Pod and Planet: Stop touching my stuff!

25th November 2014 – 5.26 pm

I wake up in my Proteus strategic cruiser on the outskirts of our home system. First things first, I cloak. Now to update my directional scanner as I check to see who else is around. I see my glorious leader is on-line, and although Fin really is glorious I doubt that even she can pilot two strategic cruisers in a single pod. Still, that's what d-scan is trying to say, showing me a pair of Tengus and a mobile tractor unit. My intuition is sound, though, as Fin tells me that we have guests. I like her euphemism. What we really have are intruders.

Fin's been watching our visitors for a little while, as they've worked their way through a couple of the anomalies in our system, popping Sleepers and collecting our loot. I bet they're not going to give it to us, which is what any decent capsuleer would do, and are probably trying to blatantly steal it away. What can we do about that? Not much, really, not with an MTU sucking in all the wrecks and looting them automatically. Even if we wait for a salvager to appear and pop that, the MTU will grab the salvager's wreck and loot that quicker than we'll be able to, denying us our rightful plunder. Then we'd be reduced to a rather dreary minor structure bash to crack open the MTU.

Two Tengus that are not us

Watching the two strategic cruisers, easily found in a home anomaly, sees them move on. They leave the MTU to continue pulling in the remaining distant wrecks, and we watch as our loot is tidied away in an annoying little container that we cannot access normally. 'Shall we kill it now while they are out of range?' It's true, our system is a decent size, and the Tengus have moved from this anomaly back to the centre of the system, a sufficient distance for them to be outside of d-scan's range. That means we are not visible on their d-scanners too, and they cannot see what we are doing. Sure, why not pop open the MTU.

Cracking open the offensive mobile tractor unit

We both warp close to the MTU stealing our loot, having already set up good perches in the anomaly, and decloak our covert ships. A few seconds of sensor recalibration delay later and we are venting our frustration on the MTU. If only it were a Noctis salvager, or anything with a capsuleer inside, both wanting to get away from the explosions and dreading what that would actually mean. Even so, it is quite pleasing to have two ships plugging away at the MTU, as its structure doesn't last terribly long to a combined assault. The MTU explodes and, a little greedily, I grab the thirty million ISK in loot that survives.

Reload, cloak. I wait in the site, a few kilometres from the remaining cluster of wrecks, in case a salvager unwittingly turns up. Fin warps away to see what the Tengu pilots are up to. Shooting more Sleepers, it seems. Dammit, stop touching my stuff! Clearly no salvager is forthcoming, and again I join Fin in shadowing the intruders. With a bit of time on our hands, as the Sleepers fall slowly to the Tengus, I interrogate the capsuleers' public information. That's interesting. One pilot is seven years in to his capsuleer career, but the other of the pair is only six months old. Six months old and already sitting in a strategic cruiser. I wonder how much he really is just sitting in it, rather than competently piloting it.

It's got to be worth a crack at the young capsuleer's skill training. How much can you train for a strategic cruiser in such a short time period, and how much can be offset with expensive modules? Quite a bit, I imagine, or he could be more relying on his experienced partner's abilities. I must be tempted to test the Tengu's integrity, as I am already warped in close to the two strategic cruisers, now in a site empty of Sleepers, as the older pilot warps clear. The youngling stays. This looks too good to be true, but we can think about that later, perhaps in a clone vat.

I'm not in an ideal position to catch the Tengu, as it is moving in what seems like an arbitrary direction, and easily outpacing my cloaked ship. But looking more closely I see that the Tengu is aimed directly for the MTU in this site. Knowing his vector makes his movement so much easier to predict, and a quick bounce off my perch and back in to the site gets me nicely within weapon range of the Tengu. I decloak, burn towards our target, and get a positive lock on the combat ship.

The Tengu is 'our' target, as Fin and I have been communicating all this time. Naturally, my glorious leader is up for a scrap somewhat more engaging than plinking away at an MTU, and seeing me snare the Tengu has her Loki strategic cruiser decloaking a few kilometres from the MTU the Tengu was heading towards. She pulses her drive and heads upwards to get closer, as I start ripping in to the Tengu's shields. Well, 'ripping' is not entirely accurate. I think I see a sliver of red occasionally, but it's swallowed within a handful of seconds by what must be a rather capable shield repair module.

Taking a shot at the young Tengu pilot

I shoot, Fin shoots, the Tengu reps back to 100% shields. I think it's safe to say this ship is pimped. His buddy is back too. Should we bail out? 'Bail out.' Okay, then. I align back to my perch, but in a fit on uncharacteristic behaviour I don't warp immediately. I am generally a little too quick to save my own ship, and I realise this as much as I realise that Fin is targeted by the Tengu. As long as she can get clear, I should be fine, and I shouldn't just warp away assuming that my colleague is able to do so. Fin warps clear, and seeing that she does I too warp clear, still just yellow-boxed by the Tengus and not under the direct attention that a red box would indicate.

We're clear, we're safe, and more ships are turning up. The intruders are bringing friends in to the system, maybe to scare us away, probably to try to kill us. It's just not cricket. A Proteus appears and cloaks, a Loki does the same, and a Legion nicely rounds off their collection of strategic cruisers. I know this because Fin knows this. Fin knows this because she has scanned our system and found the wormhole our unwanted guests are spewing from, a K162 from class 5 w-space. Fin's carefully monitoring transits now that we have revealed ourselves.

Maybe it's good that we didn't pause to swap one of us in to our energy-neutralising Legion. It could have drained the target Tengu's capacitor dry, forcing its shields to stop replenishing, but had we done so we'd have stayed in the fight for long enough for the reinforcements to appear. We'd almost certainly have lost one of our ships, if not both. As it is, we reclaimed some of our loot, ambushed the intruders, and, huh. They're not stopping.

I would have thought an overtly hostile presence would curtail the intruders' antics with our indigenous Sleepers, but apparently not. I suppose the fleet behind them is encouraging them to continue, try to flush us out. I'm insulted. We're not that green. They're also stealing more stuff, which is more than a bit cheeky. It's a good thing that I am too. With Fin on their wormhole reporting movements, and the two Tengus engaged in another anomaly, I warp to our tower, make a quick swap to a Cormorant destroyer, and warp to the edge of our system. Not just any edge of our system, but the one still holding the bundle of Sleeper wrecks waiting to be salvaged.

Wait no more, Sleeper wrecks. Your salvager is here. Ignore the corporate ticker of my ship not matching that of the wrecks, we're all friends here. I dive the Cormorant headfirst in the cluster, target all wrecks, and start salvaging. Then I target even more all wrecks, with the destroyer's system maxing out at a measly seven and there being at least twice that, and I continue salvaging. Whether any of the intruder ships noticed my ship swap or not, they don't twig what I'm up to and I clear up the cluster of wrecks, plus the few that the MTU sadly never got around to grabbing, and warp back to our tower with another forty million ISK in loot. None of the Sleepers in this operation were harmed by our ships.

