Life in a Wormhole: No so much with the Pinatas, Actually #eveonline

So the deal with POS Pinata Day is that EvE is implementing a change to the way that player-owned towers are going to be fueled, and PPD is the date on which the towers will switch over to the new fuel (which is actually a Soylent Green style fuel cube composed of all the little fuel bits we used to have to feed into the tower separately).

Anyway, the theory is that people take breaks from MMOs, and that some of those people own Towers, and that some of those towers are out in wormhole space and, when the fuel switch-over happens, will suddenly be without power and, thus, without force fields.

So come the day of the switch, lots of wormhole dwellers (and those in other parts of EvE, I'm sure) are planning to jump from system to system looking for magically-offlined towers, fragile and filled with loot.

We planned that as well.

There were just two things we hadn't considered.

1. It's the the middle of the week.

Our pilots put in a lot of extra effort in the recent system-defense shenanigans, and now that that's no longer an ongoing issue, we have some non-EvE things that need our attention. Yes, we're all fairly certain those pilots will be back, and continue to habitually hit d-scan whenever we see any of them log in, but for now things are back to normal, and we have other priorities to see to.

2. Searching through a bunch of systems for offline towers requires a lot of wormhole-crashing.

Suggesting we crash wormholes all night long - for fun - was not an idea met with a lot of enthusiasm.

Do we poke around a couple of wormholes? Sure, but when we find nothing valuable in the first constellation of systems and the time comes to roll our current class-two connection and start over, we sort of decide we have better things to do.

In this case, that means getting into various fast frigates and drag-racing each other while one of our pilots shoots at everyone with a hurricane. Sounds kind of silly, but we could honestly use some silly right now.

There's no big jackpot and no big explosions, but everyone's on and having some fun together, so I have no problems at all chalking it up as a good night.

Frankly, we're all pretty tired, and our heart just isn't in the whole pinata smashing thing.


Life in a Wormhole: Day(s) of Rest #eveonline

All you cloaky t3s, GTFO.

Following the marathon efforts of the past few days, our pilots are ready for a bit of downtime. Once the ninth wormhole connection to lowsec dies, Shan scans down the new exit, but we don't fly to it or activate it. Additionally, we crash the class two and class three wormhole connections currently up, verify that all the other signatures on scan are as-expected, and decree a 24-hour lockdown, just to make sure things are as they seem. (Tweed, out in low-sec, avoids stargates by scanning his way from low-sec and back into wormhole space, scanning from system to system until he emerges near the market of Rens, where he looses himself in the crowd.)

We refit the Rorqual for more pedestrian pursuits, and Gor does a bit of ore crushing inside the flying factory, which is kind of cool (and rare) to see. (If we have a regret about the time and effort we've put into the hole, it's in the fact that we built the Rorqual and... really don't use it much. It is nowhere near having paid for itself.)

But as I said, things are quiet. We don't manage to stay in lockdown for the full twenty-four hours, due an inbound connection from another wormhole -- one that is strangely empty of all inhabitants. The connection was apparently opened by a pilot in a Cheetah covert ops ship, exploring just for the sake of exploring and arriving in our system from somewhere farther away than next door. I'd tell people to keep an eye out for him, but everyone's snoozing, and I am more than happy to get some much-needed rest before the event we've dubbed POS Pinata Day.


Life in a Wormhole: The Final Push #eveonline

"I'm going to kill him."

"Is the hole dead?"

"I'm going to kill him, then buy him a new ship so I can kill him again."

"Is the hole dead?"

"... No."


"Lucky bastard. Only reason he and his stupid hauler are alive right now is because the hole didn't collapse, and I'm sure it will if I go out after him."

There are many times when I am called upon to act as the voice of reason and diplomacy for my wormhole brethren.

When Dolby finally gets on our comms channel a few minutes later and asks if he can come back in to fly out his two Drake battlecruisers -- that is not one of those times.

Em handled that conversation.

I take a few minutes for some relaxing exercise.

"Seriously, are we sure he's not working for the guys in our hole?"

"The guys that blew up two of his ships?"

"Camouflage! No one would ever suspect!"

"I suspect everyone." (This last from CB.)

"Let's just assume he's dangerously, smoking-while-pumping-gasoline stupid, and move on."

Once that bit of drama is past (and Em has informed Dolby that his precious Drakes would be returned to him at some later date), we settle in and get ready for the final push. The time is (slowly) coming for the low-sec connection to die, and most of our pilots are online and ready to go. As soon as the aging connection finally wobbles, falls, and breaks its hip, Tweed starts scanning.

"Probes on scan."

"That was fast."

And it is. Something has changed: the Loki pilot is scanning far faster than he had the night before, when we'd joked that the last pilot left was the guy who tried to avoid scanning whenever possible. That was no longer our impression, especially when the pilot actually beat everyone but Tweed to the new wormhole.

Though, to be fair, this was partly because we had all stayed in cloaked-up ships and delayed reshipping until his probes went out, since we know how hard it is for a single pilot to scan quickly and still watch d-scan -- we were hoping to catch him by surprise with ships he wasn't suspecting, and it actually seemed to work. Like his fellow t3 pilot from the day previous, he engages the first Orca that lands, apparently thinking Berke is alone, though he quickly disengages and jumps to the low when our other pilots land on site. Still, we fell pretty good about this: despite his cloaking ability and almost 24 hours in which to observe us, we had managed to conceal our numbers, like Sand People.

This pilot is also making much more agressive choices in an effort to get his comrades back into our hole, including not waiting out the polarization timer before reentering the system, risking being pinned against the hole if we can catch him, but (correctly) trusting on his cloak and speed to get away.

