Falling to a fleet

22nd December 2013 – 3.14 pm

I'm about to warp to a low-sec exit from w-space when a Legion stops me. Not directly, but the strategic cruiser appears on my directional scanner when I am expecting to see nothing. The Legion is on d-scan again when I next update, and continues to be for the next few updates, even if narrowing d-scan's beam to look for where he may actually be finds nothing. If I can't find him with d-scan I'll launch probes and resolve his position directly, not caring to be particularly covert considering my recent, and fruitless, tussle with an Anathema covert operations boat had my being visible for quite a while.

Nope, he's gone. Aii notices a second strategic cruiser, this one a Proteus, also in the class 3 w-space system whilst I was fiddling with my probes. I can't help but think that playing with the Anathema is coming back to bite me. I warp across to check the K162 from high-sec empire space, wondering if the source of the Anathema could be the source of these other ships, and although it looks clear the wormhole crackles as I watch, bringing another ship in to the system. A Drake battlecruiser appears and warps away from the wormhole.

It looks like the Drake warps to C3a's static exit to low-sec, but heading that way myself doesn't find him. Now maybe he's on the K162 leading to our home system, but again I warp to the wormhole to find nothing but the wormhole. The Drake remains on d-scan, though, and now it seems he is around a planet. This time I see him, dropping out of warp close to the battlecruiser, but not feeling particularly inclined to do anything about it.

Drake floating in empty space, all bait-like

The Drake is obviously bait. Not only is it acting in a way to guarantee it attention, and stopped at a point in space where there is no easy escape route, such as a wormhole, but its name also has the same prefix as did the Legion. You're not fooling anyone. Sitting at this planet looks bad for the Drake, but it's going to be worse for anyone suckered in to engaging. Then again, the Anathema only saw me, and although there are definitely a few ships around it is possible that Aii and I could do something here, particularly now that our glorious leader has come on-line.

We can't do much with the Drake, who looks bored already, warping from the planet and bouncing around a little more, but seeing the Proteus jump to our home system gives us thoughts. The Drake jumps back to high-sec, leaving us with a Legion somewhere, the Proteus at home, and, with a blip, the Anathema still scouting. This has Fin volunteer to be bait, ostensibly to flush out the Proteus, but almost certainly to get the Legion involved too, hopefully giving the three of us a fair chance of prevailing.

Fin boards an Onyx heavy interdictor and warps to our static wormhole, trying to provide an alluring target for the Proteus to reveal himself over, whilst Aii and I lurk on the other side of the wormhole, the K162 in C3a. Now we wait. And, of course, watch d-scan. There's no sign of the Proteus yet. A Prophecy appears in C3a on d-scan, along with the bait Drake, which makes four of them against three of us. We're not even in optimal boats for a proper engagement, so I tell Fin to bail out. There's no point getting outnumbered. Warp.

Warp warp warp. 'In motion. Away.' Good. A burst of ships on d-scan turns my change-of-heart in to direct command. The Prophecy drops on to the wormhole and jumps through, followed by two Legions, another Proteus, a Sacrilege heavy assault cruiser, and the Drake lagging behind. And all of them looking for me. It's a shame they've brought so many ships. I don't want to get lynched, and this fleet only encourages me to hide.

Fleet gets bored and leaves our home system

They get bored soon enough, the fleet jumping back out of our system and warping across C3a. Well, it looks like all of them. I don't count, or actually see, as I drifted away from the wormhole and got distracted. I'm told the fleet left, which is good enough for me. Now what to do? I dunno. I remain distracted by an external influence, and nothing involving happy thoughts, so am not in a great position to make a group decision. I realise this, so announce that I'm heading off-line, approaching the wormhole to jump home first.

Fin would like to crash our wormhole, so that we can isolate ourselves from that threat of the fleet's return. As I jump home she jumps out in an Orca industrial command ship, starting to mass-stress the wormhole. But that's not all I see. A Proteus decloaks in our system behind Fin. This is not a good sign. The strategic cruiser doesn't jump, clearly wanting Fin to return polarised, and also doesn't seem to react when I move away from the wormhole and cloak.

Proteus decloaks on our static wormhole

I'm not quite sure what to do. I've not been alert since the fleet showed up and discouraged any interaction. I feel sure Fin shouldn't jump home, at least not without support, so I am in warp to our tower to get myself in to a Falcon recon ship. ECM is never a good solution, but sometimes it's best to cheat and worry about the morality of its use later. Besides, Aii is out in empire space, and we can't take on a Proteus easily whilst Fin is in the Orca.

But Aii in empire gives us a sitrep: the fleet is coming back. Fin is 'cloaked, but not safe'. I am swapping ships. But it's already too late. The Sandpeople are back, and in greater numbers. Their warping to our K162 decloaked our Orca, forcing Fin back through to try to disengage, which doesn't really help her situation. The fleet follows, to be bolstered by the Proteus already here, and now our massive ship is also polarised.

Losing another Orca

I've got the Falcon in effective range of the wormhole, but all that does is let me witness the Orca melt far too quickly. I lock a handful of ships and apply ECM to what I can, but it makes no difference to the Sleipnir command ship, four Proteuses, Sacrilege, Prophecy, two Legions, Drake, and Navy Drake. At least Fin's pod gets clear of the massacre, and I am able to disengage the Falcon safely. But it's not much of a comfort.

This is our second recent Orca loss, and both times it is has been my carelessness that has been the cause. I knew I was switched-off, I really wasn't thinking clearly. We had options I didn't even consider. With just the Proteus left behind Fin could have been safe jumping back immediately and relying on her Orca's fitting to get her safely in to warp. Or, when the fleet was reported to be returning, I should have just sent her warping to the high-sec K162. Stranding an Orca in high-sec is better than losing it as a wreck.

I probably shouldn't have pretended I knew what I was doing in this case. Fin and Aii would have worked it out better themselves. But never mind, it's done now. And now I've got a good reason to mope in a quiet corner of our system and go off-line.

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