Null-sec hopping

21st October 2013 – 5.42 pm

Maybe I'll find some ships tonight. Probably not, as my time is limited, but I can still enjoy the calming pulse of my scanning probes as I uncover and explore tonight's w-space constellation. It's a fairly usual start of having nothing unusual in the home system, letting me flex my scanning muscles in resolving our static wormhole to begin my trip down the rabbit hole.

A tower and no ships appears on my directional scanner from the K162 in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. How typical. My notes suggest two more towers are present and out of range, but as my last visit, four months ago, had my popping an Osprey cruiser pumping the shields of a tower during an apparent move I imagine there have been changes.

I warp out of d-scan range of occupation, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system as I bounce across the planets. My probes reveal five anomalies and nine signatures, and I find nothing more than the single tower. The tower is in the same location as in my notes, though, so not everything has changed. I can only assume that the static exit to low-sec remains too, but I'd better make sure.

Scanning resolves three wormholes amongst the gas and sole data site, which doesn't look like a bad result at all. And although reconnoitring the connections finds no more w-space connections, the low-sec exit and two K126s from null-sec look pretty good to me. I could always use more null-sec space to explore. I drop close to the second of the K162s, so rather than bounce back to the first I merely approach and jump the one in front of me.

I appear in a null-sec system in the Branch region, alone. Keen to take advantage of this position I warp to a nearby rock field to look for rats, but am disappointed to see no more signatures in the system, so no potential wormholes. Never mind, I find a rat, eventually reduce it to a wreck, when its damned ECM lets me actually shoot it, and head back in to and across C3a to the other null-sec exit. Out I go to a system in Syndicate, again alone, but again without any further signatures.

Rare moment when the rat isn't successfully jamming me

Pop a rat, head back to C3a. The low-sec exit takes me to a system in Khanid, and although the four extra signatures have me almost throwing scanning probes out of my pod in delight they resolve to be a combat site, a second combat site, and a third, and, just to be different, a data site. Balls to this. A check of my system maps shows me a neat triangle of systems I can stargate-hop around through the wormhole from Syndicate, so I go back that way and use some hardware to make some jumps for a change.

Two pilots are in the next null-sec system across, plus lots of wrecks, but any sign of combat disappears almost as soon as I enter the system. I'm not there for them, though, and turn my attention to the two signatures present. One is a relic site, the other a wormhole, an N432 connection to class 5 w-space. That may be more w-space than I was after, but that's okay, as I don't have to use all of it. In I go.

D-scan is clear from the K162, and blanketing the system reveals a whopping thirty-nine anomalies and twelve signatures, and why is it taking me so long to warp away from the wormhole. Ah, I see the black hole now. I don't quite expect to see a tower in such a messy or agility-sapping system, but there is one. I suppose the owners prefer sucking on gas than making ISK from Sleeper explosions, which is fine, but as the tower is owned by a two-capsuleer corporation I doubt I'll be seeing either of them outside of a massive coincidence. That means I'm back to scanning.

Gas, gas, ship—bugger. I swish my probes rather lackadaisically out of the system, probably pointlessly with the lack of speed it takes me to decide to react, and warp towards the centre of the system to see what I've detected. Two ships now. Are they from the null-sec system I left? Maybe. One ship's a Helios covert operations boat, spewing probes near the K162 I came through, and moving too fast for me to catch even if he didn't cloak a few moments later. The other ship is a Heron frigate, no doubt the source of the other set of probes, but where is he?

Helios burning away from the K162

I can't find the Heron near an obvious object, but maybe I can scan his location, and then decide if he is bait or not. It takes a few goes, as I'm not trying to be covert with my scanning—I don't think I need to be with two full sets of probes already in the system—but I get a positive location for the Heron. I warp across to where my probes found the ship but he's gone, cloaked or moved, I can't tell. Reconfiguring my probes and scanning again says he's moved, but a subsequent scan has him properly gone. More likely the Heron jumped through a wormhole than cloaked, so I should look for that.

Helios leaves w-space for null-sec

Resolving a wormhole sends me to a Z142 connection to null-sec with scanning probes scattered around it, but I see no sign of the ship that launched them. Instead, the Helios appears as the probes blink away at warp speed, jumping through the wormhole and not returning. My scanning resolves two more wormholes, one with a ship on it that has gone by the time I get to see the half-mass, dying K162 from low-sec. That it comes from Placid is not terribly interesting, unlike the Heron being back in C5a somewhere as I also return. But not for long. The theme for tonight seems to be brief encounters.

Checking the null-sec exit the Helios went through has my entering a system in Curse with over 130 pilots, and ships, probes, and corpses visible on d-scan. I think I've seen enough here, but at least I get images of a wormhole leading to the Curse region. There's some progress I can show. The third wormhole I resolved in C5a is a K162 from high-sec, also mass-stressed and at the end of its life, looking decidedly like it's been opened from The Forge. Not just The Forge, I find when poking my prow through, but two jumps from Jita. No wonder the connection has been stressed.

I can't really use the high-sec connection for anything, and returning to C5a has my noting that I haven't resolved its static wormhole. That's okay, as my time is running out, and I've only been chasing frigates and cov-ops. I head back the way I came, returning to Syndicate and the system holding the wormhole to C3a, via the last of the three systems in the triangle of hops I had planned. There is nothing there, so the diversion to C5a was definitely tonight's adventure to be had. I pop one more rat before returning to w-space, where all remains quiet.

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