A distinct lack of shooting

4th November 2011 – 5.00 pm

I've had my sammich, now let's see if the w-space constellation is as full as my belly. All is clear in the home system so, after my earlier exploration, I'll take my Manticore stealth bomber out for a roam. It's more agile, harder hitting, and quicker locking than my covert Tengu strategic cruiser, as well as being cheaper to lose, although having significantly weaker defences makes losing it more possible. But if I don't have to scan I think I prefer running around in the Manticore, so out I go to our neighbouring class 3 system.

There is no change in the C3 from earlier, making it occupied but empty, and I warp across and jump through a K162 to class 2 w-space. I saw scanning probes in this C2 before I left for food, so I'm hoping to find some activity. And, sure enough, there is a Drake visible on my directional scanner, along with Sleeper wrecks. Despite the activity, however, I am not expecting much of an encounter here. The Drake is probably a tourist from high-sec empire space, come in through the wormhole connecting the w-space system to Dodixie, and as such is probably salvaging as he goes. On top of that, he's in a Drake, the passive tank of the battlecruiser being rather difficult to break. Never the less, I'll find him to assess the situation.

Locating the Drake is almost trivial, there being only two anomalies and a gravimetric site in this C2. I warp in to one of the anomalies to get eyes on the battlecruiser, finding a curious situation. The Drake is entirely stationary. I suppose that isn't terribly odd in itself, but he is not shooting and neither are the Sleepers, although the Sleeper cruisers are making lazy circles in space some distance away from the capsuleer. It's like watching gazelle frolic near a sleeping lion. Or maybe sharks ignoring a baby seal, it's hard to tell. I have to check that my own systems are working properly, as I don't recall seeing a capsuleer's ship being so close to Sleepers before without being actively engaged.

The Drake is a tourist, most likely from high-sec but definitely not from this C2. He's also a statue at the moment. Is this bait? If he is, I don't see who he is trying to goad in to attacking, and although I can check the high-sec side of the wormhole here, where I see no ships loitering with intent, it is difficult to check through the hundreds of pilots in Dodixie's local channel for any affiliated with the Drake. A clear wormhole probably just means the Drake's stopped paying attention for a moment, which is rather careless. If I were in a different ship I'd take a shot at his stationary ship, but I'm not sure which ship would be best. Just not my Manticore.

I ponder my options for my potential assault and decide on a command ship, wanting some firepower and survivability against the inevitable Sleeper attack, but as I am about to turn around from watching the Drake in the anomaly the battlecruiser beats me to it. His engines fire up and he aligns out of the site, in the direction of the wormhole to high-sec, cruises for a short while, and enters warp. I follow him out of the anomaly, seeing him jump back to Dodixie, and hold my position. I can do nothing out in high-sec except spook the pilot if he sees me jump or loiter on the wormhole, and I'm more interested to see if he comes back. Yes, 'if'.

Whatever the Drake was doing he obviously had to stop, returning only long enough to get his ship safely out of w-space. But another ship decloaks at the wormhole to get my attention, a Helios covert operations boat sitting on top of the wormhole long enough to be making a bookmark before jumping out. Maybe when he sees the exit leads directly to Dodixie he'll bring a hauler through packed with Sleeper loot to sell, hopefully from the C3 so I can catch him in-between w-space systems. Or maybe I won't see him again either.

Instead of the Helios returning another new contact appears, this pilot in a Probe frigate some 250 km above the wormhole, which is curious. Probes can't warp whilst cloaked, which makes me wonder how he got so far from the wormhole in the first place, particularly in a direction not in line with any celestial object. His position suggests he's been in this C2 for quite a while, either sitting patiently at that position or getting there very slowly indeed under normal speed, further reduced by the cloaking device. The frigate launches scanning probes and cloaks again, and even if I had the crazy idea of crawling up to try to decloak him the Probe has shifted positions, making any attempt futile anyway.

On reflection, I would say that the Probe has indeed been there for a while and is keeping a careful watch on the system. Maybe he wasn't so much launching scanning probes as re-launching them, his previous ones almost having perished before being recalled. I don't really know what he is up to, but as his probes disappear immediately, suggesting a blanket scanning configuration that keeps the probes out of d-scan range of the system, it seems likely he's keeping tabs on all ships and signatures in the system. But whatever he's up to I'm not going to catch him, and there's no sign of either the Helios or Drake returning, and the class 3 w-space behind me remains empty. I think I'll call it an early night.

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