Suppressing fire

1st January 2011 – 3.10 pm

Glorious leader Fin arrives, and I update her on my mischief. A K162 wormhole has opened in to our system, and I chased a scout in my Malediction interceptor, shooting the shields off his Helios covert operations boat for giggles. A bit of manoeuvring has now seen a Manticore stealth bomber sitting on the other side of the K162, in the class 4 w-space system. I am still in my own Manticore and suggest Fin boards our Onyx heavy interdictor and throw that through the wormhole to see if it prompts a reaction, maybe a hasty or speculative bomb launch. She agrees and warms up the Onyx's systems, as I monitor our side of the connection for any activity.

I see as much happen near the wormhole in our system as Fin finds on the other side, although I suppose an Onyx doesn't often work well as bait. And the lack of an early bomb launch suggests either a relatively experienced pilot or that he's moved away again, perhaps after our two Manticores crossed paths. I still like the idea of pursuing the lone capsuleer, though, which means swapping in to my Buzzard cov-ops boat to scan for another K162, as I found out earlier that this class 4 system is no longer home to any corporation.

Scanning in the connecting C4 sees me having to ignore lots of gas, like being in a company lift after curry day in the canteen, but I find a wormhole without too much fuss. It is quite likely that the system on the other side of this K162 holds the home of the pilot I've been chasing, and I have no idea what awaits my entrance. As I am only in my fragile Buzzard I invite Fin to come along for the fun, but also in a cloaky ship for some element of surprise and possibility of escape. She chooses a Pilgrim recon ship and flies out to join me.

With Fin in warp, I jump through the K162 in to the next class 4 w-space system. The Manticore I saw earlier makes itself known to me almost immediately and launches a bomb directly towards the wormhole. I sit curiously passive, knowing that the session change cloak, whilst it remains active, will shield me from any aggression, and watch as the bomb's explosion encompasses me without dealing damage. And I also know that I have Fin behind me in a Pilgrim, only a few seconds away, and fly in to action. My Buzzard spins and surges towards the Manticore, locking and pointing it, sending rockets from the single launcher its way in what seems like a feeble effort to engage it. But all I am doing is stopping the bomber from escaping and buying time until Fin arrives, which she now does, the wormhole flaring behind me.

My Buzzard's shields are taking a beating but the Manticore will soon be dust now that I have a Pilgrim behind me. Except just as Fin jumps a second ship decloaks, a Rapier recon ship. The pilot I've been chasing has brought in his own support, and I can't survive this. The Manticore pilot isn't happy with the situation either, and he jumps through the wormhole. I am happy to follow him, shields pummelled but armour thankfully untouched so far, although it means abandoning Fin to a fight I hadn't prepared her for. In the other system, the Manticore doesn't want to engage any further and simply moves away from the wormhole and cloaks, and I again follow his lead. But it seems that perhaps the stealth bomber was more of a lure, as Fin doesn't respond as I ask if I should change ships and return.

Without knowing what else is in the system I can't adequately swap in to an effective ship, but Fin's silence at least means she is still fighting and not in a new clone. I return home anyway, preparing to get the right ship, and fter a short while I hear a response. 'Lots of help came', Fin tells me, an Arazu recon ship, Nighthawk command ship, and Onyx heavy interdictor all turning up for a barney. And although the Pilgrim was a good choice, with its tracking disruptors working well, the hostiles' use of ECM drones was also effective. At least Fin was able to flee, although at the cost of leaving her own drones behind, and we are both safe.

No ships were lost on either side, which is an interesting result. Perhaps if I had been in a different ship when I first jumped in we could have got a kill, but I stayed in my Buzzard in case further scanning was required. I couldn't have known that the stealth bomber waiting for me was inexperienced and would launch a bomb ineffectually against my ship whilst it was protected by the session change cloak. Or maybe he was counting on my panicking and trying to flee the bomb, making it effective as a result. It is difficult to know people's motivations when there are conflicting possibilities that can equally explain them.

Fin's return passage through the wormhole in to the C4 directly connecting to our home system is not followed. I attribute this to the attackers' desire to keep the fight on their terms and not wanting to be pulled in to an uncontrolled combat. I can fully appreciate that. It lets us return home simply enough and, again, it looks like no one follows us. It looks like I can finally now go out to get my Noctis salvager, still waiting for me after buying it before noticing the encroaching capsuleers. I'm pleased I can pick up the ship now, as the capricious nature of wormhole life would mean the collapse of the connection to empire space could make collection another day rather more tortuous.

Bringing the ship in to w-space is still a little risky, but now I don't need to rely on hoping nothing changes in the systems or connections. Fin gracefully accepts my request to monitor any changes of activity, which she does by placing herself mid-way between the two wormholes in our system and keeping watch on her directional scanner. Nothing should pass through without being spotted, however briefly, and I am able to pick up my Noctis and throw the fittings together without Fin spotting any ships. I bring the ship home safely enough, the C3 looking unchanged as I jump in, letting me warp homewards.

I think I am home and safe, but just as I am entering warp in our home system to return to the tower the wormhole to the C3 flares behind me. I don't see the ship appear, making me wonder if I caught whoever it was napping as I passed him, but Fin spies a Falcon on d-scan briefly. He made no move against my Noctis, maybe even being oblivious to the new class of ship and wondering about its offensive capabilities, and I get the harmless salvager home. We ignore the Falcon, Fin considering engaging it to be a lot of hassle for little gain, and settle down for the night. We don't have the firepower to overcome the tanks of the Onyx or Nighthawk, and even neutralising their capacitors won't give us an advantage against passively regenerative shields and missile launchers, so we just let them be and get and early night.

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