Late-night look backwards

18th August 2014 – 5.57 pm

A new signature at home is often an interesting discovery to make. Could it be a new site to plunder for materials that can be sold for ISK—or activated and ignored if you're not industrially inclined? Could it be a new wormhole that leads to opportunity for a combat engagement, whichever side holds the advantage, or even a route out to empire space where fuel, ships, and other supplies can be brought in?

When coming home after a full night's activity, however, a new signature is not always welcomed. I'm more inclined to ignore the discovery scanner pinging me new intelligence without interrogation more than usual, as I am already in the frame-of-mind to go off-line and get some rest. I tend to go with my inertia. As it happens, my current inertia is confused. I was coming home to go off-line, but I am still in space, still in my covert Proteus strategic cruiser.

I suppose I could at least scan the new signature and see what it is. It could just be gas, which would both sate my curiosity and allow me the peace of mind to go off-line in an idle constellation. Of course, it's not, it's a wormhole, and I can't really find an excuse now not to warp to the wormhole to see where it comes from. Class 5 w-space. Okay, good. Only now I can't find an excuse not to see what's happening on the other side.

It could be nothing, of course, as the higher-class w-space systems have a tendency to connect to themselves, and I could just be poking my prow through the end of a chain of systems a dozen long, all empty and inactive, the scout already home and his colleagues collapsing their static wormhole to give me a trail of breadcrumbs without even a sammich at the end of it. Or there could be someone being a bit silly in an expensive ship. You just can't tell.

I jump through the K162 in to C5a, curious that no one has evidently come this way so far. There are no obvious signs of scanning probes in our home system, or in our neighbouring class 3 system, which makes me wonder who opened this wormhole and how far did they go. Updating my directional scanner sees ships, though. Two Vargur marauders, three Iteron V haulers. There's a tower as well, but no wrecks.

Maybe the marauders aren't busy at the moment, which may be for the best. I doubt I could successfully engage one of them by myself, and seeing so much ISK in space without being able to destroy any of it would be frustrating. The Iterons are more interesting, or would be if they hadn't been usurped for general w-space life by poorly conceptualised specialised variants of the hull. Still, I'll find them and see if there are any pilots.

Locating the tower is straightforward, and lets me see that of the five ships only one Iteron is piloted. Is it really just him in the system? One planet lurks out of d-scan range, but warping that way sees no other towers or ships. Maybe the Iteron pilot has scouted quickly to empire space, when I wasn't paying attention, and is now looking to take his hauler out for a solo spin. I do hope so.

I loiter outside the tower, watching the Iteron, waiting for any sign of movement. I've orientated myself in the system map to the position of the wormhole, so that I can know quickly if the Iteron is headed that way or if there is a second wormhole I don't know about yet. That's assuming the Iteron moves, of course. Which he doesn't.

Our last visit to this system was a good day. A Megathron jumped through the wormhole as we collapsed the connection, at which point we caught and destroyed the battleship, then ransomed the ejected pilot to give him an exit out of w-space. No such luck today, the Iteron pilot not apparently able to will himself in to using C3a's high-sec exit. I'm not going to wait around all night either, not when it's already late. Oh well, an Iteron kill would have finished the night with a bang.

Bumping in to Verge Vendor

17th August 2014 – 3.43 pm

Sleepers have been popped, their wrecks looted and salvaged. A decent amount of plunder is brought home and stashed in our hangar. No new signatures have appeared during the time in the single combat anomaly, so I swap back to my cloaky Proteus strategic cruiser, align to our unopened static wormhole, and accelerate in to warp.

Jumping to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system and updating my directional scanner shows me a tower and a couple of ships, a Rifter and Probe frigate. I doubt the Rifter is doing much by itself in w-space, making a lack of wrecks unsurprising, and there are no scanning probes visible to suggest the Probe is active.

I warp away from the wormhole to an edge of the system to launch my own probes, only to bump in to a second tower, this one with a Cyclone battlecruiser probably inside it. Still there are no wrecks, and I warp to a different edge of the system to launch probes, where I instead bump in to a third tower. A second Probe is out here, this one a Vherokior Probe, whatever that is.

I consider simply launching probes anyway, having exhausted edges of the solar system, except the system map shows me a large chunk of empty space between this planet and the centre of the system, just right for making a safe spot hidden from d-scan. If only I'd done that on my way out to this planet, I could have saved myself having to warp back to our wormhole, bookmarking a suitable spot, and warping back from the wormhole to this spot. Still, it only takes a minute or so.

Probes finally launched, I perform a blanket scan of the system, showing me seven anomalies, five signatures, and the four ships that I've already seen on d-scan in various places. My notes tell me that there is a high-sec exit waiting to be found, and even though I don't really need that today it may be useful for finding further wormholes if this system turns out to be boring.

