Apparently it’s been a long while since Bre lost a clone — the last time was apparently (and predictably) when she lived out in the Curse region, as she wakes up in a medical clone in Sendaya, Derelik region, next door to Curse.
Unfortunately, while it’s close to Curse, it’s nowhere near anything… useful, so Bre jumps back in the clone goo and transmits her consciousness to an updated and wired clone located in Sinq Laison and fairly near a market.
[[Incidentally, for those of you who enjoy the story potential that lies behind clone-jumping and FTL travel accomplished by transmitting your consciousness from body to body, I cannot recommend Altered Carbon enough. Great book. Also, given it’s date of publication, I think it’s quite likely it influenced the clone jump mechanics in EvE. Definitely worth a read.]]
Bre flies her naked pod over to Dodixie, picks up and fits out a Scorpion battleship, and as a good Gallente girl, gives it a French name that means “everyone hush up now”, which should leave the ship’s Caldari designers spinning in their graves. Once all the important stuff is taken care of, she heads back for toward our low-sec entrance, since the high-sec entrance through the hostile Class Two system is clearly not safe. I meet her at the edge of low-sec space and shepherd the big ship through the last few jumps home.
“You know,” says Bre, “if we’re planning on rolling the wormholes tonight, I could get started on this low-sec exit right now. I mean, this thing is certainly big enough.”
What Bre’s referring to is the fact that wormhole connections are inherently unstable in a number of different ways. First, wormholes don’t typically last for very long: once they’ve been activated (simply by flying onto the same ‘grid’ as one), they’ll die of old age about sixteen to twenty-four hours later. Second, each wormhole has a mass limit, both in terms of how much mass can jump through the hole at once, and how much mass can go through the hole in total before it collapses from the strain.
The single-jump mass limits vary, depending on the type of wormhole system they connect to. All wormholes leading into a Class 1 system, for example, have a very severe mass limit: basically nothing bigger than a battlecruiser can jump through the hole, which prevents easy access by anything larger (as they have to be built directly inside the hole). Class 2, 3, and 4 wormholes have a more forgiving limit, and can take ships as large as the Orca industrial command ship of which Berke is so fond, and easily handles even the largest battleship. Class 5 and Class 6 wormholes are truly monstrous, and are able to handle even Capitol-class ships like carriers and dreadnoughts (though not many).
The limit on the total amount of mass that can go through the hole varies as well, with Class 1s able to handle something like 35 one-way battlecruiser jumps, Class 2 to 4 able to withstand the one-way passage of 14 or 15 battleships (or 7 Orcas), and Class 5s and 6s… well you get the point.
Wormhole inhabitants have, of course, figured out how to manipulate this, and will purposely destabilize or destroy a wormhole via a series of controlled jumps, using ships with easily-manipulated masses to precisely control the amount of mass that’s gone through the hole. The goal is to destroy the hole with all friendly ships on the ‘inside’, then scan down the new exit, which is located somewhere else in the system and which connects to some other similar location in known- or wormhole-space; if we destroy our “static” low-sec connection, for example, the physics of wormholes will immediately replace it with a new one, also connecting somewhere out to low-security space.
This process is know as “rolling” or “crashing” the hole, and we expect to be doing a lot of it over the next few days. With the weekend looming, the chance that the enemy cruisers in our system will try to get a full-sized fleet into our system increases. We have planned for this, and intend to aggressively crash our wormhole connections whenever the enemy pilots are online, which keeps any invading fleet running around New Eden, trying to get to the new doorway before it vanishes. When the enemy pilots are offline, we’ll keep the connection critically unstable but NOT destroyed, so that a single jump will crash it, which should leave it useless for invasion.
What Bre is suggesting is that she get started on weakening the low-sec connection now, while the enemy pilots are offline, so that once all our pilots are ready, the connection can easily be reset and the constant rolling process can begin sooner rather than later.
“Sounds good,” replies Em. “Anyone watching the hole?”
“I have eyes on,” I say.
“And I stuck a cloak on this thing just for this purpose,” Bre adds, “so it should be no problem to just cloak up between jumps, while I wait for the polarization effect to fade.”
(Bre’s being so good about remembering the polarization effect, now that she’s been reminded of their consequences.)
Bre starts collapsing the hole, but no sooner has she completed her first “in and out” jump then Em is back on comms. “I have a Nemesis on scan. Anyone got him?”
