I fancy a short poke around tonight's w-space constellation before settling down at home with some hot chocolate. Something simple, not too involved. There is no change in the home system from yesterday, which is a good start, leaving me to resolve the static wormhole and jump in to our neighbouring class 3 system, where a bunch of ships visible on my directional scanner may so soon scupper my chance of a quiet evening. I am presented with a nice cross-section of hulls, with a Tengu strategic cruiser, Orca industrial command ship, Dramiel frigate, Buzzard covert operations boat, Cheetah cov-ops, and Ibis rookie ship all somewhere in this C3, and I imagine only the cov-ops boats will be piloted.
My notes put me in this C3 only three months ago, and although warping to the location of the tower finds it still there it has since been abandoned, probably through the use of force. Two new towers have sprung up to replace the occupying corporation, one of which holds the Buzzard and Ibis, the Buzzard piloted and the Ibis empty and floating some distance out of the force field. By the time I've found the second tower the Tengu has disappeared and the Dramiel has been replaced by a Machariel battleship, the only other piloted ship in the system. The Tengu is not somewhere else in the C3, as opening the system map shows it to be tiny, maybe 11 AU across. There is nowhere for a ship to hide.
I could watch the two pilots here to see what they do, the Machariel possibly going to shoot Sleepers, but they look otherwise absent. I launch probes and send them out of the system, performing a blanket scan to see what's in store if I decide to scan, then I decide to scan. There are only two anomalies and ten signatures, and I would rather not spend my evening waiting for nothing to happen, particularly as the lack of action on behalf of the locals probably means I could scan without them noticing. I resolve and ignore gas, gas, and rocks before bookmarking a wormhole, then back to jumping Jack Flash, it's gas, gas, gas, and a second wormhole. The final signature is more rocks.
One wormhole I've found is the system's static exit to low-sec empire space, the other an outbound connection to more class 3 w-space. I stick with w-space and jump through the N968 to C3b. I am curious to see if this is where the disappearing Tengu went, plundering a different C3 and not his home, but d-scan is only showing me bubbles from the K162. Warping to the planet initially out of d-scan range sees no Tengu but a tower with an Anathema cov-ops and Prorator transport ship, neither piloted. Curiously, the hangars at the tower here are anchored and not on-line, giving the eight-capsuleer corporation few available resources. Maybe they are trying to save fuel in these austere times.
I launch probes and scan. I get a magnetometric site, rocks, gas, aun9b bhvqub... Even I stopped caring about the details a bit quickly there. All that's important to know about the eighteen signatures I sift through are the four wormholes I find, which are a T405 outbound connection to class 4 w-space, a K162 from class 5 w-space, another N968 to further class 3 w-space, and the U210 static exit to low-sec. So much for a quick poke around the normally straightforward constellation.
I jump through the K162 to C5a first, hoping to find activity but only seeing a small can on d-scan. This is another small system, giving nowhere for pilots or a tower to hide, so I am compelled to launch probes and scan for a further K162. And I find one, coming from class 4 w-space, which is a good enough early result for me to consider it the only one. I jump in to the C4 to have a single planet within range of d-scan, so launch probes and blanket the system to get a better feel for what's out there. Not much, just a tower and some Russian probes in the inner system, the tower looking pretty pathetic for a 104-pilot corporation, a single defence, incapacitated, failing to offer any protection.
I don't care to scan the C4 for further K162s, so return through C5a to C3b and head in to C4a. D-scan still shows me little of interest, a blanket scan with combat probes not helping, but with only seven signatures I am happy to look for the static connection at least. A split-signature turns out to be a wormhole, a K162 from more class 5 w-space, and it takes a lot more scanning to find the static connection in the final signature. It is so weak that, from experience, it can only be an H900 wormhole to a C5, and warping to the wormhole confirms my intuition. Again I pick the K162 over the outbound connection, and seeing a territorial control unit on d-scan indicates an occupied system. Let's hope it's active.
I launch probes and blanket the system before warping to the location of the TCU. Sure enough, I find the tower with the TCU and, sure enough, the TCU is placed amongst a bunch of bubbles with cloak-breaking jet-cans littered liberally in them. There are also a whole bunch of ships sitting in the tower, dreadnoughts and carriers, a battleship and battlecruiser, but only a Loki strategic cruiser is piloted and he doesn't look like he's about to do anything. I'm still not going to watch a pilot do nothing, which would result in my doing nothing. The evening's already getting late and I have more systems to explore.
I head back to C4a and jump in to the confusingly named C5c, based tonight on the order of finding the systems and not direction of travel. This class 5 w-space system looks empty and a blanket scan shows it is empty, unoccupied too. There may only be four signatures to scan but I think I've had my fill of scanning tonight, and there is another system yet to visit beyond an already resolved wormhole. I head back through C4a to C3b and jump in to C3c, where my interest perks up a little. An Iteron hauler, Hurricane battlecruiser, and Cheetah are on d-scan, along with a tower. I rush to find the tower, hoping that I am quick enough to catch the hapless hauler as he pootles around collecting planet goo, but drop out of warp outside the force field to find a distinct lack of pilots. Such a shame.
I'm not scanning any deeper, I need my sleep. All that is stopping me from heading home is the realisation that this C3 is quite large and that activity could be hidden out of d-scan range. I warp across the system to stumble on to a second tower, also with a cov-ops and hauler, also without pilots, and the other planet out of range doesn't even have that. I'm going home. My last hope for activity tonight is for the pilots in C3a to finally be stirring, and although there is some change, with the Tengu returned, the Machariel pilot back in his Dramiel, and a new contact arrived in a Cynabal cruiser, there is nothing happening. How dull. A short poke around w-space turned in to an expedition through eight systems, and I have nothing to show for it but another of my natty maps.