Before I scan, I'll locate the towers. My notes aren't much help. Despite my last visit being a mere six weeks ago, I have just one tower's location roughly noted. I'll need to find them manually, by warping to the planet and pointing d-scan at the moons. It doesn't take too long to find that the Vherokior Probe is piloted, the Cyclone empty, and the Rifter and standard Probe also lacking pilots. Maybe it was good I didn't lazily launch probes in d-scan range of what turned out to be the only piloted ship in the system.

Piloted or not, the Vherokior Probe isn't doing anything, as far as I can tell, and most of the signatures are out of d-scan range of this tower. I can scan without him seeing most of what I'm up to, if he's even watching d-scan. I call my probes in and start poking the signatures, resolving a wormhole, some gas, a relic site, and more gas. It's a pretty dull result.

Dull scanning results, really vivid wormhole colours on the exit to high-sec. The snot-and-pus yellows and greens of Verge Vendor are oddly interesting in the otherwise muted visual experience of space travel. If only it weren't going to Gallente space. I poke my prow through the exit anyway, appearing in a system seven hops too close to Dodixie, with other pilots around, and one extra signature. I should check that out.

The signature in the high-sec Verge Vendor system is a combat site. How dreary. I consider my options, and realise I don't have many. I could hop a stargate and look for more wormholes amongst the signatures, but I don't feel in the mood for that. Other than that, I could watch the Vherokior Probe a little longer, but swinging past that tower on returning to C3a sees it now aligned with the hangars in the manner that ships do when inactive for a prolonged period. That just leaves either collapsing our wormhole or going off-line for a quiet night in. It's an easy choice to make.

Sleeperblivion

16th August 2014 – 3.45 pm

It's all change at home. A bit of time away sees all five scannable sites missing from space, dispersed by the solar wind, and four new signatures wafted in to replace them. I would try to contain my excitement if they weren't all likely to be gas sites which I'll just activate and forget about until they've gone too. Still, I need to scan the sites in order to activate them, so I launch probes to take a look around.

Yep, all gas sites. Well, except our static wormhole, which is one of the signatures, but the rest are gas. I resolve the sites and the wormhole, bookmark each of them from the scan results, and activate each site in turn. Before I warp to our wormhole, though, I realise that our home w-space system is probably closed and we have a good anomaly to plunder. Keeping the ISK flowing is always a good goal.

I warp my covert Proteus strategic cruiser to our tower and swap it for the Golem marauder. I check that the Golem has enough cruise missiles in its hold for some Sleeper combat, realise that I have no idea how much 'enough' is and just guess that a thousand or so will probably do, and warp out of the tower to engage the Sleepers in the combat anomaly.

Once in the site, I start locking on to the Sleepers, activate the marauder's bastion mode, and launch the silly mobile tractor unit. That should keep me going for a bit, as I can shoot, loot, and salvage whilst updating my directional scanner and pinging the discovery scanner almost on automatic. As long as nothing comes along, I should be fine. That lets me consider the drones.

Shooting Sleepers in a Golem marauder

Not the Sleeper drones, no. Oblivion's drones. They were pretty cool, overall. The drones were nicely designed and nicely realised, exuding power and efficiency, combined with an effective lack of humanity that made them quite threatening if you were on the wrong side of them. Which makes the final confrontation in the human base all the more disappointing.

The drones come in to the base and all the humans scatter from these death machines. Quite rightly so, as the drones' power and efficiency are no better highlighted than in this climactic scene. The drones move and shoot, shoot and move, guns blazing almost continually, picking out new targets and firing without hesitation. Being awesome units, they move in three-dimensions and can fire in a direction independent of their movement. They were ripping through the base quite ruthlessly. Very cool so far.

This move-and-fire threat makes the drones deadly. That is, until the plot threatens the action. One drone chases after Julia Harper, and catches up with her in dead-end room, along with a couple of dozen other humans. Inexplicably, for an automated drone with no conscience and an already displayed penchence for wiping out the human race, the drone doesn't just gun everyone down and move on, it instead moves very slowly towards the humans, apparently highlighting each one in turn with a targeting laser.

The drone doesn't do what it's been doing up to this point and instead changes its entire behaviour to give Jack Harper time to appear, aim, and shoot the drone, destroying it at the speed of plot. It's really quite disappointing how obvious this trope is, considering how brutal and efficient the drones are shown to be, not twenty seconds earlier.

Anyway, the Sleepers don't act out of character for Sleepers. They trundle in to range as quick as they can, keep their range based on ship type, and shoot and apply electronic warfare as normal. I pop each one as normal too, no one coming to interrupt me, and no new signatures appearing on the discovery scanner. All the wrecks are looted and salvaged, and I bring back a cool eighty million ISK in plunder to our hangar.

Finishing the fitting

15th August 2014 – 5.45 pm

Back through class 3 w-space, out to low-sec, across to a wormhole in to a different class 3 system, and warp across that to our K162. I jump home, having passed through inactive and rather dull systems, fully planning to go off-line. So it is that I'm caught rather unawares to hear the wormhole crackle seconds after I've moved away from it and activated my cloak.