On the seventh hole (the first one today), he pops out just long enough to get a destination system for his friends to fly toward, then jumps back into the hole and gets away before we can target or catch him. We crash the hole and make good time for the eighth, which sees pretty much exactly the same scene play out again, although when the loki jumps back into the hole and cloaks before warping away, Shan is able to get close enough to him with a surge of his Hurricane's microwarpdrive to decloak him again -- but not to bump him off course before he gets away; a near miss.

"Hold on that last jump," Em calls. "Leave the hole standing for a minute. We need to think about this."


"Yeah." Em pauses. "We're just going to end up doing this thing over and over again, and eventually something's either going to go wrong for us, or him -- and it's more likely going to be us, since there's more of us. It's a war of attrition, and it's going to cost us pilots trapped outside again. We need to try something new."

"Sounds good. But..."

"Can you..." Em begins, "work out a jump that we can do, with some but not all of the pilots we have available, that will kill the hole with a single jump?"

"One-way or out-and-back?"

"Out and back."

I look over the list of pilots we have and nod. "Sure. Me, Bre, and Cret in battleships. Si and Berke in Orcas."

"Okay," says Em. "Okay. Good. So here's what we're going to do..."

Enemy probes are already on d-scan, anticipating the death of the old hole and the appearance of the next.

"This guy really wants this one."

"I hope so. We need him in a rush."

All the pilots involved in the new plan are sitting at their respective towers, readying new ships, but NOT reshipping into them. CB is floating in our shields, ready to jump into his Sabre interdictor, which is a ship we hadn't made any use of up til now, simply because cloak-equipped tech 3 ships are also often fit with Interdiction Nullifier modules that let them ignore the Warp Disruption "bubbles" the Sabre can launch at a moment's notice. While we'd crashed hole number eight, however, Tweed had noticed that this Loki didn't seem to be configured that way.

"You know you're going to get blown up," I say to CB.

"Oh yeah." CB tone is sanguine and dismissive. He has a peculiar collection of names, related to his many Sabres -- not deaths, but all of the Tech3 cruiser pilots who have specifically targeted and destroyed his ships in retaliation for dropping warp disruption bubbles that might cost them their shiny ships.

"All right then," I say. "Here we go."

Berke jumps back into the system, the hole dies, and Tweed starts scanning, doing everything he can to not just beat, but bury the opposing pilot, tightening his scan probes two range brackets at a time rather than one, risking losing the signature entirely in an effort to give us enough time to pull off our maneuver. He gets a lock on the hole, warps to 0, and we send two Orcas and three battleships to his location. As soon as they land, all the ships (including Tweed's) light propulsion mods to increase their mass and jump through the hole, dropping its stability by just over half with a single jump.

Then, we hold.

The enemy loki is still scanning.

"Okay, everyone else, warp to the hole."

The rest of our pilots drop in and hold, ready to attack the Loki as soon as he lands. They include two battlecruisers, a Tengu strategic cruiser, and CB's interdictor, sitting directly on top of the wormhole.

The probes vanish off d-scan, and CB launches his warp disruption bubble. The Loki lands seventeen kilometers off the hole and burns for the exit, targeting CB's Sabre and popping the fragile ship in three volleys, but as he does, two of our pilots get warp scrambling fields on him, and Em decloaks his Falcon and starts jamming the Loki's targeting systems.

Now, it's possible that with so much going on, he simply never notices that the hole is already visibly destablized past the halfway point. It's equally (perhaps more) likely that he does notice, but faced with two scrams on him, a warp bubble, and more ships than even a tech3 cruiser can easily manage, he chooses to jump through the wormhole over the more explosive alternative.

In any case, he jumps. Our scout inside the hole calls it out, and as he does, all our big ships fire up their engines and jump back, leaving him hanging in empty space.

At this point, there may have been some shouting on our comms.

Tweed (also stranded out in low-sec, but safe-as-houses in his covert-ops ship) gives the pilot a smile in the local comms channel, and gets a reply.

"Good fight."

"Thanks man. It was... It was fun."

And Tweed's right. It was.

Now let's never do it again.


Life in a Wormhole: The (Surround)Sound of Stupid #eveonline

I finally force myself to take a break a few hours later, leaving Pax, Em, and Shan watching things while I get some rest.

When I return, only Shan is around to greet me, but like Radagast he has many beasts and birds doing his bidding, so everything still watched.

"How'd you sleep?" Shan asks. In the background of his voice comms, I can hear the constant pinging sound of the scanning probes with which he's blanketed the system.

"Eh." I do some math, frowning. "How did YOU sleep?"

"Haven't yet." (ping-a ping-a ping-a)


"It's all right. I got my second wind." (ping-a ping-a ping-a)

"How long have you been up?"

"... it's coming up on 28 hours." (ping-a ping-a ping-a)


"I'll take a nap in a while." (ping-a ping-a ping-a)

"And when you do, you're going to dream about that scanning probe sound."

"... huh. Yeah. I don't even hear it anymore."

"It's just blonde... brunette... redhead..."


I drop back into my Arazu force recon cruiser retrofitted for emergency hole crashing and park myself next to the low-sec entrance, chatting with Shan and getting caught up. No one's seen any sign of the last Loki pilot, things have been quiet, and we have another five hours before our class two connection will die of old age.

It's another two hours before we manage to convince Shan to take a break, and he's back only a few hours after that, in plenty of time to help out when our Class Two connection dies and will be replaced by a fresh wormhole.

About thirty minutes before this is likely to happen, we see several of the "occupy" pilots logging in and, like clockwork, the class two connection dies of old age and a Loki and enemy probes appear on d-scan -- whatever we might say about our unwanted guests, their recon, planning, and coordination in small groups is damned impressive.

We scan as well, locating the new hole and getting heavy ships en route to weaken the hole.

"So we want to crit it?"

"Actually..." Em says. "Can you get it like... halfway down, but before its appearance changes, so that it looks stable but would only take a jump or two to kill? That might look more enticing for this guy."