There are more wrecks out there, in the site of the failed Tengu ambush. However, that site is within d-scan range of all the hostile ships, visible or cloaked, and I am in a puny, defenceless destroyer. But who cares, right? I spin the Cormorant around, warp to the relatively empty site, and start locking on to this new cluster of wrecks. I start salvaging, and watch as one of the Tengus warps in to the site to join me. Fine, whatever. I bounce. As I enter warp, I see the Tengu leaves too, apparently a little flustered at seeing my threatening ship. I take that as an invitation to return, so I do, bouncing off my perch at a safe distance in the anomaly from the wrecks, so that I can eyeball the situation before getting close.

Tengu warps in to see my Cormorant salvaging

All is clear, and I warp back to the wrecks and start salvaging. Knowing that this time I am under pressure, being quite visible and already spotted, I try to salvage smarter. I target the Sleeper battleship wrecks first, sweeping four of them in to my hold before a Loki decloaks off my starboard bow. Thirty metres off my starboard bow. Time to go. I align back to my perch and, erk, get yellow-boxed by the Loki. Thankfully, I see that the moment I enter warp, the yellow not turning red this time. I'm safe, and with another ten million ISK of our loot in my hold. But now what to do?

Bumping in to a hostile Loki as I attempt more salvaging

I can't salvage the wrecks. We can't shoot the ships. I feel like I'm missing a permutation here. Oh, I know, let's shoot the wrecks! I have just the ship for that too. Back at our tower, I swap my Cormorant for a Manticore, and take the stealth bomber back to the anomaly where the Loki lies waiting. I bounce off my perch and warp at range to the cluster of wrecks, where I am sure the cloaked ship lurks. I doubt he will catch me, even if he suspects what I'm about to do, which is to deny these intruders even more of their ill-gotten gains. I back off a little, manoeuvring to get an approach vector in line with a distant planet, and align towards the wrecks. All looks good, commence with the bombing run.

Bombing run on some wrecks

I decloak at thirty kilometres and launch a bomb. As I do, a Cheetah appears. I am as surprised to see the covert operations boat as it seems to be at seeing me. I think he's rather more panicked, though, looking somewhat desperate to evade the bomb I just lobbed in his direction. I leave again, entering warp almost instantly towards the distant planet, relying on my instruments to show me the damage report. I hit everything. The Cheetah takes a chunk of damage, the Loki more but relatively less overall, and all of the wrecks are caught in the explosion. I return, cloaked, to my perch to see the Cheetah survived, sadly. The wrecks are all obliterated, though. Mission accomplished!

Obliterating the wrecks

The only bad news is that the intruders already scooped their MTU and the loot inside that. Even so, plenty has either made its way in to our pockets or gone to waste. On top of that, they've had enough of our shenanigans. The MTU in the bait site they are clearing is scooped, leaving four Sleeper wrecks tens of kilometres away, all in different directions. One is a battleship wreck, the blue loot the Sleepers hold in such a ship worth ten million ISK by itself. I'm having that. I warp to the wreck, a long, safe distance from any of the ships, and brazenly loot it in front of the intruders. I cloak and bounce back to my perch once done, and am immediately put off from trying that with the smaller wrecks as a Malediction interceptor is brought in to the site.

Malediction protects the Noctis from me

The interceptor buzzes around, not really close to the wrecks but without any real need to be close to them. He can cover the tens of kilometres required in seconds, either normally or in warp, if he gets too far away. What little ISK is left to recover is not worth either the potential loss of ISK of my ship, or the gain in morale the intruders would get from my being caught. I'm content to watch them be forced to protect a Noctis just so they can take some petty cash home with them, perhaps to cover the costs of the lost MTU and all the ammunition used during combat. Conversely, we are up ninety million ISK, all gained whilst pissing off and inconveniencing a small fleet of pilots. They will think twice before touching our stuff again.

Wormhole colours

30th September 2014 – 5.30 pm

Telling which class of w-space system you are about to enter appears to be an art, or perhaps some kind of witchcraft. To the untrained capsuleer the indecipherable letter and numbers that float near the wormhole mean little, and coming at it from the wrong side only gives you the standard K162 designation that gives no information about the system beyond. It is possible to interrogate a database of static wormhole designations in order to determine the class of w-space you're about to enter, but it would be much more useful to be able to tell at a glance. Trying to inform the inexperienced pilot about the colours that bleed through somehow only leads to more confusion. As a parting gesture, let's see if I can make visual identification easier.

First, wormholes are not simply holes in space, they are more akin to tunnels. The colours that surround a wormhole reflect not only the system on the other side but also that of the system you're currently in. The outer edge of the wormhole represents local space being funnelled through the portal before it transitions entirely in to the view of the system beyond. This is important to realise, as the different colours around the edge of the wormhole can potentially taint your impression of the whole.

Despite wormhole colours varying from edge to centre, the wormholes themselves appear to be in some kind of cosmic alignment, as any reflection of the current system's nebula shimmering around the edge of the wormhole doesn't seem to interfere with any view of the nebula through any wormhole. Never the less, along with example images of the main nebula colours as seen through a wormhole, I also include a more comprehensive matrix to aid with identification and visualisation.

This guide only provides information about w-space systems. I have written a separate guide for New Eden wormholes that lead to high-, low-, or null-sec space.

Along with the visual cues, the information panel provides most of the information about a wormhole, including the maximum individual ship mass that can transit, the health of the wormhole, and the tier of w-space the wormhole leads to. There are three tiers of w-space, with class 1 to 3 systems being 'unknown' w-space, class 4 and 5 systems 'dangerous' w-space, and class 6 systems 'deadly' w-space. Identifying class 6 w-space systems is therefore pretty straightforward. It is also perhaps the easiest to identify visually, having a vivid red colouring.

Moving down to merely 'dangerous' systems, the class 5 wormhole can be recognised by its mix of orange and pink hues.

Wormholes leading to also-dangerous class 4 w-space are distinctive from the lower-class w-space systems by the tinge of red to the purple-grey nebula.

Wormholes to the classes of 'unknown' space are fairly similar, but there are still distinctive patterns to tell each class apart visually. Class 3 w-space systems have a purple splotch amongst the predominantly grey colouring.

There is a distinctive black gap in the view to a class 2 w-space system, looking like a bear trying to catch a leaping salmon.

Wormholes to class 1 w-space systems are perhaps the least distinctive of all in their colouring, being a rather uniform grey-purple.

Thankfully, theses wormholes have the excellent benefit of being unique in their individual ship transit mass allowance. Look for the teal aurora surrounding a wormhole to be assured that you're travelling to or from a class 1 w-space system. This illustrates the extra information available from the auroras surrounding the wormhole, not just the nebula colours. The auroras that swirl and dance, wax and wane, indicate the maximum individual ship mass that can transit the wormhole.

