2011-08-26

Life in a Wormhole: Missed Opportunity #eveonline

It's early in the morning -- very early, thanks to the tiny copilot half-asleep on my lap -- and the C1 connection from yesterday's sleeper massacre in a Tech-3 Production system is still up and functional. I decide on a little carnage to go with my oatmeal.

Sleeper sites in a Class 1 are fairly survivable, which can make them quite fun, if you plan for it -- it lets you fly ships and fittings that you might not otherwise find that workable, and this morning I leave my Gila monster in the shed and pull out a Hurricane-class battlecruiser sporting a half-dozen nice, quick autocannons and an afterburner propulsion module that will cost me some strength in my tank but give me a lot more mobility against the swarms of sleeper frigates that invest Class 1 sites.

My plan goes pretty much as I'd hoped; the 220mm ACs convert the frigates and cruisers into pretty explosions very efficiently, and the afterburner gets me right up in the face of the few ships that like to hang out at 50 kilometers playing whist and gossiping.

Concept art for Sleeper Escort cruisers.


The only bit of annoyance is the fact that frigates as a group seem to switch targets more often than other types of sleeper ships, which means my small flight of drones takes a real beating. I understand why many pilots avoid using drones altogether in Wormholes, and eventually I just leave mine in the drone bay and let my autocannons conduct negotiations, but that's an exception for me, not the rule; I'm Gallente, with piles of training time in drone-related skills, and frankly with a little heads-up attention to the combat overview, I've found you can avoid all but cosmetic drone damage most of the time.

With the fight over, I head back to grab a salvaging ship, at which point I discover the other small problem with my choice of ships for today: all that dogfighting left the sleeper wrecks spread out over about 250 kilometers, instead of the conveniently tidy pile of corpses my stationary Gila tends to gather up. Salvaging operations take quite a bit longer than expected.

A bit too long, as it turns out: when I warp back to the wormhole connection to our home system, I find only empty space; looks as though the connection finally succumbed to old age while I was trying to sweep up my mess.

Ahh well: this system has a persistent connection to high security space, so all I need to do is find it. Pretty much every ship I take into a foreign wormhole has a probe launcher on it, and the Bane o' the Minmatar is no exception. I take the salvaging modules and tractor beams offline, put the launcher and cheap cloaking module online, and a few minutes later I have my exit.

I'm even lucky -- the C1 exit is only a half-dozen jumps from the current entrance to our system, so I drop off the loot en route, pick up a few replacement drones while I'm in a station, and I'm back in the tower 15 minutes later.

I still have a bit more time before my regular day needs to begin in earnest, so I hop into a more appropriately equipped scanning ship and track down the new C1 connection to see what we've got to work with today.

Unlike the old system, with its many factory-towers and only one sleepy security guard, this new wormhole has but a single tower and much more active occupants. A bit of work with the d-scan leaves me sitting outside their tower in my covert ops frigate, watching the comings and goings of several pilots, members of a corporation that seems to be a "3M" corp (recruiting for miners, manufacturers, and mission runners). There's no mention of wormholes in their charter, and indeed they seem to be focused mostly on mining at the moment; I see a Covetor-class mining barge warping in and out of the tower, and given his trajectory, it takes me a single pass of my combat probes (dropped well outside the range of d-scan) to determine the general location of the asteroid field it's mining. I don't bother getting a more precise, warp-able set of coordinates for a couple of reasons.

  1. There's a good chance the probes would be spotted if they got in any closer to the site, and I don't need to spook and/or rile the locals.
  2. The only real reason I'd have for locating the site is to shoot the mining ship, and that would feel a little bit too much like shooting Gor or CB. If nothing else, I don't want to explain how I blew up one of their brothers-in-ore when I have no better reason than 'felt like it'.
  3. I need to get ready for work and I don't have time to screw with these guys right now.


It's that third point that proves the most compelling, and I return to the tower and leave the neighbors to their work.



I log back in later in the evening and see a message from Gor, who apparently had to log out before either myself or CB got on.

"Multiple pilots in the system. Looks like they're hitting that Radar site you mentioned wanting to save for tonight. The name of their corporation is [Corp from the Class One]."


Well, crap.


Sometimes it pays to be a nice guy, and sometimes it bites you in the ass. Problem is, you never know which is which until afterwards.

CB and I scramble some combat ships, but the slow regen on the PvP ships' shields delays us yet again, and by the time we are combat ready, the Loki-strategic cruiser, Hurricane battlecruiser, and Thrasher-class destroyer (probably their after-action salvaging boat) are already back in their system.

Tira is over there, and she has combat-scanning probes available, so once things settle down, she drops them into the system and takes stock.

Unbelievably, the locals are mining again. Worse, they are mining in the exact same field I chose NOT to scan that morning, their Loki and Hurricane swapped for a Covetor-mining barge and a Mammoth-class industrial hauler.

I could kick myself.

This is why I should have scanned down the site, even if I didn't think I was going to need the information; even if I'd been spotted this morning, it would have given the locals over 10 hours to calm down, and I'd have a instantly-available warp-in point to exact some revenge with a couple stealth bombers. Instead, I need Tira to find the site while our targets are probably already on alert, and then put herself at risk in a non-combat ship, trying to get us a good landing position while sneaking around an asteroid field full of stuff that can easily disrupt her cloak.

Suboptimal, to say the least.

In any case, it doesn't work -- the locals spot the probes before Tira can pin down their location, and by the time she's within visual range of the field, they've swapped their mining barge and hauler for the Hurricane battlecruiser acting bodyguard for a much more durable transport ship that's picking up all the canisters of jettisoned ore. The 'cane could still be a viable target if she can get close, but they're over a hundred kilometers away, and head back to their tower and log out before she can close the gap. No joy in Mudville.

It's almost like you're getting karmic payback for hitting all those sites in that German wormhole a few days back, when they connected to us, says my internal commentator.

Yeah, I think back. Very astute. Very ironic. Shut up now.

We collapse the stressed-out wormhole between our two systems and console ourselves with shooting sleepers in the home system, so we're hardly posting a loss for the day, but the evening serves as a good reminder that there's a fine line between 'decent guy' and 'foolishly optimistic'.

I'm still not too great at seeing which side of that line I'm standing on at any given moment.
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