A little too patient for once

14th October 2011 – 5.42 pm

Sleepers are repopulating. Two more new signatures are in our home system and neither is a second wormhole. I activate some gas and bookmark a magnetometric site, before jumping through the static wormhole, characteristically the signature farthest from the planets, to appear in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. A bubble and can are all that's visible on my directional scanner in the C3, so I launch probes and blanket the system as I warp around looking for towers. I find one, but from looking in my notes instead of straight exploration. Apparently I was here eight months ago when I 'steal arkonor', but I don't remember that. Whatever, the tower's in the same place and there are only two unpiloted Orca industrial command ships floating inside its shields.

Scanning is going to be quick. There are only four signatures to go with the three anomalies, and no other ships. I resolve a wormhole, a gravimetric site, and a radar site, the fourth signature being the K162 leading back home. The static wormhole naturally leads out to low-sec empire space and, with little else to do here, I jump out to continue exploring. The exit leads to the Derelik region, one hop from a dead end but with too many pilots flying around to make me want to use a stargate. I launch probes and scan, finding a healthy eight signatures that turn out to be rather disappointing. A Sansha outpost, some rocks, two Rogue trial yards, and a magnetometric site are all discarded before the final two signatures both turn out to be wormholes. One's interesting to see but not terribly exciting, merely linking this low-sec system with a second low-sec system, the other weaker signature keeping exploration alive by being an outbound connection to class 5 w-space.

I jump in to the C5 to take a look around, finding nothing close to the wormhole. A blanket scan reveals no ships, and probably no towers. There can't be many populated systems with so many anomalies and signatures. Warping around indeed finds no active towers, leaving me to scan for wormholes in peace. I ignore a bunch of radar sites, of all types of site to continue to stumble over when scanning, until resolving a wormhole on about the tenth signature. I've found an outbound connection to class 4 w-space and probably the system's static wormhole. It's good enough for me to recall my probes and head forwards, jumping in to the C4 and to see a tower, Orca, and Anathema covert operations boat on d-scan.

This C3 is another system I've been to before, this one from eleven months ago. And the locals are nicely settled, it seems, as the tower remains in the same place, quickly letting me see the Anathema piloted and the Orca not. There are no probes visible on d-scan, though, so I can't tell how awake the Anathema pilot is. I'll ignore him and scan, knowing from my last time here that I'm looking for a static connection to class 3 w-space. Scanning is quick again, no anomalies cluttering up the mere six signatures. Are you outside the edge of the system again, Mr wormhole? You're not even trying to hide even more. My first hit is the C247 to class 3 w-space, and again I am happy to move forwards instead of staying to scan every signature.

Jumping in to the C3 sees an awful lot of ships on d-scan, and thankfully only on d-scan. There are also a smattering of Sleeper wrecks in the system, which is encouraging, but I really need to find the tower to determine how many ships are active and how many pilots are potentially available, otherwise any ambush I attempt could end not in my favour. Luckily I've been in this system before too, and checking one of the two towers finds almost all but two of the ships unpiloted inside the tower. It also finds them to be blue to our alliance, which scuppers any thoughts of ambushing their salvager. That is, if it is a local pilot that will be salvaging. I need to get to the combat site to see if the two Drake battlecruisers are visitors.

I performed a passive scan of the system as soon as I saw Sleeper wrecks, and the results displaying all the anomalies are still available for perusal. Opening up the system map and sweeping a tight-beam d-scan around locates the two Drakes, and warping in to the anomaly finds a lovely sight: neither pilot is allied to our corporation. They are fair game. All I need to do now is wait for their salvager to appear, which could take a while. The only wrecks on d-scan are the ones in this site and the Drakes aren't salvaging as they fight. They could clear a few more anomalies before deciding to salvage. It's okay, I have time, and keep myself entertained as they pop the last battleship here and warp off.

I follow the Drakes to a second anomaly and make another convenient bookmark for myself, but lose them when they finish clearing this site. I warp back to the tower, which is a handy central feature, and keep an eye on d-scan. Here comes the Noctis, and it looks like he's by himself. This could be quick and easy. Or maybe I could be smarter and wait for him to clear most of the wrecks and hope to scoop up some significant loot for a change. I warp in to the first anomaly to watch the salvager at work, fighting my urge to strike now, but thinking of the juicy loot I could snatch if I wait patiently. The Noctis clears the first site of wrecks and, thankfully, warps to the second anomaly instead of homewards.

I'm right behind the Noctis, having aligned so I don't waste any time, but still I am telling myself to wait. He's got one anomaly's load of loot, he could have another half-an-anomaly before I really need to attack. That's the plan, anyway. I hold for a bit longer but can't help myself, and warp in to get closer to the ship. And now my caution has got the better of me, as I am too far from the Noctis to strike quickly, needing me to manoeuvre to get close enough. But I'm just anxious, it looks like I have time. Sure enough, I get within warp disruption range long before the salvaging is complete, and I spring in to action. I decloak, get my weapons hot, and burn towards the Noctis. And I watch as the salvager warps away, a moment before I get a positive target lock.

Perhaps the salvager was alert to my presence, which is why their combat operation ended after only two anomalies when there were many more available. But then an escort ship would be more appropriate than simply being alert. Maybe he had fitted warp core stabilisers to help his escape, but without popping his ship to examine the debris I won't be able to find out. Or maybe I was just a bit slow. If I hadn't been so cautious at the end, going in more positively when the time was right, I could have been on top of the Noctis and given his ship a friendly nudge, knocking him out of alignment and giving me more time to lock his ship. Whatever happened, or didn't happen, I've missed my chance.

Or I could stop pouting and chase him. I don't know if he came from the C4 I passed through but I won't find out sitting dolefully in the empty anomaly. A few seconds late, but hopefully in time, I spur my Tengu strategic cruiser back to the wormhole. I see no Noctis or any flares indicating passage, but I jump through anyway only to see no sign of the Noctis in the C4 either. It's most likely that he simply didn't originate in this system, instead returning through another wormhole connecting in to the C3 that I don't yet know about. And I don't think I'll scan for it. I don't fancy jumping in to an ambush myself and I doubt the pilots will come out to play now they've been poked, not without bringing enough force to ensure my destruction.

Even without the kill I can make the best of the situation. I return to the C3 and warp to the partially salvaged anomaly, where sits a pair of unlooted Sleeper battleship wrecks, and a few cruisers. I loot the remaining wrecks and recover about twenty Miskies for doing so, which is not to be sniffed at, I suppose. Now I turn tail and head home, pausing in the C4 long enough to see a Tengu being chased around safe spots and celestial objects by combat scanning probes, but deciding not to get caught up myself in a chase with a target I probably won't even engage. I poke my nose through the wormhole connecting low-sec to low-sec, finding myself alone in a system in the Metropolis region, but with no more wormholes to find here. And so the evening ends, as I return home to drop more stolen loot in to our hangar and get some sleep.

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