Submarines in space

29th May 2013 – 5.35 pm

I'm out for a short poke around w-space, as there must be other active pilots occassionaly. The home system is clear, with just a new pocket of gas to ignore, so I jump through our static connection to class 3 w-space to start exploring. My directional scanner is clear from the K162, and although my notes point me towards a possible tower from a previous visit it should be in range, leaving one planet with moons as a possible location of occupation. I launch probes, perform a blanket scan of the system, and warp across to see what's at the far planet.

There's a tower, plus a Legion strategic cruiser, Noctis salvager, and Anathema covert operations boat, with a Heron frigate appearing a few seconds later. That suggests at least one ship is piloted, and the sole Sleeper wreck tells me some combat has occurred recently. Or maybe the combat is current, as d-scan has the Heron at the tower and the other ships elsewhere. A lack of anomalies isn't surprising, and the appearance of the Anathema already makes me suspect its a hacking boat, so the ships must be in one of the six signatures. Then again, maybe the site's signature has already disappeared. I don't know what governs that behaviour any more.

Definitely disappeared is the Noctis, now that there are no wrecks, and although I get a tight d-scan beam on the Legion and Anathema, at a range of 3·4 AU, they scarper as I arrange my probes around where they probably were. Am I too late, or have the ships moved on to another site? A warp around the system, not wanting to disrupt my probes now, has no sign of the ships, just the Heron launching his own probes, so I would say I'm too late. The ships won't be local, the hapless Heron maybe scaring them off, and I may as well scan.

There's no site under my probes. I can't say I'm surprised. It's a shame my timing was a little off, but c'est la vie. The rest of C3a's signatures resolve to be a K162 from class 2 w-space, rocks, rocks, and more rocks, and the static exit to low-sec. I'm tempted to check the C2 system, wondering if the pilots are setting up an ambush specifically for a frigate, but cautious in case the Anathema stayed behind to scout. I am also tempted to wait for the Heron to come to the K162 and take my own shot at him, as surely, being local, he'd have the other sites bookmarked and scanning won't take long.

I watch the Heron's progress for now, realising that he's scanning the whole system, and badly, as his probes disappear and return. But they are not just his probes that return. A Loki is spewing them out too from somewhere, and a Helios cov-ops multiplies the strategic cruiser's output, really cluttering up d-scan. But where did they come from? I've been on the C2 K162 and not seen anyone appear. A new wormhole could have opened up, or... I point d-scan towards our home K162 and see the Loki, Helios, and probes all coincident with it.

Probes scattered around our K162

I warp back to the K162, a bit rashly, and luckily land where there aren't a mass of Loki and Helios probes. But there they are. I'm too late to see the ships, but the signs are clear. I don't need some codger to tell me that the blast marks are too accurate for Sand People: a new wormhole has opened in to our home system. W-space is clearly waking up.

Now I'm a bit more uncertain what to do. I want to find the wormhole in the home system, but I don't want to jump back if there's a chance that either pilot is sitting here watching. I should at least monitor d-scan and wait for the ships to be elsewhere. But I don't want to be passive either. To do something I head to the low-sec exit, but only to see it wobbling at the end of its life and pretty much useless. I ponder now heading to C2a, but realise that if I did and found anything then I would still be in threat of the active scouts coming from behind.

My best bet is to watch for the Loki and Helios to disappear, then head back home, scan for the new connection, and hope that they believe the constellation to be quiet and take their own Sleeper fleet somewhere. A bit of patience sees the Helios appear on the C2 K162, the pilot being a member of a ten-capsuleer corporation is good to know, and jump through. The lack of any probes in the system makes me think the Loki has gone too. It's time to find the new connection at home.

Helios jumps from class 3 to class 2 w-space

I think the Heron came this way. He blipped on d-scan and seemed to finish near our K162, but I don't see him on the wormhole, on d-scan in C2a, or on d-scan at home, nor are there probes visible. Worse, processing this made my jump slow. The Loki was on d-scan in C2a as I made transit home. Maybe he poked out to low-sec and is coming back this way. I warp away from the wormhole, launch probes, and blanket the system, returning to loiter on the static wormhole in the hopes of catching the Loki's movement.

The new wormhole sticks out nicely, and the Loki doesn't pass me. I resolve what turns out to be a K162 from class 5 w-space and, thinking I am not being monitored, jump in to take a look around. D-scan is clear, with one planet in range, and exploring locates a tower with an empty Orca industrial command ship, a Buzzard cov-ops, and a fleet of three Tengu strategic cruisers piloted and, perhaps, ready for action. Whether that action will involve Sleepers or other capsuleers remains to be seen.

My best guess would be that the scouts are checking the constellation before deciding whether or not to clear anomalies through their static wormhole. That would be stealing our anomalies. Hoping to see the scouts return and this plan being put in to effect, so that I can ambush a salvager, I sit on C5a's static wormhole. And indeed the Loki reappears. I just don't expect him to start in the C5 and jump to our C4. Damn, how much has he seen? What does he know? Is he now stalking me? He's either bait, or doesn't know I'm here.

Loki jumps past me to our home system

If the locals are looking for my Loki they're making a poor job of it. I would expect more ships to come this way than having a single Loki looking for mine, so maybe the scout hasn't seen me. A short period of nothing happening, and checking the tower to see no change but a missing Buzzard, makes me suspect our paths crossed coincidentally. And as this outing was meant to be short I think it's time to find out one way or another: I jump home. The wormhole's clear. D-scan is clear. It's all rather anticlimactic. But submarines in space indeed. You never really know who's out there or where, and bumping in to each other rarely ends well.

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