Thursday, March 1, 2012

And then there was a Third

When there's nobody else online in your corp and nothing's go on in the alliance, sitting the middle of hostile space can become boring quickly. Hooray for jump clones!

I jumped down to Dodixie. I figured I'd go do some scanning in the surrounding systems. Maybe get lucky and find a 4/10 plex or a quiet wormhole to explore. Starting in Dodixie and resolving both signatures in the system showed me two wormholes. One led to a quiet-looking class 2 system with static C1 and high-sec exits. That could be promising. But I decided to investigate the other wormhole first. It turned out to be a C1 system with a static null-sec exit.

In all my travels, I believe that's only the second wormhole of it's type that I've come across. I toyed around with the idea of moving into the first one I found, considering it was empty. It would have provided great roaming opportunities, possibly deep into carebear ratting territory. Maybe if I had had some way to roll statics easily, or a slightly larger group, it would have been feasible. But one thing was nearly certain, whoever lived in this wormhole probably did it for the fights more than anything else.

Anyway, poking my helios around the rather large C1 system, I found two towers, with one being online, and the other consisting of just an offline tower and a few guns. A hurricane sat unpiloted inside the forcefield of the online tower. But apart from that, the system was quiet...except for the drake that had just appeared. Modifying the filter on my directional scan, I noticed a number of sleeper wrecks cluttering space. If I was looking for someone to shoot, a lone drake in wormhole space made a ripe target. I took a couple more minutes to scan down the other signatures in system, looking specifically for the null-sec exit. He may have entered through that system, and if he tried to get away, I wanted to be able to chase.

As I was scanning, I noticed the drake disappear to be replaced by a noctis, which then later disappeared from scan itself. After checking the various sites I had bookmarked in the system, I found only one wreck field, but still no noctis. As I jumped back to high-sec, I noticed that the wormhole was low-mass. Consulting DaOpa's wormhole guide, I figured I had maybe 2-3 battlecruiser-sized jumps I could make before collapsing the wormhole. I quickly reshipped to a triple-rep myrm with a few salvagers in the highs to scoop in the wreck field, but tackle, energy neutralizers, and drone complement in case I found a target or had to fend off an attacker.

Jumping back through the wormhole, I was relived to see it still stable on the other side. In warp to the site, I had my dscan active, like any wormhole denizen should. I saw the noctis on scan, Ensign X. Sure enough, he was 6km from me when I landed, at a dead stop. I cycled my web, scram, and mwd to stay in range and tackle the noctis as well as bump him in case he had warp core stabilizers. As my hammerhead IIs chewed through my target at what seemed an interminably slow pace, the pilot, sensing imminent destruction, ejected from his ship. He was slow warping off, but even still, without a sensor booster (that I had taken off in favor of a second cap booster), I missed the pod by a full second. Recalling drones, I boarded the noctis to eject its cargo before exploding it. Since I was the last pilot of the ship, no killmail was issued, but I did get a 17 mil insurance payout plus a full cargo of sleeper salvage and loot that I quickly estimated was worth 30-50 mil.

But my adventures were not destined to be over. My victim had warped off in the direction of the high-sec entrance and opened a convo with me. He congratulated me on the execution and cursed himself for not being aligned to warp out - a mistake he wouldn't make in the future. I took a moment to salvage and loot the wrecks the noctis had tractor beamed in but not yet salvaged - a moment that would make all the difference. Because right as I landed on the high-sec exit, the wormhole collapsed right before my eyes. Nooooo!

A thousand questions raced through my head. What had happened? Had the noctis' pod collapsed the wormhole? It's such a small thing, and it wasn't at critical mass levels when I had entered a few minutes earlier. Had some unknown visitor from null-sec exited right before me? Was I just the hapless victim of a bug? Then the answer decloaked in front of me. The noctis pilot had returned in his drake for revenge, collapsing the wormhole behind him. Had I been a few seconds quicker, I would have been the one to make it through, with concord to prevent a conflict on the other side. As it was, we were in lawless space, at the mercy of our wits.

