Watching the discovery scanner in action

2nd September 2014 – 5.40 pm

That gas still hasn't gone yet. I bet that extra signature in the home system is more gas, just to prolong my discomfort. Or maybe it's a second wormhole, a K162 from class 2 w-space that will have a second static connection to high-sec empire space. That's a decent option, as it could give me a chance to export some of the loot I've been accumulating recently.

Jumping to C2a and updating my directional scanner sees little, although there is a can labelled 'myrmadon charges', which intrigues me. All I have to do is find the myrmadon. To help, I launch combat scanning probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. No myrmadon here, not that I really know what I'm looking for, but unless it is an anomaly, signature, or drone, it's not in this system.

myrmadon charges

Switching filters to look for structures as possible signs of occupation sees a bunch of them dotted around here and there. They just cause me to waste time warping to a couple of points around the system, though, as I only find off-line towers, nothing active. At least I see the drone is a humble mining drone, nothing to care about rescuing. Talk to the rocks, man.

There are lots of anomalies, few signatures, thirty-five and five. Out of the five, there is one fat signature, one potential K162. Scanning it even finds a wormhole, a K162, but only one from high-sec. Along with that, I also resolve two more wormholes, and identify and ignore a gas site. I check the K162 exit first, leaving w-space to appear in Sinq Laison, four hops from Dodixie. That could be good for exporting, depending on the other wormholes.

I return to C2a and warp to see where it's static exit to high-sec leads, but warping to the two wormholes first sees an exit to null-sec, which is peculiar, and then an outbound connection to class 5 w-space. Now it makes sense. These are the two static wormholes, and the connection to our home system is a random link. That makes sense of the lack of occupation too, as C2 systems with C4/high-sec static wormholes tend to be snapped up.

I've opened it, I ought to use it, so I jump through the wormhole to C5a. A messy, eccentric C5a, with a black hole. I'm guessing there is no occupation in this system either, but, just like my first guess, I'm wrong. A blanket scan adds seven ships to the twenty-two anomalies and eleven signatures. Warping away from d-scan range of the first planet to be in d-scan range of the second sees the ships, plus a tower.

Eccentric class 5 w-space system

Locating the tower and warping there finds just an Anathema covert operations boat piloted, leaving the three Buzzard cov-ops, and Armageddon and two Scorpion battleships empty. As the Anathema is doing nothing, I start scanning. That seems to prompt activity, although I'm pretty sure it's not because of me but the silly discovery scanner pinging the new signature to the Anathema.

The cov-ops warps out of the tower, launches probes, and cloaks. I identify loads of gas and resolve two wormholes, and as I turn to accelerate towards one of the wormholes the Anathema reappears and warps back in to the tower. That he decloaks to warp is interesting, as it implies he doesn't have a cov-ops cloak fit. Normally that wouldn't matter, as the tiny, agile ships could easily evade the attentions of my Proteus strategic cruiser. In a class 5 w-space system with an inertia-imposing black hole, however, I may stand a chance.

I stop my Proteus and watch the Anathema. I don't know why, really. Yeah, I may have a chance of catching the cov-ops, a slim chance, but only if he actually jumps through the wormhole and returns polarised. Well, there he goes, aligning and warping, and I follow, rather slowly, also being afflicted by the black hole, the cov-ops naturally heading to the new wormhole the discovery scanner annoyingly told him about.

The Anathema drops from d-scan before I reach the wormhole, and I don't know if he's turned around or jumped. If I had kept my combat probes out I could perform a blanket scan and count the number of ships, but I haven't, so I can't. If he jumped, will he want to explore, leaving me sitting on the wormhole like a lemon? Maybe. Personally, I don't think he'd jump if he wasn't going to explore, and I don't see much point in waiting here. Not right now, anyway. As I see it, if the Anathema explores and finds the high-sec K162, maybe he'll take a fatter ship out of the system.

As I consider the possibility of catching a hauler, I bounce around the two wormholes I've resolved. One is a K162 from more class 5 w-space, the other is C5a's static wormhole to class 2 w-space. And there's the Anathema briefly back on d-scan. Maybe I could have waited, or maybe he is a mean scout and has found the high-sec K162. I warp back to the tower to see what the pilot does. Hmm, probably nothing, not with a C5 K162 connecting in to his system, and not when he would be a fool not to realise that someone must have opened the K162 back to C2a. Sure enough, a few minutes of watching sees no change. I should probably move on.

Low, low, low

1st September 2014 – 5.52 pm

It's still just me and gas. I can't quite manage to release it from my system. That makes our home system closed, though, but without any good anomalies popped up, I'm out of here just as soon as I find our static wormhole. I warp to yesterday's bookmark on a whim and, hey, it's moved today. Okay, I'll scan for the wormhole.

Ships! A Pilgrim recon ship, Onyx heavy interdictor, Legion strategic cruiser, Falcon recon ship, and Caracal cruiser are all in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system somewhere, and I'm guessing they're not shooting Sleepers. As there aren't any wrecks, I'm guessing they're not doing much of anything, particularly as they share a place on my directional scanner with a tower.

The tower is straightforward to find, being around the innermost planet, which only has a single moon, and I warp to it directly from our K162. Five ships, no pilots. Fine, no one's home. I warp away from the tower, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system, revealing three anomalies and four signatures. That's not much, and it doesn't take long to identify the signatures as two wormholes and one data site.

