Spot the ambush

2nd October 2010 – 3.37 pm

I'm trapped. I've jumped in to a class 4 w-space system after following a Helios covert operations boat in the hopes of finding activity and, as a reminder to be careful what you wish for, found plenty. A pair of interceptors and a couple of strategic cruisers are camping their static wormhole, hoping to catch a scanning boat they think is in the adjoining system. I think it is lucky that they don't know I'm here with them, but I'm not sure. Asking my scouting colleague to disappear from the system and remove the presence of a target hasn't quite worked, the small fleet now bolstered by an interdictor.

I don't want to try to evade an interceptor, and certainly not two of them. Although it is possible I could move away from the wormhole, cloak, and warp without being caught too much depends on the vagaries of the inter-system jump. A cloaking device needs two kilometres of clearance between any other object or interference disrupts the cloaking field. If the wormhole spits me out several kilometres from its signature then I am fairly safe, but it is quite possible to transition and be less than two kilometres from the wormhole. Not being able to cloak immediately will almost guarantee a good interceptor pilot locks on to my ship, and I try to avoid my lovely capsuleer body being turned in to a charred corpse.

The good news is that more pilots are turning up, and they are from my corporation and not the ambushers'. I explain my predicament and my colleagues are up for a fight. I was expecting to sit here for the next hour or so, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the ships to get bored and wander off, but now the cavalry is mounting up and preparing to come to my rescue. We are facing two interceptors, two strategic cruisers, and an interdictor. The corporation scrambles three battlecruisers, the Drake, Harbinger, and Myrmidon joined by a Lachesis recon ship and Dominix battleship. Given the intelligence that I can supply, unbeknownst to the ambushers, we are likely to repel the hostile fleet and gain a couple of kills in the process. The evening is starting to look better.

The only impediment to our pre-emptive counter-assault is that no one has the location of the wormhole I passed through. I haven't been able to jump back to share the bookmark and it remains otherwise unscanned. A new scout comes out to quickly scan the connection, helped by my knowing the signature's identification, which I enter in to all my bookmarks for reference. Now that the wormhole is scanned and resolved it's time for action. The Taranis has warped off but is not followed by any of the other ships and looks to remain somewhere in the system, perhaps making himself a sammich. The Stiletto interceptor and Sabre interdictor still sit on the wormhole, and presumably so do the cloaked strategic cruisers, a Legion on this side of the wormhole and a Proteus strategic cruiser on the other side.

The Sabre warps away as the corporation fleet leaves the tower to make the two jumps in to this system. The Stiletto then also warps away seconds before the fleet appears on the other side of the wormhole ready to jump through. No doubt their Proteus pilot is keeping an eye on his directional scanner and warns of the coming fleet, giving the others time to flee. A single ship of ours jumps through the wormhole acting as bait but is met by no aggression. I warp my cloaked Buzzard covert operations boat to one of the two towers in the system and find all the recently active ships piloted inside its shields.

I was reluctant to launch scanning probes when I was trapped earlier because I didn't want the ambushers to know they had a target actually in their system but now I launch probes to try to lure them in to returning to the wormhole. And as I have my probes out I may as well take a closer look at the system. It's pretty clean in here, they keep a tight system. There is only one signature accompanying the static wormhole and it is a gravimetric site. I warp in to the mining site to activate it, out of spite for the inconvenience I have suffered, and as I warp away from the tower the Legion arrives, decloaked. The only threat now is a cloaked Proteus somewhere in the adjacent system. In fact, a return trip to the tower shows that many of the pilots have logged off, only the Sabre pilot remaining in his ship.

I feel a sense of relief and take advantage of the situation to warp to the wormhole and jump through, exiting the system at last. But I also feel a bit guilty about the corporation fleet coming out here and not seeing any action. The fleet takes it upon themselves to close this wormhole so that we can safely profit from the Sleeper opportunities in this class 4 system without fearing any interruption should the hostile pilots return from their break. I jump back home and return to the tower to swap in to my Falcon recon ship to provide support to the fleet, should they require some ECM, as battlecruisers and battleships are jumped in to and out of the hostile system, removing mass from the wormhole. That's when the explosions start.

Our ships have been caught unawares by a fleet of strategic cruisers, apparently returning from a sortie. They warp to the wormhole we are trying to collapse to find juicy targets jumping in and out of their system, and it seems willingly becoming polarised to complicate any escape. I warp my Falcon to our static wormhole to see a colleague's pod entering warp back to the tower. Jumping through to the C4 finds a second colleague's pod preparing to jump through the wormhole, soon followed by a third colleague's pod dropping out of warp also heading homewards. It would be comedic if it weren't all my fault.

I wonder if my Falcon is still needed after seeing the pods pass me in the other direction. But our Lachesis pilot is still fighting, apparently, putting up a good show against a Drake battlecruiser, and a Proteus and three Legion strategic cruisers. I don't quite know how he's surviving but I warp my Falcon to a safe distance from the wormhole to take a look. The Lachesis is keeping its distance from the wormhole, where the hostile ships have congregated, and appears to be sufficiently out of range for the hostile ships' weapon systems to be made ineffective. None of the hostile ships looks willing to break from the wormhole to threaten the Lachesis and our pilot doesn't need to get closer. But he can't break their tanks either.

We could bring more ships to the fight and focus fire to try to get some of our own kills, but the hostiles know their tactics. Sitting on the wormhole provides them with quick escape should their ships become heavily damaged. The best we could hope for is to push their ships back in to their home system, which is hardly a good result, and we would only be risking more ships to achieve this stalemate. The Lachesis is ready to pull out when an enemy Falcon appears and starts to jam him. That's my cue to decloak and jam the Falcon back, sending some spare ECM towards the strategic cruisers as well.

The foolish Falcon pilot is too far from the wormhole to jump back or to get support from his colleagues and my appearance to counter his ECM drastically reduces his chances of survival. Unable to prevent the Lachesis from locking on to him soon reduces the hostile Falcon's flimsy frame to a red-hot wreck. But crushing one cocky capsuleer will be our only trophy tonight. The rest of the hostile fleet stays on the wormhole to signal the stalemate and I and the Lachesis head back home to fight another day. I get to use my Falcon in anger for the first time and come away with a kill, and all our pods are safe, but tonight shows that w-space remains unpredictably dangerous.

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