Stumbling back and forth

29th October 2011 – 3.23 pm

The rocks are dead! Long live the gas! Well, for three days or so, as I warp in to activate the ladar site that has appeared on the day two gravimetric sites have despawned. There's little more to do at home and I jump in to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to explore, finding a tower but no ships within range of my directional scanner in the adjacent system. I locate the tower around a nearby planet, make a bookmark for a convenient monitoring position, then warp across the system to launch scanning probes out of range of anyone who may be watching.

A blanket scan of the system suggests that there aren't any pilots to see me or my probes, with no ships to accompany the ten anomalies and nine signatures. I return to float outside the tower, giving me early warning in case a ship warps in, make another paranoid blanket scan to ensure no ships have appeared in the minute or so since my initial scan, then settle down to resolve the signatures. I find a couple of radar sites, a chubby wormhole signature that is probably an exit to low-sec empire space, a magnetometric site, another radar site, and then gas, gas, and more gas. It's not a terribly exciting result.

The wormhole I resolved does indeed lead out to low-sec, jumping out putting me in the beloved Aridia region, living up to its name once more by being devoid of life. Scanning the system to see a couple of additional signatures gives me a little hope, and although I resolve a wormhole the X703 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space is reaching the end of its natural lifetime and not particularly tempting to explore through. The other signature is merely an infestation of drones, who offer no bounties or security status gains if destroyed. Thankfully there are a handful of anomalies containing Blood Raiders to pop and, with little else to do, I think I'll introduce the rats to my Drake battlecruiser.

I return home, through the sleepy C3, and swap ships to my Drake, heading back out to—hullo, there's an Iteron hauler on d-scan in the C3 now. He's probably at the local tower but he may not be there for long, perhaps looking to collect planet goo. There's little I can do in my Drake, not because it can't handle an industrial ship on its own but because it can't stealthily monitor the hauler until it decides to leave the safety of the tower's force field. I need another ship, but my recent transits through the wormhole connecting the home system to this C3 have polarised my hull. I'm stuck here for another ninety seconds, in full d-scan view of the pilot.

I do my best to limit my visibility, warping to the far planet I used earlier to launch my probes, dropping off the hauler's d-scan, but not before I've been visible for a little too long. I wait for the polarisation effect to end, checking my log for timing details of my attempt to jump through the wormhole. I'm somewhat nonplussed at how the log can report a time a full minute ahead of the system clock, but wait the required time anyway, just to be sure, before warping back to the wormhole and returning home, the Iteron still visible on d-scan in the C3 as I leave. I swap ships again, this time to a stealth bomber, and return to the wormhole. I'm expecting another delay for polarisation effects to dissipate but I jump right through with no wait.

Of course. I was polarised because of the jumps between swapping ships the first time. Jumping home just now only counts towards the polarisation timer for the second-next jump, which means the second-previous is the one that started the timer for my current return. The time it took to swap ships in to the Drake and warp to the wormhole is approximately the same as the time it took to swap in to the Manticore and warp to the wormhole, and as I waited for polarisation effects to dissipate in-between those jumps I am fine for now, as long as I don't need to return home in a hurry. But even though I'm fine to jump in to the C3 in my stealth bomber it has still taken too much time, or had my Drake too visible, as the Iteron is now gone.

I warp around to look for the ship, in case it's hiding in a corner of the C3, but there is only one planet out of d-scan range from the wormhole and the hauler isn't there. On the positive side, the short time the ship was in space probably means he wasn't out collecting planet goo and I didn't have a shot anyway. There is always another option, though, that he went out to empire space. He'd have to be a bit bonkers to take a basic industrial hauler out to Aridia and pilot it to civilisation, but all capsuleers are a little peculiar in the first place. I warp my Manticore to the exit wormhole and jump out, only to find the empty system I saw earlier.

If the pilot has taken his ship further afield it would be no surprise that the system is empty. But, likewise, it would take him a long time to get to his destination and return, assuming he wants to reach civilised space. I may be better off assuming the pilot simply updated his skill queue and went off-line, but I have some tasks I need to attend to on my computer that can keep me partly distracted. I jump back to w-space and sit cloaked on the wormhole, waiting for the distinctive sound of it flaring to indicate a ship's transit, and occasionally punching d-scan to see if the Iteron has otherwise magically reappeared at the tower, as I decipher some code.

The pilot doesn't return, either through the wormhole or, as best as my occasional checks of d-scan can deduce, at the tower. I've modified some code to stop nagging me about a service I couldn't care about and can give full attention back to w-space, so give up my futile wait for a ship that isn't coming back and return to my previous plan. I jump back in to the Drake back at our tower and head out to low-sec, only to see myself thwarted again, another pilot now sharing the system with me. He may be a benign presence, particularly with such a healthy security status, but popping rats in low-sec is a diversion for me and certainly nothing I want to take any risk over.

I hold on the wormhole for a short while in the vain hope that the other pilot is actually bringing an Iteron home to the C3, but no ship warps to join me on the K162. I think I have to accept that I'll be getting nothing done again tonight. It's a shame about my timing with seeing the Iteron, as if I had been a minute later maybe I could have stalked him, and if he hadn't seen my Drake, if indeed he had, I could have had a target. And to add to those 'if's, if I had a colleague with me we could have made a fortune from shooting Sleepers. As it is, even with what little potential there was this evening I managed to realise none of it. I really hope w-space livens up soon, at home as much as abroad, as the loneliness and impotency is beginning to drain me.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.