C3a's static exit leads to low-sec, um, Derelik or Devoid, I can't tell which, the colours are pretty similar. I won't find out just yet either, not with a K162 from class 2 w-space looking far more inviting. I jump to C2a, update d-scan, and see nothing. Opening the system map shows me just one planet is in d-scan range, hopefully the cause of the blank result, and I launch probes and blanket the system.

Little to see in the class 2 w-space system

Hey, there's a ship under my probes, somewhere near that territorial control unit. I warp towards the TCU, hoping to find activity, but getting caught in a bubble outside of a tower that holds an empty Orca industrial command ship. Updating d-scan as I crossed the system spotted five more towers, obviously without ships, and with only two anomalies and four signatures I don't care to waste time finding empty towers. I'll just scan.

One gas site, one data site, two wormholes. The wormholes are both of this class 2 system's static connections. I used one to get here, from C3a, the other leads out to, huh, high-sec Molden Heath. I didn't realise there was such a place. The high-sec system holds one pilot, not orange, and one extra signature, not a wormhole. Back I go.

In to C2a, across to C3a, and out to, ah, Derelik (my balls). A couple of pilots are in the system, a couple of extra signatures have my launching probes. I ignore the combat site and warp to the wormhole, disappointed to see what turns out to be just a connection to low-sec Tash-Murkon. Whatever, it's a wormhole, I'm gonna use it.

I jump to a system in Tash-Murkon that looks decidedly uninteresting, made only slightly better by having four extra signatures. I launch probes to scan them. I don't bother with a blanket scan first, the silly discovery scanner showing me the approximate locations of the signatures, and the local channel making any and every pilot aware of my presence.

My probes guide me towards three combat sites that I don't care about, and one wormhole that, as it turns out, I also don't care about. I've resolved another wormhole connecting two low-sec systems, whoop-de-doo. I bet low-sec people are happy with these new connections, but they feel like duds to me. I poke through anyway, appearing in a faction warfare system in Black Rise full of filthy pirates, probably, and with three extra signatures.

I'll give space one last chance. Launching probes and scanning the signatures in the Black Rise system gives me a combat site, a wormhole, and some relics. This wormhole doesn't connect to more low-sec space, but it doesn't get much better by being an S199 connection to null-sec. I keep going, forgetting my 'one last chance' warning, and jump through to Syndicate.

No one else is in this null-sec system, which would be nice in my ratting Loki strategic cruiser, not so good in my scouting Proteus strategic cruiser. And my scouting really does end here. There's just one signature in the system, the wormhole I'm sitting on, and I'm not resorting to using stargates to find any more wormholes that lead nowhere interesting. I'm going home.

Seeing orange in low-sec

31st August 2014 – 3.22 pm

It's just me, a pocket of gas, and our static wormhole to start off the evening. There are also a couple of good anomalies, double what we had yesterday. I am tempted to leave them another day, see if they turn in to four for tomorrow, but I like keeping the ISK flowing, so it's probably best to clear them whilst our system is closed. Tomorrow could bring more anomalies, but it could also bring more wormholes, or even a hostile fleet intent on stealing from us. Bastards.

I warp to the tower, swap to the Golem marauder, and perform a systems check. Everything looks good, the ammunition in my hold looks plentiful, and the silly discovery scanner updates to show me nothing has changed from thirty seconds ago. I'm ready to shoot some Sleepers. Warping to the first anomaly and launching the also-silly mobile tractor unit lets me concentrate on popping Sleepers and watching the two scanners.

Golem versus Sleepers

Eventually, Beech manages to capture Jack, with the great reveal that they are the humans and the Tet are actually the alien invaders, who are now sucking our planet dry with the unwitting help of Jack. Does he take time to explain this rather significant development carefully to Jack? No, he lets Jack go. Why does he let Jack go? Because Beech is an idiot. No, Jack isn't likely to keep all this information to himself or work out what's really going on, and if he does it will not be in the short amount of time necessary for Beech's plan to succeed.

If Jack's really as smart as Beech suspects, he will listen to reason and logic, particularly when presented with empirical evidence, and come to a good decision. Letting him go after going to so much effort and risk to capture him in the first place is namby-pamby film logic that makes no sense when absolutely needing that person to fulfil a vital role in the survival of the species and the planet. Meh, we've got time, I suppose. I actually think Sleeper combat is more interesting than Oblivion. One anomaly is cleared without fuss, and I take what loot the silly MTU has collected for me back to our tower in the Golem before moving to the second site.

Sweeping up the final wrecks in a destroyer

Nearly two-hundred million ISK is a good haul of loot from two sites, pulling up the average after the previously disappointing anomaly, and I even have a bit of time left to explore through our static wormhole. I swap back to my Proteus strategic cruiser, warp to the connection, and jump through. Two towers and a ship appear on my directional scanner from the K162, but the ship is only an Ares interceptor and almost certainly not up to much by itself.

I bookmark the anomalies in the system—and the wormhole home—and warp away to see if anything is happening outside of d-scan's limited range. Oh, probably not. The second planet is initially in range, where the two towers and Ares are. The first planet is 20 AU distant, hugging the system's star, and lacking moons. There are a couple of signatures and anomalies out there, though, so I suppose activity is a technical possibility.

Two-planet solar system in w-space

Warping to the inner planet finds that, no, nothing else is happening. That's a shame, as a previous visit had my catching and podding two stealth bombers, before we lost a Drake that rattled amongst Sleeper structures trying to escape from a couple of battleships. Bereft of much else to do, I launch probes, blanket the system, and warp back towards the second planet to start looking for the towers. I ignore the boring shell of a tower, the same as from the last visit, and head for the tower with the Ares. The interceptor is piloted and moving, but only moving in eccentric orbits, bouncing off hangars, in a way that suggests the autopilot is in control. I can ignore this capsuleer and scan.

