Missing a Maller

19th April 2011 – 5.35 pm

Interesting ships await me in w-space today. Our home system is quiet, but scanning my way to our neighbouring class 3 system has a Thanatos carrier, three Dominix battleships, and some industrial ships visible on my direction scanner. The three identical battleships make me think there may be a fleet formed for Sleeper combat, and the possibility of a salvager to ambush, but scrutinising the d-scan result further shows no signs of wrecks. That's okay, maybe they are just about to start. I warp away to find a place to launch probes without being detected, but only manage to locate a Drake battlecruiser and Kitsune electronic attack ship at a second tower.

The second tower in the system is easy to find, being on the outskirts of the system, and I can confirm that the two ships here are both unpiloted. No pilots present means no one to witness my decloaking and launching probes, so I do, moving them promptly out of the system. A blanket scan finds me a mere two anomalies and four signatures, with ten ships in the system in total. That agrees with what I've seen so far, so all I need to do now is find that first tower and determine what, if anything, is happening. I warp back to the centre of the system and sweep d-scan around, locating first the planet and then the moon where the tower sits, disappointingly finding only an Orca industrial command ship and Cheetah covert operations boat to be piloted.

The Orca isn't boosting the efficiency of some yet-to-be-found miner in the system, as all ships on my blanket scan are accounted for between the two towers. But there may be a hint of activity, as some core scanning probes are visible on d-scan. With only a few signatures to resolve the scout should be finished quickly, so I recall my probes, warp home, and plant my Malediction interceptor on our static wormhole in wait. And I wait a bit longer. I would suggest that scanning can't possibly take this long, but I've seen some scouts dragging their heels. Even so, I don't think the Cheetah is coming this way, and neither does scribbling that as a note magically cause him to appear whilst I am distracted. I was sure it was going to help.

I go back to the C3 in my Buzzard cov-ops ship to scan the five signatures, thinking I may as well see what else is out there. I thought it was four signatures, but never mind. Ignoring the K162 connection leading home I resolve a ladar site, gravimetric site, wormhole, and, oh, a second wormhole. Maybe that is a new signature I detect after all. The first wormhole is the system's static connection, leading out to low-sec empire space, the second is a K162 coming from another class 3 system, and is no doubt active to some degree. Jumping through puts me out of d-scan range of any ships or towers, and I take a risk by launching probes directly on the wormhole, cloaking again as soon as I can. A blanket scan returns no anomalies, seven signatures, and three ships. I go looking for the ships.

Two ships I find around two towers, on different moons of the same planet. Both are Ibis frigates and of little interest, although one of them is rather close to the edge of the tower's shields. As I was in this system only six weeks ago, and I seem to remember an Ibis in a similar situation, I wouldn't be surprised if the ship hasn't been moved in that month-and-a-half. It remains inconsequential, though, and I have a third ship to locate. Still not seeing it on d-scan I make a second scan with my probes, which now only resolve the two Ibis ships. Whoever was here is now gone, a third scanning also confirming that, and I take the opportunity to start resolving the signatures here.

I ignore the Ibis ships from my scan results and make one further safety scan of the system. The third ship is back, and looks to have a cruiser hull. My probes are at their maximum range and can't pin down its location to any degree of accuracy, but warping around finds the ship to be a Maller cruiser. He's gone again, and I am none the wiser as to what he's up to. I start scanning quickly, hoping to find whatever connection he's using so that maybe I can catch his next entrance, resolving a K162 coming in from low-sec, a gravimetric site, a K162 from class 4 w-space that would be more interesting if the wormhole weren't at the end of its lifetime, and... the Maller is back.

The Maller is not at either of the wormholes I've resolved, nor at a local tower, keeping me oblivious about his location. I decide that I would rather find out what the Maller is doing than remain concealed, and press on with scanning, focussing my probes towards the Maller directly. I resolve the ship's position, coincident with a third wormhole, and warp to see the Maller loitering on a K162 from class 2 w-space, a wormhole that is critically unstable. I think it's safe to say the pilot is in the midst of collapsing one of his system's static wormholes. I don't know if this will be his last jump or not but if it isn't I'd like to be here when he comes back, and in a pointier ship.

I recall my probes and rush back home, getting a recently woken Mick in to a stealth bomber and updated as I travel. I have two jumps to get home, a stealth bomber to board, and two jumps to get back here. Travelling between and across systems can be deceptively slow and I doubt I'll return to see the Maller, or even the wormhole, but I want to give it a go. Warping across the second C3 in my Manticore doesn't see the Maller on d-scan, but he was coming and going anyway. It is only when I drop out of warp to see empty space that I know I have been too slow. The wormhole has been successfully collapsed.

I don't think I was particularly slow in working out what the Maller was up to, as collapsing a wormhole is not a particularly easy activity to discern from d-scan. Of course, his successive appearances and disappearances should have been a clue, but I would have expected bigger ships. I imagine that in this case the Maller was being used to give the wormhole the final push. I was hoping the cruiser was collecting gas, making him a more likely target. It doesn't really matter, though, the Maller's appearance merely being the only activity I've seen so far today. I've had my little rush across a couple of systems for some limited excitement, and have some bookmarks to use for later roaming, so for now I head home and take a break.

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