People are in the home system, and they seem to be expecting me. This can't be good. Oh sure, they are my glorious leader and Aii, but what could they want of me? I ask what's up, and, more importantly, what the new signature is. 'The static wormhole.' Mmm. But I've taken that in to account. Given the bookmarked signatures I can see, and what the dumbscovery scanner is showing me, what's the other new signature? My colleagues can only see four, I can see five. They'd best get the Golem marauder and Nighthawk command ship safe whilst I investigate.
The new signature pings the discovery scanner of my colleagues as I launch probes and scan what turns out to be, quelle surprise, a new wormhole. Maybe it's good that I turned up when I did, but let's see. I warp across to drop next to a K162 from class 2 w-space, and I may as well jump straight through to find out what may have been getting ready to jump our Sleeper fleet. But there's nothing obvious on the wormhole in C2a, and I doubt a hostile fleet would want to be covert in such a situation.
My directional scanner shows me more than my overview, and the Navy Issue Omen cruiser and Devoter heavy interdictor look to be more the sort of ship I expect to see preparing to ambush our fleet. The six towers also visible deters me from trying to get eyes on the ships directly, but perhaps I am better watching the wormhole for transits. 'Should I act baity?' says Fin, wondering if we can counter the couple of ships that may be sent her way. I dunno, not yet, particularly as a Harbinger battlecruiser adds to the ships in this C2 system, swapped immediately for an Armageddon battleship.
Whilst loitering on the wormhole I've been busy with d-scan. It seems that one of the six towers holds all of the ships, which seems only natural, and that tower is easy enough to locate. I can spare a minute to see how many pilots we could be dealing with, and warp across to see all three ships have capsuleers on board. As I'm away from the wormhole, I may as well also check that one planet sitting out of range. Two more towers, one unpiloted Mastodon transport. So that gives us three known pilots, and most likely one scout who probably remains in our system.
With any luck, that one scout won't know about my presence, having moved from their K162 to reconnoitre our home system. But even with that advantage, I'm not as convinced as Fin that 'we can take three', if only because we don't know what their scout is flying. Sure, if it's just the three ships, with the scout in a flimsy covert operations boat, we can have a decent scrap. But what if the scout is in a cloaky brick of a Proteus strategic cruiser? We would still have a decent scrap, but perhaps we shouldn't throw our most expensive ships at them just yet.
If not our expensive ships, then what? To be honest, we really aren't set for this kind of encounter, one against another small PvP fleet. Ambushes we can do, but head-to-head fights almost never occur. I'm not even sure what ships we have in our hangar for this kind of engagement, and am loath to give away my presence to take a look. And Fin and Aii are suffering from paralysis of choice. Maybe we should see what these pilots intentions are first, and try to force their initial move.
Fin and Aii warp back out of the tower to continue clearing a site, whilst I sit on the wormhole, updating d-scan, to see what happens. The Armageddon becomes a Harbinger once more, a new contact in a Cyclone battlecruiser warps to the tower. What's the next move? Personally, I would expect the fleet to warp to the wormhole before a scout calls in probes to scan for our ships, but who knows. 'We've been burnt by expectations of rationality before', says Fin.
Nothing happens. Fair enough, I suppose, and it's even possible that there isn't a scout watching our fleet, that the wormhole was opened but not traversed. Maybe we should move to Plan B, and crash the wormhole. But not mechanically. We'll do it smart-like. We need to be aware of the risks and mitigate them, which starts with knowing that this C2 system with a static connection to C4 w-space will also hold an exit to high-sec. We can use that if we are engaged, rather than stubbornly insisting on trying to get home.
Of course, we don't have the high-sec wormhole scanned yet, and I still don't want to give away my presence by scanning for it now. So first action: make some safe spots to wait in should we need to. As I do, a Helios cov-ops blips on d-scan. Is that the scout returned home, the unknown variable now accounted for? I dunno, but I do know that the Devoter has warped to the wormhole by the time I return from making the safe spots, the HIC joined soon after by the Harbinger and Cyclone. Circumstances become interesting when the HIC's bubble is inflated.
Clearly someone is watching our pilots, and they may even be thinking what we're thinking: that we're going to kill the wormhole. That changes our strategy. It looks like we can see all the committed ships, and they are trapped in a bubble on the wormhole. The main issue that I can see is that these pilots have the wormhole advantage. If we jump in to them, they can jump away from us. If we follow, we are polarised and they are not, letting them jump away safely. Whoever presses the encounter concedes this advantage.
The matter of polarisation is the least of our concerns, apparently. We still can't decide what to commit to the fight. It's a little embarrassing, to be honest. We should give some kind of fight, particularly when the numbers aren't overwhelming, but in what? And it seems we can't decide before the fleet gets bored waiting, the Devoter dropping its bubble and warping clear, followed by the Harbinger. That's disappointing. It's disappointing because it looks like we missed a fight. Because it looks like we didn't want to fight. It's also a little surprising, in that we simply weren't prepared for this kind of fight. We can do better than this.