Thirteen anomalies and five signatures are reduced to two signatures of interest. One is the static exit to low-sec, bearing the unmistakable brown of Aridia. The other is a K162 from null-sec with almost no colour to it, just a glow of background radiation. I check the K162 first, being taken to a system in Deklein again, somehow not recognising it from yesterday. Today, over twenty pilots are in the system, and a whole bunch of ships are potentially out and about. That is, until I appear. Flicking d-scan around sees the mining barges and exhumers nowhere near the ore sites but around planets with towers. Never mind.

Back to C3a and across to and out the U210. This is more interesting. I share the system with just one other capsuleer, painted bright orange. His corporation matches that of the one in C3a, and I can see a Venture mining frigate on d-scan. D-scan is the only place I can find it, though, as sweeping across the ore sites or rock belts can't pinpoint the ship's position. I suppose he could be in a cleared gas site, if they exist in empire space, but this system is so small that I can't get out of d-scan range to launch probes, which is more of a drawback when the local communications channel highlights my presence.

Hullo, the wormhole to C3a crackles. Is it the Ares come to shoo me away? Whatever ship it is, it holds its cloak for as long as possible. And, no, it's not the Ares, it's a Buzzard, the covert operations boat warping clear as soon as it becomes visible. That gives me two potential targets that I can't catch in my current ship, in a system where it's obvious that I'm here. Maybe I can change that.

Buzzard jumps to low-sec from class 3 w-space

I jump back to w-space and warp homewards, pausing at our K162 to update d-scan, seeing the Ares still at the tower. The Buzzard is a new contact, in that case. I jump home, warp to the tower, and consider what ship to take back. My first thought is an interceptor, until I remind myself of the Flycatcher interdictor we have. That should do for catching agile ships. I swap to the interdictor, return to C3a, and warp to loiter with intent on the exit to low-sec.

The wormhole is out of range of the Ares, so hopefully I don't get in to immediate trouble with him, if this interdictor would even have trouble with an interceptor. It's only whilst I wait for either the Buzzard or Venture, or both, to come back that I realise bubbles can't be used in low-sec, so if either jumps back then I could miss whatever chance I have of catching them. Then again, the Flycatcher has insanely good sensor resolution, enough to catch a cov-ops before it cloaks. On the gripping hand, it also only has a warp disruptor. The Venture's increased warp core strength and lack of interdiction bubble would let it evade me in low-sec.

Well, I've made my decision, I'll just sit and wait and see what happens. Updating d-scan regularly doesn't see an Ares heading my way, not that the warp acceleration changes would give me much warning. Listening for the wormhole to crackle with a transit hears nothing. I can wait a bit longer. And I wait a bit longer. I wait a bit longer still, not quite in contravention of my own orders, but it seems clear that the Buzzard and Venture are in no rush to come back, and I'm in no position to catch them in low-sec. It's time to give up on what was a half-hearted plan to start with. Never mind, I'm sure it is the thought of combat that counts.

Dying wormholes end scouting

30th August 2014 – 3.51 pm

The previous sites have gone, two new signatures and two good anomalies have appeared. Can I clear the anomalies, and maybe get closer to ending my cathartic analysis of Oblivion, or do we have an extra wormhole? Scanning resolves a pocket of gas, one wormhole, and a second wormhole. Oblivion will have to wait.

The second wormhole is a K162 from class 3 w-space, but is wobbling away at the end of its life. That somewhat restricts my options in this direction, particularly when I have no idea how much longer the wormhole will last before imploding. More importantly, did whoever come through this connection also hit our static wormhole, opening that over twelve hours ago and almost forcing me to stay at home?

I warp across to our static connection to see that, thank goodness, the wormhole is stable and healthy. Maybe it will enter its end-of-life stage soon, but even if it does that still gives me a few hours to go scouting, which is plenty of time. I jump through. Updating my directional scanner from our K162 sees four cans and not much else, and really not much else with the ever-disappointing discovery scanner showing me that all the anomalies and signatures are in d-scan range. There's no activity in C3a.

Small cluster of signatures revealed by the silly discovery scanner

I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, which offers extra information over the discovery scanner. I already know the five anomalies are all ore sites, and that there are five signatures. My combat scanning probes also tell me that the signatures are all chubby, giving me all gas sites or K162s, and that there are no ships and no structures. No activity, no occupation. I'll scan the signatures, which won't take long.

Gas, gas, gas, and a wormhole. It looks like I'm going to low-sec, and low-sec Tash-Murkon, by the looks of the U210's colours. I exit C3a to be in Sagain, but I won't repeat the obvious pun, and launch probes to poke the rather impressive-looking eight extra signatures. Well, impressive-looking until interrogated, as they are all combat sites bar two wormholes, one of which is weak and thus outbound.

Two wormholes is better than none, and I warp to the chubby one first. It's a K162 from more class 3 w-space. I can dive in and check out this system before warping and perhaps opening the other wormhole. It's not like finding outbound connections offers a particular advantage any more, sadly. Finding your ship spat over six kilometres from the wormhole when entering a w-space system isn't a positive sign either, which is what happens when I enter C3b.

