Ships passing in the night

19th November 2011 – 3.13 pm

An empty home system makes for a relaxing start to the evening. Scanning finds three new signatures, a magnetometric site I make a note of, a ladar site I activate, and the static wormhole to class 3 w-space. Home system map updated, I jump out to explore. My directional scanner is mostly clear in the C3 from the wormhole, with no towers and no ships, but there are some Sleeper wrecks. Activity, of a sort. I move away from the wormhole and cloak, starting a passive scan. Cor, thirty-five anomalies are in this system, which may make locating the wrecks time-consuming, but I want to see if I can find any active ships first. I warp away from the wormhole so that d-scan can cover the rest of the system.

Dropping out of warp at a distant planet, and still seeing no ships, I launch scanning probes and blanket the system. With so many anomalies present I am supposing there is no occupation, but the system must be enticing to any capsuleers looking to make a profit. Sadly, my probes reveal no ships in the system, and returning to look for the wrecks shows them not to be in an active site. If I am going to find them I'll need to wait for a salvager to turn up, and a Noctis is so efficient that I doubt I can scan its position before it finishes clearing up. There is still a chance the fleet, or single pilot, will return and continue shooting Sleepers, and when a ship blips on to my combat probes I pay close attention.

Swapping from my probes to d-scan I see the newly appeared ship to be a Buzzard covert operations boat, which soon drops from my sensors. An Anathema cov-ops appears too, and when a Drake battlecruiser arrives I start thinking that maybe Sleeper combat will continue, but the Drake disappears just as the cov-ops did. Maybe the ships are merely passing through this C3 to exit to empire space, or they could be returning home after buying a replacement Drake, the cov-ops scouting the route for the new ship. I can't tell without scanning, and as combat is obviously over and I am going nowhere until I find more wormholes I start sifting through the signatures.

I'm assuming that there will be two wormholes within d-scan range of the K162 home, because of the way the cov-ops boats appeared twice in the system. The first time would be when they move away from the entrance wormhole, the second when they move to jump through the exit wormhole. But I only find one wormhole in range, which is the system's static exit to low-sec. I'd be surprised if the battlecruiser and cov-ops were enough to collapse the wormhole, or if they were moving through it so close to the end of its natural lifetime, but as the only other wormholes I find are both N968 outbound connections to class 3 w-space the origin of the ships will remain a mystery for now.

I don't know where the boats came from but I have more systems to explore. One of the C3s has some big ships on d-scan along with a tower, big enough that I am entirely unsurprised to see them all unpiloted inside the tower. And the system is small enough for there to be nowhere to hide, so I don't bother scanning for any new connections and head to the third C3 instead. This time I see a tower with no ships, although that gives the system the same number of pilots present. I have also visited this C3 before, so I know there is only a static exit to null-sec k-space to find, but as there are no further systems to explore just yet I launch probes here and look for additional wormholes.

C3c has nothing of interest to find. How dull. I head back to C3a, where I note the disappearance of the Sleeper wrecks, suggesting that whatever combat happened here happened a long while back, and check the exit to low-sec empire space. I jump through the wormhole to appear in Tash-Murkon, back in a triangular dead end of low-sec systems, where scanning reveals some Sansha rats, a wormhole, a magnetometric site, and a second wormhole. The wormholes are a K162 from class 5 w-space and a K162 from null-sec. The K162 from null-sec is mildly interesting for its lacking a w-space connection, but I'll stick with w-space for exploration and head to the class 5 system. It's only when I drop out of warp with the intention of jumping through that I realise it isn't a K162 but an N432, an outbound connection. That's rather more exciting, giving me the opportunity to catch some capsuleers unawares. In I go!

I could catch capsuleers unawares if there were any in the system. The C5 is empty and inactive, only an off-line tower showing any sign of other pilots having passed through here before. Scanning has me looking through fifteen signatures for the static wormhole, which I finally find to be an H296 to more class 5 w-space. Jumping out further puts me in another unoccupied and empty system, making my grand adventure through dangerous w-space rather bland. I scan again, whittling down the dozen signatures until I resolve the static wormhole, again an H296. This wormhole, though, is at the end of its life, and I am not about to isolate myself from home for no good reason. I hold in this second C5.

That the static wormhole has been opened in C5b means there should be a K162 in here, beyond the one I used, as wormholes can only be opened from the originating side. But if there is one it must surely be as old if not as wobbly as the static connection, and probably not worth finding. I recall my probes and turn around, jumping back through empty system after empty system, only seeing signs of other pilots in low-sec, where the local channel is populated with a couple of other faces. Despite early promise, it looks like tonight will be quiet.

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