Not bringing back the HIC

19th February 2010 – 5.44 pm

I want to buy a new toy, which means scanning my way out of w-space back to New Eden. I make it out of our home system on the second attempt, and I don't just mean finding the wormhole. My ship's computer relays the message that 'the exit wormhole is stabilising, please try again'. I don't think the wormhole has only just appeared but that the next system is empty of capsuleers, as I often have to try a couple of times to wake myself up at the tower if I am the only one there. It is good to have the assurance that I'll be alone in w-space. When I get in to the system, I am able to resolve a signature as a wormhole on the second attempt. The wormhole I jump through continues in to dangerous unknown space, lowering the probability of holding an exit to k-space and no doubt extending my scanning time a little more.

The directional scanner reveals only one planet in the system. And really only one planet. Expecting at least a star as well I open the system map and see that not only is the system huge but the wormhole I come through is situated outside the outer planet, which is what I pick up on d-scan. I warp around the system, hopping between a few planets checking to see if the system is occupied. The presence of a scanner probe on d-scan suggests I am not alone, until I realise it's mine. The system is unoccupied, and full of signatures. Sometimes I like to go by a name, and even though ZOD turns out to be full of rocks the OBI signature is a wormhole. Stretch out with your feelings, Penny. The wormhole leads in to a lower-class w-space system, an exit may be close.

D-scan reveals a tower, but there are no ships to be seen. I start scanning, finding there to be a dozen anomalies but only a handful of signatures. I pluck a wormhole from the signatures on a first attempt, and it turns out to lead to high-sec space. Today's scanning has gone smoothly. Checking the information on the wormhole shows that it is pristine, as if it has only just appeared. I imagine it will be stable for a while. Then again, it is listed as an 'unstable' wormhole, which seems superfluous as a description unless there are also stable wormholes that have no risk of collapse, regardless of mass passing through or time. Maybe these stable wormholes are yet to be found. Either way, I return to the corporation tower, drop off the bookmarks to the exit, and head out to New Eden in my Crane.

Out in high-sec I punch the auto-pilot to take me to corporation headquarters, before quickly realising that two hops are low-sec. I reset my auto-pilot preferences to remain in safe space, also confirming that the exit system is not part of a high-sec island, and restart my journey. Living in w-space makes it easy to forget these details, as all stargates seem equally convenient when all you normally have is wormholes. I get to HQ to refresh my ME research jobs, then rush off to market to buy a new ship. I take a little time to check I am buying the relevant modules, at least on a basic level, and buy and fit a shiny new Onyx heavy interdictor. It's not pretty, but part of the charm rests in the uncompromising design of locking down enemy ships. I have named it Ro-Jaws.

The Onyx is based on a cruiser hull, making it too big to squeeze in to the Crane. I leave the transport ship behind for now, starting the journey back to the wormhole to get Ro-Jaws to the corporation tower. Jumping back in to w-space from high-sec startles me for a second, as a ship and orbiting drones is sitting on the other side. But it's okay, his blue background indicates the pilot is friendly, I should be okay. I am a little surprised to see him lock-on to my new ship, scramble my drive, and start shooting. I wait a couple of seconds to see if he withdraws, activating my tank to boost my already considerable resistances to damage, but he keeps shooting. What is he thinking? I jump back through the wormhole to high-sec to escape.

Sitting on the other side of the wormhole I reflect on what has just happened. It could just have been a mistake, a trigger-happy capsuleer engaging before confirming me as a legitimate target. I have to wait a few minutes for my hull to depolarise after the recent jump, after which I jump back hopefully to a passive reception. Back in w-space, the same pilot again locks-on to my Onyx, scrambles my drive, and starts shooting. But this time he's brought a friend in a Drake to help him. Now I'm getting angry. I jump back out to high-sec and open communications with one of the attackers asking why they are shooting me. It is at this point that a series of frustrations arises, mitigated mostly by the attackers' own incompetence.

I feel obliged to point out that I have no fundamental objection to capsuleers shooting me. I don't believe I am a princess who deserves exemption from the harsher realities of New Eden and beyond, neither do I think that w-space should be safe if all I want to do is pass through a system. Far from it. I do, however, have a problem with people specifically promoted as allies shooting me, as it seems pointless having allies if they treat you as an enemy. It turns out that although my attackers are blue to me I am a firmly neutral grey to them, and they had no reason not to shoot me. I was fair game. This explains their lack of response when I pointedly ask why the bloody hell they are shooting me, as they clearly must have been bemused at my reaction at getting shot in lawless w-space. I hope my indignation at getting shot is also clear, now that both sides of the encounter are known.

There are two problems here. First, I should have been blue to the attackers. The agreement to join the alliance of wormhole corporations is a couple of months old but apparently not enacted, an oversight I believe has been corrected. There should not have been a conflict to begin with. Second, the mechanics of mutual relations are clearly insufficient. With not-red-don't-shoot (NRDS) and not-blue-shoot-it (NBSI) policies both active in New Eden, there really needs to be a way to distinguish between more than just your standing towards someone, if that standing is not automatically mutual. It turns out that standings are not automatically mutual, which contributes to my confusion. If I had been aware that I may not be blue to someone who is blue to me, I might not have been quite so agitated at an apparent ally shooting me. On the other hand, if the interface itself distinguished between mutual allies and unmutual allies I may not have made the misguided assumption in the first place. It is not sufficient to know a capsuleer's standing towards me if my standing towards him is just as important.

If it hadn't been for an incompetent ambush, I may be seriously annoyed. There is nothing particularly wrong about sitting on top of a wormhole to catch unwary ships jumping in to a system. You may get surprised when a small fleet appears on top of you, but it will certainly get some capsuleers in trouble. The mistake was the choice of wormhole to sit on. I mention above that quickly jumping both ways through a wormhole polarises a ship's hull for a few minutes, and that is key to wormhole traps. Scrambling a ship's drive may stop them warping, but not escaping through a wormhole. But if you follow them to the other side they must warp away or fight, as wormholes don't allow individual ships to make multiple quick jumps. The mistake is sitting on a high-sec exit, where engaging your prey on the wrong side of the wormhole will attract Concord, New Eden's police. Jumping through the wormhole away from the attack in to high-sec space almost guarantees an escape route. If the goal is to prevent high-sec tourists then sitting on the wormhole will work, but as it looks like this system is not the attackers' own even that motive seems dubious. Of course, I am also lucky that I choose to fly an Onyx back to w-space, its impressive tank never in danger of breaking so quickly, at least in the case of this poor ambush. But if the attack had been competent, I could have lost my new ship.

As it is, before the confusion of standings is resolved, I am stopped from coming back to w-space without getting some aid and potentially destroying supposed allies. This nearly happens, as a couple of colleagues are willing to hop in to battleships and come to my aid. I really appreciate it, but my Onyx isn't fully operational just yet and my added frustration won't help. I jump back to where I parked my Crane and exit my pod to do something different for a while.

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