Prepare to repel intruders

25th May 2010 – 5.18 pm

The static wormhole has imploded, there is a new one to find. It doesn't take long scanning to locate the position of the home system's wormhole, and two of us warp out of the tower to begin today's adventure. We jump in to a system we've visited before, almost three months ago. It was unoccupied then, and a quick check of the system shows it to be unoccupied now. As a result, there are lots of anomalies in the system, although only a handful of signatures. We find the system's static wormhole soon enough and jump to a class 2 w-space system. On the other side of the wormhole the directional scanner shows no activity, but a bit of warping around finds a tower around a distant planet. There are a few ships sitting passively in the shields, and no activity.

I use my comparative method of scanning to try to find the next wormhole on our route. I note that although comparing a known wormhole's return signal with other signatures can give reliable results some analysis still needs to be performed. The number of probes overlapping any particular signal will affect its return strength, requiring the comparison to be adjusted accordingly. With equal skill and luck I find a wormhole quickly, the system's static connection leading in to a C1. My companion gets a second wormhole, a convenient exit to high-sec empire space. I jump through to the C1 to find a system with only a single planet. The lone planet is being used, three towers around its moons all running reactions in silos. Apart from a fourth, off-line tower there is nothing else in here. I bookmark a few gravimetric sites opportunistically, find a second wormhole exit to high-sec, and realise that our scanning adventure has reached its end.

My colleague heads home. And when he gets there he reports the presence of a Helios covert operations boat. We are not sure where it has come from, not matching either corporation in the C1 or C2 we have scanned. He scans our home system and finds an incoming wormhole, warping to the K162 to gauge it as coming from a class 2 w-space system. My colleague jumps through to reconnoitre, finding himself staring at a Brutix battlecruiser and Jaguar assault ship. He comes back once the session timer ends and a Drake battlecruiser follows him, the Drake warping away from the K162 to somewhere in our system. Now returned home myself, and watching the situation unfold, I make a bookmark away from the wormhole—in case interdiction bubbles appear—and return to the tower to swap ships. I return to sit at moderate range from the wormhole in my Damnation command ship as the Drake comes back and starts circling the wormhole. I lock on to the Drake but hold fire.

I sit and watch. The Drake doesn't make any aggressive moves to begin with, but he eventually targets me back and launches missiles. The Jaguar pilot jumps through the join the Drake as we start shooting each other, and I swap targets to attack the assault ship first. I doubt I have the firepower to break the Drake's shields but I may be able to discourage the Jaguar from hanging around. Sure enough, he jumps back again after a couple of volleys. I stop shooting the Drake, not wanting to waste ammunition, but my colleague returns in a Megathron fitted for longer range. I swap my Damnation for my own Drake, with its extra launchers and bonuses to damage, and we try to use our combined firepower to irritate the intruding Drake pilot. Whilst we may still not break the intruder's shields, we also don't seem to be in any danger. The Drake's pilot has weak missile skills or a sub-optimal fitting, because although our attacks are reaching him his missiles fall several kilometres short of us.

We reach an impasse. We aren't breaking the Drake's shields and he can't hit us at our chosen range. My colleague is keen to get closer range ships and try to overpower the Drake, but I discourage this idea for now. We don't know what's on the other side of the wormhole and I certainly don't want to get snared in a trap so foolishly again, so soon after losing my Onyx in a similar position. Attacking at range to discourage further intrusions seems like our best tactic for now, at least until more support turns up. The Drake warps away from the wormhole, only to reappear about 150 km away from it. My colleague suggests this implies the Helios is still in the system and monitoring us closely, hence being able to give the Drake a point to warp to. This only adds to the caution we need to maintain currently, as any attack we try to mount will be noticed in advance, as we move ships out of hangar arrays, allowing our opponents to more successfully counter it. We need to remain patient and level-headed.

I warp out in my Drake and bounce off a planet to try to get the Drake back in to optimal range, but he returns to circle the wormhole by the time I get back. I move back closer and hold, watching the wormhole for activity. My colleague heads back to the tower and has to disappear briefly, leaving me alone. A Typhoon battleship jumps through from the C2 and cloaks. The ship then decloaks as it moves through the wormhole, making a fairly silly mistake, but soon cloaks again. With its extended appearance I am able to see that it is headed directly for me, no doubt trying to snare my Drake, and I warp back to the tower to safety.

A few minutes later a communication appears in the normally empty local channel. The impasse is recognised and a ceasefire is offered, with the condition that they are allowed to collapse the wormhole. This will remove their presence from our system and give them a new connection to explore. I agree, stating that I will monitor the collapse but not engage. I am asked to show myself at the wormhole, which makes me rather nervous if only because I have changed to a stealth bomber and have manoeuvred my way around to the back of the wormhole ready to launch a bomb if necessary. My Manticore is quite vulnerable, but I agree, at least to see what happens next. I decloak, wait for the cloaking time to lapse and re-activate the cloak as soon as I can, moving off in an arbitrary direction as soon as the cloak is engaged again. The intruders are satisfied and start the operation to collapse their wormhole.

A couple of battleships are passed through the wormhole a few times. The Drake still circles, only returning when the wormhole is on the verge of collapse. The battleships jump through one last time and the wormhole collapses almost on command when they return to their own system. As I sit in empty space, ensuring that no ships were left behind, then warping to our own static to see if anyone jumps through, I am invited in to a conversation with the intruder who offered the ceasefire deal. We have a little chat about tactics and opportunity, and the potential of becoming allies to grant safe passage through each other's systems in the future and offer escorts to exits to empire space if needed. I think to myself, 'what would Fin do?' and, as we shot them, think that becoming allies is exactly what she would suggest. I ask this chap to contact Fin directly to arrange the details.

Our system is empty again, no ships are lost on either side, and we have perhaps made new allies. It's been an interesting morning.

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