Clearing a path home

8th November 2010 – 5.09 pm

Another convenient exit presents itself. It isn't quite as convenient as a K162 from high-sec opening directly in to our system, but it is a good opportunity for me to bring my few remaining ships in to our new class 5 w-space home. The route to empire space takes me through our neighbouring C5, from there to a C2, then a connecting C3 holds the exit wormhole. These intermediate w-space systems mean I can now put my considered recovery plan in to effect.

Bringing in ships through a direct high-sec link is straightforward. Jump in to the system, and if there is no threat on the wormhole warp to the tower in the system. If there is a threat on the wormhole, wait for the session timer to expire and jump out, or call on colleagues to deter the threat. Having to pass through intermediate w-space systems is more awkward, however, as jumping from one w-space system to another doesn't offer the advantage of a safe escape route the way you came. A threat can follow you back through the wormhole and present the same threat there, with no fear of Concord intervention. But my plan should mitigate such threats.

Rather than exiting w-space in my bare pod, I take my Buzzard covert operations boat to empire space. This lets me travel cloaked and scout each system as I pass through it, and I find no activity in any of the systems and no hostile ships loitering on wormholes. The path looks clear for now. I park my Buzzard in a station in high-sec and take my pod the seven hops to Quier, where my few remaining w-space ships wait for me. I board my Damnation command ship first, if only because it is so cuddly, and take it back to the wormhole system. But I don't take the Damnation in to w-space and back to our tower immediately, instead I return in my pod to Quier to collect my Curse. The recon ship is piloted to the wormhole system and now I think about heading home, leaving my Retriever behind as not being entirely necessary at the moment.

I board my Buzzard again and use it to scout the way back in. Enough can change in the short time it's taken me to collect two ships that a safe entrance is not guaranteed. And my diligence is rewarded, as an Ishtar heavy assault ship sits on the exit to high-sec in the class 3 w-space system. Although either of my combat ships could easily jump back out to empire space, where I couldn't be engaged without repercussions, the Ishtar could pose a problem for warping to the next wormhole, and he may have support waiting elsewhere. I move my Buzzard away from the wormhole and cloak without trouble, then check the rest of the route home, finding it to be clear.

Back at the tower, a couple of colleagues are willing to help shoo the Ishtar away from the wormhole as I bring my two ships in. And without a warp bubble on the wormhole I am safe taking my pod back out to high-sec, which I do, docking to pick up one of my ships. I choose the Damnation for its formidable tank and conventional launchers which, with support, should get rid of the Ishtar threat. I have a Loki strategic cruiser coming to my aid, albeit a PvE fit, and our two ships jumping in to the system and engaging the Ishtar directly sees the HAC flee to high-sec with barely a shot fired. That was easy. I happily warp my Damnation to the next wormhole and continue my way to our tower without any further trouble. It looks like I will be able to bring my Curse in the same way.

Meanwhile, a colleague's Dominix battleship, coming to help shoot the Ishtar, has destabilised the connection between the C5 and C2 systems, as well as the pilot spotting a Tengu strategic cruiser and Myrmidon battlecruiser lurking somewhere in the class 2 system. Duly noted, I take my pod back out to high-sec, spotting the Ishtar loitering on the high-sec side of the wormhole, and dock to collect my Curse. The Ishtar pilot spots me passing by and wants to talk, and I accept his invitation, curious to find out what he wants. It turns out that he isn't looking for a fight but merely trying to claim the class 3 w-space system for his corporation, and would like to know if I have a separate claim to the system. Nope, not a problem for me, I tell him, and it looks like the Ishtar won't get shot, and nor will it shoot my Curse.

Another colleague is looking to bring a ship in through the current route and I hold in the high-sec system for her to arrive. But I am promptly called in to w-space, as our Dominix is being engaged by an Abaddon battleship in the C2. I jump in to the C3 and start warping, but our pilot reduces the Abaddon to a wreck before any reinforcements arrive. The locals undeterred, a second Abaddon and a Tengu turning up to shoot the Dominix, certain to overpower the single battleship, but my colleague in the Loki has swapped for a Pilgrim recon ship and is now with the Dominix, and I am nearly in the system in my Curse. The Tengu is snared, and I jump in to the system to help scare off the Abaddon, perhaps sensing the fight turning.

The Tengu is completely trapped, the Pilgrim and Dominix heavily neutralising the strategic cruiser's capacitor energy and keeping its warp engines disrupted. But they are seventy kilometres from the wormhole I just jumped through, far outside of my own module range. I activate my reheat and start burning towards the combat, locking the Tengu and firing my two heavy launchers, which at least can reach the target. By the time I am in range to activate my own neutralisers the Tengu is taking structure damage, clearly unable to repair its shields to any effect. A few seconds more and the pilot's pod warps away from an expensive wreck.

'Good ambush', says the ex-Tengu pilot in the local channel. It's kind of him to say so, but we really were just passing through. Clear communication helped good co-ordination, and we were able to get pilots in the right ships at the right place for the kill. And I think it is my first kill in the Curse, one where I even did the most damage and got the killing blow too, all with just two heavy launchers. I actually forgot I had drones to use, in my boat which can use them the most. But the Tengu was so heavily neutralised that it simply couldn't repair the damage we were doing.

All that's left is to get home, through the critically unstable wormhole. Our returning colleague goes first in her Buzzard, the recon ships go next, and last is the Dominix, increasing its mass by activating its micro-warp drive to ensure the wormhole collapses behind it. All ships are home safely, we got another strategic cruiser kill, and now we have a new connection to a class 2 system to find if we want to.

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