Isolation and return

10th December 2013 – 5.48 pm

Our industrialists are on-line. What's happening? 'Nada. C3 was dead. Low-sec had pirates camping a gate.' My glorious leader Fin indicates that our current options are pretty limited. Shall we collapse our wormhole and clear some anomalies for fun and profit? 'Sounds like a plan.' Let's do it. My glorious leader jumps in to an Orca industrial command ship, I get a Widow black ops ship out of our hangar, and we both make the first jump through the static connection to class 3 w-space and back, halving the mass of the wormhole effectively.

'Wait.' What? 'Aii is still in C3a', and unresponsive, it seems. We should probably wait for his return, rather than cutting him free from the home system. Speak of the devil and Aii shall appear. Our wormhole crackles, bringing Aii back to the fold and letting us complete our second round trip. Sadly, this doesn't complete crashing the wormhole, which resolutely hangs around a little longer, now in its critically unstable state.

Fin swaps ships again, now boarding a heavy interdictor fit to effectively collapse critical wormholes safely. Well, relatively safely, it's not a guarantee, as we find out when the wormhole gets dragged behind the Devoter on Fin's exit. I blame myself. But at least the route to empire space is mapped, and the system now appears to be empty of the piratical types that prevented earlier excursions. Fin gets the Devoter safely to high-sec. Now we just have to get her back to unsafe w-space.

No Sleeper combat for us, it's back to scanning. Our replacement static wormhole is easily resolved, and we're jumping to the new neighbouring class 3 system to find the next exit. My directional scanner is clear, and the one planet sitting out of range with moons doesn't hold a tower. This is good, as scanning should be straightforward and not hold any distractions for me. The primary purpose now is to get our glorious leader home, not to gallivant around after other ships.

Focussing on scanning the six anomalies and seven signatures immediately gives me distractions, not with the two pockets of gas but the four wormholes. A K162 from class 2 w-space is awfully tempting, the N968 much less so for being a crappy outbound connection, the static exit to low-sec is what I was looking for, and the T405 is as bad as the N968. I note two properties of the U210 exit: it looks to lead to the Genesis region, which is generally not convenient; it is at the end of its life, also generally not convenient.

I poke out to low-sec anyway, as the wormhole could have a couple of hours of life left, and inform Fin of the system I appear in. 'Twenty jumps, phew.' Yeah, it's a fair distance to cover, but we have options. The class 3 system beyond the N968 will have its own connection to k-space, the class 2 system will have a second static connection that goes to low-sec, and the T405 should eventually lead out of w-space too, but let's call that Plan D.

I would rather look through the K162, given that it is also the best opportunity to find activity, but I have to focus on the primary goal and C3b may have a high-sec exit. In a radical display of camaraderie, I head through the N968, where I see a red giant, and d-scan shows me a tower and Onyx HIC. I doubt the Onyx is up to much by itself, and can safely be ignored, and my choice of directions looks to be good: my notes say the system does indeed exit to high-sec. All I need to do now is find that wormhole.

A blanket scan of the system reveals six anomalies and thirteen signatures, locating the tower finds the Onyx empty as expected. I scan. Relics, gas, the high-sec wormhole, gas, gas, gas, gas, and a handful more signatures that I stop caring about. None of them are K162s, I don't want to be reminded how rubbish outbound wormholes are, and I have the exit I was looking for. I recall my probes, jump to high-sec, and report the new system to Fin. I'm in Essence, thirteen hops from where Fin is. That's better than twenty, according to maths, and all in high-sec too.

The system in Essence also has three additional signatures, should I want to scan them, but having found a decent route home the K162 in C3a is now calling to me. But, as fate would have it, as I warp across C3a to the wormhole d-scan shows me combat scanner probes in the system. I think about ignoring them—in a way, as I'll keep them in mind—wondering if a scout has come from the class 4 system behind the T405, after the idiot scanner pinged the new wormhole to the occupants. But rather than dive headfirst through a wormhole a wave of sense rolls over me, and I loiter on the C2 K162 and watch what the probes do.

Loki jumps through the K162 ahead of me

This surge of sense that hits me may have something to do with a Loki strategic cruiser, piloted by a Kill it With Fire capsuleer, jump through the C2 K162 ahead of me. And of course he'll explore the K162s first and not the outbound wormholes, he's not stupid, unlike the dumbscovery scanner. Because he's not stupid, I have to wonder if he is out here on his own or has support a system behind him. There's nothing I can see yet, but that's not a solid indicator that there aren't any ships around. I wait and watch for now, hearing the wormhole's crackle that brings the Loki back to C3a.

The strategic cruiser aligns, cloaks, and, presumably, warps. Where to this time, and how can I tell if he's cloaked? I check our own K162, but he doesn't come this way, seeing that the Loki blips on d-scan but not on my overview this time. Well, there's a Loki on the loose. We should be okay. More importantly, he didn't spend much time in C2a, which probably indicates that it's boring. That's a shame. Ah, the Loki is back on scan, and gone again, still not to our home system. No, hold on, there he is, on the wormhole and jumping.

That's no K162!

That could be good. Our home system is nice and dull again, with only the one signature that is the wormhole the Loki's just jumped through. With any luck, he'll jump back whilst polarised and offer me a free attack against his ship. I decloak, get my sensor booster active, and notice the HUD telling me that I am 'Orbiting T405'. Balls, that's not our K162 at all! As the joke goes, wrong hole, wrong hole! And, most likely, this means I've missed my free shot at the other Loki. I'm an idiot. And sleepy. Yeah, that's it: I'm sleepy. It's no excuse but probably good reason to get Fin home, having made the high-sec hops, and call it a night. Not much of a night, admittedly, but we made our own adventure.

Fin comes home

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