Scanning signatures and watching ships

19th March 2012 – 5.40 pm

Ah, back to normal. I hope. I'll need to replace the Legion strategic cruiser I lost, in order to get back to where I was, but with any luck all should be tickety-boo as far as flying in space. And getting a new ship pretty much depends on the kindness of w-space, which is a pretty capricious mistress at the best of times. I ought not to make specific plans to get the replacement Legion, or I'll doom us to find exits to Aridia for the next month. As always, the evening starts by scanning the home system, where two new signatures resolve to be some more rocks and a K162 wormhole from class 5 w-space. My glorious leader, suffering intermittent connection problems herself, spies a Legion on her directional scanner whilst my probes are busy on the other side of the system, and it could be from the C5.

I have to decide which way to look first, either in to the C5 or through our static connection to class 3 w-space. The Legion is probably from the C5, but I can't tell whether he went back there or passed through to the C3, where he could be scanning or even shooting Sleepers. I think I'll press on to the C3 to get a better idea of what the Legion's up to before heading backwards. Jumping through our static wormhole sees a tower on d-scan along with an Onyx heavy interdictor, bringing up different possibilities for tonight's activity. I was in this C3 sixteen months ago, when it was a silo system, and although the occupation has changed the static wormhole will remain an exit to high-sec empire space. It's possible the Onyx is sitting on the wormhole, warp bubble inflated, looking to trap pilots hoping to warp to a safe exit.

It's a bit too simple to check where the Onyx is. A quick sweep around the planets with d-scan on a narrow beam shows the HIC to be coincident with the tower. And although it's possible the K162 I'm on, the tower, and the static exit here are all sitting on a straight line with each other the odds of that being the case are slim. I warp to the planet, locate the tower, and indeed find the Onyx to be sitting inside the force field, unpiloted. The C3 seems to be inactive, with no sign of the Legion either. I warp out, launch probes, and start to scan. Returning to loiter at the tower now sees some core scanning probes mingled on d-scan with my combat probes. Maybe the Legion is here after all. Either way, I can ignore a cloaked and scanning ship as I also sit cloaked and scanning.

Two anomalies and twelve signatures is not much to sort through. I resolve the static wormhole to high-sec and sit there instead of outside the tower, hoping to catch sight of the Legion investigating the exit system, but finding a second wormhole draws me away. As interesting as a K162 from class 2 w-space is, that it is reaching the end of its lifetime makes it less likely a scout has come from there, or a scout will go there, and so back I head to the exit wormhole. A third wormhole also takes me away from the exit to high-sec, but again I only find a connection at the end of its life, this one from class 3 w-space, and so not likely to tempt a scout through. And that's all there is of interest in this system, the rest of the signatures being mostly pockets of gas.

The other scout is still scanning, his core probes floating around the inner system, so I jump to high-sec to reconnoitre the exit. Erk, I'm in Gallente space! I suppose I'm not far from Dodixie, but I could be much further away if I tried. I jump back to w-space and wonder what to do next. Oh, I know. I could take a look through the EOL wormholes here, as I have a convenient route through high-sec back home should the connections collapse behind me. With any luck, I'll find a pilot or two collecting planet goo or mining under the misguided impression that wobbly wormholes make them safe from incursions.

I find little in C3b, although my notes from nine months ago comfort me in showing this system also has a static exit to high-sec. I have time to look around, and if I get isolated I should have a pretty easy trip home. The tower I had noted has expanded to cover three moons now instead of one, if it's the original, but no one is home. I don't see much point in scanning, so I return to C3a through the still-present wormhole and warp across to look in C2a. My last visit to this class 2 system was also nine months ago, one day after I was last in C3b in fact, although I appear to have noted the wormhole connections incorrectly. That's okay, my notes are mutable. What surprises me, though, is not the coincidence of my previous visit dates but the five Orca industrial command ships on d-scan. Sure, there's a tower and Chimera carrier too, but I see plenty of them. I don't think I've seen so many Orcas in one place before.

