Scrapping over a Scorpion

16th June 2013 – 3.02 pm

That Orca isn't coming back to finish collapsing the wormhole. I can't think why. Surely it has nothing to do with the pilot having seen my cloaky Loki lurking nearby. Just because industrial command ships are natural prey of strategic cruisers doesn't mean anything. But he's not coming back. It's been a while, longer than polarisation effects last, and the wormhole stays untravelled and pulsating for being below its half-mass state.

I tell a lie. One other ship passed through the wormhole after the Orca. A Buzzard covert operations boat, seemingly scanning this class 3 w-space system, went through, to what I can only assume is his home. Apart from our K162, this is the only other K162 in C3a. I am also assuming that the cov-ops pilot saw the Orca, recognises a half-mass wormhole, and has got a small fleet waiting on the other side for the Orca's next trip. Or a big fleet. As a result, I've been a little reluctant to jump to C5a.

But we're doing nothing, my glorious leader and me. Just watching the Orca, watching the wormhole. We can do more than this, and preferably something not involving the static exit to high-sec. I'm going through the K162. And in C5a all looks clear, at least on the wormhole. My directional scanner is showing me ships, a tower, and maybe some activity. An Occator transport ship may be gooing, but it's the Ferox battlecruiser and two Venture mining frigates that interest me. If only for a few seconds.

Spinning d-scan around sees that the Ventures aren't at the tower, but I can't tell where they are until a broader scan has them gone completely. I think there was activity here, gassing in fact, but it stopped pretty quickly after my arrival. Exploring the system reveals a second tower, which I ignore for now but stops my launching probes, and locating the first tower, with the ships, sees the Occator and Ferox empty, and now a Buzzard and Vagabond heavy assault cruiser both piloted. Presumably they are the Venture pilots swapped ships.

Vagabond and Buzzard in class 5 w-space

Another Buzzard warps in to the tower, giving three contacts. It seems likely that this cov-ops was watching the wormhole for transits, relaying the information to his gassing colleagues. 'Nah, it is what those ships are supposed to do', says Fin. I know what she means, but it happens sometimes that capsuleers are sensible. Only sometimes, though, as the Buzzard shows by burning upwards out of the tower to launch probes instead of warping to a safe spot. I suppose it's a fairly safe method, but if done consistently this way will become predictable.

I can't do anything about the Buzzard, so watch the Vagabond. The HAC warps from the first tower, towards the second, forcing me to locate that one too, where a second Vagabond sits piloted. That's still three pilots total, I think, it's just that ships are being moved and swapped. So Fin and I start talking tactics, such as they can be called tactics. But I don't think the locals are coming out to fight. If they were, they would already be on the wormhole, or twenty kilometres away from it.

'They are hoping we do not engage, I think. But they also think it is just you.' So far, yes. We like to hide our numbers, which is why Fin is staying in C3a still. 'Flare.' Is it a Buzzard? 'Waiting out the session cloak. Buzzard.' Okay. It's the same pilot I saw earlier in C3a, returning for... I have no idea why he'd go back. The cov-ops moves away from the wormhole and cloaks, though. And the first Vagabond warps back to the first tower, where he swaps to a Scorpion. Now, boarding a battleship looks like the locals want to get rid of their wormhole. And, sure enough, the Scorpion aligns and warps towards their static connection.

Killing the wormhole would be bad for us, but I saw the Orca's jump which dropped the wormhole's stability. The transition occurred on the Orca's return, which gives the wormhole plenty of mass for the Scorpion to jump out and back, and for us to do the same. Let him return, Fin, encourage them to think it is still just me until the last moment. I drop out of warp near the wormhole to see the Scorpion jump to C3a. Him, I tell Fin. A few seconds pass. 'Him. Then me.' I hear this, and even before the wormhole flares my Loki is decloaked and primed for combat. The Scorpion is coming back polarised, and I'm going to catch him.

Ambushing the polarised Scorpion, as its Vagabond escort counters

The Scorpion doesn't even pause on the wormhole, but decloaks immediately and tries to run. I get a positive lock and disrupt his warp engines as Fin dismisses any remaining notions that it's just me stalking these pilots. Both of our Lokis' autocannons chatter rounds towards the Scorpion, depleting its shields steadily. Here comes that other Vagabond. I see it on d-scan first, as it warps to the wormhole to join the fray. And apparently I have no capacitor juice, the Scorpion having drained me dry within seconds. That can't be good.

I'm the primary target, apparently

My guns keep shooting, and my capacitor replenishes just a little often enough to keep the warp scrambler active, although Fin has the Scorpion held too. Now the Vagabond looses his drones on me, as does the Scorpion, and I'm getting seriously smothered. Being at the centre of this combat is a little unsettling, but I look up to my glorious leader for a reason. I know the many times she's been under heavy fire and continued fighting, and it is her inspiration that keeps me on this side of the wormhole.

Even when jammed by ECM I stay. I think the Scorpion has me jammed, but it's actually the Vagabond's ECM drones. I stick around, wait for the jam to drop, and regain my target lock on the Scorpion. Its shields are gone and is taking armour damage now. We can win this, even as a Naga battlecruiser appears on d-scan. There will be more incoming damage soon, and my Loki is in a bad state. We just need a little more time. Systems to overload, lieutenant. Throw discretion to the wind. Burn both ancillary shield boosters simultaneously! Overheat the autocannons!

Hostile Naga battlecruiser joins the fray to save the Scorpion

The dual ASBs keep me afloat, but just barely. The Naga has appeared and I remain the primary target for all the ships. But the Scorpion's armour is gone, and we're chewing through its structure. Or chomping through it. My ASBs are out of charges, and my drained capacitor cannot feed those hungry repair modules, but there she goes! The Scorpion explodes. I can't help but hang around to aim for the pod, but it flees pretty quickly. My sensor booster is off-line, thanks to a severe lack of capacitor juice, but I don't think having it active would have helped. And now I must go.

Success, Scorpion down!

Aiming for the pod whilst still under fire

I jump back to C3a, still close enough to the wormhole to do so immediately, perhaps partly because of the webs the Vagabond applied to my ship. Shields almost gone, guns smoking, but in one piece and, remarkably, without even any armour bleed. But you should see the other ship. It's kind of a wreck. How's Fin doing? Just fine. She wasn't shot once in the engagement, and when the Scorpion exploded the Vagabond and Naga disappeared pretty promptly. Fin loots and shoots the wreck of the battleship and tidies up the drones left behind, before returning through the wormhole too.

But what a fight that was! It was pretty challenging, and with plenty to absorb. The ASBs definitely did their job, although using both at once was a little desperate. The situation called for it, though. And with some determination, we got the kill. Curiously, the Scorpion had three warp core stabilisers fitted. I can see how it couldn't escape with both Fin and me stopping it, but when I was jammed it could have fled. I suspect it saw my ailing Loki and, because it had four heavy neutralisers keeping me down and Valkyrie II drones shooting me, as well as hoping for repeated successful ECM cycles, the pilot decided to stay to seal my fate. I'm glad he did.

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