After yesterday's poor show, I'm keen to see if I can find another capsuleer I will actually engage today. Scanning is simple, with just me and the expected signatures, so I'm off to a flying start in resolving our static wormhole and jumping through. I could be pessimistic and say that it all grinds to a halt when all I see is a tower and no ships on my directional scanner, but this is just the first step on the evening's exploration. I'm sure there is so much more to see! I hope so, anyway, particularly in a class 3 w-space system with a span of 90 AU. I warp out to launch probes, blanketing the system as my ship makes the long warp back to where the tower should be. My probes reveal a scant four anomalies and five signatures, and I drop out of warp at a tower still in the same place from five weeks ago.
There's not much here. Rocks, gas, the static wormhole. That's it. My prospects are looking bleaker, but I still have a system in low-sec empire space to continue my exploration. I exit w-space to appear in the Metropolis region, in what looks like a faction warfare constellation, which means I probably won't find any rats to pop as a result. I can still scan, so I launch probes to see what's here. Three extra signatures could be lucky for me, and I resolve a spiffy K162 from class 2 w-space, a pretty nifty outbound connection to class 1 w-space, and an interesting if unnecessary inter-low-sec wormhole. That's a good result, and I jump to C1a to continue my roam for soft targets.
A well-stocked tower shows up on d-scan in the class 1 system, all the ships no doubt safely stowed away in the numerous hangars available. But no visible ships means no obvious pilots, and so I return to scanning. Another relatively bare system of three anomalies and four signatures doesn't take long to scrutinise, and I am left with rocks, gas, and a static connection to high-sec that is reaching the end of its life. Okay, I'm finished here. I head back to low-sec and across to the class 2 system, where d-scan shows me just a tower again. Another scan shows a few more signatures, eight of them scattered around the four anomalies here, although at least this time I have another w-space connection to find.
My probes uncover two wormholes, in fact. The second static connection leads to more class 2 w-space, and a K162 also comes in from null-sec k-space. I could go ratting through the K162 once I've exhausted my options here, but I'm not quite there yet. I continue my exploration in to C2b, where I'm greeted with a clear d-scan result for a change. I've been in this system before, too. The tower has gone from six months ago, but I know there are connections to class 4 w-space and high-sec to be found. Warping away from the wormhole finds a new tower on the edge of the system, and scanning through the six anomalies and healthy fourteen signatures finds an extra pair of wormholes.
The additional wormholes are interesting, as is a Hurricane appearing at the tower as I finish scanning. I hold and watch the battlecruiser for a minute, seeing a Prowler warp in as I do, the transport then warping away immediately. The ship doesn't head in the direction of a customs office, and without blipping back on d-scan he may not have gone to the connection to high-sec either. Not that I know which wormhole is which yet, so now seems like a good time to reconnoitre them. The two static wormholes hold no surprises, but an outbound connection to class 1 w-space is alluring, and the K162 from class 5 w-space could hold activity behind it. I bounce off the tower to check on the Hurricane, who hasn't moved, so I think I'll take a look in C1b.
Now the Hurricane moves. I get to the wormhole and make a final check of d-scan to see the battlecruiser out of the tower, before disappearing. All I can say for sure is that he didn't enter the C1, so I may as well continue with my plan and jump there myself. It seems like a good plan too, as I see on d-scan a Heron frigate, scanning probes, a Bestower hauler, and a tower. I think I'd better locate them, which turns out to be pretty easy as both ships are at the tower and piloted. Sadly, the Bestower looks like he's completed his planet goo collection, so I may be left trying to catch the Heron when he warps out to investigate wormholes. Or maybe he'll ignore them and do nothing.
The Bestower drops to a pod, the Heron swaps to a Bestower, and the pair do nothing for now. It's possible the second pilot will want to go on his own planet goo rounds, but it's just as likely that he'll head out to empire space through a wormhole I don't have scanned. In fact, he potters towards the tower in a way that suggests he's refuelling it, which is about as lacking in vulnerability as a hauler can get in w-space. It's not terribly exciting to watch, but it's a hobby. Mick is apparently watching his own hauler in a different w-space system, the Mammoth not doing much either. 'It's like bird watching', he says, 'except you kill them. So bird hunting?'
The pod in the tower I'm watching warps off, and I don't even bother to see which direction it went. The good news is that the tower appears to be fuel of lego now, as the Bestower returns to the hangar. And he switches ships to be in a Retriever mining barge. Say it ain't so! Maybe my luck is changing, or my patience is paying off. Mick's still watching his unmoving Mammoth as this Retriever warps out of the tower. I'm tingling! At least, I am until I realise there is nowhere out of d-scan range of the Retriever where I can launch scanning probes. Then again, it looks like the pilot bounced out of the site, maybe to warp back to be in mining range of the rocks, which actually gives me the space to launch probes away from the tower and pilot's attentions, and hopefully time.
I launch probes and throw them out of the system, re-activating my cloak as soon as I'm clear. I then warp back closer to where the Retriever was to see the barge and mining drones on d-scan. The hunt is on. I narrow down the Retriever's position and range using d-scan, getting a good bearing on him, and position my probes around the volume of space where I gauge him to be. All looks good, so I punch 'scan'. Nothing appears under my probes. That flusters me a little, but I retain the presence of mind to throw my probes back out of the system, there not even being an obvious refinement to make.
I pause and reflect on what just happened, and realise that I cocked up the range conversion from kilometres to astronomical units. I placed my probes 1 AU further away than they should have been. That was a silly mistake, but it may not have cost me. The Retriever continues to mine, its drones still on d-scan, so I reset and start locating his position again. This time I make sure I get the range right, and go for a second scan. A 100% hit on the barge, site, and drones is a bit of a better result, and I recall my probes as I surge my Tengu forwards.
I drop out of warp to see the Retriever acting like he's in high-sec. I break the illusion by locking on, disrupting his warp engines, and shooting him. The Retriever doesn't last long and explodes to eject the pilot's pod in to space. I lunge for the pod and trap that too, cracking it open to reveal a freshly frozen corpse. I scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck. I pop the jet-can of ore, because I'm mean, and leave the poor drones to decay in space, before cloaking and warping out.
I'm heading homewards. All this scanning and watching of the Bestower has chewed through my time this evening, and I'm happy to have this kill to end on. Even so, Mick points out that the mining barge was fit with basic modules, and the corpse had an empty head, making the loss barely top fifteen million ISK. It's possible this was a disposable capsuleer, relying on a steady supply of cheap clones to make enough ISK between the occasional ambush to keep the operation profitable, all without the stress of continually having to watch d-scan. It would be one way to live in w-space, I suppose.
Going home with a corpse in my cargo, I can't resist a quick poke in to C4a. As all I find is an empty and inactive system I find it easier to then resist taking a look through the K162 to C5a. I leave C2a through a now-wobbly wormhole to low-sec, where a last look in C1a sees no ships, which means no loitering Penny. I jump back to low and across to C3a, whose static connection to low-sec is also now reaching the end of its lifetime, which is probably why the system itself remains quiet, given that the wormhole was opened around twelve hours ago. I get home safely, add the new corpse to our collection, and go off-line.