Reported by Sydney Selket
At 20:06 EVE time we received a 911 call from a pilot (we’ll call him Daniel) trapped in a C5. Right off the bat this call was unusual. The first thing I always do when a call comes in is to check our mapping for the wormhole in question to see if we have anything in Tripwire, or recorded by our co-pilot ALLISON. Normally we’re faced with the disappointment of no potential chains at all, in this case we have a HUGE web with a lot of fairly recent connections. Unfortunately all of them were like, C6 > C5 > Null, C4 > Null, C6 > Null, and a lot of those were critical either in mass or time remaining to collapse. This chain was mapped meticulously by Catbriar Chelien earlier in the day, so we had a lot of good intel to help us get there quickly.
I immediately pointed out that we had a chain to the 911 operators channel, and asked if anyone had a way to get to those Null Sec systems (I was deep in my own chain, and not in a particularly null-friendly ship or pod). 911 operator miruxa put out a call in alliance chat in-game for anyone who might be near the Null Sec systems, and Auds Lennelluc and Bang N’ Donk answered the call and raced there while I made contact with the pilot, Daniel.
At this point I learned his ship had been destroyed and he was in a pod with expensive implants, so I told him help was coming but it would take time to scan him out a useful exit, and he should bounce around and make some safes. Thankfully the hole quieted down. Auds and Bang were surprisingly close by and arrived at more or less the same time, one a jump ahead of the other, and started scanning (Bang holding the system the pilot was in, Auds moving out to check the adjacent holes). They soon confirmed that there were no exits to Known space except the three Null systems we knew about. There were so many critical holes, it was too risky to roam too much further looking for more.
My attempts to find an easy-ish, safe-ish route there having failed, I now realized I had to try to get there somehow anyway, as this would take extensive scanning and the chance of some rescuers getting cut off by collapsing holes. Thankfully one of the Null systems in the chain was “only” nine jumps from Thera. I eventually remembered that I kept a jump clone and rescue Astero in Thera, which allowed me to skip the step of having to find Thera from wherever I came out of my chain, and also put me in an empty clone for my mad dash through Null. To my great relief, many of the systems were empty. One was held by Goons, but they gave me no trouble. Another had a 2-person gate camp which was no match for my Astero’s sub-2-second align time, and the next had some bubbles which I was able to cloak and fly out of. Auds had come in from one of the other Null systems and been chased by a Sabre, so I considered my path relatively lucky.
When I got to the pilot’s system we continued scanning, but still found nothing anywhere close by. At this point we decided we’d have to call off the search until new connections formed, and we would ping the pilot in our Stranded Pilot’s Lounge on Discord once we had an exit.
….5 hours later….
Igaze, by this point, had wisely decided we needed more backup and snuck in through Null and installed an alt in the hole, and updated Tripwire with what little had changed. Still nothing useful in the hole itself. Now with 3 rescue pilots logged off in the hole, I felt comfortable going on a longer adventure past the critical holes. I ventured out of the C5 to one of the two neighboring C6’s… through a critical mass hole to another C5 which we had already scanned… in which I found a newly spawned sig — a wormhole! — a C4… which had a C3 and C5 static. At this point I’m confident that the C3 will eventually lead somewhere useful, so I began scanning for it, while alerting Igaze that we might have an usable chain soon. Before I found the C3 I found an unexpected C4, and for some reason go in it. Wouldn’t you know, it’s a shattered system and has a high sec static! After scanning waaaaay too many sigs, I finally found the High Sec static, and double back to make sure I’ve left corp bookmarks all the way down the chain in both directions, so all the rescue pilots can follow the path without needing to scan.
Igaze is already in game, so once I have the chain ready to go he switches to his alt in the system. I ping Bang and Auds, and Bang is available and also logs in (Auds is asleep, which is also why it’s useful to get extra pilots in the system: you never know in what time zone you might need to conduct the rescue). We get in place in the first two systems in the chain, and then ping the pilot. About a half hour later he responds, and logs in and joins our fleet.
At this point we begin the process of leapfrog that it takes to get a stranded pilot down a long chain. Bang will be the target for the pilot to warp to get out of the initial system and from that point will hang back and stay with the pilot as closely as possible, dropping ping bookmarks on each hole (using a technique shared by Igaze at Eve North). Igaze and I will move ahead and provide immediate warp-to points at each wormhole along the way so the pilot can go straight from hole to hole all the way out. We also serve as scouts to make sure the path remains clear ahead.