It's no surprise to find all the Orcas and the Chimera sitting unpiloted in the local tower, although warping around to explore finds two more towers and another unpiloted Orca. I'm not quite sure what they would do with them all. Even so, I still haven't found any pilots, and the second static wormhole here will only lead to empire space and not w-space, so I head back to C3a again. And now I find pilots, as an Orca and Legion are now on d-scan. Not only that, but a pilot pipes up in the local communication channel, a blue pilot too. Blue is friendly, so I say hello back, then get to working out where he is and where he's come from. That bit turns out to be easy, as he is sat in his Orca in the tower here, so he's local. Another chap who says hello is neither blue nor local, but he also doesn't belong to the corporation the allied Orca pilot mentions. There is more to discover here, particularly with a couple of pods blipping on d-scan. I think I need to visit the C5.

Ignoring the blue pilot I jump home and warp across our system, stopping short of the K162 from class 5 w-space. I update d-scan to see a pod somewhere in the system, so I hold my position as, sure enough, he lands on the K162 and jumps through. It looks like the C5ers are exporting ships. The question is whether they will export one I can engage. I suspect not, particularly as there is confirmed activity in C3a, which will give the C5ers reason to guard their more fragile ships, and there is the possibility that the Legion is still around and perhaps providing such an escort. Either way, I'm going to take a look in the C5, once I leave enough time for the pod to clear the other side of the wormhole. And it's good that I wait, as the wormhole flares as I approach.

I turn my ship around from the K162, not as a panicky defence but to align to our static wormhole. If this is a juicy target I want to give chase. Naturally, it isn't, the Absolution command ship being a rather tough nut to crack for me, but at least I was ready. I watch the Absolution warp away and then I approach the wormhole again, this time jumping in to the C5. There's a tower on d-scan in the system, but the Rapier recon ship, Cynabal cruiser, and Ares interceptor also on d-scan are precisely the kinds of ship I rather didn't want to see. Any of them pose a credible threat to my own ship, perhaps not by themselves but as a way to keep me in place until reinforcements come. And, as if by magic, the Ares appears.

The interceptor lands on the wormhole as I am interpreting my initial d-scan result. I don't do anything stupid, though, and merely let the session change cloak hold for now. Thankfully, the Ares jumps through the wormhole, letting me move away from the wormhole and activate my module cloak so I can be permanently hidden if I so desire. Even so, I remain in the C5, potentially with an interceptor covering my return home, and I am not going to put a dent in any of the ships I've seen so far. As if to prove my vulnerability, a Loki strategic cruiser lands on the wormhole and jumps to our home C4, followed seconds later by a Purifier stealth bomber. Now, the stealth bomber may be a target, but only if it reveals itself and it won't do that without support. All I'm really seeing is more pilots.

I think I'll just head home, hide in a corner, and let this corporation export their ships to high-sec. And that would be a really good idea if I hadn't taken time to jot down that thought on my notepad, because in the time it took the Cynabal has moved from being visible on d-scan to being visible in front of me. The fast cruiser is now sitting on the wormhole with me and doesn't look like he's planning to jump. I want to, though, as I'm not sitting here doing nothing all night. I should be able to evade the cruiser, but what's concerning me is what ships are waiting on the other side. I really hope the Loki and Ares have been exported and are not looking for opportunistic scouts like me. I have little choice, so I approach the wormhole, decloak, and jump.

The session-change timer is meaningless at times like this. Either I get away from the wormhole safely or I don't, and moving as soon as possible actually gives me an advantage, as the reaction times of the Cynabal pilot come in to play. I don't think he was actually expecting to see a ship, to be honest, as I get ten kilometres from the wormhole before he appears behind me. I would like to say I was worrying about nothing, but I can only know that in retrospect. Still, I'm home and safe. I open the system map and pick a safe spot out of d-scan range of both wormholes here, where I plant myself for the night. And I've had no crashes so far.

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