I'm out for an early reconnaissance of w-space, and maybe even a trip to empire space. But let's not get carried away too soon. Scanning the home system has some new gas drift in, but nothing else to find apart from the static wormhole. I often wonder if the signatures portend anything, and today's wormhole signature of QQZ maybe does. Jumping to our neighbouring class 3 system has a Talos battlecruiser, Falcon recon ship, and some drones be visible on my directional scanner, plus a tower, although the Falcon doesn't hang around for long. Refining d-scan shows me the Talos is in the tower, the drones are in an anomaly, and, well, it doesn't take d-scan to see that the locally owned customs offices have been assaulted and are in reinforced mode. I would say some QQz have been shed here recently.
The tower in range of d-scan is not the same tower that was here six weeks ago. Warping to the edge of the system finds that tower still here, but maybe not for long. It too is in reinforced mode, and it looks like the system is being contested. On the one hand, with the timer extending beyond a day, we'll probably miss any fireworks or opportunistic ambushes. On the other hand, this C3 will probably be rather quiet for the time we connect to it and relatively safe to travel through. I launch probes to scan, looking for a connection to a currently more active system. I think I can safely ignore the gravimetric site, as I doubt anyone will be mining here today, and focus on resolving the two wormholes I find.
One wormhole is the static exit to high-sec empire space that I'm expecting to find, the other is a K162 from class 4 w-space, which may account for the missing Falcon. I'll confound anyone watching and ignore that system for now, and head out to high-sec instead. I exit w-space to appear in the Devoid region, and only a few hops from market hub Rens. I think I'll take that trip I considered. I return home, swap the scanning boat for a Crane transport, and go to Rens with a shopping list. And, of course, it's only when I get to my destination and dock that I realise I probably should have brought our loot out to sell too. Dummy.
I buy some supplies, mostly just some modules that we're conspicuously short of at the tower and a bunch of missiles that are useful when ratting, and stuff them in the Crane. I could feasibly make a datacore run now, as they must be stacking up at my R&D agents and I have time, but checking the routes shows the closest agent to be nineteen jumps distant. That probably sounds further than it is, but it's enough to put me off the idea for now. We'll get a better exit for datacores soon enough, I'm sure. I undock the Crane and head home, dumping the supplies in our hangar and swapping in to a Manticore stealth bomber to roam in the class 4 w-space system I found earlier.
I pass through the still-quiet C3a and jump in to C4a, where an Orca industrial command ship, Helios covert operations boat, and tower rather uninspiringly all light up d-scan. This small system has all the planets in range of d-scan too, so there's nothing else to see, and as there are no probes whizzing around I doubt that the Helios is active. I locate the tower, using my notes from eighteen months ago, to see the Helios piloted but doing nothing. I'll loiter, though, because capsuleers tend to spring in to action when you least expect them to. And, as if by magic, probes pop up on d-scan. I don't remember the Helios launching them. Maybe I blacked out for a minute.
Assuming I am in full control still, I credit the probes with belonging to a different scout, and warp across to lurk on the wormhole instead of outside the tower. The probes disappear after a while and I'm rewarded with the sight of a different Helios, this one not local, decloaking and jumping to C3a. Catching a cov-ops is difficult, but I'm in a quick-locking, agile ship that stands a fair chance, so I give chase through the wormhole. I miss him, obviously, but I maybe gave him a bit of a start. And I let him know I am here, and so his colleagues probably know too. Maybe it's time to get a sammich.
I could go off-line and come back later, but my curiosity is piqued. I can't let others wander around a mapped constellation without knowing it myself. I go home, but only to swap back in to my scanning Tengu strategic cruiser before returning to C4a to scan. The three anomalies and four signatures take no time at all to resolve, giving me some rocks, a touch of gas, and a K162 from class 5 w-space. Let's see if there's a welcoming committee for me on the other side of that K162. Nope. Nothing. D-scan is entirely clear, in fact. It's a big system, though, so I warp out, launch probes, and blanket the system as I look for occupation.
So many signatures sit under my probes that I doubt I'll find an active corporation living here. Adjusting the filters for the results confirms a lack of structures in the system, and I don't need to warp back-and-forth across this C5 to look for nothing. Instead, I sift, sift, sift through all the signatures, so many I don't even care to count them, until, finally, I find a wormhole. It's another K162 from class 5 w-space. I can already feel the headache forming.
I jump in to C5b to an empty d-scan result, and open the system map to see what I am missing. Moons, that's what. I warp across the system, past six planets holding two moons between them, to the seventh planet hogging five all to itself. That's pretty greedy, but its posturing hasn't attracted a corporation to anchor a tower around it. I'm in another empty and inactive C5. I don't want to scan backwards through a chain of boring class 5 w-space, but I suppose it would be churlish not to even launch probes.
That was a mistake, launching probes. Fifteen signatures used to sound imposing but I'm pretty sure I could rattle through them quickly with my practiced expertise. Sure enough, a wormhole pops up with little fuss, appearing under the local star, a K162 from class 4 w-space. And, just to confuse me, I resolve a second K162, this one from even more class 5 w-space. Damn it, I could be eating a sammich now! I am predicting the end of the w-space constellation, with the absent scout coming from one of these two systems. But which one?
I choose C4b, but I choose poorly. The system is as empty and unoccupied as the previous two, so there must be more to find, just not right now. I return to C5b and through the K162 to C5c, in to yet another empty and unoccupied system. Where did the Helios pilot come from? Who opened all these wormholes? My only solace is that he won't have a fleet coming this way looking for action either, as no one sane would travel through so many empty systems for a chance of maybe running in to a stealth bomber. And I'm not scanning further back now. Maybe later. I'm going home to get some food in me.