"Can do."

"Guys," Tweed calls, "I'm picking another new wormhole."

I look at the low-sec connection right next to me. "Well, it's not a new low-sec."


A minute or two passes, and Tweed reports that we have a randomly-generated outbound connection to Class Three wormhole space, leading into a system that boasts only a static null-sec wormhole exit.

"Man..." says Tweed. "It's too bad these guys are in here, cuz this system is really overgrown."

"Great," I mutter, than on comms, "Going to weaken that one too, but leave it looking healthy."

"Copy that."

Our ships proceed to jump and warp back and forth between the two holes in an intricate, planned dance. Feels like we've gotten pretty good at this stuff.

That's about when Dolby logs in for the first time since The Talk.

"Damn, he isn't gone yet?"

"I thought he was. Haven't seen him since the talk."

Everyone chuckles. The talk has been discussed.

"What's he doing?"

"Looks like he's at Cab's tower."

"Can anyone go look?"

"He's in a Magnate."

"A scanning frigate? Why --"

Em gets on the system text comms. "Dolby, we are currently closely watching and controlling access to all the wormholes in the system. Please do not approach or use any of them."

No reply.

"He's got probes out."

I am nonplussed by Dolby's activities.

"God damn... how long until we have those two holes set?"

"We're right in the middle of jumps."

"If he jumps out of that low-sec..."

Em doesn't have to finish the thought. If he jumps out of the low-sec, and the hole closes, a new one will appear, and we will be completely out of position to either defend or destroy it -- quite a few of our pilots aren't even on yet.

"He's back at the tower." Shan reports. "Looks like he's reshipping into a... Bestower."

"A hauler? Christ."

"Dolby, do NOT jump through any of the wormholes right now."

No response.

Unless you count the Bestower that drops out of warp right next to the low-sec exit, then jumps.


Life in a Wormhole: The Race, Part Two #eveonline

So here's a thing about wormholes: they are persnickety fucking things.

As a general of thumb, a wormhole can take a certain amount of mass before collapsing. Let's say that mass is 2 million kilograms or something like that. Let's also say that an Orca, running a mass-increasing Microwarpdrive, has a mass of about 300,000, so that by going out and coming back through the wormhole, you've 'stressed' that hole by 600,000. Let's further say that a battleship running a microwarpdrive has a mass roughly half that of the orca.

Basically, in that scenario, three round-trips in an Orca with "engines hot", plus a round-trip by a single battleship, also engines hot, should kill the hole every single time, and if you do it all in the right order, everyone will be sitting on the correct side of the wormhole when that happens, every single time. The same thing can be managed with 7 total round trips in a battleship or group of battleships, or any combination thereof.

But it doesn't always work that way. That 2,000,000 limit (and I think I'm probably dropping three zeros off that, but whatever) varies by quite a lot. Sometimes you get a hole that is REALLY light, and you jump out for that final collapse only to find the hole closing behind you, stranding you on the wrong side.

And sometimes the hole is heavy, and although you do everything right, you're left staring a hole that's critically unstable, but not dead, with no way to know how much more it can take.

Also? Those strategic cruisers heading our way are small -- the chance that hole will collapse from only one of them going through is very small... and frankly, that's not the way our luck has been going.

"Do we have another Onyx?"

"Yeah," Em says. "Ichi has one, but it's not configured for doing the hole-closing trick."

"I've..." Pax interrupts. He's been quiet for much of the offensive, though he is probably our most experienced pilot -- a deft hand in PvP, with a library of positively diabolical ship fittings, and always willing to give advice and training to our newer pilots. "I've got something I can try. Hang on."

Pax warps away from the wormhole in his Stilleto interceptor (which he'd been trying to use to snag the Loki before it cloaked up and warped away). "I've got a Rapier I can refit to do something like your Onyx trick."

"Refit?" I glance back at the hole. "Do we have time?"

"Sure, I just take off the appropriately sized microwarpdrive..." I can hear him doing so as he speaks. "Put on a battleship-sized propulsion module... make sure I have the really heavy armor plate on... Okay, in warp back to the hole."

"You won't be as small as the Onyx, going out," Em warns him. "The disruption bubbles make it lighter than a shuttle; the hole might die on your trip out."

"Doesn't matter," Pax's voice is calm. "If the hole dies on me, I can cloak and warp off -- that's why I'm using a force recon."

"I suppose it's better you're out there and they aren't in here."

"Exactly." Pax lands on the hole and jumps.

The hole doesn't collapse. Now, of course, the concern is that Pax won't be able to increase his mass far enough to kill the hole in a single jump back.

"Waiting on the session change timer -- I can see the pilots in local." He pauses. "And on d-scan. Turning on the prop mod. Two of the pilots are -- they're here -- RIGHT here. Just landed. Eight thousand meters. Engines are hot. Jumping through."

The hole flares with Pax's jump.



Then vanishes.

"NICE job," Em says.

Five pilots have been pushed out of our system.

"Probes are out," Tweed calls. "Scanning for new hole."

"We've got to be close to their quitting time," I say. "Don't we?"

"Maybe." Em'm voice is quiet, then he chuckles. "If nothing else, they have to be getting tired of all the gate jumping they're having to do. Between the five rolled holes, this has to have been fifty or sixty jumps for some of them."

"This tour of New Eden brought you courtesy of our pilots, the letter W, and viewers like you. Thank you."


"My kid watches a lot of Sesame Street."

"I've got the new hole," Tweed says. "In warp."

"Copy that. Have we we seen enemy probes?"

"Yeah," Shan replies. "They just came out."

"He's getting slower."

"He's getting tired, probably."

"Okay," says Em. "Lets stress this hole, but we're getting close to closing time for these guys, so let's not kill it yet. Let's see if he even tries to get them in. I'm betting they won't want to do another run this late at night. Hell, getting the last hole slammed shut in their face probably sucked for them, too."

