A day in w-space

26th December 2011 – 5.17 pm

There's nothing new at home, just rocks and the static wormhole, so I jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to start tonight's exploration. A tower but no ships are visible on my directional scanner, keeping tonight's slow but relaxing start going, and I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. No ships appear in the spheres of my combat probes, but I am shown six anomalies and nine signatures. I bookmark the anomalies and start resolving the signatures, or, rather, ignoring them. It's mostly rocks and gas out here as usual, with a sole magnetometric site that I take time to resolve fully in case Fin turns up and would like to make some iskies. Three wormholes in this C3 are interesting, though.

The wormholes I find are somewhat less interesting when viewed not through scanning probes but on my overview, as I have only found three connections to low-sec empire space, one outbound and two K162s. I exit through the static wormhole first, to share a system in the Black Rise region with two other pilots. Scanning finds a base for Guristas, a K162 from class 2 w-space that is at the end of its natural lifetime, and a radar and magnetometric site each. I don't feel adventurous enough tonight to risk the dying wormhole, instead swapping my scouting Tengu strategic cruiser back at our tower for a Drake battlecruiser and returning to low-sec to clear the radar site for profit and security status.

A Drake belonging to a second pilot is in d-scan range of my own in the low-sec system, and thankfully not to be found in the radar site I warp to, and he stays away as I hack in to the various containers. No rats turn up to try to discourage my pilfering, leaving me with a decent amount of loot but no increase to my sec-status. I turn around, jump back to w-space, and board my Tengu once more. The evening is still young and I have more low-sec to scan. I pick one of the two K162s in C3a and jump out to Domain this time, another quiet system but this time holding a healthy wormhole, a K162 from class 3 w-space. I'm going in for a look.

D-scan is clear from the wormhole and I prepare my probes for a blanket scan. My notes illuminate me a little before I scan, placing me here twice before. The last time I was here, about nine months ago, I pop a Noctis salvager in my stealth bomber, but I see no such activity today. I warp to the tower but find it moved one moon across, then realise there are two towers and it's likely not the same corporation as before. There are also two ships visible inside the second tower, neither the Heron frigate nor Chimera carrier piloted. A mere two signatures convince me to look for a further K162 but I find only rocks to accompany the static wormhole. I return to low-sec.

I again pause my exploration briefly and warp in to an anomaly populated with Sansha rats, easily eradicating them from the system even in my covert Tengu, gaining the security status I wanted from the earlier radar site, before jumping back to C3a and exiting through the second K162 to a third low-sec system, this one in the Placid region. Two extra signatures in this system result in two wormholes, one an outbound connection to class 3 w-space, the other a link to high-sec, a type of wormhole I have not come across before. Despite its novelty I am more interested in continuing my exploration of w-space, jumping through the X702 to C3c.

A Moa cruiser on d-scan is interesting, although it may not be harvesting gas but sitting inside the tower also visible. Having only been in this system five weeks ago I warp across to the tower, only to find it thoroughly bubbled and disabled. All defences have been incapacitated and there are no traces of hangars or other arrays. There was nothing notable about this system on my last visit but a coup has occurred since, the locals perhaps seeing it coming as suggested by a giant secure contained dumped in space renamed to indicate the new hostile occupation. I locate the tower of the victors, with the Moa floating unpiloted inside the active force field, and update my notes.

I don't care to scan for the static exit to high-sec, but just before I warp back to the K162 I entered through I realise the system is bigger than d-scan lets me see. It would be silly not to explore the entire system before deciding it inactive, so warp off to one of the two distant planets. And in the far reaches of the system I see a Heron on d-scan, but adjusting my scanner I see a second off-line tower and consider the frigate to be abandoned and neither worth stealing or wasting ammunition on. But locating this second off-line tower sees no Heron nearby and further adjustments to d-scan place it some 4 AU from the planet. I don't know what it's doing out there, but I'd like to find out.

I warp away, launch combat scanning probes, and cluster the probes around the planet on their 4 AU resolution setting. I pick up the Heron and a signature in roughly the same place, which surely cannot be coincidence. My suspicion that the scanning frigate is sitting on a wormhole is confirmed with a second scan, and it only takes a third before I have both the Heron and wormhole resolved completely. I recall my probes and go to greet the Heron, warping to its position and not the wormhole's, in case one is not sitting on the other.

By finding the Heron I have accidentally scanned the static exit to high-sec I intended not to. And warping to the Heron's position was the right move as the pilot is some 95 km from the wormhole. He's not cloaking, which is curious, and surely sitting on a wormhole to high-sec would be safer than floating uncloaked so far away from it. I'm not going to complain, though. Neither am I going to make any silly mistakes, and rather than decloak and try to catch the agile frigate immediately I close the distance between our two ships first, decloaking only when a pulse of my micro warp drive will surge me forwards to bump my target, denying him the opportunity to cloak or a quick alignment and warp as my sensors recalibrate.

I get a positive lock on the Heron and start shooting. I am expecting no resistance, assuming the pilot to be away from the controls and surprised to see on his rushed return as alarms wail that he's not cloaked. The Heron explodes without a fuss and I catch and hold the pilot's pod, loosing missiles against that new target. It's all a bit clinical and merciless, really. I scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck, at which point I learn a couple of points. First, the Heron wasn't cloaked because it wasn't fitted with a cloak. Second, the pilot is only a day in to his capsuleer career. Oops. Still, a target is a target.

My return to the active tower in this C3 is no longer necessary. I was looking to see if the pilot is a member of the local corporation, but in finding he is only a day old I also see he is not out of the academy. I also note now some core scanning probes in the inner system, probably the ex-Heron's, which shows he was actively scanning. He must have come through another wormhole, his warping from there better explaining his position at the static connection at the range I found him. And in brutally slaying a young capsuleer my evening's expedition draws to a close. There is no change in the systems I travel through to get home, where I drop the corpse and loot in to our hangar and settle down for the night.

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