Scouting around stealth bombers

26th April 2012 – 5.28 pm

Fin thinks we may have a guest. She spotted a covert operations boat briefly on her directional scanner in the home w-space system, after a K162 was collapsed. It's possible the scout didn't get home in time and already left back through the new static wormhole, but we can't discount the possibility that we're being watched. We'll just have to be cautious. All looks pretty clear at the moment, with no ships or spurious signatures at home, leaving just the static wormhole to resolve and explore beyond.

There's lots to see in this class 3 w-space system, but maybe not much happening. A smattering of combat ships and industrial ships appear on d-scan, along with a tower, but there are no cans and no wrecks that would indicate actual activity. I warp out to launch probes, with plenty of space to do so, and a blanket scan of the system shows me eleven anomalies, six signatures, and twelve ships. Twelve? That's two more than d-scan was showing me. Warping back to look for the tower sees a new Iteron hauler on d-scan, which would account for one of the extra ships. He's not at the tower when I find it, but appears a few seconds later. I hope I haven't missed his planet goo rounds.

On top of the Iteron's appearance, a Nemesis and Manticore stealth bomber pair appear outside the tower before cloaking again, which makes me curious as to their affiliation. I also note that a Myrmidon battlecruiser in the tower is piloted, making him the only other pilot I can see. I keep watching d-scan to see the Nemesis and Manticore blip on and off a couple of times, and it is when I see this and note their ship names that I realise they must be local, as all the ships have one character in common somewhere in their name.

I refresh my scanning probe results, getting fourteen ships returned now. That's still too many. I ignore the Iteron, who is probably not going to move again, and warp off to look for a second tower. And there it is, at the edge of the system, holding an unpiloted Covetor mining barge and Mammoth hauler. That's all the ships my probes are showing me accounted for, although the stealth bombers will be coming and going it seems. With the bombers somewhere unknown and the two piloted ships at the tower stationary I think now is a good time to scan those six signatures.

I resolve two magnetometric sites, ignore our K162, and find three more wormholes, which would explain the stealth bombers' jitteriness. Reconnoitring the wormholes shows me a half-mass static connection to high-sec empire space that's reaching the end of its natural lifetime, a K162 from class 4 w-space that's also EOL, and an outbound connection to class 5 w-space that too is EOL. So much for further exploration. I wonder if the stealth bombers are watching the wormholes for ship transits, or are making use of the connection to high-sec. I could maybe find out by jumping through the wormholes and seeing if I'm engaged, but my curiosity doesn't overcome my desire to remain unnoticed.

Returning to the tower to watch the Iteron do nothing sees it doing even less, now that it has no pilot. It's just me and the Myrmidon, and he's probably asleep. There's nothing happening here, and nothing happening at the second tower. It's all a bit dull. And here's my glorious leader. It's all a bit dull, I tell Fin, as she wasn't here a minute earlier to hear it the first time, with the exception of a couple of stealth bombers being mysterious. 'Do you know if they are aware of our wormhole?', she asks, and it's a good question. I don't think so, but it's difficult to prove a negative.

I haven't seen any scouts, either directly or from seeing probes on d-scan. And even if the locals saw my probes when I scanned they could place them as coming from one of the three wormholes already here instead of considering a new connection opened in to the system. Is Fin thinking of collapsing our static wormhole? 'You read me like a trashy novel.' Fin prepares an Orca industrial command ship to start the collapse, and now I'm watching this C3 as a protector. I leave the ships at the tower to d-scan and sit near our K162, just in case the bombers have somehow found our wormhole and pounce on Fin's Orca.

The Orca comes and goes, warping back to our tower without anyone apparently noticing. A second trip is just as uneventful, and a third has me joining in with a Widow black ops ship, just to make sure the wormhole dies on schedule, which it does. Now we are isolated—another scan of the home system ensures this, rather than merely assuming so—and we have plenty of anomalies to burn through. Or maybe smoulder through at a comfortable pace. Our wallet's looking a little light after two recent accidental tower deaths, so it is a good idea to rake in some more Sleeper loot.

We board our Tengu strategic cruisers fit for Sleeper combat and head out to eradicate some of the local population. Combat is smooth and simple enough, and we bounce from one, to two, to three anomalies until we hit my limit for the evening. That doesn't seem like much but class 4 anomalies take longer to clear than class 3s, and the profit's better anyway. Our two Noctis salvagers sweep up the wreckage and bring back about 360 Miskies in loot, giving us a pretty decent haul. We weren't even shot at, which makes this another successful evening.

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