Obstructing a null-sec short-cut

11th December 2011 – 3.12 pm

I'm by myself again, with an urge to find some company. Two unexpected signatures in the home system may provide it, particularly as one is a wormhole in addition to our static connection. The other signature is just some dumb rocks, which I activate. The second wormhole is a K162 from class 3 w-space, which isn't an exotic difference from our own static connection to class 3 w-space, but as it was opened from the other side I'll be looking there first for other pilots.

Jumping in to the C3 has drones but no ships visible on my directional scanner, along with a couple of towers. I locate the towers for reference, having a Hurricane appear on d-scan as I land outside the second. The battlecruiser only blips on my scanner and, as the system turns out to be small enough for d-scan to cover it all, I doubt he's local or the owner of the drones, but probably has crossed the system between two wormholes. I launch probes and start to scan, looking for these wormholes, which should be easy with only six signatures to sift through.

First I find the drones, curiosity overcoming my desire to leave them alone. I don't need to resolve their position fully before realising they are probably in one of the two anomalies, and I warp in to take a look. Yep, there they are, three ECM drones floating near some Sleeper cruisers. Two drones, one. Pop, pop, pop, the Sleepers wake up and destroy the alien drones as they somehow detect my cloaked presence in the anomaly. I suppose it's too late to pretend I'm not in this system, and start ignoring gas and rocks as I scan.

Pew, that smells like a wormhole leading out to null-sec, no doubt the system's static connection, and I leave it alone for now. A second wormhole is picked up by my probes at the same time and place as an Occator transport ship. The Occator goes as I warp to the wormhole, finding it to be a K162 from high-sec empire space, one that has had enough ships pass through to make it critically unstable. I threw my probes out of the system after resolving the wormhole—or rather the Occator, which was sat atop the wormhole—but now there is no sign of the transport ship and I bring them back in so I can resolve the final signature.

Out of the system go my probes again. The appearance of an Iteron hauler is responsible this time, not on the K162 from high-sec but merely on d-scan. I wait a short while but the Iteron doesn't appear at the wormhole I'm sitting on, d-scan placing him on the connection to null-sec. Then again, d-scan won't show me a difference between the Iteron being on the distant wormhole and it warping to my position, as the path is on the same line. I would need to adjust the range gate of d-scan to make that distinction, and I don't know how far away the other wormhole to null-sec is for reference. Actually, I don't even know if the wormhole leads out to null-sec, not having visited it yet. What I do know is that I won't have much effect sitting here.

If the Iteron is coming my way it will land on the wormhole, and jump to Concord-patrolled high-sec, thumbing its nose at me if the wormhole survives its transit and I am absent-minded enough to follow. I have no better option than to warp to the presumed null-sec connection, so I do. In warp I wonder what the Iteron is doing if not warping across this bridge system between null- and high-sec. Maybe the Occator pilot saw my probes and has planted the Iteron on the wormhole as bait, ready with a small fleet in null-sec waiting for me to chase the Iteron. I could probably evade that, but I still don't like the thought of waltzing in to an ambush.

Oh, would you look at that! My concerns about the Iteron being bait would appear to be unfounded. The Iteron remains on what does indeed turn out to be a K346, but now the Occator is there too. Maybe they are making a trip to high-sec together, which through a critically unstable wormhole may only allow one ship before collapsing, leaving one of them floating vulnerable in w-space. But the transport ship has pooped a jet-can that the Iteron is moving towards. An educated guess is that the Iteron doesn't know the way out beyond returning the way he came and has asked for wormhole bookmarks, which the Occator has just provided. This is distinctly not bait-like behaviour, how exciting!

I should act quickly. I decloak and burn towards the wormhole, which takes me towards the ships. After the recalibration delay ends I am able to gain a positive lock on both ships, but the Occator breaks it almost immediately by returning to null-sec through the wormhole. The Iteron remains, though, and he looks to be almost out of range of the wormhole. I may be able to stop him. I start shooting the hauler, pumping missiles in to his surprisingly sturdy shields. I'm hoping to prevent the ship from getting close enough to the wormhole to jump, knowing that I could follow and continue the assault but preferring to stay where I know there are currently no other ships, but I fail to realise that I started too far from the Iteron for my web module to snag it.

