Bait and collapse

6th January 2012 – 5.24 pm

Glorious leader Fin's out selling loot and some junk we've accumulated on our w-space roams. I'll check our home system for new connections, so that we can stay safe from surprises. Finding nothing out of the ordinary I stow my scanning boat and board a Manticore stealth bomber to take in to our neighbouring class 3 system. I popped and podded an industrialist taking his morning constitutional around the customs offices earlier, and am interested to see if there will be any repercussions. Maybe not, with only a Helios covert operations boat sitting piloted inside the tower, particularly when he's not moving and there are no probes visible in the system.

All clear in the C3, Fin asks me to scout the stargate she'll be using to return to low-sec and the wormhole homewards. Sure thing, boss! A combat ship passes through the almost-empty low-sec system as I loiter near the stargate, but otherwise there is no sign of trouble at all and Fin gets home safely after plumping up our wallet. I linger in our neighbouring system, seeing a Nemesis stealth bomber appear briefly before dropping off d-scan, and with the Helios no longer at the tower it's possible the pilot has swapped ships and is loitering himself. Perhaps we can flush him out.

I'm not sure why, but Fin once more agrees to act as bait. I'd think she be fed up with sitting in the firing line with only me to retaliate, but she boards a simple Heron frigate and returns to the C3 to act like a newbie. Launching probes and 'forgetting' to cloak, Fin sits near a celestial object that should be easy enough for the Nemesis to find, if he's paying attention. And I think he's paying attention, a little more than either of us would like, as when his stealth bomber appears again it is not to take the bait but to swap ships back at his tower. Now the pilot's aboard a Dramiel frigate, a stupidly fast and deadly small ship, one that will melt the Heron and my Manticore without too much trouble. Abort, abort!

Fin bounces around some planets whilst I scout our wormhole, seeing no sign of the Dramiel but also noting it to have dropped off d-scan too. I wouldn't think a pilot would go off-line in such a ship, and although I didn't see him jump through the K162 to our home system I could have arrived a few seconds too late. Fin volunteers to take a look, which I should probably object to and place my covertly configured ship in harm's way instead, but I find it hard to say no to Fin. She jumps home and, sure enough, there's the Dramiel, wise to our bait and setting his own ambush in its place. This would be our plan backfiring.

Fortune smiles on Fin today, spitting her out of the wormhole far enough away to get clear without Dramiel interference, which makes me feel better, particularly as a Devoter heavy interdictor has just appeared on d-scan in the C3. I still need to get home at some point, though, and I can't guarantee I'll avoid the Dramiel, not with a HIC's warp bubble to hinder me. But Fin swaps in to the Dramiel's natural enemy, a Rapier recon ship, the webbing powers of the Rapier able to slow the Dramiel down to be little more annoying than a basic frigate. And it works, merely the appearance of the Rapier on d-scan sending the Dramiel back through the wormhole.

I see the wormhole flare and take that as my cue to jump too. Even if the Dramiel sees me and tries to follow he'll be tangled by the session change timer, giving me time to clear the wormhole. It turns out I should have waited, as the Dramiel warps away from the wormhole immediately, and all I've done is shown him my ship. Oh well, I'm not quite sure what else we can do now. We have no eyes in the C3 where there are hostile pilots to monitor. We can't collapse the wormhole without risking assault against our vulnerable ships, and we certainly can't shoot Sleepers in the home system safely.

The best we can do is send a scout back in the C3 to see what our neighbours are up to. I swap back to my covert Tengu strategic cruiser, Fin staying in the Rapier in case we need to shoo a Dramiel, and warp to our static wormhole. I'll just jump in and take a holy crap, they're waiting for me! I drop out of warp to be glad once more that I rarely warp point-to-point in w-space, as I'm greeted by four ships all sitting on our static wormhole. It looks like our neighbours have brought in the big guns to start a fight, but just as I start to back off, gaining a bit more distance, all four jump back to the C3. Ah, they're not here for a fight, they're here to collapse the connection for us. That's jolly decent of them.

I suppose our neighbours have had enough of our antics today, whether it is corpsifying their industrialists or baiting their combat pilots. But there could still perhaps be opportunity for disruption. The return home of the four battleships destabilises our wormhole to half-mass, and as they work out the maths and wait for polarisation effects to end Fin and I get in position, waiting to see if anyone gets stranded. A Scorpion battleship comes and goes, followed by an Abaddon battleship, at which point the wormhole destabilises critically. Now it becomes interesting.

There was little point attacking the previous battleships, as they would simply jump back to the C3 to avoid us, prompting us to follow or disengage, and we have no idea what could be waiting for us on the other side. But now that the wormhole is in its critical stage the pilots have a decision of whether to risk another battleship or something smaller. It's possible a battleship could be pushed through and returned, collapsing the wormhole, but it's also possible the wormhole will collapse on the outbound journey. Fin and I push our watching ships closer to the wormhole, closer to strike any stranded ship, but the next jump comes from an overweight cruiser.

The cruiser comes and goes. The wormhole remains. We wait a little longer but no more ships are pushed through. It looks like our neighbours are suitably risk averse about stranding ships in hostile systems, and are probably content with leaving the wormhole in such an inhospitable state. It doesn't do us any favours, though, but I suppose they don't really care about that. We don't even get to shoot any of them, which is a bit of a shame. We could try to topple the wormhole ourselves, using a HIC for safety, but the night's getting late to do much even if we get a new wormhole. We simply turn our combat boats around and head back to the tower.

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