When all you find is a frigate

14th May 2013 – 5.45 pm

I'm looking for some action. An extra signature at home is just some gas in a ladar site, so there's no action there, not without my industrious colleagues on-line. I'd best resolve our static wormhole and jump to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system. It doesn't look any better from the K162, though, as my directional scanner is clear of ships and towers. I launch probes and blanket the system as I check my notes, and realise the tower from almost a year ago probably isn't here any more, not if it lacked strontium and we blew it up. You'd think I'd remember that.

A new tower has cropped up since my last visit, which I find by warping around, but a lack of ships gives me nothing to watch. I'll scan whilst the locals are out. Pushing probes around finds only the static exit to low-sec of interest, the grey colours seeping through suggestive of Caldari space not lying to me, as jumping out lands me in Lonetrek. The system could be interesting, I dunno, but I pretty much ignore the concept of stargates and launch probes to scan for more wormholes.

Four extra signatures turn out to be two ladar sites, some Gurista rats, and a neat weak wormhole. Will that be a connection to class 5 w-space? The N432 and black-orange colours say yes, yes it is. Returning to w-space and punching d-scan sees a tower, plus a shuttle, Brutix battlecruiser, and Dominix battleship in the system, and it's not surprising to find all the ships unpiloted in a rather spiky tower. But I entered the system through an outbound connection, so I have at least a static wormhole to find, and I scan again.

Spiky tower in class 5 w-space

The first of fifteen signatures resolves to be a wormhole, which is soon joined by a second, third, and fourth. Class 5 w-space tends to be connected, and with k-space wormholes too, so the mix I've found doesn't feel unusual. Out of the H296 static connection to more class 5 w-space, K162 from deadly class 6 w-space, dying K162 from a C5, and outbound wormhole to low-sec, I will check the C6 system first. Brave and daring Penny.

D-scan is clear from the wormhole in C6a, perhaps explained by there being just the one planet in range and over 100 AU to the farthest planet. Exploring the system finds one uninteresting tower at the seventh planet, and a more interesting one at the eighth, where ten ships tease me on d-scan before I see the combat and industrial hulls all float empty inside the force field. A quick scan finds another wormhole, leading back through a K162 to class 5 w-space, and I jump through to see how deep this constellation runs.

Two drones and two bubbles are on d-scan in C5d, but as the view is clear otherwise I doubt anything is happening. Ah, anything is indeed doubtfully happening, as opening the system map shows that nothing sits out of d-scan range. Another poke for K162s finds the wormhole I'm looking for, continuing with C5 w-space, and I jump to C5e to appear over five kilometres from the connection's cosmic signature. Maybe I've reached the end of the constellation now.

A tower with no ships is not a fitting sight at the end of scanning so deep, so it's good that warping away to launch probes sees one. A Probe frigate, that is, on d-scan. The Probe cloaks or warps, which is a shame, but it's activity, which is good, particularly as core probes now litter the system. I launch probes too and take a look around, loitering on the wormhole back to C5d as the Probe scans, hoping the frigate comes my way.

I resolve a K162 from null-sec amongst the two anomalies and eight signatures, which could be where the Probe came from, but this leaves me with a dilemma. The two wormholes are out of d-scan range of each other, and I don't know the Probe pilot's motivations. If he came from null-sec is he just poking around this w-space system with the intention of heading straight back, or will he be keen to delve deeper in to w-space? Which wormhole do I wait on, considering warp times will make it almost impossible to catch up with the ship if I make the wrong choice?

The black hole in this C5 makes my decision more important. Not only does it increase my time to align and enter warp, so that making the wrong choice will be even more costly, but it will make the Probe easier to catch for the same reason if I make the right choice. I just don't know where to sit. I decide to sit where I can see the probes of the Probe. If they disappear, I at least know he's moving. And I get lucky too, as the pilot makes a mistake, or just a change, and decloaks to launch a new set of probes. He doesn't stay on d-scan long enough to have warped so he must be cloaked within d-scan range again. Now I can watch d-scan for his probes and ship.

The probes disappear and the Probe doesn't decloak. Checking the null-sec K162 shows the scanning probes have been moved, which seems like a curious choice, if the pilot came from this direction, but that's fine. I watch them using d-scan, as my own probes, in a blanket-scanning configuration, can continue watching for the ship. His probes disappear again, and this time the Probe appears under my probes. It's difficult to determine which way he's warping, given the coarse results of the maximum range combat probes, but when the frigate appears on d-scan I know he's coming my way. Good.

Probe appears at the K162 from null-sec

I watch the Probe drop out of warp near the K162, pause, and approach the wormhole. I don't give the game away yet, not when he can immediately jump clear with no consequences, and wait as the Probe exits to null-sec. I hold for a couple of seconds, to give the pilot time to think he's not being followed, and then follow. I appear on the other side of the wormhole with the Probe visible and ready to be ambushed, but the ship disappears. Cloaked, I think, before realising that the transparent local channel no longer bears the pilot's name. He's gone back through the wormhole.

I give chase back to C5e, but the moment's hesitation in null-sec has cost me. I see the Probe, affected by the black hole, aligning away from the wormhole and get my offensive systems hot, but he evades me a split-second before I get a positive lock on his ship. I initiate warp to the K162 back to C5d and jump, seeing no sign of the Probe in the system, even after pausing for long enough for the session change cloak to fade. I don't have the local channel to help me now, and it seems the Probe didn't come this way.

Jumping back to C5e sees the Probe once again launching scanning probes. I have to wonder why, and I'm also wondering where he's come from if not null-sec or here. But more than that I'm wondering what I'm doing. I messed up the ambush on the null-sec wormhole and have spent more than enough time trying to catch nothing more than a crappy scanning frigate. I should be aiming higher, or at least not expending so much effort trying to make trophies out of minnows. I'm going home. The constellation should still be around later, and there's another arm left to roam for worthwhile activity.

W-space constellation schematic

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