7 November 2018

Pod and Planet YC 120 - The Lost Wormholers

I was asleep. At least I think I was asleep. I had been engaged in archaeological data recovery in J154538 but my shift was over. Rather than return to the relative safety of empire space, I had chosen to spend the night in the wormhole system. This would enable me to get an early start the next day. I distinctly remembered powering down my Loki-class strategic cruiser and catching some shut-eye. Here I was now, however, sitting cross-legged by a campfire. Across from me was a tired old face. The old man began to talk.

    "You shouldn't be here."

He was right about that. I knew exactly where I should be. In fact, I knew a great many places I could be. But neither the 'should's nor the 'could's involved a campfire.

    "You have to leave."

    "E.. e.. excuse me?" I stammered in response. "Who exactly are you? And why should I do anything you tell me?", I gained confidence hearing myself talk.

The old man sat back with an amused look on his face. "Who am I?" he smiled, "Well, now, I guess we've just about got time to tell that tale."


    "It all started with the Seyllin Incident," the man began, "I assume you know of it?"

Of course, I knew of it. Anyone who dared venture into the depths of wormhole space was familiar with the dawn of access from New Eden. In YC111 several massive explosions were triggered all across New Eden. These were initiated deep in the lawless regions of null security space when a Thukker captain opened fire to destroy a cache of the rare isogen-5 mineral. The captain could not have known the cache he destroyed was entangled with the various other caches across New Eden. He would also never know the absolute power he had unleashed on his universe. Although several solar systems experienced their own cataclysmic devastation, nowhere was it felt so strongly as the system of Seyllin. Despite the best attempts of Gallente, CONCORD, and even Serpentis aid fleets, half a billion souls were lost. Their loss, however, was our gain and a whole new, uncharted realm of space was opened up for exploitation.

    "Once the wormholes opened", the old man continued "there was a rush of the most intrepid explorers into these new reaches of space. Few could refuse to journey into the unknown."

He went on the paint a picture of uncertainty and danger. Things long since lost to the modern tourists who venture into the area of space also known as Anoikis. He told me about the first, deadly, encounters with the Sleepers where a great many ships were lost. The golden era when artefacts and materials brought back from expeditions would make even the laziest capsuleer rich beyond their wildest dreams.

    "And that's when the most daring of us contemplated living there permanently. We amassed a large fleet of colonists, our friends, our families, and flew our entire lives there. We felt invincible." 


    "The riches we achieved once we were actually living in wormhole space far exceeded our expectations."

My friend painted an almost unbelievable picture of Anoikis in its glorious heyday; greatly understood but still dangerous to the incautious. In an era before scanning systems became mostly automated it took real skill to place and optimise each individual probe into an optimal formation. For those who mastered the skill, the reward was an increased depth of influence through the ephemeral wormhole connections and even greater rewards.

    "The Sleepers were eternally ready to destroy all who challenged them but actually living in their space brought a greater knowledge of how to defeat them. We even came to master the physics of the wormholes themselves. We learnt that with enough ships we could prematurely collapse a connection to another system. This allowed us greater control over who and where our neighbours were. We lived in safe impunity. Nothing could touch us.

    "We grew fat in our excesses. We had more ISK than we could sensibly spend. Our ships were ever more extravagant. The best modules were imported from Jita. Then we built capital ships. The Sleepers were no match. Not in our low-class system.

    "With the riches, of course, came those who would take it from us rather than do the work themselves. Pirates, thieves, turncoats who would live as one of us only to take what wasn't theirs and flee. None of that mattered, though. We had enough assets saved that whatever was taken we could simply replace it."


    "Then something changed. I was scanning to update our current charts. All known connections had expired and scanning showed we only had one new wormhole. This was unusual because we'd always known our home to have two connections, one deeper into wormhole space and the other back to the known regions of empire space.