Even more minimal w-space system

D-scan is clear and there is again not much to see, with a few anomalies and just two signatures. There are no ore sites this time, just combat anomalies, giving weirdo occupants—if there are any. Nope, no structures again, according to my probes, and of the two signatures one is chubby, one is weak. The chubby signature is the U210 I entered through, meaning the other one is definitely not a K162. It could be an outbound connection, but it's much more likely to be a data site and a waste of time in scanning.

Back to low-sec and across to the other wormhole, which lead to class 5 w-space. Whatever, I continue my w-space scouting and enter C5a, updating d-scan to see a small bubble somewhere, just not on the wormhole. A black hole lurks in the distance, making me suspect that I won't find occupation here either. A blanket scan reveals a messy system, with twenty anomalies and eighteen signatures, and although there are no ships there are plenty of structures. Unfortunately, the structures are all concentrated on the planet within d-scan range, and all I'm seeing are remnants of an off-line tower. There is no active occupation.

I've found nothing so far, hardly encouraging me to continue, but I've got probes launched and I am okay to give scanning another go. I don't care to list close to twenty results, but I would like to point out all the data sites that take too long to identify. A bit of gas eases the scanning burden, and I end up with two wormholes for my troubles. The second is only a K162 from null-sec, though, which takes me to a system in Deklein where a ratting Dominix battleship can only be found inside a tower's force field after I appear.

I return to C5a and warp to the static wormhole for my last chance of finding activity, only to drop next to an H296 connection to further class 5 w-space that is close to death. I didn't risk an EOL wormhole in our home system, I'm certainly not going to risk diving in to deeper C5 space for potentially nothing. The constellation is ended. It's been dullness in scanning tonight, but at least I was out here doing something.

Another shot at a Noctis

29th August 2014 – 5.30 pm

I locate the tower as the nanite paste repairs the remaining heat damage on my modules. As it turned out, I didn't need to overheat my guns to pop the salvager and the silly mobile tractor unit that stole my plunder, but I couldn't have known that in advance. There were strategic cruisers out and about, creating wrecks for the Noctis, and the Tengus were flanked by fighters from some carrier somewhere. Actually, the Chimera is visible on d-scan, now that I've moved from the wormhole and have increased my directional scanner's range back to its maximum.

D-scan points towards the ninth planet for the tower, and my notes agree, also giving a specific moon from a visit twenty-one months ago. I warp across to that moon, as a good enough starting point, and, hey, it's probably the same tower. The corporation is old enough, I'm just thrown a little by how messy the system is. Holding thirty-three anomalies is an awful lot for a class 3 w-space system, particularly one occupied and that doesn't connect to more w-space but exits to empire space. It's even more, considering the locals have access to the Chimera and strategic cruisers.

Maybe gits like me keep on interrupting their Sleeper time, shooting their salvagers and discouraging them from continuing. Considering that my last visit had my popping two Covetors in my Loki strategic cruiser, even with the mining barges being fifty kilometres apart, back when ore sites were gravimetric signatures that needed scanning probes to be found. And before that, Aii and I popped two Covetors whilst racing against another scanner hunting the same miners in his Legion strategic cruiser. Looking back, it is the same corporation. I think I like visiting this system.

Still, the locals must get their ISK from somewhere. Not from their system, not tonight, but I am curious as to how they can afford all their toys. The Chimera and two Tengus are reduced to a Chimera, Tengu, and Anathema covert operations boat, then the carrier and two Anathemas. One cov-ops warps, returns. The Chimera goes off-line. One Anathema is swapped for a Heron frigate, then Bustard transport, before settling on a Buzzard cov-ops. Maybe the Bustard was a mistake.

A few minutes passes and the Buzzard goes off-line, followed a couple of minutes later by the Anathema. It's just me left in the system, as far as I can tell. Me and a second silly mobile tractor unit that the locals didn't bother to collect. The MTU is simple enough to locate in space, being in an anomaly I have bookmarked, but warping there finds it not worth bothering with. There are four Sleeper cruisers milling about forty kilometres away, three Sleeper guns ready to shoot, and just the one wreck pulled in by the MTU. I don't care to waste so much time and ammunition on a chance of snagging a few million ISK.

Locating the abandoned mobile tractor unit

I leave the MTU and anomaly, warping away to launch probes. Scanning the fourteen signatures, I am not expecting to find any K162s, not with the locals engaged with Sleepers until recently. I find one, though, the static exit to low-sec accompanied by a stable K162 from high-sec. That's not even a wormhole from a dead-end w-space system, but an open leak with potentially anyone coming through at any moment. These guys know how to take risks.

The static exit leads obviously to Aridia, the brown stain seeping through the wormhole like an unfortunate drug side effect. I jump to low-sec, see no one around, and scan the one other signature to resolve a combat site I don't care about. Back to C3a, and across to and through the K162. The system in Metropolis is full of DUST bunnies, eight hops to Rens, and has three other signatures. Scanning finds a combat site, data site, and a wormhole. I was almost hoping for a non-result, just to give me an excuse to go home, but I can poke another system. This wormhole is the same as the one I left, an X702 outbound connection to class 3 w-space. Maybe it too has opportunity on the other side.

Jumping to C3b has nothing interesting to see within d-scan range, which includes the three anomalies and five signatures made plain by the discovery scanner. With only one planet sitting out of range, I won't get my hopes up. I warp away from the wormhole towards the far planet, updating d-scan when closer to see a tower and, hello, a ship. It's a Prowler hauler, which is unlikely to be used to collect planet goo, and if it goes outside the tower it would almost certainly be to head to high-sec. What makes the Prowler even less of a target is its lack of a pilot, made obvious when I locate the tower.

