Penny in the middle

4th February 2013 – 5.08 pm

More signatures light up my combat scanning probes in the home system. The same number of anomalies remain, and the signatures are weak, so will be Sleepers and not wormholes. All looks quiet. I resolve the static connection and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to look for activity. I may have found it too, with two Tengu strategic cruisers, a Noctis salvager, Badger hauler, Buzzard covert operations boat, and two towers visible on my directional scanner. There are no wrecks or canisters, however, so maybe there's less going on than my imagination wants there to be.

A Nemesis appears on d-scan, so there must be a pilot awake somewhere. Locating the two towers finds all ships but the Nemesis, and all empty, sadly. But the Nemesis being elsewhere shows that there is probably more to find, so I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system. Six anomalies and four signatures offer little resistance, giving me gas, a static exit to high-sec empire space, and a K162 from class 5 w-space. With a convenient high-sec connection I exit w-space to bookmark a safety route home, appearing in a system in Kador, close to Amarr.

Buzzard warps to C3 K162 in high-sec and jumps

I would consider getting fuel, but both Fin and I have recently brought back plenty, so instead wait for polarisation effects to dissipate and, well, watch a Buzzard appear on the wormhole and jump to C3a. A Devoter heavy interdictor appears behind the Buzzard, but without the intention of trying to catch the cov-ops, being from the same corporation. The HIC cloaks on the high-sec side of the wormhole, which is curious behaviour, and I orange his corporation to check which other colleagues he has locally. None. Even curiouser.

Devoter chum of the Buzzard appears too

I loiter for a while, wondering what the Devoter will do, but nothing happens. The ship can't warp cloaked, so he hasn't left the wormhole, and the Buzzard hasn't come back from w-space. I could jump to C3a and check C5a, but I'd rather not be so obvious in the known presence of other pilots. Being in high-sec gives me the solution, as stargate travel is pretty safe out here. I hop one system across and scan for more wormholes. This way, I get to continue my explorations without making myself a target.

Four signatures are in the second high-sec system, giving me rocks, more rocks, and outbound wormholes to class 2 and class 3 w-space. That'll do, pig. I land at the entrance to C3b last, so enter there first. Or would, but wormholes are dangerous! Do I really want to enter? Yes, you stupid machine, I do. I spend my life in w-space, transiting wormholes. I knew yesterday's reset of all settings would bug me for a while. Still, I get to C3b without any further hassle, putting me in a rather unremarkable system.

C3b has occupation and no activity. Scanning the six anomalies and eleven signatures for wormholes finds three of them. The first is a K162 from more class 3 w-space, the second an ageing K162 from high-sec, and the last the static exit to low-sec, in d-scan range of a can labelled 'sucky place'. I remember this system now, and, yes, it is a sucky place. C3c beckons. But jumping through the K162 is uninspiring. A tower, no ships; no interest. I'm not scanning, not with a link to class 2 w-space back in high-sec, so turn my ship around to explore the better option.

Jumping in to C2a doesn't look much more attractive, with d-scan clear, and a blanket scan reveals only twelve anomalies and signatures each, still no ships. But there is more w-space to find, so I sift through the signatures. A really weak wormhole turns out to be a static connection to class 6 w-space, which is neat, and as I don't care to find the k-space wormhole I recall my probes and plunge deeper in to the constellation. D-scan shows me a tower, Buzzard, and some probes. And some more probes. Three sets of probes, by the looks of it, making this system active for at least some scouts. I add my own probes to the mix, hoping they'll get lost in the noise.

Seven anomalies and six signatures are whittled down to be a wormhole, a radar, ladar, gravimetric, and second ladar site, and a second wormhole. And despite scanning not taking long, by the time I've finished only my probes remain in the system. No ships have passed me on the way to C2a, though, so I'll be relying on the other wormholes to give me ships. The static connection to class 5 w-space isn't promising, being at the end of its life, leaving me a K162 from more class 6 w-space. I can quickly check to see what's there.

AHARM Legion slowly orbits the wormhole

A Legion, that's what's in C6b. At least on the wormhole. The strategic cruiser isn't stationary either, as it is slowly orbiting the wormhole. And not only have I appeared under two kilometres from the wormhole, not guaranteeing my being able to move away and cloak safely, but the Legion is circling his way right towards me. I keep cool, though. So cool that space probably loses heat to me. I hold my session change cloak as the Legion approaches from over six kilometres away, lazily loops close enough to break a module-activated cloak, and continues to the other side of the wormhole.

Keeping my cool and holding my cloak as the AHARM Legion orbits right through my Loki

Now I move and cloak, pulsing my micro warp drive to cross the five-hundred metres before the Legion can react and lock on to my Loki strategic cruiser. I'm safe. Well, safe for the moment. The Legion jumps through the wormhole, no doubt to wait for me on the other side, as friends of his appear on this side of the wormhole. A second Legion warps in, followed by two Lokis and a Phobos heavy interdictor. I can also see two Tengu strategic cruisers on d-scan, so this may not be all the locals are willing to throw at me. Who knew jumping through a wormhole connecting two class 6 w-space systems could be so dangerous?

AHARM help warps in to try to catch me

Ah, I appear to have stumbled in to the home of Aperture Harmonics—AHARM. This is probably not good for my health. But maybe I can draw the ships off the wormhole if they think I'll appear elsewhere in the system. I warp out, launch combat scanning probes, and rather than be covert with my efforts I throw my probes around the system as obviously as I can. If the pilots think I'm going forwards then perhaps they will at least split their efforts to try to catch me, giving me better odds of escaping.

You know, I think my plan of faking the locals in to thinking I'm looking for their static wormhole would work better if I hadn't jumped in to the system using their static wormhole. I came through a K162, so there is no 'forwards' direction for me to go. Silly Penny. Even so, there are two more signatures in the system, and one of them is a second wormhole. It's another K162 from class 6 w-space, which isn't a great sight, but it may pull a couple of ships away from my route home. It's not likely, considering that this K162 may be a dead end and I'd have to come back this way anyway, but you never know.

A more likely distraction is the small fleet that appears on the wormhole shortly after I land near it. They are not AHARM ships, and so not come back from a roam to help with finding me, and the cascade of waves followed by a welcome from my hunter in the almost never used local communication channel is odd. But interrogating the intelligence from the local channel shows me that this new fleet is part of Exhale, and it looks like they are inviting AHARM in to a scrap on the wormhole. It's working too, and playing to my advantage.

Exhale says hello to AHARM

I warp back to the static wormhole, leading to C6a, to see ships jumping back in to the system and warping away, no doubt towards the Exhale fleet. Looking for a lone cloaky Loki must be dull compared to getting a guaranteed fight. I'm okay with that for now. I take my cue and exit AHARM's home C6, clearing the other side of the wormhole with only an AHARM Buzzard jumping past me. That was pretty exciting, and rather cool. It also tickles me that the same corporation who chased us yesterday have inadvertently drawn away my attackers today.

Frigate wreck and drones on the wormhole to high-sec

As much as I'd like to see the engagement between two w-space forces, or even be involved in more than mostly solo adventures, I am best served heading home safely for now. Maybe I can be interesting another day. I return to C2a, then high-sec, and hop through a stargate and warp to the K162 to C3a. Jumping through has abandoned drones and a frigate wreck on the wormhole in the class 3 system, showing that something happened whilst I was exploring elsewhere, but whatever it was is over now. A poke in to C5a has a tower but no ships, making w-space quieter in this direction than the other. Much quieter. I suppose it's time to sleep. And even if it was mostly scanning with a bit of running, I've had another fun evening.

W-space constellation schematic

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