Scan, rat, scan

23rd April 2012 – 5.31 pm

Fin's lamenting the loss of another Tengu. Her strategic cruiser got tangled in the defences of a tower until the accidental game of pachinko became deadly. Accidents happen, and we can cover the loss. Of course, as I found out recently, the real inconvenience is not to our corporate wallet but in getting to and from empire space to buy the replacement. And now, as I have probes launched and am orientating myself in the home w-space system, I notice that we are also missing an Orca.

Thankfully, the large and expensive industrial command ship hasn't been destroyed, it's just not in the system. In her efforts to replace her scouting Tengu Fin collapsed our static wormhole several times looking for a decent exit to empire space. Instead she got exits to Aridia, Black Rise, and Placid, at which point our wormhole died in suspicious circumstances. This left Fin in an unkempt system with many signatures to sift through and without an optimised scanning boat. Much frustration ensued. Hopefully my scanning tonight will reveal a better exit and get Fin and her ships home.

There are two wormholes in the home system again today. Our static connection to class 3 w-space is joined by a K162 from class 2 w-space, which would look much more attractive if it weren't wobbling like a jelly. I thought it looked fine a minute ago, as I was making the bookmark, so either I wasn't paying close enough attention then or the wormhole has only just entered old age. As I can't reliably determine which case is true I'll leave the K162 alone for now and explore C3a, at least to find an exit.

My notes for the C3 say I am in an empty system that holds a connection to null-sec k-space, which may be good for shooting Sleepers with Fin but not so good for getting my stranded colleague home. My directional scanner tells me about the same story as my notes, with nothing but an off-line tower in range. Assuming nothing has happened in the six weeks since my last visit to this system I launch probes and blanket the system, only to see a ship highlighted by my combat probes, sitting alone amongst the five signatures and seventeen anomalies. That doesn't fit with the system being empty.

I warp off to explore, seeing a Tornado battlecruiser on d-scan along with an active tower. W-space systems don't stay empty for long these days, I suppose. Locating the tower finds the battlecruiser unpiloted, giving me little to do but continue scanning, so I whittle down the handful of signatures until I am left with bookmarks for two gas sites, a magnetometric site, and the static connection to null-sec. Jumping out of w-space lands me in the Fountain region by myself, which doesn't help Fin much with bringing her Orca home but gives me another chance to rat. Oh joy.

I bump in to a couple of rat battleships in the first rock field, which I pop for a gain to my security status and some pocket ISK, and then head back to w-space. I'll be back later to pop another rat or two, but now that I have the exit through the C3 I can chance the ageing K162 to C2a in the home system, if it's still there. And it is. I jump in to the class 2 system to see some Manticore stealth bombers on d-scan, along with three towers. I imagine the Manticores are at the towers, otherwise they are doing a poor job of being stealth bombers, but where the towers are I don't know.

As I consider warping off to launch probes, thinking that if there are only a few signatures here I can scan to maybe find a better exit, as I know this C2 holds a static connection to high-sec empire space, one of the Manticores is replaced by a Tengu. The change of ship grabs my interest, and the launching of a combat scanning probe punches it in the throat. Is he launching the probe because he knows this wormhole is about to die, or is he keeping a watchful eye on the system as he prepares to shoot Sleepers? A passive scan of the system reveals one anomaly, which could be new and his target, but as more probes get launched it becomes clear this Tengu is going to scan.

There is nowhere to hide in this C2, being a small enough system that d-scan covers all of the planets wherever you sit. I can't launch my own probes without being spotted, particularly as the scout is launching combat probes, and I am now getting paranoid that he knows this dying wormhole is about to implode. I may have a route home should I get isolated, but I'm not keen on making my way through null-sec pipes to get there. I leave this C2 through the wobbly wormhole and head back to null-sec. I can scan there to see if there are any further wormholes that could provide a shortcut.

There are other pilots in the null-sec system when I return to it, but that's okay. I'm here to scan, not rat. I warp out, launch probes, and find one extra signature to resolve, as the pilot numbers go down from three, to two, and then just me. Okay, I can rat and scan. Multi-tasking Penny! To be fair, holding a tight orbit around a rat battleship with my launchers active doesn't take much effort, and as the local channel offers immediate notice of pilots entering the system I feel pretty safe ratting on automatic as I scan. The other signature is only a magnetometric site, though, there being no alternative route here. As much as I'd like to get Fin home I don't think I'll manage it tonight.

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