    "I approached the single outbound connection and saw it led into another wormhole system. My group wasn't unduly concerned. Nature changes over time and a new, unexplained phenomenon were welcomed. The absolute worst case we would have an extra hop to make to reach known regions of space.

    "I jumped through the connection to start mapping our new neighbour. Once my transit of the wormhole was complete I was more than a little confused to find myself still in my home system, albeit now more than 6 AU from my original location.

    "I surprised my fleet by warping to them and relayed what had happened. My experience was repeated by several other pilots before we decided to collapse the connection. Nobody expected the next connection to also connect to our home system, but that's exactly what happened. Time and time again we collapsed the single link we had. Every single time the new wormhole that coalesced led right back into the same system."

There was a remembered fear discernible in the old man's voice now. With some urgency, he relayed how his entire corporation spent days upon days doing nothing but running ship after ship through connection after connection. And day after day the only connection they were rewarded with returned them back to their starting point.

    "Panic killed the corporation. Fighting broke out. In our despair, we turned on each other. And that's when some of us decided to abandon everything we had. With a heavy heart, I set the self-destruct timer on my capsule and waited to awake in a new clone.

    "The new clone never came. Even with my death, there was no escape from our home. This was different, though. We were now free from the restrictions placed on us by our pods. We still could not go back to empire space, but we could venture to other areas of Anoikis."


    "In our ethereal travels through many, many systems we became aware that wormhole space was becoming ever densely populated. Corporation after corporation were following in our footsteps and settling new space. Concern increased that the plight of everyone we cared about would become more common. We were worried that others would become forever trapped in Anoikis as we had. We needed to take action.

The old man's face turned even sadder and he sat in silence for some time before I prompted him to continue the tale.

    "I discovered it was possible to infiltrate the dreams of capsuleers as they slept in their ships. At first, we tried to explain what had happened. What fate befell us. We only wanted to warn others away. But none would listen.

    "Some of our number turned to more radical methods. They would return night after night after night. The living got no rest. They would show horrific scenes of destruction to the capsuleers. Show them their loved ones being massacred by massive fleets of Sleepers. Some left wormholes for good, many more stayed.

As the old man continued to talk I remembered hearing tales of haunted wormholes. The tales all related to a mythical being everyone called 'Bob'. I didn't think anyone believed in the actual existence of 'Bob', but could the tales of haunting currently being told be the grain of truth in the legend?

My guest was silent. My mind had been wondering during his tale and he clearly knew. "Yes, Bob," he said, "some of that may relate to us. But not all, not by a long way."


    "It became clear that the few capsuleers we were able to drive from Anoikis were rapidly replaced by just as many new souls. A new tactic was needed. We could communicate with the sleeping. What could we do with those who were awake?

    "We started small. Initially, we experimented with the subconscious of the capsuleers. Disabling ship modules at inconvenient times turned out to be trivial. Deactivating armour plates or prop-mods during hole-rolling exercises led to massive frustration. As an unexpected bonus, our victims had a tendency for blaming each other for it. They would accuse each other of borrowing ships they weren't rated to fly.

    "We also forced the inaccurate creation of navigation bookmarks. Once again, this spawned many arguments that the bookmarks were deliberate sabotage. But still, newcomers came. We had to up our game and get more imaginative. It was a short leap from there to taking control of the entire ship.

    "Once we made that transition, driving people out became easy. We took control of entire corporations of pilots and forced them to hunt their fellow capsuleers. Of course, their minds attempted to resist. Tied to their corporeal forms they were no match for us. Day after day we would treat the pilots as our puppets of destruction. Locked in their ships and in their pods they were mere passengers.

The old man's eyes were ablaze now as he went on to relate his tale of violent conflicts. The ease by which they were able to infiltrate apparent safe systems simply by taking control of a pilot in the target location and forcing them to turn traitor against their will.

    "Finally, our mission was working. People were fleeing wormhole space. First, there were tens of empty system. Then there were hundreds. Today there are thousands, but my job is not yet complete. There are still a few pockets of resistance to drive out. And once they are gone, and wormhole space is once more uninhabited, then I can rest."