Not entirely sure what has followed me through, if indeed it has followed me, I turn my Proteus strategic cruiser around to approach the wormhole once more. As I do, a Helios covert operations boat decloaks, accelerates, and warps away. I don't suppose he was following me, and perhaps is entirely unaware of not only my recent transit through the wormhole but even my presence in the constellation. Sometimes w-space still holds surprises.

Helios jumps in to our home system seconds behind me

I see the direction the Helios warps, and the silly discovery scanner shows me a new signature in our home system. The Helios hasn't scanned his way in from our neighbouring C3 or low-sec, but scanned his way out from deeper in to the constellation. I wasn't planning on staying in space much past this point in the evening, but popping the empty shuttle in C3b has given me an aggression timer. I may have completely forgotten about that when I took a swipe at the empty, abandoned, inexpensive ship. That means I'm here for another twelve minutes or so, I may as well make use of my time.

I launch probes and, two scans later, am in warp to what turns out to be a K162 from more class 3 w-space. Jumping in to C3c and updating my directional scanner doesn't see much, just a tower with no ships, and performing a blanket scan of the system sees only eleven anomalies and five signatures. Still no ships. Maybe the Helios comes from further back still. I poke the signatures for wormholes.

One pocket of gas and three wormholes in C3b. Having the static connection exit to high-sec looks good, that it looks like Khanid on the other side isn't so good. A K162 from high-sec looks like it comes from Genesis, and a null-sec K162 almost certainly comes in from Immensea, with the beautiful turquoise colours being quite prominent. I can leave that one alone and focus on the high-sec exits.

The static wormhole actually leads out to Derelik (my balls), but has the Khanid spirit of being in the middle of nowhere and with no other signatures in the system. The K162 does indeed come in from Genesis, and a pretty convenient system in Genesis too, being a mere two hops to Dodixie. If I can tolerate the Gallenteness of it all, perhaps I can get some shopping done.

I will be in space for a bit longer but I want to make the most of this opportunity, partly because the exit is pretty damned convenient, and partly because yesterday's opportunity was thwarted by activity. The Helios I saw came either from high-sec or null-sec, was almost certainly flying solo, and almost as certainly won't be seen in the w-space constellation again. I have a currently sterile route to a trade hub, and I'm going to use it.

I take my Proteus home and check our inventory of modules. We have a bunch that are useful, and I only need to pick up a few specialist modules. There's nothing to take out to market, which reduces risk and saves time, and I simply jump in to a Bustard and take the transport out to high-sec. A couple of stargate hops are quick and easy, and I'm soon docking in Dodixie.

Taking the Bustard through Sinq Laison

Capital modules are expensive. I'm glad I've been reviewing Oblivion popping Sleepers recently, keeping the ISK flowing in to our wallet. I am able to get what we need and top up the Bustard with tower fuel. It would be churlish not to pick up some fuel when I have opportunity and ability to do so. Undock, hop stargates, and back through w-space to our tower in the home system. I dump the fuel in our stores, now up to very healthy levels, and chuck the modules in to a hangar.

Stowing the Bustard, I swap in to the Revelation dreadnought. It has guns and fuel, today it will get everything else. It's not a great fit, admittedly, but it is functional, and it is finally complete. Not only can we start saving our ISK to waste on the next pointless goal we concoct, but we can start making use of the Revelation we've built. Now, if only I knew what we're supposed to do with a dreadnought.

Shooting for the stars

14th August 2014 – 5.47 pm

I've not much time tonight, enough for a poke around w-space, at least. And to update my skill queue, perhaps. I'm taking a rather more pragmatic approach to this task nowadays, and simply throw a skill in to the queue that is under a month long. It will come in useful at some point, I'm sure, and saves a lot of time in the long run. I actually start scanning within a few minutes of coming on-line.

One new signature in the home system is just more gas, so I warp to our static wormhole and jump through, updating my directional scanner on the other side. A tower is somewhere in the class 3 w-space system, but I see no ships to go along with it. That's pretty standard, and I warp away from the wormhole, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system. Three anomalies, five signatures, still no ships. It's looking to be a straightforward night.

This is my fifth visit to the system, the last being a year ago, almost to the day, when there was no occupation. I locate the tower the slow way, not relying on my notes but pinging planets and then moons with d-scan. It takes a little time but is hardly a chore. Rather than wasting time warping around to look for additional towers, I check my combat scanning probes for structures around the distant planets, seeing a bunch in one direction. Warping that way to look for other potential towers finds one surrounded by bubbles, but off-line and inactive.

Old bubbles left around a derelict tower

I return to loiter outside the on-line tower whilst I scan. Gas, wormhole, relics, wormhole. A K162 from null-sec comes in from the Venal region, with two pilots in the system and a signature that I ignore, if only because it's over 115 AU away. The static exit in C3a leads to low-sec Tash-Murkon, by the looks of it, confirmed by jumping through. There are pilots in this system too, probably dirty pirates, with this low-sec system bordering high-sec and being eight hops to Amarr.

