Early customs collection

18th March 2013 – 5.19 pm

I really want to actually shoot someone today, preferably with an explosion at the end. I don't care whose by this point. To this end, I'm up early to hopefully catch a bleary-eyed planet gooer going on his rounds. An unexpected signature in the home system gets me off to a promising start, as the K162 from class 4 w-space could mean there are already active pilots starting to get themselves motivated to perform some drudgery that will only be enlivened by projectile ammunition spewing from my autocannons.

One curious complication is that the K162 is sitting at half-mass, already stressed by ships passing through. That's more activity than I'd expect for this hour, so maybe the wormhole was opened a while back. Swinging past our static connection shows that to be healthy, so it's possible that not the same mass was sent through our system, only in to it, although having all our anomalies still present doesn't corroborate that. Perhaps the K162 is in the process of being collapsed, because our neighbouring class 3 w-space system leads somewhere dull. But waiting on the wormhole for a couple of minutes has no ships entering. I'd better take a look.

Balls. I appear in C4a over seven kilometres from the wormhole, which is a fair indication that nothing has been happening in the system for a long while. My directional scanner shows me nothing too, and exploring reveals an unoccupied system. That could give me another wormhole to find, and one where the system beyond is actually awake, so I launch probes and scan the four anomalies and five signatures. Gas, rocks, and two radar sites are all that the C4 holds, so whatever connection brought ships this way has been crashed. C4a is a dead end.

I have another system to investigate for activity, so jump back home, warp across to our static wormhole, and enter C3a. Crapsticks. This time, I appear over eight kilometres from the wormhole, which really can't be a good sign. I am too early today. I can still take a look around, though, and maybe find more wormholes and w-space systems. I warp away from the single tower with no ships on d-scan so that I can launch probes, only to bump in to a second tower, this one with ships. I expect the Orca industrial command ship, Bestower hauler, Ares interceptor, and Retriever mining barge all to be empty, but locating the tower sees the Bestower piloted. That's a nice surprise.

Appearing in the system so far from the wormhole is a generally good sign of prolonged inactivity, so I imagine the pilot of the Bestower has only just woken up. That's good. Well, that's good for me, as it means he's probably getting orientated before going out to collect planet goo. It's not good for him, because now I'm glued to the tower, waiting and watching for his ship to move. My only problem is that this tower is on the edge of the system, quite far from the rest of the planets, and as the planets all seem much closer together because of the relatively narrow angle between them it will be difficult to determine an accurate vector when the Bestower warps.

Try picking out the hauler's destination from that mess

Because of the difficulty with gauging exactly where the Bestower would be warping towards the inner system, I feel a warm surge of an impending successful ambush as the hauler turns and aligns towards the nearest planet, the one the tower sits around. We are so close to the planet that the HUD brackets for the planet and its customs office are distinctly separated. The Bestower is quite clearly heading to customs, and so I follow it confidently. It's pretty easy to decloak on approach, lock on to the hauler, and destroy it in a few volleys of my autocannons. The pod flees, my targeting systems not quite agile enough to stop it, leaving me to loot and shoot the resultant wreck.

Ambushing the Bestower outside a customs office

Planet gooing Bestower explodes outside a customs office

That's my kill. It's from a soft target, and cheap, but it's valid and what I was after. That's good enough for me. Now it's back to general w-space operations. I watch the pod in the tower swap to a Heron frigate and do nothing, so warp away to launch probes—finding a third tower with more empty ships on the other other side of the system—and perform a blanket scan. I bookmark fourteen anomalies and scan the six signatures, there being few enough that I fully resolve and bookmark them all. I'm not going to hang around now but I will be returning, and in several hours' time, so there's an ever-so slight chance that my presence will be forgotten or discarded by then and I can catch some pilots without needing to launch probes for once.

It's gas all the way in this class 3 system, with the exception of the static exit to high-sec empire space. I jump to high-sec to complete the simple constellation map, appearing in a system in Essence, and leave my exploration at that for now. I return to w-space, see the Heron has gone off-line, and head home for a sammich.

  1. 7 Responses to “Early customs collection”

  2. "I appear in C4a over seven kilometres from the wormhole, which is a fair indication that nothing has happening in the system for a long while."

    Why is it an indication of inactivity? I've always figured the distance one pop out at was purely random. However, I have noticed that holes move a bit sometimes, especially after downtime.

    By Akely on Mar 18, 2013

  3. Yes, I am pretty much basing it on the peculiarity of signatures shifting after the daily maintenance reboot. My experience is that a wormhole that has yet to be visited since daily downtime will throw a ship in to the system on to the signature itself, on the unvisited side, which tends to be far from the wormhole's physical centre.

    This doesn't mean the system is inactive, as I have found a few systems with active pilots where I've been spat out over 6 km from the wormhole. Even so, it seems like a good first approximation, as most wormholes will be scanned and checked by any vigilant scout soon after activity begins in a system. And, indeed, any active wormholes will have had a scout jump through them already, visiting both sides of the connection.

    By pjharvey on Mar 18, 2013

  4. Seems like a probable asumtion that. As for the notion that holes will be checked after activity begins I must adtmit that we sometimes do not check our statics unless we want to use them OR there is signs of 'guests'. Perhaps guest activity is what you meant whit "activity begins" and not whenever the holes locals log in.

    Unopened holes is a safety in itself at times. :)

    By Akely on Mar 18, 2013

  5. Yep, unopened wormholes are the best security. But, and call me paranoid if you like, a wormhole scanned but left alone cannot be guaranteed to be closed.

    Consider a scout passing through, declaring the constellation dead, and collapsing their wormhole in to your system. You turn up, scan, and, on seeing just the one wormhole, consider it to be inactive. You could be in for a surprise.

    The only way to guarantee a closed wormhole is to force your current one to collapse, and ensure nothing new connects to you.

    By pjharvey on Mar 18, 2013

  6. That's what I adore with W-space. You can never be sure. In your hole a K162 from our hole could be opened and suddenly I'd be there trying to melt your ship. Or vice versa. :D

    For me the removal of registred number of jumps in W-space and the lack of Local makes it the only place to live for me.

    By Akely on Mar 18, 2013

  7. I was going to ask the same question as Akely as to your conclusions based on distance from wh's upon jump-in, and your response is interesting. I haven't seen much rhyme or reason to it, though admittedly I am a (daily) low-sec based daytripper and not a wh resident. Yesterday I found an unshielded POS that I assume just ran out of fuel due to corp inactivity (netted about 600 mil in drops, yay) in a C1 that had no apparent kill-based activity for the last 48 hours, but as I moved my hauler in and out I was often too close to cloak immediately upon jump in. In retrospect, I wish I would have paid attention to how far I was from the hole on my initial jump-in to see if your theory worked for me too.

    By Gwydion Voleur on Mar 19, 2013

  8. Here's a simple test, if time-consuming:

    Find a wormhole late in the day. Jump in. See where you appear in the system. Jump back out. Optional: repeat as long as you can bear polarisation effects.

    Wait until downtime. Log-in shortly afterwards. Return to the wormhole. Jump in. See where you appear in the system and if you are on top of the cosmic signature. Jump out. Jump back in.

    Jumping in to an active system, you should appear between 500 m and 4,500 m from the wormhole. After downtime, probably 5,500 m to 8,500 m. After that first jump after downtime, back to 500 m to 4,500 m. Repeat on separate days, or with different wormholes, to achieve greater statistical significance.

    By pjharvey on Mar 19, 2013

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