Bring your own bubble

16th December 2012 – 3.02 pm

Just sitting outside a tower, watching some ships. I procrastinated too long over ambushing a gassing Rokh battleship, so missed that opportunity to explode embarrassingly, and am now hoping that the Harbinger battlecruiser or Bestower hauler will become active in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. I don't hold out much hope, though, as neither ship has budged an inch since I entered the system, and hunted and stalked the Rokh. But what I do notice is that the two ships, along with the other four unpiloted ones, are all pointed in the same direction. That's rum. As nothing continues to happen, I launch probes and scan, to see if there is any significance to that vector.

I've bookmarked eight anomalies already, and resolved one of the signatures as a ladar site when hunting the Rokh, leaving me just four to scan now. I resolve a radar site and three wormholes, one feeling outboundy, and with still no movement occurring at the tower I make my own movement, reconnoitring the wormholes. The system's static exit to high-sec has a big bubble encompassing it, as does a K162 from high-sec that's at the end of its life. It seems I'm not the only overly cautious pilot in this system. The third wormhole must be new, or considered less of a threat, as the K162 from null-sec is bubble-free. I suppose high-sec can pose more of a threat in some ways.

I return to the tower with a view to continue watching the ships do nothing for a little longer, but am stirred to action sooner than expected by the appearance of a Mackinaw appearing on my directional scanner. It's possible the pilot has just come on-line and the exhumer will shortly warp in to the tower, but it's rarely a good idea to wait for ships to come to you. I open the system map and interrogate each wormhole using d-scan. It still isn't easy to tell which wormhole I'm using d-scan to look at, given that I've visited each one to give them the 'Unstable Wormhole' label that still obscures the context menu and bookmark information, despite the outstanding bug report that remains inexplicably unprocessed, but at least I can tell that the Mackinaw is on one of them.

My best guess is that the Mackinaw has entered the C3 through its static connection to high-sec. That would make sense. It would also mean the exhumer is stuck crawling through the warp bubble. What a perfect opportunity. If I react quickly enough, the Mackinaw will be too deep inside the bubble for it still to be unable to warp, whilst far enough from the wormhole for it to be unable to flee back to high-sec. I throw my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser in to warp towards the bubbled wormhole, having no fear of the bubble itself thanks to the fitted interdiction nullification subsystem, hoping that I haven't reacted too slowly.

I drop out of warp to see the Mackinaw in the dreadful position I had imagined. Dreadful for it, that is. I approach, closing the distance slowly, but only for the second or two it takes me to remember that the exhumer is already trapped. There's no need to be coy about this. But I make a sanity check, noting that the Mackinaw is local and coming from high-sec, so probably is returning from high-sec and not bait, before I drop my cloak and burn towards my new target. Sure enough, the Mackinaw has no option available but to try to keep calm and carry on as he sees a Loki decloak whilst he's slowly approaching the edge of his own corporation's warp bubble.

I gain a positive lock and start shooting, adding my point of disruption to the bubble's encompassing effect, in case the Mackinaw gets clear. He won't, of course, but there is merit in his continuing to try. The ship is effectively a goner, but if he can just get to the edge of the bubble then maybe the pilot can save his pod. He nearly makes it, too, but the Mackinaw explodes when still a couple of kilometres inside the warp bubble, ejecting its pod in to deadspace. It's a formality to crack the pod open and corpsify the pilot inside. I scoop, loot, and shoot, cloaking once done.

That was fun. Catching a miner on a high-sec wormhole caught in his own warp bubble is a rare moment, and one to be savoured. The return to continued quietness in C3a helps me with this, and I smugly return to loiter outside the tower, watching the Bestower and Harbinger still sitting stationary. But I can't stay here long. Now I'm curious as to where the wormhole to high-sec leads. I warp back, ignore the bubble, and jump to appear in a system in the Everyshore region. I'm quite close to Dodixie, but I don't suppose I'll see that Mackinaw pilot again. It's not so much that he won't want to risk taking another ship through that bubble, I just can't see anyone wanting to store clones in Gallente space.

I'll scan. Two anomalies and two extra signatures resolve to some Serpentis rats and a wormhole, a wormhole from class 1 w-space too. That's nifty. Jumping in to take a look around has nothing appear on d-scan, at least not until I adjust the settings and see two small Sleeper wrecks. Is there more gassing? I suspect not, as I probably won't get lucky twice in one night, and perform a passive scan of the system to pick up the anomalies. Thirteen are in the system, and one holds the wrecks. It looks like someone was interrupted, although I can't say by what. I should explore the system.

There's only one place ships could hide in C1a. From the anomaly, two planets are out of d-scan range, and only one has moons. I warp in that direction to see a particularly prickly tower for a class 1 w-space system, one that shares a position with a tower from over two years ago, joined by a second, less-intimidating tower around the same planet. There are no ships, though. It could be worth a poke for K162s. I launch probes and start sifting through the eighteen signatures, resolving a wormhole on the third signature, and, on seeing it as a K162 from class 2 w-space, feeling happy enough to recall my probes and continue system hopping.

C2a has two towers visible on d-scan, but no ships. Oh, and the wreck of a Gallente industrial ship a few kilometres from me on the wormhole. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that nothing more is going to happen in this system this evening. I sit cloaked on the wormhole, waiting for potential polarisation effects to dissipate—on the outside chance that someone is watching and waiting for me, and wants to engage my Loki—before jumping back to C1a and heading home. The systems remain quiet, the same ships sitting motionless in C3a, and I make it home safely, where I dump my booty and go off-line. Stalking a gasser, podding a miner trapped in his own bubble, and w-space exploration. It's been a good evening.