Our tower's looking awfully sparse. There's only an unanchored hangar floating near a couple of haulers and I'm sure we had more infrastructure than that here. The good news is that we haven't been hit by a master thief and that the strip-down of our tower is nearly complete. It looks like I'll be back to being a wandering mendicant soon enough, but for now the few of us left in the class 5 w-space system can use the other tower here, belonging to an allied corporation. In my inimitable stubborness, I ignore the other tower and start scanning my way out. The system's static wormhole doesn't stay hidden long and I jump to the neighbouring class 4 system.
Three towers show up on my directional scanner, but no ships can be seen. I last visited this system about two months ago and I have the locations of the towers listed, and I know I am looking for a wormhole leading to class 3 w-space. I open the system map to look for somewhere out of range to launch my probes, and now I remember the system from before. My notes tell me there are three towers and where they are, but not that there are only three moons in total in the system. That's a detail that won't crop up often. Nowhere to hide, but no one to see me, I launch probes and scan the seven signatures amongst the four anomalies, ignoring mostly gas to resolve the wormhole.
Core scanning probes and a Buzzard covert operations boat are visible on d-scan in this black hole C3. As there is also a tower I assume the Buzzard is sat safely nestled inside the force field scanning at his leisure. Before I find him I warp out of range of his d-scan, launch my own combat scanning probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system. One ship, three signatures, that's all. The Buzzard disappears, off to sleep by the looks of it, and I am left alone to resolve a gravimetric site and an exit to null-sec k-space.
Not deterred by leaving w-space I jump out to find myself in the Malpais region, sharing the system with one other pilot, who looks to be ratting in his Golem marauder. He holes up pretty quickly when my mug appears in the local channel and he asks me, in Russian, what I want, but I ignore him to launch scanning probes to continue my exploration. Two signatures in the system doesn't look promising, particularly as one is the wormhole I just jumped through, but that still leaves the other. Sadly, it turns out to be a gravimetric site, full of boring rocks.
The Golem pilot is getting agitated by my silence, it seems, and there doesn't appear to be anything left to find, so I turn my boat around and—and where's my explorer spirit? I check my New Eden atlas and find that this system is in its own little corner of null-sec, forming a ring of five systems, and there was a time when I would simply jump between them to get red dots of exploration on my galaxy map. Great days, and with little else happening I certainly have time to stop and take look around, in the words of the great prophet Bueller. 'Don't die', Mick tells me, also a source of good advice.
Travelling around a ring doesn't sound difficult but I still keep my atlas handy to make sure I keep heading in the right direction, apparently concerned that aiming for the stargate more than twelve kilometres away is not a big enough clue in itself. As in my other limited experiences the travel between systems is far from perilous. I suppose getting out here is the real trick, wormholes letting me bypass choke points where the effective gate camps are formed. I jump to the next system to find a Tengu strategic cruiser and drone wreck on d-scan, leave that behind me for a Zealot heavy assault ship and Exequror cruiser stacking up the rat wrecks in the following system, and jumping again to see, hullo, an Erebus and two Avatars.
I recognise those names, they're titans. Three titans. I've never seen one titan before, although I have seen images. I think I'll risk fate and locate them, purely out of curiosity and a sense of awe. And as little I know of null-sec operations I spot a cynosural beacon on my overview and presume that's how the ships entered the system, and initiate warp to it, at range of course. Moments later the beacon is gone, but d-scan confirms the titans remain. And a few more moments later I am seeing the most amazing sight I have experienced since becoming a capsuleer.
The three behemoths are attacking a tower that they dwarf. Even from this range, even with an artificial sense of depth perception, I can tell just how magnificently huge the ships before me are. I am completely dumbstruck by the sheer size of these titans. There is a cruiser in front of one of the Avatars that would really give a sense of scale if it were actually a cruiser. It's not, it's a dreadnought. Just as a cruiser would look small next to the Moros, the huge Moros looks pitifully weak next to the titan, and rightfully so.
I watch at my safe distance as the ships destroy the tower in short order, then two ships that were inside the force field are destroyed and the pilots podded. And once the wrecks are looted by tiny scouting ships there is nothing left to be done here, and one-by-one the titans blink out of local space to presumably wherever they are needed next. I have no idea what just happened, or what politics were involved, but I am really glad I decided to make a short run around these null-sec systems. What luck to get a chance to see these ships!
The titans are gone, so I continue my journey, still a little awed. I make the circuit, warp back to the wormhole, and return safely to w-space. Our wormhole is being collapsed, my colleagues conscientiously waiting for my return before completing the operation. Scanning the new constellation finds little of interest, just a couple more empty or inactive systems, and although there is another exit to null-sec that leads to a clump of dead-end systems it is a routine trip to get another six red dots of exploration. But I went out and took a look around again, because you never know what you're going to find. Like the prophet said, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.