[ In A Band Apart our Wormhole Corporations are thriving, growing and expanding. I intend to bring stories, reports and adventures to you regularly from that side of the universe. Today's adventure comes from Sanders Schmittlaub of Supreme Mathematics. Enjoy! ]
The following is a precautionary tale about the risks of being too greedy and prideful in the sandbox that is EVE Online. While these are important motivators from which content is created, becoming too attached to your pride or greed can result in an extremely costly and humiliating defeat, as Black Submarine recently learned.
The second precaution is in regards to alt naming. Characters with similar names can be mistaken for each other, especially if both are online at the same time. If someone does a little research, it is easy to find that multiple pilots belong to one person if they are all named the same – in this case, to disastrous consequences.
On Thursday, Supreme Mathematics leadership began to receive notifications that the POCOs (Player-Owned Customs Offices) in our original wormhole (Genesis) were being attacked by a Russian corporation named Black Submarine. We had not lived in Genesis for almost a year – we had moved out to upclass to a C4 wormhole. Our only connection to the system was through the POCOs, which we had tried to sell after moving out without success.
I sent a request for a conversation to Macrus Ra, CEO of Black Submarine, asking him if they would like to buy the five POCOs in system for 100 million ISK each. Their CEO responded to that request with an offer of 30 million ISK per POCO, or setting the tax rate to 0% and we could keep them. I considered his offer unreasonable – 30% of the value of the POCOs or no profit to us provided no incentive to agree. I redid the value of the POCOs and found that new POCOs could be bought for 71 million ISK. When presented with that price for each POCO, Macrus told me that his offer was the only one they would accept, and that I could go away with any others.
I had to stop and think why he would want to play hardball over 40 million ISK per POCO. They lived in a wormhole, so probably had plenty of ISK. Buying them would save them the trouble of having to reinforce all five (not a small endeavor for a corporation of twelve members) and haul in replacements. Both operations are a big risk for a small corp in a C2. We were not using the POCOs and clearly had no use for the C2. A brief check of the killboards showed we had not even rolled into system for more than six months. The only reasoning I could think of was that he was far too greedy to part with so much ISK.
They didn’t reinforce the POCO Thursday, and Friday morning I again received notifications that our POCO was being attacked. Again, I requested a convo to make the same offer and see if he had rethought his position.
The CEO very rudely informed me that I could not convince him, and that any words between us were wasted. The offer was 30m or a 0% tax rate. We had nothing more to discuss. He then closed the convo.
This upset those I was chatting with on Teamspeak greatly, and the decision was made to mount a punitive expedition to our old home to show Macrus that rudeness and greed had no place in (or beyond) New Eden. I sent him a mail saying that his rudeness and greed would not go unanswered, and our wrath would be swift and thorough. He responded a short time later with two words, “Bring it.” The game was on.
It should come as no surprise that we did not have a scout in the wormhole after more than a year of not living there, so I put a bounty on an entrance to the system: 750 million ISK to anyone who got SM.RB in before our POCO came out of reinforcement Saturday night, or 500 million after.
With such a noble goal as this, and with such a prize, the pilots of A Band Apart threw themselves into the task with gusto. There are 2,601 Wormhole systems in New Eden – trying to find a specific one is like trying to find a Fedo in a Titan – nearly impossible until you catch its trail.
Pilots in our wormhole raced down the chain from our current home, ending the night nine levels down a chain that ended up containing nearly a hundred systems. The Pirates of Stay Frosty were told the system had a lowsec static (it always has a wormhole connecting it to lowsec), and they spread out through lowsec, diving into every wormhole they could find. A few of the pilots of Supreme Mathematics had alts in hisec, and began to use locator agents to track the members of Black Submarine through hisec.
