Mucking around with a Mastodon

30th October 2010 – 3.21 pm

Moving homes between wormholes poses several logistical problems. Having a wormhole die of old age can be an issue, but more of a problem is stressing each connection's mass limit with the large number of ships that need to be passed through. Our neighbouring class 4 w-space system's static wormhole feels the pressure and implodes, losing us access to the class 1 system with the exit to high-sec empire space. But that's okay, the new static connection can be found, which will also lead to a C1. We just need to hope that this next C1 will have a convenient exit, and that our own static wormhole will stand the current stress for a little longer.

The C4 is scanned by a scout and the new C1 connection resolved, and when the class 1 system is scanned we do indeed get another exit to empire space. In fact, this exit takes us to a high-sec system only four jumps away from the first convenient exit we found, where I docked my Crane transport and Falcon recon ships. This new exit will make consolidating assets and retrieving ships easier, but it doesn't help with my other ships eighteen jumps away. W-space and wormholes are capricious, though, and it is just as likely that those more distant ships will be easier to retreive when the time comes to populate our chosen class 5 system, and there really is no need to worry about anything just yet.

The first ship I move is my Manticore, but I am not leaving w-space. A Mastodon transport ship is reported in the class 1 system and I get my stealth bomber there to try to cause mischief, but not quickly enough. The Mastodon warps to the exit wormhole and jumps out to high-sec. A transport ship leaving w-space generally means the same transport ship will be coming back, and I loiter on the wormhole to catch his return. In the meantime, colleagues use the connection themselves, taking ships and other assets out to store temporarily in stations. Each flare of the wormhole gets my attention and I prepare to fire, but thankfully my overview is configured not to show corporate or fleet ships and there are no accidents.

Ships going out and coming back in again form a kind of rhythm. One ship jumps out, it docks and is stowed, and a little while later a pod jumps back in. The wormhole almost has a pulse, measured in cosmological time. But I notice an irregularity to the pulse, a couple of beats occurring far too close to each other, and this arrhythmia signals a problem. I pay much more attention to the wormhole now and am rewarded with the decloaking of the returning Mastodon. I drop my cloak, and lock and point the transport ship, who, oblivious to my presence, starts to align before the session change timer ends, preventing him from jumping back through the wormhole immediately. But deep space transport ships are quite hardy and a couple of volleys of torpedoes do no significant damage to the Mastodon, and he is able to wait for the timer to expire and jump away from trouble.

A second stealth bomber arrives to help with irritating the Mastodon pilot, and we manoeuvre away from the wormhole to bombing range. Launching bombs should be pointless, as a savvy pilot will hold the session change cloak, which grants immunity from damage, and only try to move away once it is possible to jump back through the wormhole should danger present itself. And the ten-second flight time of bombs gives enough warning for even the slowest of pilots to react. But at least we can say we tried. We wait a bit longer, the Mastodon now polarised and having to wait for the charge to dissipate, but he returns a second time. The transport ship holds his session change cloak, begins to align for warp once the timer ends, and jumps back to empire space when we launch our bombs. It's all quite predictable.

What we don't predict is a Drake battlecruiser to warp from the tower in this class 1 system to the wormhole. Glorious leader Fin is quick to engage it in her Manticore and I follow, also joined in the assault by another colleague in his Loki strategic cruiser. But the Drake doesn't appear to have come to shoo us away—or if he did he doesn't expect such resistance—and merely jumps to empire space himself. A pod then jumps in and warps away, there being no point in even trying to catch one without a warp bubble, soon followed by a Ferox battlecruiser warping to the wormhole and jumping to empire space.

I have no idea what is happening, but because it looks like the capsuleers are outside of the wormhole I suggest trying to collapse it in the hopes of forcing them to return or be isolated. It's an interesting plan, but the wormhole turns out to be more massive than we realise and would take many more jumps to destabilise than is worth making. We head homewards instead, to continue our own operation. At least, some of us do. Enough ships have already passed through the connection between the C4 and C1 that it is on the verge of collapse, and although some care is taken to ensure the larger cruisers jump through last it only takes my tiny frigate-hulled Manticore to drag the wormhole to its hyperspatial doom. A Lachesis recon ship and Loki don't make it back, but at least we weren't successful in collapsing the exit to empire space and it remains available.

It's time to scan again, to find a new route to empire space to get our pilots home and continue moving assets. I board my Buzzard covert operations boat and scan our neighbouring C4, our own static wormhole still taking the strain of ships passing through. A new static wormhole to a class 1 system is quickly found and I jump in to look for an exit, but am distracted by the sight of a Hulk exhumer, mining drones, and jet-cans on my directional scanner. Getting our colleagues back to w-space can wait, but not for long. I again show some aptitude in getting a good bearing and range of the mining ship on d-scan, but again fail to translate that in to a successful placement of scanning probes.

It takes several scans to locate the gravimetric site the Hulk was in, warping to it after the drones are recalled, the Hulk has warped out, and a hauler has come and gone to collect the ore. I bookmark the site anyway, in the vain hope that the pilot alert enough to notice scanning probes on his d-scan will be paradoxically stupid enough to return to mining within a few minutes. I get back to scanning the system for wormholes, resolving an exit to low-sec empire space that our pilots can use to return home. I check the rest of the system, finding only gravimetric sites and a K162 wormhole, but I don't feel like exploring further. The hour is late, the Hulk pilot has logged off, and I need some sleep. I head home to rest.

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