2013/11/09

Diamonds in the sky - a wormhole fleet op report

Time: 20:10 EVE, 11/08/13
Location: J140810 - "Alfa" (C4 with C3 static)

Scout: "Check check - got a Vargur and a Noctis on scan in Alfa, also multiple sleeper wrecks. Vargur seems to be at a combat site, I am in warp. On grid now, 50km away. Only the Vargur, Noctis isn't here. Getting into position to provide you with a warp-in. Only three sleepers left, we don't have much time."

Me "Terrific find, good work. Everybody, take fleet warp to the Alfa hole in Zero. Hold on contact, I repeat hold on contact. Scout, please let us know when you have closed the distance to 30km."

Scout "Will do."

------

But let us start at the beginning.

Following our last corp roam through w-space (check here) I was eager for us to head out into space again.

After checking my calendar and talking to the other guys, I volunteered to command  the next operation. The plan was to take T3 armor brawlers supported by a command ship providing on-grid boosts and a suitable number of Guardian logistics and ECM Tengus out and see were our chain would lead us. Yesterday, this plan was implemented.

A few of us had already started on mapping our chain. Only a few wormhole systems, but two hisec exits and a connection to lowsec looked promising. 


Attendance was a bit lower than expected, so we decided not to bother with logistics and only take DPS ships and one Damnation for links. While we prepared (as in: checking beer and pizza supply), our forward scout reported a shuttle piloted by Iris Jouhinen traveling from a POS inside Delta to the hisec exit in Bravo. Further intel showed that we had found our good friends from FC Rakete again .. good friends meaning that we seem to be connected to their home on a regular basis, this must have been the fourth time in the span of two weeks. 

So far, they had not responded to any of our attempts to provoke a fight, but since Echo was only seven jumps away from Jita we assumed that maybe Iris would be on her way to bring a ship back into Delta. A good opportunity to kill her, and maybe even a chance to get some of them interested in fighting us.

Indeed our scout reported Iris located at Jita 4-4 only a few minutes later. After a brief pause, she undocked with a Phobos and made her way back to Echo, closely followed by our scout. Our plan was a simple one. We knew she would most probably make her way back into Delta, and accordingly we set up a drag bubble between the two relevant holes (Echo and Delta) in Bravo but outside each others respective d-scan range, with our scout waiting in his cloaky T3 to provide initial tackle at the bubble.

A second scout reported no further activity from any other FC Rakete member in Delta. A few of them were active, but apart from sitting behind their POS shields they did not seem to do anything.

And while our fleet waited patiently in Alfa, our scout reported Iris getting closer and closer to Echo.


The second she jumped back into Bravo, we did as well. While most of us warped to our bubble immediatly, a few remained at the hole to allow for any necessary change in tactics. And necessary it was. Our scout reported that Iris had not landed in the bubble but instead bounced of a celestial before warping to the Delta hole, and while the main part of our fleet was still landing at the edge of our bubble I warped the rest of us to the Delta hole in the vain hope of catching our prey before she would manage to get home safely.


We almost did it as we caught up with her. After jumping into Delta directly on her heels, I was able to get a successful target lock at the same instant when her ships's warp drive became active.


With our trap sprung and our opponents notified of our presence, we saw no real chance of getting them into any sort of interesting engagement. We waited for a while and even withdrew all but one ship from their system to make for a more manageble oppostion from their point of few, but they did nothing. About ten minutes later, they logged, and a little disheartened we left.

After a short break I took the fleet into lowsec through the exit in Delta.


Kuhara was only a few jumps away from Curse, and despite Doril being known as the playground of bigger fish as well as being one of the places of interest in last night's live event (check here), I thought that it couldn't hurt to check for suitable targets. Maybe a small gang passing through or some remaining splinter forces of one of the participating nullsec entities.


Our forward scout at this point did not had any prior experience with gate camps, and after talking him through the most crucial steps he jumped into Doril. The gate proved to be empty on the other side, and while he was holding his gate cloak I started to tell him what to do next. Shed gate cloak, cloak up, warp to a planet at something between 50 and 100km, create an off-grid safe spot in d-scan range of the gate and carry on from there.

