Return to Senda

22nd October 2012 – 5.15 pm

Circumstances aren't really awkward. That was a bit misleading. Sure, maybe the critically destabilised wormhole I entered this class 5 w-space system through has collapsed. Maybe the single signature in the system is trivial enough to scan, and the locals had enough of a head start, that there wasn't really a race. And maybe the locals are already collapsing the new connection before I even have it resolved. I've been in worse positions. At least the static connection to class 3 w-space doesn't allow capital ships through it. This makes my escape relatively safe, under certain conditions, even if the locals have seen my scanning probes and are expecting me.

As long as the wormhole is not critically destabilised when I finally reach it, a dreadnought can't jump from the other side and collapse the wormhole just as I decloak in a doomed attempt to jump my own ship through. I won't be stuck in the middle of a cluster of ships, hurtling towards a Revelation today. And my combat scanning probes only picked up a Rokh battleship on sitting on the wormhole, so it doesn't look like ships are passing en masse through the connection at the moment. So without much tension, I drop out of warp next to wormhole stressed to half-mass, jump through, and move and cloak safely on the other side.

The wormhole flares as I move cloaked away from the wormhole. I check my notes as an Onyx heavy interdictor jumps in behind me from C5a, and see that even though my last visit was twenty-one months ago, making most information stale, I have got lucky. The system has a static exit to high-sec. The Onyx bids me farewell in the local communication channel, and as I'm safe, happy to have a decent exit, and they're about to collapse the wormhole—which I notice is now critically destabilised—I give a wave back. I watch as one more trip from an Onyx implodes the wormhole from class 5 w-space, leaving me in empty space. Well, not quite empty, as I remember my directional scanner and update it for the first time in this class 3 system to see ships, probes, and a tower. Maybe I shouldn't have drawn attention to myself in the local channel after all.

Never mind, I have a home system to get back to. Reconnoitring this C3 first locates a Harbinger battlecruiser in the tower I can see, and an elusive Proteus strategic cruiser—cloaky and probably the owner of the scanning probes—seems to be flitting between this tower and second one on the outskirts of the system. I launch my own probes, blanketing the system to reveal five anomalies and three signatures, and for once one of those signatures is not the wormhole I entered through. That's already gone, for those not paying attention. But I'm heading forwards, so resolve rocks, rocks, and the static exit. But before I enter warp a new contact appears in the first tower, the Daredevil frigate warping off to the wormhole moments before I do.

'Shoot it.' This is why Fin is the boss and I'm just a lowly grunt. My only thought was that a Daredevil sitting on a wormhole to high-sec was no credible threat, but Fin's right. I should shoot it. The frigate can't prevent me jumping, and the worst that will happen is it flits around me so fast I can't kill it, or it will bring a friend with more firepower. I'll still have the wormhole to jump through. With newfound clarity, I approach the exit to high-sec, get close enough to jump, and decloak and engage the Daredevil. It returns my target lock and we start shooting each other, but three volleys of my guns, taking the Daredevil from full shields to 40% armour, convinces it to bow out gracefully, and it is the ship that flees through the wormhole.

I follow behind it casually, seeing a Vargur marauder sitting on the wormhole in high-sec, and it occurs to me that maybe the Daredevil was deterring pilots from entering than trying to threaten my exit. I watch the frigate warp to a station, no doubt to repair its armour damage, and I move a little cockily under normal speed under watch of the Vargur. But I cloak my Loki when I realise I have no idea how Concord police aggression works, and if the Vargur could get a shot at me should he be a colleague of the Daredevil's, and although it seems unlikely I'd rather not lose my strategic cruiser from being stupid. Not again.

I'm in high-sec, and in a system in Domain. That's pretty convenient. Scouting from myself, Fin, and Aii has given us a choice of exits, and two are also in high-sec. I can make seven hops in one direction, or nine in another, to get back to a w-space constellation that still connects to home, and I pick the shorter route, setting my autopilot destination to Senda so that I end up passing through a class 2 w-space system I've not yet visited this evening. Stargate hopping in high-sec is unexciting, but livened up by Fin pointing out a local of C2a is in the exit system, sadly doing so in that system's local channel and not our private communications.

I reach Senda, see the C2 pilot, and make my return to w-space. A Cyclone battlecruiser sits in a tower in C2a, which I locate at a tower and sit and watch, whilst Fin gets a cloaky Onyx to the wormhole to high-sec to try to surprise anyone jumping in to the system. She nearly does more than that too, as the pilot spotted in high-sec enters in a shuttle and decides to get clear of the bubble instead of jumping back out. Unfortunately, the shuttle appeared on the opposite side of the wormhole to Fin, and its small signature radius and the signature resolution penalty of the cloaking device on the Onyx means that the shuttle clears the bubble just as Fin gets a positive target lock. Damn, I should have been waiting with my glorious leader, not sat impotently outside a tower.

The shuttle warps to a second tower, but doesn't sit still. It warps away again, towards a planet, but following behind doesn't locate it. The shuttle isn't at the planet or moons, but is within a tenth of an AU from the planet. That's easily scannable. I warp out, launch probes, and warp back, as I cluster my combat scanning probes around the planet. One scan resolves the shuttle's position, and I warp in to see what it's doing. The shuttle's moving, but without any obvious purpose. It's still moving enough that my initial deliberation has put it outside of warp disruption range, and I can't close the range without giving it too much of a chance of fleeing, so I bounce out and scan its position a second time. But, as I do, the shuttle warps clear anyway. I was too slow.

We miss the shuttle, but even though it is far from tough to crack it is difficult to catch. That's probably our excitement for the evening, so we pack up our ships and head home, which is just two wormholes away. We leave C2a for C3a, where I update d-scan as a matter of course. 'Isn't that Bestower new?' I say, and Fin confirms that it is. A narrow d-scan beam puts the hauler at one of the three towers in the system, and I warp there to see it piloted and pointing directly away from a customs office. That's a clear sign that the ship's already collected some planet goo. The only question now is whether he's finished or just dropping off.

The Bestower moves, spinning on its axis and pointing back towards the way it came. 'Second planet, customs office. If you can get there, do.' Fin's ditched the Onyx back at our tower and has leapt in to a Manticore stealth bomber, but she still has to warp to our static wormhole and make the jump. I, on the other hand, am aligned and in warp to the customs office right behind the Bestower. He may be making a repeat trip but there's no telling how many more he'll do, so I have little choice but to engage if I want the shot. I drop out of warp at the customs office, decloak, and burn towards my target as my sensors take their merry time to recalibrate.

I bump the Bestower, as I lock, point, and shoot. The fragile industrial ship doesn't stand a chance, exploding with little convincing required, but the pod isn't too disorientated to be caught when ejected. The capsuleer warps clear, bouncing off a convenient planet before returning to his tower, as I loot yet another expanded cargohold and shoot the wreck.

I apologise to Fin for her missing the ambush and head to the tower to see the capsuleer get back in to the Coercer destroyer we first saw him in a couple of hours ago. He clearly wasn't paying attention then, as Fin scanned the system thoroughly and found the start of our sprawling constellation. And it's been quite an evening. Lots of scanning, a bit of a scanning race, an opportunistic shot at a Daredevil, chasing a shuttle, and finally popping a planet gooer. I think it's time I get some well-deserved rest.

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