Know your enemy

29th May 2010 – 3.45 pm

It's difficult to prove a negative. Alone in our home system instead of going out to scan immediately I open our can where we share bookmarks. If someone has already mapped today's local neighbourhood there is no point in duplicating the effort. The problem is that the bookmark system is cumbersome, taking far too long to load simple data holders, which makes it difficult to know if the can is empty or if there are bookmarks and they are simply taking a while to load. After five minutes of looking at an empty can—because the bookmark system really is quite broken—I decide that perhaps I need to scan after all. I move out of the tower's shields, launch probes, and soon find our system's static connection and jump through.

The directional scanner shows the system to be clear within range of our exit wormhole in the neighbouring class 4 system, and a bit of warping around shows the system to be empty and inactive. There is, however, plenty of Sleeper activity, with many anomalies present. It is tempting not to find the system's static wormhole. I have growing evidence that the K162 exit connection does not appear until the wormhole in the originating system is visited, and thus 'opened'. By not locating this system's static wormhole the system can remain isolated, granting a later corporation fleet the opportunity to clear the anomalies for substantial profit with little risk of interruption. But ignoring the wormhole also means denying an exit to empire space, if needed, or finding any viable targets in later systems. I launch probes and start scanning.

Finding the static wormhole I think that maybe I made the right decision. The connection leads to a C1 system, the lowest class of w-space and more likely to have soft targets within. I jump in to the system to see probes on d-scan but no tower, which suggests that the scanner has come from a different system. There must be a K162 wormhole here, along with the system's static connection. I find a K162 wormhole, coming in from high-sec empire space, which is perhaps where the scanner is from, but I need to return to the tower for a while and don't have time to locate the static wormhole. I return home safely and copy my current bookmarks to our shared can before taking a break.

A bit later, I return to find our scan man in the C1 monitoring ship activity. It seems that some capsuleers are taking advantage of the weaker Sleeper ships in the system to get some quick profit. A Caracal cruiser and a bunch of battlecruisers—a Harbinger, two Hurricanes and two Drakes—are clearing anomalies. One of the Hurricane battlecruisers looks to be the salvaging boat, occasionally being left behind to sweep up the wrecks. My suspicion is that these are high-sec tourists, taking advantage of a serendipitous connection to low-difficulty w-space. It is quite possible that dropping scary ships in to the middle of their fleet unexpectedly will startle them in to fleeing, after which we can destroy the two or three ships we snare with warp disruptors. With three of us available we stand a fair chance of getting a kill or two, particularly as the other fleet is unlikely to be fitted with PvP modules. I board my Onyx heavy interdictor, a colleague is in his Lachesis recon ship, and our scan man will get us a point to warp to before returning in something suitably threatening.

We warp to the wormhole connecting to the C1, holding on the C4 side until we have the right opportunity to engage. The situation looks good and we are called to jump. The wormhole flares as we pass through, and we warp to the position of our scout. Once we are in warp, he leaves the pocket and system to swap ships back at the tower. We drop on top of the battlecruisers, lock, and start firing. But I'm not making much of a dent in their shields, let alone getting in to their armour. The Lachesis warps out and I try to find the weakest target, but not only do they all seem quite hardy none of them are fleeing. As my shields start evaporate under the incoming fire of six ships and their drones I also realise that I am pointed, one of the ships disrupting my warp drive. My second Onyx explodes around me.

I have a contingency plan. I warp my capsule to the high-sec exit, jump through, and dock to buy a new ship. It's not a great contingency plan, but it works for me. At least my pod survives and there is a convenient exit to replace my lost Onyx quickly. I don't get the best prices on the ship and a few modules, because of the location, but I am able to buy and fit a new ship relatively quickly, and after jumping to various local systems I am ready to return to w-space. All I need is a name for my new Onyx, for which I choose Placeholder for now. The only flaw in my plan was not bookmarking the high-sec side of the wormhole. Our scout is out and willing to guide me in and I warp to his position. A Cormorant destroyer is sitting on the high-sec side of the wormhole, but the w-space side is reported to be clear. I'll jump back, heading for home, and see what happens.

What I don't expect is for the wormhole to close behind me. Both my Onyx and our scout get through, but then the wormhole collapses. Neither of us even noticed it was critically unstable. It is difficult to tell the relative size of a wormhole, though, unlike the EOL effect which is quite visibly more wobbly than a normal wormhole. I consider this to be Mothman's revenge! The death of my Onyx will have been not in vain if I have disconnected the fleet from empire space. Unfortunately, the C1 has a static high-sec exit wormhole, one that the fleet has apparently already found. And, as it is static, they are guaranteed a return to high-sec as long as they keep a scanning boat in the system with them, which I imagine they do.

My assumption that this fleet is composed of high-sec tourists is wrong. They very likely have come from high-sec, but considering the situation further offers an interesting option. They came through a static wormhole that leads from high-sec space to a class 1 w-space system. The nature of static connections means the high-sec system must then always contain a wormhole that leads to C1 w-space. It would make sense for the corporation to establish a nice and secure base in this high-sec system and visit the current C1 system for some easy and profitable Sleeper combat whenever they please. Indeed, as the engagements will be straightforward, particularly with a small fleet of ships, they are able to fly with configurations that have some PvP capability. Their ability to engage Sleepers in a class 1 system won't be comprimised and they will be able to counter weak threats from foolhardy w-space inhabitants. It's quite a nice set-up.

Oh well, another expensive ship lost for no good reason. At least I was neither podded nor isolated from w-space, and I get even more experience at being shot. It all builds character.

  1. 3 Responses to “Know your enemy”

  2. Another great story! I'm really enjoying your WH adventures, it's been interesting watching your playstyle change over time.

    Can you make the assumption that a particular K-space system will always have a WH present, static or otherwise? Aren't WHs more random than that?

    I know from my own high-sec tourist dabbling in my local constellation that sometimes there's a K162 present, sometimes an outgoing WH, and sometimes no WH at all. Or sometimes multiple WHs incoming and/or outgoing.

    Or am I missing something?

    By Btek on May 30, 2010

  3. @Btek systems in wspace have static wh associated with them and that statiic always leads to same type of system, so in wspace whs aren't entiirely random.
    @Penny That said, kspace systems don't have statics, any wh originating from kspace is random, and most likely won't repeat.

    By Mick Straih on May 30, 2010

  4. I know k-space is different, but this is completely wacky. I don't know how people live there.

    Thanks for the information Mick, and thanks for prompting the question Btek.

    By pjharvey on May 30, 2010

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