We retreat. Mick and HR head back through the wormhole to the home system, and I am in a tactical spot some distance from the wormhole in this class 4 w-space system. Hostile ships mill around the wormhole in the distance but they don't follow my colleagues through; they are happy to dictate where any further engagement happens, forcing us to come to them and, potentially, polarising ourselves should we try to flee. I suppose it's a balancing factor: those who most want to fight must put themselves in a dangerous position.
I am ready to come home and warp to be in jump range of the wormhole, but Mick would like a second crack at the ships. He and HR talk about ships that we have that could upset our opponents, pondering choices and selections. Personally, now that I think about it, I'm more interested by the Golem marauder that's still on the field. Although not particularly vulnerable, some hundred kilometres from the wormhole, oblique to my position, given that anyone coming in to the system has to get past the combat ships slowly circling the wormhole, that he remains in the same position surely isn't a good idea.
I take a look at the relative position of the wormhole, Golem, and distant planets. He's not directly in line with any of the planets and the wormhole, but he's not far off either. I think I could get my Manticore stealth bomber in a decent position to provide a warp-in point for my colleagues, and in little time. Our ships wouldn't be able to get to the Golem quickly normally, but by positioning a ship in the fleet sufficiently beyond the target, a fleet-warp command can be initiated, aimed to drop short of the distant fleet member and on top of the target.
Hearing about the Golem remaining on the field and understanding its value, both to the owners and in ISK terms, has us making it our primary target. Essentially, if we kill any target it will be the Golem. I bounce off a distant planet from the wormhole and start manoeuvring my Manticore to provide the fleet a warp reference. It doesn't take long. The Golem just sits there, motionless. On top of that, the combat ships warp away from the wormhole, the pilots swapping to battleships.
The locals aren't escalating the conflict, they are killing the wormhole instead. A Dominix, Raven, and Armageddon are all employed in pushing mass through the connection, which limits the time we have available to make our move. It could also limit what ships we can bring through, particularly when the wormhole drops to its half-mass state. But once the Raven warps away the wormhole looks clear on both sides, the Golem still refuses to move, and we have two Dominix battleships of our own we're ready to bring in.
Our fleet moves. They warp to the wormhole, jump, and warp to drop short of my position. It's right about now that I realise requiring the ships to warp a hundred kilometres and calling for them to warp a hundred kilometres short of my position can actually be different objectives. It seemed so clear in my head, but I've screwed up. Our Dominices make the warp and only advance fifty kilometres. I'm really not that smart sometimes.
Thankfully, our battleships cross the remaining distance with some speed, and I get my Manticore burning towards the Golem to make sure it won't warp away before they get close. He's caught. I paint the target and start lobbing torpedoes his way, as our Dominices catch up after my error and apply their own, significant damage and electronic warfare. The Golem realises he's in danger and enters bastion mode, hoping to keep his marauder afloat for long enough for help to arrive.
Help arrives. The same ships as before, but this time we're ignoring them for the Golem. The marauder's shields are dropping, our firepower is strong. The Golem still fights, targeting my Manticore to try to get rid of me. It works, as the first hit shreds my shields for the second time this evening. Also for the second time this evening, I bodge my exit strategy, clearly not having thought about it in advance, and aim the wrong way to start with. This time, unlike the previous occasion, I am not able to rectify this mistake quickly enough. A second volley of cruise missiles hits me, and my Manticore explodes.
I would say my ship died this time because I am closer to the Golem, so his missiles get to me sooner. I think it's more accurate to say that I was lucky the first time that the Golem was so far away. Never the less, now is not the time to sit like a lemon. I warp my pod away, and bounce back to the wormhole, jumping home immediately. My part in the combat is over for now. I regret losing my ship, wanting to have done more, but I just hit a reload cycle and was being forced to warp away anyway. Given the current state of the fight, I probably did as much as I could. Except provide a better warp-in.
The Golem was intact but really suffering when I left it. It's taken even more damage now, but the hostiles have realised that they aren't going to fight our ships off the high-value target, and finally bring in their ECM support instead. It's a frustrating but understandable tactic, and it works. The Golem drops from bastion mode, aligns out, and when a successful jam hits both Dominices at the same time the marauder warps clear. '28% hull structure', says the Golem pilot in the local channel, 'I was shitting myself'. I would have been too.
As for our ships, Mick gets clear, HR doesn't. We lose a Dominix to the fleet, on top of the Manticore, and the Ishtar in the earlier engagement. Whilst we made mistakes, I think we did pretty well. After all, we don't know what mistakes the other fleet think they did, and I would consider leaving the Golem where it was to be their biggest one. Yes, we lost a couple of ships, but our plan was to throw a Hail Mary at the marauder. The excitement, no doubt on both sides, was well worth our time and ISK.