Finding an exit for isolated pilots

27th October 2010 – 5.13 pm

A colleague is stranded in high-sec space. I copy the five bookmarks in the can at our tower and warp out in my Buzzard covert operations boat to explore, and hopefully find a way home for the isolated pilot. The static wormhole is still present and healthy, and I jump in to our neighbouring class 4 w-space system. Another bookmark guides me to the tower in this system, where an Anathema cov-ops boat sits piloted. Nothing else is happening here and I have a bookmark to the system's static wormhole, which I warp to and jump through to continue my exploration.

The next C4 is quite a big system, some 60 AU across, and it takes a bit of time to warp around the planets to look for activity. I was in this system six months ago when there were two towers present, and now there are even more. I don't go looking for them all, merely noting that there remains some occupancy. The trail of bookmarks runs out in this system too, so once I've ascertained that there are no active pilots here I launch probes and start scanning. Only twelve anomalies and nine signatures sit around the nine planets in the system, although the volume of space to cover will slow down scanning a little.

I find two wormholes, both leading to class 5 systems, one an inbound K162 and the other the outbound static connection. I check the static connection first, keeping my forwards momentum as I look for an exit to empire space, entering a system even bigger than the previous C4 but with fewer planets. The fourth, outermost planet is a full 124 AU from the system's star, but knowing that signatures only appear close to the gravitational pull of planets drastically reduces the volume of space I need to scan, and there only being four planets further reduces the number of scans I need to make. I determine the system lacks occupancy and activity, and start to scan.

I resolve a wormhole soon enough, but the static conenction to a class 5 system looks smaller than I expect. Checking further reveals the wormhole to be on the verge of collapse, almost dead from the mass passed through it. At least I noticed the state of the wormhole before recklessly jumping through, although it is unlikely my Buzzard's tiny hull would cause the connection to choke. I leave the sickly wormhole alone, heading back in to the C4 to jump through the K162 to the other C5. My directional scanner shows nothing but celestial objects from the wormhole, but it doesn't cover the whole system from here. And I note that the wormhole I am moving away from is the system's static, so there is unlikely to be another route out of here.

There is a tower in the class 5 system but with no one home, and the whole system is as inactive as the others. It is a short expedition today, the continuing route having a wormhole sitting on the verge of collapse. Unless, of course, I venture through the dying wormhole anyway. But it may not be useful for bringing home my stranded colleague, and when I find out that we actually have three people stuck in empire space I think that perhaps we don't want another isolated from the tower, should the wormhole collapse behind me. Then again, there could be a good reason why the wormhole's mass was reduced, it having been intentionally disrupted by capsuleers not wanting to be disturbed. I could refit my Manticore stealth bomber with a probe launcher to take a look, hopefully allowing me to surprise some pilots.

Not only does my Manticore get a probe launcher but I rig it with scanning modifications, some sitting spare in the fittings array and other rigs having questionable value on a stealth bomber. Even if the wormhole closes behind me I will be able to scan my way out of w-space, whilst I retain the siege launchers to help me shoot innocent miners. I'm ready, here I go! Actually, maybe I should load some torpedoes first. Stripping the bomb launcher meant unloading the bombs, the silly mechanics stopping me from moving them directly from the launcher to the hangar, causing me to clear my cargo hold so that both bombs can be moved at once. But with the torpedoes replaced I'm ready, here I go!

The critically disrupted wormhole surives my Manticore's entrance, and I move away from it and cloak. I punch d-scan and checking the results makes me think that perhaps one stealth bomber isn't quite enough firepower. One Loki, two Legion, and eight Tengu strategic cruisers are visible along with a Bhaalgorn battleship and Revelation dreadnought. And although they are all to be found at the tower also seen on d-scan they are not inside its shields, as it doesn't have shields. The fleet is assaulting the off-line tower, the gunboats floating at optimal range and launching broadsides, the Tengu missile boats passing the time by circling the tower as a train.

I think I'll put this system down as 'unoccupied' in my notes. And despite lacking any kind of chance to pop any of the ships I am sorely tempted to launch a bomb, if only to see if I can cause a bit of panic. I resist the temptation, though, and it's for the best. The only panic I would have caused would be my own, when I remember I refitted the bomb launcher for a probe launcher and my devastating attack would be to decloak and throw a scanning probe a hundred metres from my ship. Instead, I simply watch the powerful w-space fleet shoot the tower for a bit before returning home. I get my Manticore refitted with its bomb launcher, load some bombs, and take a break.

A little later, I return to find the static wormhole has been collapsed by now-awake corporation colleagues. Scanning finds the newly spawned static wormhole and our four-pilot rescue group jumps in to the neighbouring class 4 system. A tower and no ships in the C4 lets us scan in peace, and we find the system's static connection to a C3. Four Heron frigates are unpiloted in a tower in the class 3 system, which is inactive but for our scanning efforts. The small system makes a pleasant change from earlier, 8 AU probes in a standard configuration just about covering all the planets at the same time, letting us find the static wormhole quickly. An exit to low-sec empire space is a good result, giving our isolated pilots a route back to our tower. And with the mission accomplished and the hour getting late I head home myself to get some rest.

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