Now that Tira has ably defended the wormhole from invasion with an unarmed scouting vessel and a single combat drone, Bre and Berke can bring their haulers back into the system, each one filled to brimming with fuel products purchased from ice asteroid mining operations.
Unfortunately, such ice products are bulky (at least they feel bulky when you’re buying them in the quantities we require), and we’ve nowhere near met our quota. Shan is heading out to known space through that same exit recently abandoned by Hurrr, taking piles of PI out to market, and I ask if he’ll bring back another load, which he’s happy to do.
Just as he jumps through our wormhole, however, he announces a deadlier contact that a Badger II hauler on scan — looks as though the bomber pilot that he spotted earlier is back, jumping into the system just as Shan jumped out.
This time, it’s Bre rather than Tira that responds to the call, jumping into her Crow, warping directly to the wormhole, and jumping out to known space. We have eyes watching the wormhole, and they seem to think that the Purifier bomber warped away just before it cloaked up — there’s a good chance (if Bre moved quickly enough) that he’s not back within visual range just yet, and won’t know she’s around in a bomber-eating combat interceptor. Her plan is to simply wait outside the hole until Shan returns in his durable Mastodon deep space transport, then shadow him back through the wormhole in hopes that the unarmed ship will draw the bomber out of hiding.
It turns out she won’t need to wait, as our eyes-inside report that the bomber is back and orbiting the wormhole at a torpedo-friendly distance. Bre powers back toward the other side of the hole just as the bomber resumes his cloak, but she decides to jump anyway, hoping that the wormhole activity alone will be enough to get the other pilot to tip his hand.
It is. Caw Caw Bang holds its naturally-occurring jump-cloak for a few seconds, the opponent bomber decloaks, and she immediately locks it up and drops into a high-speed orbit just inside the range of both her warp disruptors and the Crow’s missile launchers. Unlike most other combat interceptors, the Crow is as effective at long range as it is at brawling distance — to be honest, it’s probably even better at long range, as the broader 20+ kilometer orbit lets her maintain a higher top speed: so high, in fact, that once she settles into a stable orbit, the bomber’s larger, slower torpedoes are actually unable to catch up with her and the Crow stops taking any damage at all. The nimble interceptor builds up a collection frustrated-but-harmless warheads trailing in its wake, unable to fulfill their purpose before they run out of fuel.
Such is not the case with the bomber, however, as the Crow’s lighter but faster missiles find the fragile ship again and again. Unfortunately, with the wormhole immediately adjacent, Bre isn’t able to snag a kill — the bomber pilot sees where the fight is going and jumps through the wormhole and out to high-security known space just as the last of his shields drop. He doesn’t wait around, either, and has already jumped out of the system by the time Bre jumps through to check his status.
That’s about all the excitement we need for the day, so once Shan has returned with his Mastodon, Bre jumped into a Raven battleship and jumps back and forth through the wormhole until the anomaly collapses from the stress and leaves our system a bit emptier, and a bit more secure. It’s been a busy morning.