Unfortunatly, we didn't get that far. A fleet of bl-Tengus materialized all around him, one of them less than 2km away from him. Did they come from lowsec? Were they cloaked? He couldn't say for sure, but then again it didn't really matter. The entrance into Curse was no place for us to be at this point, and with one Tengu down we headed back into w-space to regroup.


After making sure that Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Foxtrott and Golf were still void of activity we decided to collapse our hole and see what opportunities the gods of wormhole space would present us with.


The new hole was scanned down quickly, and our scout quitely slipped into the new Alfa to perform an initial blanket scan. Which is the point of the story where we left off at the start of this post.

So ... a Vargur and a Noctis on scan. Great. I was actually pretty worried that the discovery scanner would alert the pilots of the existance of a newly formed signature, but since there was nothing to be done about that, the only way to go forward was to try to get a suitable warp-in ASAP. We needed a little bit of luck here. Please, please don't look at your discovery scanner. Just don't ....

I guess it took us about two minutes to get from opening the K162 in Alfa to landing on grid with the Vargur and successfully pointing him. And we all know how long seconds can stretch. In the end, we were only able to catch the Vargur because a) our scout worked both fast and efficiently, b) the rest of the fleet did exactly what was needed and c) the Vargur pilot obviously did not check the discovery scanner for new signatures regularly.

To give you the complete picture, let us go through the comms transcript again, this time with pretty pictures and the actual conclusion. Those are the actual words spoken on comms. We did not, I repeat, we did not remove any mentioning of ponies, sloths or any other meme-related animal. And of course I am always this calm and relaxed when commanding a fleet in combat. Yeah, right.

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Scout: "Check check - got a Vargur and a Noctis on scan in Alfa, also multiple sleeper wrecks. Vargur seems to be at a combat site, I am in warp. On grid now, 50km away. Only the Vargur, Noctis isn't here. Getting into position to provide you with a warp-in. Only three sleepers left, we don't have much time."

Me "Terrific find, good work. Everybody, take fleet warp to the Alfa hole in Zero. Hold on contact, I repeat hold on contact. Scout, please let us know when you have closed the distance to 30km."


Scout "Will do."

Comms are falling silent, and tension is building up as we wait for our cloaked T3 scout to slowboat into position.

Scout "I am 30km away from him. Two sleepers remaining."

Me "Fleet, jump jump and hold cloak."

Our little fleet dives into the wormhole and appears on the other side. We are holding cloak, and my mouse is hovering over the fleet warp command. Only seconds now ...

Scout "28km now, still closing the distance."

Me "Fleet, take fleet warp to our scout at zero. Overheat long points, bubble up as soon as we land."

I direct the fleet to follow me into warp. Prop mod and point are overheated. Adrenalin rushes into my bloodstream, and my heart is pounding faster and faster.



D-scan shows no changes. No reinforcements, Vargur still on scan. Scout reports that the Vargur is still shooting sleepers.



We land 28km away from our target. I am calm now, he is actually still here. Lock target, pre-activate point. Approach. Approach. Approach.

Me "Lock the Vargur, call out point. Bubble up and burn him down. Nice work guys!"


Fleet "Point." "Secondary point." "Neuting." "Bubble up in three, two ..."

Me "His active tank is breaking. When it does: lock up the pod and only point him. Nobody fires before we all get a lock."





Fleet "Point on pod:" "Same." "Me as well."

Me "Fire. Loot the wreck, align to Zero. Repeat, loot the wreck and align to Zero."

Fleet "Oh my god, look at those killmails." "Loot fairy says hi." "Shinies!"

Me "Alright, good work, let's get out of here. Warp to Zero, jump on contact. Regroup under POS shields and secure the loot."

We head home. While in warp, I check the killmails myself. How much ... oh my god.



------

We returned home safely. Still baffled by what we just killed, we did some checking on the corp of the victim. In the end, we decided not to escalate any further, collapse our hole again and call it a day.

Cheers,

V

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