Waiting for a return

4th December 2013 – 5.38 pm

I come on-line to a party. Fin's words, not my choice, as huffing gas or burning rocks is not my bag. But our system is closed, we have pilots, let's make some ISK. 'That sounds smart', says Fin. Damn, I think that means she's got the looks. That doesn't matter, though, as we are all pod pilots, including an on-line Aii, and clearing our anomalies should be nice and quick with three Tengu strategic cruisers blasting through them.

Aii salvages the gas site of the puny Sleepers sent to guard it as Fin and I board our Tengus and warp to the first anomaly. Um, may I have some repairs, please? There we go, my shields are replenished nicely. 'At least I was not shooting you. Yet.' That's okay, it's going to happen. I'm at peace with it. And with Aii joining us for the Sleeper combat, here comes HR to salvage all the loot. We really need to get him the skill books to pilot a Tengu.

Taking on the Sleepers in our Tengus

The first anomaly is swept through, and HR comes in a Noctis salvager to sweep up. We continue through a second, third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth anomaly, exploding Sleeper ships quickly and smoothly, the occasional spot of lag being our only enemy. It's fast and easy with just one added combat pilot, and so much loot is collected we even ignore the other few, less preferred anomalies. Over half-a-billion ISK in loot will suit us well to start an evening.

Now to explore our way through w-space. I swap in to my Loki strategic cruiser, and away I go. The static wormhole is open, I announce, as Aii and Fin are back sucking gas in to specialised ships, and I jump through to see what's out there. Nothing from the wormhole, my directional scanner completely clear. Opening the system map partly explains why, with this vast system having the most distant planet 116 AU away, and that's only from the K162.

Long distance to the farthest planet

Launching probes and blanketing the system shows that less than usual is to be found in so much space, with a mere two anomalies and two signatures, and those two signatures will be our K162 and the static exit from this C3. My combat probes also reveal a ship and a flight of drones, which are around the farthest planet, naturally. I warp out there, and it takes a while to see the Iteron V floating empty in a tower's force field with the maintenance bots scattered in a bubble trap outside the tower. It's rather anticlimactic.

I scan. There is only one signature I don't know about, so resolving the static exit to null-sec is straightforward, and as there is only one way to go I go that one way. You never know, it could be interesting. And, for a start, the K346 has been stressed to its half-mass state. Quite a few ships have been through already. On top of that, an orange drone is on the K162 in null-sec—in the Pure Blind region too, a new pair of wormhole images for my collection—and three orange pilots in the system.

I confirm the pilots belong to the C3a corporation, and update d-scan to see a Gila faction cruiser, Dominix battleship, and Oneiros logistics ship, plus a whole load of rat wrecks. This is interesting indeed. But what can we do about it? The pilots will need to come back this way at some point, but at what point, and how long can I loiter in the system and still have us able to catch them unawares?

I hate to suggest it, but ECM is probably the best option to break any capacitor or repair chains the three ships are inevitably running. But just as we are starting to form a coherent fleet a rogue Imicus enters the same null-sec system and launches probes. This frigate looks to be ruining any idea we had of catching these pilots, as it seems the probes have got them nervous. The fleet splits, two pilots go off-line, and all combat is ceased. So much for catching them coming home.

There seems little point in watching the Gila warp between safe spots, and the pilots are unlikely to do anything if unknown pilots remain in the system. I return to C3a, accepting that we'll have to work blind. Aii plants a cloaky Legion strategic cruiser on the K346, giving us an opportunity to catch anyone that returns, but a Stabber cruiser and core scanning probes are visible on d-scan. That's an odd scanning boat, and forces our hand a little. We don't want to show all our pilots or ship choices just yet, so Fin and HR hide in the home system, and Aii and I stay cloaked in C3a.

The Stabber doesn't seem to do much but resolve our wormhole and disappear. He doesn't visit the K162, and doesn't return to the tower. But he probably reports the system clear of obvious ships, as Aii hears the wormhole crackle and sees it flare with ship transits. 'Oneiros, Dominix', he says, and we tell him to engage what he can, but the alacrity of the fleet's warp and the sensor recalibration delay of disengaging his cloak lets the ships enter warp freely, the Gila also coming through at the same time.

I am warping to the K346 from the tower on hearing the ships are entering, and can do nothing but see them on d-scan as we pass mid-system. It's a big system, remember. That's a shame, as we could have had a bit of a scrap on the wormhole. But fair dos to them: they were alert to a potential threat, got a scout to look around, and made a dash when all looked clear. And it's all been good practice for us too.

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