How odd. I've been added as a contact with terrible standing by a pilot whose name I don't recognise. Normally, fans set at least a neutral standing with me, but most often plumping for a good standing, hoping that I won't shoot them as a result. Maybe this fellow simply doesn't enjoy my stories. Actually, reviewing my records, I see that he is the pilot of the Bestower hauler I saw in yesterday's neighbouring class 3 w-space system. I really don't know what his problem is. All I did was pod one of his colleagues flying through their own warp bubble covering their exit to high-sec.
It's always curious to be sent a notification of someone setting negative standing towards you, as if it's going to make me realise what a bad person I am and change my ways. 'That's the thanks you get for teaching them how to properly use bubble mechanics', says Mr Skimms, upon hearing of this development. That's true. Maybe I should bill them too. But it really doesn't matter. I'll continue roaming w-space and popping pilots in peril, and I doubt I'll see that corporation again for months, if ever. Which makes it something of a surprise when I resolve today's static wormhole and jump to a familiar-looking class 3 w-space system.
I'm in yesterday's C3a, with yesterday's boats in yesterday's tower, all in range of my directional scanner. The only ship that's missing is the gas mining Rokh battleship. And the Mackinaw, I suppose, but that disappeared under suspicious circumstances. I restore the discarded bookmarks from my holding folder, assuming most of them apart from wormholes remain relevant, and warp directly to the tower. Mr Bestower isn't in his hauler today, but a Drake battlecruiser, but Mr Harbinger is in his battlecruiser as if he hasn't moved in the past twenty-two hours.
It's unlikely that either pilot will move. They didn't yesterday, and the contact notification was sent to me almost twelve hours ago, so it seems safe to assume we are out of their active period. I can still take a look around. Two new anomalies pop up on a passive scan of the system, with the others still being present too, and the second tower sits empty on the outskirts of the system, with no Rokh, Condor, or Raven warping around. So, what to do? Scan, I suppose.
A blanket scan of the system reveals eight signatures to go with the anomalies, which is more than yesterday, and eight ships. Eight ships? I see seven at the tower, and none outside of it. Well, except for that Huginn recon ship now on d-scan, and now gone. And now there are seven ships on a subsequent scan. Okay, I have activity to find somewhere, even if I may not want to fly headlong in to it. I start sifting through the signatures, just as my new anti-chum in the Drake starts moving. Nice timing, Drake. He moves to a hangar, pops a Heron frigate in to space, and... nothing. Back to scanning.
I ignore the sites that I scanned yesterday, and resolve some extra gas, the new static exit to high-sec, a K162—the Huginn's?—another K162—the Huginn's?—and a third K162. Maybe that's the Huginn's. With no change at the tower, I warp around to reconnoitre the wormholes. The exit to high-sec isn't bubbled today, which makes me again consider invoicing the locals. The second wormhole probably doesn't connect to the Huginn's system, being a T405 outbound wormhole to class 4 w-space, and it's a toss-up between the K162 from class 3 w-space and half-mass K162 from null-sec as to where the recon ship came from.
I pop out to high-sec before sticking to w-space, so that I have a way home should I get jumped. I exit to a system in The Forge that is a mere three hops to Jita, which is handy, although I don't personally have any shopping to do. There is one orange out of the ninety pilots in the local comms channel, but he's not from C3a, so I ignore him, return to C3a, and jump to C3b. I get no hugs from a Huginn on the other side of the wormhole, and d-scan shows me a tower and a Blackbird recon ship. Locating the tower shows the Blackbird to be piloted, as well as revealing a second tower deeper in to the system, holding a Proteus strategic cruiser. I'd better find that too.
Before I can get to the second tower the Proteus becomes an Orca industrial command ship, showing actual activity. I locate the right moon and warp to the second tower to see the Orca moving apparently without purpose, but enough to prompt me to launch probes. And by the time I warp out, get probes launched, and return to the tower, the Orca has gone. He's still on d-scan, and I know the Orca was aligning mostly downwards, so I get my combat scanning probes nearby and go for a scan. My word, the Orca's a big ship. A rough scan using probes set to 4 AU gets me a 100% hit on the whale, which looks to be near a weak signature. I imagine the ship is helping collapse a wormhole.
I bookmark the Orca's position, throw my probes out of the system, and warp to where the Orca was, not is, as the big ship returns to the tower before I get my ship in gear. But the situation is as I suspect, as I drop short of where the Orca was to see the system's static exit to null-sec, as well as a Manticore stealth bomber. That's not much of an escort for the Orca, but I suppose it's something, and I wouldn't mind it trying to stop me. But I doubt I'll get the chance now, as I am late to the party. The wormhole is not just pulsating but tiny too, destabilised to critical levels. Only an idiot would fly another Orca through there.
The locals aren't idiots, more's the pity. The Orca is stowed and the pilot returns to his Proteus, which, as it drops from d-scan briefly, must be covertly configured. The Proteus pops out to null-sec and returns, killing the wormhole, and denying me the chance of an Orca kill. I follow him back to the tower to see what happens next, only to miss another new contact in an Anathema covert operations boat launch probes near the dead wormhole. Still, at least I am getting an idea of the number of active pilots here, and it's more than I could handle.
I scan for the replacement static wormhole in C3b, which I find with relative ease. I have my probes in a blanket scan, update the scan, and watch for the changing signature. Somehow, the locals don't know this trick, as I am sitting by their K346 for a couple of minutes waiting for a potential ambushing opportunity, before giving up when realising that I have little chance of catching the cov-ops, or of popping the probably built-like-a-brick Proteus. And I have another w-space system to explore, with the class 4 system connected to C3a. I'll look there instead.
Swinging past the tower in C3a sees a predictable lack of change, with the Drake pilot still not having done anything with the Heron he ejected, so I warp across to the T405 and jump through. A tower with no ships lights up d-scan, and a blanket scan reveals a manageable six anomalies but messy twenty-three signatures. I don't fancy trawling through all of them this late at night, as I've been lurking and stalking ships for a while, and am getting sleepy. The lure of more w-space will have to wait for another day. I turn my ship around and head home, a little sad that I didn't get to say hi to my new chum two days in a row.