Monday, March 29, 2010

Trouble in the Neighborhood

One of the ahem pleasures of wormhole life is the daily scan for new signatures - both in our own w-system as well as whichever new neighbor we happen to have. New sites, possible hostiles, exits to hi-sec - the usual intel. Standing order is that whoever gets up first, is in charge of scanning.

This Sunday it turned out to be me who got up first. Grumbling, second cup of coffee in hand, I padded down to the pod bay, to begin the ritual of podding up. A quick scan around the system, I told myself, one hour tops - no biggie.

Out in space, the scan of our own system went quickly. We were having another dry spell, so apart from one anomaly there were just the customary lo-sec and w-space connections. Oh well, might as well poke my head in.

Materializing in the other system, I immediately hit the d-scan.... oh-ho! Two towers, lots of guns, and a few Badgers and Retrievers toiling around. Jumping across the system to the outermost planet revealed two more “spare” towers. I start working my backwards through the planets, locating the exact locations of those POSes and taking note of their owners.

Hmm, one Russian POS, with just one gun battery, one shield hardener, a corporate hangar and a ship array; the others were owned by the Stellar Defense Alliance, with pretty decent setups. Oh, look! Another POS at the inner planets. Not much point in scanning for sigs here, all will be gone anyway.

Kat VonHeise > o/

What? A quick check of my systems reveals that I’m well away from celestials, and my cloak is still working. Reply? Ignore? Slink away and pretend I’ve never been here?

Aryiel VonHeise > how do you like our ore? :o)

Ok, they can’t mean me then - I’m nowhere near the ‘roids. They must be talking to the Retrievers I have on scan.

Kir Friar > да

Meanwhile, back at our POS, our other corp mates are starting their day, and I begin relaying back the situation. Which for the next half hour consisted of nothing, except the Russians anchoring a second gun battery. Then...

Plinth Alon > Guys - we are not looking for any neighbors here. I prefer that you not set up in this hole.
Plinth Alon > You have two hours to leave, or we will have to kill you.
Plinth Alon > We have a Revelation Dreadnaught at our POS - Planet VII, Moon 4. Come look. But come in cloaked so you don't get shot. We will have to kill you if you do not leave

And indeed - there’s now a Revelation on d-scan, plus an assortment of battleships. Word spreads quickly on our comms - breakfast forgotten, safety checklists ignored, people are scrambling into their cloaky ships, all for the chance to see one of these behemoths up close in action!

At the same time, bewilderment. Who begins mining a w-space system before their POS is even set up? And who sets up a POS in a system that already has five foreign towers to begin with?

[ Total noobs ] opined Calcinus.

All the while, I moved myself into a nice observation spot near the Russian POS. The local residents show an astonishing amount of patience, holding a negotiation in English and Babel-Russian in the local channel. We’re passing our time shooting the breeze, including the discussion of a couple of harebrained schemes to install Popcorn dispensers into our Pods (it’s the amniotic fluid, see? It makes the popcorn all soggy). The two-hour-mark ticks closer and closer - and finally the Russians give in.

Bonevsky > ok, Fitz, we not instal battery and any othe structures
Bonevsky > we scan new wormholes to hi sec and out here. Ok?

Hmm, they must have lost their original entrance. If they scan for exits and find the connection to us and decide that our cozy lil’ system might be a nice place to re-settle... Cal had voiced this concern before, but now it had a distinct chance of becoming reality. ‘An ounce of prevention’ and all that.

“Cal, do you have anything cloaked with teeth?”

[ I have my Pilgrim - let me get back to our system and guard the WH from our side. ]


Jaana was thinking along the same line: [ I’ll get to a TAC on this side of the WH. ]


Now we had eyes, but we were still lacking in the teeth department. At the same time, I didn’t want to give up my station at the Russian POS - I wanted to know what else they had. Plus, so far nobody had noticed our presence here - I didn’t want to tip our hand before I absolutely had to.

