One step behind

18th May 2012 – 5.19 pm

Let's see what's changed since yesterday. Nothing, that's what. The sole signature in the system sits on top of the bookmark I made of yesterday's unopened static wormhole, and although it's been known for subsequent wormholes to appear in the same place it's more likely in this case that the unopened connection has remained unopened. That's a good sign that we're not being stalked. Now to see if I can be the stalker, as I warp to the wormhole to finally open it, and jump through to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.

My directional scanner is clear from the K162. There's one planet out of d-scan range, so I launch probes, blanket the system, and warp to the distant planet. I see two towers, two Iteron haulers, and a Heron frigate on d-scan, as my probes inform me that the three ships are the only ones visible in the system. The ships all appear to be at one of the two towers, which I locate and warp to in time to see the Heron get swapped for a Drake and warp out. One of the Iterons at the tower is piloted, which could give me a soft target if he decides to collect planet goo, but for the moment I'm more interested in what the battlecruiser is doing.

It's possible the Drake is warping to the single anomaly in this C3, but refreshing my probes, still hidden and covering the entire system, has the ship no longer in the system. I think I'll scan, with no battlecruiser to find and the hauler perhaps not paying attention. Five signatures don't take long to resolve, and I find two wormholes. Two rubbish wormholes. One is a K162 from high-sec empire space, stressed to half-mass, the other a static exit to high-sec that's reaching the end of its life. If I had to guess, I'd say the Drake went through the K162, which probably comes from a more convenient system than their static goes to. Either way, there's no catching a ship easily on such a wormhole.

Just as I think nothing's going to happen here I spy the Iteron on d-scan, out of its tower. I open the system map and point d-scan at the two wormholes, but the hauler is at neither of them. That probably leaves customs offices as the only feasible place to find the ship, so I start sweeping d-scan around and give chase. I spot the Iteron at one planet and warp there to see empty space. He's moved to another planet, but again I am too late to see the ship collect planet goo. I am one step behind, not knowing the next destination, but as I am in a ship that can enter warp a little faster than the Iteron I eventually catch up in time to see the hauler warp away. I'll get you next time, Gadget.

I follow directly behind the Iteron, hoping that my more agile ship will gain a little advantage in warp, and it looks like I have him at last. I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and lock on to the fragile hauler. Or maybe I don't, as the Iteron slips away from my warp disruptor. He's still not heading home, though, and so I follow again, dropping out of warp with more time than before, but now the Iteron pilot knows someone is chasing him. I try to gain a positive lock once more, and once more the hauler shrugs it off, this time warping back to his tower, perhaps fleeing without collecting the planet goo at this customs office.

My strategic cruiser is left lonely at the planet, no doubt thwarted again by warp core stabilisers. Never mind, but that's the end of the chase, and probably any fun we could have in this system. It's best to collapse our wormhole and look for targets who don't yet know we're watching them. My glorious leader boards an Orca industrial command ship and starts pushing it through our static wormhole, and I help stress it with my Widow black ops ship. The collapse goes like clockwork, just as a Russian-named Helios covert operations boat appears on d-scan in the home system. We have a visitor.

I was going to scan anyway, what with having a new wormhole to find, so I board my Tengu and take a look around. I resolve the replacement static wormhole and Fin is persuaded to stick a ship on the other side, in wait for the Helios, as I find a K162 from class 4 w-space now in our system. Curiously, the Helios is still scanning as I recall my probes. There are only two signatures in the system and the Helios must know one is the K162 he appeared through, so I'm not quite sure what's taking him so long. Still, the probes disappear and... nothing.

And still nothing. The Helios doesn't even blip on d-scan like he's heading home. The question is whether or not I jump through the K162 in to the inevitable waiting ambush. 'I was thinking the ambush was heading my way', says Fin, showing the healthy paranoia we both have about w-space life. At least there are no obvious ships in our home system, so if anyone is going to get ambushed it looks like it will be me. So that the loss will be cheaper, I swap my Tengu for a stealth bomber back at the tower and, having given up on waiting for the Helios, I warp across to the K162 and jump in to C4a.

The wormhole is clear, d-scan is clear. It all looks rather plain. I explore the system, warping across the centre of the system to still see nothing on d-scan, until I reach the final planet, where I see an active tower. No one's home, though, so either this isn't the home of the Helios or he's really not much of a threat. Either way, we can't really ignore him. Not that there is a lot we can do anyway. Fin sees nothing in C3a, from waiting for the Helios there, and poking around further in a scanning boat has the system unoccupied and holding a static exit to null-sec k-space.

Exiting the C3 puts us in the Stain region, with five other pilots in the system and probes visible on d-scan. With another scout active it probably isn't worth scanning ourselves, it's not safe to rat, and there isn't anything we can safely do in w-space. That's okay, as it's getting late. I think it's time to get some rest. We've had a pretty full evening of scanning, chasing, and stalking, even if we have nothing obvious to show for it. But such is life in w-space.

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