Practice drones

2nd March 2011 – 5.23 pm

Where have our anomalies gone? It looks like the visitors we had the other day not only cleared all the sites they could handle but activated those they couldn't, or didn't have time to complete. Scanning the home system finds no anomalies in our system now, which at least means I can delete those bookmarks. I can delete more soon, when the mining sites I activated disappear, which should leave us with a relatively tidy system1. But my idea to get some quick profit from the sites goes nowhere when warping to them in my Tengu strategic cruiser finds no Sleepers have turned up yet. I suppose like any good w-space hunters they wait until their victim is actually in the site and mining rocks. I'll simply let the rocks fade away.

I return to our tower and swap the Tengu for my Buzzard covert operations boat, ready to explore beyond our static connection. The neighbouring class 3 w-space system doesn't look too interesting on first entering it, with only two planets visible on my directional scanner. But the lack of ships and towers, and my position on the outskirts of the system, lets me launch probes and move them out of d-scan range without been noticed. The probes can stay out of d-scan range whilst still being able to cover the entire system, and a blanket scan sees a ship and drones in the system. It looks like the hunt is on.

And the hunt is off again. Warping to the middle of the system sees only a Reaper rookie frigate on d-scan, which is hardly going to be using the mining drones I can also detect. I locate the tower that is here and see the Reaper sitting unpiloted in the shields, whilst the drones are floating abandoned elsewhere in the system. I have already confirmed there is no activity here, but I can still use the drones as a practice hunt. They are in the middle of space and need to be located, I will see if I can scan their location with a single attempt.

I pick a suitable point in the system to start refining my search for the drones, getting close to them to start with, which helps when positioning probes. I open my system map and start narrowing my d-scan beam, repositioning a reference probe with each positive reading. Of course, I'm only moving the probe's 'box', the actual probe remaining far out of the system for now. Once I have the drones in a 5° d-scan beam I adjust the range of d-scan to gauge their distance from me, which I work out to be around 1·2 AU. With range and bearing information, I carefully position my probes and, when satisfied, hit the scan button.

Sure enough, my first hit is a solid 100%, good enough to bookmark the reference and warp to the drones. The exercise wasn't exactly under normal conditions, as there was no time pressure involved, whether real or imagined, letting me be more cautious with each step, but it is good practice all the same. It's also interesting to note that there is no gravimetric site sharing the same space as the drones, so they really are just floating in space. Maybe they were forgotten and the site despawned, or a miner was ambushed there and the drones were left behind. Either way, I don't collect them for myself. We have enough mining drones and, should they wake up, I would rather the occupants not immediately realise another capsuleer has passed through their system.

I get to scanning proper, with this system's nine anomalies and seven signatures to resolve. I find a wormhole, a K162 from low-sec space, but the second one is more interesting, being a K162 from class 2 w-space and a good potential source of targets. At least, it would be ace, if it weren't reaching the end of its natural lifetime. The third wormhole here is the system's static connection, another exit to low-sec, leaving a gravimetric, ladar, and radar site each to resolve. I check the two exits from this C3, the static wormhole leading out to the Placid region and the K162 coming in from, oh, Placid. The two exits are only eight hops separate, which is considerably shorter than any trip to a decent market hub.

I head home, the C3 still quiet, and copy the bookmarks to our shared can. I take a break, hoping that the system will wake up later and present some juicy targets, but a couple of return trips in my stealth bomber finds no change. The Reaper and drones remain the only objects of note on my directional scanner, leaving this a day of exploration and exercise.

1. Relative to, for example, my flat.
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