"Probably, considering how much it would have sucked for us if it had gone the other way."

We proceed with the hole-stressing jumps, and Em's guess looks like a good one -- the enemy probes converge on the hole and vanish, but no ship follows them. It looks as though he's simply scouted the hole, taken the measure of our preparations, and decided to wait.

"Hole is crit."

"Okay," I say. "I'll cloak up on this hole with a force recon ship fit out like Pax's brilliant Rapier. If this loki tries to jump out, I'll follow him and kill the hole. The C2 is critical as well, right?"


"Great. We just need eyes on that hole as well, in case he sneaks out that way and tries to scan a way in."

"It's going to take him awhile if he does," Tweed comments. "I poked my head in there earlier -- there's something like 50 signatures to sort through to find the exit."

"Perfect." I sit for a second, stifling a yawn. "Okay, I'm good for awhile. Who's going to get some sleep?"

"It's the middle of the day for me," comments Pax.

"I've got a least a few more hours in me," murmurs Shan, our lookout for the entire evening.

"Alright, well, I'm on the low-sec exit number..." I squint at my notes. "Number six. Jesus, nice job, guys."

"I'm here too," says Em.

"Cool." I check the clock. "Everyone else, get some sleep. Both the holes are useless for these guys for now, and the c2 doesn't die of old age for 15 more hours."

"Nothing else we can do?"

I glance at the corner of the screen, were my watchlist has just informed me that the enemy tengu pilot has logged off. "They're logging out for the night, which means no more attempts to get in. We need those guys trying to get in if we're going to get this last guy out."


The comms go largely silent, like the space around us, and we settle in for the worst part of any conflict; the waiting.


Life in a Wormhole: The Race, Part One #eveonline

Summary of Events

Following a system assault conducted by members of our alliance, some of the corps involved in defending that system decided it would be fun to keep shooting pilots wearing our alliance tag. While the regular inhabitants of our home system know not to lead enemy pilots back to our home system, we had very recently added a new pilot to the system who apparently grew up in some daisy-filled corner of Romanian Legion nullsec space where no one's ever heard of OpSec, and who thinks the idea that someone might ignore Drake sleeper-killers to instead blow up the noctis salvager following them is Crazy Talk.

As a result of that pilot's actions, an enemy alliance got an unknown number of pilots in the system, mostly in covert-ops-cloak-fitted Tech3 strategic cruisers.

The first two losses to those pilots were, karmically, ships flown by the pilot that led them back to the system. The kills were approximately six hours apart, by two different pilots, and went unreported, the intel not getting to the other pilots in-system until almost 20 hours later (thanks to night-cycles and downtime), when one of the enemy pilots took down a covert ops ship that was sitting uncloaked in open space, because his pilot was stupidly distracted.

At this point, the only awake pilot in the system was Ty, with Em in known space. Knowing only that the Tengu was active, Ty reshipped into a Cynabal (figuring it for both enticing killmail bait and dangerous enough to handle a stealth-fit T3), and jumped out to the low system to get Em a route home. The Cynabal proved to be lure enough to get the pilots to show their hand; the Tengu jumped into the low after him, and when Ty jumped back into the home system, the tengu was joined by two Lokis, landing on the hole. Ty was able to escape, thanks to a combination of the Cynabal's agility and the targeting recalibration delay most cloak-fit ships suffer.

Now with more intel, we hit the killboards and were able to work out pilots who were most likely to be in the system, based on the enemy alliance's use of t3s, combined with observing who tended to group up in small 3 to 4-pilot gangs for kills. Em also determined the activity cycle of the enemy pilots by looking at WHEN they got kills (luckily -- or unluckily -- we had a lot of kill-data to work with) -- we determined we were dealing with pilots from the US, probably the Midwest, with almost 100% of their activity from 0000 to 0700 GMT.

We added this information, including both suspected and verified pilot names to our system channel MOTD, with instructions to add all those pilots to watch lists, lock down all non-essential activities in system, and if at all possible to say cloaked and safed up.

Non-essential tower modules were offlined, unanchored, and stored, and we filled the active tower grids back up with ECM modules and weaponry, with backups already armed and ready to be onlined.

We considered it equally likely that this was either a forward force for a full fleet invasion or a smaller 'grief' fleet, meant to pop soft or poorly-defended targets. Appropriately, we prepped for the full fleet invasion (the worst-case scenario), while denying the enemy opportunities for the latter.

A few days of staying cloaked-up and generally offline-during-enemy-active-cycles followed, and as the weekend approached, Bre tried to find an exit through our C2 static to bring in an armor-tanked Scorpion for potential fleet action, but while she were able to locate an exit, she got pinned between a polarized wormhole and a heavy interdictor flown by the very aggressive pilots in the neighboring c2. Upside: she got to a market where she could buy that Scorpion a lot faster than expected.

That afternoon we began the process of retaking control of our static exits, starting with crashing the current lowsec exit. We began with the returning Scorpion battleship, but were only able to get the hole about halfway crashed before the process was interrupted by the inhabitants of the neighboring C2, who were looking for a two-fer on Bre. We avoided this and waited for more pilots. Our second attempt had better support, and our scouts reported that while we'd been waiting, two of the enemy pilots inside our system had, for some unknown reason, left our system and taken off through known space. We obviously had to bring that lowsec exit down before they got back, interference or not.

The occupying pilots tried to interfere with the process, but they vacated the field when the neighboring C2 pilots showed up again -- there were far too many guns around, and the occupying pilots' cloaky tech3 ships were a much more enticing target for our neighbors than our heavily warp-stabilized, hole-crashing battleships. The hole crashed, and everyone got back to safe spots and/or towers. Left with no targets, the C2 pilots retreated to their hole.

