They came from the K162

9th August 2010 – 5.42 pm

Our scout is out scouting and I ask in hope if there are any targets. 'Nope', he replies, 'only Sleepers'. That's a shame, but I like getting another chance to pilot my Tengu strategic cruiser in to combat against the denizens of w-space. So it is also a shame that it 'seems we are doing Guardian work', a regular fleet of battleships powered by the logistics ships. Telling the battleship pilots to 'put on minimal armour tanks' doesn't sound like fun at all for the Guardian pilots, and I am one of them. But piloting a Guardian pays for new toys and I've had my fun shooting other capsuleers recently, so I start to get ready.

The situation changes rather rapidly. The plan to attack Sleepers is abandoned when our scout finds he cannot return to our home system, the wormhole connecting back in to a class 3 system has disappeared. And our scout is experienced, he wouldn't have gone through an unstable or aging wormhole accidentally. The wormhole was collapsed intentionally. Whatever the cause of the collapse, a new route to our system needs to be found so that our scout can return home via k-space. I board my Buzzard covert operations boat and jump to the last stable connection, taking me through our neighbouring class 4 system and on to a C5.

I have visited this class 5 w-space system before. About a month ago it was unoccupied and now a corporation has moved in. There are two Buzzards and an Orca industrial command ship at the tower in the system, all three ships piloted. There are also scanning probes in the system, no doubt looking for the new static connection to a C3 system after the previous one collapsed. I launch my own probes and start looking, my scanning made much easier by our scout telling me which signatures I can safely ignore, referring to his recently made list after scanning here himself. I am left with only three signatures to resolve, making it easy to find a wormhole.

The Orca at the tower is moving. I can't tell if it is aligning before entering warp and I want to warp myself to the wormhole I've just resolved. I warp away to the wormhole, thinking that I'll find the Orca there anyway if it is planning to collapse this new static connection, but I end up floating outside a K162, an incoming connection from null-sec space. I return to the tower as I reposition my probes in space, the Orca now gone. A second wormhole is quickly resolved and I warp to it to find the static connection to a class 3 system. Before I jump through to look for an exit to k-space I check the status of the wormhole. Its mass allowance has already been reduced below half, the occupants are killing this wormhole too. And they must be using the Orca to do it.

I bookmark the wormhole and start heading homewards. There is little point in jumping through and getting isolated myself. But I will be coming back, and with a fleet behind me. Ships are already being warmed up in our home system and a second scanner stays in the C5 system to keep eyes on the Orca and other two pilots at the tower. Back home, I swap the Buzzard for my Onyx heavy interdictor but don't wait to check what other ships are in the fleet before warping back to our static wormhole. The fleet follows and we all jump in to the neighbouring C4. I am given the wing commander role which allows me to warp the fleet to the next wormhole, leading in to the C5, where we hold.

Our eyes in the system knows what he needs to do. He's keeping track of the Orca, a massive ship that lends itself well to collapsing wormholes. The Orca's hull is no doubt polarised from its return trip through the C3 wormhole and he will be waiting for the charge to dissipate before making his next jump. I don't want to jump the fleet in to the system with the Orca in the tower, as our presence could be discerned from the directional scanner. So our scout is going to let us know when the Orca warps away from the tower and disappears itself from d-scan, indicating it having jumped to the C3. When that happens the fleet will have at least thirty seconds—the session change timer that prevents rapid jumping between systems—to jump in to the C5 and warp to the position of the C3 wormhole, where the Orca will be jumping back in.

The Orca at the tower starts moving and it warps away. Our scout moves to follow but keeps checking d-scan. It is only seconds later we get the message that the Orca is off d-scan. 'Jump!' The fleet moves en masse through the wormhole in to the class 5 system. I hold my position for a few seconds to ensure most, if not all, of the fleet has jumped through before warping the wing to the location of the C3 wormhole. Warp speed sounds fast but it can feel awfully long at these moments. Our ships decelerate and we get our systems hot as we drop out of warp. The wormhole has gone but the Orca is almost waiting for us, its lumbering bulk unable to align quickly enough to escape.

I activate the Onyx's warp bubble and the Orca is trapped. Our small fleet of combat ships vapourises the Orca's shields and shatters its armour quickly, then blasts right through its hull. The broken industrial command ship jettisons the pilot's pod in to space, which we destroy ruthlessly, sending the capsuleer back to a station in empire space to wake up in a clone. This could be some form of revenge for isolating one of our pilots but I think most of us just like the thrill of the hunt, and the kill.

The Orca is looted of the few modules that survive the explosion and one of our pilots even thoughtfully brought a salvager module. We manage to loot a nice booty of Tech II missiles, too. It is only now that I notice a small conversation in the rarely used local channel. Our most diplomatic capsuleer asked if the Orca pilot wanted to keep his pod, the only reply being from another member of his corporation telling us that the pilot was 'too busy watching what was going on to notice' the communication. Yes, me too. The fleet leaves the pocket and gets back to our tower, excitement over for now. And without such a big ship, and with the threat of another incursion, the corporation in the C5 may not risk collapsing the new static wormhole. It is time to get back to scanning.

The scout who was keeping an eye on the Orca has a head start on finding the new static connection and has found it by the time I get back to the C5 in my Buzzard. I am given a reference to warp to in order to bookmark the wormhole, which I do. But one of our combat pilots left his drones behind after the fight and I realise they would be at the position of the previous wormhole, which I have bookmarked. I warp my Buzzard close to that position and see the drones floating inertly in space. I may as well recover them and start moving closer. But I'm not the only one with this idea, one of the Buzzards from the local tower decloaks and scoops a drone to his cargo hold. That's okay, I have rockets and warp disruption modules on my ship.

I decloak and start burning towards my new target, but the sensor recalibration delay after being cloaked lets the other ship move away from the drones and cloak again, preventing my systems from locking on to his ship. I certainly gave him a scare, particularly as he wouldn't know if I had the fleet behind me. I lurk for a little longer to see if the situation changes but there is no more sign of activity. I move to the drones and collect the remaining four, only losing the one to the other Buzzard. At this point my presence is required in the C3, so I warp and jump through the wormhole.

Two wormholes have been found, an exit available to both low-sec and high-sec empire space. I am warped to both to allow me to bookmark their positions and then I am tasked with monitoring local activity as the exit systems are checked. There are two battlecruisers on scan, a Drake and Brutix, along with a tower and finding the tower also finds the ships idling inside its shields. The system looks quiet. And the system remains quiet as our isolated pilot is brought back to w-space successfully, our route home intact. The adventure over, a fleet forms finally to battle Sleepers, but it is getting late and I instead remain at the tower to study.

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