Caught between reds and blues

19th September 2012 – 5.32 pm

Aii's in our neighbouring system, scanning amongst 'lots of towers, four piloted ships'. That sounds good to me. I poke the home system to confirm there are no new connections, then head through our static wormhole to join my colleague. Four towers light up my directional scanner from the K162, but with only three ships, which are a Hurricane battlecruiser, Damnation command ship, and Bhaalgorn battleship. I'm pretty sure Aii can count better than me, and warping around shows that there is much more to see. More towers, more ships, and 'all the ships are in towers'.

His majesty speaks! Aii's scanning is boring one of the locals, it seems, but there's not much we can do about that. Aii's been looking for the static exit to high-sec empire space that should be somewhere in the system, but I imagine that there's little chance of using it uninterrupted at this point. As much as I don't want to waste any effort put in to scanning, I feel our time will be better spent collapsing out static wormhole and starting with a fresh constellation, rather than risk coming home from high-sec and finding warp bubbles in our way.

Aii's cool with the plan to start again, so we head home and start shoving massive ships through the wormhole. The locals may have found our K162, or they may not, but it doesn't look like it's being monitored as we destabilise it, seeing how the chatty C3er talks to himself. Maybe he doesn't realise that after-images of capsuleers remain in the local channel for a few minutes, even when they've left the system. Regardless, our ships come and go without interruption, and the wormhole collapses with just the right amount of encouragement. We can scan afresh.

The only signature to find at home is the new static wormhole, and we jump through to see a rather less bustling class 3 w-space system. A single tower and lack of ships shows up on d-scan, and my notes even tell me that this system has a connection to high-sec. I feel a bit better about abandoning the previous C3 and it's high-sec static wormhole now. All we have to do is resolve the connection to use it, and I warp out to launch probes and start scanning. Aii sees wrecks on d-scan, though, and Sleeper wrecks too. That's curious, particularly as one of the wrecks is a Sleeper battleship, so that it must be in a combat site.

The most likely explanation for the wrecks is that Sleeper combat was interrupted, so we ought to be cautious. Even so, as long as we don't blithely ignore the warning signs to come here and shoot Sleepers ourselves we should be relatively safe, given that whoever was attacked has disappeared, and I perform a blanket scan of the system to start looking for wormholes. Nine anomalies, thirteen signatures, and a ship light up my probes, where swapping to d-scan spots the Proteus strategic cruiser briefly. We have a cloaky visitor.

I sit watch on the local tower, whilst Aii monitors our wormhole. A scout will likely notice the new connection and want to investigate, whereas a local will probably return to safety of his tower. A second ship appears on my probes, which remain safely hidden outside the system, and the Ares interceptor is good at convincing us that these are hunters and not scouting for Sleepers. Even more convincing is that when the Proteus finds our K162, jumping in and out with the speed of a scout seeing just one signature, Aii pegs the pilot as a member of AHARM. AHARM don't look for Sleepers, they look for other capsuleers.

One Hurricane appears on d-scan near Aii, a second joins him to turn up in range of my d-scan. A Sleipnir command ship comes and goes, and just as I think some combat may start a Buzzard covert operations boat appears at the local tower with the potential to throw a spanner in the works. Can't he see the two Hurricanes in the system? Doesn't he check d-scan before crawling out of the tower's force field to launch scanning probes? And core scanning probes at that! Whatever could have been about to happen may just fizzle now that an unknown has been added to the equation, and one that is scanning. But that just spurs me in to scanning too. If the ships aren't going to be fazed by the Buzzard, what's one more set of scanning probes?

I'm not just going to scan willy-nilly, though. I'm aiming for the ships. The two Hurricanes are sitting together in empty space, and have been joined by an Onyx heavy interdictor, and my curiosity wants me to see what they're doing. I cluster my probes around them and, with ships to aim for, resolve a wormhole indirectly. I warp in, not fearing the Onyx's warp bubble, to get a couple of surprises. First, the wormhole is not a K162 but the system's exit to high-sec. Second, the pilots are blue.

I open a channel to the Onyx pilot, wanting to at least let him know about our presence in the constellation and not give him more surprises, and we share some intelligence. AHARM have connected in to their w-space system and there's been some to-and-fro, and before too long am told that there is a 'big fleet incoming' and that I should 'get safe'. Can do, chief. I remain a safe distance from the wormhole but prepare to shift more if needed, when a couple of Proteuses and a Devoter HIC drop out of warp, two on the edge of the Onyx's bubble and one diving through to the wormhole itself. Some weapon fire is exchanged and the blues are forced to make a tactical withdrawal to high-sec.

A third Proteus warps in a little late to the party, with a Loki strategic cruiser on d-scan somewhere. As my probes are still available I scan for more wormholes, taking my merry time in finding one, and warping to see a half-mass K162 from class 5 w-space: our blue friends' home system, and the one AHARM are currently abusing. That's the only other wormhole I can find, though, and as our allies tell us that AHARM are outnumbering them to the point where we won't make a difference to the odds it sounds like time to call it a night. The Onyx and Hurricanes make it back from high-sec to their C5 home, no doubt with scouts ensuring the route is safe, and Aii and I get home thanks to being entirely ignored. Our exports can wait until another day.

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