Now then...

We've crashed and/or rolled a lot of wormholes -- I don't think there are many wormhole pilots who haven't -- but it's a different sort of experience when there are enemy ships around and you're under time pressure. It was very difficult waiting for Tweed to resolve the new wormhole location and warp to it.

"Let us know when you're there," I say.

"In warp," says Tweed. "Okay, I'm there."

I try to warp to his location, but the navigation systems can't lock on. "It says you're not in-system."

"Oh... I... jumped through. Do you want me to jump back?"

"We need to get big ships down there to weaken the hole, so yes please."

"Right. Right. Sorry, in a rush."

"It's okay, totally understand."

Tweed jumps back, and reports that an "occupy" Loki is on the hole, then jumps out to low-sec.

"Let's get down there. Are you warpable?"

"I am."

We get into warp, but land over 10 kilometers from the hole in big, slow ships.

"Sorry. Sorry... I didn't know what you were warping down here in."

"No worries. We'll get it sorted out."

We crawl towards the hole and, finally, jump a couple battleships out to the lowsec, then back again, starting the wormhole crashing process. It's now another four or five minutes before we can perform another jump.

"My polarization is done," Tweed says. "Should I jump out into the lowsec?"

"Yeah, tell us where we are and if that Loki is still around."

I look at the deceptively empty space around the wormhole, knowing that we had a number of cloaked up combat ships nearby, and expecting that the occupying pilots had the same -- the reason that we were using battleships to close the hole rather than the far more massive Orca industrials we had on hand.

"This situation has got too many people involved," I say to Em. "Let's get that C2 connection killed off too, so we don't have to deal with those guys."

"Copy that."

We get a scout into the Class Two, who reports no ships on scan, and we jump the battleships through and back to weaken that hole, then return to the low-sec exit just in time to begin another jump sequence. This part of the process goes relatively smoothly, but slower than we're used to, due to using less than optimal ships for the process.

"The Loki pilot is out in here in the system," Tweed says. "He's not leaving and he's not going back in. I can't figure why he isn't he going back in."

There's a pause, then Em speaks up. "Polarization. If he waits long enough out there, then jumps in, he won't be polarized on the inside, and can either cloak and slip away, or jump back through if that doesn't work."

"Huh," Bre murmurs. "That's... really smart."

"It's like they've done this before," I deadpan.

We run a couple more jumps, and get close to closing both the C2 and low-sec holes.

"Okay, Tweed, get on back in here and get probes out, so you can find the next sets of holes."

"Copy that."

Tweed jumps, and is followed only a few seconds later by the Loki pilot, who is easily able to cloak and warp away.

"Man..." I mutter, "if we could close these faster, we might be able to get it killed before he was done waiting out the polarization timer."

We crash low-sec #2 the rest of the way, and crash the class two connection a few minutes later, which lets Tweed know at a glance which new signature is the low-sec and which is the new class 2 connection. Once we have them, we put a scout on the C2 to watch for any enemy activity, and started crashing the Low-sec. Just as we land on the Low-sec hole, Tweed (who is already out in Low-sec after giving us a much closer warp-in point) reports that the same loki pilot had jumped out into the low to provide a route for his allies -- he didn't seem to have interest in the class two connection.

"Makes sense," says Shan. "In the c2, he'd have to scan the way out to actual known space -- no way he could do that and get them here before we closed the hole behind him."

This time we bring in two more battleships, and start moving them through the hole in earnest, trying to get the hole down before the Loki is ready to come back in, but all these added ships has complicated our math, and we're left with a critically unstable wormhole that is, unfortunately, not dead. This is problem for us, because while the unstable hole probably won't be able to handle more than a single battleship going through in one direction, it may still have more than enough strength left to admit not only the Loki pilot, but all of his friends.

"I'll go get the Onyx," Em says, and warps off to swap into a Heavy Interdictor. As I've said, wormholers have figured out lots of ways to manipulate the mass limitations on a wormhole, and one of them involves using a cruiser-sized Heavy Interdictor. If you set up the ship with an otherwise-useless fitting, it's possible to activate a number of Warp Disruptor bubble generators on the ship, reducing the ship's mass to almost nothing. Then, on the far side, you shut off the warp bubble generators, activate some oversized ship modules, and come back through the hole almost as massive as a battleship. This "go out tiny, come back huge" trick is one of the ways to finish killing off difficult wormholes like the one we're currently dealing with.

Em gets back to the wormhole, we recall Tweed, and Em activates his "make me seem tiny" modules, jumps through, then buffs up his mass and jumps back.

The wormhole doesn't die. Great. Now we have to wait out the polarization. Time is wasting, and with every second, we're sure the loki pilot is going to come back in -- he's had time to.

"Maybe his friends are getting close, and he's waiting on the outside to give them a fleet member to warp to."

"That... does not make me feel better."

Em keeps trying to jump through the wormhole, while cloaked (which doesn't work), to get an idea of how long he has to go before he can jump, and as soon as the polarization messages go away, he uncloaks and starts turning on his 'make me small' modules aga--

His ship jumps.

"What just happened?"

"I... dammit. I jumped. It... jumped me through as soon as I decloaked. I didn't have any of the warp disruptors running."

"Well, at least the hole didn't --"

The hole collapses.


"Okay... well, shit. Okay. I'm going to warp down to the local station." There's a pause. "Oh, that loki pilot is grumpy that I warped off instead of fighting him."

"Mmm. We'll send him a card. How far into Low-sec are you?"

"Eight jumps? I'm not going to fly this thing out right now, that's for sure. I'll clone-jump to a market and buy a different ship."

"Okay." I think things over. "Tweed --"

"Already scanning."

"Awesome. That's our third pilot out. Maybe we've run out of bad guys."

