Home is where we're not

19th December 2013 – 5.18 pm

'A couple of Dominices are poking around C3a.' A pair of battleships in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system is interesting enough to get me alert. Maybe a Widow black ops ship and one of our Legion strategic cruisers will be effective against them? HR agrees and swaps in to a cloaky Legion to stalk the battleships whilst I get my bearings. Apparently, not everything is as it seems.

For a start, my glorious leader is on-line, active, but not involved. There may be a bookmark to a K162 from class 5 w-space in our home system, and Fin may be in that C5 system, but the wormhole has been collapsed and Fin is isolated from us. She's now facing strategic cruisers and heavy interdictors waiting for her on the new wormhole out of that system. 'I will get out. Worst case, I will wait them out.' The Dominices, however, are not isolated, as far as we can tell, but we also don't really know where they are from. Or where they are now. HR saw one come to our K162 earlier but didn't think it jumped. Maybe the Widow/Legion idea needs a rethink.

HR suspects the battleships, one of which is now back on his directional scanner in C3a, are crashing a wormhole. But which one, and where? He needs probes to find out, and as his Legion doesn't have them I abandon the Widow, get back in to my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, and head his way to give more appropriate support. Huh, that's odd. Our static wormhole is pulsating with instability as I drop out of warp, which no one has mentioned yet. And as I think time is of the essence I've warped to zero on the wormhole, my cloak deactivating as a result, so jump first and interrogate the wormhole's status when I'm in C3a.

Opening the information panel for the wormhole shows that it's not just destabilised to half mass, our way home is critically unstable and on the verge of collapse. HR, come home! Oh, no; don't bother. I reconsider my advice when the wormhole implodes behind me, just the mass of my Loki being enough to finish it off, apparently. Well, that's three of us outside of the home system now, and not even in boats that could feasibly do much to a pair of Dominix battleships. I suppose I'll be scanning out of necessity, stealth be damned.

We may need to discard any notion that we won't be spotted stalking the system, given that we need to scan a way out, but that doesn't mean we have to give up being covert completely. I warp to a distant planet, launch probes, and blanket the system whilst I check my notes. Blimey, it's my tenth visit to this class 3 system, which could be a record. But there is no occupation and no ships, and although I don't realise quite soon enough that the lack of ships may be because my scanning filter is set to exclude them from the results, d-scan at least is configured correctly and tells me the same.

I bookmark the fifteen anomalies, out of habit, and start scanning the five signatures. The first is the static exit to low-sec, looking like it's going to Placid, and sitting in a half-mass state but not yet critical. Gas, a healthy N968 to more class 3 w-space, a data site, and more gas rounds out the scanning results, which makes me suspect the Dominices are from C3b, and that system may even have a better exit. HR's not waiting around to find out, happy to use the exit to Placid to get his probe-lacking Legion safe. I don't blame him.

Jumping to C3b has d-scan clear and notes from eight months ago, which tell me about another static exit to low-sec and some occupation. Exploring gives me one anomaly, four signatures, and one ship revealed by a blanket scan, along with a couple of flights of drones and long warps across a big system. The tower is not the same as before, but the new one is easy enough to locate, where the ship my combat probes scanned turns out to be a piloted Viator transport. I don't quite understand.

If the Dominices are from this system, it makes no sense to collapse the wormholes in C3a unless they plan to take advantage of the resources in that system. And if they are going to do that, where are they? And if they aren't, why not collapse the N968 instead to isolate your system? It already looks like the battleships bugged out of a site when the ruinous dumbscovery scanner pinged the K162 of the N968 in to C3b, so their actions strike me as a little peculiar. But, whatever, I'll scan this system to see what I can find.

One signature is the expected exit to low-sec, obviously leading to Aridia—'No, impossible!' says Fin, nice and sarcastically, comfortably out of C5a and scanning to empire space herself—and the other signatures aren't worth scanning. The Viator is gone, presumed off-line, so I exit to Aridia to see where it takes me, finding myself unsurprisingly in the middle of nowhere. The Placid exit is only four hops to high-sec, so that is definitely the way to go. And I would be going that way too, if the wormhole weren't to flare whilst I'm cloaked in Aridia.

Dominix jumps to Aridia from class 3 w-space

It's the Dominix, coming out and, yep, going back in. They are killing this wormhole too. But why not the N968? I dunno yet. Maybe they are. Maybe I should get my arse back in to C3a whilst I still can. I give the Dominix a minute to do whatever he wants to do, then return to C3b, where the wormhole is clear, d-scan is clear, and warping to the C3a K162 sees, hmm, a still-healthy wormhole. So do I leave now, or wait to see if the pilots really are going to do something in an isolated system?

There's no one on this K162. There's no one at the C3b tower. The locals are being weird again. I loiter for a while, just because the route to Placid isn't dying before I can use it, and after a few minutes detect the Dominix back on the U210 in their system, the battleship the only visible ship underneath my newly relaunched probes. I warp across to see him loitering with little concern, finally jumping out to Aridia and back before, oh, cloaking. That explains why we kept losing them, and is kind of what I was afraid of. I should probably assume that he saw me at least return from Aridia.

Two Dominices crashing a low-sec wormhole

I should just leave, make a start on getting home with my colleagues, particularly now that the second Dominix is making an appearance and helping to crash their U210. But still not the K162 to C3a. Why not? Maybe the new contact in the Noctis salvager now at their tower offers some explanation. Maybe they are going to harvest some sites in C3a after all. Or maybe not. The Noctis pilot swaps to a Helios covert operations boat, making the prospect of waiting for an uncertain chance of perhaps seeing the Dominices shoot Sleepers much less attractive. I'm really leaving now. Just watch me.

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