Opening wormholes considered harmful

14th October 2013 – 5.25 pm

An early poke around w-space looking for bleary-eyed pilots has the predictable start of my jumping to our neighbouring class 3 system to find nothing of interest. There's a tower, of course, but no ships are to be seen. Three planets initially out of range of my directional scanner hold little more than an opportunity to launch probes covertly, not that I'm hiding from anyone, and I sift through the eight anomalies and seven signatures looking for further wormholes.

Two fat wormholes and one skinny make me think I've resolved two K162s and a K346. Other options are possible, but, of course, I'm right. The K162s come from null-sec and class 5 w-space, and the K346 exits to null-sec as all K346s do. Checking the exits, always helpful in case of emergencies, first takes me through the K162 to a system in Oasa, where being alone I can't help but look for a rat to pop for a gain in security status, and whilst I'm doing that it is almost an involuntary reaction to launch probes and scan. So it is that I resolve an outbound connection to class 3 w-space which I am compelled to jump through.

D-scan is clear from the other side of the wormhole, and I launch probes before warping to the one planet out of range to see a tower with Iteron and Crane come in to view. Sadly, both the hauler and transport are empty of capsuleer, so instead of poking the ships I poke the eighteen anomalies and six signatures scattered around. I find only the static exit to low-sec to be of interest, and even then it's of low interest. I've already diverted across k-space to get this far, which makes me feel further from home than normal. I should go back and explore what I found in C3a.

The second exit in our neighbouring system, through its static wormhole, leads to a system in Deklein where a bunch of pilots just being in the same system deter me from scanning whatever signatures may be around. I return through the wormhole to C3a and warp to the wormhole coming from dangerous w-space. But it's dangerous according to Sleeper infestation, not necessarily capsuleer activity, as I'm reminded when again d-scan is clear from the wormhole. At least this time only one planet is in range, giving me hope for finding someone in the rest of the system. I launch probes, perform a blanket scan, and warp off to explore.

My probes reveal seven anomalies, ten signatures, and exploring finds the same lack of occupation as a previous visit of mine thirteen months ago. I scan backwards again, hoping for more K162s, plucking one out of the noise close to the wormhole entered through. It's a wormhole coming from more null-sec space, but is that all I will have to find, the trace of a curious null-sec tourist? Thankfully not, as one, two, and even three more wormholes are eventually resolved.

The null-sec K162 leads out to Fountain, a Z142 outbound connection to null-sec takes me to Branch, and the other two wormholes are both K162s from more class 5 w-space. And just as I am about to jump to C5b my hatred for the discovery scanner swells again, growing day-after-day. A new signature appears in space and on my scanner, with no action from myself, with no probes launched or active. It's just there. It's also probably a wormhole. It would have remained a mystery unless I scanned again, unseen by me until I detected a tell-tale trail of a passing ship. Or until I got ambushed by ne'er-do-wells sneaking in to the system behind me. There's just not the sense of the unknown in w-space any more.

I suppose I should scan that over-obvious new signature, because if it is the wormhole I suspect it to be then its appearance will have been caused by capsuleer activity, and I'm looking for capsuleer activity. I ignore the K162 I'm sitting on, launch probes, and plonk them on top of the rough but stupidly obvious location of the new signature. I align my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser towards the new signature in anticipation, and within a few scans am warping towards a newly spawned wormhole. It's another K162 from a class 5 w-space system.

Stupid discovery scanner

I'm not quite sure what I'm hoping to find beyond this new wormhole. Whoever opened it must be aware that anyone in this system will have seen the new signature appear, and even though I saw it and reacted with little delay, there's no way I got here before a scout could have jumped in to this system and cloaked. But I am drawn through the wormhole anyway. There's no welcoming party, which is something, and an Iteron hauler and tower appear on d-scan.

A visit just a week earlier points me directly to the tower's location, where I hope to see the Iteron piloted inside the force field, but he's not here. That's odd, as he was coincident with the tower when checking with d-scan, and my first thought is that he's gone collecting planet goo. One planet sits out of d-scan range of the tower, so if the Iteron is still in the system he's probably there, but sending my Loki in that direction finds nothing and no one. Well, whilst I'm out here I'll launch probes and get them hidden, just in case.

A blanket scan reveals five anomalies but only two signatures. I quickly scan the other one, and when it resolves to be a second wormhole I'm already pretty sure it will be a K162 from low-sec. A direct route to empire space would have a scout warp to both wormholes, reconnoitring the unknown connection, and abandoning further exploration in favour of using the convenient route out of w-space to haul goods in or out. Sure enough, warping to the wormhole sees the low-sec K162, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that the Iteron came this way. Not when the hauler is sitting on the wormhole.

Iteron appears on the K162 from low-sec

I'm out of warp scrambler range of the hauler and I have no idea how close it is to entering warp, so I don't ruin a potential ambush in the near-future by showing myself now. I just bookmark the wormhole and watch the Iteron warp back to its tower, following behind it now that I know its route. My hopes of a second journey are realised with little delay, the Iteron turning back towards the wormhole from low-sec. Again I follow, again I don't engage. His first trip was short, hopefully this one will be too. And I'd rather catch him in w-space, where engaging and destroying his ship will go completely unnoticed by any authority, and I can do what I want with the wreck afterwards. Oh, and his pod.

I wait by the wormhole, wondering if the Iteron will come back polarised or if I'll need to chase it back out to low-sec anyway, and I experience the usual time dilation that accompanies staring in to empty space, waiting for a jump that never comes. The polarisation timer has expired, so when the Iteron comes back I may need to chase it. But at least the wormhole connects to low-sec space and I can still legitimately shoot it. When it comes back. And this should be it, the wormhole crackling at last.

Ambushing the Iteron on its repeat trip to low-sec

I decloak my Loki ahead of the Iteron appearing. He's not polarised, I'm already anticipating a chase, so I see no need to gimp my reaction time with the decloaking recalibration delay suffered by my targeting systems. He holds his session change cloak. I wait for him to appear. And there he is. I gain a positive lock, disrupt his warp engines, and start shooting. He doesn't jump back to low-sec. I don't know why. Maybe he just wants to get his pod back to his tower. Or perhaps it's because the Iteron is empty, the pilot exporting goods and not bringing back anything of value, which I find out after I rip the hauler to shreds.

Ambushed Iteron explodes on the low-sec K162

The pod flees, the wreck is looted of only a few uninteresting modules. But an inexpensive kill is still a kill, and it will do for me for my early expedition. I have explored, disrupted, and can come back later to see what's in the other systems I've found, after a replenishing sammich. There are two more class 5 systems, other wormholes may crop up, or some or all of them will wither and die. Mutability is the w-space way.

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