[ I’m in my Pilgrim and at the WH ], reports Cal. [ But don’t we have some of those warp probes? ]

“You mean Warp Bubbles? Yes, several - aah, good idea! Wake up Sparky and let him anchor some at the exit.”

[ Will do. Oh, and if their Prober gets through? ]

Good question.

“The bubbles should deter him. But if they don’t and he tries to burn out, shoot him.”

Minutes pass, Sparky anchors (under much grumbling) the two bubbles, and not a moment too soon.

[ Russian Heron at our WH ], reports Jaana.

“What’s he doing?”

[ Don’t know - nothing at the moment. No, wait, he’s moving away from it now. And he put probes out. ]

“Maybe he realized that this is not a hi-sec exit?”

[ Maybe... ]

In Local channel, meanwhile, chatter was going back and forth between the (still patient) residents and the Russians - most of it incomprehensible to us. I was close to calling it a wrap, when a change on the scanner tickled my neural receptors.

“The Russians have brought out an Eagle. ” A quick scan of the ship register pulls up the related information. “A Caldari HAC.”

[ People fly them? ]

“Cal, can you take on a HAC?”

[ No, not in this ship. ]

Now that was a pickle - it was too late for me to get into something heavier, and I was not sure that we could get our Battleship pilot into the game quickly enough. We just had to let it play out.

“The Eagle warped off.”

[ Eagle is at the WH ], reports Jaana. [ He’s approaching... he’s gone through. ]

[ WH flash. ] confirms Cal. [ I don’t see him yet. ]

Friggin’ jump cloak!

[ There he is. ] announces Cal sixty tense seconds later. [ Nice - he’s in the middle of one of the bubbles. ... He’s heading back to the WH - and he is through. ]

And indeed, shortly after, the Eagle dropped out of warp near the Russian POS.

“You know,” I admitted, “I wasn’t sure that this would work.”

[ Heron warped off. ]

We stayed a little while longer, but it became clear that the main entertainment for the day was over: the Russians continued to try and scan for an exit without much success, but everybody stayed well clear of our WH.

“Ok, let’s call it.”, I announced finally. “Nothing will happen here anytime soon. And should they come to us after all, we’ll deal with it later - though I doubt it.”

[ Too bad that we didn’t get to see the Revelation in action. ]

“Yeah - guess we have to build our own for that to happen.”

We leisurely made our way back to our POS (leaving the bubbles in place, just in case), in a surprisingly good mood, considering that we just spent one hour and 220 minutes doing pretty much nothing. And of course we were now curious about the fate of the Russians - would they make it out? Would Space Defense Alliance lose patience after all and pop them?

Maybe I should write the SDA and ask.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010




*beep*CLACK* *bzzm*bzbzmbzmm*

“AARGH! Turn the fracking lights off!”

“Oops, sorry.”


“”Sorry“ my arse.”, I growled. “You knew exactly I was here.”

“Well, ok, I knew.” I heard Eta making her way through the cramped POS control room. “But what’s up with this blackout?”

“I’m trying to relax for a few minutes - and have you seen this room with lights on? I prefer the Blinkenlights.”

“Point.” She found her way to my spot, and made herself comfy on one of the consoles. “So, Sis, what have you been up to?”

Good question - what have I been doing?

“Uhmmm... ”, I hedged, “you know how it is: this and that, and afterwards you can’t remember exactly what it is you did.”

“Tush! I didn’t fly all the way to your hi-sec connection just to listen to Corporate Speak!”

“Ok, well - we had some more Corpies coming in here, but we also had our setbacks: Our Wormhole system has been rather dry recently, Lance lost his brand-new Hulk...”

“Ah, that’s why he was so happy about the Covetor I brought in.”

“Exactly. During a spatial disturbance yesterday, LC got podded - again.”


“+5s, and a 5% mining implant.”

Eta whistled through her teeth. “Ouch.”

“...and we lost Heloisa about a week back.”