"Well..." murmurs Shan "unless Tweed just launched fourteen scanner probes, we haven't."

"Dammit. Okay, everyone back to the towers, we need to speed this crashing process up." Things went smoother on the second hole, but the snags and hiccups still slowed us down and cost us a pilot. "Let's get some Orcas in play."

"You sure?"

"Nope, but I'm going to try it anyway."

Tweed gets us a warp-in, and both Berke and Si warp down to the hole in the lumbering beasts of industrial burden.

This time, we have a new Loki pilot, who apparently hasn't been keeping up on current events, because he turns at the wormhole, targeting and shooting at Berke's Orca as soon as the big ship lands, apparently thinking it has no support. Other, pointier ships start landing on the hole, however, and he jumps through the wormhole to low-sec, followed by the big ships, who lurk while cloaked just long enough to jump back, then do so and retreat to their towers to wait out the polarization timer.

"You have your ship built yet, Em?"

"Yeah. Where's the new connection?"

Tweed tells him, and Em groans. "Nineteen jumps away. Damn."

"At least they have to do the jumps too."

"Yep. On my way."

As he jumps, Em catches us up on some of the research he's been doing while waiting out in known space. It looks like the first two pilots who left the system participated in a couple kills somewhere else in New Eden this evening, as part of a large group of ships.

"They... they snuck out to do a Fleet Op?"

"It looks like it. I guess they figured we'd stay quiet, like we had been all week."

"So I guess that worked."


The second set of jumps is done with only a single battleship paired with Berke's Orca. In this case, both ships jump out, but only the battleship jumps back. Berke cloaks up his Orca and waits, ready to follow Em back in and kill the hole once he's home.

Minutes tick by, Berke can see the the Loki pilot in the low-sec local comms channel, but that's --

"Tweed, get back in the hole. We have company."


"Em, those other pilots just showed up in local. They're here. I have to --"

"Close it," Em says. "Close it. Don't worry about me."

Berke, human drawbridge, jumps through the wormhole, which crashes behind him, leaving the returning pilots with no entrance and stranding a fourth pilot outside.

"Scanning for the next hole."

"Reshipping into the Orca."

"D-scan is clear -- no probes besides Tweed's are out yet."

I say nothing, because I don't need to. The first few times, there were questions, missteps, and corrections to be made, but everyone knows their jobs now, and despite the long hours, we're getting faster instead of slower.

"Enemy probes on scan."

"Copy that. I have them too. And a loki. MAN they like lokis." A pause. "It took this guy a lot longer to get scanner probes out."

"Maybe he's the bad scanner in the bunch."

"Sure," I say. "Because lucky things happen to us, and because they have any bad pilots."

"Good point."

Still, it really does seem as though this pilot is moving a lot slower than his brethren, and we are able to get to the hole well before him, get Tweed out to known space to give Em a destination, and start weakening the hole with the same Orca-pair, battleship-pair as before.

While the first polarization timer counts down, the loki lands and jumps through.

"I wonder if we're ever going to run out of these guys."

"Eventually, we have to, there's only 35 thousand pilots logged in right now. They can't all be in here."

"Oh, sure, jinx us."

Again, we weaken the hole and leave Berke cloaked up and floating outside, ready to crash it.

"Guys, I just..." Em pauses. "I just PASSED them, heading your way."

"How far out are you?"

"Eight jumps," he answers. "This is going to be close.

It is, though Em is able to get a two-jump lead on them thanks to the smaller, faster ship he picked out for the run home. He arrives in system, warps to the hole, and jumps through, quickly followed by Berke's Orca.

And the hole doesn't close.


Life in a Wormhole: Three-way, and not the Fun Kind #eveonline

Apparently it's been a long while since Bre lost a clone -- the last time was apparently (and predictably) when she lived out in the Curse region, as she wakes up in a medical clone in Sendaya, Derelik region, next door to Curse.

Unfortunately, while it's close to Curse, it's nowhere near anything... useful, so Bre jumps back in the clone goo and transmits her consciousness to an updated and wired clone located in Sinq Laison and fairly near a market.

[[Incidentally, for those of you who enjoy the story potential that lies behind clone-jumping and FTL travel accomplished by transmitting your consciousness from body to body, I cannot recommend Altered Carbon enough. Great book. Also, given it's date of publication, I think it's quite likely it influenced the clone jump mechanics in EvE. Definitely worth a read.]]

Bre flies her naked pod over to Dodixie, picks up and fits out a Scorpion battleship, and as a good Gallente girl, gives it a French name that means "everyone hush up now", which should leave the ship's Caldari designers spinning in their graves. Once all the important stuff is taken care of, she heads back for toward our low-sec entrance, since the high-sec entrance through the hostile Class Two system is clearly not safe. I meet her at the edge of low-sec space and shepherd the big ship through the last few jumps home.

"You know," says Bre, "if we're planning on rolling the wormholes tonight, I could get started on this low-sec exit right now. I mean, this thing is certainly big enough."

What Bre's referring to is the fact that wormhole connections are inherently unstable in a number of different ways. First, wormholes don't typically last for very long: once they've been activated (simply by flying onto the same 'grid' as one), they'll die of old age about sixteen to twenty-four hours later. Second, each wormhole has a mass limit, both in terms of how much mass can jump through the hole at once, and how much mass can go through the hole in total before it collapses from the strain.

The single-jump mass limits vary, depending on the type of wormhole system they connect to. All wormholes leading into a Class 1 system, for example, have a very severe mass limit: basically nothing bigger than a battlecruiser can jump through the hole, which prevents easy access by anything larger (as they have to be built directly inside the hole). Class 2, 3, and 4 wormholes have a more forgiving limit, and can take ships as large as the Orca industrial command ship of which Berke is so fond, and easily handles even the largest battleship. Class 5 and Class 6 wormholes are truly monstrous, and are able to handle even Capitol-class ships like carriers and dreadnoughts (though not many).

