Hello, I don't remember core scanning probes being in this class 6 system. And here was me thinking that w-space was empty and boring again. Still, the probes could just belong to one of the two covert operations boats I saw piloted in a tower in an adjoining class 3 system, and cov-ops boats are tricky to catch, making the appearance of the probes less interesting. Even so, I'd like to see if there is an active pilot, because with Fin and Aii available we may be able to get the right ships in place to execute a decent ambush. I warp across to the K162 in C6a that leads to C3b.
More probes appear on d-scan. Are both pilots now active and scanning the C6? I jump through the wormhole to C3b to find out. But before I can complete the jump, let alone activate my directional scanner on the other side, I am told of a Proteus in C6a. Aii's on one side of the deadly w-space system, itself unoccupied, and Fin is on the other side of the wormhole I just jumped through. It's Fin who tells me the strategic cruiser has just landed on the wormhole. She's cloaked, so the Proteus is not a direct threat to Fin. And as there are three of us and one of him I don't think he's a credible threat to me either. I hold my session change cloak in C3b and wait for the Proteus to come my way.
The wormhole flares. I know it's the Proteus as Fin saw it leave the C6. I call for Aii to join Fin on the wormhole, and wait to see if the Proteus acts normally before my session change cloak inevitably fades. It doesn't, as his session change cloak is still in effect as my own strategic cruiser appears on the wormhole. I would say he followed me. That's okay, maybe he doesn't yet know about Fin and Aii, also in strategic cruisers. As my ship is revealed so the Proteus reveals itself, and we engage each other in combat.
Fin wants me to jump back through the wormhole, but I'd rather not polarise my ship if I don't have to. I have the Proteus warp scrambled, so he's not going anywhere, although he probably doesn't see a need to flee yet. Maybe he will soon, as Fin and Aii jump to C3b and join the fray. The guns of Fin's Loki join my own, and Aii's Tengu spews missiles towards the Proteus, as its own guns and drones whittle away my shields effectively. But it's three-on-one. We must surely have the advantage.
I can't take much more damage, and although some armour depletion wouldn't be terrible I see no need in risking my ship unnecessarily. I bail out, jumping back to C6a, where I hope to recharge my shields a little. I'm expecting the Proteus to come back this way at some point anyway, when my colleagues convince him he's in a losing battle. But I don't think the Proteus pilot sees the combat that way. I keep a watchful eye on d-scan in C6a as my shields recharge, as I have little else to do for the moment, and it's always prudent to keep d-scan updated in w-space. And here they come.
The Proteus is not alone. A Legion strategic cruiser lands on the wormhole shortly after appearing on d-scan, followed by a second. And a third. And a Loki, and a Guardian logistics ship! This fleet is prepared, and the Proteus pilot had nothing to be concerned about, not with an armour-repairing ship known to be coming in behind it. Aii has jumped back to C6a, away from the Proteus but in to the small-but-growing fleet, and manages to cloak and get safe. My fearless leader is still shooting the Proteus.
I don't think the fight will end well for us. I want to do my best to help bring us home safely, though, so warp my boat back to the wormhole leading to our home system, so that I can swap to an ECM boat and hopefully break a critical lock or two that may occur when Fin tries to get clear. Unfortunately, my assumption that the fleet has come from the heavily occupied class 5 system, connected from C6a, doesn't turn out to be true. The fleet continues to grow, and they are coming through the wormhole home.
If only I had followed my standard procedure of dropping short I'd be safe. But I decided time was of the essence, and warped to zero on the wormhole. Rather than being cloaked and able to back away, my ship decloaks to be visible to the hostile ships, and I have no option but to jump through the wormhole. And, of course, there are more ships on the other side. At least the other Guardian and even more strategic cruisers are concentrating more on adding to the numbers already picking on Fin, but one pilot has the presence of mind not to jump through the wormhole but wait for me to appear. He's in a Legion.
Being under two kilometres from the wormhole doesn't give me much chance of breaking free. But I have to try. I pulse my micro warp drive and try to activate my cloak, but the Legion already has me locked. He disrupts my warp drive and applies a web, slowing me almost to a crawl. But I'm not scrambled. My micro warp drive is still active, and although I used the extra speed a while back to break clear of a standard warp disruption effect, I am starting too close to the ship to manage that now. The only way out is back through the wormhole. Back in to the fleet?
I turn around and burn as hard as my webbed ship can manage, and luckily I didn't get too far from the wormhole with an active micro warp drive before realising my predicament. It takes a few seconds but the wormhole comes back in to range. I jump through, losing the Legion's lock, but watching it follow directly behind me. Most of the fleet's moved on in C6a, but two ships wait for me on the wormhole. This time, however, I appear in the system four kilometres from the connection. I move and cloak smoothly, jinking once clear. I'm safe.
I'm safe, Aii's safe. How's Fin? Having somehow survived against the fleet, our glorious leader pulls out and jumps through the wormhole from C3b to C6a. Her only frustration is in not being able to destroy the Proteus, and only because of the Guardian support. Getting lucky with her wormhole jump, Fin gets clear and cloaks, leaving us all alive and safe in the class 6 system. And it seems the fleet doesn't want to waste time looking for cloaked ships. I sit near the wormhole home and watch as ship after ship lands on the wormhole, jumping through in quick succession.
I count eighteen ships, with three stragglers. On the wormhole before the fleet jumped were three Lokis, two Proteuses, six Legions, one Tengu, a Devoter heavy interdictor, four Guardians, and a Damnation command ship. That seems a little overkill for a few loose strategic cruisers, and quite far removed from the three-on-one ambush I first pictured. But, and even though I was going for it myself, I have to give the fleet credit for not bringing any ECM. At least everyone gets a fight that way. And I am as impressed with the fleet's mobility as our ability to evade them. 'Name recognition', says Fin. 'They saw Penny Ibramovic and panicked.'
If only that were true. But it seems I was spotted, as the commander of the hostile fleet has opened a conversation with Fin. I put this down to Fin's diplomatic skills, but it seems that Hathrul became interested in PvP after reading this journal of mine. How about that, nearly hoisted by my own petard. But being thrown from a standard mapping expedition in to an exciting, uncertain encounter against other pilots has certainly made this a more memorable evening than usual.
We even get to replay the events and consider where errors were made, or what we could have done differently. Should the Proteus have jumped back to C6a, tempting us to follow, and polarising us all for the fleet, maybe even drawing us away from the wormhole? Or would we have been savvy to d-scan and warped clear before the fleet could land and snare us all? There are many ways the engagement could have unfolded, and even timing variations of a few seconds either way could see the same circumstances resolve differently. PvP is tricky and complex, which makes it fun to do and interesting to dissect.
As for tonight, we should probably get home safely. As the fleet passed through our system we shouldn't assume the route home is safe. We have options, though. I first think that scanning to empire space from C3b and coming in through Aliette—gentille Aliette—to C3a could help. But that's ignoring the puppets we have installed in the home system. We could just wake them up and check the wormhole for ships. Or, as my fearless leader demonstrates, we could believe Hathrul that his fleet has found another target and has moved on, and just jump through. Okay, it's clear, and we get home safely, after one of the more thrilling evenings spent in w-space.