I have taken up exploring which seems logical with the release of Odyssey. I am…not proficient at this time; as I stated in Part One I have the barest rudiments of the required skills. Pretty much enough to fit whatever Frigate I have handy with some kind of analyzer and a probe launcher, as well as some guns, rigs and the most obscenely expensive armor repairer. (I’m sorry, please don’t hate me)
I’ve gotten braver over the last few days. Lowsec no longer fills me with (as much) dread as it did before and I’ve successfully navigated a 20-man Gate Camp more than once now, so the days of me frantically navigating a Venture to mine Jaspet while making a ton of noob mistakes appear to be over. I am certain that I am still making a ton of noob mistakes, just ones that are more subtle, and possibly more deadly.
I still have a great deal of respect for the Tristan class frigate; mostly because of its ability to haul around eight small drones which I personally think gives it fantastic versatility. I currently have Drones 4 trained so I love the fact I can give the Tristan 4 Hobgoblins as well as a couple of mining drones and a couple of salvage drones. All of this translates to the ability to let me make some additional ISK on the side and nicely complement the fact that this ship is fitted for exploration. The combat drones are a necessity I feel, since the Tristan’s paltry two turrets make it just as effective at raw DPS as my Venture without the drones.
Anyway; the wormhole. What I wrote in Part 1 is exactly what happened, so allow me to pick up there.
My Corp certainly feels I’m going to die but they do offer me good advice. Bookmark my location right now, and also bookmark as soon as I come out into wherever it is that this Wormhole leads. Don’t stay anywhere for any length of time. Directional Scan everywhere. They tell me that this Wormhole could go anywhere, letting me out in Highsec, Lowsec, Nullsec or W-Space. I pull in my drones and make a decision. Its getting late, and I want to go to bed. But this won’t be here tomorrow.
I’ll just look around a little and then leave. Then I can go to bed.
W-Space. Security level in this system is -1.0. It goes into negatives now? How dangerous is somewhere that it has a negative security level?
I drift a while and look at the scenery. Pretty clouds of gas, some of the angles look like real skies which is very interesting to look at. A whole list of anomalies and three low-percentage signature scans. I’ve read about Sleepers and other nasty things in W-Space…most of the anomalies are Combat Sites so I make a mental note to leave them be. Quick Dscans show nothing.
“Lei, make sure you move away from the Wormhole and get out towards a celestial.”
Idiot. Here I am like a sitting duck, admiring one of the most dangerous types of places in the game. I pick a celestial and warp over to it, then decide to launch some probes and try to scan down a Relic site or something, looking for loot.
15 minutes pass and I’m getting bored with no hits on relics, so I go check out one of the Ore anomalies. Annoyingly on this particular trip I am loaded 4/4 with Hobgoblins and Salvage drones so I can’t mine, but I admire the interesting “Stonehenge in Space” rock formations. I find a rock of Onyx Ochre. It’s the rarest asteroid I’ve ever seen, and I can’t do a blessed thing with it. I just shake my head and complain on teamspeak.
Should I go home now? I can’t leave empty handed. Maybe one more thing. I notice a Combat Anomaly called “The Line” and decide to see what its all about, at the safe distance of 100km.
“Long-range scanning reveals a chaotic line of asteroids and debris, stretching out endlessly as it twists onwards into the darkness. Upon arrival, it seems as if the place is empty and has been for quite some time. There is the sense however, that it was not always this way. Huge amounts of data are passing through the area, as if there was once a receiver for it somewhere nearby. The already dim sunlight barely manages to pierce the clouds as they drift effortlessly through a tangled promenade of scarred and broken rock. Every few seconds, the ship’s sensors simulate the sound of another small explosion nearby; one more camera drone that couldn’t spot the debris.”
Yeah, that’s a bunch of crap. All I see when I emerge from warp is a cluster of red at 100km. Sleepers. Lots of Sleepers. The 100km range starts ticking down and they begin to approach. I align to a celestial and consider my options. It’s going to be more than Camera Drones exploding in the next 30 seconds if I don’t act.
Run, or Fight?
My Tristan is fitted with Railguns and a collection of charges that have pretty good range, and my drones are…Okay. I notice one sleeper is far ahead of the others so I lock target and start cycling the railguns. I set the Tristan to try and keep my optimum range of about 20km and start tearing shields off the Sleeper. I feel pretty good about this situation until the other Sleepers start catching up and Matriarch starts taking heavy fire. The first Sleeper goes down (finally) but I already know I’m probably outclassed. Though, I have damage control running along with my obscenely expensive armor repairer and its keeping up reasonably well.
Then everything stops. My cap has drained, and I wasn’t even paying attention.
Fuck. Now armor is vaporizing off my hull alarmingly fast and by the time I’ve aligned and built up enough cap to Warp, I’m looking at maybe 20% of my hull and nothing else. I head for a celestial to lick my wounds, then realize that I left all my Hobgoblin drones behind. Fuck again. Now not only am I critically damaged, I have my major source of DPS sitting behind a wall of Sleepers.