Seven extra signatures in this low-sec system are more interesting than its proximity to a trade hub. Scanning finds just the one other wormhole amongst the combat, data, and relic sites, which turns out to be a K162 from class 3 w-space. That seems pretty normal. I head in to C3b to see if anything's happening. A tower and no ships on d-scan, a red giant off in the distance. No anomalies is a bit peculiar. Maybe some wicked soul activated them out of spite, but my last visit was five months ago. They should have come back by now.

A lack of sites often means the signatures are mostly wormholes, as particularly active pilots are generally active in all arenas. Launching probes and scanning the seven signatures suggests otherwise in this class 3 system, with all but one signature being a gas site. I don't know why the locals would chomp on rocks but not huff gas, but whatever. The wormhole is a K162 from class 4 w-space, the symmetry of the constellation not lost on me as I jump through.

Dead-end class 4 w-space system

This time there is almost literally nothing to see in the system. D-scan shows me yet another tower lacking ships, and the discovery scanner highlights one signature, the wormhole I'm sitting on, plus some anomalies. There are planets beyond d-scan's reach, though, so there may actually be something to see. I launch probes and blanket the system, adding seven ships to the meagre scanning results. Is that activity, or a second tower?

Warping across to the ships finds the boring second tower, where a Tengu and Legion strategic cruiser, two Epithal haulers, and two Orca industrial command ships lie dormant, only the Legion piloted. To reinforce the fact that nothing's happening, the Legion blinks off-line. One ship is missing from the tower, but it's only a shuttle, easily found on the edge of a bubble at an off-line tower around the same planet. Empty, of course.

Empty shuttle abandoned in bubbles

Shuttle no more

No one is around, there's nowhere else to go, and I have a ship—of sorts—vulnerable in front of me. Naturally, I decloak, blast the shuttle in to smithereens, and self-five. There may be nothing and no one in our w-space constellation, but I can still get a kill! I can hum a happy tune to myself as I take my all-powerful Proteus strategic cruiser home.

Noticing new signatures as I come and go

13th August 2014 – 5.41 pm

What treats does w-space hold for me this evening? A new signature in the home system for a start. I mistakenly identify it as gas initially, but only because I clumsily ignore the wrong signature. Poking the right one with probes finds a second wormhole. It's only a K162 from class 3 w-space, hardly a change from heading through our static wormhole, but at least it implies activity. I'm going through.

Nothing appears on my directional scanner in C3b, and opening the system map sees just one planet out of range. Launching probes and performing a blanket scan reveals eight anomalies and eight signatures, and warping to the distant planet finds occupation with no one home. There wouldn't be, not without ships under my combat scanning probes. I start sifting through the signatures for wormholes.

Two connections crop up immediately, a third after a touch of gas, then it's just relics and more gas. A K162 from low-sec joins the static exit to low-sec, but I ignore those exits to explore through the K162 from class 4 w-space. An Integrated Hobgoblin drone—what's that?—is somewhere in C4a, d-scan otherwise being clear, unlike the system. Twenty anomalies and eighteen signatures is a mess.

Blanketing the system adds the drone to the anomalies and signatures, plus four big ships. Warping in their general direction takes me to a planet holding a tower, and locating the tower sees an Iteron hauler, two Mammoth haulers, and Typhoon battleship all empty. Back to scanning for wormholes, and despite the numerous options only the one wormhole can be found amongst all the gas. It's also the last signature I check.

The next wormhole takes me to class 2 w-space, where d-scan shows me a tower and no ships, and the system map shows me mostly space. The system is vast, the planets well-spread, and the signatures few. Five signatures are easy to sweep through in a small system, but I don't think I can be bothered when the system stretches 121 AU in one direction and 94 AU the other. Thankfully, my notes come to the rescue, telling me I've once again found the home of the 20 Minuters. That's good enough scouting for me.

Vast and stripped system of the 20 Minuters

I turn back, through C4a to C3b, where I get the exits for completeness. The static exit leads to faction warfare Black Rise, the K162 comes from Genesis. Vaguely interesting, but I want to see what our neighbours are doing in C3a before scanning k-space systems. Across C3b to home, across home to C3a. Or I could scan the new signature at home, silly discovery scanner. This time it is gas, and I continue on my way to C3a.

Updating d-scan on our K162 shows a tower and no ships. Our neighbours are clearly not up to much, they don't even seem to be in. I warp away, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan, revealing seven anomalies, five signatures, no ships. My notes point to a static exit to high-sec, which could be worth finding in such a dead constellation, and scanning resolves two wormholes, the first being the static connection.

I exit C3a to appear in a system in Sinq Laison four hops from Dodixie, which sounds like a good opportunity. Going back to C3a and reconnoitring the second wormhole finds a K162 from class 2 w-space, which is not only worth a look but rather necessary if I'm considering logistics. I jump to C2a, ping d-scan, and see a tower with a Buzzard covert operations boat. That seems suitably boring for me to make a quick trip to Dodixie. Home I go.