I think I can call it a night. I've had my fun, popping Sleepers, catching a Noctis salvager, and getting frustrated with rubbish structures that don't belong in w-space. It's all entertaining in its way, with interaction with other pilots far surpassing static shooting of structures. I head back to high-sec, across to the wormhole to C3a, and get something of a surprise late addition to my adventure. I'm not really paying attention, not terribly concerned about general travel these days, when I hear the wormhole crackle. It's a Noctis.

A new Noctis is brought home to replace the one I destroyed earlier

It's not just any Noctis jumping through the wormhole to C3a, it's the replacement Noctis being brought home by the new clone of the piloted podded out of the old Noctis. I'm glad I was cavalier in my journey home, warping point-to-point between the wormholes in high-sec to save a few seconds, as it means I can follow behind the Noctis immediately. I don't expect to catch the ship, what with this wormhole connecting w-space with high-sec, but it's worth trying anyway.

I jump to C3a and get ready to pounce on the brand new salvager. He appears, I shed my session cloak and target the Noctis, and he jumps immediately back to high-sec. I don't even get a single shot fired, but I'm still calling this a success. I can't help but imagine how startled the pilot must have been to see me appear and try to catch his return, if he thinks I've been on this wormhole for the past hour waiting specifically for him to return. Nope, pure coincidence, made more brilliant because of it.

Noctis flees my attentions by jumping immediately back to high-sec

I wasn't waiting for the pilot before, there's less point in waiting for him now. The Noctis won't be brought in if the pilot thinks there's any chance I'm still around, and I'm happy to leave him feeling suitably paranoid about the tenacity of some capsuleers in w-space. I warp across the system to our K162, jump home, and hide on the outskirts of our system to go off-line after another fine evening in space.

Two stabs at bagging some plunder

28th August 2014 – 5.00 pm

That's a lot of signatures. Sure, it's the same number as yesterday, but still. It's a lot of signatures. There's even a new anomaly, my favourite type in the home system, and I think I'll clear it of Sleepers to rake in some ISK. I scan and resolve today's static wormhole for reference, pointlessly ignore all other signatures, and warp to our tower to swap to the Golem marauder, the forced session change refreshing the silly discovery scanner.

I check that no new signatures have appeared in the last few seconds, ignore them all again, and ensure I have enough ammunition in the Golem for the one site. Probably. I have only a sketchy idea of how much I actually use to start with. I activate my hardeners and damage control unit, and warp to the anomaly, hiding in a fog bank to better surprise the Sleepers. They still find me.

Engaging Sleepers in the middle of whiteness

The opening monologue in Oblivion is a bit out of place. I can only imagine that test audiences asked for more information early on, which would be disappointing, as explaining the world in such detail spoils much of what we're about to be shown anyway, as well as breaking the show-don't-tell ethos of storytelling. The monologue feels even more out of place when Jack repeats much of it, almost word-for-word, to his rescued wife—oops, spoilers—half-way through the film.

There's the proper place for our exposition, people. It doesn't belong at the start of the film, but at a point where it makes more sense, filling in any gaps that are left. I doubt Oblivion will ever reach cult status like Blade Runner, but I can imagine the film getting off to a more powerful start if the monologue were to be cut and we were instead introduced to the world through Jack's eyes and actions. Also disappointing is the lack of good salvage from the site, just the blue loot picked up by the silly mobile tractor unit. I should have left this anomaly to be cleared by stinking pirates.

Time to explore. I hop back in to my Proteus strategic cruiser, warp to our static wormhole, and jump to the neighbouring class 3 system. The silly discovery scanner sweeping around looks like a disco ball. With so many anomalies and signatures popping up with no effort required, it makes me doubt anyone calls this system home. I update my directional scanner anyway and get a surprise. No tower is in range, but three Tengu strategic cruisers are, flanked by a whole load of fighters.

Messy and annoying discovery scanner in class 3 w-space

I can't see a carrier to go with the Tengus, but there are more silly mobile tractor units, a pair of them, and switching filters sees the Sleeper wrecks. I immediately start bookmarking the anomalies, in case the active one is cleared and the signature disappears, which takes a while. There are quite a few. I fully expect the discovery scanner to be pinging our K162 to the pilots by now anyway, and although I feel the faux pressure to be frustratingly quick in an environment that doesn't otherwise require it, I'm not convinced it will matter. Once done, though, the ships remain in space.

Swapping to the system map, I start sweeping d-scan around the anomalies on a narrow beam. I find one Tengu by itself in an anomaly, which feels kind of baitish, but, even better, I spy a bookmark without a green signature on top of it. That's a despawned anomaly, one I managed to catch and bookmark. As I've only been in the system a minute or so, that is a definite sign of activity. I drop d-scan down to a five-degree beam, point it at the naked bookmark, and see a beautiful sight. I see a Noctis salvager and MTU.

The salvager alone looks too good to be true, but I can at least take a closer look. I head towards the anomaly, aiming to drop only just short of the cosmic signature itself. I'm reasoning that the presence of the MTU almost certainly means the ships warped to the site's cosmic signature, dropped the MTU, and now the Noctis is salvaging away next to a cluster of wrecks. Sure enough, I decelerate out of warp to just that sight, and as I exit warp I am in warp scrambling range of the salvager.

