Sneaking up on a scout

5th October 2013 – 3.38 pm

New signatures in the home system just give me gas, which is a little disappointing. Heading to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system offers little better, with a tower visible on my directional scanner but no ships. Opening the system map has my considering launching probes on the wormhole, given that nowhere is out of d-scan range, but checking the tower's direction and the range to the farthest planet in the opposite direction makes it look like the occupants have carelessly given themselves a blind spot. I'll warp over to make use of it.

Nope, the planet sits almost at d-scan's maximum range, but it is still in range of the tower. I'll forgive the locals in that case, and just get on with scanning. I launch probes and look for the static exit to low-sec amongst the ten anomalies and six signatures, hopefully collecting another wormhole or two in the process. And I find one too, although the K162 from null-sec isn't much use, being at the end of its life. I poke through to be in the Deklein region briefly, before turning around to head to low-sec.

But wait, there are core scanning probes in C3a now, which could be interesting. I loiter on the low-sec wormhole, presuming the pilot came from this direction and will come back this way sooner rather than later. Or later, given his scanning speed. Dude, you don't need to resolve and bookmark every signature. Eventually the probes disappear and a Proteus appears on d-scan. That's not really a ship I want to engage in my Loki, his cloaky strategic cruiser probably being able to get the better of mine. But he does come my way, and what surprises me is that he seems to be local to C3a.

Local Proteus leaves through the static exit to low-sec

Surely he would know about all the sites in his home system, and it really doesn't take long to confirm each one. Or maybe they're new and I'm being unfair to him, as he probably should resolve and bookmark them all. Either way, I find myself not doing anything, not least because the pilot is suitably cautious about polarisation and doesn't offer me a free engagement against him. He waits the few minutes in low-sec before returning to w-space, and I watch as he cloaks and, presumably, warps clear.

Now what to do? Hit low-sec, I suppose. So I do, where an extra signature beckons me to scan it, and a lack of pilots has my heading to a rock field looking for rats. I resolve the signature, it's a wormhole, and warping to it finds a K162 from class 3 w-space. I know these quite intimately, so in I go. I really do know these, and this one in particular. I've just jumped back to C3a. Maybe I should resolve the other signature in low-sec. I go out to try again.

I'm stupider than I thought. The other signature is a wormhole and I just managed to warp to the wrong bookmark. There is no need to scan the other one again. Or there wouldn't be, had I not deleted the bookmark as being incorrectly made. So I scan the wormhole a second time and make sure that I warp to the right bookmark this time. I drop out of warp next to a K162 from class 5 w-space, so I am quietly confident that I'm not about to return embarrassed to C3a a second time as I jump through.

Scanning probes are on d-scan in C5a, making me concerned that a carrier is about to land on me to kill the wormhole again, but that's just paranoia talking. I warp out, launch probes, and blanket the system, revealing four anomalies, thirteen signatures, and no ships. Exploring finds no occupation and now I can see two sets of probes on d-scan, the others not being mine, which are hidden outside of d-scan range. I think I'm in the middle of a scanning race.

I resolve an obvious wormhole that sits far from any planet, a K162 from class 5 w-space, along with a Z142 outbound link to null-sec and the system's static wormhole to another C5. That'll do for me, and I notice that the other probes have gone when I recall my own. A Helios covert operations boat blips on d-scan, and although I try to find him using d-scan in the system map he's nowhere to be seen. I think that's because he's on my overview instead, jumping through the H296 to C5c.

Helios jumps past me to more class 5 w-space

I let the Helios go and, as I consider heading backwards to his home C5, the wormhole crackles as he comes back almost immediately. I won't catch him and don't feel like trying, but as I see which planet he warps to I can't stop myself following behind. Sadly, the Helios cloaks in warp, and I land in empty space. Empty for just a moment, as the Helios decloaks and launches probes, almost directly on top of me. That was a pretty predictable warp, Mr Helios, let me see if I can make you pay for it.

Helios decloaks and launches probes on top of my Loki

My sensor booster is activated, as is my micro warp drive, and I try to catch the cov-ops now burning away from the surprise Loki he decloaked. He's pretty fast too, certainly using his own MWD to get away, and my relatively sluggish strategic cruiser can only just get a positive target lock on his tiny ship just as it gets clear of my warp scrambler range. I can't disengage his MWD or stop him warping, neither can I accelerate hard enough to pull him back in to range. I can do little but watch as the Helios, now out of my guns' effective range, aligns and warps clear.

Helios easily pulls range on my less-agile ship

That was some unexpected excitement. I didn't really want it either, as now the colleagues of the Helios will be warned of the roaming Loki. As such, seeing the two Gila faction cruisers appear in the system makes me think they're looking for me, but when I can't pin them on a wormhole and Sleeper wrecks start appearing I change my mind. I think they're clearing gas sites of Sleepers, as surely they can't feasibly be clearing class 5 w-space anomalies, certainly as they appear to be working separately. That means I'll have to resolve the gas sites to find them, giving them time and opportunity to spot my probes, and that's only if I think I could successfully engage a Gila. Which I don't.

Tengu jumps in to join the Gilas

I could perhaps aim for a salvager that comes in behind the Gilas, or the gas harvesters themselves, if that's their plan, but a bit of waiting sees neither enter the system, only a Tengu strategic cruiser. With little else to do I poke their home C5 system, wondering if I could catch something on the wormhole, but on seeing thirty-eight towers and plenty of threatening ships on d-scan I decide I don't want to be here. There's not really much I can do, it seems, so I check the null-sec wormhole in C5a—it leads to Scalding Pass.

There's no one in the null-sec system, so I find a rat to pop and launch probes to resolve the one extra signature. It's a wormhole, an outbound connection to more class 5 w-space, which looks tiresome right about now. But I scanned it, I'll check it. C5d is occupied, has a piloted Loki and empty Moros dreadnought inside one tower's force field, and the last time we were here Aii and I popped a Noctis salvager that was under the watchful eyes of an Archon carrier, Absolution command ship, and surprise Rapier recon ship. Great times. But not today. It's quiet, and it's late. I turn around and head home. There were systems to explore, ships to see, but sadly little I could shoot.

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