The limit on the total amount of mass that can go through the hole varies as well, with Class 1s able to handle something like 35 one-way battlecruiser jumps, Class 2 to 4 able to withstand the one-way passage of 14 or 15 battleships (or 7 Orcas), and Class 5s and 6s... well you get the point.

Wormhole inhabitants have, of course, figured out how to manipulate this, and will purposely destabilize or destroy a wormhole via a series of controlled jumps, using ships with easily-manipulated masses to precisely control the amount of mass that's gone through the hole. The goal is to destroy the hole with all friendly ships on the 'inside', then scan down the new exit, which is located somewhere else in the system and which connects to some other similar location in known- or wormhole-space; if we destroy our "static" low-sec connection, for example, the physics of wormholes will immediately replace it with a new one, also connecting somewhere out to low-security space.

This process is know as "rolling" or "crashing" the hole, and we expect to be doing a lot of it over the next few days. With the weekend looming, the chance that the enemy cruisers in our system will try to get a full-sized fleet into our system increases. We have planned for this, and intend to aggressively crash our wormhole connections whenever the enemy pilots are online, which keeps any invading fleet running around New Eden, trying to get to the new doorway before it vanishes. When the enemy pilots are offline, we'll keep the connection critically unstable but NOT destroyed, so that a single jump will crash it, which should leave it useless for invasion.

In case of Emergency, Break Wormhole.

What Bre is suggesting is that she get started on weakening the low-sec connection now, while the enemy pilots are offline, so that once all our pilots are ready, the connection can easily be reset and the constant rolling process can begin sooner rather than later.

"Sounds good," replies Em. "Anyone watching the hole?"

"I have eyes on," I say.

"And I stuck a cloak on this thing just for this purpose," Bre adds, "so it should be no problem to just cloak up between jumps, while I wait for the polarization effect to fade."

(Bre's being so good about remembering the polarization effect, now that she's been reminded of their consequences.)

Bre starts collapsing the hole, but no sooner has she completed her first "in and out" jump then Em is back on comms. "I have a Nemesis on scan. Anyone got him?"

"Yeah," I say, as the Nemesis lands on the low-sec wormhole connection. "Huh. Bre, it's that same nemesis from the group that mugged you earlier."

"They're came through to our hole?" Bre asks. "Lovely. They must want to blow me up again."

I watch the wormhole flare and the Nemesis stealth bomber vanishes. "He's coming out to say hi."

"I'm cloaked, he's going to feel kind of lonely. Can I kill him?"

"The trick would be locking him before he just runs off," I start to say, then a Tengu strategic cruiser uncloaks next to the hole as well. "The other trick would be that he has a friend sitting over here in a Tengu."

"A tengu? You sure it's not our stalkers? I didn't get attacked by a tengu."

"He must have logged in later, because it's the same corp."


Just then, one of the 'enemy' tengu pilots that we've seen in our system also logs in, and a few seconds later...

"I've got probes on scan," Em says. "Looks like he's checking to see if anything's changed in here. Are we all cloaked up?"

We confirm with each other that our home system looks positively deserted, and a few minutes later the probes have been withdrawn and the 'stalker' tengu pilot logs back out.

Meanwhile, although the Nemesis bomber is still around, Bre is easily able to decloak and warp down to one of the stations in the low-sec system to dock up.

"I'm going to log off," she says. "They didn't do anything in our hole until I logged back in and brought the Scorpion back to the system, so maybe if I log, they'll take off. We can finish up this hole when everyone else is on."

"Sounds fine. Give it a shot."

She does. A few minutes later, I watch as the 'neighbor' tengu warps off, followed by the Nemesis jumping back to our system and then warping off to the connection to their class two system.

"Looks like they're watching Bre," I say to Em. "That's not going to complicate things at all."

"Oh I'm sure it won't," Em deadpans. "See you in a few."

Several hours have passed, and I'm logging back in to see if we're ready to move. The answer is "yes", and not only are we ready to move, apparently so are some of the pilots lurking in our system.

"That tengu pilot and a pilgrim just jumped out of our system, into low-sec, and took off," Em says.

I blink. "They... left?"

"At least for a little while. That's not all of them, but..."

"Yeah, let's crash that damn hole. Now."

The call goes out and pilots assemble, with as many pilots as we can manage reshipping into battleships specifically built to help crash wormholes, or into ships designed to support and defend them. The last pilot to join the fleet is Bre, since she's trying to delay her arrival and prevent interference from our neighbors. Three battleships land on the wormhole and jump, joined by Bre's Scorpion on the far side.

"The Nemesis and Tengu just jumped through from the C2." Shan is on and playing lookout on all our incoming wormholes. "They're in warp to you."

"All battleships jump," I say. "As soon as you load, warp back to the tower."

"Loki on scan," Em adds. "That's not the neighbors, that's one of the other guys."

I check d-scan. "I don't see him from the hole." I refresh the scan. "No, wait. There he is. He's warping here."

"Copy that."

Four battleships jump back into the wormhole as the Nemesis bomber and Tengu from the neighboring system land. A few seconds later, the Loki -- a member of the corp playing Occupy Wall Street with our wormhole -- lands as well.

"Heh. I bet he wasn't expecting to see some of these ships."

"To be fair, neither were we."

"The tengu is targeting me," says one of the battleship pilots. "Are we fighting?"

"Are you fit for fighting?" I ask.

"No." A second's pause. "Then..."

"Right. Warp to the towers."

"Copy that."

The lumbering Dominix, Typhoons, and Scorpion warp away, followed by a disappointed shout from the tengu pilot, speaking in the system's local channel.

"Aww... he's bummed the Dominix had warp core stabilizers on."

"How very sad for him. What's the Loki doing?"