A royal blue aurora indicates wormholes that only allow frigate-mass ships. This is the most important one to recognise, particularly when approaching the K162 side.

A wormhole with a teal aurora won't allow battleships through, and is the indication of a wormhole connecting to or from class 1 w-space.

A turquoise aurora highlights a wormhole that allows every ship below capital hulls.

A yellow aurora indicates wormholes that freighters can transit.

Note that the auroras indicate the individual ship mass limits for the wormhole and don't change with the total accumulated mass passed through the wormhole.

Now let's look at how the originating system affects the colour of the wormhole. I don't think this is a particularly necessary step, because of the cosmic alignment of wormholes. But as your ship will rarely approach a wormhole from exactly the right direction, I believe there is still use in seeing the nebulae slightly askew, as well as having the current system's colours bouncing off the edges.

I have collected a range of images from many types of wormholes to illustrate the differences. The matrix format should make both the originating and destination system colours clear. The rows show the originating system and the appropriate colours are reflected around the edge of the wormhole. The columns show the destination system and the appropriate colours are reflected in the centre of the wormhole. There are currently gaps in the matrix, although I aim to update the table as I encounter the missing types. As with the above images, a larger version of the image lurks behind each wormhole.

[Direct link to the table below.]

C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
C1
C2
C3
C4
C5
C6

And for those who prefer a black background:

[Not forgetting the corresponding direct link to the table.]


C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
C1
C2
C3
C4
C5
C6



 

Hopefully with this information you will be able to tell quickly and easily the class of w-space you are about to enter. Being able to do so at a glance removes the need to jump in to the system to find out, particularly if you are looking at the K162 side of the wormhole.

2001: A Space Odyssey

23rd September 2014 – 5.00 pm

So many new signatures. I fear we have been hit by Hyperion. Yep, examining our bookmark collection shows that my glorious leader has been scanning and already found four wormholes in our home system, including a second that will now persist. It's to class 4 w-space, which is what I had suspected and hoped, nothing too much for us, nothing too different. I see we also have a second wormhole to class 4 w-space, a low-mass variant of limited use, and a K162 from class 1 w-space. Is that a low-mass variant too?

Being able to jump to C1a indicates that this is merely a random connection to our system, apparently there will be more of these too. Just what I wanted, more scanning. But if it brings me more ships, more targets, maybe it will be a good change, and my directional scanner is showing me ships. Lots of ships. A tower too, but the Retriever mining barges, Coveter exhumers, Iteron V haulers, and various battlecruisers all look good. At least, from a distance they do.

Appearing over eight kilometres from the wormhole has never been a positive sign, but it's not always been negative, and so I look for the ships. Specifically, the mining ships, particularly after yesterday's good luck. I sweep d-scan across the ore sites. Nothing. Pointing d-scan at planets sees the ships coincident with the tower, and locating the tower finds them all unpiloted inside its force field. Oh well.

I warp away from the tower, launch probes, and scan the twenty-four anomalies and four signatures, not giving me much to find. There's one more wormhole, plus a gas and data site, the static exit to the system leading out to null-sec. Deklein, not interesting, still not Period Basis. Again, I'm over eight kilometres from the wormhole, and now I remember that this is a feature. It already seems like it will do more harm than good, giving scouts a free pass in to every system. Whatever, let's head back and choose a new fork.

I check the low-mass C4 wormhole, just because I want to, and my Proteus strategic cruiser bounces off the wormhole. I hope we learn to identify these easily, or it could get annoying to decloak for nothing. Although it looks like the double-0 identifiers are common between the low-mass wormholes, I have to wonder what's on the other side. I won't find out from this wormhole, not without changing ships, and what harm am I going to do in a Buzzard covert operations boat, and what good will a frigate without probes do me in a class 4 w-space system? I'll go through our new second static wormhole instead.

Vast class 4 w-space system

Updating d-scan from the K162 in C4b shows me nothing. Opening the system map sees why, with 64 AU of space in one direction, 135 of space in the other. I perform a flannel scan of the system, covering barely half of it, and repeat for the other half. There be ships out there. I warp across the equivalent of half of New Eden to see three towers, a Probe frigate, Mammoth and Epithal haulers, and a Drake battlecruiser, all from the relative discomfort of a rather good bubble trap outside the tower.

Caught but not revealed by a good bubble trap

Thankfully, the bubble trap isn't quite good enough to decloak my Proteus, although I take care when reversing. No pilots would have witnessed my ship getting slowly ripped apart by the tower, though, at least not here. A fifth ship is somewhere, and once disentangled from the bubble and canisters I warp further across the system to find an empty Venture. I don't think coming here was worth the warp fuel. Poking the signatures resolves the two static wormholes, which I'll have to get used to: one to class 5 w-space, the other to class 2 w-space. I'll hit the C2 system for kicks.

On approach, the wormhole to C2a crackles with activity. Well, maybe with activity. The pilot holds the session change cloak until it naturally drops, revealing his Astero frigate, at which point it cloaks again. I punch d-scan, out of habit, and see a pod. That's interesting. It's more interesting to see the pod drop on to this wormhole, but not on top of it. I sense an opportunity, particularly as the pod can't move quickly and my blasters can rip it apart in one shot.

Slowly locking a pod as it slowly approaches a wormhole

I decloak, impatiently wait for the sensor recalibration delay to end, and aim for the pod. The pod crawls to the wormhole as fast as it can, as my lock completes on the tiny vessel as fast as it can. The pod is faster, sadly, reaching the wormhole and jumping through before my blasters have a locked target to shoot. I think it's best to avoid this system now, and the connected C5 system. The pod came from the direction of the other static wormhole, making that way relatively safe—i.e. boring—and now the pilots in C2a are aware of me. I have no idea why they are orange, though.

I take myself home and, with another option remaining, in to C3a. D-scan shows me a tower, Iteron V hauler, and Gila cruiser. There aren't any wrecks, but as there are also no anomalies I shouldn't be surprised. The silly discovery scanner is only showing me three signatures in total, and I can see that Fin has scanned them all already. Our K162, the static exit to high-sec, and a K162 from more class 4 w-space. Well, I'll locate the tower, then move on to the C4 system, as I doubt anything will happen here.

Curiously, both ships in C3a's tower are piloted. The Gila is definitely idle, the Iteron perhaps not as much. The hauler's vector looks like it may have come back from the high-sec wormhole, which whilst mildly interesting doesn't leave me much scope for entertainment, not unless he's planning to go out again and conveniently come back with a polarised hull. Yeah, as I suspected, the Iteron spins on its axis, in to the idle alignment.

Not in to the idle alignment, in fact. The Iteron is accelerating. I was caught off-guard by the ship not aligning towards the high-sec wormhole, but now I see that it is accelerating in to warp towards a planet. To a customs office? In an Iteron? With my reputation? There isn't a second tower out there, so as the Iteron accelerates so do I in my Proteus, not quite believing what I'm seeing. But there goes the Iteron, and here I follow it.