I decide to bug out and call it a night. I look at the local system map.
I forgot to set a bookmark on the Wormhole.
Now I’m really not happy. I hit push-to-talk on teamspeak and address my corporation in my saddest newbie voice.
“Ummm, guys? If I forgot to set a bookmark on the Wormhole, how can I get back?”
The collective groan is as loud as it is embarrassing.
Quickly. A rescue operation is organized. The term “noob” is used a lot, though probably not excessively. Ships are fit and dispatched. My Corporation CEO (Kurt) snags a shuttle and begins to travel to my location. Everyone is about 20 jumps away. Advice starts to come quickly, urgently.
Don’t stay in one place. Keep moving. When I lived in a Wormhole, I could scan down a Frigate in less than 30 seconds. Keep Moving. Do you know how to create a safe place? Warp somewhere and while you’re in warp, drop a bookmark in the empty space. Then you can warp there and be away from any celestials.
I start moving, and trying to scan the Wormhole back down with my probes. More than 30 minutes pass. Move, drag probes, change ranges, throw mouse at wall, curse Gods. I just can’t lock it down! I curse up a storm with utter frustration when I get it to 95%, and no matter how I move my probes it won’t ever go up further.
Far out, I take a break and start directional scanning at max range. I find several other players and wonder if they’re hunting for me, as I’m hunting my way out.
It feels like an age has passed. My Corp arrives where I entered the wormhole and rapidly scans it down. I am annoyed, at my lack of skill and inability to get out by myself, but mostly at myself for attempting this and not listening to them about the damn bookmark.
“The wormhole is critically unstable. Any large amount of mass and it will collapse. Then we’ll really be screwed.”
Great. So none of my better armed Corp-mates can come through to help me. Kurt is in his shuttle with a head full of implants that we really don’t want to lose. But its a shuttle.
“A shuttle is tiny. We have to use it. The chance of something with a mass that small collapsing the wormhole is practically zero.”
So, I’m ready. I have my finger hovering over the fleet window, ready to warp to Kurt. He jumps through the Wormhole.
The Wormhole collapses.
Fuck. Fuck. Now we’re trapped here.
Corp chat is mostly quiet. I feel the need to apologize for likely condemning our CEO to death. They are…gracious, as is he. Someone points out the humor in the situation. Options are discussed. Words like “Self Destruct” are thrown around.
We have to find another Wormhole.
Its the only way. Its late, my eyes hurt, and I need to go to bed. But I can’t leave now. I’m the only ship with probes. I send them out to a random area below the system plane.
Red. I get a signature at about 2%. I move the probes and contract the radius.
35%, Amber. Its a goddamn Wormhole. What are the chances? I tell the Corp. I don’t think initially that they believe me. I move the probes and contract the radius one more time.
100%, Green. Ready to warp. Seriously? Why the hell couldn’t this have happened last time? I scan this one down with only three scans?
Its a miracle. I warp in at 100km to assess. Dscan shows nothing. Overview shows nothing. We both approach, and Kurt jumps ahead to scout out.
“Its deeper into W-Space. Its camped. There’s an Arbitrator here.”
My heart sinks. What a cluster. For a minute, I drift near the Wormhole, unsure of what the hell we can do. I decide to follow Kurt, but its far too late. I’m target locked. My Warp Drive gets locked down with Scramblers. I see my target and get a lock myself. I have no idea if the ship came from here or through the Wormhole, but I can at least try and put a hole in it. My guns do nothing. Lazy streams of energy link my Frigate with my enemy, and I see my cap is inextricably empty.
Neuts. Or Nos. I don’t know the difference. I remove my hands from the keyboard and mouse, and rub my eyes. Again I am helpless. The drones and blasts come forth, and I merely wait for death.
Hey look, new death animation again. White light. Dodixie comes into view. Hello, new clone. Hello, insurance payout. I’d feel better but my CEO is still stuck two wormholes deep with no possibility of return. Fuck.
Corp Teamspeak has now regained some of its humor and the absurdity of our situation is now actually quite funny in many ways. I offer to reimburse Kurt the cost of his implants and we consider self-destruction again. Then, a couple of us have an idea. I ask:
“Does local chat work in W-Space?”
Apparently yes, but you can’t see if anyone is actually listening. I tell Kurt that he should ask the local residents of the Wormhole if they’d be so kind as to help him out. The idea is met with much derision, and that they’d provide Kurt a means of escape via his medical clone. I am insistent, though. After all, what does he have to lose? If he’s going to self destruct anyway, why not use every option to escape?
One of my Corp mates sums it up nicely. “Well Kurt, do you want to get killed or die on your own terms?”
As I go to bed, he decides to raise his voice in Local. At the time of this writing, I have no idea what has happened, nor how much ISK I probably owe my CEO. The suspense is killing me, but I call it a night.