Life in a Wormhole: Deadly Correspondence #eveonline

"Regardless of whatever we decide to do with that wormhole alliance," I say to Gor as he logs in, "we need to get away from the old alliance."

"Agreed." He doesn't even ask for context regarding my comment -- we've had more than enough talks about this, and today we log in to find that our alleged brethren out in known space have had war declared on them by a fairly large alliance, and recruited in a new corporation that is already war-decced; an aggression flag everyone will then 'catch' from the new member, like genital herpes or a desire to watch Dancing with the Stars.

In the wormhole, this obviously won't affect us, but it's one more annoying thing to deal with as a result of associating ourselves with people with which we have nothing in common -- if nothing else, it makes taking our Sleeper loot out to sell more harrowing, since the wardec allows the other alliances to attack us even in the puffycloud carebear land of highsec space. I actually find wardec mechanics kind of fun in concept (paying a fee to the police so they'll ignore you shooting people you don't like -- everything is a business in EVE), but in this particular situation it's like finding out that some guys want to kick your ass because your redneck cousin spilled beer on their girlfriend at the latest NASCAR event.

Really not my fight, is what I'm saying.

Gor announces that he's found the "get us out of here" button for the alliance membership, and I start chanting "hit it, hit it, hit it" as I warp a few hundred kilometers outside the tower shields to drop scanning probes and take stock of the system. Normally, I never drop probes right outside the tower or conduct my scanning from inside the shields -- I've seen too many accounts of such things going wrong for the scanning pilot -- but for some reason that's what I do today.

I'm just about to launch the first probe when Gor asks:

"Do we want to send a message to everyone before we go, or just... go?"

"We should just..." I pause, then sigh to myself. "We should send a message. Dammit." I don't believe in burning bridges, and some of the folks in the alliance (notably, the person who recruited us in the first place, and the guy who helped us find our wormhole home in the first place) have been friendly, if not actually that helpful in our daily endeavors.

"You sure?" Gor asks. "The button is right. Here."

"I'm sure," I say, knowing it doesn't sound like I am. "I'll write it." Somehow (I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with my extrovert nature) I've become the corp diplomat. "Give me a sec."

So, still floating in open space, cruising at a leisurely 5 kilometers a second, I open the evemail window and put together a polite and professional farewell to our soon-to-be-ex-alliancemates.

Basically, this.

"Okay," I say, "It's sent."

"Good," replies Gor. "And... we're out."

"Huzzah," I mutter to myself, and peer at my screen. "Now... what the hell was I doing?"

The answer to that question, it turns out, is "exploding."

Just as I drop my last probe and am about to cloak up, Gor announces two Myrmidon-class battlecruisers on d-scan.

"There's also a Jaguar on scan," he adds.

That part I figured out allll by myself, because the Minmatar assault frigate has just decloaked about five kilometers in front of me.

Now, this shouldn't be any kind of problem, because almost any ship in EVE has to deal with a targeting delay following decloaking. There are a few ships that don't suffer that penalty, but the Jaguar is not one of them, and by the time the deadly little ship can lock me, I'm going to be back inside the shields. I target our tower and tap the "Warp to" button on my overview.

Nothing happens.

I hit it again and, again, nothing happens.

I look a little bit harder at my overview and realize that I am 142 kilometers from the tower. I started over 200 kilometers away, but my slow crawl through space while I typed out the evemail brought me closer to the tower than I'd realized. Too close: you can't warp to any object in space that isn't at least 150 kilometers away and either a bookmark or in some way friendly, as demonstrated here.

That's about when I realize that I don't have a readily available Plan B, which probably means I'm going to lose my ship, because you always need a Plan B. I've got other safe spots in the system (for instance, the various safe spots where I normally go to drop probes so that I'm harder to find than "right outside the giant, easy-to-locate tower"), but they require clicking through a couple context menus, and by the time I decide to try that and get through the menus, the Jaguar's targeting delay is gone and he's disrupted my warp engines.

That's about when the two Myrmidons land right on top of us, launch a swarm of drones, and join the Jaguar in converting my ship into salvage. I'm burning back toward the tower in the vain hope I might make it inside the shields or that the tower defenses will take the Jaquar out and give me a chance to get away, but my luck remains poor.

(It usually does when it's proceeded by such monumentally bad decisions as "stop in an easy-to-find location to write an email.")

See, the defenses on our tower might be formidable, but they're also kind of... stupid. Left to their own devices, they randomly select targets from among the whole list of possible aggressors which, at this moment, seems to include the Jaguar, both Myrmidons, and all the drones the Myrms launched. I see exactly one gun targeting the assault frigate -- not nearly enough to get it before they take out my fragile covert ops ship.

My only consolation is that I get my escape pod cleanly away, and that my attackers are forced off the field of battle as soon as my ship goes down, leaving behind about 7 or 8 million isk worth of tech2 drones, but as consolation prizes go, it's a pretty poor one -- if I needed drones that badly, I'd have happily flown my ship out to pick some up, rather than trade the ship in to acquire them.

Lessons Learned

Ugh. So many mistakes made, leading up to this. Sitting outside the tower, easy to spot and easy to creep up on while I typed the damn email? Stupid. So stupid and inexcusable. Feeling safe in your home wormhole system is the leading destroyer of ships, I think.

Bottom line, though, the only lesson worth remembering out of this is pretty simple: scan first. The moment you log in, scan. Don't even say hello until the probes are out. Every single time I don't do that -- let myself get distracted by other things -- anything -- first? We lose a ship. My attackers jumped in from an inbound wormhole that I would have spotted long before they were ready to attack, if I had only scanned. Just seeing an inbound wormhole in the first place would have told me something was up -- you don't get inbounds unless someone opened it from the other side.

Knowing is half the battle, as they say.

The other half is bullets.
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