Scanned and confused

29th July 2012 – 3.54 pm

Looking for more opportunity in w-space today has me finding bookmarks already waiting. A quick check of the home system has no new signatures having cropped up in the few hours since the bookmarks were made, so I jump to a neighbouring class 3 system that looks rather uninspiring. My notes put me in this C3 a couple of weeks ago, but with nothing happening, and with the same tower, a lack of ships, and just a static exit to low-sec empire space it doesn't look like much more will happen today. I can still take a fresh look around with my probes, in case of new connections. And just as I call in my probes to start looking for what may be a new wormhole they light up with two ships appearing in the system.

One ship has gone by the time I switch to check my directional scanner. The other ship is an Anathema covert operations boat sitting on the exit to low-sec, which loiters long enough for me to see it on the wormhole. But it's already too late, as both ships would have seen my probes, and so I have no element of surprise. I've thrown my probes back out of the system and in to a blanket scanning configuration, so that they would disappear whilst remaining useful to me, and as the Anathema warps away they are showing me three ships in the system. All I can see on d-scan is an Orca, which is interesting.

The industrial command ship is probably sat on another wormhole, and perhaps working to collapse the connection. This perks me up, as well as Shev, who jumps in to a stealth bomber and gets ready in case we manage to ambush a fat target. But I can't do anything without scanning for what must be a new wormhole, and there is still one ship in the system on a distant planet that is persisting and I don't know about. Knowing I should check this unknown ship first, I warp across to see a Proteus strategic cruiser on d-scan, along with some ECM drones and a wreck.

The wreck looks like that of the Anathema, from what little I can tell from d-scan, which is pretty much confirmed when the pod of that same pilot bouncing around the system briefly appears near my ship. So the Proteus has popped the Anathema, and it didn't happen at the planet or its moons, the customs office, or an anomaly. I would say I have two new wormholes to look for, and as the Proteus and pod both disappear, and the Orca has gone missing, it seems like a good time to resolve them. I call my probes in again and soon find the outbound connection to class 2 w-space where the Anathema was likely popped, and the K162 from class 5 w-space where I can only assume the Orca poked through.

There's a Proteus on the loose, an Orca somewhere, and nothing happening in this C3. I will have to head elsewhere to find activity, and even though whatever the Orca was doing has stopped—the K162 from C5a isn't even at half-mass—as it's the closest wormhole I jump through the K162 first. I haven't found activity yet, as d-scan is clear, but there is only one planet in range. I explore the system, finding lots of empty ships at one of two towers, as Shev monitors the connection to C2a. 'Loads here, T3 gang', he says, as a squad of strategic cruisers jumps from C2a to C3a. 'Look out.' I return to the wormhole leading from C5a to C3a in time to see it flare, but Shev tells me its only a pod. It is, but it's not the Anathema pilot and neither is it local. I have more wormholes to find.

I launch probes and scan, resolving a K162 from more class 5 w-space. C5b holds another tower but no ships, and still isn't the origin of the original Anathema pilot, who has been spotted out scouting in a new cov-ops boat. I scan again, and again resolve a K162 from class 5 w-space. C5c is big and empty, and the thirty signatures scattered all over the place convince me to stop scanning in this direction for no good purpose. Maybe we can find answers in C2a, even if the Orca remains elusive. I make my way back to C5b, then C5a, where a Tengu quickly cloaks on the wormhole as I enter, although not so quick that I can't identify him. He's in the same corporation as the Anathema, but as I still don't know where they are originating it doesn't help much.

I continue in to C3a and on to C2a, where ECM drones litter the K162. Otherwise the wormhole looks clear, at least for two seconds, at which point a shuttle warps in and jumps. My session change cloak is active, but that doesn't stop me telling Shev what's coming. Sadly, the shuttle appears in C3a too far from Shev for him to disrupt its warp engines, even though he manages to gain a positive lock. I leave them to play as I check d-scan, which shows me more ECM drones elsewhere, a tower, Drake battlecruiser, and the wreck of a Minmatar destroyer. The Drake is piloted at the tower but only seems to be bringing defences on-line, perhaps because of whatever has been occurring, and I am once again scanning.

A lack of anomalies declutters my results, and a mere six signatures are easy to sift through. A static exit to high-sec empire space, despite being at the end of its life, may explain why ships are heading this way instead of using C3a's exit, although the half-mass second static connection to class 1 w-space indicates a few ship transits itself. Naturally, the lower mass limits of wormholes to class 1 w-space could skew the perception of how many ships have passed this way, but it's more than a couple. And two more come through as I try hard to resist the temptation to jump my own ship to C1a, and I watch as a Proteus and accompanying Guardian logistics ship appear and warp away.

Shev sees a Tengu jump in to C3a as the Anathema-affiliated pair warp across C2a towards C3a themselves, and it looks like allied ships are meeting up. But I have no idea what for, or where they'll go next. If the active pilots are w-space denizens living deeper than C5c there must be an awfully convenient connection in the class 1 system for them to travel so far to use it. Or perhaps they are from low-sec and just bumping across w-space systems looking for targets. I could probably tell if I had found their home system. There is the possibility that they are from C1a, which is all the persuasion I need to jump in to check.

Nope, the pilots don't call this C1 home, as another corporation does. An unpiloted Iteron hauler and Magnate frigate sit in the tower, with one anomaly in the system, no wrecks on d-scan, and no combat ships or salvagers to be seen. Maybe they really are travelling through three C5s, a C3, C2, and C1 to reach empire space, but that seems a convoluted route, even for w-spacers. I really ought to resolve the static exit in this C1 to satisfy my curiosity, but I've done enough scanning for this evening, and unless the exit led directly to Jita I'd only end up more confused. I head home, with Shev leading the way, after an evening with plenty apparently happening and us privy to none of it.

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