guns. We have all been briefed and understand our roles. Now to see if it works.
Aii is in C3a and aligned to the tower. The Sabre decloaks, bubbles, and races back in to his tower, Aii warping to take his place. Our fleet is coming, and I am going, returning home to swap my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser for the Basilisk. I am a little sad that I miss our fleet's arrival, but I'm switching ships and back soon enough to witness half of the destruction. The scene looks like I thought it would. Wrecks are scattered around, there's a corpse already floating in space, and there are more ships shooting each other in one spot than I see in a standard week. If only I had some guns, I could contribute.
My Basilisk isn't needed. The two already on the field barely have to supply remote repairs as it is. The hostile fleet is surprised, and a little scattered. The main issue for us seems to be getting the HIC in the right place to stop the battleships warping clear. They are moving in different directions, and the warp disruption field generator of the HIC prevents its moving with any alacrity. But even those ships outside of the bubble aren't really going anywhere, as most of our own fleet's ships are fitted with points, disrupting warp engines individually. The bubble is more to add corpses to wrecks.
I don't mind so much missing out on the combat. I would quite like to add to the devastation, and was initially supposed to pilot the Onyx. But transiting our K162 to swap boats would have made me visible on d-scan. I suppose the hostile fleet may not have reacted, as they don't seem to care about pushing their luck sieging a tower in a w-space system directly connected to Dodixie, but there's no need to take chances. Aii's arrival was quite timely. And floating serenely in my unthreatened Basilisk lets me take in the action as it unfolds. In a way, I made this. I scouted the system earlier, resolved the wormhole and noted its destination, and relayed all the information to my corporation who are always looking for action. My role was small but crucial, and although it is obviously the combat pilots who can take credit for the mayhem before me, I'm happy to have played my part.
Our Navy Apocalypse battleship, Maelstrom, four Tengu stratgic cruisers, Onyx, and three Basilisks crush the hostile fleet. Six battleships are destroyed, and three pods cracked open, for a damage total of close to two billion ISK. We suffer no losses, although the Sabre didn't quite make it back in to his tower in time. Then again, we probably haven't saved the tower from destruction. The defences are still incapacitated and, despite our threats to the opposition openly given in the local comms channel, once we are happy that the hostile fleet is routed our own fleet leaves, with no intention to return. But we knew that coming here. What happens tomorrow is up to the capricious nature of w-space.