Poking a Probe

20th April 2010 – 5.50 pm

A new day, a new neighbourhood. I head out in my Buzzard to double-team our scanning effort with our scan man. As usual, finding the static wormhole in our home system is easy, as we are dry of other signatures. Our neighbouring system is rich, though, and on my first attempt I am able to pluck a wormhole from the thirty-odd signatures. The wormhole turns out to be incoming (K162) and EOL, so I keep looking. I get rocks, gas, rocks, and the scan man gets the same. At least we can ignore signatures twice as quickly with two pilots scanning.

With so many signatures I take a more systematic approach to scanning, creating a cluster of probes with 4 AU strengths and centring them on each planet in turn. This lets me find and resolve or ignore signatures more quickly, even if it means disregarding most of the system with each scan. Concentrating my scan around a single planetary body makes resetting the probe configuration much quicker after each successful scan resolution, which speeds up the process enough to be significant. I find another wormhole, which turns out to be another EOL K162, so the system's static wormhole remains unfound so far. The scan man finds it, though, and for completeness we finish ignoring a bunch more signatures in the system before jumping through to the class 1 w-space system beyond the static wormhole.

Another unoccupied system, there are again lots of signatures to resolve. We both grab the system's static with our first choice, seeing it lead to low-sec empire space. We keep looking for any other connections, but my scanning goes off the boil as I get only gas and rocks. Scan man gets another wormhole, inbound from high-sec space, although checking both empire connections reveals no convenient locations. Two unoccupied w-space systems makes for good Sleeper profits for us, but doesn't give any capsuleer targets, so when in low-sec I take time to continue scanning. I get interested when I see an 'unknown' cosmic signature returned, but it turns out to be a Serpentis outpost. Empire space is wacky.

Undeterred, I keep scanning the low-sec system we drop out to, finding two more wormholes. Scan man heads in to one, finding a tower bearing a Cheetah and Nemesis, and I jump through the other to find a tower belonging to our supposed allies in a system empty of signatures. There isn't much happening at all, so I start to head back to our tower. Maybe the wormholes reaching the end of their natural lifetime will expire and collapse, creating new connections to bring potential targets to the outer systems. Just as I ponder this, jumping back from low-sec space to the class 1 w-space system reveals a Probe frigate on the directional scanner. I check again and it's still there, with scanner probes launched. I warp to the next wormhole heading home and check again, the Probe is still on d-scan. It's not cloaked. How lovely!

I tell our scan man about the uncloaked Probe and he comes back to see if he can locate it. I am heading back to our tower to change in to my Onyx, the ship that leaves no pod behind. I am in the heavy interdictor sitting on the other side of the wormhole to the system the Probe is in when scan man finds the Probe. He's sitting on the second planet. Scan man returns to the tower to board his Hound stealth bomber, fitted with a warp disruptor. I am patiently waiting on the wormhole still when the Hound passes me and jumps in to the next system. The Probe is still there, which isn't surprising considering the number of signatures he has to sift through, which helps explain my patience in this case. Our Hound warps to planet two, gets in to position, and calls for me to jump and warp. I am not one to disobey such an order and, with the Hound locked and disrupting the Probe's warp engines, soon land on top of the hapless pilot.

My HIC's bubble goes up, the Probe disintegrates, and the capsuleer is sent back to empire space podless. We loot and clear the pocket, returning to our tower. Checking the details, the Probe was rigged for scanning but had no cloak, and the character is only a month old. It seems odd that the ship would have specific rigs but not a cloak, and I cannot decide if we killed a new capsuleer or an alt. It is possible that he is a high-sec scanner that took a risk coming in to w-space. But there are differences between w-space and high-sec empire space that mean you always cloak when scanning. If you cannot cloak, you make yourself safe in other ways, either by moving back to your tower's shields or by making a safe spot or two. It is irresponsible to sit uncloaked on top of a celestial body in w-space, because it means you can be found without any overt indication that someone is looking for you.

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