Save the whale

17th May 2011 – 5.18 pm

Fin's out in empire space in her Orca buying fuel. I'm sat on the wormhole in high-sec in my Legion, hoping to be a suitable deterrent to any ships interested in our connection. Mick's in his Arazu, reconnoitring the intermediate class 3 w-space system between high-sec and home. The C3 held some activity earlier, but nothing we could intercept and engage, and now it all looks quiet. We're not expecting any trouble getting Fin's industrial command ship back home but it's better to be safe than sorry, which is why I'm trying to look suitably threatening in my strategic cruiser and Mick's recon ship is keeping an eye on the C3 for new dangers. He spots one too, a scout apparently active with core scanning probes visible in the system, and clustering around the K162 heading to our home system.

The Orca is still in station, having tower fuel loaded in to its bays, and has a ponderous return journey to make, giving me time to head home and plant an interceptor on our wormhole in the hopes of catching the scout. I warp across the system to our K162 but, as the C3 is over 100 AU across and I am warping from one side to the other, by the time I reach the wormhole the scanning probes have disappeared. Undeterred, and knowing that the scout may have the same long warp ahead of him, I jump home, swap to my Malediction, and warp back to our wormhole to lie in wait. It's whilst I am lurking that Mick spots a Tengu strategic cruiser on his directional scanner in the C3, which could be the scanning boat, a ship my little interceptor would barely scratch. Once again, I stow the Malediction and return to my Legion.

Whatever or even whether the Tengu has scanned, he's not heading my way. He's spotted warping in the direction of the exit to high-sec in the C3, at about the same time that Fin jumps in to the high-sec system and is aligning to the wormhole. She holds her Orca steady as Mick follows the Tengu, reporting that it jumps to empire space. We also get a reminder of an earlier visitor we have seen in the C3, a Proteus strategic cruiser decloaking at the wormhole. A little over 2,500 km away from the Proteus, Mick is nearly reciprocally decloaked but luckily evades being bumped. Now we have interesting circumstances. The Tengu is warping Fin's way, and the Proteus is configured for covert operation and looks to by lying in wait. At the same time, my Legion should be a match for the Proteus and what better bait to lure him than an Orca? As long as we're facing only one strategic cruiser we should be in a good position.

Fin spots the Tengu warping to the gate she's sitting on and, reporting it to jump out, I call her to warp in to the wormhole and jump to the C3. At the same time, I jump from home and warp across the w-space system to land on the wormhole to high-sec, arriving there first and ready to protect our fuel-laden Orca. Even if the Tengu turns around immediately he'll have a short journey and a couple of system changes before he can catch up with whatever happens here, which should be plenty of time to despatch the Proteus, or get Fin home safely. We should be okay, if only because any of us will be able to jump to high-sec to escape destruction, including the Proteus.

The wormhole simultaneously flares and shrinks as Fin's industrial command ship jumps in to the C3, and she begins to align the massive Orca homewards. There is no sign of the Proteus, and I think about loitering for a bit longer to see if I can attract his attention. Luckily I realise my error in good time, understanding that the operation is not to engage the Proteus but get the Orca home safely, and instead of thinking what I can do to flush out the Proteus I too align my ship homewards. As soon as the Orca enters warp and flashes away I engage my own warp drives, flinging my ship across the system once more, landing on the wormhole moments before Fin's engines cut out to let her jump. We both enter our home system where I'm relieved to see all is clear.

Belay that smile of satisfaction, cadet! As the Orca decloaks and starts aligning I finally get an eyeball on the Proteus, not five kilometres away and targeting Fin. I don't even pause to consider the situation, knowing instead exactly why I am here and confident in my ship's capabilities. I decloak, lock the Proteus, and get all my systems hot. My launchers fire volleys of advanced missiles at the strategic cruiser, my energy neutralisers start sucking his capacitor dry, and I disrupt his warp engines because I can. I check the status of the Orca and it is holding up well, the on-board shield booster visibly pulsing outside the skin of the ship. Its shield levels are low but deceptively so, the effect of the pulsar phenomenon in the home system boosting their capacity but not level on jumping in. And it looks like I am having a greater effect on the Proteus than it on the Orca, as my target signals his retreat by jumping back through the wormhole to the C3.

The Proteus isn't getting away that easily. I follow him back to the class 3 w-space system, where Mick has caught up to the K162 in his Arazu and is also waiting. The strategic cruiser is caught before he can cloak or warp, and both Mick and I have him trapped. I engage all my systems against the Proteus again, happy now that Fin's Orca is safely warping back to our tower and much more confident in our assault after routing the ambush. This class 3 w-space system also holds a pulsar, degrading my Legion's defensive systems, but it is the Proteus fighting to escape destruction. He targets Mick's Arazu, perhaps hoping to secure some small victory from what he sees as inevitable defeat, but I don't think he's going to last that long. Missiles continue to slam in to the Proteus, shields vapourised and armour dropping rapidly. I doubt his capacitor has the energy to run any repair modules he has fitted.

In one of the most satisfying fireballs I've been party to so far in w-space, the Proteus explodes. Perhaps disorientated, the pilot doesn't even manage to get his pod clear of our ships before we have locked and pointed it. We make clear our intent to protect our colleagues and assets, ripping the pod apart and waking the capsuleer up in a new clone in some distant station. We scoop the corpse, loot the wreck of juicy modules and ammunition, and this time we don't shoot the wreck. Instead, Fin returns in a salvager to see what we can recover from the Tech III cruiser. As it turns out the salvage is rubbish, but we had plenty of time to pick through the wreckage this time and the results were worth finding out.

This has been a slick operation, even if it started out as a routine run for supplies. Mick's experienced scouting was invaluable in identifying the threat so that I was in a ship fit for repelling the threat of a strategic cruiser. We knew our route, coordinated our movements, and understood our roles. Fin's piloting was professional and brave, and although she missed the kill we got the Orca home safely with its cargo intact, which was our prime motive. And on a personal note I am really pleased that my ship killer lived up to its promise.

As a postscript, when the occupants of the class 3 system find out about our kill they join our open channel to both congratulate and thank us. The Proteus was not in their corporation and had in fact been camping in the C3, hounding them for a couple of days. We take the thanks gracefully, but don't mention to the C3 locals that we too were trying to hunt them, as sometimes it pays to be diplomatic.

  1. 2 Responses to “Save the whale”

  2. Ouch that guy was in my ex alliance :) Pretty hard fail there on the proteus part.

    By Chitsa Jason on May 20, 2011

  3. Orcas are far too temping as targets, which can hinder good decision making. I have experience of that myself.

    And I like to think that we gave him a big hand in helping him fail.

    By pjharvey on May 21, 2011

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