The ping said that if we got in Cainun’s fleet fast, there was a chance of a big kill. The call was for the armor T3 cruiser fleet doctrine, which features the Legion and Proteus strategic cruisers along with armor logi and support. I happened to be at my desk at just the right moment to log in, get in fleet, get into my Oneiros and undock as we warped off to a titan to get bridged on our way.
The bridge off the titan sent us to another system where a wormhole to Thera awaited us. We formed up on the null sec side of the wormhole, waiting for the orders to go through. The wormhole was not fresh and there was concern about how much mass we would be pushing through it.
To this end we were asked to go to our fitting window and offline the armor plates on our ships to reduce the mass going through the whole, though I admit that I did wonder how you can turn off something like an armor plate. Armor isn’t like a shield, it doesn’t go away when you turn off the switch. But I followed New Eden logic and set mine offline.
Tackle was sent through first, and they zipped off to the exit whole in Thera, through, and off to catch up our intended target. Then the call was for command ships and logi to go through the hole and into Thera. After we were in successfully, the DPS ships were called to jump through. That was enough to collapse the hole, though only about a dozen ships got left on the other side. No wormhole adventure for them and they got to head home. That still left over 200 ships in the fleet.
Once we were warped to the out hole in Thera, we followed the same routine. Tackle had already gone through, so the call was for command ships and logi, with yet another follow up reminder to turn off armor plates in case somebody hadn’t done it when asked the previous dozen times. Command ships and logi went through successfully, so the call went for DPS ships to make the transition. About six DPS ships made it through before the hole collapsed.
That left us in something of an awkward position. A small fleet consisting mostly of logi was now in 1-HDQ4 in the Oasa region, a long way from home, while more than 150 T3 cruisers were hanging about in Thera where the direct hole home had already closed and the hole to the target was no longer available to them either. Those left in Thera docked up at one of the stations there.
Those of us stranded up in Oasa were told to start burning to KED-2O where an Imperium Caracal fleet, which had used the same holes before us, was already engaged. They had killed a Rorqual up there and had a titan tackled. So off we went with Thomas Lear now leading us. Why not? We were already there and didn’t have anyplace else to be. But even as we closed in on the destination system, word came down the line that a titan kill wasn’t going to happen. The defenders had been successful at blowing up any tackle and the big ship got away.
So there we were, up in Oasa, a long way from home, 33 ships made up of boosts, lots of logi, and a few DPS ships. We were like the incarnation of old school WoW paladins in New Eden; we weren’t going to die, but neither was anything we rolled up on. It was time to figure out how to get back to Delve.
As it turned out, there was another Thera wormhole about 20 jumps from our current location, over in The Vale of the Silent in 9-GBPD. We just had to get there. Getting there though, turned out to be a bit of a chore. Going gate to gate for 20 jumps takes some time, but that got multiplied as we went through Russian space in Perrigen Falls. The Russians have a habit of covering gates around their space with anchorable warp disruption bubbles. Lots of them.
So for a series of gates we ended up landing 60-90km off of a gate, slow boating with after burners lit to jump through, then slow boating on after burners out of the inevitable bubbles on the other side of the gate.
The bubbles were all around the gates, so there was no sending somebody ahead for a perch around them, and we didn’t have enough DPS to blow them up as we went. (Though I think we did destroy a single small bubble as we motored to a gate, just out of boredom and anger more than anything else… launch logi whore drones!)
The bubbles probably didn’t cost us all that much extra time, but subjectively, having to motor on ABs felt like a long time. Ironically, tomorrow’s patch is making a change to anchorable bubbles so that they decay and go away after a given amount of time, so this might be the last time we have to drag ourselves through a series of forever bubbles. And if our trip felt like a long time to us, I am sure the rest of the fleet wasn’t happy about it either.
While we had been gating about the northeast of New Eden, the rest of the fleet had been hanging out in Thera just waiting for us to get back. Jay, who was with us, started trying to get them to rise up against Cainun to get him to take them home rather than waiting for us. I have to admit, keeping more than 160 people hanging about waiting for 30 or so of us had a lot going against it. On the other hand, our detachment was made up of the boosters and logi pilots. Everybody tells us we’re special… everybody who just wants to fly DPS and get kill mails… so I guess it was time for them to show us just how special we were.
We made it past the bubbles gates and finally arrived in 9-GBPD where B33R was sitting on the wormhole as a warp in. We went through and found Cainun and the rest of the fleet sitting there waiting for us.
Once we were all through and back into Thera, Cainun warped us to the out connection. There, we had a plate check once again. Then he called out four Guardians to stay behind before sending people through. This hole was also questionable, but there was another Thera connection option if this one collapsed. Cainun just wanted to be sure any fleet that had to take an alternate route had some logi support.
And he was correct, the whole did collapse before we all got through. I was through and in the system I-ME3L in Stain. That put us 23 jumps from home on a route through Period Basis, Delve, Fake Querious, and Delve again.
Fortunately, there was only a single anchorable bubble on the route home, reported by our scout, and it was down before we even got to the system where it was. We were able to gate home without incident.
All told, that was about a two hour adventure which took some of us on a multi-region tour the length of New Eden.
You could certainly find systems more distant from each other than we hit, but Oasa to Period Basis does cover a lot of the breadth of New Eden. And it also shows how handy wormholes can be and the hazards of them collapsing on you.