Three go out, only one can return

5th December 2013 – 5.05 pm

I turn around from the K346 to warp back to the tower. The fleet has returned through the null-sec wormhole to their home class 3 w-space system, and we didn't manage to catch any of the three ships. It didn't help that they had the sense to get a scout to look around their system before returning, prompting us to cloak or otherwise hide our numbers lest they simply go off-line and wait for us to leave. Still, their strategy worked, as the fleet was able to dash past our point man whilst his Legion strategic cruiser suffered through the sensor recalibration delay from decloaking.

I am expecting to see, after crossing more than 100 AU of w-space, the Gila faction cruiser, Oneiros logistics ship, and Dominix battleship floating inside the tower's force field, not looking like they will do much more. Instead, my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser drops out of warp at the tower to see three Dominices. The pilots have swapped ships, and in to battleships that can spider-share capacitor and armour repairs pretty effectively, looking like they may want to take on the Legion strategic cruiser that tried to stop them.

The ships are aligned out of the tower towards the centre of the system. We are so far distant from the star that they could be aiming anywhere, but there really is nowhere else to go but back to the K346. I can only imagine the pilots know they aren't facing only one Legion, but even as I report what I'm seeing we need to shift our strategy to match the new ships.

Our glorious leader warps to our tower and swaps for an Armageddon battleship fitted with energy neutralisers, but that puts her far from the approaching conflict, and the Dominices are now all in warp. I am closer to being able to help, as I can easily warp behind the battleships, but my Loki is nowhere near as useful as a different ship could be. What we need to do is engage and hold what we can whilst we get the more effective ships in to position.

Aii decloaks his Legion and gets ready, HR jumps the second Legion in to the system and warps to join Aii. Two of them against three Dominices will not go in their favour, but Fin is warping to our wormhole, and I am doing the same from the other side. Fin jumps in to C3a, I jump out, and we warp in different directions as both Aii and HR are suffering in their strategic cruisers. One Legion warps away as Fin lands, but the Dominices are still there, which is what we wanted.

Me, I need to choose the right ship. I don't much like ECM, but it has its uses. I don't want to take the individual ships out of the fight, as I know how frustrating that can be, but breaking their logistics chain could be vital. That's what I need to do, and ECM is pretty much the only option. On top of that, fighting battleships requires big weapons. The Widow black ops ship will do the job. A quick refit to tailor the ECM system for three Gallente boats, and I'm in warp to join the fray.

Dropping my Widow in to the fray

It's just Fin and the Dominices as I get back to the K346, and although I was concerned that the departure of the Legions would drop the warp disruption effects they had in place Fin reports that she has the heavily damaged Dominix in place. That makes target selection easy, although I need to target all of the ships for my ECM to be effective. I get an ECM module active on each Dominix and start shooting the one that is looking distinctly unhealthy, at which point all three ships escape, not in warp but through the K346 to null-sec.

Dominices have left w-space

We don't follow. I dropped out of warp a relatively safe distance from the wormhole, not needing to be close, and Fin is not going to do much by herself. But now we are almost back to where we started. The pilots we want to engage are in null-sec and we have little means to encourage them to come back, beyond their natural desire to return to their home system. They could simply out-wait us, coming back once we're bored and have gone home ourselves. Will we have to jump through the wormhole to flush them out?

Whatever happens next, Fin and I are in a good position currently, and the pause in the engagement gives Aii and HR time to get their Legions shipshape and Bristol fashion. And, once done, we reconsider our options. Fin remains the closest to the wormhole, so she volunteers to see if the ships are still there and if her appearance will bring them back. She jumps through the K346, says that all three battleships are sitting on the other side, and returns to w-space without engaging. Doing so destabilises the wormhole.

Magnetar phenomenon as the backdrop to our fleet skirmish

The shrinking of the wormhole is important, because it was already sitting in its half-mass state. Now the wormhole is critically unstable, where it won't actually allow all three Dominices back in to their system before collapsing. That gives the pilots something to ponder, as it does us. We can't engage them on the other side of the wormhole in our current configuration, nor do we want to compromise our fleet just to do so. And they can't all come back, and if one or two of them try they will be caught without full support. It's something of an impasse.

What can we do? Maybe we should simply collapse the wormhole, strand the pilots in null-sec. It seems fair result, given that we forced them out there. Aii heads home to grab an Onyx heavy interdictor, giving us more finesse in our mass moving through the wormhole, to minimise our risk of stranding a ship with the probably now quite hostile Dominix pilots. Out he goes, and it seems the fleet is taking their loss in good spirits, Aii relaying the message from one of the pilots for him to 'do it' because 'high-sec isn't far'. Okay, then.

Collapsing the wormhole to isolate our targets

The wormhole doesn't collapse when Aii returns, so we wait for polarisation to end and try again. Aii's Onyx jumps to null-sec and, again, he relays back another message, this time rather less jovial. 'What an arse. We give you a fight and you have to be a...', well, it's not a flattering term. I'm not quite sure what's changed his mood. They couldn't bring back their ships before, they can't bring them back now. Besides, it's not our fault they ran away from us.

Fin sends the disgruntled capsuleer a mail apologising for our four-versus-three blob, ever the good diplomat. But considering that the fleet probably thought they were facing two strategic cruisers and brought out three Dominix battleships I don't think they can really complain about the result. It's not like they wanted a fair engagement. Anyway, another pass with the Onyx still doesn't collapse the wormhole, despite Aii's best efforts, so I think we'll just leave them with the conundrum of what to do next. We claim the victory, head home, and smoothly collapse our own wormhole to isolate ourselves from their system.

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