I return to C3a and warp across to our K162, planning to dump this scouting boat for the Bustard transport, working out what I need to look for in our module hangar so that I can buy what I need. If only there weren't core scanning probes in the home system and the discovery scanner showing me yet another new signature. The constellation was quiet, now there is someone potentially watching for activity.

I'm tempted to let the scout scan and simply go off-line, but my curiosity won't let me. I warp out of d-scan range of as much as I can, launch probes, and scan the new wormhole. It's a K162 from class 4 w-space. As much as I try, I can't leave the wormhole alone either, jumping through to see what's happening on the other side.

A tower, two Anathema covert operation boats, and a Loki strategic cruiser all on d-scan. The discovery scanner shows me five anomalies and just the one signature, the wormhole I'm sitting on. At least that settles the need to scan further, but as the locals have ruined my shopping I activate all their anomalies. Yeah, that'll teach them when a few days from now the sites that they either will clear in time or don't care about are gone.

Locating the tower sees the Loki and one Anathema piloted, and a running refinery suggests they have finished any interesting activity for the evening. Whatever. My last visit was more interesting, popping a Noctis salvager and looting its wreck just in time to see six Tengu strategic cruisers drop out of warp on top of me. Much better days, them. Nothing of the sort tonight, sadly, but that's okay. I'm going home to get some rest.

Get loot, sell loot

12th August 2014 – 5.51 pm

I popped a Tengu strategic cruiser but had to leave the wreck behind, deciding to flee from a Navy Vexor cruiser. That's cool, my Proteus strategic cruiser is still cruising, having warped to our K162 to get out of further trouble. Checking my directional scanner shows that the Vexor has bugged out too, probably back to the tower far out of d-scan range. I can go back, under cloak, to see if the Tengu wreck has been looted or not.

Tengu wreck left untouched

Warping to my perch in the anomaly sees the wreck untouched. That's peculiar, as I would have thought the locals would want to salvage what they can from their loss. Whatever, their loss could be my gain, as long as they aren't planning a sneaky counter-ambush. As I've only seen two pilots on-line, the second appearing to shoo me from the first, along with a completely undefended tower, I don't think I'll run in to more trouble.

My perch in the anomaly isn't good. It lets me view the anomaly, but is too close to allow warping in to and out of the site. No problem, I bookmark the Tengu wreck and bounce off our wormhole to get close. Updating d-scan all the way confirms that no obvious ships are returning for the wreck themselves, and I get on top of the ex-Tengu to loot the surviving modules. There aren't many, and they aren't good. Well, they are Tech II, but I'm hardly expecting to see anything less.

Looting the wreck of the Tengu I destroyed

I loot and shoot the wreck, warping back to our K162 a little startled at getting shot. It's only the two remaining Sleeper frigates that I reminded myself about and promptly forgot, not any real danger. Cloaked and safe again, I check the details of the popped Tengu. It's cheap. Much cheaper than I thought you could even buy the ship for. Maybe three hundred million ISK, fitted. It's a passive shield fit too. No wonder my Proteus could chew through it.

Ah, this class 3 w-space system has a cataclysmic variable phenomenon. I knew that, I just didn't understand quite what that entailed. I look up the details of the phenomenon, seeing that it impairs local repairs and enhances remote repairs, hence the Tengu relying on shield resistances and the passive recharge rate. Considering the effect these phenomena can have on an engagement, I really should know this information.

Back to the present, and I warp to the tower to see what's happening. Nothing, really. I ought to get my armour repaired back at our tower, not feeling entirely comfortable flying in w-space at half strength, but I'm here and have probes launched. I may as well scan first. There's a static exit to high-sec somewhere, probably amongst all of this gas, gas, gas, gas, and gas. The last signature is the wormhole, and the only signature in d-scan range of the tower. Still, I think the locals are aware of me by now, my probes appearing on d-scan shouldn't be a surprise.

The ex-Tengu pilot swaps to a Helios covert operations boat and blinks off-line as I finish scanning, swiftly followed by the Navy Vexor wannabe-rescuer, leaving me alone in the system. Alone with a wormhole that goes to high-sec Lonetrek, by the looks of it. Never has a bland greyness looked so appealing. Of course, Lonetrek is quite big, so I poke my nose through the wormhole to see where I end up. Four hops from Jita. I can't ignore this.

I should export our mounting piles of loot. It should be safe enough through C3a, with no pilots on-line and no other wormholes. I take my Proteus home, repair its armour, and jump in to a Bustard transport. I throw all of our Sleeper and plundered loot in to its hold, and head out, wondering if I'm taking a risk transporting almost a billion ISK of loot. Probably, but a mitigated risk. Such is w-space life.