The third option is where our entrance was found. Soro Harbon and Trekan Kion, two longtime members of Supreme Mathematics, began to search for the online members of the corporation. The search deserves a story of its own due to the spectacular luck involved. One of the Black Submarine pilots, named ‘grizzzlix krylov’, showed as online. Trekan fired up his locator agents, but mistakenly forgot the third Z, instead typing ‘grizzlix krylov’ (he did not notice this mistake until much later in the night). Not only did this character appear as online, but it was located just a few jumps away. Both Trekan and Soro sprinted over there in scanning ships – Trekan began furiously scanning the system grizzlix was found in, while Soro jumped to the next system (Urlen) and began to do the same.
A short few minutes later, Soro called out on comms “I found it!” Less than eight hours after the bounty was put up, it was claimed by one of our own, and Supreme Mathematics returned to Genesis.
Moving quickly, RC (one of our senior FCs) rageformed a fleet of Gilas/Ishtars and Basilisks to move in and seize control of the wormhole. Regardless of the early hour, nine pilots responded and raced to Urlen to jump into system.
Before the fleet could arrive (our exit from wormhole space was on the far side of the cluster), Trekan and Nimrod Trisi (another SM.RB pilot) who were nearby, entered system with two Stratios to begin scoping out the system. Their entry to the system was foiled - when they jumped through the wormhole, they found there was already a small skirmish between a Black Submarine Confessor and a non-related Thrasher. Both Stratios decloaked, and rather than try to cloak and hide, they engaged. The Thrasher managed to jump out to safety. The Confessor was not so lucky, and it exploded in short order under the sustained fire of two cruisers.
Not expecting us to be able to find them, Black Submarine pilots were caught completely by surprise. Once the main fleet arrived, their pilots were rapidly caught and destroyed or fled behind the shields of their starbases, where they insisted on taunting the pilots of SM.RB in local with threats and promises of ‘pain and suffering’ to come.
It was discovered that a second corporation was living in system with Black Submarine. 3A PODUHY had a second control tower up and operational, however our intelligence wing quickly found that the corporation was only five members strong, bringing total hostile numbers living in system to 17. With that information, and the reasonable assumption that two small corporations living in the same wormhole were close allies, we elected to destroy both.
Once our fleet had established initial control of the system, I opened up another round of negotiations with the CEO of Black Submarine. Even through the rough translation provided by Google Translate, it was clear he was amazed that we could have gotten our fleet in so fast. I told him that we would still accept 350 million for the POCOs plus a few of the ships in POS for our trouble and we would leave. He again responded that they would not negotiate or surrender. I told him to consider his corporation under siege, and we gave the go-ahead to begin the attack.
SM.RB pilots began to tighten the vice around the hostile towers. A staging tower was brought in and set up at a nearby moon. Warp Disruption Sphere Generators were hauled in and readied. A hole rolling Raven entered the system and began to make its presence felt, rapidly pushing all of the wormholes in system to (or beyond) the verge of collapse. The static wormholes were left on the verge of collapse, with an Interceptor and a bubble to catch anyone trying to get in or out.
The main fleet warped to the Black Submarine starbase and began to destroy their defenses. One Ishtar began to deploy Warp Disruption Bubbles around the tower, denying the enemy the opportunity to warp in reinforcements or escape. The enemy gunners made their presence felt, concentrating fire on the flights of drones pouring forth from our fleet. As the losses began to pile up, the call went to our Logistics wing to bring in replacements. The wormhole connection to Urlen was just two jumps from Jita, so the transport was in system scant minutes after the call.
The first starbase, completely stripped of defenses, went into reinforce mode four hours after the wormhole was discovered. The Russians, who had so ridiculed us for showing up with just nine ships at first, were silent. The starbase’s reinforcement tower was barely fifteen hours long, set to come out Sunday afternoon.
At this point, many of our pilots were beginning to tire, and a break was called for a few hours before the second tower would be reinforced. Skirmishing began between Russian pilots who were either trying to escape or harass our fleet. Each time, our Interceptor pilots would race forth to tackle the target while the heavy cruisers of the main fleet chased to catch up. Several enemy pilots lost their ships and three were podded out, not to return.
