While all that went on, there was more behind the scenes I would only learn later. We had one SYNE-sanctioned force working to hotdrop their Star, an giant vessel filled with thermonuclear explosives. It was foiled when the invasion's leader learned of the plan and destroyed the logistics of the effort less than a minute before their plan came to fruition.
Confidentiality ensured that no one else knew about a crack Stealth Bomber force that warped just off the core of the furball. Their plan was to cruise along the edge of the wormhole and discharge a mass of gravimetric bombs directly onto the portal's event horizon, hoping to collapse it. Again the Sansha were prepared, as their fleet was uncloaked and scrambled. A number of bombs were released but those ships never made it home.
At the same time a cloaked recon vessel slowboated cloaked to the rim of one of the three intruding wormholes at Uedama II. It uncloaked and dropped over 13 points of grav on the lip, but a close-flying frigate crashed into him, knocking him from stealth and drawing the simultaneous fire of 140 Sansha Battleships. It became nothing in a second and a half.
When the debris left by the end of the invasion was being cleared away the next day, there came new information, a leak, quuite possibly from the mysterious Informant. It pointed to a pair of attacks, one in hisec at Deltole and the other shortly after in dangerous lowsec, Oruse.
Immediately SYNE and FCORD went into action. One small segment was dispatched to push through lowsec space in order to light a cyno and teleport in a vast Arcon Amarr Carrier. With a capacity for 800k civilians hollowed out, it was there to pull people to safety 24 hours before the Sansha war machine roared to life at their doorstep. There is only one life-sustaining temperate planet there, and so the choice was obvious.
A scattering of covert ops ships set out into pirate territory, myself among them, in a scouting chain. We hit the Oruse gate with an almost eerie lack of hostility; no gate camps, no bubbles or snipers. Nothing uncloaking to make everyone gasp. We breathed easy as we coasted in to planet III and set a tight orbit. A Drake had been reported in the area roving for advantage, and we knew we needed to act quickly.
At the staging area for the hotdrop we had a pair us cov ops in position. The Manticore uncloaked a lightyear off the Western hemisphere and lit the fuse that would allow the Carrier to come through. Doing so would somewhat disable the Manticore for long minutes, and I was prepared to sweep in should some drifting Rifter try to seize the opportunity. Local seemed good, and we commenced.
JUST off my bow the massive ship came into view in a corruscating burst of blue-ribbon energy. She creaked and groaned a moment before settling into lowsec space, then lurched into the short warp hop that brought her to the upper atmosphere.
Operations began immediately. Dropships started to cascade down to the planet in waves. Politically, it was not clear-cut planetside, as many citizens disbelieved the knowledge og the upcoming attack or refused on the basis of their fear of capsuleers. A storm brewing showed up on planetary scans, moving from the vast ocean toward the major population centers. It roiled and lightning flashes were faintly visible from space. ON terra firma FCORD volunteers ushered meagre families pulling crying children into their cargo bays. Some stubborn parents ordered their children off-planet, too scared or stubborn themselves to make the jump. Rain drove down, decisions were made, eyes darting always for danger.
The pirates had timed it well. The dropships were just cresting the horizon to reach the waiting carrier in 5 Hurricanes and a smattering of other pirate warships either warped in or uncloaked in a ring around the carrier. In my combat-useless cov ops I cloaked and broke my carrier orbit to plummet straight toward the planet, hoping this unexpected direction would throw them off if they tried to microwarp drive through the immediate area to decloak me. Above me the Archon flashed with incoming missilefire and release waves of drones which tangled with the rogues.
Some level of diplomacy was attempted. The Carrier had backup a few jumps away that had just come under fire as well. Though the tank was holding, any real backup was far away, and it was a matter of time before her capacitor ran dry and her repairers slowed to a stop.
Meanwhile the dropships in upper position jerked their trajectories and aligned an emergency warp straight out of the planet's magnetic field toward the nearest gate, looking for any immediate safety. Luckily the pirates were there for the Carrier's salvage and little else, and one by one the dropships and their passengers slipped out of the trap.
I added a gentle arc and came about. "Options?" the Manticore asked. They were scrambling the huge ship, it could warp out. The Manticore lit a new cyno flare but the pirates were dampening the jump drive as well. The Archon tried to activate a triage program but the data had been somehow purged.
As shields gave way to armor and then structure, we gave a final salute and prayer to the pilot and had to watch him erupt, splinter and burst, scattering chunks or Amarr wreckage across one entire continent.
If, before, the people below doubted that violence had come to their home, they knew now.
A storm was coming.