Getting a jump ahead of a hauler

27th November 2012 – 5.20 pm

I'm off for a cruise, see who I bump in to. Resolving the static wormhole and jumping to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system puts me in directional scanner range of a drone, a few cans, but no towers, ships, wrecks. A blanket scan reveals little else, with five anomalies and three signatures to sort through, and the sole ship turns out to be an unpiloted Archon carrier inside a tower across the other side of the system. It's a different tower from six months ago or so, when I popped a salvaging Noctis trying to shoo my strategic cruiser with ECM, but I suppose sticking a carrier in it means this one's here to stay.

Resolving the two unknown signatures gets me gas and the static exit to low-sec, which I use to reach a system in Genesis populated by one other pilot. I launch probes again and scan, bookmarking one anomaly and sifting through the seven signatures, when an industrial ship appears under the signature I'm resolving, and at the same time a new pilot enters the system. Ships generally appear in empire systems at stargates or near planets, where there are stations, so it's no surprise to see the signature resolve to be a wormhole.

Updating d-scan shows a Bestower crossing my cosmic path, so putting two-and-two together I flag the pilot as a w-space inhabitant, warp to where he came from, and loiter with intent. The wormhole is a half-mass K162 from class 3 w-space, which indicates it is being well used, and loitering here is probably a productive use of my time as I continue to scan. I resolve a second wormhole as I sit next to the pulsating K162, at which point the same pilot as before returns to the system. That's considerate of him to come back so soon. I recall my probes, keep d-scan updated, and when the Bestower comes in range, but before he gets on-grid, I jump to C3b.

The wormhole is clear in C3b, even if d-scan shows me some ships and a hundred or more shuttles, and I hold motionless. I'm hoping the Bestower pilot will see nothing untoward about pilot movement in low-sec, jump through the clear wormhole, and initiate warp as normal. Which he does. The wormhole flares and, with barely a pause, the hauler appears and starts to align probably to a local tower. Now my cunning comes to bear. I shed the session change cloak which, unlike a cloaking device, causes no sensor recalibration delay, allowing me to target the Bestower immediately. Within the blink of an eye the hauler is being shredded by my autocannons.

Perhaps disorientated by what's happening the hauler doesn't return to low-sec, and gets ripped apart by my assault, throwing giant secure containers everywhere in the explosion. The pilot's pod is ejected too, at which point he's in a better frame of mind to warp away before I can stop him. I am left with all the juicy loot he tried to carry back to his tower, which consists of, well, some GSCs. I think I caught him the wrong way on his journey, as the GSCs are all empty, leaving me with just a couple of expanded cargoholds to scoop, before shooting the wreck. Now what?

I locate the tower, which almost interestingly doesn't have the thousand shuttles littered around it. I take a moment to remove the Caldari shuttle from my overview, to make d-scan update without having a fit, and to simplify the results for my feeble mind, and watch as the escaped pilot boards another hauler, this time a Sigil, and start to move out of the tower. His colleagues in an Iteron hauler and Manticore stealth bomber don't seem to care that he just lost a ship to an intruder, remaining stationary. The Sigil leaves the tower under standard drive, cloaks, then reappears to warp to... somewhere.

The pilot doesn't return to the wormhole, to recover the GSCs, at least not directly. He disappears to a point in space, at which point I decide to see if it is a specific point. I launch probes and, seeing eight anomalies and ten signatures, concentrate scanning around the region where the Sigil warped. Sure enough, a wormhole appears, an outbound connection to class 2 w-space, which will have its own empire space connection. This presents a problem, as the Sigil could exit through one way and return through the other route, or the same route, but I'd have to guess. It's still a fifty-fifty chance, and seems kinda risky to me, but that's because I'm just guessing. In fact, the Sigil reappears on d-scan and warps to be a hundred kilometres from the static exit to low-sec, where he cloaks.

I still don't know what the second hauler is doing, and when I see a Buzzard covert operations boat appear on d-scan, which launches probes, followed by a Purifier stealth bomber, I think that maybe I don't care what the Sigil is planning. I could see if I could catch the Buzzard or Purifier, but that seems like more hassle than it's worth, and even though the C2 connection is alluring, I have to assume it is known and probably explored. I will probably have better luck seeing what the other wormhole holds from low-sec.

I leave C3b behind, already happy with the ambush on the Bestower, and warp across low-sec to see a disappointing outbound connection to another low-sec system. But I haven't scanned everything. A third wormhole appears, but again it joins k-space with k-space, linking to null-sec. At least the S199 identifier fills in another gap in my table of wormhole types. Still, as those are the only wormholes in the low-sec system, and they aren't stargates, I continue through the constellation, checking the null-sec link first. I jump through the S199 wormhole to a system in the Pure Blind region, where scanning reveals nothing. Okay, back to low-sec, and onwards through the other wormhole to stay in low-sec.

Now in a faction warfare system in Heimatar I scan again. One extra signature resolves to be a K162 from class 2 w-space, which looks rather lovely, but entering and exploring finds it to be blue-occupied, which seems like a waste of a system. There is a w-space connection to find, though, so I scan, ignoring most of the nineteen signatures to end with a K162 from high-sec, coming from the Placid region, and a static wormhole to more class 2 w-space. C2c holds a tower but no ships, and the three anomalies and six signatures take little time to sweep through to find the static connections to class 4 w-space and high-sec. A quick peek in C4a takes me back to a system last visited a year ago, which is now occupied but inactive, holding a static wormhole to more class 4 w-space.

It's time for food. I have gone down the rabbit hole far enough for now, and I will come back later to explore further. Another C4 gives me more guaranteed w-space to find down the chain, giving me the incentive to come back this way. At least, that's the plan. But travelling back through quiet systems, across low-sec, and to C3a's K162 in the first low-sec system sees the wormhole to be wobbling away at the end of its natural life. I don't know how long it's been like this, as it was stable when I exited, and although it should be fine for a couple of hours I am not going to rush a meal just so I can explore a bit more. I wouldn't say all this scanning has been for nothing, but I'm now not confident that I'll have more to do in this constellation later.

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