Throughout the break, negotiations were reopened again with Macrus and his leadership. Even though he was in a clearly inferior position (both towers bubbled, all wormhole collapsed or defended, one tower in reinforce with a fleet at the other, several ships destroyed and one pilot podded out) he still arrogantly announced our impending defeat. I made him the same offer I had prior to the start of the siege, and even with the proverbial gun to his head, he refused to be reasonable. After nearly two hours of talking, I had barely convinced them to pay a fair market price for the POCOs plus a little extra for the drones they had destroyed – 400 million. In light of the facts he had available, his arrogance was astounding. They refused to pay anything (ships or ISK) to send us on our way - they were insistent the POCO deal was what we were here for and that we should leave afterwards. I told them they had until the second tower reinforced to accept my offer and begin handing over ships or we would wipe them from the system.
The second tower was reinforced with relatively little fanfare. One of the 3A pilots tried to sortie out of the shields unsupported to fight our fleet. His Armageddon was rapidly bumped away from the shields and was destroyed by massed Sentry Drone fire. It was a close call engagement, and indeed both the wreck and his pod spawned just inside the POS shields.
After that, it was clear the spirit of the defenders was broken. The Armageddon pilot’s pod moved back to the starbase hangars and he began to self-destruct its contents. The tower reinforced shortly after, and only went into reinforce for eight hours. Our fleet returned to the staging starbase for the night, and the first watch took up vigil over the heavily bubbled towers while the rest of the corporation logged off for a few short hours of rest before the fight would resume.
The night passed slowly. A few Russians logged on, but none were interested in fighting. The order had clearly gone out to empty the towers – several billion ISK in ships blew up, including an Orca, Phobos, Deimos, Ishtar, a dozen assorted cruisers, two Noctis, and numerous smaller ships. The remaining pilots logged off in whatever ship they most wanted to save. One Tengu, who was cloaky and interdiction nullified managed to run the gauntlet out to lowsec. The wormhole was collapsed before he could try to get back in.
It was a good thing that Black Submarine or 3A PODUHY did not try to sieze control of the wormhole overnight, since there were only two SM.RB pilots online for about half of it, and for an hour or so it was just myself in an Interceptor, guarding two starbases and three wormholes against up to five hostile pilots. The fight would have been very one sided if they had tried.
The next day dawned bright and early. Our night watch reported the situation and either logged off or got in bashing ships. The siege fleet, over 30 pilots strong, warped to the 3A tower and launched drones. There were no hostiles logged in. We destroyed both towers to little fanfare. The entire system burned except for one offline starbase that had been there since before SM.RB called it home.
True to their word, the enemy pilots destroyed almost every ship in their towers. We ended up taking just four Buzzards, an Anathema, a Taranis, and a few mining barges. With fittings, they ended up being valued at around 200 million ISK.
Once we had cleared grid of all hostile structures, the order was given to evacuate. We began to strip our towers of all defenses. This time, we have left a scout in the wormhole for anyone wanting to rudely demand our POCOs for free. The tower and its contents were loaded back up and sent home. Our Raven pilot was the last person to exit Genesis. He held on the exit wormhole for the fleet to pass, escorting our transports back to safety. He then placed a ‘o7’ in local, as a tribute to our vanquished foes, then activated his MicroWarp drive and jumped out to safety, closing the wormhole to Genesis behind him.
It is easy to see how the pride and greed he so willingly exuded ended up destroying his home. Offers were made to him at every opportunity to stop the fight before it got worse, and every time he spit on the hand offering it to him.
This refusal to negotiate or see the truth of the situation turned an argument over 200 million ISK into a fight that ended up costing Black Submarine and 3A billions and billions of ISK, and they still did not get the POCOs as they demanded.
I want to thank everyone who assisted in the fight for the Genesis POCOs. Personally, I had a blast doing it – all the negotiating and hunting was exhilarating. We successfully defended our assets in system, destroyed both hostile towers and several hostiles, then withdrew without so much as a single loss.