All I can do is watch

15th August 2011 – 5.23 pm

I wake up in empire space, which is a disquieting sensation. Pilots everywhere, people talking to each other, ships happily jostling around the docking perimeter. I'm glad I made some safe spots even in these high-sec systems, where I can sit by myself to launch probes and scan in as much solitude as I can muster. The mission base system only has a single anomaly to find, though, and I have to move on if I am to see w-space today. Jumping to the next system looks more promising, with two signatures to be resolved. And not only are both signatures wormholes, they are both outbound connections, each potentially giving me more than one w-space system to explore.

One wormhole leads to class 1 w-space, the other to class 3 w-space. I choose to visit the class 1 system first, the lower class hopefully holding softer and less experienced targets, but all I see on my directional scanner when jumping in to the system are a few planets and moons. I launch probes and blanket the system, scan results showing me no ships in the system and ten signatures present. As I have a second wormhole available to me in empire space my time will be better spent exploring through that than sifting through the signatures here. If I find nothing in the C3 then I can return here to scan but, having come through an outbound connection, I am probably only going to find a wormhole leading right back out to empire space.

I find nothing in the C3. There is a tower but no ships, and, as is typical for class 3 w-space systems, the static wormhole connects back to empire space. At least there were only four signatures to check, and now I can get back to the C1, even if it's probably only to get the same result as here. Or maybe the C1 is a relative beacon for Sleeper technology, as the four wormholes I instead find suggest. Two connections are K162s from high-sec, one of which I used, and the static wormhole leads out to low-sec empire space, but the fourth wormhole comes from class 2 w-space and gives me more to explore.

Jumping in to the C2 finds activity at last, even if it is just probes whizzing around the system on an otherwise empty d-scan. I add my own probes to the system, hoping the other scout is concentrating on his scanning pane, and soon have a magnetometric site and two wormholes bookmarked, nothing else to be found. I warp to each wormhole, one being the C2's second static connection and giving me another route to high-sec, the other a K162 from class 4 w-space. By now the other probes have disappeared and it seems reasonable to assume that the scout came from the C4 and has moved on to the C1, so while the cat's away I can play. I should have time to explore his home system and scan it for any sites of interest by the time he returns, maybe letting me set up an ambush.

My plans only really work if my assumptions hold, which this time they don't. The Buzzard is back here in the C4, along with some buddies in a Raven battleship, Machariel battleship, and Prowler transport ship, all sat stationary in a tower with some other unpiloted ships around them. But even if I can't sneakily bookmark some mining sites here I have found activity. And I mean 'activity' only if today is opposite day, as the ships look about as keen to move anywhere as I am to wait here watching them do nothing. I warp back to the C2, as I really don't think I'll find a K162 in this C4, and back across to the C1. The systems remain empty.

Rather than returning to high-sec I take a look in low-sec, exiting through the C1's static wormhole. Curiously enough, I am only twelve jumps from the entrance to the C1 I used, and in the same region. I launch probes and scan, resolving a cluster of ECM drones that are probably the result of a minor engagement that ended without a kill, and two wormholes both connecting to class 3 w-space, one a K162 and the other outbound. I check the K162 first and am giddy with the thought of planet goo piracy when I see two Badger haulers on d-scan, only to have my hopes dashed when I find them both unpiloted in the local tower.

The second C3 is not much better, also having ships present but unpiloted inside a tower's shields. I resort to scanning again to find someone to shoot but only get yet another connection to high-sec empire space. This one's even reaching the end of its natural lifetime, perhaps giving me a sign that I should give up for the night. I turn my ship around and head back the way I came, diverting in the C1 to check the other leg of w-space for changes. The C2 still sits quiet, but the C4 is alive with fighter drones. A Chimera carrier is on scan and apparently active.

A passive scan from the wormhole easily locates the anomaly where the Chimera is engaged with Sleepers, helped by two Machariels and the Raven. They aren't salvaging as they fight either, so there is actually a chance a salvager will fly in behind them and right in to my sights. I watch the missiles fly, the drones bounce between targets, and the time drag by—it always is slow when watching, Mick pointing out—until finally no Sleepers are left. The Chimera warps out of the anomaly and, with a couple of wrecks bookmarked, I follow back to the local tower. To my delight the pilot swaps to a Noctis salvager and heads back, but to my disappointment his colleagues in the battleships don't leave him unguarded.

It's quite possible that I could strike the Noctis and escape even with the attentions of a battleship or three sitting nearby. They wouldn't lock me too quickly, probably aren't fitted with warp disruptors, and my covert Tengu strategic cruiser can take a few good hits before exploding, certainly likely to last long enough for me to pop the Noctis. Unfortunately, the locals have brought a Cynabal out here too. The agile cruiser may not have a point fitted either, but I'm not going to gamble my Tengu on it, and I would definitely be toast if he snares me and keeps me in place to be shot by the heavier artillery.

As if to confirm the cruiser's fitting, the battleships all warp out to leave only the Cynabal shadowing the Noctis. There is no point in removing your threatening ships from protecting the vulnerable one, unless your actual threat remains. I've got no shot here, all I can do is watch as the wrecks get chomped by the Noctis until the site is clear, and he and the Cynabal warp out. Oh well, not every night can be exciting. I head back through the C2 and C1 to high-sec, and return to our mission base to get some sleep. Maybe tomorrow will offer better opportunities.

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