Out to high-sec, and I look for a buyer of Sleeper loot. Not low-sec, thanks. I head Forgewards to find someone suitable, getting me closer to my destination whilst managing to stay in Lonetrek. Sleeper loot sold, it's on to Jita, and beyond! A short diversion lets me collect the guns for our Revelation dreadnought that I had to abandon, first because of a collapsing wormhole, then because of a fuel crisis.

Jita 4-4

Back I go, pausing in Jita to sell salvage, modules, and minerals, stocking up on tower fuel to fill the empty space in the Bustard whilst it's convenient. My recent adventure has taught me this lesson. Take us home, Mr Sulu. Across high-sec, to the wormhole, and in to C3a. The wormhole is clear, the Helios is back on d-scan, and a new anomaly and new signature pop on the silly discovery scanner.

I also see our K162 is still in the system, thanks to the same silly discovery scanner, which is something. I cross the system, jump home unmolested, and warp to our tower. I drop the dreadnought guns in to our hangar and top up the tower with—hey, I brought home a couple of weeks' worth of fuel. I thought it was maybe a couple of days' worth, not fully realising how much the Bustard can carry now. I don't suppose we'll need to risk our Orca industrial command ship for essential logistics any more.

I've brought home a good chunk of fuel, and having seen the new signature in C3a I don't see a need to risk the Bustard for a second trip tonight. It's also too late to scan the signature and do anything with it, so I simply swap back to my Proteus and go off-line, after an exciting and productive evening.

Taking on a Tengu

11th August 2014 – 5.09 pm

There's been some churn at home, with some new signatures coming in to the system from wherever. I launch probes and scan to determine what we've got, resolving a couple of gas sites and some relics, which suits me fine. Out to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system I go. Or do I? We've got an isolated system and a new anomaly that I could pillage for ISK. Okay, let's keep the iskies flowing.

I warp to the tower, swap to the Golem marauder and check its ammunition stores, and warp out to the anomaly. Why does Jack Harper swap from the flyer to a motorbike? He abandons the vehicle that is armed, armoured, and can see far and wide from the sky, for a slower, more vulnerable bike that restricts his field-of-view, precisely when he is trying to track a lost unit.

Golem shimmers with a shield boost as it engages Sleepers in w-space

Not only that, but he leaves the flyer apparently unguarded and far out of visual range, when he knows that there is hostile interest in it. And why? Because he wants to ride a bike, apparently. There isn't even an automated function for the flyer to follow him, so he has to ride—or walk, as it turns out—all the way back to the flyer afterwards. It's almost as egregious a use of superfluous technology as Picard wanting to ride the dune buggy.

I get the Golem back to the tower, sweep up the last of the wrecks in a destroyer, and pull in around ninety million ISK in loot. That's not too shabby. Now to open the wormhole. Back in my Proteus strategic cruiser, warp to our wormhole, and jump to C3a. Updating my directional scanner sees nothing interesting, although timers in space indicate the customs offices have come under assault recently. They still have hours before dropping out of reinforced mode, though, and I'll be long gone by the time anyone comes back for them.

Launching probes and performing a blanket scan of the system reveals seven anomalies, seven signatures, and two ships. Two ships! I'd better find them. My notes from under three months ago don't help, as the tower listed should already be in range, but I can get close to the ships by following their signatures under my probes. I get to the right planet and see an Anathema covert operations boat, Tengu strategic cruiser, and a tower that, given the lack of wrecks, probably holds them.

Bare tower in class 3 w-space

I locate the tower expecting to see both ships and instead only see the Anathema. The Tengu is gone, and properly gone, as it no longer shows up under my probes. That gives me a minute to appreciate just how bare this tower is. I could probably break it by casually bumping my ship in to the force field a few times. I won't, though, not with a Helios cov-ops appearing whilst I daydream. It's swapped for a Tengu, maybe the Tengu, which is interesting.

I'm curious to see if the Tengu will do anything. I try to take a closer look at the ship but am not able to. I know why that is, the ship is accelerating for warp. I see which way he goes, which isn't too surprising, seeing as we're on the edge of the system, and I open the system map to match his vector to a definite point. I am almost expecting the Tengu to be on its way to our K162 that the pilot scanned in his Helios, thanks to the discovery scanner, but it seems not. The strategic cruiser's vector has it headed directly for an anomaly.

It's possible the blip in the pilot's continuity in space has made him oblivious to the new signature in the discovery scanner. Let's see what I can do about that. I warp to the anomaly, dropping short to try to make a perch, and see the Tengu engaging the first wave of Sleepers. He's moving a little, but not much and not quickly. A couple of Sleepers are popped to make wrecks I can use as beacons, but how do I proceed?

Tengu warps in to an anomaly and starts shooting Sleepers

I could go home and swap for our ship-killing Legion strategic cruiser, but the wormhole is within d-scan range of this anomaly. Even though the pilot hasn't spotted our K162's signature popping up, I can't rely on him not watching d-scan. My other option is to engage directly in my covert Proteus. Well, I suppose this is why I bought it, and even if I don't have enough firepower to break the Tengu I should be able to disengage safely. Let's do it.