Noctis finishes salvaging Sleeper wrecks

The Noctis is nearly finished. I don't think he's moving, but even if he is this isn't the time to procrastinate. One wreck left, I decloak and approach the salvager. That wreck disappears, salvaging complete, and it is perhaps with a bit of luck that my targeting systems recalibrate after decloaking in time for me to gain a positive lock on the Noctis. I start blasting away at my target, overheating my guns because of the threat of other ships, and reduce d-scan down to a range of 1 AU. Only the Noctis and MTU are that close, and if any ships appear on d-scan now they are surely coming for me. I hope that will act as an early warning system.

Ambushing the Noctis in w-space

Shoot and d-scan, d-scan and shoot. The Noctis is going down. This is excellent! The salvager explodes beautifully, and I aim for the pod. It takes a while, and maybe the pilot is sleepy, surprised, or wondering why his warp core stabilisers, if any were fitted, weren't working. I have no idea, but whatever the reason I manage to snare the pod too. A couple more blasts and it is cracked open to release the inner corpse.

Watching the Noctis explode to my Proteus

I scoop the corpse and, well, shit. I really dislike mobile tractor units, partly because they have made actual salvaging an activity of the past, and partly because they steal. As I catch the pod, the MTU springs in to life, sensing a new wreck and pulling what's left of the Noctis in to range, extracting all my rightful plunder to return it to the owner corporation. I shouldn't have to make a snap decision between grabbing loot or aiming for a pod. I never used to. MTUs really are a bad idea.

D-scan remains clear. I wasn't slow in ripping the Noctis apart, but I wasn't outrageously fast either, so I am sensing I won't see a response. Good, because I'm going to blow the crap out of the silly MTU, despite its ridiculous structural integrity. I reckon I've got time, and I definitely have the motivation. I get my guns working again, keep d-scan updated, and, after too much effort for a crappy box, crack the unit open.

Having to crack open a silly MTU to get my earned plunder

I grab what's left of the loot, a paltry twenty-five million ISK, give-or-take, and finish by shooting the wrecks of the MTU and Noctis, warping clear to cloak and repair the heat damage to my guns and modules. Checking the kill report shows that the Noctis was worth about 110 million ISK, and the pod a decent 190 million ISK. That's got to sting. It's a shame I'm not able to earn more from the plunder, but I get the ship kill, and the podding, and a good dose of excitement.

Almost finding activity

27th August 2014 – 5.51 pm

It's time to investigate some wormholes. Having successfully ignored a tower trap, my Proteus strategic cruiser is still in one piece and able to reconnoitre through one of two K162s in this class 5 w-space system. One leads to more class 5 space, the other to deadly class 6 w-space. Purely arbitrarily, flipping-a-coin randomness, I head to C5b first.

Jumping through the wormhole sends me in to the middle of three bubbles. That the wormhole is encumbered to prevent easy travel out of the system, and away from the wormhole inside the system, I immediately suspect activity is occurring. Updating my directional scanner suggests otherwise. I see ships, but only a Phoenix dreadnought accompanied by two pods, and there are also two towers and a distinct lack of Sleeper wrecks.

Jumping through a wormhole in to some bubbles

Maybe the activity happened earlier and the bubbles remain on the wormhole because it's easier to do that than collect them. I can understand that. I move from the wormhole and cloak, guiding my Proteus along the shortest path out of the bubbles, happy to see nothing and no one decloaking to catch me. I also see a Nereus hauler now appeared on d-scan, sharing space with the Phoenix and pods. I should find that.

Sweeping d-scan around on a tight beam locates the tower with the ships, including the Nereus, and warping to the tower sees the Phoenix empty. The pods have capsuleers in them, naturally, and although I suspect the Nereus does too I cannot confirm this, as the hauler is no longer at this tower. That is, if he even was here. I doubt the hauler is being used for collecting planet goo, but he may have other reasons for warping around the system. I don't know, I don't understand haulers too well.

Opening the system map sees an ore site out of d-scan range, which makes me wonder if the Nereus is used for ore, and if he's hauling it to and from a mining operation. That would explain the bubbles too, and I warp to the ore site looking for activity. Nothing here, though, just some Sleepers ambling around. Not real people, or Gallente capsuleers. I head out further, towards the edge of the system, which brings another tower in to range, as well as the Nereus.

Locating the third tower finds an Orca industrial command ship and Helios covert operations boat, both empty, and the piloted Nereus. But not for long. The hauler warps moments after I reach the tower, as I am still orientating myself, although I think I catch the ship's vector as heading back to the other tower. That seems probable, but I warp my Proteus to that planet's customs office, just in case.

Of course, the Nereus isn't gooing and back for more, he did indeed warp to the tower again. Whatever he's hauling, it's between the safety of two active towers. I could watch for longer, if I had a weird fetish for industrial ships warping between towers, but time is short and nothing of interest is happening. I warp back to the wormhole, navigate the unmonitored bubbles, and jump to C5a.

I have one more system ready to explore, and jumping in to C6a puts me on a clear wormhole. That's about all that is clear in this system, though. D-scan shows me a tower with no ships, and the discovery scanner is making a merry mess of my system map again. Nineteen anomalies and twelve signatures doesn't sound like much, but it's plenty this late in the evening.

Given that I locate the tower from the wormhole—it's at a planet with a single moon—I'm happy to call it a night. I don't need to confirm the lack of ships or tag the corporation to track pilots that aren't here. There is more to see and scan, and had I started earlier I would commit to doing more. You never can tell what waits for you in w-space until you start looking. Never mind, tomorrow is another day.

