Epithal escort

26th July 2014 – 3.29 pm

Heading home through a quiet w-space constellation, I can't resist poking out to low-sec. Our neighbouring class 3 w-space system holds a number of wormholes to other w-space systems, all occupied, none with any ships, but I've yet to exit w-space so far tonight. I'd be remiss if I didn't at least get the exit system to see if logistics are a possibility. Ha! Just kidding. I want to find a newbie in a frigate distracted in a data site. Or other wormholes where I could pit my strategic cruiser against a battleship. Maybe something in-between.

I drop on top of the U210 and jump through, appearing in a system in the Khanid region. There are a few pilots in the system with me, most with flashy skulls that probably indicate they want to be friends, but I'm interested in the four extra signatures. I launch probes and scan, resolving a data site, wormhole, some relics, and another wormhole. Looking good, Billy Ray!

The first wormhole in the low-sec system connects to a system in Lonetrek, which is obvious from the amazing greyness projected through the connection. I then notice the wormhole identifier, have no idea what it means, and open the information panel to see that it leads to more low-sec. High-sec may have been interesting, more low-sec less so at this point in the evening. The other wormhole is a K162 from class 2 w-space, almost worth a look through except for it being at the end of its life.

I check the Lonetrek connection anyway, just to discharge my responsibilities, and end up far from anywhere interesting, with one pilot in the system, and only one other signature that I can pretend is a combat site and safely ignore. Time to go home. Low-sec, C3a, home, and I would go off-line, but Aii appears. How can I not say hello?

Aii disappears through the K162 at home in to class 2 w-space, taking his Epithal hauler out to high-sec. In crossing C2a he calls out a new Manticore stealth bomber in the system, which piques my interest. I follow a minute or so behind Aii, and indeed see a Manticore new to the system, as well as the idle Venture mining frigate, and an even-newer Epithal.

I make sure the Epithal isn't Aii's, and set about to finding it. It's not difficult to do in a system with so few planets, even when most of them are covered with towers, but still the Epithal disappears before I can locate it. I think it was replaced by this Proteus strategic cruiser. It's as the system starts to get active that I feel I should remind Aii of our last visit to the system, with the bait Myrmidon and the ambush we fell too. He remembers where I don't, so I have to look it up. Dumb move, indeed. I blame myself.

Aii's out in his hauler and is coming back, and ships are building up in the bridging system. That's not a terrible position to be in. Sure, the Proteus will be a tough nut to crack, but if the Manticore can be tempted to attack Aii I'm sure I can discourage it by forcing it to explode under fire. If the locals are a little impetuous, Aii may even have a high-sec wormhole to flee through.

I locate the Manticore, which is in the tower with the inactive Venture, and watch as it aligns and warps to the high-sec wormhole. That's a lovely sight, seeing the stealth bomber maybe provide a target for us, and being able to watch the ship align again. I'm glad my crossed circuits have been fixed. I follow the Manticore, but stealth bombers are difficult to track, and I can't tell if he jumped to high-sec or is lurking cloaked. Or is now somewhere else. Either way, I'll sit and wait.

The Proteus drops off d-scan, replaced by a Flycatcher. That looks like a potential ambush being arranged for a hauler passing through the system, and one better for me to counter than having the Proteus available. Now to get Aii home and see what happens. But before he reaches the wormhole the Flycatcher disappears. I suppose a better place for it to wait would be on our wormhole, to catch its target on a connection with w-space on both sides.

I warp to our K162 to look for the Flycatcher, not really knowing what I'm expecting to find. It'll be on the other side, Penny, and you won't see it by peering through, no matter how much you squint. I wasn't really squinting, honest. Back to the high-sec exit, where Aii is ready to return home, and in he comes. His Epithal appears, aligns to warp, and warps. No stealth bomber, no Flycatcher. Fair enough.

Escorting Aii's Epithal

I follow behind Aii to the wormhole home, dropping short to maintain my cloak and wait on this side of the wormhole. If Aii is caught and has to run, I can engage here and chase back to our home system, where the ambushers will be polarised and I won't be. Or Aii can jump home and warp to our tower unmolested by any ships waiting, because there aren't any. That's a little disappointing.

Aii was noticed, though. The idling Venture wakes up to see the unfamiliar Epithal on d-scan, swaps to a Talwar destroyer, and warps to the wormhole to our home system. Not on top of the wormhole, though, but thirty kilometres away, and I only notice as he turns and warps away again, as clearly too late to ambush Aii's Epithal as I am in noticing the new contact to do anything about it. Never mind. I suppose it's time for bed.

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