Sure enough, the Iteron has warped to a customs office in w-space. I'm right behind it, just within warp scrambler range immediately out of warp. I waste no time in decloaking, shrugging the recalibration delay off, and targeting the rather vulnerable ship. This one doesn't have extra warp core strength built-in to the hull, and probably has expanded its cargohold rather than fit more warp core strength. Once I get close enough for my myopic blasters to see what I'm aiming at I'll find out.

Ambushing an Iteron outside a w-space customs office

I edge closer to the Iteron and start doing damage. Chunks of damage. The pilot knows he's caught and ejects as I evaporate the hauler's shields and rake deep in to its armour. One more blast rips the Iteron apart, and although I try to stop the pod from leaving he gets away cleanly. Enjoying memories of a simpler time, I move to the Iteron, loot some expanded cargoholds, and destroy the wreck and surviving planet goo.

Iteron exploding next to a w-space customs office

That was a weird incident, not that I'm complaining. I almost perk up about the prospect of four times as much daily scanning if it means pilots will be collecting planet goo in Iterons again, until a colleague points out that he was probably just being lazy, scooping the goo before taking it directly to high-sec. That makes sense, particularly as I already mentioned the Iteron looked like it had just come back from a high-sec wormhole. Still, it's a good catch, and a nice way to call and end the evening. I think I can ignore that other wormhole and go home happy.

I spy a new signature in the home system. Of course there is, I'm ready to hit the sack, get some rest. I can't ignore it, though, I never can in the home system. I launch probes, check no one's around—no one is—and scan the new signature. Or try to, at least. This signature is a devil to get my probes to converge on. The initial scan gets me a point, a second attempt splits the signature—no big deal, it happens. Missing the signature on a third scan happens too, when you don't care about potentially wasting a scan cycle and just pick one of the two red dots arbitrarily. Not picking up a clear result on the adjusted attempt doesn't happen, though, not in my experience.

I try again, repositioning my probes and getting a worse result, a ring instead of two dots. Maybe I'm just tired, and I've certainly made a hash of scanning before, normally by dropping two range increments on my probes without noticing. Drop the range increment, reposition the probes, forget I've dropped the range and do it again before scanning. I don't think I did that this time, but it's often worth taking a step back occasionally. I pull back on the range and scan again, this time getting back to the single red dot of a signature I can resolve. This had better be worth the time.

Another scan and the result turns from red to yellow. It's a, uh, an 'unknown' type. I've not seen that result for a long time, and certainly haven't had the other fields remain blank. Well, it's clearly not a site, so the signature is worth resolving, and if my interface is a bit buggy maybe a session change will fix that. I drill down to resolve the signature, still getting weird results, hitting 98% strength on 1 AU radius combat probes, and no stronger when dropped to the minimum range. I don't know what's wrong with the scanning interface, but a bit of wiggling often resolves the issue. This time is no different.

I still don't know what I've found, almost certainly a wormhole but still not identified directly by my probes. At least I can warp to this signature of unknown type, a remnant of earlier days and probably some glitch in the electronics somewhere, which will let me get eyes on the wormhole. I throw my ship in to warp and recall my probes, at which point the signature drops to 23% strength. I'm pretty sure the results normally persist, but whatever, I'm in warp.

I'm out of warp. I think I'm out of warp, anyway. My engines have cut out, my speed is showing as decelerating to nothing, but I'm getting a weird sensation of... of falling. How do you fall in space? This is probably a lesson in why exploring w-space with red wine flowing is a bad idea. I reorientate myself, and myself with my ship, to see what it's pointing it. Well, it's a wormhole. At least, it looks like a wormhole.

There's no locus to the wormhole, nothing bearing the identifier of its type. It's just a distortion of space. Maybe space-time, I dunno how it works. But who does, really? I hit the button combination to recall my visual interface, but that just causes my overview, directional scanner, bookmark window, and everything else to blink off. It was on, dummy. All the windows should have given it away. I hit the combination again to call it all back. Still the wormhole has no locus. That's curious.

Locus or not, I should be able to get a good idea of where the wormhole comes from by its colours. Null-sec, probably, by the lack of colours more than by their presence. Branch, or Fade, or one of the others with no impressive nebula in the background. But if that's the case, where is the background radiation? That normally gives a tell-tale streak to the wormhole. And is that actually black on the other side? It's almost like looking at an oil spill, and I have to convince myself what I'm seeing are a reflections from our pulsar, or interference patterns from my own displays.

Maybe the wormhole doesn't come from somewhere. Maybe it leads to somewhere. I can't tell where, feeding in to a sense of the unknown I've not felt for a long time. An unknown wormhole leading to unknown space. Is this not what I've been asking for? How can I turn away, however tired I feel, however unsure I can be of my return? I recall my sense of trepidation when first entering w-space, the vulnerability experienced by knowing nothing, surrounded by nothing, supported by nothing. This is it. No longer aware of where I am, commands are made separate to my senses, staring unseeing in to the void blotting out more and more space, until it fully engulfs me. I make the jump.

Deathrace 2000

22nd September 2014 – 5.16 pm

The skinny wormhole of the three in the low-sec system in Black Rise is an N432, of course. An outbound connection to class 5 w-space. I suppose I can take a look, although I'm not expecting to find much to catch unawares through an outward wormhole. I jump through to w-space and update my directional scanner, indeed not finding much, seeing only a tower, no ships.

Launching probes and blanketing the system reveals four anomalies and eleven signatures, and poking them for wormholes finds just the one. It's not a great result, as the connection must be the static wormhole and so leading me outbound again, but I have a K162 to class 5 w-space behind me in low-sec. I can go forward one more system at least, before heading back to a more likely source of activity.

Warping to the wormhole in C5b sees an H296 identifier and colours that match those of this system. It leads to more C5 space, which isn't much of a reward, or surprise really. Jumping to C5c and opening the system map continues the theme of no surprises, as only two signatures are revealed. I punch d-scan anyway, and am shown hangars. Plenty of hangars. I count five active force fields. I also see some ships.

Shit, I don't just see ships, I see drones. Mining drones. They may not be in a warp bubble to decloak unwary pilots either, not with two Orca industrial command ships and two Retriever mining barges in the system. I may have stumbled in to activity, activity that at any moment could see and react to the new signature popping on their interface, no thanks to the silly discovery scanner.

I switch back to the scanning interface and skim across the green results, ignoring the red. Just the anomalies. There's one ore site. That simplifies matters. I surge my Proteus strategic cruiser, already moved from the wormhole and cloaked, in to warp towards the ore site, preparing to make a perch on the way in. I concentrate on this task, neglecting a better look at d-scan for any possible combat ships I have probably overlooked.