So now I hunt for him. I am a prisoner in my own ship. I find myself helpless in battles I never committed to. I am a passenger; I can only watch. I feel him there. I struggle against him with no effect. I can sense his amusement when I try. And still, he strives to drive all from Anoikis. To deliver J-space back to Bob. And then I, too, can rest.

19 August 2018

Abyssal Sites

When I first heard about the addition of Abyssal sites to New Eden I was a little sceptical. I instantly christened them "Abysmal Sites" and let it at that. Once they arrived in the game I largely ignore them; a mix of disinterest plus fear of the unknown (as in unknown if I'll lose an expensive ship). However, as will all things, curiosity eventually got the better of me.

Fast-forward a bunch of months. My opinion has been reformed to considering Abyssal sites as a fantastic addition to New Eden. I love the work done by the art team in them. The massive asteroids are spectacular to behold. I'm looking forward to those creeping into other areas of New Eden. The randomness of the rats in the site makes for wonderful variety. You don't go in knowing that there's x of rat A, y of rat B, and z of rat C. You have to learn which to shoot first and, once in the site, you have to pick target order quickly.

The main aspect of Abyssal sites I like most is they are "instant-on". If I have 10 minutes to spare I can jump into EVE and go run a Calm or Agitated site. If I have a bit longer then I'll jump into a Fierce. So far I've not tried the hardest of the sites - the Raging and Chaotic. It's worth noting that returning from these sites will leave you flagged as a suspect. This means other pilots can await your return and legally shoot you. If you do decide to run these sites you should do so from a safe-spot and hope nobody combat-scans the signature down.

I've you're looking for some instant gratification in EVE then I'd recommend you give the Abyssal sites a go. EVE Uni has a good article covering just about all you need to know. Have fun out there.

22 July 2018

I'm still here

Despite things going rather quiet here I am still playing EVE. In fact, I've been online and 'playing' for the past four nights in a row. "What have you been up to?" I hear you ask. I'd love to say it's been the riveting stuff of interest. However, the reality of the situation is thusly:

First, we joined Anomalous Existence (N0MEX). By "we" I mean the active denizens of Z3R0 Return Mining Inc.". We joined knowing full well that their EU presence was somewhat lacking. We'd been told that there were a handful of people who would be online during our time. Figuring this for a reasonable "reverse-recruitment" opportunity it made sense for us. Sadly, the reality of the situation was maybe two or three people were in corp during our game time. Those people tended to be actually playing other games and waiting for content to happen. On top of that, their archaic bookmark scheme required a reference manual for which folders to leave bookmarks in. We decided that as nice as the people we met were, N0MEX weren't for us.

Decisions had to be made. We still have a wormhole under IoS alliance control. Should we go back to that? We quickly decided that was a terrible idea. With only a handful of players, we have no right to be holding our own space. The obvious solution is to go wormhole diving.

Wormhole diving is the act of living in K-space but using W-space as your primary hunting ground. With our small numbers, it seems like the perfect middle-ground for me. We have nothing to lose beyond our ships. There is no 'home-ground' advantage. There is simply the pure fun of the hunt.

Oh, and we're no long Z3R0 Return Mining Inc., just call us IoS(dot)!

17 April 2018

All good things...

Fear ye not. New beginnings are coming. And Z3R0's not dead, it's merely resting.

29 January 2018

Circuit Training

Over the years the size of Z3R0 Return Mining Inc. has shrunk to become dangerously small. Those of us left are good friends and many of us have met in the real world. This makes the prospect of closing down Zero unpalatable for us all; moving as a group to another corp would dilute the friendships. Plus we'd be at the whim of people we neither know nor whom would understand our seven years of collected in-jokes (beep, beep). The upshot of this is sometimes we need to find innovative ways to entertain ourselves on an evening of EVE.

