Little but empty ships

25th October 2011 – 5.14 pm

I have some time to myself, I'm going to take an early afternoon stroll through w-space. That means scanning my way through wormholes first, though, as I need to find the path before I can follow it. A couple of new signatures in the home system turn out to be only rocks, and I activate both sites as I resolve our static wormhole. Jumping in to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system has nothing interesting on my directional scanner, only the outer planet, letting me launch probes and perform a blanket scan. Three ships wait for me somewhere, so I warp off to find out what and where they are.

The three ships area Manticore stealth bomber, and Anathema and Cheetah covert operations boats, all sat inside a tower's force field. The Anathema is the only boat piloted. The pilot doesn't seem to be active, with no scanning probes visible on d-scan, so I set about scanning the system myself. The first hit is a wormhole, merely a boring K162 from low-sec empire space, and warping to it sees that the Anathema is in fact active, the scanning probes simply far enough from the tower in this big system not to be detected from there. I may as well ignore them for now, as my probes will also not be detected by the local pilot, and continue scanning.

I resolve a second wormhole, a K162 from class 4 w-space, and some rocks. A radar site gets ignored and I find a third wormhole, the outbound connection to class 3 w-space cropping up before the system's static exit to low-sec, which is the fourth wormhole I find. And now that I have the location of the static wormhole I am inclined to explore in to the second C3 ahead of the Anathema, wanting to keep the best opportunities for myself. Jumping in to C3b looks promising initially, with a Prowler transport ship and Noctis salvager on scan, either of them being valid targets, but locating the tower here finds both ships empty of capsuleers. That is, once I find the tower.

My notes put me in this system six months ago, and although the tower is around the same planet as back then the planet is missing seven of its moons if my notes are to be believed. I locate the tower, which is easy enough with a choice of only two moons, and correct my notes, settling down to scan the system. The four signatures present among the six anomalies are gas, gas, a static exit to low-sec, and a radar site. I exit through the wormhole to get the destination system and take a look around. Hello Aridia!

Goodbye, Aridia! There is no one in the low-sec system with me, and with another w-space system still to explore I don't bother launching probes to scan. I head back through two C3 systems—noting but ignoring a Buzzard cov-ops boat blipping on d-scan—and jump in to the C4. Two towers and a couple of big ships greet my d-scan interrogation in the class 4 system, the Orca industrial command ship and Chimera carrier sitting unpiloted inside one tower, an empty Helios cov-ops boat looking lonely at the second. Scanning reveals only two signatures, one of which is the wormhole I jumped through and the other unsurprisingly being a second wormhole.

It doesn't surprise me that the only other signature in this system is a wormhole precisely because of the lack of other signatures, as well as all visible ships being unpiloted. Wormholes don't open themselves. The K162 comes from class 5 w-space, jumping in showing me what looks like a familiar system number and ship configuration. But having two Revelation dreadnoughts, a pair of Iteron haulers, and a Crane transport ship must be more common than I think. I was last in this system five months ago, where nothing noteworthy apparently happened. At least in the first C3 we shot a Buzzard down to its hull when we were last there.

Like yesterday, the Crane manages to disappear before I see it at the tower, making me wonder if perhaps d-scan is playing up and showing me ghosts. I disregared the cloaky get for now and consider this C5 to be scouted. But maybe it isn't, as warping back to the wormhole to the C4 has it flare as I approach, a Buzzard appearing and warping away. Judging by the ship's naming convention the Buzzard is local, and pausing at the wormhole brings the Crane back on to d-scan too. And now the Crane is replaced by a Badger hauler, an eminently more catchable ship. But where is he going and where do I wait?

If the Badger is collecting planet goo I need to go to the tower to see which customs office he plans to visit. If, on the other hand, the Badger is heading out to empire space I ought to wait on the wormhole for his arrival. I head to the tower. I could cross the Badger's in warp, but it's unlikely a simple hauler would be chosen over a transport ship for transiting w-space systems and, besides, if I am quick enough I should be able to spot him heading for the wormhole, if he comes this way, and warp back to follow and engage. As it turns out, I am not quick enough, the Badger out of the tower before I get there. I try to give chase, guessing a customs office and sweeping d-scan around on a narrow beam once I get there, but I am too late. All I find is the Badger returned to the tower and stationary.

Maybe the pilot was using the Crane to collect planet goo but needed a bit more cargo capacity for one final trip. I could have caught him but my timing was a little off, both when deciding to leave the system initially and when trying to determine if I should monitor the wormhole or the tower. Never mind, there'll be other innocent industrialists I can shoot. Now I am definitely leaving the system, further ship changes here be damned. I'm hungry and want some food, so not even a new contact in a Pilgrim recon ship warping out somewhere will tempt me to stay. A Badger sitting in the tower in the class 4 system tempts me a little bit, but my will to eat food overcomes my blood lust, leading the stationary Badger behind.

The wormhole connecting the C4 to the C3 starts to die as I jump homewards, poor thing. That looks like effectively denying later access to the w-space systems in this direction later on, which is a shame, as they look like they could be active. But maybe new connections will open up, or the occupants of the C3 could wake up. Whatever the case, I will only find out later, when I return. For now, I get home safely and go off-line to grab some grub.

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