Fulfilling the primary mission

16th June 2012 – 3.24 pm

Fin is in Amarr after yesterday's excitement. Let's get her home. There's no chance of a direct connection from empire space, as we reside in class 4 w-space, so we have to rely on the kindness of strange systems. There isn't a suspiciously convenient K162 from class 2 w-space connecting to us today, but scanning doesn't get much easier to start with. The rocks have disintegrated in to dust, leaving only anomalies and our static wormhole as the sole signature. I resolve it and jump to the class 3 w-space system beyond.

Naturally, a tower with no ships is visible on my directional scanner, and not much of a tower at that. There isn't even a hangar to store any ships! One planet with a single moon sits out of d-scan range, which could hold some hope of activity. Then again, I'm supposed to be scanning an entrance for my glorious leader. Concentrate, Penny. I at least have to reconnoitre this system, so warp to the distant planet and indeed find a second tower, but am stuck at the zeroth ship still. My notes, ever helpful, confirm these two towers as being in the same place as five months ago.

A refinery is operating at the second tower, showing the kind of activity that is an hour old or more and certainly not much to get excited about. I've missed the action, or 'action' if it was a mining operation. And apparently, being sluggish at examining my notes for the second time this evening, I missed popping an Orca the last time I was here. The industrial command ship loosed its ECM drones on me, before a Helios sacrificed itself to let the whale escape. I had the last laugh, though, as I popped an Iteron under the nose of its Golem guard. Still, those ships weren't local, only passing through this class 3 system, so I doubt I'll see a repeat performance.

Scanning has eight anomalies and six signatures in the system, from which I get four wormholes and a radar site. That should give us plenty of options. The first wormhole is the static exit to low-sec empire space, which takes me to the Black Rise region and gives Fin a fair distance to travel, but without passing through any notorious systems. 'If C3a has any K162s from low-sec', says Fin, 'they'll be from Aridia'. Nonsense, I reply. If there are any K162s connecting to Aridia, they'll be from high-sec systems. Instead what we get is an N968 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space, a K162 from null-sec k-space, and a K162 from class 5 w-space. I have exploration options, but I am still focussing on getting Fin home.

The class 5 system can be ignored for now, as it is probably the static connection that leads here, and we'd be relying on luck for any K162s to be there. The K162 from null-sec can't be better than the low-sec connection we already have. The N968 leading to C3b, though, will have another exit to find, so I go there to take a look. As is becoming dull to repeat, a tower with no ships is on d-scan from the K162, and warping out bumps me in to a second tower. This one is blue, and Fin recognises the owners. It seems that I have stumbled in to one of the class 3 systems we used to occupy. Knowing this means there will be a static exit to high-sec, which could be better for Fin's journey.

There's not much to look through to find the static wormhole. A blanket scan shows only three anomalies and seven signatures, as well as a Kestrel. The frigate is gone before I can locate him, so I call my probes back in to the system and scan quickly. I have a K162 from class 4 w-space, a radar site, two ladar sites, and a magnetometric site to go with the static wormhole, which indeed leads to high-sec. And, would you look at that, it takes me out to Aridia. I was only joking, you stupid region.

I return to w-space and poke in to C4a, where a tower sits lonely without ships to keep it company, and owned by a corporation red to us, to balance out the blue next door. With no one home, and a C5 to explore a little further back in the constellation, I won't scan here yet. I jump to C3b and in to C3a, where my plan to enter C5a abruptly changes. An Anathema covert operations boat is launching probes off the wormhole, although sadly a hundred kilometres off the wormhole. From that range I have to wonder if he saw the connection flare as I entered the system, but I am pretty sure he'll see my ship appear on his overview. I hold my session change cloak for as long as possible, but I have to break it eventually and move away, hopefully when the cov-ops has warped.

I doubt the Anathema warped away from the wormhole after launching its probes, particularly as it already positioned itself so far away. It's best to assume that I've been spotted. Never mind, I may as well continue my plan and see what's happening in the—hello! Once again, my best practice methods pay off, as I drop short of the K162 to C5a to see two Tengu strategic cruisers and a Drake battlecruiser sitting on top of the wormhole. They aren't moving, and they aren't jumping, so I have to wonder what they're doing here. My best guess is that they were planning to shoot Sleepers in this C3 but their scout spotted me and they're rethinking their plans.

I sit and watch the small fleet for a minute, until they jump through to C5a simultaneously. That was split-second timing too, like a display team, and really quite impressive. I suppose that's the last I'll see of them here. But what's this Noctis doing warping to the wormhole? The salvager lands thirty seconds after the fleet has jumped, and goes through the wormhole itself. I can't believe it! I spur my ship in to action, frustratingly having to repeat my instruction to approach the wormhole, after having backed away from the minimal danger of getting decloaked by the stationary ships, and try to give chase. I burn to the wormhole and jump, but the wormhole is clear, as is d-scan.

I hold my session change cloak on the wormhole, wondering if the Noctis pilot saw me and is waiting for reinforcements to come, but I have to shed that hope once that cloak is also shed. I missed a fat, easy target. The fleet must have already finished shooting Sleepers and been waiting for the salvager to sweep up, with maybe the Kestrel spotted earlier used to hack in the radar site. I even had the site resolved and bookmarked from when I passed through, but it just happened to be out of d-scan range of the K162 for me to see what was happening. I spent my time scanning C3b and reconnoitring C4a when I could have been stalking a target. The stupid fleet even sat on their wormhole instead of guarding the Noctis! That's such bad luck.

As I opine this missed opportunity my communications stop responding, as does my ship. Great, this is another ship systems failure. I'll have to restart. And, just to cheer me up a bit, when I return I am met on the wormhole by an Onyx heavy interdictor, with its bubble activated, and a Harbinger battlecruiser. That wouldn't be so bad if my cloak stayed activated, but the automatic warp back to my position throws me through the wormhole, and I decloak. Thanks for that. There's nothing to do but jump back to C3a and make a run for it, which I manage to do pretty easily. I suppose if the pilots didn't think to guard their salvager and preferred to twiddle their thumbs it's no surprise that they don't react quickly to my Tengu jumping through the wormhole.

I burn away from the K162 in C3a and cloak, getting a healthy distance away from the wormhole before the Onyx appears. I'm already out if its bubble, so I'm not sure what good it does them to bring in the Harbinger and an Oracle battlecruiser, with added Falcon recon ship after a short pause. Nothing's going to happen here, not without my being particularly stupid. I may as well head home and hit the sack, rueing the missed chance of popping another Noctis. Then again, shortly before I evade the Onyx, Fin returns home through the connection in Black Rise, which was my main objective for the night. Mission complete! Play again? [y/n]

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