Life in a Wormhole: Exploiting the Neighbors #eveonline

Wormhole systems are categorized into six classes. The differences between these classes is primarily in the relative strength of the Sleepers that inhabit the lost enclaves of the system, the value of the ores and other resources found in the system, and the persistent wormhole connections that each system is guaranteed to have at all times. Randomly generated wormholes might (and do) appear throughout both wormhole and known space (connnecting wormholes to other wormholes, wormholes to known space, known space to wormholes, and even known space to other areas of known space), but in a wormhole system, there must always be certain types of wormholes present at all times.

For instance, Class 1 systems — the least dangerous and least profitable (both those being relative) — always have some kind of connection to known space, though whether it’s a persistent connection to highsec, nullsec, or lowsec varies.

Class 2 systems are notable in that they have two static connections, one to known space and one to a specific class of wormhole. This is particularly important to us, because we live in a class 2 system with a persistent connection to highsec and another to Class 1 wormhole space. It’s possible this might be the most ‘softball’ kind of class 2 system, with an always-open route to (allegedly) the safest parts of known space, and a connection to the easiest sleeper combat sites (the Class 1) when there’s nothing to shoot in our own system.

That said, I don’t really care if it’s an relatively easy wormhole to live in, because it’s our first one and we don’t have any wormhole veterans along for the ride to show us the ropes. You have to start somewhere, and we’re enjoying the hell out of the whole experience already.

It is the static connection to class 1 space that I’m pondering today, because our current neighboring system is completely uninhabited and appears to have a static connection to the barren, unpopulated expanses of nullsec, which means it gets about as much tourist traffic as the world’s second largest ball of twine.

Cawker City, Kansas Welcomes You.

It also means that system is positively cluttered with sleeper-infested cosmic anomalies. Now, none of these anomalies are that profitable individually, but when a solo pilot can grab a battlecruiser and wipe out a half dozen at his leisure, it starts looking pretty attractive. Since I’m alone in the tower at the moment, I decide to do a little yardwork on my neighbor’s property.

I’m just a giver in that way.

An hour passes in quiet comtemplation and explosions, and while I sacrifice a few brave drones to the Sleepers’ random target-switching algorhythm. CB logs in while I’m wrapping up a site and hops into a myrmidon to join me in the carnage. I’ve left enough wrecks in my wake that I’m about at the point where I need to hop into a salvaging ship and clean up my mess, and I show him the way to the class 1 by the simply expediency of jumping through the wormhole and waiting on our side until he can warp to my location. Once he does so, I warp down to our tower and he jumps through the wormhole.

Just as that tag-in takes place, CB asks me if I have scanning probes out in our home system – a question he probably already knows the answer to, since the names of the probes are using a cyrillic alphabet. Eve’s regional localization sometimes make gathering intel about visitors to our system quite easy; we have a russian tourists in our wormhole — one flying a Vagabond heavy assault cruiser and the other an Anathema covert operations frigate — the rest of our plans are put on hold while we deal with that.

Ty can’t (yet) fly covert operations frigates, and Bre has returned to her nullsec stomping grounds in Curse, so I don’t have the ability to warp around the system while cloaked, which makes pinpointing the interlopers more difficult. Still, I scanned the system quite thoroughly earlier in the day, and I know there are only a few ‘combat’ anomalies, so I use directional scanner set to a narrow beam to determine which one of the sites Vagabond heavy assault cruiser is in, grab a ferox-class battlecruiser, and jump in to say hello.

Unfortunately, no one’s there.

Well, not entirely true — no one’s there but a bunch of now-awakened Sleepers, and I retreat from their querelous greetings in a bit of confusion. I double-check d-scan and the two ships are still showing up in the direction I originally determined, and that’s the only thing out in the direction from the tower, so what —

Oh. Hmm.

