Having a second crack on a high-sec wormhole

25th August 2013 – 3.20 pm

A quick check of the constellation on my return is disappointing. I had hoped that the dying static wormhole to class 1 w-space would be replaced by something fresh, only to turn up at the connection to the class 4 system holding it to see that wormhole now in its death throes. All I manage to do is pop a couple of rats in low-sec Aridia, on my way out of and back through the constellation, before taking another break. And, now on my second return, I'm going to refresh our system.

Some massive ships thrown haphazardly through our static wormhole coincidentally have enough combined mass to collapse it, and even leaves me in our home system. What luck! Bye bye, wormhole, let's hope your replacement is kinder to me. I get back in my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, resolve the new static connection, and jump through to the unexplored class 3 w-space system. And I can see ships. Ships that should be cloaked, but still ships.

The Nemesis and Manticore stealth bombers, and Cheetah covert operations boat are unlikely to be active if they can be seen, so I suspect they are sitting at the tower also visible on my directional scanner. A visit from four months ago directs my attention towards a certain planet, where the tower seems to remain, and rather than head there first to check for a lack of pilots I warp in the other direction to drop out of d-scan range and launch probes. That doesn't work, though.

So I can't get out of d-scan range of the tower. So what? It's not like anyone's watching, and I simply launch probes and perform a blanket scan, as I warp across to the same tower I saw on my last visit. Hello, a capsuleer is present after all, the Nemesis piloted, but I still don't think he's paying attention. That's good too, because with any luck he doesn't see my Loki decloak as its systems crash and I force a reboot. Dumb rust bucket.

Either the pilot knows I'm here or he's asleep at the controls, it means I'm scanning through the ten anomalies and ten signatures to look for actual activity. And what a bounty of wormholes, five of them resolved in total. That looks good on futuristic space paper, but what about in practice? An N968 outbound link to class 3 w-space, a K162 from high-sec, a K162 from class 2 w-space, a K162 from class 6 w-space, and the static exit to high-sec. Okay, yes, that's pretty good.

I'll get the high-sec exits before delving deeper, just for safety's sake. No, belay that warping, cadet! I'll check out what that new Mammoth hauler is doing on d-scan. He's at the tower, but not for long. I drop out of warp outside the force field just in time to see the Mammoth warp away, but at least I see which way he warps. He's gone to space and not a customs office, and thanks to my scanning I know he's headed towards the static exit to high-sec. I'll pootle behind him.

I can't catch the Mammoth in high-sec, not without Concord forcing me to buy another new Loki, but if the hauler comes back too soon the ship will be polarised, and I can trap him on a high-sec wormhole. That's always fun. Waiting for a ship to possibly return isn't, but if he doesn't come back polarised the Mammoth will have an easy escape route, so I probably won't wait for too long. Probably. I note the time and mark the minutes, and the time passes when the Mammoth's polarisation effects would no longer be an issue. Hmm.

In my experience, Mammoths break pretty easily. All I need to do is catch the pilot off-guard and get a couple of shots in and I could still get a kill, hence why I wait a couple of minutes longer than I really ought. But the wormhole crackles, and it is probably the Mammoth. I can't decloak immediately, though, as I want the ship to initiate warp, adding the extra step of cancelling warp to the process of fleeing back through a wormhole. A flustered pilot may take a few seconds working that out. So I hold my cloak until—there!—the Mammoth appears.

I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and ignore the recalibrating going on in the background as I try to get a positive lock on the Mammoth. It doesn't happen. Whether I was too slow or the Mammoth is optimised for agility I can't say. He warps away, leaving me staring at a wormhole. Oh well, I guess that's that. I warp across the K162 from class 2 w-space and jump through, where d-scan shows me loads of ships! I've forgotten about that Mammoth already.

Lots of ships, but no wrecks and one tower. One tower where all the twenty-three ships float unpiloted. I'm not wasting any more time here, so head back to C3a and across to C3b, through the N968, where I see a tower with no ships. It's disappointing, but not misleading. It's also boring, and getting late, although I notice that this is the system with the Wormhole Engineers container wishing the locals a Merry Christmas. Not these locals, I suppose, as we kinda blew up their tower that Christmas Eve, but it's a nice memento to come across occasionally.

Back to C3b and, well, maybe not to the C6 K162, as the Mammoth is gone from d-scan again. Back to high-sec? I think it's worth loitering by that wormhole again, if only because I have a couple of factors working in my favour. First, the pilot has evaded me there once already, so he'll probably be cocky about doing it again. Second, I can be quicker. I don't need to reveal my ship now, but as soon as the wormhole crackles I can assume it's the Mammoth and decloak immediately, soaking up the recalibration delay. If it's the Mammoth, he'll assume he can get clear and try to warp. If it's not, I can make a judgment call and bail out through the wormhole if necessary.

I sit and wait. The wormhole crackles. I decloak, get my sensor booster active, and watch for a ship appearing. It's the Mammoth. I go to target the hauler and accidentally catch the wormhole instead, but despite this blunder I still get a positive lock on the Mammoth and swap my guns and warp scrambler across to him in time. And, sure enough, the Minmatar ship crumbles under a little bit of autocannon fire. I burn towards him in the hopes of bumping the ship away from the wormhole, but I only end up flying through the explosion.

Locking on to the pod of the destroyed Mammoth

Wreck and corpse of the cocky Mammoth pilot

The pilot must be disorientated, as aiming for the pod catches it, and one more autocannon volley cracks it open for a new corpse to scoop. Ah, that was lovely. I loot and shoot the wreck, not bagging anything to speak of, but the corpse has quite a few relatively inexpensive implants in it to push up cost of the pilot's loss. And I see that the Mammoth had no warp core or agility stabilisers fitted. I was just a bit rubbish the first time, obviously. And I'm feeling good about killing another hauler on a high-sec wormhole. So good, in fact, that I'm going to ignore that C6 K162 and just head home for the night to get some rest.

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