Protecting our home w-space system

25th March 2010 – 8.28 pm

A pilot pipes up in local. 'Friends?', is his terse question. It is more common to use the mask of the anonymous w-space local channel to hide, so it is curious why this fellow announces himself. It is not curious enough to stop me warping to our exit wormhole in my Buzzard to explore the neighbouring system, if only because a more social colleague is around to pick up the conversation. But shortly after I have jumped through the wormhole I get an alert that our tower is under attack. I am told that the fellow uncloaked in his Nemesis stealth bomber and launched a bomb at us, apparently to wake us up. This is hardly friendly behaviour. I immediately warp back to the tower and swap ships, launching my Onyx heavy interdictor.

I don't like the way the HIC comes out of storage with only 17% shields, if only because it causes a delay before I can be ready for combat. I warp out of the tower to a safe spot whilst the shields recharge sufficiently, but not fully, so that I appear on the directional scanner but won't be found without scanning, hoping that my Onyx presents at least a minor deterrent. And when my shields are healthy I warp to the wormhole and sit on it. I am confident the HIC can survive much more than a bomb, and if our 'friend' wants to leave the system he will have to come through me. I doubt I will be able to stop him completely, but at least I can give him a little spanking.

There is also a non-corporation Cheetah in our home system, but again I'm not worried about a covert operations scanning boat and maybe I can make him panic a little about leaving. I note that combat scanning probes have been launched, though, which are used for finding ships rather than sites. My view is zoomed out considerably, the tactical overlay revealed, and I watch for incoming ships and wormhole flares whilst punching d-scan to look for changes in activity. In the meantime, I wonder aloud in the corporation channel if there is a second wormhole in the system. If there is, my efforts sitting on this wormhole may well be wasted, as well as keeping us ignorant of threats from another direction. My answer comes soon enough, albeit indirectly.

Another check of the directional scanner shows a Stiletto in the system. I have no idea what type of ship a Stiletto is but it sounds awfully pointy, and before I find out what it is the hard way I start the process to warp back to the safety of the corporation tower. As the Onyx aligns, I scroll down the results of the d-scan and see a Scorpion and two Raven battleships are also present in the same scan. My path crosses briefly with the Stiletto, him dropping out of warp just as I enter it, no time for him to get a lock and point on my ship to hold me for his battleship chums to blow up. We must have a second wormhole spewing aggressive ships in to our system.

I find out that the Stiletto is an interceptor, just the ship to scramble enemies for bigger ships to shoot, so my intuition and vigilant d-scanning pays off. Now we need to work out what to do. The second wormhole is found and reconnoitred, for at a minimum we want to find their tower and launch a bomb at it in revenge. I jump in to my Manticore stealth bomber and warp to the wormhole, getting in range for a bomb launch as our Buzzard jumps through to scout. Before the Buzzard can warp away from the wormhole the Nemesis reappears and launches a bomb her way, so she jumps back in to our home system to avoid it, returning to our tower. I'm not going anywhere.

My sights are firmly fixed on the wormhole. I know that all my allies are on this side of it, so any flare indicates hostile activity. I am not going to wait for identification before launching. And the wormhole flares. Before the flash of light from the jump through dies down, I have decloaked and launched my bomb, pushing my Manticore in to flight as soon as the bomb leaves its bay. The bomb explodes revealing a Cheetah, which I target and lock. I can see that the bomb has knocked down its shields and halved its armour, although it still flies, and it jumps back through the wormhole before I can launch a volley of torpedoes. I wonder if perhaps he saw the bomb but made the mistake of trying to jump back whilst his cloak was still holding, but at least I have forced him back to his system. It also shows we mean business.

A corporation Cheetah sees my Manticore bomb the hostile Cheetah and heads through the wormhole himself. I reposition myself and ask for anyone jumping either way to identify themselves first, as I have an itchy trigger finger tonight. Our Cheetah jumps through and warps away safely, as a friendly Drake drops down on top of the wormhole. The hostile Cheetah comes back, but I don't want to launch a bomb at our Drake, and for some reason the Cheetah warps almost instantly and without any chance of us being able to target it. Shortly afterwards, two hostile Drakes and a Jaguar assault ship jump and engage our Drake. Still not wanting to bomb colleagues I head back to the tower to swap back in to the Onyx, not knowing what else may be effective, and warp back to the wormhole.

Our Drake pilot has jumped through to the other system and is warping around trying to shake her tail. I urge her to come back, noting that the hulls of the hostile ships will be polarised, but she is worried that hers will be too. At least we can warp off to our tower, if we are not scrambled, the hostile ships are unlikely to have as reliable an escape route, and they'll have a HIC in their midst. She comes back, and the other ships don't follow. They may be concerned about polarisation effects, but personally I think their Cheetah is sitting at range from the wormhole monitoring our movements and relaying the intelligence. If they come back, it will be on their terms, and I don't see how we can flush out the spying Cheetah to stop the flow of information. We enter a stalemate.

Our small fleet warps back to the tower for a rest, a chance to settle our nerves a little. The Drake swings by the wormhole for one last look and encounters a Raven. She calls out to warp to her, as we should be able to take on the one battleship. Still being squad leader I warp the fleet to her location, but this turns out to be a mistake. The pilot of the Abaddon battleship hasn't finished refitting for the engagement and doesn't cancel the warp, and dropping in at zero range is the worst place for it to land. Meanwhile, either the hostile Cheetah or Raven has relayed the information back to the other system and more ships have jumped through to engage our Drake, drones chewing through its chunky shield. And we drop in to present a couple more juicy targets to what are now two Ravens, a Drake and a Jaguar.

The Drake is destroyed, the Abaddon shortly afterwards as it flails around in the vacuum far within the optimal range for its guns. The pods get away cleanly. Overpowered and under-gunned, I call to warp out, my remaining colleague and myself returning to the tower. The enemy Cheetah is seen to swoop in and loot our wrecks before jumping back in to its system, where the other ships already returned.

I made mistakes. For an engagement on a wormhole our tactics should have been entirely different. My Onyx HIC could not contribute effectively to such a fight where the main tactic was jumping through wormholes, and maybe I would have been better off sitting at long range in my Damnation field command ship, providing bonuses and covering missile fire. I should have been more aware of the range of ships in the fleet and not warped us all as one, instead letting each pilot warp to his optimal range. This was easily possible with both a wormhole and our Drake as a reference point. But we are still learning and with this experience we will do better next time. We always do. And at least we put up a fight!

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