“Yeah,” I say, as the Nemesis lands on the low-sec wormhole connection. “Huh. Bre, it’s that same nemesis from the group that mugged you earlier.”
“They’re came through to our hole?” Bre asks. “Lovely. They must want to blow me up again.”
I watch the wormhole flare and the Nemesis stealth bomber vanishes. “He’s coming out to say hi.”
“I’m cloaked, he’s going to feel kind of lonely. Can I kill him?”
“The trick would be locking him before he just runs off,” I start to say, then a Tengu strategic cruiser uncloaks next to the hole as well. “The other trick would be that he has a friend sitting over here in a Tengu.”
“A tengu? You sure it’s not our stalkers? I didn’t get attacked by a tengu.”
“He must have logged in later, because it’s the same corp.”
Just then, one of the ‘enemy’ tengu pilots that we’ve seen in our system also logs in, and a few seconds later…
“I’ve got probes on scan,” Em says. “Looks like he’s checking to see if anything’s changed in here. Are we all cloaked up?”
We confirm with each other that our home system looks positively deserted, and a few minutes later the probes have been withdrawn and the ‘stalker’ tengu pilot logs back out.
Meanwhile, although the Nemesis bomber is still around, Bre is easily able to decloak and warp down to one of the stations in the low-sec system to dock up.
“I’m going to log off,” she says. “They didn’t do anything in our hole until I logged back in and brought the Scorpion back to the system, so maybe if I log, they’ll take off. We can finish up this hole when everyone else is on.”
“Sounds fine. Give it a shot.”
She does. A few minutes later, I watch as the ‘neighbor’ tengu warps off, followed by the Nemesis jumping back to our system and then warping off to the connection to their class two system.
“Looks like they’re watching Bre,” I say to Em. “That’s not going to complicate things at all.”
“Oh I’m sure it won’t,” Em deadpans. “See you in a few.”
Several hours have passed, and I’m logging back in to see if we’re ready to move. The answer is “yes”, and not only are we ready to move, apparently so are some of the pilots lurking in our system.
“That tengu pilot and a pilgrim just jumped out of our system, into low-sec, and took off,” Em says.
I blink. “They… left?”
“At least for a little while. That’s not all of them, but…”
“Yeah, let’s crash that damn hole. Now.”
The call goes out and pilots assemble, with as many pilots as we can manage reshipping into battleships specifically built to help crash wormholes, or into ships designed to support and defend them. The last pilot to join the fleet is Bre, since she’s trying to delay her arrival and prevent interference from our neighbors. Three battleships land on the wormhole and jump, joined by Bre’s Scorpion on the far side.
“The Nemesis and Tengu just jumped through from the C2.” Shan is on and playing lookout on all our incoming wormholes. “They’re in warp to you.”
“All battleships jump,” I say. “As soon as you load, warp back to the tower.”
“Loki on scan,” Em adds. “That’s not the neighbors, that’s one of the other guys.”
I check d-scan. “I don’t see him from the hole.” I refresh the scan. “No, wait. There he is. He’s warping here.”
Four battleships jump back into the wormhole as the Nemesis bomber and Tengu from the neighboring system land. A few seconds later, the Loki — a member of the corp playing Occupy Wall Street with our wormhole — lands as well.
“Heh. I bet he wasn’t expecting to see some of these ships.”
“To be fair, neither were we.”
“The tengu is targeting me,” says one of the battleship pilots. “Are we fighting?”
“Are you fit for fighting?” I ask.
“No.” A second’s pause. “Then…”
“Right. Warp to the towers.”
The lumbering Dominix, Typhoons, and Scorpion warp away, followed by a disappointed shout from the tengu pilot, speaking in the system’s local channel.
“Aww… he’s bummed the Dominix had warp core stabilizers on.”
“How very sad for him. What’s the Loki doing?”
“He turned right around and warped off.”
“Figures. Is the hole dead?”
“It…” there’s a long pause. “It is. Yeah. Hole’s dead.”
“Good job, everyone. Tweed, can you scan down the new low-sec exit?”
“Already on it.”
“So…” says one of the battleship pilots. “What do we do now?”
I check the clock. At a rough estimate, we’ve got six more hours before our enemy Occupy pilots will give up for the night. Until then, we need to keep the wormhole exits unusable.
“Now,” I say, “it’s a race.”