“That cute Khanid girl in the ‘dictor? What happened? ...oh, and whatever you’re having, I’d like some, too.”

I handed her the can I had been sipping from, and tried to recall that night. It had been a bit of a mess, as I had been involved in negotiations with business associates, so my role that night was mostly one of hovering around cloaked and providing occasional scraps of Intel.

“Business associates?”, interrupted Eta.

“You don't wanna know.”

We have been exploring a neighboring wormhole system, which as usual these days involved figuring out if the inhabitants were friendly or not. We had only seen one guy active, going by the name of Meditril, but he was really good: I saw him clean out a CA in just a Wolf. Of course, he noticed us as well, and we began a game of cat-and-mouse with scan probes. Unsurprisingly, he found the entrance to our wormhole and took a look around - and few moments later we got a rather surprising comm from the scout we left behind:

[ Uhm, this Meditril guy, he just talked to me local. He claims that we’re blue to him.]


“That’s what we thought.”

As it turned out, their corp had given us standings some time ago without us knowing, and in the light of this (and his generous offer to play in his wormhole’s sites), we no longer pursued him, but instead our group continued blazing through the anomalies (ok, the rest of my group, while I was sitting at the wormhole connection), and Meditril continued his scanning for signatures.

Except - the scan probes we saw weren’t his. The extent of our mistake became evident when a complete heavy gang appeared at the signature site: Buzzard, Huginn, Zealot, Drake, Typhoon, and a Scimitar against our Devoter, Onyx and Damnation. The Onyx and Damnation managed to warp out, but the gang got a point on Heloisa’s Devoter, and started to to take it apart.

On our side, not having prepared for this contingency, hesitation reigned. Jump back to help? Ambush the gang on their way out? Flee? Our Onyx pilot did make an attempt at a rescue, but was intercepted long before he could get into fighting range. Heloisa held on for a surprisingly long time, but even the Devoter’s tank could not withstand the onslaught forever and the ship exploded.

“Did she get her Pod out ?”

“Yep - bounced off a planet and then back into our wh system.”

“...mightily pissed, I presume.”

“You could say that. That Devoter has served her well for the good part of a year - while we did pool together so that she could buy a new one, you can’t replace that history.”

“Yeah...” Eta chewed her lower lip. “Though I don’t see what you could have done differently - they had the superiority on the field, and sacrificing T2 ships for the remote chance of a ‘Good Fight’... - it might have made her feel better, though.”

“Mhm - I was pondering that, too, but I don’t have a good answer for it either.”

“You’ll find one - that’s why you are the CEO!”

“...and as CEO I get the best drinks. Gimmie!”

We sat there for a while, watching the scanner tracing Tar as he was testing his ships around the POS.

“Where is she now?”, broke Eta the silence.

“She’s back in Empire - got herself a new Devoter, but will probably go back to 0-sec. Her corp has gone on the offensive again, and can use every pilot they have.”

“Too bad, I’ll miss her.”

“Me, too.”, I admitted. “But this reminds me - next time you fly to Stacmon, could you please be a dear and drop this stuff off for me?”

“I wasn’t aware that I was flying to Stacmon...”, Eta took the data chip from my hands and studied it. “Hmm, a Maller, a Thorax, a Rupture - and a whole bunch of mods. Agony class again?”

“Yep!” I grinned. “Fun, fights, and shiny explosions!”

“Well, in that case I think it’s an endeavour worth supporting.” Eta slipped the chip in one of her innumerable pockets, and then pushed herself back onto her feet. “But I gotta go - the wormhole will close in a couple of hours, and I still have to get my pod warmed up.”

“Sure,” I hopped to my feet as well, and feigned a punch at her which she easily blocked (she was never one for sisterly hugs), “It was good to see you again. Fly safe, will ya?”

“Always.” She threw me a mock salute, then carefully picked her way out of the room. At the bulk head, she turned back on more time.

“Oh, shall I turn the lights back on?”