Bumping in to danger

18th June 2011 – 3.21 pm

All is quiet. At least, for us. Mick and I have popped a Noctis salvager in a class 2 w-space system connecting to our home, and are leaving that system behind to find nothing happening through our static wormhole. Neither the neighbouring C3 nor the C5 connecting in to that holds any activity and, with glorious leader Fin turning up, we decide to collapse the K162 at home to isolate ourselves more properly from the C2 pilots. Some ECM support is provided but not needed to keep the Orca industrial command ship safe, the occupants of the C2 not noticing or caring what we are doing.

The K162 is killed efficiently, all of us in the home system when it happens. We can shoot Sleepers in the C3, and reconfigure the fleet to take two Tengu strategic cruisers and my Golem marauder to do just that. There is only one sweet anomaly present, making even our small presence seem somewhat overkill, but a radar site tempts us to continue combat and we warp in to shoot, loot, and root through the databanks. Shooting is easy enough, the waves of Sleepers presenting no problems, and I concentrate on looting and salvaging the last of the wrecks in my Golem whilst Mick heads home to grab a hacking boat.

We may have a problem. Warping to the K162 home Mick bumps in to a Proteus strategic cruiser, and we're fairly sure he's not with us. Mick is able to evade him easily enough, jumping through the wormhole and warping to the tower, but he advises us to finish salvaging and get home. My salvagers cycle and rip apart the last wreck, and Fin and I warp to the wormhole, which looks clear, apart from Mick now sitting on it in his Dominix battleship. We jump through and I hold my cloak initially, in case there are any threats. It looks clear, but a few repeated punches of my directional scanner gets me calling for us both to warp, warp, warp.

Fin and I leave the wormhole behind us as a Nighthawk command ship warps in, the Myrmidon battlecruiser also on scan no doubt following closely behind. We're both safe, but the Proteus has reappeared in the C3 and Mick is engaging it, the Myrmidon jumping in to assist the strategic cruiser against our colleague. This could end badly, particularly as Mick is polarised and cannot jump home for a couple of minutes more. In preparation of his hopeful return I board my Widow black ops ship and, bouncing off a planet to approach at a less predictable vector, warp to the wormhole to provide ECM support.

Oops, an Onyx heavy interdictor has arrived and activated its bubble, and my Widow is dragged to its edge, a good seventy kilometres closer to the Nighthawk than I aimed for. I turn around and burn away, activating my cloak as I do, which thankfully lets me move faster. The Nighthawk comes looking for me, but I jink and he doesn't come particularly close. And Mick is holding his own against the two ships, his trusty Dominix putting up a good fight. We may scrape through this.

Multiple new contacts! Five Drake battlecruisers, a Harbinger battlecruiser, Ashimmu cruiser, Falcon recon ship, and Tengu all warp to our wormhole as a fleet, a second corp but part of the same alliance as the first. I don't bother waiting to see what happens now, still far too close to the action to be of use even if Mick returns, and drop my cloak to warp back to the tower. But it seems Mick is okay. The Myrmidon jumps out of the engagement as his armour is finally demolished and, without support, the Proteus leaves too. It's possible the Onyx's warp bubble just saved our colleague, as the nine new ships aren't able to warp directly to the wormhole, and can't immediately jump in to the C3 to strike the final blow. Mick warps away from the K162 and heads out through the C3's static exit to the safety of high-sec empire space.

I board my Buzzard covert operations boat and warp off-grid of the tower, keeping an eye on d-scan, both on a wide beam and narrowly towards the wormhole. Within a couple of minutes all of the hostile ships have warped away from the wormhole and left our system, none of them seemingly going to the C3. That was close. We had two billion ISK of ships shooting Sleepers and another quarter-of-a-billion ISK in loot and salvage in my hold. It was lucky that Mick bumped in to the Proteus, seeing the threat before it appeared. Granted, the fleet can't have seen us at that point, with the K162 being out of d-scan range of the site we were in, but that actually made it more dangerous for us. The Proteus could have cloaked and warped, spotted us on d-scan, and called the fleet to be waiting for us on our own static wormhole as we jumped home. Then we would have been looking at wrecks, and probably waking up in new clones.

The appearance of the fleet means there must be a new wormhole open in our home system. Now the ships appear gone, perhaps with the exception of a cloaked scout, I launch scanning probes and do indeed resolve a new signature, the K162 coming from class 4 w-space. I park my Buzzard on the wormhole to monitor activity. All looks clear and it seems that Mick could come home, Fin and I just need to convince him it's safe to do so. He doesn't really want to run the gauntlet in his prized battleship, and I can't blame him at all, but Fin reports the C3 as being clear and I have detected no jumps through the K162. A bit more lurking and encouragement and Mick gets home and, with some persuasion, goes back to the C3 in the hacking boat to claim the contents of the databanks that we abandoned earlier, with a mumble that we 'may as well push our luck'. That's the spirit!

Both systems remain quiet as Mick returns to the still-present radar site, hacks the databanks, and brings home another thirty million ISK of loot. It looks like Mick's able combat skills and Fin's and my evasion techniques have discouraged the other fleet from poking us a second time, all the better for our survival. On reflection, it's quite funny how we closed one connection to isolate ourselves from trouble only to have a new one open up shortly afterwards bringing even bigger trouble. This unpredictable and ephemeral nature of wormholes makes them frustratingly dangerous, but in a good way. You've got to love w-space.

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