Scanning and collapsing

11th May 2011 – 5.33 pm

Sites are popping up everywhere in the home system. Our recent spate of invaders has calmed down, no longer rampaging through our system whilst we sleep, stealing profit that we'd never realise anyway, and the local concentrations of rocks and gas are beginning to build up again. I am mostly ignoring the new sites as I look for today's static wormhole, even if I am better served by resolving and bookmarking each one to more easily disregard them on subsequent days. Despite the increasing clutter, I find our connection to class 3 w-space and head there with Fin to explore.

I spy a Drake battlecruiser and Orca industrial command ship on my directional scanner, along with an active tower. A quick adjustment of my settings and a second look reveals no wrecks, however, so I am probably looking for two unpiloted ships. I locate the tower and am pleased to see another capsuleer, and that he is in the Orca. The Drake would be a more challenging target, I have no doubt, but a punching bag can give a satisfying workout too, and the Orca fits that bill nicely. Of course, this is assuming the Orca will come out of the tower.

My best hope is that the Orca is mid-way through collapsing a wormhole and will soon make another trip. But even if this were the case catching him would be tricky, as the system spans less than 14 AU between the two most distant planets, preventing me from launching probes covertly. Of course, I would still need to scan the system to find wherever the Orca would be going. Thankfully, I think I can manage scanning without being noticed, but sadly only because I don't think the Orca is going to move. A refinery is being brought on-line and has thirty minutes left until it is ready, and I suspect the pilot of the Orca is having a whale of a time outside of the command deck as the timer ticks down.

Assuming the Orca isn't paying attention I begin scanning. Five anomalies are bookmarked and six signatures sifted. Unexpected exploration excitement is spawned by resolving a second wormhole, after first finding the static exit to low-sec empire space, a K162 coming from class 5 w-space looking rather pretty to me at the moment. Not expecting any further connections beyond the K162 I return home, share my current bookmarks with Fin, and swap my scanning boat for a Manticore stealth bomber instead. Fin goes to monitor the Orca in the C3 whilst I take a look around the C5.

I see no ships, but I also see no towers. D-scan is clear at the connection leading back to the C3, and I bookmark it, move away, and cloak. Warping to a far planet locates a tower and an unpiloted Anathema, and crossing to the other side of the system sees a second tower and four more ships. None of them are piloted, though, the Rokh and Scorpion battleships, and two Ishkur assault ships inside the tower's force field simply teasing me. I could swap ships again and come back to scan the C5, searching for another K162 that would lead to piloted ships, but we stand more chance of finding activity by collapsing our own wormhole and starting the evening again.

A few Orca trips later and I am looking for a new wormhole. I performed a pre-emptive scan-and-ignore of all the signatures in the home system, forcing the single new signature to stick out like a sore thumb when it appears shortly after the collapse. I resolve, warp, and jump. Only an off-line tower greets me on d-scan, but the system is bigger than my scanner can reach. Not by much, but I am thinking positive thoughts. A blanket scan of the system reveals five more anomalies and nine signatures, and exploration finds a second off-line tower. There are still no ships, though.

Gravimetric, ladar, ladar, gravimetric. With the strongest signatures discounted the static wormhole stinks like a null-sec connection, and removes the possibility of finding a fat K162 in the system. I skip over a couple of radar sites as Fin resolves the wormhole, which indeed leads out to null-sec k-space, and we decide to collapse our wormhole a second time. At least we've become experienced with pushing enough mass through our static connection to kill it, no longer needing to count millions of kilogrammes on our fingers. I have already ominously announced that if there are no targets in this next class 3 system I am getting an early night, but Fin thinks 'the third time's a charm'.

A clear d-scan in the third C3 of the evening is not automatically a bad sign, particularly as only one planet happens to be in scan range. I launch probes and blanket the system, happy to see a ship in the scan results amongst nine anomalies and three signatures. I would feel more optimistic if the ship didn't happen to be so far from any of the anomalies, as it looks like it is snuggled close to a planet and likely to be inside a tower. It may even be unpiloted. Warping out to the planet all but confirms the inactive state of the ship, a Nidhoggur carrier, as shown now by d-scan, unlikely to be operating solo, and locating the tower is merely a formality.

My last hope for the evening is for the rogue signature in this system to be another wormhole, the other two being our K162 home and the system's static connection. But I resolve only a gravimetric site, and the static wormhole doesn't buck the trend of leading out to k-space, giving us another exit to null-sec. I turn my ship around and head home. I've scanned a lot, and warped around a fair bit, but I don't feel like I've done much. W-space is like that sometimes. I go to bed wondering what the Orca pilot in that first C3 is up to now.

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