2011-08-05

Life in a Wormhole: "Want to Ruin His Day?" #eveonline

Enough moping about nullsec dissatisfaction! Yes, Bre is somewhat stuck in Curse. Yes, the rest of our alliance is moving to Catch and wants to know why we don't want to fly out there and kowtow to the current landlords along with the rest of them.

That doesn't matter.

What matters is that there are Sleepers waking up and I have some time on my hands (and piles of missiles at my fingertips).

Our German neighbors are also active when I log on, and we share exploration duties, poking around our neighboring systems to determine the opportunities that awake. (Err... "await", that is. Or awake, I guess: they are sleepers, after all...) The Class1 system connected to our home has several towers set up, but it appears the inhabiting corp only uses it to process moon-minerals, and doesn't actually live there -- the system is clogged to overflowing with sleeper sites. The Germans are leery of so many towers nearby, but I am undeterred and hop into a Gila, clearing out a couple sites in our home system before proceeding to the C1 for somewhat less challenging but enticingly profitable carnage.

Another ruined sleeper hangar, cleared of its infestation.


I can't help but notice a lot more activity in the home system as I jump back into a salvager ship and head out to pick apart the sleeper wrecks, however. I don't put off the cleanup, but as soon as I have the loot collected and stored, I hop into a scanning frigate and take stock of the situation -- it looks as though another wormhole opened up in our system while I was out and about -- this one inbound from another Class 2.

The class 2 is completely uninhabited, however, and doesn't immediately explain the clusters of ships I've seen on local d-scan, until I throw some scanning probes into the system for a better look. What the C2 lacks in inhabitants it more than makes up in connectivity: I count no less than four wormholes in the system: one to us, one to nullsec known space, and two connections (one inbound, one outbound) to class 5 wormholes: systems that are far more dangerous and generally far more removed from known space. I have no doubt that one or both of the class 5 systems' inhabitants are using this class 2 (and by extension, our own) as a highway out to the trade hubs of highsec. I don't fancy my chances at collapsing these connections without some kind of interference, especially on my own, so it looks like I'll just have to let it go and avoid the high traffic.

Honestly, I have no beef with pilots tearing through our system on the way to somewhere else. What I do object to, however, is when someone decides to stick around and shoot *my* sleepers. That seems to be what's happening back in the home system, because I see sleeper wrecks, a Cyclone battlecruiser, and scanning probes on d-scan when I return to our tower.

Unfortunately, my skills with covert-ops frigates still have a few days to cook, so once again I am missing Bre and bemoaning the fact that I don't have a good way to fly around the system while remaining cloaked.

Luckily, I'm a fair hand with directional scanning, and our visiting Cyclone pilot is making it easy by - as near as I can tell - flying somewhere near the central star of the system.

Gor logs in as I get the basic location of the ship.

"Someone seems to be shooting our sleepers," I say. "Want to ruin his day?"

"Against my better judgement," replies Gor (who's spent many years honing his EVE risk-aversion skills), "I'm going to say yes."

Without Bre to provide ECM support, I opt for a heavy tackling ship -- really heavy: a Ferox battlecruiser with a warp disruptor should be enough to keep the Cyclone from getting away, while still being tough enough to survive the encounter.

Gor refits a Dominix battleship with a couple bits of electronic warfare as well, and while he does so we discuss the possibility that this is a trap: a bit of low-hanging fruit that will leave us outside the protection of the tower when 14 of the cyclone's closest friends decloak and turn the tables.

"I have the bookmarks that will get us back here," I say, "and if we never screw up, we'll never learn anything."

I warp both of us to where I think the Cyclone is at, and see the ship drop into my overview... 170 kilometers away. That's a bit far for the drones in Gor's ship, and much much too far for the Ferox, which is fitted for close-up brawling.

"He's scanning," I tell Gor. "And he's slow at it, which means he probably sucks. That takes attention. Let's see if we can get close before he notices."

Gor agrees, and starts the Dom on a slow crawl toward the enemy.

"Don't lock him until I'm in range," I add as I flip on the Ferox's microwarpdrive for a fast burn toward the ship. "The warning will alert him."

The plan seems to work, as the Cyclone, while moving at cruising speed into open space, doesn't react to our arrival. I watch the range to the target shrink and, just as I'm about to lock the ship, I heard the warning chirps that indicate he's locking me as well.

"Get him," I say in voicechat, starting a tight orbit and flipping on every pointy module the Ferox comes fitted with, watching Gor's cloud of drones streak towards us.

The first volley of return fire from the Cyclone puts a smile on my face; it's the resounding boom of artillery cannons, designed for solid long-range damage, but considerably less effective when your target is orbiting so close you can read the registration codes painted on the hull. The Ferox's shields barely move.

Pro tip: don\'t hang out next to the most visible celestial body in the system.


In only a few seconds, the ship goes up in a very satisfying burst of hot metal, and Ty marks his first-ever PvP kill (unlikely he'll ever catch up with Bre, thanks to her time in OUCH, but it still feels good). My big Ferox is unable to lock the pilot's pod before he warps off, but we loot the wreck (and the sleepers he killed) and examine the remains, trying to figure out what such a senior pilot was doing in such a terribly fit ship. It could almost have been some kind of bait ship, designed to survive until the pilot's friends show up to help out, but that sort of thing only works if you have friends, and this guy clearly did not. We just can't figure it out.

But that's a mystery for another night. Gor logs out after our successful system defense, and a few minutes later the through-traffic from the Class5 travelers picks up again. I poke around in a scanning boat, noting that the traffic remains threateningly high pretty much throughout our constellation; I don't like my own survival odds for either Sleeper shooting or hunting more-careful pilots, traveling in packs, so I log out within the safety of the tower shields and call it a night.
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