I've been away for a few days, returning to w-space with a sense of expectation about potential changes. What's up, space? Gas sites are in the home system and our neighbouring class 3 system has been poked but not scanned by HR, who is on-line. It's not much different from normal, really. 'Only two signatures aside from the K162', says HR about C3a. I can't resist finding out what they are, hoping the extra one is a K162, so warp to the wormhole and jump through.
He's not wrong. The stupid scanner is showing me three signatures, as well as two ore sites, as well as my useful directional scanner revealing a tower and no ships after a manual update. It's not the tower that HR has found, though, which means I have a bit of scouting to do. The second tower is further to the edge of the system, also lacking ships or pilots, so I launch probes and blanket the system before warping back to locate the first tower.
Finding a tower isn't difficult. I note the owner corporation of this one as I did the other, and scan both the signatures in the system. They are both wormholes. The first is the static exit to low-sec, warp-bubbled. Badly warp-bubbled. The bubble doesn't overlap the wormhole, and neither does it lie in-between the wormhole and any other cosmic signature or celestial body. Maybe the wormhole quietly slinked to one side when the anchoring pilot warped away, snickering to itself.
Poking out to low-sec sees twenty-five pilots in the system, none orange, and some more signatures I could scan. Maybe later. The other wormhole in C3a is a bit poor, not quite the K162 I was after, as it only comes from null-sec Esoteria. But a system in Esoteria with a pilot in a Loki strategic cruiser that leaves seconds after I arrive. That leaves me free to rat and scan. Or just to rat, as there are no additional signatures. I pop a rat battleship and head back through C3a to see what the handful of extra signatures in low-sec hold.
In low-sec, I resolve two wormholes, and a combat, data and relic site each. The K162 from class 3 w-space is enticing, as would be the K162 from class 1 w-space were it not wobbling away at the end of its life. But what's the worst that can happen? I jump through to C1a to find out, punching d-scan when back in w-space and seeing a ship without a tower. A mining barge, even. But, sadly, a mining barge and corpse, along with a canister named to indicate a capsuleer's frustration about getting trapped in w-space.
The Retriever is not to be found by pointing d-scan at the ore sites, neither is the corpse, so maybe the pilot really was trapped in here for years. I suspect that's an exaggeration, though. And now a Buzzard covert operations boat appears on d-scan, near a planet too. I warp across to the planet, but not in time to see the Buzzard, just what he leaves behind. A jet-can, presumably holding a relevant bookmark, if the cov-ops pilot's message in the local comms channel is any indication.
But that would suggest the Retriever is only recently lost, and maybe chatting to the Buzzard. I don't think so, the corpse is a bit of a giveaway. Maybe the Buzzard doesn't have corpses on his overview, and so also not visible on d-scan. Still, I loiter at the cannister with a desire to intercept whoever comes to collect the contents, but when a couple of minutes passes by I'm pretty sure the corpse is not about to reanimate. I think I'll scan for the ship.
Warping out of d-scan range of the mining barge puts me in to d-scan range of a tower, plus the Buzzard seen recently and a Drake battlecruiser. I ignore them as being boring, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan just to get my bearings. Just the three ships, and presumably if any others are around and cloaked they will be near the canister or point in space where the bookmark was made. It's obvious which ship is the Retriever, and a couple of scans resolves the barge. I warp in to take a look, completely unsurprised at what I find.
It's an abandoned mining barge with its corpsified pilot next to it. I check with HR but he can't fly a Retriever, so can't come to claim it. I can, but would rather not suffer the poetic consequences of coming back in my pod to a ship obviously fit without a probe launcher, only to have the dying wormhole cough its last and leave me to biomass myself back to known space. Thankfully, I realise this before I do anything, and HR kindly brings his scanning boat in to C1a in case of the worst.
The worst doesn't happen, and it is straightforward enough to claim the Retriever as my own, scoop the corpse of its previous owner, and return to and across low-sec to our arm of the w-space constellation. Nice, free ship. But what about that C3 K162 in low-sec? It leads to a system that's not terribly interesting from the system map, being tiny. Four planets, five moons, one tower with no ships, and 5 AU in one direction, 3 AU in the other. But the ten anomalies and eleven signatures resolve to give four wormholes, only one of which is skinny and therefore a crappy outbound connection.
Two of the K162s are sitting at half-mass, indicating plenty of ships having passed through. They intrigue me. Jumping through the first finds a black hole class 5 w-space system, with my combat scanner probes indicating ships somewhere, but only unpiloted ships floating in one of two towers. Back to C3b and on to the other half-mass wormhole, taking me to a class 2 system holding again unpiloted ships, in a tower surrounded by lots of warp bubbles. The last K162 in C3b is boringly healthy and takes me to class 4 w-space, and although d-scan is clear exploring finds combat scanning probes and an empty tower. It's too late in the evening to care about a potential scouting cov-ops, so I leave this system alone.
One more wormhole. I don't have much hope for finding activity through an outbound connection, and my low expectations pay off when I drop out of warp next to an I182 link to class 2 w-space that's at the end of its life. I'm not touching that. I turn my Loki around and start to head home when a ship blips on d-scan. The Sacrilege heavy assault cruiser blinks off d-scan again without any indication as to its direction. Most likely it was moving between C2a and C5a, probably making use of a good connection to empire space, but I have no idea whether it was coming or going. There's not much I can do about a transient ship anyway. It's probably a good time to call it a night, being content with merely bagging a mining barge I'm never going to use.