Warping in to a rock field a healthy distance from two Retrievers

Perch made, my Proteus continues to decelerate and drops in to the site a healthy distance from two Retrievers and their mining drones. I need to find out what they are working on, and switch overview tabs and settings to see an arkonor rock suspiciously at the same range as the miners. I select the rock, it highlights underneath the cluster of drones. That'll be it. The rock is at a warpable distance too, which makes this quicker.

I bookmark the rock, accelerate, and warp in nice and close to the two Retrievers. Drones are still out, mining lasers blazing away. An update of d-scan on the way in, focussed on ships only, sees an Ishtar and Hawk assault frigate, a Tengu strategic cruiser, and maybe other ships. It was only a short warp, and those few combat ships are enough to convince me I may not have much time. Let's do this.

Retrievers and their drones chomping on arkonor on class 5 w-space

I decloak, target the two Retrievers on approach, and grab one of them quite firmly with a warp scrambler and web. As my blasters open fire on the one Retriever, the other having recalled drones and accelerating away, I wonder if perhaps I could be fancy and try to stop both ships with a single scrambler. Maybe, had I considered it earlier, had I more time than the discovery scanner allows. It's probably a bit late now, and I'd best make sure I get one of them.

Blasting the Retriever that I prevent from fleeing

The second Retriever warps clear. The first does not. It's not really his choice any more. I keep shooting, getting a bit closer to let my blasters actually hit properly before calling a full stop. Updating d-scan on a much reduced range sees no help coming, leaving me to chew through the mining barge uninterrupted, which takes a little while in a class 5 w-space system with a pulsar. Not that much time, though. The Retriever explodes in a big ball of flames.

Retriever explodes to a smooth ambush

I aim for the ejected pod but the pilot is awake and leaving. That's a good idea. I swap my unconnected target lock from missing the pod to the wreck, popping its contents as I align back towards my perch, reload my guns in warp, and cloak. Checking d-scan as I calm myself down sees ship swaps occurring, the local pilots reacting, although I don't know precisely how.

Leaving no traces and the scene of the crime

I don't see probes yet, looking for the new wormhole, which should mean its safe for me to head back. I'll do that, as I've finished here, and there's little point heading forwards through a hostile system I'd have to return through. I was going to head back anyway. Doing so after catching a miner in w-space, a rare occasion indeed, just makes this a good end to the evening.

I'm pleased with that ambush. Surprising ships through a newly opened outbound wormhole just doesn't happen with any kind of regularity any more. Recognising the situation and acting with a sense of urgency whilst still making good decisions that led to a kill is a very satisfying experience. If only I hadn't been so rushed. I didn't so much stalk my prey as blitz them.

Space: 1999

21st September 2014 – 3.39 pm

There are no anomalies I care to clear tonight, but two new signatures grab my attention. For a second they do, at least. My glorious leader has scanned them both, resolving two pockets of gas, bookmarking them for reference. She's also found our static wormhole, which looks to be unopened. I can change that, given nothing else to do in the home system. Huffing gas doesn't count as doing something.

Jumping to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system sees what looks like a familiar J-number, but not familiar enough to remind me of anything. It's probably nothing, much like the results from my directional scanner. Clear space all around me, but then there is a lot of space to the inner system, 34 AU of it. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan to get a good idea of what's out there.

My combat scanning probes show me a cluster of sixteen anomalies at the centre of the system, one anomaly elsewhere, and eleven signatures scattered here and there. I see no ships. My last visit was only six weeks ago, not soon enough to prompt recognition of the system's J-number, I'm sure, as I visit a lot of systems, but it's still fairly recent. The tower should be in the same place, which would help if I had listed it.

I only have the planet holding the local tower noted and not the moon. I had probably got bored the last time out, the previous system on my last visit holding the tower trap that I was oblivious about, but I'm fresh this evening and finding a tower is straightforward. I locate the tower and tag the owner corporation for reference, and call my probes in to scan for wormholes.

Four wormholes are resolved amongst the gas, data, and relic sites, the weak one obviously the static exit to high-sec, the others chubbier and probably K162s. Leaving the exit for last, I reconnoitre a K162 from class 4 w-space that's both at the end of its life and critically unstable—I'll call that Plan B, given that I fear just being twenty kilometres from the wormhole could be enough to push it over the edge—a K162 from null-sec that's also EOL, and, thinking positive thoughts for the last one, a K162 from low-sec Lonetrek. I wasn't quite positive enough, but at least the low-sec connection is healthy.

I poke the null-sec K162 first, not because I want to be isolated in the arse-end of space, but because I'm still looking for that elusive connection to Period Basis. I won't find it here, of course, not with the Cloud Ring nebula clearly visible, and I know I'm jumping to Outer Ring before I even get within jump range. Sure enough, I appear in Outer Ring just long enough to bookmark the other side of the wormhole, before returning to C3a to finally see where its static wormhole leads. Sinq Laison, it looks like. Sinq Laison indeed, where I am alone with two extra signatures. Well, I'm scanning here or in low-sec Lonetrek, and as I'm already here I launch probes. Relics and a data site. I'll go to Lonetrek.

Or maybe I should sell some of the loot I've been stockpiling for a rainy day. That doesn't seem like a bad idea, particularly as this system in Sinq Laison is a mere six hops from Jita, except for two reasons. One is that the system I'm in, the one conveniently close to Jita, is part of a two-system high-sec island, surrounded by low-sec. The other is that my glorious leader has already sold our loot, judging by the unexpected jump in ISK in our corporate wallet. Okay, I'll go to Lonetrek to scan for more wormholes.

Or maybe I won't go to Lonetrek to scan for more wormholes, not when I get closer to the low-sec K162 and see a tiny Cloud Ring reflected back at me and tinges of Verge Vendor. I didn't think the bland grey of Caldari space was quite as bland as it ought to be for Lonetrek, and now I realise why: this wormhole comes from Black Rise. Whatever, I'll go to Black Rise to scan for more wormholes. It's all space to me.

Exiting to low-sec Black Rise unsurprisingly puts me in a faction warfare system, with a dozen loyal citizens/stinkin' usurpers, and four extra signatures that I launch probes to scan. Fat wormhole, skinny wormhole, fat wormhole, and some relics. That seems like a fair result. The chubby wormholes are a K162 from class 5 w-space, and, uh, a K162 from another low-sec Black Rise system. I recognise the colours immediately this time, strangely enough.

I'm still curious enough to jump through the low-sec K162, and although I'm not surprised to find myself in Black Rise, I am moderately surprised to find myself sixteen hops away from the first system, yet still in faction warfare space. I'm not sure why I am amazed that space is so big, though. Taking a quick look around shows that there are more signatures to be scanned, but I already have wormholes behind me to explore through, including an outbound connection yet to be identified, and I'd rather explore wormhole space than scan low-sec. Back I go.

