Scrapping on a C2 K162

1st October 2012 – 5.09 pm

What's this Orca doing in our home system? I've toyed with a Manticore stealth bomber from class 2 w-space connecting in to our system, as well as its pal in a Proteus strategic cruiser, but the industrial command ship is a rather unexpected sight on my directional scanner. I was coming home to ignore everyone and get some rest, but this piques my interest. I can only think that the C2 locals are bringing the Orca back from empire space to their home. They have already been seen returning through the exit to low-sec in our neighbouring class 3 system, for some reason ignoring the two high-sec connections in their own system, so this isn't outlandish. And I suppose having at least one cloaky strategic cruiser around as an escort would keep it safer than being alone. Even so, it's an awfully tempting target.

I alert Aii to the Orca's presence and tell him to hold on the wormhole in C2a, expecting the ship to warp in to our clutches. But it doesn't. I know whales don't warp quickly, but it should have been here by now. I open the system map and interrogate our static wormhole using a tight d-scan beam, but the Orca isn't in line and so isn't in warp between the two points. In fact, the industrial command ship appears to be in what should be empty space. I think I'll scan for it. I warp out, launch probes, and blanket the system, perhaps more out of habit than need. But the blanket scan lets me see what is probably the Proteus out by a distant planet, as well as another ship somewhere, so if this is a trap then it's a confusing one.

I go for a scan. I'm not subtle about it, because if this is bait then visible scanning probes won't spook the Orca, and, besides, such a massive ship is hardly difficult to find. Indeed, I get a positive hit on a second scan without really trying, flustering me a little as to what to do next. Right, I remember: I recall my probes, warp to the target, and bookmark its location for reference. But I don't warp to the Orca with the intention to engage, just reconnoitre, so go alone and have Aii stay on the wormhole. And I'm right to do this. The Orca is not native to the C2 but another class 4 system, and is in the midst of crashing their apparently undesirable connection to us. A Devoter heavy interdictor jumps through the K162 as I drop out of warp, critically destabilising the wormhole shortly before the Orca follows it, imploding the connection.

Mystery solved. I can go to sleep. Or maybe not. Aii stands down and jumps home, only to find himself facing the Proteus that has been chasing me as I've been chasing the Manticore. Aii holds his cloak and says he's going to engage. I flip my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser around from my corner of the system and warp to our tower, swapping for a rather more impressive Widow. I would hope the focussed ECM and hard-hitting torpedoes of the black ops ship will help take down the Proteus, and swing it away from the hangar to warp towards the wormhole. Aii has started a scrap with the Proteus and the two ships are brawling, and with any luck I'll be a bit of a surprise.

I drop out of warp, target the Proteus, and start shooting and attempt jamming. The wormhole to C2a flares, spitting out the Manticore from earlier, which I pretty much ignore for now, but a rather uglier ship appears with it. The Falcon recon ship brings one tool to combat, and very effectively. It starts throwing ECM around like there's no tomorrow, breaking both my and Aii's target locks, and pretty much rendering our ships useless. At least our tanks are holding out, which lets us weather the engagement a bit longer, in case the Falcon drops a jam and I can get one on him, but when a second Proteus appears from C2a and we are on the third or fourth successive jamming cycle I decide it's time to flee.

I escape through the wormhole, moving away and cloaking as soon as I can, and Aii follows a few seconds later. The ships come in behind us but, despite scattering drones everywhere, can't unmask us. We've almost reached an impasse, except they are home and we are not. I have patience, though, and simply wait for any polarisation effects to end and for the ships to have moved away, and I make a break for the wormhole. I jump, move away, and cloak without any fuss, getting home and safe. Aii's been distracted, but that works in our favour, as Fin arrives and brings our own Falcon to the engagement, sitting it at distance from the wormhole to provide some extra protection for Aii's return.

Seeing his opportunity, Aii jumps home, moves, and cloaks. And re-appears, for some reason, which lets the hostile ships who followed get a second chance at catching him, which they easily manage. Fin decloaks her Falcon and tries to jam the Proteuses molesting Aii's Tengu strategic cruiser, but their Falcon gets there first and prevents Fin from projecting her own ECM. I give it a go in the Widow, now nicely distant from the wormhole, but also only end up decloaking to get jammed. But my expensive black ops ship draws a Proteus away from Aii, the strategic cruiser burning hard towards me to try to catch a prize target, which can only help. I hold as the Proteus draws closer, already aligned to our tower, and once he is sufficiently far from Aii and still not too close to me I warp clear.

It seems like we did just enough by presenting extra targets. Aii's Tengu gains a bit of speed when the second Proteus breaks away, and he is able to get back to the wormhole, where he jumps to C2a and is able to cloak safely again, warping away to one of the high-sec exits. But Aii would like to get home tonight and wants to try one last time. Fin takes the Falcon back to the wormhole, and I bounce off a suitably arbitrary safe spot to appear at distance from the wormhole before cloaking and shifting position. Aii warps back to the wormhole, jumps home, and is caught again. At least he is within range of the wormhole to flee immediately, which he does, and manages to evade the attentions of the fleet in the C2 another time. He agrees to spend the night in high-sec.

Unfortunately, the fight isn't over. Fin decloaked to offer protection to Aii and has been caught off-guard by one of the Proteuses, it burning hard towards her as soon as she appeared. I call for her to flee but Fin doesn't notice until it is too late, and the Proteus has disrupted her warp drive. With the Falcon jamming her, one strategic cruiser on top of her, and a second on its way, the death of the Falcon is inevitable. I decloak and try to apply my ECM to the Proteus, in a bid to let Fin warp clear, but the flimsy recon ship explodes before I even lock the first target. And then I'm jammed myself by the hostile Falcon. Never mind, I'm out of here. As the Proteus turns to me, I turn to our tower and warp away.

The loss of the Falcon is little more than an accident, and hardly significant. It's certainly much less expensive than Aii's Tengu, which is now safely in high-sec and merrily hopping between systems, perhaps to come in through the low-sec entrance our neighbouring C3 affords, if time allows. And we had a game of cat-and-mouse with the Manticore earlier, a bit of a brawl on the wormhole, and then some little scraps as Aii came and went. The cost of a Falcon is a small price to pay for all of the thrills we've had tonight. And now I really am going to sleep.

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