Exploring the neighbourhood

9th May 2010 – 3.38 pm

Another quiet start to the day in w-space. At least the home system is empty of anyone else according to the directional scanner, which is an advantage of living in a system that d-scan can cover completely. I start scanning and soon find a wormhole but when I warp to it I see a K162, not our static wormhole but one coming in to our system. It looks like we have some activity. The wormhole is still stable so I jump through to determine any potential targets or threats before heading out the other way.

D-scan shows a tower in the system and an Ishtar heavy assault ship. I find the tower, bouncing off a warp bubble when I go to investigate. There are no cans scattered around to decloak me, so the bubble is little threat. In view of the tower, I can determine the Ishtar to be elsewhere in the system. The HAC warps in to the tower as I move away from the bubble and there is no one else on d-scan. But then a second Ishtar arrives at the tower. I warp away to drop probes before returning to keep tabs on ship movements at the tower whilst scanning. One Ishtar pilot swaps to a Nemesis stealth bomber and warps off, disappearing as it cloaks, and I find another K162 wormhole in the system. This wormhole comes from null-sec empire space, but it has the rather more interesting property of being out of d-scan range of the tower in the system, which is strategically interesting if only because no celestial objects are. Having this location bookmarked could offer an interesting advantage, if I were to be coming here often.

I keep scanning and find a high-sec exit too, which I could use to buy the missile rigs for my Malediction interceptor. Popping through to high-sec shows some rigs for sale, but they are over half-a-dozen jumps away. I may as well head back and check if our static wormhole offers a better exit before committing to shopping here. Back in the class 3 w-space system the Nemesis is visible on d-scan, so I don't need to be quite as wary when jumping through wormholes, and I quickly pop through the null-sec exit to visit D-6H64 for an extra red dot on my map of disconnected exploration. Both ships are gone from the C3 system when I return but checking the home system reveals no activity, so perhaps they are taking a break. I scan and resolve our static wormhole, jumping through to an unoccupied system that I visited within the last two weeks. The system is almost barren, making finding the next wormhole easy, this one leading to a C2.

The C2 system is certainly occupied, with four towers immediately visible, two more lurking on the outer planet, and a seventh off-line and drifting. But with all of these towers there is only a Probe frigate in the system, sitting inside the shields of one of the structures. Launching probes and scanning finds another high-sec exit, and although it also leads to Amarr space like the other this one is only three jumps from Amarr itself. It is as close to civilisation as I am going to get, so I make a quick shopping trip to pick up the missile launcher rigs for Sad Panda, although I don't buy any books for advanced missile skills as they are traded at a premium in this region. Making the simple navigation jumps has me marvelling at this alien stargate technology, so simple and easy to find. I'm just glad I am not yet so removed from New Eden that I am shooting arbitrarily at any ships I see in high-sec.

I return from Amarr to find a couple of 'blue' pilots lurking around the wormhole leading in to w-space. I saw one when I warped away but thought little of it, and now I am pleased, and a little surprised, that they don't chase me through the wormhole and start shooting. That's a novelty. I return to the home system safely and fit the new rigs to my Malediction, giving it a decent boost to its rocket launcher range, but don't have anything to shoot for now. Instead, I take my Manticore out for a roam, hoping that my little exploration and new bookmarks will happen upon some activity. I head through the K162 in our system to the occupied C3 and am happy to see some probes on d-scan. I warp to the null-sec wormhole in the hopes of catching the scanning boat.

I sit almost on top of the exit wormhole, rather than position myself 30 km for a bomb launch. The bomb won't destroy a frigate-sized hull and I will be too far away to lock and disrupt the ship before it can flee. Instead, for a relatively benign target, decloaking to lock and disrupt the ship at close range is a better strategy. All of the probes are visible on d-scan, suggesting that the scanner is resolving the null-sec exit I'm lurking on. I consider my tactics. It is possible the scanner will warp to the wormhole to bookmark it, but hopefully he will jump through to take a look before jumping back and polarising his hull, whereupon I can pounce when he has no way to escape. The probes disappear from scan and I wait, but no ships appear. I imagine he's warped to the wormhole at range, bookmarked it, found it leads to null-sec and left it alone. I check the high-sec wormhole and there are no probes on scan. Maybe I missed him.

Or maybe I didn't. A Buzzard warps to the high-sec exit wormhole I am on, inferred because there is no flare and his ship just appears, probably when decloaking. I engage the Buzzard, out of excitement more than rationality, and he simply jumps through the wormhole to high-sec where I cannot engage legally even if I follow. If only it were the null-sec exit. I re-activate my cloak and lie in wait. A Nemesis warps in and jumps, my Manticore remaining cloaked this time. The stealth bomber is a more juicy target and I think this is a good time to test my interceptor, so I quickly jump home and swap in to the Malediction, returning to sit coiled on the high-sec exit.

The wormhole flares and I wait to see what happens. My Malediction does not cloak and is clearly seen by whatever jumps through, as evidenced by the Buzzard's pilot apparently soiling himself and dashing back to the wormhole long before his session timer has elapsed. I pounce on him as soon as his cloak drops and in the short time it takes for the session timer to once again allow the Buzzard to jump I have blown a hole almost all the way through its shields. But it jumps back to high-sec, without armour damage, and maybe has a chance to get his heartbeat back to normal. Trying to ambush ships on a high-sec wormhole is an exercise in folly, as I have stated before, and only really works if a ship jumps out and right back in again, polarising its hull. As the Nemesis doesn't come back I am not going to catch anything. I've had a bit of fun with the Buzzard, though, and engaged a live target with my interceptor. I jump back home pleased with my little adventure.

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