Slowly getting to high-sec

20th September 2014 – 3.42 pm

One good anomaly beckons to me in our home system. I continue to ignore the ghost site, resolve our static wormhole—the only signature in the system—and warp to our tower to take the Golem marauder on another excursion. It's pretty straightforward, popping Sleepers, having the wrecks lazily pulled towards me by a silly mobile tractor unit to be salvaged by the Golem, and a last bit of sweeping up in a destroyer. One hundred million ISK later, I'm back in my scouting Proteus and warping to our wormhole.

Golem engaging Sleepers in class 4 w-space

Jumping to the neighbouring class 3 system and updating my directional scanner sees a tower, Helios covert operations boat, and little else. Not that it matters, really. Our K162's signature will ping the discovery scanner of the Helios if it's piloted, and if it isn't there's really nothing to see. I need to do more to find any activity than opening an unknown wormhole these days.

I warp to the other side of the system to the tower, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan. Two anomalies, six signatures, and the Helios light up my combat probes. Checking my notes has a previous visit from just over a year ago. The static exit to high-sec still remains relevant information, the location of the tower does not. What is interesting is not finding the Helios when looking for the tower, the cov-ops apparently in deep space by itself.

I should find the Helios. I call my probes in to scan, not caring to try any kind of stealthy hunt using d-scan first, and ping the ship in a couple of places, the second being back at the tower. Well, at least I found the tower, and it seems the Helios is now scanning too, with core scanning probes cluttering the system. Two sets of scanning probes, in fact. Who else is out there?

Lurking on our K162 seems like a good choice to see potential scouts whilst I scan, particularly when I drop out of warp at the wormhole to see a Cheetah cov-ops there too. I don't know, and can't tell, if he jumped or cloaked, and I keep scanning. Two gas sites are already ignored from looking for the Helios, and resolving a wormhole has a ship coincident with the signature. Helios or Cheetah, my probes aren't telling me.

Scanning a signature and ship coincidentally

The static wormhole is the only other one in the system, apart from our own, and as core probes are still in the system and my probes spotted a ship on the exit, I shall assume the Cheetah has left for high-sec and the Helios is still scanning. In that case, I do what comes naturally. I jump home, swap my Proteus for a Flycatcher interdictor, and wait on our wormhole for a curious Helios. As I wait, I ponder the question 'just how long can I wait?' The answer, it seems, is 'about fifteen minutes', at which point I consider that the Helios isn't curious enough for my own good.

Back to our tower, to my Proteus, to C3a. No probes, no Helios, and five signatures. Five signatures? Has a wormhole died or been collapsed? Ours is still here, the static wormhole is pinged to me by the silly discovery scanner, and I scanned two gas and one relic site. That makes five signatures. Maybe one other signature deteriorated after I launched probes but before I scanned. I rather suspect I miscounted the number of signatures in the first place. That can happen. Either way, there is no Helios or Cheetah, so I'm going to see what's happening in high-sec.

I get to the exit wormhole and pause, as I usually do, checking d-scan one last time before I leave. That Stabber is new to the system, d-scan placing the cruiser at the tower. I warp across to take a look, seeing the ship piloted, of course, and fit with what looks like a mix of guns. I'm no expert, but that doesn't look good for its health. I really hope the cruiser does something so that I can find out, but all he does, after a short while, is accelerate and warp to the high-sec wormhole.

Stabber with possibly mixed guns fitted

Following behind the Stabber sees it disappear to high-sec, leaving me to once again loiter. That's a fancy term for doing nothing. The cruiser doesn't return with a polarised hull, which would probably be what it takes to catch him properly, so I stop loitering and actually jump to a third system this evening. Through the wormhole to high-sec Metropolis, where DUST Bunnies are busy, no oranges are visible, and one extra signature resolves to be a combat site.

I think I'll just go home. It's rather anticlimactic, but I don't fancy hopping a stargate this evening to look for more wormholes. It feels like I've done plenty already, looking for ships, waiting for ships, and at least we have the potential profit from the anomaly to show as progress for tonight.

Missing mining by moments

19th September 2014 – 5.27 pm

Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity? Exploring through a K162 wormhole from low-sec takes me to a class 2 w-space system with only two planets, anomalies scattered between them, but one planet hogging all of the signatures. It's a curious sight indeed. My directional scanner is clear of just about everything, with no towers or ships visible, but there is one mining drone abandoned out here. What are the odds that there is more to see elsewhere, when there isn't much elsewhere out there?

Rather odd class 2 w-space system

I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. Along with the ten anomalies, five signatures, and lone drone, are two more drones and four ships. That's worth taking a look at, and I warp to the centre of the system where d-scan shows me two Venture mining frigates and two more mining drones, making me lose interest in the Drake battlecruiser, Merlin frigate, and tower. A pair of mining drones and some mining frigates could indicate activity.

Switching to the system map, I sweep d-scan around the anomalies, not really taking care to distinguish between combat and ore sites, and see one Venture with the two drones in otherwise empty space. That will be an ore site, one I want to visit. I surge my Proteus strategic cruiser in to warp towards the site holding the Venture, not particularly bothered by the minor threat posed by a Drake to my Proteus, and drop out of warp a healthy distance from an active miner. How exciting!

Dropping in to a rock field to see an active Venture

Not wanting to waste any time, I bookmark the rock the Venture and its little minions is chomping away on, bounce back to the perch I made on the way in to the site, and warp to get nice and close to the miner. Ah, no no no, as I decelerate the drones are recalled, which is not a positive sight, but an indication that the mining has come to an end. Or, at least, a brief pause as a full cargo is dropped off at the tower.

I hold my cloak, not wanting to spook a pilot obviously at the controls and preparing to leave, particularly one in an agile frigate that can escape my attentions with relative ease. If I am lucky, this is just a short break and the Venture will come back for more crunchy ore, and I keep my position as the Venture warps out of the site back towards the closest planet. At least he's local.

Getting to the arkonor as the Venture decides to leave

I flip my attention between the arkonor rock in front of me, mere kilometres away, and d-scan, which shows me, huh, an Iteron V hauler in the system. Should I be waiting in this site, or looking for the tower or other wormholes? If the Venture comes back then so can I, directly to this rock now that I have its positioned bookmarked, and it looks like it's worth finding the tower. I warp to the planet and search for the right moon.

The Iteron has disappeared from d-scan, and from my probes. What it was doing and where it came from will remain unknown for now. Locating the tower finds the Venture there, relaxing, and finally getting eyes on the other ships shows them to be empty. Damn, that means I was a few seconds too late to ambush a lone miner. Or maybe I am in time to catch something bigger.