Turning away from a trap

26th August 2014 – 5.33 pm

No anomalies have sprung up overnight, but four new signatures accompany our static wormhole this evening. They can't all be sites, surely, and I launch probes to scan them hopefully. Then again, an initial blanket scan, which I find to be a good security precaution, shows that two signatures are chubby, one is middling, two are weaklings. As our static wormhole has a fat signature, that gives only one chance for having an extra wormhole. That signature is a gas site.

Four new sites. Two gas sites that I activate and ignore, not wanting to suck more than I already do, and a data and relic site that I activate and ignore, not wanting the extra danger they hold without much extra profit. Our static wormhole is even in the same spot as it was yesterday, simplifying the scanning a tiny bit. I warp to the signature, bookmark the wormhole, and jump through to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

A tower and no ships appears on my directional scanner from our K162, no one to startle with the appearance of a new signature. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, not moving away from the wormhole to do so. There is only one planet and one signature out of range, and there seems little point in warping anywhere yet. Three anomalies, ten signatures, no ships. All the signatures are relatively strong, and it won't take long to sift through them.

Wormhole, wormhole, gas, wormhole, wormhole, gas, gas, gas, and wormhole. It's like a weird w-space version of Countdown. From what I've given, I can make a static exit to what looks like low-sec Genesis, a K162 from class 5 w-space, a dying K162 from class 4 w-space, a K162 from high-sec Sinq Laison, and a dying T405 outbound link to class 4 w-space. The dying connections limit my options a little, but it's a good result. I doubt I'd have enough time to fully explore the constellation if all the wormholes were healthy anyway.

I get the exits before moving on. The U210 takes me to a system in Genesis with no one else around and seven extra signatures, which I note in case I hit dead ends elsewhere. The high-sec system in Sinq Laison is three hops from Dodixie and has one extra signature. Fair enough, I suppose. Now, how about that C5 K162?

Jumping to C5a and updating d-scan sees nothing, although opening the system map sees just the one planet in range. I launch probes and scan, revealing three anomalies and six signatures, still no ships. Switching filters to show structures sees a few scattered in the inner system, and a whole bunch on the other side of the system, roughly where my notes say a tower was three months ago.

I warp to where I'm expecting to see a tower, and see a tower. This C5 is occupied by reds, damn them, and they have a fairly good bubble trap outside of the tower. I am pulled to the edge of the bubble, where my Proteus strategic cruiser narrowly misses scattered cans, narrowly enough to make me call up my tactical overlay to help me manoeuvre safely out of danger. Once clear, and with no one home, I scan.

Manoeuvring out of a decent bubble trap

Three gas sites and two wormholes are in this C5, the wormholes being K162s from class 5 and class 6 w-space. Reconnoitring the wormholes also brings me in to d-scan range of the inner system at last, having forgotten to refresh d-scan when warping to the tower earlier, where I see a tower with hangars and no force field. That's interesting. More interesting is the mobile tractor unit also on d-scan. I'm sensing trouble already.

I locate the apparently off-line tower, but before I do anything too rash I take a careful look at the tower and its defences. Sure enough, the tower is not accidentally off-line but on-line and with active defences, just deliberately left with its force field down. The corporate hangar array and ship maintenance array are almost certainly empty and being used as bait. The mobile tractor unit is understandable, wanting to collect the loot from ships the trap tower snares, but that greedy desire too easily tips off that this is a trap.

Tower configured solely as a trap

I am not falling for this obvious trap. I don't even feel any curiosity as to what could be left inside the hangars, knowing that they are definitely empty. I just turn my Proteus around and leave the trap untriggered. I appear to be learning and adapting. I think I should reward myself with a sammich before exploring through the two K162s.

It's referred to as the scanner overlay and not the 'discovery' scanner for good reason

25th August 2014 – 5.22 pm

Another day absent, even more anomalies brazenly stolen from us. This is an outrage! The perpetrators really ought to have dumped a container with 30% of their plunder at our tower, just as a basic nicety for taking advantage of our system. I normally do, or try to, or maybe I sometimes consider it whilst trying to keep a straight face, and I don't see why other w-space denizens wandering in to our home system don't offer the same courtesy.

Beyond the lack of anomalies also lies a lack of signatures, just our static wormhole to resolve. I do that, warp to it, and jump to the neighbouring class 3 system to see if anything's happening. I think there may be, if the Tengu strategic cruiser and pair of Drake battlecruisers are any indication. Of course, there's also a couple of towers visible on my directional scanner, but I'm thinking positively, particularly with a silly mobile tractor unit in my d-scan results.

I bookmark all the anomalies in the system, immediately revealed to me no thanks to the silly discovery scanner, and move away from the wormhole and cloak, trying not to curse the still silly discovery scanner for also showing me a mere two signatures in the system. Of course, there was one less than a minute ago, and if the combat ships are piloted and active then those capsuleers will be as aware as I am of our K162 at any moment.

Discovery scanner looks set to foil me again

Switching overview tabs and refreshing d-scan sees wrecks, Sleeper wrecks, a whole bunch of them, but sweeping d-scan around the highlighted anomalies doesn't find them. The site has gone already, it must have, as the only other signature in the system will be the static wormhole, not a data or relic site. If I'm lucky, the active pilots will be oblivious to the discovery scanner's glaring utility and move on to another site. That I'm seeing a Cormorant on d-scan now indicates that I won't be that lucky.

The destroyer is sweeping up the Sleeper wrecks, and probably just salvaging a ball of them, what with the mobile tractor unit taking away the fun and once-necessary activity of actually salvaging a field of wrecks in a Noctis salvager. The Drake and Tengu, the second Drake no doubt replaced by the Cormorant, have not moved to a different site.

