Starting with a scout

31st August 2011 – 5.59 pm

An empty home system lets me scan in peace. There is nothing special to find, only the sites I am expecting and a single wormhole, and I jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to explore. Three Hornet drones visible on my directional scanner look interesting at first, except there are no ships, no wrecks, and not even a tower in range to accompany them. A passive scan reveals fifteen anomalies in the system and the drones floating free in space. I think it's safe to say they've been abandoned.

Performing a blanket scan of the C3 confirms a lack of ships and occupation, making me want my Sleeper strategic cruiser so that I could profit from all the potential loot here. Without a suitable Sleeper ship I am left to scan and look for further wormholes where there may be targets, and I start sifting through the dozen signatures. I resolve a ladar, five gravimetric, and radar site before realising only weak signatures remain, strongly suggesting the static wormhole will lead out to null-sec k-space. One more radar site is discarded before I find the wormhole, which indeed is a K346.

The final signatures here are a gravimetric and two magnetometric sites, giving the simplest of constellations today. I may as well head out to null-sec to take a look around, even if it is highly unlikely to offer a convenient route to collect more ships, and I end up in the Outer Passage region. Scanning finds only two drone anomalies and no other signatures, giving nothing to find here. Checking my atlas at least shows me a small ring of systems I can race around to get a few more red dots of exploration on my star map, hoping to perhaps see an impressive sight again, but all I find is a familiar name.

I spot Hugfish in the local channel in one of the null-sec systems, which rings a bell. At first I think my record-keeping from a year back was rather lacklustre until I realise I was thinking of the wrong encounters and it's my memory at fault, at which point I find when I met up with Hugfish in w-space. I doubt he remembers me, and I'm not about to reintroduce myself, it's simply a neat coincidence. I continue with my null-sec circuit, getting back around to the starting system without hassle, and jump back to the C3.

Glorious leader Fin is here, and we have an Orca and Widow, the pairing of the industrial command ship and black ops ship proving in the past to be good collapsers of our static wormhole, and we get to work. A couple of trips destabilises and then collapses our wormhole smoothly, leaving us both in the home system, and scanning can start anew. Locating the replacement static wormhole is straightforward enough, once I account for the one stray signature as being a radar site, and I jump in to the new class 3 w-space system to scout ahead of Fin.

A Cyclone and drones on d-scan look promising, perhaps the battlecruiser engaging Sleepers in the system whilst a Probe frigate sits idly in the tower nearby, but I see no wrecks and refreshing d-scan reveals core scanning probes. My guess appears to be backwards. Our new K162 looks to be garnering some attention from the probes too, as several converge rather quickly on my position. Fin swaps her scanning boat for an interceptor, which she plants on our static wormhole in wait for the scanner, whilst I locate the tower. Sweeping d-scan around, however, sees the Probe sitting somewhere other than in the safety of the tower's shields. I wonder if he's somewhere obvious.

It doesn't take long to position the Probe in line with the system's sun, and I warp to the star to see if he really is being that careless. Yes, he is, but I drop out of warp only in time to see him align out and warp away. I try to follow, on the assumption that he's resolved our K162 and about to jump in to Fin's embrace, but for some reason don't realise that he didn't warp out the way I came, and I came from our wormhole. Of course he's not heading towards Fin. But maybe he'll return to his chosen point of impending doom, and I warp back to the star to wait for him.

Sure enough, the Probe returns from his scouting to the system's star, and I have a quick decision to make as his ship decelerates heavily towards my position. I could call Fin to jump in and warp to me, her interceptor more likely to catch the Probe and its pod, but I have no idea if the Probe will sit here for long enough, particularly if it sees a Crow appear on d-scan. I also know that I have the sensor recalibration delay to contend with, once I drop my cloak. I have to act now. I drop my cloak as the Probe is still decelerating and helpless, and by the time the Probe is out of warp and can be targeted the recalibration delay is over. I have him locked and pointed.

I loose volleys of missiles at the helpless frigate and it can do little but accept its fate. The Probe explodes and the pod flees, giving me a little loot to grab before shooting the wreck and hiding under cover of my cloak. I apologise to Fin for keeping the kill to myself again, but there was no guarantee the Probe would jump to our system and I didn't want to risk missing it. Finding the tower at last shows that the Cyclone doesn't have a pilot who could have been tempted out to play, although a piloted Prophecy battlecruiser has now appeared.

Whilst Fin and I wonder if we can lure the Prophecy out to play the ex-Probe pilot requests a conversation with me. I tend to be a bit leery about talking to my victims, or anyone really, but I accept the request. He seems polite enough, simply asking if I came from one of the new wormholes in his system and if he was a bit obvious to find on the star. I point out that it was a little easy to locate him but am coy about which system I came from, and am curious as to why he won't tell me how many wormholes there are. It's a civil chat, just for information on both sides, and we bid each other safe travels. Now I can start scanning this system, and hopefully find targets to send Fin's way.

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