I warp in to the site and start approaching the Tengu under cloak. Only a couple of Sleeper frigates remain in the site, which is probably better than having many. Sure, they're shooting the Tengu now, helping me, but they'll turn on my Proteus soon enough and I'd rather not have that added pressure. I'm in range, it's time to reveal myself. I decloak, get a positive lock, and engage the Tengu.

Proteus versus Tengu

I disrupt the Tengu's warp drives, web him to a crawl, and start shooting, launching a flight of drones to increase my damage. The Tengu's shields are already dropped to about 70% and my blaster fire is helping to keep them dropping steadily. I don't try anything fancy to mitigate the incoming damage when the Tengu returns fire, as I am trusting my chunky armour to do all the work. I need to concentrate on inflicting maximum damage.

I add a bit of overheat to my guns just to speed up the damage a bit, nothing too much, and keep d-scan updated in case help comes. I ping my probes occasionally too, with their greater reach. All looks fine for now. My drones start taking damage, which I first take to be the Tengu weirdly targeting them instead of me, but realise that the Sleepers don't like them. That's fine, I recall that flight and launch another to keep up the damage.

Tengu shoots back

I apply a touch more overheated damage to the Tengu at its shields' peak recharge point, and drop him to low shields without much fuss. Now I'm hitting the Tengu's armour, which, being Caldari technology, generally means the ship is going down. This is when d-scan shows me a Navy Vexor cruiser in the system, no doubt on its way to this anomaly. Not wanting to be here when it lands, I overheat my guns again, blasting chunks off the Tengu's armour.

In comes the Navy Vexor to the fray

Here comes the Navy Vexor. It's in the site but not on top of us. I ought to find out where it is, increase my situational awareness, and focus my attention on finding it. There he is, some distance away, launching drones. I'm not sure I want to hang around for this. I turn my attention back to the Tengu only to see a pod instead. I didn't see the explosion, but I bet it was good, and I can see the wreck. I have destroyed the Tengu. Now to split.

No explosion, but the Tengu is now a wreck

I initiate warp back to our K162, my perch not being far enough away, and recall my drones. The Vexor is too far to stop me, if he even can, and my drones are fast enough to make it back before I enter warp. One dead Tengu, no losses. That was rather exciting.

Music of 2014, part two

10th August 2014 – 3.51 pm

I thought I got a good start to my music reviews for the year. Maybe I did, but I've definitely slacked off since, only now managing to push out my second round of reviews. Some good, some average. I've already got more to come, so I'd best press on.

I think Interrupt is Bleeding Rainbow's introduction to UK shores, but I rarely do research on bands to find out this kind of information. The NME review is positive and sounds like the kind of music I'd like, which is good enough for me. First impressions that this is good indie rock are replaced on further and closer listens, upgraded to being excellent indie rock. The two vocalists, male and female, have distinct tonal qualities that help shape the songs differently, adding another dimension to the structure of the album. The drumming is heavier than normal, adding urgency to the thrumming, distorted guitars, and giving each track its own character whilst maintaining an overall coherence. Interrupt is a fine album that will be enjoyed for a long time.

A threatened Tube strike made me not want to risk being stranded in London just to see The Family Rain on spec, but it didn't stop me picking up their album. I'm glad I did, and kinda disappointed that I didn't get to see them live, particularly as the strike was called off at the last minute. Under the Volcano is packed from start-to-finish with catchy guitar-based pop songs. The vocals are strong and have a great tone to them, the drumming is varied and interesting, and the melodies all bounce along brilliantly. This is an excellent debut that is going to get plenty of play. I know I'd have loved to see them live.

I saw Cheatahs support Metz last year, and although I was more impressed by The Wytches (sorry, Cheatahs) I am still tempted enough to pick up their debut album. It's great! Being sandwiched between The Wytches and Metz probably wouldn't do many bands any favours, but even suggesting that is to damn Cheatahs with faint praise when they deserve much more. Psycho-rock guitars and shoegaze vocals are combined to maximum effect, and woven with melodic interludes in to varied and creative songs. Cheatahs sound like the very best of the early 90s shoegazing scene updated to have a contemporary feel, making this a gorgeous album that is already becoming a favourite of mine for the year.

Mole City starts out well, with a catchy song over some fuzzy guitar and chirpy vocals, giving me a positive feeling about the rest of the album. Quasi take a bit of a turn by third track, though, to a broader stylistic feel, and another turn after a couple more tracks to be somewhat quirky. A patchy experience is only to be expected from an album twenty-four tracks long, I suppose. Although there is plenty to like, some songs feel weak or against the general flow of the album to make Mole City an inconsistent experience. Sometimes less is more, and releasing a couple of EPs alongside a shorter LP may have been a better idea.

