Bringing the Orca back home

4th December 2010 – 3.33 pm

It's time to get Fin home. Having stranded her in an Orca industrial command ship in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system I feel somewhat guilty, the wormhole having collapsed behind me. Hopefully I will be able to find an exit to empire space through our new static connection and help get her back home safely. I complete a full scan of our home system quickly and warp to the wormhole, jumping through to the C3 beyond. I've been in this system before, and five months is long enough for a corporation to have moved in and planted a tower around a distant planet. But no one's home and I am free to scan the system, ignoring many rock and gas mining sites to be less-than-astonised to finally resolve an exit to low-sec empire space.

The exit system is pretty good, for low-sec. It is a fair distance from our base system in high-sec—a nexus of wormhole activity, Fin coming out of the class 3 system close enough to repair there—but only one hop from high-sec. And as far as low-sec borders go this one is pretty safe, with three high-sec systems feeding a separate stargate in to the system, completely negating any bottleneck effect and making gate-camps far less likely. I feed the system data to Fin and go back to our tower as we coordinate tonight's movements. With some time to spare I swap to my Crane transport ship to take to market the loot piling up in our tower.

As I jump back in from low-sec to the C3, in the Buzzard covert operations boat I use to scan, the wormhole flares a second time behind me. It looks like someone followed me in. I have already moved away from the wormhole and simply hold my cloak, waiting for the other pilot's cloak to fade, even if only for a moment, and am glad to see only another Buzzard appear. It, too, cloaks and I no longer can get any sensor readings on it, but I was primed and have the pilot's information called up on my systems. He doesn't look like a threat, and is not from the corporation occupying the C3, so he may just be a tourist.

I ignore the Buzzard for now, not thinking it to be much of a threat, and stuff my Crane full of loot. I warp out and make the jumps in to low-sec space, ready to find a buyer for the Sleeper components and contract the salvage to a corporation contact, only to have a Proteus strategic cruiser decloak as I exit w-space. I am confident my Crane can evade this threat, simply by activating my cloaking device, but I hold my session cloak anyway. There seems little point in risking eight hundred million unrealised ISK when a more cautious approach would give me a secondary escape route back in to w-space should anything unexpected occur. The session change timer ends, and I move away from the wormhole and cloak, the Proteus unable to get a positive lock on my ship. I watch the cruiser briefly, before warping off to a stargate.

The Proteus wasn't a problem coming out, and probably won't be a problem on my return. But I am rather hoping that he'll get bored and wander off before then, and with Fin absent and my pod in a Crane I don't mind spending a bit of time on a joyride through space. To help our contact pick up the salvage more easily I pick a relatively close market hub to hold the contract, which means heading away from high-sec space and swooping through several low-sec systems. I know I am concerned about the relative worth of my cargo but the Crane is designed for this kind of travel, and I find low-sec to be quiet in general. It's not long before I am docked and pumping value in to our new wallet division, finally getting to see how good our plundering sessions have been.

We tax our sales to the corporate levels and transfer that to the main wallet division, before Fin divvies out the profits. I'm not quite sure what I'll use the ISK for at the moment, not having any grand plans for my next ship—and not planning to lose any of my current ones—but after buying the Widow black ops ship, and then the faction tower for our new home, it is good to see my wallet rise again. And with the loot sold I am at my leisure. There are still a few supplies to buy, as we are light on expanded cargoholds and have no nanite repair paste, and as travel in the Crane is fast I simply point my nav-comp Jita's way and start hopping between systems.

I buy what we need in Jita before rendezvousing with Fin in our base system to give her the bookmarks for the route home. I then head homewards, Fin tying up a few more loose ends before starting to follow. With the Proteus threatening, the Orca will not be brought back, but I am hoping the strategic cruiser has long gone. The seventeen jumps pass uneventfully, even if I have trouble identifying low-sec from high-sec on the 0·5 sec borders, and I cautiously warp back to the wormhole leading to the C3. I note that there is only one pilot in the low-sec system, and he's not the pilot of the Proteus, and I jump to w-space confidently.

No one ambushes me and the C3 seems quiet, not even any wrecks to suggest that the Buzzard/Proteus pair came in to fight Sleepers. But, again, the wormhole flares behind me shortly after I enter. This time a Brutix battlecruiser appears, not waiting for the session timer to end, and so probably not aware of my presence, and he warps away. Getting the pilot's name makes me recognise his corporation, and I am fairly sure he has just warped home to his tower in the C3. I follow cloaked in my Crane to see the Brutix at the tower, where he sits passively. With no activity in low-sec and none in w-space Fin turns her Falcon recon ship around to bring the Orca back after all.

To provide security for the Orca I swap the Crane for a Pilgrim recon ship back at our tower, adjusting the fitting slightly so that I can power the cloak. Should any hostile activity occur it is probably easier to neutralise the ship's systems and get clear than to destroy the ship, and the Pilgrim is good at neutralising. I jump back in to the C3 and monitor the Brutix at the tower, sitting patiently as the speed-fitted Orca jumps homewards. All is quiet, and the only sign of trouble is when Fin sees a pilot in low-sec I recognise as that of the Buzzard I saw earlier. But no one waits at the wormhole, the Brutix pilot has probably gone to sleep, and Fin is able to get the Orca home safely. She even brings presents, transferring my Damnation command ship and Falcon from the Orca's hangar to the tower's.

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