The pilot swaps the Venture for the Drake, making me wonder, hope even, that he will head out to clear another ore site of Sleepers. There were wrecks in the site he just left, and I doubt he made them in the Venture. Mind you, they were also unlooted and unsalvaged, so it's not like the pilot engages Sleepers for the loot, and with more arkonor to collect in the first site there seems little point in making a second site ready. Indeed, after a short wait, the Drake blinks off-line. So close, but I wasn't quite in the right place at the right time.

Little profit, little activity

18th September 2014 – 5.40 pm

I have a bit of me time to start the evening. There are anomalies piling up in the home system and just the two signatures. Launching probes to scan resolves our static wormhole as the only connection, the other signature being a gas site. Our system is isolated, letting me take time to consider what to do. Glancing over the anomalies sees a couple of my favoured type, and, hey, a ghost site. I've not noticed one of them for a while. I've not really cared about them for a while either.

The ghost site is almost tempting to clear, but the race to click as fast as possible across unintuitive glyphs with no logical way of determining a safe path is not particularly appealing to me. That the loot needs to be dragged to a trade hub and contracted for sale makes it less desirable, and that there may not be any decent loot just seals the deal. I'll get the Golem marauder out to clear the two anomalies for actual and predictable gains in ISK.

I've not really watched any films that I have an strong urge to discuss with a vacuum, so my mind is mostly a blank as I pop Sleepers and salvage the wrecks a silly mobile tractor unit drags close to me. At least my view is clearer than my mind, not having been dropped in to a blinding cloud in this anomaly. I actually have a pretty view of the system, the star glinting off in the distance, the pulsar providing a secondary light source.

Launching cruise missiles at Sleepers from a Golem

The view in the anomaly may be good, but the haul from the Sleepers is distinctly average, pulling around 155 Miskies from two sites. Let's see if the constellation deals me a better hand. I swap back to my Proteus strategic cruiser and warp to our wormhole, jumping through to see what the neighbouring class 3 w-space system has to offer. A tower and Moa cruiser, and bugger all else.

My directional scanner shows me the occupation and ship, the discovery scanner ruins the mystery of there being no anomalies and three signatures. The one planet in d-scan range will hold the tower and ship, as the only signature in range is our K162. I warp to the centre of the system to get closer to the other two signatures, just in case there actually is something out there, but see nothing else when updating d-scan.

No surprises from the discovery scanner

I launch probes whilst out of range of the Moa, although I'm not really sure why I need to. Even if the ship is piloted, what's he going to do? One of the signatures will be the static wormhole, which according to my notes will exit to low-sec, the other isn't likely to see the Moa active. Even if it's a gas site, Venture mining frigates have made cruisers expensive and inefficient for gas harvesting, and there's no way a standard cruiser could survive a w-space relic or data site.

Locating the tower for reference actually finds the Moa piloted. I still don't know what he's planning to do, and a blanket scan of the system shows that the mystery signature clearly isn't a K162. I resolve it anyway, along with the static wormhole, not bothering to be sneaky about it in a system where there are no secrets. It's a relic site. I think I'll leave, look for better opportunity elsewhere, and I warp to the wormhole to see an exit to Sinq Laison. Through I go.

I appear in low-sec in Rancer. I've heard of this system, and if I've heard of a low-sec system it is probably for the wrong reasons. Three corpses on d-scan corroborate my opinion. Still, I'm not about to use any stargates, so I should be okay. I launch probes to see how many wormholes the seven additional signatures hold, which turns out to be three. One is a crappy K162 from more low-sec space, a second is a nifty K162 from class 2 w-space, and the third is an uninspiring X702 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space.

I may have opened the X702, as it looks particularly stable, so I best use it before the discovery scanner makes its signature known to everyone on the other side. That turns out to be no one. At least, no one obvious, as d-scan is clear from the K162. Launching probes and blanketing the system doesn't find any ships, leaving me the seven anomalies and fifteen signatures that I could already somehow see without probes.

Return to the Sucky Place container

Some structures appear out by a far planet in C3b, which are worth investigating for occupation. Crossing the system and updating d-scan doesn't see a tower, but it does see a familiar object, a canister labelled 'sucky place'. I remember this system, and checking my notes confirms that I was here only a few days ago. Yep, no occupation, a static wormhole to low-sec, and a canister of truth. This is a sucky place. A quick look for K162s resolves two wormholes, the non-static connection being a K162 from class 2 w-space, but one at the end of its life. I'll leave that alone and instead explore through the healthy C2 K162 in the low-sec system behind me.

Mission: Anomalous

17th September 2014 – 5.54 pm

We have more anomalies than I almost know what to do with. There are a handful of good ones too, but what can I do with them? I've finished my review of Oblivion, unless I want to mention the bombastic score too, but I think I've done enough. I suppose it depends on what these other two signatures are that have popped up overnight. I launch probes and scan, resolving gas and more gas to go with the rest of the gas accumulating in our system. I should probably generate some ISK for our operations.

Just gas and the static wormhole

To the tower, in to the Golem marauder, and out to the first anomaly of the evening. Rewatching Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol the other day, I couldn't help but wonder why it was revealed that Hendriks went to the meeting in the Burj Khalifa with a mask on. It was established that Wistrom, his right-hand man and choice for the disguise, hadn't met their contact, Moreau, otherwise the duped meeting with the M:I squad wouldn't have worked. Surely Hendriks knew that, so why disguise himself as Wistrom?

I can understand Hendriks perhaps not wanting to wander around without a disguise, because of his high profile status. I can almost understand him not wanting to send Wistrom to the meeting unsupervised, because of the high stakes in what was involved, although you'd think he'd trust his right-hand man more. But if you are Hendriks wanting to make sure you got the right materials, weren't double-crossed, and weren't recognised, why disguise yourself as your known accomplice? Wistrom essentially attracted just as much attention as Hendriks.

Golem marauder busy with Sleepers

It would have made more sense for Hendriks to turn up wearing a completely neutral disguise, because he wouldn't have been tracked and Moreau wouldn't have noticed. Or wear a neutral disguise and pretend to be Wistrom's right-hand man for the deal, to be there, be represented, and still go unnoticed. It seems that the reveal of the mask was there solely to have one used in a manner that didn't spoil the plot by being entirely overused, as in M:I 2, and tucked away at the end of an action sequence in the hopes of its not making any sense going unnoticed. Maybe I'm missing something.

Two anomalies are cleared of Sleepers, and their wrecks are looted and salvaged to bring back a fair 170 Miskies of plunder. That's not bad. The first anomaly even had my Golem not sitting in a blinding fog bank, letting me enjoy the view. It was almost a pleasant experience. Now to poke our neighbouring class 3 w-space system in my Proteus strategic cruiser, see what's happening in today's local constellation.

Jumping to C3a has my directional scanner showing me nothing, although opening the system map and seeing just how much space there is between the planets makes the negative result less surprising. One planet is in range, and the system is 125 AU across. There doesn't look to be much too see overall, which there isn't, but the eight anomalies and six signatures are spread over so much volume that it feels like less. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan to see if I can add any ships to the signatures, and I can't. There aren't even any structures, none at all, so the system is unoccupied.

