A destabilising presence

12th October 2011 – 5.53 pm

There are two signatures in the home w-space system today, how thrilling! Sadly, it looks like a new site has spawned and there isn't a second wormhole to accompany the first. And it's curious to consider that I would expect any second wormhole to be a K162 connection opened by capsuleers from another system. Even though I encounter a fair number of random outbound connections in the w-space constellations I explore, I don't recall ever finding such an outbound connection in the home system. I don't know why that would be, so I'll just note it as a peculiarity for now, bookmark the new radar site, and jump through to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

A tower is visible on my directional scanner from the K162 in the C3, along with a Nighthawk command ship and Noctis salvager. It's perhaps a little optimistic to expect the Nighthawk to be popping Sleepers and the Noctis clearing up behind it, and indeed there are no Sleeper wrecks visible in the system. I perform a passive scan of the system anyway, bookmarking the six found anomalies, before warping off to find the two ships empty inside the tower's shields. Never mind, I warp away, launch probes, and start scanning, once a blanket scan confirms a lack of activity in the system.

Radars, ladars, and a wormhole, oh my! And there's a second wormhole too, and although it seems to me that the signature has only just appeared it can't have been opened by another pilot, as resolving and warping to it shows it's a T405 wormhole to class 4 w-space. Look at that, a random outbound connection, just not in our home system. I finish scanning the C3 to find the static exit to low-sec empire space and a third wormhole, a K162 from more class 4 w-space. The K162 looks most promising for activity, so I jump through that first.

I was last in this C4 some twenty-eight months ago, so it probably doesn't matter that notes tell me I saw 'capitals on d-scan' back then, even if I'm also less impressed in general with simply seeing capital ships these days. A blanket scan of the system reveals no ships or occupation, with only seven signatures to search through to find another K162. Hello Mr hiding-at-the-edge-of-the-system, could you be more obviously a wormhole? The answer is 'nope!', as I resolve a K162 to another class 4 system. Maybe I'll find a source of activity in this system. Or maybe I won't, as the wormhole is stabilising, a clear indicator that no pilots have been active in the system on the other side for a while.

I head back to the C3, through the wormhole that is now reaching the end of its natural lifetime, another indicator that any action here happened some hours previously, and warp across to the T405. Jumping in to this C4 has a bunch of giant secure containters floating lonely on d-scan, which looks to me like the flotsam of an exploded tower. Sure enough, there is an off-line tower with the cans floating nearby, and I doubt there is anything left to salvage here, except the GSCs themselves, so I leave them alone. The off-line tower is the only sign of occupation and I don't quite fancy sifting through another twenty-six signatures to look for the next wormhole, so it's wonderful for glorious leader Fin to turn up and, on hearing my sitrep, suggest collapsing our static wormhole. Good idea! This is why she gets paid the big iskies.

Collapsing our wormhole is nice and smooth, and jumping in to the new neighbouring system has little ISK signs appear comically in my eyeballs. Nineteen anomalies are in this unoccupied C3, ten of them the easy ones that we can storm through, giving us an easy half-a-billion ISK or so in profit we can sweep up, if only we had enough time. And if there are no pirates waiting to shoot us, so we need to scan the system for additional wormholes before we get cosy with the Sleepers here. One wormhole is expected, a second makes Sleeper combat potentially awkward, and finding a third and fourth makes it almost suicidal. We're going to have to reconnoitre at least the connecting systems to look for activity before we can shoot Sleepers safely, although if we find some activity we could hopefully shoot that instead.

The first wormhole is a K162 from class 4 w-space, which Fin volunteers to jump through to scout. I bounce across the C3 to see what other wormholes I resolved, including another random outbound connection, this one an N968 to class 3 w-space, the static exit to low-sec empire space that leads out to a system in the Kor Azor region ominously filled with pilots known to our corporation, and a K162 coming in from more low-sec. I scout the second C3 for activity, finding none and beginning to scan as Fin reports ships in the C4. Two Hurricanes are flying around somewhere, Fin suspecting the battlecruisers to be harvesting gas. She calls me across to help scan their position.

Jumping in to the C4 to join Fin in hunting the Hurricanes begins awkwardly. The wormhole is in d-scan range of the gas-collecting ships, which could let the pilots spot my ships as I move away from the wormhole and cloak. And as the pair disappear almost immediately when I move I would say they've seen me. Regardless, I warp to the other side of the system to launch probes covertly, before heading back to scout their tower, as found already by Fin. The battlecruisers aren't there, and my combat probes aren't picking up any ships in the system, at least not on their first scan. A second scan has a pair of ships, but these have bigger hulls than battlecruisers. The two ships warp in to the tower and I see a pair of Widow black ops ships, which is simply a beautiful sight.

Two Widows is perhaps not so beautiful when considering they would chew me up, or jam me to death with their ECM, but they are undeniably good-looking ships. Their appearance could mean the locals are looking to collapse the wormhole, which could be why they disappeared briefly. It definitely means they have stopped what they were doing before, unfortunately. One of the pair swaps ships for a Manticore stealth bomber, and then scouts the wormhole and the C3, but neither Fin or I are in a good enough position to engage it, and all we can do is monitor its movements. The Manticore returns to the tower and the pilot gets back in to a Widow.

If these two pilots in their Widows are planning to collapse the wormhole there is still perhaps some interference we can cause. Fin goes back to the home system and brings an Orca industrial command ship back with her, safely sending the massive ship through the wormhole a couple of times to destabilise it and make any calculations the pair have made redundant. I think it's a neat little plan that may isolate one of the two ships, but it probably won't catch them by surprise, and definitely not if they aren't actually collapsing their wormhole. And so far neither Widow has budged a space inch. There's not much else we can do. It's too late now to clear any anomalies of Sleepers, and I managed to scare away the only activity we found, so we head home to get some rest. We won't even get to see if our wormhole-mass shenanigans sow any confusion.

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