Some ships are inadvertently slippery

8th November 2013 – 5.33 pm

I leave the sieged tower and the class 1 w-space system it is in behind me. I can't disrupt the fleet, and they probably wouldn't want me to join in, so instead head back the way I came, through a null-sec system in Perrigen Falls, to our neighbouring class 3 system. I have more wormholes to explore through, notably a T405 connection to class 4 w-space. Of course, it's an outbound connection that the discovery scanner has already pinged to the C4 locals since I resolved it earlier, but it's more w-space. In I go.

Updating my directional scanner on the K162 in C4a sees two towers and four ships. The Hound and Manticore are failing to be stealth bombers, so are probably in one of the towers, the Chimera carrier is unlikely to be active or piloted, but the Epithal hauler could be planning to collect planet goo. If he's careless or ignorant, that is, or just confident in being able to escape in his disposable industrial ship. It makes me sad.

Not only does the Epithal have specialised cargo space to hold more goo than was possible before, the low fitting slots remain when they are no longer required for expanding the available cargo space. Now the low slots can be stuffed with warp core stabilisers with no drawbacks, making the haulers almost immune to anything but a bubble. Stalkers like me will have to rely on high-alpha ambushes, or ramming the target ship to keep them around long enough.

No longer do gooers need to decide between ships that are vulnerable but cheap enough to be considered disposable, or expensive ships that can warp cloaked or have inherent added warp core strength. They have the best of both worlds with the Epithal. On top of that, the discovery scanner is keeping many gooers safe. Lock up your system, and you can goo in peace without needing any further interaction. It's a sorry state of affairs.

Bitterness aside, I don't even know if the hauler is piloted yet. I need to locate the towers too, as a visit from three months ago has the system listed as unoccupied. The black hole probably helped with that. Sweeping d-scan around the system sees the two stealth bombers and carrier at one tower, the hauler at the other. I warp to the other, finding the Epithal piloted but not long for the tower. As I am orientating myself the hauler warps away.

Luckily, I just about catch where the Epithal heads, and urge my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser to follow at best speed, fighting against the draw of the black hole. I am in warp to a customs office, not quite believing my luck either with the timing or a pilot apparently still ignorant of the discovery scanner's significance. Dropping out of warp next to a customs office lacking an Epithal reaffirms my beliefs, even if it doesn't explain where the hauler is.

D-scan says the Epithal isn't at the planet itself, not moved on to collect goo elsewhere, and I finally find it when checking the moons around this planet. Remember that first tower? I didn't, but I do now. I warp across to see the Epithal nestled safely inside a force field, the pilot ejecting his pod and going off-line within the minute. That's probably that, I suppose. Well, except a second Epithal has appeared on d-scan.

It's a lot to hope that the other hauler will do anything other than follow the first. But you've got to have hope, so I warp back to the second tower to watch the Epithal for movement, only to see the hauler blink off-line. That was fun. There's not much left to watch, the Manticore gone, the Hound piloted but inactive, and I don't really care to scan deeper in to the constellation in this direction. I'd rather find some K162s through the low-sec exit in C3a.

Back I go, and out to Aridia, where I launch probes to poke the signatures. Wormhole, combat site, data site, relic site. I would be happy with that one wormhole, but it turns out to be an outbound X702 connection to class 3 w-space. I'll take a look anyway, and jump to the underwhelming d-scan result of an Nidhoggur carrier, Orca, and tower. But my notes indicate the system holds a static exit to null-sec, and that's got to be worth a look.

Four anomalies and six signatures are picked up by my probes, the first signature giving me a K162 to investigate as I poke the others. Gas, skinny wormhole that's probably the K346, and the K162 from more class 3 w-space I'm approaching crackles with a transit just as I start another scanning cycle. Nuts. Whoever has jumped in to the system—a Buzzard covert operations boat, as it turns out—will already have implied my presence. I'm not having much luck tonight.

Buzzard burns away from the C3 K162

The Buzzard burns away from the wormhole, cloaks, and reappears over fifty kilometres away to launch probes. No doubt he's going to investigate the new signature in the system, clearly shown to him by the dumbscovery scanner through no interaction of his own, and he'll find the wormhole I came through. Well, my probes suggested as much, but it's not like there's much mystery as to my route in to his system. And it's his system, the Buzzard painted orange.

I think that's it for me tonight. The Buzzard has scouted through the C3 K162, so I doubt I will find or surprise anyone there, and he's seen my probes, so I won't surprise anyone here. I have the null-sec exit resolved, though, and warp across to grab some good images of a connection to Feythabolis, but that's as productive as I'm going to get.

Buzzard jumps from low-sec to class 3 w-space

Even having the same Buzzard warping on to the wormhole as I jump to low-sec is nothing more than an idle coincidence. I won't catch the Buzzard before he jumps, and am almost certainly not going to catch it jinking from the wormhole in C3b. Why polarise my ship for nothing? I simply head home and go off-line.

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