A couple of weeks ago was one such evening. We'd encountered a fleet of at least a dozen pilots who were taking heavy advantage of a hisec connection very close to Jita. They had a guard on the hisec wormhole but it was still very tempting to trigger a suicidal fight - a temptation which increased as the evening went on. In the course of scanning our chain in the other directions, I found a second hisec connection which was also one jump from Jita. This second hisec was a single hop from the first hisec! If we can't fight them, we might as well troll them.

I hopped into my pod and headed out to their cloaky camp on the first hisec. My plan was to look like I was going shopping and would be coming back with something juicy for them to shoot. I parked my pod on the hisec connection, waited until I saw a Flycatcher on D-scan, then jumped out. Rather than head to Jita, though, I took myself to the other entry to our chain and headed home to dock back up. After 10 minutes or so I did this a second time, and then a third. All the while scouting desperately with my other account for something more suitable to actually fire some ammo into.

On comms, we were having a good old laugh assuming they were utterly confused how I was only ever heading out in the same direction and never returning. I have no idea whether the scouts on the hole had any idea what was going on. I don't really care either; my corp is all I'm interested in keeping entertained. And in the wasteland that is wormhole space, one needs to take entertainment where one finds it.

2 January 2018

Daftly Doings

Okay, folks, it's a new year and time to do some daft stuff. I realised over the past few years I've managed to spread a  lot of ships and random junk around most of New Eden. For sanity's sake, and for something random to do, I needed to collect it all in one place and sell the ships I don't fly anymore. This took the best part of three days and resulted in six billion ISK worth of unwanted ships.
This isn't even all of them!
Of course, there's always some random crap in a random location far away. In this case, there was a very Expired Cerebral Accelerator in a Blood Raiders station in Nullsec. To get there is 42 jumps from Jita. The item is worthless. The only sensible thing to do here is trash the item. But where's the fun of being sensible? It's much better to pour myself a whisky and fit myself up an uncatchable interceptor. Let's see what Nullsec has awake today.

More a Gatecamp than a gate camp
The first 20 jumps of Hisec were completely uneventful. Once I got away from the local scam-chatter of Jita there was absolutely nothing to distract my attention bar the profusion of anchored structures in almost all Hisec systems these days. Lowsec was entered at Vehan with a pilot called Vehan Gatecamp on the outside but no sign of an actual gate camp on the inside. In Hier, there was a small gate camp of four ships - nothing exciting - and this theme continued until the end of Lowsec and my entry to deepest, darkest Delve.

A gate camp was 'Hier'
I've never lived in Nullsec. I never fancied the ring-kissing, safe-ratting lifestyle. This means Nullsec still maintains an air of mystery for me, and with mystery comes the fear of the unknown. My first jump, Goon-inhabited 1-SMEB, had a Nereus and Machariel sitting on the gate. An interesting combination that smacks of confidence. Use your bait for looting the field! The rest of the gates in were clear, but every system had someone somewhere. Much more active the average deep Lowsec system.

I docked and collected my Expired Cerebral Accelerator then began the return journey. The route home was even less eventful. In A-ELE2 there was a Hurricane sitting at the entry gate. As I flew through the systems I kept track of the numbers in local. It was interesting to discover that Nullsec is more populated that Lowsec. For my small sample size, there were 1.5 pilots on average per Lowsec system compared to 4.5 per system for Nullsec. It's a really small sample and I'd love to know if this holds true for more areas of space. Has EVE truly become Hisec and Nullsec only?

16 May 2017

Where's the wormholers at?

This is our map from a few nights ago. It's not the most expansive map in the world but with the hisec connection there's a certain expectation of entertainment to be had. Sadly there was not a single engagement. Not a single shot fired. The largest ship we saw was a Magnate and he liberally shat himself before jumping back to hisec.

I increasingly find myself wondering if wormhole space is dead. Are we the dinosaurs of a bygone era?