Looking for trouble

9th August 2012 – 5.27 pm

Now that's a clean system. Rocks, rocks, and a wormhole. No anomalies. And it's the w-space system we call home. I'd best go next door so that I don't muss up the place and get Fin mad with me. C3a has one of those J-numbers that sounds familiar but really isn't, although it happens to be the system where the tower went off-line as Fin and I passed through it running logistics. We noticed, and ripped the tower's hangars apart, stealing what we could. Great days. Exploring finds a second tower with a Drake battlecruiser piloted inside the force field, but he may as well not be here for the amount of life he's showing.

A blanket scan has reveals two anomalies and four signatures. The system is big enough that I can resolve the signatures without the Drake seeing my probes on his directional scanner, giving me a ladar site and two wormholes to investigate. They aren't exciting, though, being a static exit to low-sec and a K162 from null-sec. Even less exciting, the static connection is reaching the end of its lifetime, and the wormhole in null-sec is heavily bubbled. That's a curious choice from the null-seccers, but if they treat wormholes that way it may be best not to scan for more.

The Drake in C3a is still just a Drake in a tower, and not living up to its potential as a target, and as the evening's early I should probably just collapse our static connection and start again. No procrastination this time, just do it. I return home, board an Orca industrial command ship, and start the wormhole hokey-cokey.

I jump my Orca out,
I jump my Orca in,
Out, in, out, in,
A wild Shev appears,
He boards a battleship,
And helps by adding mass,
And that's what it's all about.

Done. Let's start the evening again.

Our new neighbouring C3 is unoccupied and empty, and stuffed full of anomalies and signatures. The static exit to null-sec probably explains it all, and the lack of obvious K162s reduces us to looking for outbound connections. And we're in luck, as a second weak wormhole turns out to be a super-stable outbound link to class 5 w-space. Well, I say 'luck', I think I mean 'a hell of never-ending class 5 w-space'. But we're both up for the experience, and jump in to see what waits for us.

Nothing waits for us, not on the wormhole and not at the tower on a far planet. Scanning the ten signatures resolves gas, gas, gas—a ship! Of course, if my combat probes can see the ship, the ship can see my combat probes. But at least I actually see the ship, which core scanning probes wouldn't help me with, and I know where to aim to look for the potential wormhole. Two scans and one warp later, and I'm floating next to a critically destabilised connection to class 3 w-space. It's not the chain of class 5 w-space I was expecting, but it being the only other wormhole in the system brings us somewhat to a halt.

It looks like the C3ers were collapsing this connection, maybe not liking having C5 neighbours, even if there's no one home. We wait for the potential polarisation timer to end, but it seems the collapsers are happy to leave the wormhole in a ragged state rather than risk a ship. Or so it seems, because I threaten to jump through to take a look only to have the wormhole flare before I decloak. I stay cloaked, and watch with Shev as an Anathema covert operations boat moves away from the wormhole and disappears.

Well, an Anathema's an odd choice of boat to try to collapse a wormhole with. Or maybe it's a safety net for a big ship that's about to appear. 'Perhaps the Anathema is native to this system', says Shev. Good point, but warping to the local tower doesn't find the ship, and I return to the wormhole where Shev still hasn't seen the cov-ops jump back. Judging by the state corporation the pilot is in, he's probably a simple wanderer that we can ignore. I think I'll poke my Loki through the wormhole.

I could get lucky and find a mining operation in progress that thinks it safe to leave a wormhole critical but alive. Or I could find nothing and still get lucky, collapsing the wormhole on my way back and giving us a new connection in the C5 to explore through. Or I could jump in to a cluster of ships only to have the wormhole collapse behind me. Either way, the uncertainty is thrilling. As it turns out, the wormhole survives and no one greets me on the other side. W-space, it turns out, is better when imagined.

C3b is occupied but inactive, although a Drake blips on a blanket scan, but only the one scan. I poke the seven signatures present to resolve a static exit to high-sec, and one with two wrecks on it. That's odd, as it isn't easy to catch ships on a wormhole that connects to Concord-protected empire space. Three more wormholes resolve to be K162s from low-sec, class 2 w-space, and class 5 w-space. Shev comes to C3b, manages not to kill the critical wormhole with his mighty Buzzard cov-ops, and explores C2a. I have C5b, which I take all of ten seconds to investigate, right up to when Shev calls a Mammoth hauler appeared in the class 2 system.

I rush to join Shev in watching the Mammoth, along with an Orca. They are both in one tower, and although they dare to warp out it is only to second tower. Shev watches the two ships repeat this journey as I explore the rest of the system, finding a third tower with three piloted but seemingly inactive ships. It looks like the locals are moving, either leaving w-space or just moving between moons, as they are taking structures off-line. And when a couple of ships warp to empty space and drop off d-scan it seems they are moving out, which makes it a shame that I know from a previous visit that this C2 holds a static connection to high-sec.

I scan anyway, looking for and resolving the exit to high-sec the locals are using, and watch the Mammoth leave the system. With any luck, the exit is mighty convenient and he'll be back within a couple of minutes, polarised and vulnerable. Sadly, that isn't the case, and I spend a handful of minutes waiting only to see a Rokh battleship also leave the C2. There's probably nothing for us to do here, and so, knowing that, when the wormhole flares to finally bring the Mammoth back I take a pop at it anyway. I decloak, and burn towards the hauler to try to bump it away from the wormhole as I lock on and start shooting.

I get a few good shots at the Mammoth before he jumps back to the security of high-sec, at which point I cloak and move away from the wormhole. Shev reports the Orca pilot swapping to a Rattlesnake battleship that heads my way, and he's joined by a pilot from the third tower now in a Drake to act as muscle on the wormhole. It seems we got their attention, but I don't care to hold it.

At least I shot another ship tonight. We both even get home safely. The connection to C3b remains quiet, and the destabilised wormhole back to C5a survives Shev's jump, and mine following. It wasn't that sickly after all.

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