The Iteron is moving full pelt towards the wormhole, which admittedly isn't fast for a hauler but he must be close enough to jump. He doesn't jump. I keep shooting, and he still doesn't jump. I don't understand. We are both on top of the wormhole now and yet still he remains in this system, as his shields finally give up and I shred his armour and hull. Maybe the Iteron became polarised on the wormhole for some reason, realising he didn't have the required bookmarks to travel and jumping back to null-sec before being told to rendezvous with the Occator in the C3. Either way, I have a pod to catch, which is pretty easy to do when the pilot is already disorientated, afflicted by a session change timer, and sat on what looks like an easy escape route. A few more missiles introduces the capsuleer to the void.

I scoop, loot, and shoot, recovering some expanded cargoholds, shield modules, and a bookmark. As I suspected, the jettisoned canister from the Occator held coordinates for the Iteron to follow, and I must have decloaked and panicked the pilot before he could copy the bookmarks to his nav-comp. I move away from the wormhole and cloak, holding station as I find out if the pilots were related. They look to be in the strongly related corporations, judging by the names and logos, if not the same one, but there is a detail rather more interesting than their alliance.

I have no idea what neodymium is, but the Iteron was apparently stuffed full of it. An Iteron V, the largest of this class of ship, modified with cargo optimisation rigs, one of them Tech II, and fully fitted in the low slots with cargo hold expanders. The hauler was carrying over forty thousand units of neodymium, at an apparent loss of 750M ISK. I thought this was just another soft kill, an easy target popped opportunistically. And I suppose it was, but I am tickled pink to see the extent of the loss. Normally the haulers I pop have a bit of planet goo, or are empty because I catch them too soon, or too late, but this time I caught a big fish.

Maybe 750M ISK is not a huge loss for a null-sec corporation, but maybe this corporation is not a major faction out there either. And I would suspect that if you are transporting so much potential ISK you would want to protect it with at least an equivalent value of ships. I suppose crossing a single w-space system to reach high-sec seemed like a low-risk activity to the null-seccers. Of course, none of the neodymium survived the explosion, but that's okay. I would face the same risk recovering it as the Iteron did in hauling it, particularly it being on top of a wormhole. Then again, no one else comes through the wormhole in the time I am sitting there cloaked, gawping at the value of their loss. Either way, I've killed the activity in this system.

I head homewards and onwards, jumping through our static connection to another class 3 system. This one is curiously unoccupied. It looks like any other unoccupied system, with plenty of signatures and anomalies making themselves known to my scanning probes, also marking the system as infrequently visited. Sifting through the signatures finds only the one wormhole, it being a static connection to null-sec perhaps explaining in part the lack of occupation. But the C3 isn't as unvisited as I assume, as this K346 is reaching the end of its natural lifetime. The static connection must have been activated hours ago, but whoever did so has not left their own wormhole as a trace. That's okay, my super-expensive Iteron popping has made my night already. I recall my probes, jump home, and kick back for the night.

  1. 5 Responses to “Obstructing a null-sec short-cut”

  2. Ah. I saw tgl mention this kill nearly a month ago, now I finally know the story behind it :D

    By Planetary Genocide on Dec 11, 2011

  3. As always a great read - really enjoy your journals.

    Thank you :)

    By Castagar on Dec 11, 2011

  4. Out of curiosity, now that Dotlan and Static Mapper can no longer receive jumps in/out of a WH, will that be altering your SOPs or tactics?

    By JamesT on Dec 11, 2011

  5. Not really, JamesT. I never really used that information much, even if maybe I should have.

    Thanks, Castagar, and it's a pleasure to write them.

    And that rat bastard TG3, giving away spoilers! The next time our wormholes connect I'll hunt him down like a dog. That will probably be in two years or so, going by experience, and I'll have forgotten by then anyway. I'll probably have forgotten by tomorrow, actually.

    By pjharvey on Dec 11, 2011

  6. Gratz on the big isk kill, we all love those


    By Zandramus on Dec 12, 2011

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.