Daniel warps to Bang and exits the first system, then I’m up next at the far end of the C6. I encounter an unknown battleship when I land on that hole, who accidentally uncloaks me before disappearing, leading to Bang and Daniel having to bounce around a bit while I get back in position, and Igaze jumps into the hole to make sure the other side is clear. Igaze sees the battleship and a Tengu and suspects they’re about to roll the hole, and we all quickly agree to keep going and try to push through. Daniel warps to me and jumps, as Igaze moves on to the following exit. While Daniel is warping to Igaze I’m going two jumps ahead to be ready on the High Sec exit. As I leave the hole where Igaze is waiting and activates my warp to the High Sec one, our fleet chat blows up first with a concern that the pod landed 20km off the hole, then cries of “TENGU!” “BAIL!” It’s too late to stop my warp. Had I not been mid-warp I’d have gone back in and tried to create a distraction. But I’m helpless until I can arrive at my destination on the other side of the system and turn around and come back. By then I figure it’s too late — they’ve either escaped or not, and all I’m going to accomplish by jumping in is get myself polarized and unable to get back to the High Sec hole to complete the rescue should the pod make it through. So I perch on the other side of where they are and ask in chat if they’re OK. It sounds like the Tengu went off momentarily, so they make a run for it.
Unknown to me, Igaze had also jumped just as the Tengu was arriving, so it was up to Bang to distract the Tengu while the pod made a run for it. It’s best experienced in Bang’s own words:
During the event with the Tengu, I happened to have landed a few moments before the pod landed. The second I landed I would have usually burned a bit off the hole so I could cloak just as a general precaution. This time however I didn’t feel I needed to. The immediate threat of the Tengu was in the back of my mind at the time as I thought that since our guy was in a pod he would be more than capable of making it past no problem before the cruiser had any chance of locking him. It was no big deal, there weren’t any bubbles or instant locking ships on scan which would be the most probable threat to him. Besides we had more pressing issues such as the limited time we had to navigate out of the chain. So I thought, what could possibly go wrong if we just ignored the Tengu and continued on? And that’s when our pod landed 20km off the hole…
Panic immediately sets in as the pilot tries to slow boat the 20km to the hole in his pod. Before I could even get the slightest hint of any direction to him to warp off and warp back to me, our Tengu ‘buddy’ decides to plop down right next to our rescuee… The only word I was able to frankly type in the chat was “bail” before the Tengu began to lock and burn towards me. I have no idea how I was able to warp off before he was able to scram me as my reaction time was dulled due to an initial stage of shock whilst trying to communicate to our friend, but somehow either thanks to latency or my 1.5 second align time I was able pull out just as he got a yellow box.
I was hoping the pod would follow suit but for whatever reason, he didn’t warp. So I unintentionally leave him on grid with the Tengu while I bounced to a random planet. Adrenaline finally kicks in as I cloak up during warp, and quickly make a safe. I bounced back to one of the pings I made above the hole, to check and see if he’s still on grid. Much to my dismay he is still on grid and still very much making a run for splash range on the hole.
I began to weigh my options and seriously contemplated for the first time in my career how I would take on a T3 cruiser in my nano fit Astero. Which if you’ve already guessed, the options are essentially zero. My plan was however, to launch ECM drones at the Tengu and pray to Bob that one of them lands a jam while I attempted to bump him away. Fortunately for me though I didn’t have to execute this suicidal plan, as I noticed that the Tengu began to slowly creep towards me. That’s when I realized somewhere along the line I had decloaked. I am assuming it was the customs office but I am honestly unsure as I wasn’t paying very close attention, I obviously had a lot of other things on my mind at the time. So I was essentially sitting up at this ping completely decloaked 160km away, just sitting there doing nothing. The Tengu continued to slow boat towards me for a bit before turning around and firing its prop mod towards the capsule, scramming and webbing it in the process. He didn’t shoot the pod, he only held in place as if to taunt me directly.
The gauntlet was thrown and the stage was set, I mentally prepared myself momentarily before I heard the sound effect of the pod splashing into the wormhole. All of that build up to our seemingly inevitable climax suddenly disappeared in an instant, filling the void with the space equivalent of an awkward silence. The Tengu and I just kind of sat there, before he decided to shamefully warp off. I decided at that point it was best to just scoot on through the hole and into high sec and the rest is history.
Back on the other side of the hole, I (and Igaze, who I don’t know is there) wait for word on the outcome of the confrontation. Finally Daniel says “I made it!”, so I warp to the High Sec exit at zero. I no longer care about getting decloaked, I just need to provide him a perfect warp-in point as soon as I land. The pod arrives, and splashes into High Sec, followed closely by me and Igaze, and we begin our post-rescue celebration (unfortunately without fireworks – CCP Please add a high slot to the Astero just for festival launchers!). Bang thankfully arrives in one piece a little bit later. Our pilot thanks us for the rescue and we chat for a few minutes about wormhole life before going our separate ways, praising Bob that we all miraculously made it both into the system and out of it!
It was definitely a rescue to remember!