Some other corp's tower, already set up. In OUR wormhole.
My first reaction was anger at whoever had set up the tower. Our alliance mate who'd first gotten me the location of the system had verified that it was clear of any habitation, and that was less than three days ago. Worse, the tower had been renamed from it's default, and that name began with specific ascii character -- one that Tira had seen the day before in this system, prepended to the name of a couple ships visible for few minutes while scanning, but which had later vanished -- I'd assumed they were explorers or tourists from known space and forgotten about them. My initial thought on making this connection was that this tower was being set up by some kind of wormhole griefer -- a guy with a couple alts who waited in empty systems until some new group started setting up, then set up and harassed the newcomers for fun.
Secondly, I was angry at myself for not noticing the tower -- I had been using a very specific filter for my directional scan: one optimized for PvP activity (for obvious reasons). It was a set up that I'd gotten while working as part of pvp training with OUCH (Open University of Celestial Hardship), and while it was great for spotting incoming ships, it didn't show towers at all, so while Tira and Bre had been diligently scanning for interlopers while Ty and Gor and CB assembled supplies, I'd completely missed the tower going up, which it seems have to been happening for the last day or so.
This impression was confirmed as soon as I located the tower, orbiting one of the many moons surrounding the gas giant at the outskirts of the system. Knowing what I now knew about the time it took to set up a tower, and seeing that there was no one online within the tower defenses at the moment, it was clear that this thing had gone up at least a day previous, and that I should have seen it. While the tower wasn't as large as our own, guns and other defenses were definitely online and armed.
So Now What?
At this point, our situation was such that it would take more time to undo everything than it would to finish putting the base together, and quite frankly we were emotionally invested in the project now, not just invested in terms of time and faux money. A quick show of hands was all it took to make it clear that not even the most conflict-adverse wanted to leave; to be blunt we were ready to take the opposing tower down "manually", and we put out a call to allies throughout known space to see who was near the front door of the system and interested in a little violence.
While potential forces assembled, we continued to bring tower modules online as quickly as we could (the new neighbor certainly provided motivation) and did some research. A bunch of digging both inside and outside the game told us a few things about the corporation behind our neighboring tower.
- They were relatively small.
- They were closely integrated with a somewhat larger (but still smallish) alliance, all of whom seemed to be primarily interested in industry and some mission running.
- They were German. (This was good, or at least better than some other options, from our point of view. Russians players, for example, have a reputation for ready violence.
- On the possible-plus-side, they seemed to have a bit of a sense of humor (judging by the names of their ships and the tower), and the names in their membership roster were generally "In Character" and blessedly free of "xxXDeathXLordXxx"s and "Killxor"s.
By comparison, our own corp was larger, and part of a considerably larger alliance that, while it included a number of 'carebear' corps, also counted no less than three mercenary-for-hire and nullsec corps among it's membership. (And it didn't hurt that one of my characters was friends with a fair number of... "PvP Enthusiasts" in the Curse region.) Also, thanks to all the stuff we'd decided to bring in the way of tower defense, we were better defended in the system itself.
I looked this information over, reviewed the number of folks wiling to drop everything and come out here to blow up a tower (not that many on a late late Friday night leading into a holiday weekend), and keyed the voice comms.
"I've got a radical suggestion," I said, "it's stupid, but it just might work."
"I'm going to talk to them," I replied, "and suggest we share the wormhole."
"Share..." they said, "in Eve?"
"It can't really hurt," I said, "and dammit, no one EVER tries talking. It's irritating. They're wormhole runners and industrialists -- they're like us -- they probably aren't going to really want a long, drawn-out fight any more than *we* do. They aren't that big, *we* aren't that big -- and there's more than enough stuff to do in here that we can all have fun and turn a profit."
I opened up my in-game email client and started putting together a message in as straightforward and easily-translatable vocabulary as possible.
"You think they'll listen?" CB asked. "They wake up and log in and see a new tower on their doorstep, and the new guys want to share?"
He had a point. It wasn't exactly fair. That said, we weren't terribly interested in fair at that point, or at least not "100% fair as agreed upon by a neutral third party"; we'd put a lot of work into this in a very short period of time and as far as we were concerned "fair" involved us realizing some benefit from our effort. Yes, they were here first, but we had a deeper well of potential allies in the event of violence, and we were negotiating from what would be (once the damned GUNS were online) a stronger position.
Besides, this was EVE, after all.
It's not like you get to call Dibs.