Actually, there ARE two sites out in that direction. One of them is the very common cosmic anomaly, and the other is the far less common, potentially far more valuable sleeper site that can be located only after extensive scanning, thanks to it’s weak radar signature, and it’s clear that that’s where our visitors are.

Before, I was intrigued by the chance to jump the interlopers, but now I’m annoyed.

I prepare to jump to the radar site, instructing CB (who has been lurking in the neighboring system and thus conveniently off enemy d-scan) to jump through the wormhole and then warp to my location as I swoop down on the unsuspecting victims.

Well, allegedly unsuspecting. It turns out that while the russians may not have been too worried about my solo ship, they’re more than willing to bug out as soon as two battlecruisers show up on scan, and I’ve no sooner landed than both the Vagabon and Anathema are warping away, leaving behind a site in which all the sleepers have been killed but… ah ha! none have been looted or salvaged.

Still, this isn’t the time to switch to a salvaging boat — our visitors are very likely still in-system — they warped to distant moons, and not the current wormhole exit to highsec. CB, robbed of the opportunity for carnage, drops into his accustomed role on d-scan, while I warp to the wormhole exit in question. I won’t be able to stop anyone from leaving, but at least I can verify their exit as they go, and that’s exactly what happens: just as I drop out of warp near the wormhole, I see the vagabond swallowed by the wormhole and vanish from my overview. Perhaps they’ve all aready left.

Not so, says CB, as cyryllic probes are back on directional scan. Just three, though, which is a hard way to scan. That’s odd.

So we sit, and wait, and watch.

The probes stay out for a bit, and are then recalled, though at no point do they come very near to me, where I am sitting on the wormhole, so I have no idea what the Anathema is scanning. I check the exit to the C1 system, and they aren’t anywhere near there either.

A little bit later, the probes go back out, wander aimlessly around the system, are recalled, deployed, wander… et cetera.

This goes on for a bit. CB starts to wonder if the Anathema pilot is drunk or baiting us in some way. I am starting to wonder if the wrecks and loot in the C1 are going to disappear before I get a chance to get back there — the clock is ticking.

But not for much longer. After about another five minutes, the pilot of the Anathema speaks up in local, confessing in broken English that only the Vagabond pilot remembered to make a bookmark to the location of the wormhole in our system, when they first arrived, so while the Vagabond left, the Anathema will have to scan the location out manually, and for some reason, he currently only has three probes on his boat, and he can’t resolve the signature successfully.

Fail, as the kids say.

CB and I have a pretty good laugh over this and then, contrary to all known standard operating procedures for EVE, I offer to help him leave our system.

Now, before I lose my Wormhole Occupancy membership card, let me explain why.

1. I had sites to loot in the next system over that were worth far more than any gear a tiny covops frigate wreck would have.
2. The russians were leaving behind a lucrative site as well, probably worth more by itself than all the sites I’d already run, combined.
3. We could collapse the wormhole behind them, removing the chance of their return, if we so chose.
4. There was basically a snowball’s chance in hell I’d ever catch the bloody frigate in any case, even if I wanted to do it violence.

Basically, I didn’t want to arse around with the guy all night.

So dropped a bookmark in a neutral location, had him leave the system uncloaked so I could see him depart, and we went back to our original plans, satisfied that we had defended our territory, if not killed any ships along the way. CB ran overwatch while I cleared out the radar site as well as the sites I’d hit in the C1, and by the time that was over, Gor had logged in.

We got him caught up on recent events, and the three of us decided to hit more of the C1 systems, simply because our own system was (with the exception of the radar site) looking pretty barren. To speed things up, Gor and I did the shooting while CB cleaned up the wrecks in a dedicated salvage boat.

Things went pretty fast. I lost track of how many sites we did, but when we wrapped up for the night, we’d had collectively netted close to 200 million ISK. There are ways to make more money in a wormhole, but considering we’d basically just done Class One sites, that was a very good profit for a few hours’ worth of shooting, with a little Vagabond hunting thrown in to keep things interesting.

All in all, a pretty good evening.