"He turned right around and warped off."

"Figures. Is the hole dead?"

"It..." there's a long pause. "It is. Yeah. Hole's dead."

"Good job, everyone. Tweed, can you scan down the new low-sec exit?"

"Already on it."


"So..." says one of the battleship pilots. "What do we do now?"

I check the clock. At a rough estimate, we've got six more hours before our enemy Occupy pilots will give up for the night. Until then, we need to keep the wormhole exits unusable.

"Now," I say, "it's a race."


Life in a Wormhole: Too Speedy for Your Own Good #eveonline

We've seen no sign of the enemy cruisers lurking in our system during the entire tengu/noctis mugging, which Bre takes as a good sign that now would be an ideal time to get a little more defensive prep done. Specifically, we're thinking about that worst-case "what if a massive fleet shows up to attack a tower and some counter-fleet must be mustered?" Bre's come to the conclusion that in such situations her options are a bit limited, mostly because of the choices she's made with her training plans up to this point.

Specifically, she's deeply specialized in frigate-sized ships, and can competently fly all of the tech 1 and tech 2 frigate hulls in New Eden, up to and including proper tech 2 tanking, weaponry, and module options for each race's ships. Basically, if it's small, she can fly it pretty well.

However, beyond the realm of frigates, her experience becomes more than a little thready. She's got a bit of training in cruisers, and a bit more in battlecruisers (so she can field a ubiquitous Drake to help with Sleeper shooting), but when it comes time for a fleet vs. fleet brawl, especially one where a Drake isn't recommended, her list of options (like her preferred ships) is small.

But one of our Alliance mates has suggested that we might be well-served by having an armor-plated Scorpion-class battleship around to support larger fleets that may or may not need to form, and the idea appeals to Bre; the Scorpion isn't much of a heavy-hitter, but its strengths complement hers well. Her missile support skills are solid, and her Electronics Countermeasures skills (thanks to the time she's spent in a Kitsune frigate) are quite solid.

Also, it's a pretty cool looking ship.

She's been quietly training to fly the actual ship for a few days now, and it seems like a good time to go get it. The exit from our system into low-sec isn't horribly located, but Bre's looking for something a little more convenient, and quickly scans the exit to our Class 2 wormhole in the hopes that it might have a nice, friendly high-sec exit. She's lucky, and it does; the fat and happy connection is one of the easiest signatures in the new system to locate and resolve, and in under five minutes she's sitting twenty kilometers off the wormhole, cloaked up in her Buzzard covert-ops ship, watching a lone Harbinger battlecruiser sitting on the exit.

The harbinger seems like a common wormhole daytripper, based on his combat history, and Bre imagines he's just popped his head in to look around. There's a well-defended tower within range of the wormhole, however (a tower Bre's in too much of a hurry to go check out right now), and it looks like the Harby doesn't want to risk his ship under the noses of the inhabitants -- he jumps through the wormhole and out to known space while Bre watches, which is all the encouragement she needs to creep down to the hole and jump through herself.

Once out in high-sec, she doesn't warp off, because her goal is to go out and retrieve a new ship; to do that, she needs to leave the Buzzard behind at our tower and race out to a market in her naked pod -- the only reason she's come this far out is to get a bookmark for the far side of the wormhole so that it's easier to bring the Scorpion back later.

Oddly, there's no sign of the Harbinger, either immediately adjacent to the wormhole or even in the local comms channel for the system. That's a bit odd, but Bre's in a rush and doesn't give it any further thought. As soon as she can, she bookmarks the exit and jumps back through the wormhole to head back to the tower to prep for a streaking run to market.

The locals have other ideas.

Bre arrives back in the wormhole system to find herself within the warp disruption field of a Devoter Heavy Interdictor who, along with a Talos battlecruiser and Nemesis stealth bomber, are waiting for her return alongside that very same Harbinger she'd spotted earlier -- obviously not a daytripper, but a new member of the corporation that calls this system home. It appears that the ship jumped back into the wormhole system at the same moment Bre was jumping out.

It's a fairly fearsome foursome arrayed against her, but even caught inside a warp disruption field and surrounded by a double handful of angry little drones waiting for her to shed her session change cloak, it's not a problem; she can just jump back out into --

Oh. Well, crap. Bre was in such a rush that she jumped back and forth through the wormhole very quickly, polarizing her secondary coils in a way the prevents her from reentering the wormhole for at least four minutes, which in this situation might as well be four years.

Still, it's not the end of the world. It's incredibly hard to target a cloak-capable ship in the split second between when it sheds its session-change cloak and activates its covert-ops cloaking module. Bre won't be able to warp away, but with the cloak active she still has a very good chance of being able to weave her way out of the range of the warp disruption field and slip away. It's not an ideal solution, but it's pretty much the only choice she has at this point, so she makes her move.

First, the decloak, with her ship clearly and obviously setting course toward the center of the system, then activate the cloak, make an abrupt course change, and hope that she can get clear while the enemy ships swarm over her presumed loca--

Why didn't she cloak?

Fate (and her own hurry), has decreed the Bre's not getting away today: although a burst of speed from the microwarpdrive got her moving quickly, she came through the wormhole FAR too close to the anomaly itself -- it's so close to her that proximity prevents her from cloaking her ship once she starts moving. It's only an extra second between that and the point at which she can cloak up, but a second is all it takes -- the larger ships (and -- far more deadly to her small ship -- the angry combat drones) shred the frail scout frigate in flash, leaving her in her escape pod and still almost a dozen kilometers from the edge of the warp disruption bubble. Her pod crumples more quickly than the Buzzard, and a few seconds later Bre wakes up in a clone vat out in known space.

"Son of a..."

"What? What just happened?"

"Well... the good news is, I'm going to be able to put together that Scorpion RIGHT away."