Swooping around a wall of bubbles

7th July 2010 – 5.48 pm

Our wormhole is dying. But that's okay, we'll just get a new one. Each static wormhole in our system lasts for about sixteen hours and, with good intelligence on when the last one was opened, I warp out to the connection to watch it collapse. Before the wormhole dies I launch probes and scan the system, ignoring all of the returned results. Then I wait. After a while the wormhole dies with little ceremony, leaving me staring at empty space. I reactivate my scanning probes to find the new static connection. I warp to it, bookmark it, and jump through the wormhole to our new neighbouring class 4 w-space system.

The directional scanner is clear of activity so I launch probes. Bookmarking the wormhole home lets me warp away to check the two planets out of d-scan range of the wormhole, where I find a tower but no ships. The system's static connection is easy to resolve, with only strong signals and a single radar site, and I jump through to a C3. D-scan shows me two towers in the system, as well as a Zephyr exploration ship and some probes. I locate one tower, empty of ships, then the other, which holds the piloted and probably scanning Zephyr in its shields and has an impressive array of warp bubbles floating nearby. The bubbles are no doubt aligned to delay capsuleers gaining access to the tower, but it will only work when warping from the centre of the system, which I didn't do. Regardless, I make a more convenient bookmark to avoid the bubbles entirely.

I check the solar system map and find that I cannot launch probes out of d-scan range of the Zephyr, all celestial bodies being within 14 AU of the tower. It's not really a problem, as my probes will be visible on d-scan soon enough. I warp away from the tower, launch probes, and begin to scan, returning to the tower to monitor the Zephyr as well. I discard a few gas and rock mining results, and just as I am close to resolving a new wormhole the Zephyr warps off. I know that these prototype ships cannot cloak and, as I have weapons on my Buzzard covert operations boat, I wonder if I can catch it examining a wormhole. In a bid to catch it I assume that the Zephyr has found the wormhole I came through and initiate warp to the K162, but dropping out of warp finds no ships. A second after I enter warp my current scan finishes and I have a solid return on the new wormhole, so I warp to that after seeing nothing at the K162. But if the Zephyr was at this new wormhole it has come and gone. I find it back at the tower.

Now core probes are visible on d-scan, different to the combat probes I assumed the Zephyr was using. I assume again that it is the Zephyr scanning but another Buzzard appears on d-scan briefly. Warping to the wormholes doesn't find the Buzzard and the Zephyr remains inactive. I head home for a break.

On my return I learn that our scan man has been more thorough than me. He has found two more wormholes in the class 3 system that both lead to class 2 systems, although there doesn't appear to be anyone to stalk. I head out anyway to explore and record these new systems, as there is currently no corporation fleet looking to engage Sleepers. The Zephyr in the C3 appears to be bouncing around the system again, joined by a Magnate, but I doubt I'll find them haphazardly and jump through to one of the C2 systems. The first is unoccupied and inactive but has a connection to a C1 bookmarked. I jump through to find some probes on scan and an inactive tower abandoned around a moon. I launch my own probes to locate the system's static connection, an exit to low-sec k-space.

I make one jump back to the C2 and poke my ship through the incoming connection to a C4. My notes suggest this system is unoccupied but it seems that a corporation has moved in within the last ten weeks, and even brought a Chimera carrier with them. There is no activity in the system, though, so I head back to the C3 and onwards through the other C2 connection. The other class 2 w-space system also has a tower, with four piloted ships inside its shields. Then a fifth, as a Sigil industrial ship returns from somewhere. I get a general idea of its vector and scan to find the wormhole it used, an exit to high-sec empire space. There is no activity now and laying a successful ambush on a high-sec wormhole is challenging, so I head back to the C3.

The corporation in the class 3 system looks to be waking up. A Hurricane battlecruiser and Wolf assault ship are sitting piloted in the shields. I wonder if they are likely to start tackling Sleepers in anomalies and quickly return home to swap my Buzzard for a Manticore stealth bomber. I return to stalk their tower to see a Magnate scanning frigate return, further suggesting the capsuleers are soon to leave for combat, either locally or in one of the class 2 systems. I watch and wait, but nothing happens. The Hurricane and Wolf remain passive, the Magnate pilot remains in his Magnate. On top of which it is late and I am tired, so I head home to get some sleep. It has been a full and satisfying day of exploration, even if there were no explosions.

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