My initial assessment of the situation is that with a measly 200 DPS from my hammerhead IIs, I wasn't going to take down what was probably a passive shield drake even if I had all day. I aligned toward a celestial and started burning away. I quickly locked up the drake, webbed and pointed him, and dispatched his flight of light drones with my own while pulling range. Once his drones were down, I found myself about 25km away, able to warp off. I recalled my drones, but then realized that with the pathetic damage he was doing, I was easily able to keep up with my reps. I figured with my two medium energy neutralizers and a cargo full of cap boosters that I might be able to turn off any hardeners he had and slowly work through his shields. And if things went south, I could always pull range again easily because he didn't have a propulsion mod of any kind.

I overheated my point for a cycle so I wouldn't lose him as I closed the gap I had opened between us. I settled into a comfortable orbit close enough to drain his capacitor, but far enough out that I could keep up full speed to mitigate incoming missile damage. But my plan was foiled by a third party. Blorgg, a resident of the wormhole, owing to his membership in Southern Cross Incorporated, the same corp that owned the tower here, warped in on us with his hurricane.

I pride myself on being fairly competent at PvP in Eve. The one thing that differentiates a seasoned combat pilot from an inexperienced one more than anything else is his ability to be aware of everything that's going on at the same time without missing little details, like the tracking disruptor being used against you, the heat damage on different modules, or changes in local while engaged in a fight. Or in my case, checking dscan for any other ships that might be landing on you soon. I felt like a noob all over again. But never fear!

Due to the pilot's -5 security status, his entrance on the field was announced with a big red bar on my overview. I kept my calm and determined what to do next. I knew the hurricane pilot wasn't with me, but I wasn't sure he was with the drake either. He pointed me, but put ECM drones on the drake, confirming that he wasn't picking sides, but going for what he deemed to be the easier target first. Boy was he wrong. I switched my tackle over to the hurricane, overheating just about everything to try and get away. A hurricane is quite a lot faster than a myrmidon, particularly a myrmidon with three armor rigs. But I hoped that with my combined neuts, web, spare flight of ECM drones, and overheating of just about everything, that I'd be able to get away. I quickly aligned out, speeding as fast as I could, chewing on cap boosters like they were candy to keep my reps going. I was quickly pulled out of point range of the drake, as predicted, but shaking the hurricane was going to be a bit more difficult.

As I was struggling to coordinate all of my ship's systems and keep them functioning at optimal levels, I noticed the hurricane lag behind me a bit. The only explanation was that I was able to suck his capacitor dry enough that he couldn't cycle his mwd. With my escape approaching 15...16...17 km away from the hurricane, I was down to my last two cap booster charges. In they went. I had burned two earlier to make space for the loot from the noctis, and I was regretting it now. My reps and mwd were overheated, getting close to burning out. My armor levels had been constantly fluctuating, but overall holding decently against the combined fire of two ships. As my last cap booster charges disappeared, the hurricane was able to cycle his mwd once again and get a quick burst of speed. Seeing that I wasn't going to be able to pull range now, I hoped that my ECM drones would finally get a jam off. They didn't.

Good fights were had in local. I haven't had the much action in w-space for quite a long time. It was quite exciting, even though I lost my ship. But if ships aren't good for getting blown up, then what are they good for? I got my pod out quickly and warped to a random celestial. Blorgg offered to give me a warp-in on the NS wormhole, but I declined his offer, having already scanned down the exit. I wasn't looking forward to the 30 jumps that lay ahead to get back to empire.

1 comment:

  1. I was glad to indulge in the convo that you requested, as it gave me the time I needed to re-ship. It's also good to know why the Noctis generated no kill-mail. =)

    That you were able to pull range with the ability to warp-off before our friend in the 'Cane arrived, is down to the fact that in my hurry to re-ship, I had mistakenly chosen a PVE fit Drake with no prop-mod and only basic tackle. You could have left the battle at any time, before the 'Cane showed up of course, but your drones would never have broken my passive tank.

    Overall, great fun running into you inside that Wormhole, and an excellent write-up here.