I may still have a minor window of opportunity against the Cormorant, and I find, by warping across to both edges of the fairly compact system, that I can drop out of d-scan range of the ships. From this position I launch probes and throw them out of the system, performing a blanket scan that is rather disappointing. I can see only two ships under my probes, the Drake and Cormorant, immediately swapped to be Buzzard and Cormorant. Yep, I've been thwarted by the discovery scanner.

I suppose I shouldn't be upset by the annoyance of the discovery scanner any more, but it still does get to me that opening wormholes to unknown systems is such an unthreatening activity nowadays. Whatever, that Cormorant looks to be in space still, I can assume the locals believe someone is around, I may as well quickly scan the destroyer's location. I call in my probes, take a couple of scans, and resolve the ship under my combat probes. The Cormorant appears to be at a moon. Is he now bait? I warp across to find out.

Finding the Cormorant inside a tower's force field

No, the Cormorant is not bait. The Cormorant is inside the force field of a tower, which d-scan wasn't showing me as I hadn't swapped my overview back to the standard tab. Thankfully, warping to the destroyer's position drops me healthily short of the force field and I am not revealed or in danger of having the tower shoot me. It also lets me see the Cormorant blink off-line.

That was quick and frustrating. Never mind, I can scan the system's static wormhole, my notes telling me it leads to high-sec, and go looking for more wormholes. Or I could, if the damned exit weren't at the end of its natural life. It's a little curious how the locals were happy engaging Sleepers with an open wormhole. Even if on the edge of collapsing, there are enough pilots out there who would happily use a dying connection to look for such activity. They got away with it this time.

I poke out through the dying wormhole, expecting from the colours seeping through to appear in The Forge, and indeed appearing in The Forge. The system is only four hops from Jita, and has three extra signatures that look enticing. I can't rely on this wormhole to get me home, though, so I will neither go shopping or scan the other signatures. I am too deflated to consider collapsing our wormhole for a new connection either. I'll just go home and collapse myself.

Flashing a Mackinaw

24th August 2014 – 3.16 pm

I just want to check through a K162 before potentially plunging down a long chain of w-space systems, particularly when the discovery scanner will be a mere half-step behind with each jump. I exit the class 6 system to return to our neighbouring class 3 w-space, and warp across to the K162 to jump to C5a.

Updating d-scan on the other side of the wormhole sees a Mackinaw exhumer, Anathema covert operations boat, and four towers. There's little else to see, and it appears that this C5 is the dead-end system I considered to be a possibility, with the sole signature in the system being the wormhole I'm sitting on.

Clean w-space system

There are also three anomalies in C5a, which I'm already pinging with d-scan on a five-degree beam, before I've even checked to see which, if any, are ore sites. This one probably is, as the Mackinaw looks to be in it by himself. That's what I was looking for. Now to see if the ship is bait.

Not bothering to explore the system, mostly because the only ship I can see is the cov-ops and any that I can't see I won't find by looking that bit harder, I warp in to the ore site at range to see the Mackinaw in the site. I also slam my Proteus strategic cruiser directly in to a rather large rock when exiting warp, forcing my cloak to drop when I'm still 260 km from my potential target.

Decloaked 260 km from an active Mackinaw

Thankfully, my Proteus hits the rock so hard that I am thrown back twenty kilometres, allowing me to cloak as soon as the re-activation delay allows. I doubt it will be quick enough, however, as I would have blipped on to the Mackinaw pilot's overview for several seconds. He wouldn't even have needed to update d-scan.

Mackinaw continues to mine

Even with my impromptu appearance far out of ambush range, the exhumer remains in the site, and I can see his chomping on a rock that I can warp to. I do so, dropping short to give me time to assess the situation and manoeuvre as necessary. The Mackinaw is pointing potentially out of the site but motionless, and its mining lasers are still chipping away at the rock. Ah, what the hell. I approach, decloak, and engage the miner.

Ambushing the mining Mackinaw

The exhumer doesn't have much in the way of defences. I blast through the Mackinaw's shields, and no one decloaks to give me a shock. I blast through the Mackinaw's armour, and the Anathema on d-scan is swapped for an Impairor frigate. Even if he's awake, that ship change doesn't seem much like a threat, and I keep shooting. I blast through the Mackinaw's hull, and it explodes.

Mackinaw explodes to my Proteus

I aim for and catch the pod, making me think the pilot's asleep, and make this clone's slumber somewhat more permanent. I scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck, taking the modules and destroying the mined ore. Now to scoot, back the way I came. It's not like I have another direction to go, and there's nothing left in the system with me either. The Impairor is gone.

Solo mining reduced to a wreck and a corpse

As I lurk on the wormhole back to C3a I get a conversation request. It's the miner. He says I 'did quite well', and I'm not sure if I should take that as some kind of praise or the start of another round of abuse. It turns out that he thought I had been hiding in his system for a week, as his corporation regularly keeps everything neat and tidy, which I can see from the lack of signatures. Nope, I tell him, his static wormhole is open.

I ask if if he saw my Proteus, he says he panicked. Yep, I know the feeling. Even so, it looks to be an expensive moment of panic for him. The Mackinaw is listed as a 210 Miskie loss, with the pod adding 160 Miskies on top of that. And on top of that, if the podded miner thought his static wormhole was inactive, does that mean he doesn't have a route home? Apparently not. Not being awfully mean, I let him know the system in The Black Rise the neighbouring C3 exits to, before taking my Proteus out of his system and back home. I think I can ignore that other arm of the constellation after all.