We've begun exploring the unknown systems of wormhole space in Eve Online. I had my first encounter with the freaky Sleeper alien ships last night. I then returned to normal space slightly richer, and slightly wiser. The wormhole - an unstable, temporary gate to an uncharted region - was still open when I logged out of Eve, and so I let my corporation chums know it was there. About an hour later one of them IM'd me: "We're trapped. The wormhole closed behind us." His account of the event is posted below.
A Brief Wormhole Adventure, by Roburky:
This wasn't meant to be much of an adventure, but it turned into one. Jim told me that there was a wormhole in T22, just one jump from our base, so I logged on to check it out. One of our corp members who had already been in gave me the bookmark, and then I scouted him out of Syndicate so he could sell his billions of isk-worth of Sleeper loot in empire.
There didn't seem to be a friendly alliance gang in the wormhole, and there were no other corporation members about, so I thought I'd just send my alt-character through and practice some probing. The wormhole said it had plenty of mass left, but was nearing the end of its natural life. I spent a while considering whther I should go through, and if I did go through, whether I should go back and get a cheap frigate or something, in case I got trapped. I decided to go for it, with the Arazu - an expensive recon ship.
I discovered there were a bajillion exploration sites in there to be found. The first one I found was a mining site. The second one I found was a mining site, but with five Sleeper frigates at it. I thought about it. Can I kill 5 frigates solo? What if there's another wave, though? I should play it safe. I should get some backup.
I called Neil in over Steam from his Total War game. I fitted out a drake, and he got his Sleipnir (a combat-focused command ship). We both fitted a salvager module, and went in. The frigates died easily, and there was no extra waves. We were scooping up the loot when Spiffeh, a corpmate, told me to read alliance chat. Someone was asking if anyone had gone through the wormhole recently. Because it had just collapsed.
We were trapped. The only way out was gone. We'd have to trust the dev's word that there would always be another wormhole somewhere in system. And we'd have to hope it wouldn't take us to some far-off, dangerously hostile region, such as Period Basis or Branch, or worse: another wormhole system. The best we could hope for was somewhere safe in empire. Whatever happened, we knew it was going to take a long time to get home.
We spoke into the dark local chat channel - which is blank by default in wormhole space - and got two replies. Another Huzzahian, and some random blue (allied) guy. We got them into our fleet. Random blue guy and my alt were the only ones with probes. So we got to work looking for another wormhole, while the others amused themselves with shooting each other in one of the exploration asteroid belts. Spiffeh offered moral support over Ventrilo.
Huzzahian soon had to leave. We tried to figure out a way we could get the bookmark for the new wormhole location to him if we found one. We eventually decided he would leave himself logged on, and if we found anything we would gang warp him to it. Random friendly Guy with the other probe launcher logged off a while after. Neil left for food after that. I was left on my own.
I was feeling horribly guilty by this point. I had dragged Neil in here in his expensive ship without even remembering myself that the wormhole timer was running out, let alone warning Neil. I was feeling the weight of the responsibility of being the only prober that other people were relying on, and getting increasingly frustrated and depressed at my ineptitude at the task.
There were so many cosmic signature readings wherever I moved my probes. If I scanned with several probes, I got a forest of little red dots. Tracking any one signature seemed impossible. I'd think I was following one reading down to a smaller scale, then somewhere I'd get misdirected back onto the trail of a site I'd already found. I spent hours on it, gradually improving my methods as I figured out how it all worked. I started systematically working through the possible signatures, warping to them and bookmarking them. Mining site after mining site. But each one I found made the map of little red dots a little easier to navigate.
Neil came back after his tea, and I fleet warped him to some of the mining sites I'd found with sleepers in them, so he could kill and loot them to keep busy. When the entertainment was gone, he logged off to play some more Empire. I carried on probing.
After three or four hours of this, something turned up on the scan results with a type that wasn't gravimetric. It wasn't going to be a mining site. It was 'unknown'. "Are wormholes 'unknown'?" I asked in corp chat. Nobody knew. I probed harder.
It was a wormhole. A sweet, sweet, unstable wormhole. Through it, I could see a system that was blue and black, with a cream coloured tube of cloud running through it. It was familiar to me. This was somewhere in Known Space, I was sure of it. I felt a sense of accomplishment greater than any I've felt in Eve to this date. I called Neil back in to the game. He went to fetch the AFK Huzzahian, and fleet warped his hawk over to the wormhole. I logged on my main again. We all gathered at the edge of the wormhole for a moment, and took some celebratory screenshots. "Who's going to go first?" I said.
I went in. And I laughed. It was only 5 jumps from home.