I don't know what's happened to The Men. They used to be loud, unpredictable, exciting. Although they calmed down a little and found more of a musical side to their punk roots in recent albums, there was always a roughness detectable in their songs, a rebellious spirit that gave them an edge. Maybe they were just getting it all out of their system, ready for their first mainstream-produced album, Tomorrow's Hits. Now their songs just sound like more of the same, almost like outtakes and b-sides from their previous album. Although a couple of songs sound good, there's a disappointing blandness to most of the album. Even when horns are blaring away excitedly, it only creates an impression of passion over what feels very hollow. Tomorrow's Hits is a flat experience.

Finding a cloaky Protey

9th August 2014 – 3.41 pm

I'll just have a poke around tonight, I think. There's not much to see in the home system, giving me a simple start. Our gas sites have been blown away by the solar wind and no new ones have come to replace them. I have just the new static wormhole to scan and resolve, and I warp to it and jump through to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

My directional scanner is clear from the K162 in C3a. That's no surprise, as opening my system map shows only one planet in range, the star 90 AU away, and the other planets in suitably large orbits far apart from each other. I launch probes and am just about able to blanket the system with them by ignoring the nearest planet. The silly discovery scanner is already showing me there is only the K162's signature nearby.

Checking my notes has a tower listed near the centre of the system, and as soon as I launch my probes I am in warp to it, thinking I'd best start sooner rather than later. My probes complete their scan, revealing a fat ship somewhere, a carrier maybe. No, not a carrier, a Drake battlecruiser, still pretty chubby, and not at the tower I've warped to. This one is now reduced to a warp bubble, but thankfully the warp has brought me in to d-scan range of the new tower and ship.

Locating the tower finds the Drake lacking a pilot, and I settle down to scan my way out of the system. Fifteen anomalies and seven signatures are reduced to data, gas, gas, relics, a wormhole—that will be the static connection, I'd best start the warp now—and some more relics. I drop out of warp near the exit, the gold of Domain seeping through from the other side of the wormhole. It leads to low-sec, though, so may not be particularly convenient.

I jump to low-sec, appearing in a system nine hops to Amarr and with two extra signatures to scan. I'm also alone, so once I've launched probes I warp to a rock field looking for a clone soldier. I don't get far before a new contact appears in the system, making me abandon my half-arsed ratting and concentrate on scanning. I identify and ignore a combat site, and identify and resolve a wormhole. A wormhole with a pod on it.

Scanning a wormhole in low-sec with a pod on it

The other wormhole in low-sec is a weak signature too, making it an outbound connection. I don't think it matters. A pod is using the wormhole, my probes were right on top of it, and my face is plastered in the local channel. My chances of remaining covert are pretty much nil. Even so, I've resolved the wormhole, it would be churlish not to at least warp across to see what I've found.

The wormhole is an N432 outbound connection to class 5 w-space, one stressed to half mass too. It's obviously being used. Do I wait here, or on the inside? If I wait here, I can see who is coming and in what, but they can see me too, and can either force me to become polarised or easily evade me. If I wait inside, I have no idea who will come, what they will come in, or when they are coming, but at least I won't get polarised. I'll go inside, if only to take a look around, as I don't think I can wait for an eighteen-hop round trip to Amarr.

Jumping to C5a sees nothing on the wormhole, and a tower and Legion strategic cruiser on d-scan. My last visit seventeen months ago had no occupation, so I don't know where the tower is, but at least I know the system connects to class 6 w-space. I think that makes the locals not to be messed with. As I'm considering that, a new Proteus strategic cruiser appears on d-scan, but only for a moment. Now he's on my overview. The pilot makes a mistake, though. He cloaks his Proteus, only to land on top of the wormhole and be decloaked again, having to manoeuvre slowly away to cloak once more.

Covert Proteus warps to the wormhole I'm lurking on

I know the Proteus is here and covertly configured. I know he hasn't gone through the wormhole. I'm assuming he knows I'm here, and probably that I'm covertly configured. That's a stalemate already, if it weren't for my needing to get through that wormhole at some point and him not. A pod warps in and jumps to low-sec, making that at least two pilots to return at some point. I am now a little concerned about a massive ship being brought in, collapsing the wormhole in the process. Well, whatever, if I wanted a simple evening maybe I shouldn't have jumped through an active and mass-stressed wormhole.

The appearance of the Proteus and pod suggests other towers or another wormhole. I have a bit of time, I'll find out which. Warping out bumps in to two more towers, with a piloted Probe frigate and Buzzard covert operations boat in one, neither affiliated with the wormhole activity. There are no other towers either, and checking the first sees the Legion piloted and not matching the Proteus or pods. That means there's a wormhole to be found. Curiosity piqued, I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system.

My probes reveal that out of the six anomalies and four signatures only one is fat enough to be a K162, and that will be the wormhole I came through from low-sec. The active pilots are from further down the chain, probably the C6, maybe a random null-sec connection. Either way, I've decided to leave them alone. They can thank me with donations of ISK, or just by leaving me alone. I warp back to the low-sec K162, jump through, and get clear without seeing the Proteus, let alone being molested by it. That's a little anticlimactic, but whatever.