Trying to join in

29th October 2013 – 5.15 pm

No new signatures means no new sites, as well as no surprise wormholes. I simply resolve our static connection and jump to tonight's neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where I'm guessing my directional scanner will show me a tower and no ships. I'm a Buzzard wrong, which is better than my notes, which insist from a previous visit that the system is unnoccupied, but is the covert operations boat piloted? Finding out is easy, considering the system has six planets and three moons, and none of the planets are greedy. I'm soon in warp to the tower, updating my notes as I go.

Yes, the Buzzard is piloted, but I doubt he's active. Not only is the system too small to hide anything out of d-scan range, and the obnoxious discovery scanner must have pinged our K162 to the Buzzard pilot, but the cov-ops is watching his hangar with an uncommon intensity. Why's that, little fella? Personally, I think the pilot's drunk and has faceplanted his ship. Either way, nothing obvious is happening, so I'll scan. This won't take long, with eleven anomalies but only four signatures, and I'm soon ignoring a gas and data site and resolving an exit to low-sec Metropolis.

I only have one way to go, so exit to a faction warfare system that holds the K162 I'm sitting on and a data site. What now? I don't fancy stargate-hopping in perhaps-active low-sec, as these pilots are nutters, and C3a is deader than A-line flares with pockets in the knees. I'll collapse our static wormhole and start again, which is a slow process by myself but straightforward when I know all the ships that have passed through. Unlike almost everything else in New Eden, the wormhole goes without drama.

A replacement wormhole pops up, I resolve it, and jump to the new C3a. The tower visible on d-scan has three ships with it this time, even though my notes are adamant that the system is unoccupied. It's okay, notes, we all have off days. I can't get out of range of the tower, so decide launching probes near the wormhole to be the safest choice, performing a blanket scan as I warp to check for pilots. Eight anomalies, five signatures, and the three ships, all of which are piloted. And, as I land, a battlecruiser is swapped for a stealth bomber, which warps to empty space. That almost looks like activity.

The Manticore returns to the tower a minute later, where it gets back to doing a whole pile of nothing, so I scan the system quickly. Gas, wormhole, relics, wormhole, and nothing in the general direction of where the Manticore went. Weird, but whatever. The static exit to low-sec clearly leads to The Citadel, which I confirm, and the second wormhole is a neat K162 from class 2 w-space. Is anyone from there quashing the activity here? I jump to C2a to take a look.

Two towers, no ships. I warp away from the wormhole to launch probes, bumping in to four more towers at the edge of the system but still no ships. No ships generally means no one's watching, but I prefer to be alone when I'm not cloaked, and I had the presence of mind to create a safe spot mid-distance between the two planets with towers, conveniently out of d-scan range of both. I warp back there, launch probes where no one will see me, and promptly hide my ship and probes.

Two anomalies and five signatures are worth a poke, but as soon as I call my probes back in to the system to start a ship appears on the first set of results. Just my luck. He's gone from d-scan by the time I flick panels, and so, with not much more I can do about it, simply continue scanning. Hey look, there's a wormhole where the ship roughly was. Who would have thought? I also resolve a second wormhole, the system's static exit to high-sec, leading to Lonetrek, and the active wormhole is a K162 from class 5 w-space that doesn't look quite as inviting now as it may have done.

Or does it? I finish my scanning, using my combat probes to locate all six towers—it's quicker than using d-scan and ostensibly there's no one around to see what I'm doing—when the C5 K162 crackles with a transit. What's coming for me? A Helios. A cov-ops is not terribly scary, although I suppose it could be if it's a point ship for a fleet. I won't find out by sitting here, though. But I make a quick couple of sanity checks first. No, the Helios hasn't warped to a tower local to C2a, and there's no sign of him in the high-sec exit system. Okay, it's time to see what's in C5a.

Helios jumps through a wormhole I'm loitering on

Two towers and a Loki strategic cruiser named Nyarlathotep are visible on d-scan. That's pretty much all I need to convince me to turn around, as I'd prefer to be not dead but dreaming myself. If I need more convincing, my notes tell me that the last time I was in this class 5 system I had to evade a Loki on the wormhole. And, hello, a red Devoter decloaks briefly, right on the wormhole. I should say goodbye to this system.

I jump back to C2a as a Proteus appears on d-scan in C5a. My notes serve me well when it matters. I knew there was a reason I kept them. Okay, Penny, time to go home. But as I reach the wormhole back to C3a the heavy interdictor appears on d-scan in C2a and, wanting nothing more than pictorial evidence that I did see a this ship and didn't simply turn away from nothing, warp back to the C5 K162 to capture an image. Which not only do I not get, the HIC gone by the time I get there, but it apparently lets the Devoter warp past me and jump to C3a.

I know this, because Tyler knows this. But mostly because he's clearly visible on the C2 K162 in C3a, along with the Helios I saw earlier. The HIC's bubble is up, the Helios looks trapped, and I've jumped in to the middle of... something. Well, I'm not polarised, a HIC isn't the end of the world, and cov-ops explode relatively easily. I'm joining in with whatever this is. I shed my session change cloak, get my sensor booster active, and lock on to the Helios, autocannons chattering away as soon they have a target.

Engaging the Helios captured by a hostile Devoter HIC

The shields of the Helios drop to nothing easily, and chunks are ripped out of its armour, at which point it naturally jumps through the wormhole to C2a. And now I think that maybe I've been suckered in to attacking. I could chase the Helios, but I'd polarise myself and, if caught, have little chance of escape. I could also try to get clear of the Devoter, not fearing its bubble but the focussed warp disruption effect that is now holding me, but if I burn away from the wormhole I am in danger of unseen ships decloaking and scramming and webbing me, and put myself in a position with little chance of escape. My options, it seems, are limited.

It looks like I follow the Helios through the wormhole, but I'm really evading the Devoter. The Helios moves and cloaks, I move and cloak, jinking away from my starting vector just as the Loki and Proteus drop out of warp on to the wormhole, and the Devoter appears from C3a. And it only now occurs to me that whilst the Devoter is red the other ships aren't. This probably is a three-way scrap, but I have no idea who's allied with who. Well, except no one is allied with me, and that's probably the most salient point.

Getting clear of whatever's happening on the wormhole

Out of harm's way, I settle for a role of w-space voyeur. Both strategic cruisers evade the Devoter, the Loki by cloaking, the Proteus by pulling range, and there is no real engagement. It's possible the Devoter is flying solo and panicking pilots in to think a fleet must be behind him, or maybe he's dicking around with the pilots who are actually in his fleet but now can't find me. Whatever the situation, only the Devoter remains visible, and with that he warps back to C5a, leaving my path home clear. And, this time, I make it.

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