Looting in low-sec

14th August 2012 – 5.20 pm

Gas, gas, rocks, and a magnetometric site. The Sleepers are stirring in the home system again. I activate the new sites, so that they will stop cluttering my scan results within a few days, and resolve and jump through our static wormhole to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system. A tower is visible on my directional scanner from the K162, along with a Hurricane and Tornado. I suspect the battlecruisers aren't active, though, not without any wrecks that I can see. Warping to the tower—in the same position from four months ago—shows the Tornado to be empty and the Hurricane piloted, and a poke around the system shows him to be the only obvious pilot. As he's not doing anything, I scan.

Nine anomalies and nine signatures isn't much to sort through when looking for wormholes, particularly when one signature lurks almost 6 AU beyond the system's most distant planet. It couldn't be more obviously a wormhole unless it had a big arrow pointing to it labelled 'unstable wormhole' on the system map, which it soon does. It's the static exit to low-sec empire space, and that's good enough for me for now, seeing as I've been able to resolve it without my probes coming in to d-scan range of the tower. I can leave the Hurricane floating in his tower hopefully unawares of my brief visit, so that maybe I can come back and surprise him later.

I exit w-space to appear in Solitude, but with one other pilot in the low-sec system the region really ought to be renamed. The presence of another pilot deters me from ratting on automatic as I concentrate on scanning, but he won't stop me scanning itself. Then again, what will stop me from scanning is interpreting what d-scan is showing me. Towers and empty ships aren't an uncommon sight in empire space, and I mostly ignore them as being uninteresting. I don't need to sit outside them to monitor new traffic, as the bizarrely transparent local communication channel is a better tool for that, and with space stations offering better facilities and storage it doesn't seem that many pilots use towers exclusively, unlike in w-space.

But this tower on d-scan interests me, because it has a corporate hangar array and ship maintenance array, but no force field. Off-line towers are like catnip to w-spacers, and I immediately recall my two hastily launched probes, activate my cloak, and use d-scan to locate the unfortunately unpowered tower. I warp in to take a look and, sure enough, I see the off-line tower and associated modules, waiting for someone like me to come along and crack them open. Luckily, this low-sec system doesn't appear to be well-travelled, and the lone pilot who was here before has now left, so I approach the tower, decloak, and start shooting.

My poor security status will take another hit for destroying these hangars, but it may be worth it. At least, I hope so, as the tower belongs to a two-member corporation. Maybe there won't be much to find after all. The SMA is my first target, and it explodes with a gratifying explosion but disappointing complete lack of ships being scattered around. That's unfortunate, but not completely surprising. I continue shooting, turning my attention to the CHA, and it's not long before a second explosion throws a couple of cans in to space. A quick peek inside shows some loot, but just as a new contact enters the system. My paranoia makes me back away and cloak, if only to see what happens.

I'm not quite expecting one of the two owners of the tower to appear, but my mind is telling me it's a possibility. What actually happens is even more unlikely: I'm recognised. The new pilot in the low-sec system greets me in the local channel, which I first take to be subtle hostility disguised as general friendliness, an attempt to make me relax my guard, until he asks if I'd shoot another ratting w-spacer. I'm not quite used to this, as w-space hides pilots from local comms unless we foolishly reveal ourselves, so there is little opportunity to be recognised. But I suppose I could get used to it.

My fellow w-spacer, Elroy Skimms, is bouncing through low-sec ratting, and I'm fine with letting him gain some security status. And even though he asks, I'm not quite so fine with letting him know how I managed to get a global criminal cool-down on myself in an otherwise empty system, so I am a little coy about it. I'm cloaked nearby the cans spat from the CHA of the off-line tower, close to my loot but not able to carry it away just yet. I'm going to need a bigger ship. I should be okay with keeping it all to myself, as long as I'm not stupid. Cans on d-scan look like any other cans on d-scan, unless some blabbermouth boasts about just having popped an off-line tower's CHA, and then they look decidedly like loot.

Rather than appear to be in the low-sec system without a purpose I get back to my original plan. I launch probes and scan, although it seems that Elroy's wandered a little from his exit system. The only other wormhole in the system disappears before I warp to it, leaving me with sites I don't care about. I chat a little longer with my fellow w-spacer, who points me to a class 2 w-space system one hop across, and explains his official title of trophy wife, before wanting to get back to business. I remain paranoid and, on jumping back to C3a, hold on the wormhole in w-space for a couple of minutes, in case he intends to follow me.

No one jumps through the wormhole behind me, so I am probably safe for now. I head home, swap my scanning boat for a Bustard transport ship, and return to low-sec. The system is now empty, Elroy having moved on himself, and I am free to grab the loot in the cans. There's not much of it but what's there is voluminous, and will pose the same logistic problems getting it to market as getting it home, but the reward seems worthwhile. A handful of fighter drones fills up my Bustard for the first trip, and returning lets me grab a few more fighters and ironically a bunch of Minmatar fuel blocks. We can't use them, but they're worth some petty iskies.

I get to and from the tower in low-sec without being interrupted, and my two Bustard trips net me about a quarter of a billion ISK in loot. Even with a knock to my security status, that's not to be sniffed at. To end the evening, I get back in my scanning boat and see if the Hurricane has moved yet, having passed him in the Bustard each time, only to find out that he's now gone off-line. That's good timing, thanks for that. But an empty neighbouring system and an empty low-sec system turns out to be a good situation, as it means Aii can come home. I hadn't realised he'd got locked out again, but that's okay. I update him on the status of the constellation, then turn my boat around so I can get some sleep.

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