Lots of empty space in this class 3 w-space system

I scan. Gas, wormhole, wormhole, relics, and a wormhole. There's a lot of space between our K162 and the wormholes, and as there's no occupation to watch I am in warp to each connection as soon as it is resolved. A K162 from class 4 w-space could be interesting, the static exit to low-sec obviously leads to Domain, and a K162 from class 2 w-space would be much more attractive if it weren't at the end of its life. Never mind, I pop out to Domain to bookmark the K162 in low-sec, duly noting the three extra signatures should I need more to scan, then back to C3a and across to see what's waiting for me in C4a.

My goodness, it's the nexus of w-space: J100001. Naturally, there is a tower lacking ships visible on d-scan, and although a big cluster of green highlights fourteen anomalies there are only two signatures present. Maybe the other one is a K162. I warp away from the wormhole and tower, launch probes, and blanket the system. Nope, the other signature is weak, clearly not a K162. Curious, and because it's just one, I identify the signature as gas. There's nothing else to do in this system, and I head back to low-sec to see what the signatures are there. Back through a now-dying C247 to C3a, a clear indication that I'm hours late to whatever activity there might have been.

Three extra signatures in low-sec, three wormholes resolved. I warp to the first, wondering how many will be a result of the explosion of empire-empire connections tonight, and drop out of warp next to, huh, another K162 from deadly class 6 w-space. These seem more frequent too. The second wormhole is an N944 to more low-sec, leading to Essence from the colours, and relatively useless. The last is a K162 from class 5 w-space. Not great options, but I work with what I've got.

Plenty of anomalies and signatures in the unoccupied class 6 w-space system

In to C5a and d-scan is clear, a blanket scan revealing seventeen anomalies and ten signatures. Again there are no ships and no structures. I've done enough here. Back to low-sec, across to the other K162, and in to C6a. D-scan is clear, and I have to page my way through fifty-six anomalies to see the fourteen signatures, lack of ships, and sole structure somewhere in the system. That ain't no on-line tower. I'm not finding anything tonight, it seems. Not with this attitude, at least, the attitude of going home to get some sleep.

Bumbling through minor activity

16th September 2014 – 5.25 pm

To high-sec to scan, back to the plan. Four signatures wait to be poked, four wormholes get returned as results. One is skinny, making it an outbound link, three feel pretty normal for K162s. Warping around sends me to a K162 from class 2 w-space, one from class 3 w-space, another from class 2 w-space, and the skinny wormhole is an M555 connection to class 5 w-space, one that is at the end of its life. The outbound link wouldn't have help much hope for finding activity anyway, and three K162s should give me plenty to do in the little time I have left.

I hit C3b first, with its potential for being an immediate dead end. Jumping to w-space and updating my directional scanner sees the usual tower lacking ships, and warping across the system to launch probes has my stumbling in to a second tower, this one with ships. The Exequror cruiser and Catalyst destroyer give me hopes that something interesting is happening, perhaps a gas site being cleared, and salvaged of Sleeper wrecks. But those days are gone, now that we have Venture mining frigates and Noctis salvagers. Well, I suppose the silly mobile tractor unit has seen the resurgence of destroyers sweeping up wrecks, but I wouldn't call it salvaging.

Regardless of their past uses, the ships still may hold pilots. Locating the tower is straightforward, giving little time for my optimism to build and so giving less of a drop to disappointment to find both ships empty. Now to find somewhere to launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. Two anomalies, six signatures, no other ships than those I've seen. A poke for possible K162s has one of the signatures being far from any planet and an obvious wormhole, and, because there are only six signatures, a check of the weaker signatures picks up a second wormhole too. The K162 is a dying connection from class 2 w-space and not worth risking isolation over, the second is a V301 outbound link to class 1 w-space. That'll do.

Messy class 1 w-space system

Entering C1a and updating d-scan sees nothing, but the already-udpating-without-asking discovery scanner is trying to induce an epileptic fit in me. Sixty anomalies are pinged to my interface, which are sixty anomalies I'm not bookmarking without good reason. Blanketing the system sees a ship hiding amongst the anomalies and signatures, sending me in to warp in its general direction, only to find a Cheetah covert operations boat empty inside a tower's force field. I think I can call this system scouted, not caring to scan for possible K162s at this late hour when I have two more behind me in high-sec.

Back to C3b, to high-sec, to C2a, where a black hole welcomes me to the system. D-scan shows me a tower and one pitiful shuttle as the only ship visible, and the system map only highlights how small and uninteresting the system is. Well, except for this Manticore stealth bomber that decloaks next to the wormhole and jumps to high-sec. That's mildly interesting, but even if it returns polarised it will be able to cloak immediately to avoid the speculative attentions of my Proteus strategic cruiser. The Manticore doesn't even need to cloak to avoid me, not when it doesn't return before I get bored and wander off.

Manticore jumps past me to high-sec

Scanning C2a for potential wormholes, wondering if the Manticore has reported the constellation to remain quiet to active colleagues behind him, is easy in a system with five signatures, two of them chubby. There are no K162s. It's possible the Manticore came through the second static wormhole, opened by someone else, causing me to resolve the other signatures to find and warp to the wormhole. My timing's a little bad, as the shuttle on d-scan is now a Venture, making me wonder if the shuttle was piloted all along, and if I should have resolved that gas site instead of ignoring it.

I bounce off the O477 wormhole to class 3 w-space to locate the tower, not finding the Venture in the process. I can't find him in space either, but my probes will be able to, if I hadn't recalled them when I thought I'd finished with scanning. I relaunch my probes, knowing that I can't get out of d-scan range of the ship, and throw them out of the system to hide them, by which point the Venture has returned to the tower. That was quick, but maybe he's just steeling himself to the task of sucking on gas. I loiter with intent, but I get the impression that the Venture pilot is not going to do anything, mostly by the way he goes off-line. Never mind, my time is up anyway.

Out to high-sec, across to C3a's K162, and in to C3a, where a ship sits near the wormhole. It's only a Heron frigate, but it's still a ship, and one that shouldn't need much encouragement from my Proteus to explode. I shed my session-change cloak, lock on to the Heron, and start shooting the frigate. Well, missing. It seems that even approaching the ship under normal speed in a black hole system is enough to cause my blasters' tracking to be skewed.

Stumbling in to a Heron idling on a wormhole

Wreck and corpse of newbie Heron pilot

I bring my ship to a full stop, bringing the Heron's existence to the same with a tiny explosion. Grabbing for the pod catches that, and one more volley of blaster fire cracks that open too. Bagging a Heron on a wormhole is not much of a kill, but I'll take it. I scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck, at which point Fin tells me the pilot is 'not even a month old'. Oops. Well, welcome to w-space, I'm going to home to sleep.