Missing messing with miners

6th November 2012 – 5.15 pm

I appear in the home w-space later than usual, but still with no one around. And although the anomalies are building up there remains just the static connection to resolve. Jumping through puts me in to a neighbouring class 3 system that looks clear according to my directional scanner, with one planet out of range. That planet has just one moon, and there is no tower anchored to it, which makes the twenty-seven anomalies in the system an unsurprising discovery from a blanket scan. I ignore them for now, and start sifting through the ten signatures.

A second wormhole to go with the static exit to low-sec empire space would be more interesting if it weren't a K162 from null-sec, and at the end of its life, so I simply exit to low-sec to see where I'm taken. The system in the Metropolis region is involved in faction warfare, and offers me two additional signatures to resolve, both of which turning out to be wormholes. The outbound connection to class 5 w-space is neat, and will give more w-space to find, but the K162 from class 3 w-space offers more immediate potential for activity and I head that way first.

All C3b has to offer is a tower with no ships or pilots on show, and scanning the few signatures only finds a K162 coming from more low-sec space. Preferring to stick to w-space, I return the way I came and jump to C5a, prepared to see how deep this rabbit hole goes. D-scan is clear from the K162, and a blanket scan shows a mere three anomalies and four signatures, which strongly suggests occupation somewhere in the system. I locate the tower, not in any great hurry as my combat probes didn't show any ships, and resolve the signatures.

A C140 connection to low-sec won't be the static wormhole, nor will a ladar site, so my vast experience of w-space is telling me. Which just leaves, would you look at that, a wormhole to deadly class 6 w-space. But experience has also told me that C6 systems are generally more afraid of you than you are of them, so I bookmark this side, jump through, and see what d-scan will show me. Nothing. And a passive scan picks up a whopping forty-two anomalies, so I'm guessing no one lives in the system.

A quick warp around confirms a lack of occupation, but thankfully a janitor must come in occasionally to sweep up the mining sites, as there are only sixteen signatures, and not the dozens I was expecting. A wormhole to more class 5 w-space appears soon enough, and I continue through the constellation to another empty system. This time, there are few anomalies and more than a handful of signatures, and I'm starting to get tired. I get my scanning chops working, plucking an EOL K162 from class 5 w-space out from the mess, followed by an H296 that continues the C5 chain. That'll do, donkey.

Down deeper I go, where a Moros dreadnought, Rapier recon ship, and two Mammoth haulers appear on d-scan along with a tower. That could be interesting, as does my notes indicating the system holds a static connection to class 4 w-space, but warping to a tower apparently unmoved in two years shows that the ships are piloted in precisely the opposite way I was hoping. The Moros is piloted, as is the Rapier-turned-Helios covert operations boat, and the haulers are empty. That's a shame, and as the piloted ships aren't moving I warp out, launch probes, and scan.

Seven anomalies and six signatures don't take long to sift through, and ignoring an EOL K162 from null-sec, a radar site, and some gas, I resolve the static connection. I scanned it, I may as well use it. Hello! A Navy Raven battleship, Tengu strategic cruiser, Nightmare battleship, and two Scimitar logistics ship must be up to something. There's no tower in d-scan range and there are Sleeper wrecks, although the ships are in neither of the two anomalies a passive scan picks up.

Expecting the fleet to be in a combat site that needs to be scanned for, I warp to the only planet out of range, partly in a bid to launch probes covertly, and partly to see if there is a tower with more active pilots. There is a tower, with more pilots potentially watching d-scan, and it isn't out of d-scan range of the fleet. If that weren't frustrating enough, my ship decides that the best time to stop responding to my commands is when I'm sat cloaked outside the tower as the Navy Raven returns. Thanks, ship. I reboot it with a hammer, knowing full well that my cloaking device will deactivate as I do. But I don't really have a choice.

I return to space in a mostly working Loki strategic cruiser to an odd sight. Rather than the locals abandoning their operation, because of a known hostile pilot in the system, I see two Hulk exhumers warp out of the tower towards empty space. I don't quite believe that they would be entirely oblivious to my presence, and would start mining, after clearing Sleepers from a rock site. And I'm justified in this lack of belief. I launch probes quickly, somehow forgetting that I can't get out of range of the site and that I must be completely visible for half-a-minute, and start hunting the exhumers only to see that a Scimitar is staying in the site with the Hulks.

A Noctis salvager and Buzzard cov-ops also remain in the site, for reasons I can't really guess at, but I imagine the Scimitar is there to keep the exhumers alive long enough for me to get ripped to shreds by whatever response the locals clearly already have planned. So even though I arrange my probes neatly around the Hulks in space, my intent is mostly to see if I can spook them. That is, until a pilot at the tower swaps to a Buzzard, warps two hundred kilometres out of the tower, and launches a deep space scanning probe. Maybe I can shoot him instead.

Scanning for a ship on-grid is pretty easy. Arrange probes in a tight, minimum-range configuration, place them on top of your position, and scan. I get a hit on the Buzzard immediately, and, because he's far enough away, I warp to his position, dropping a little short out of caution. I am hoping the cov-ops will recall the deep space probe and start throwing core or combat probes in to space, which will make cloaking awkward for him, at which point I can throw him a surprise party. But he instead warps back to the tower, just to annoy me. Okay, game over, man. Game over. I head home through dead systems, and go off-line. I suppose I never really had a shot at these miners, with nowhere to hide, and at least it got my blood flowing a bit.

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