Watching the ships go by

8th February 2014 – 3.45 pm

The pod lingers in the system. He hasn't gone to the exit to low-sec, so probably not a tourist, and only stays long enough for me to get my combat scanning probes working. I keep them working and resolve, of all wormholes, a K162 from deadly class 6 w-space. Is this his home, the pilot of the Anathema covert operations boat I interrupted when salvaging Sleeper wrecks? As the wormhole crackles whilst I consider this, bringing the pod back in to the system, I can only think that, yes, it probably is.

Pod jumps from class 6 to class 3 w-space

I assume the pilot is now heading out of w-space to buy a replacement ship, but seeing the pod warp to this class 3 system's star says otherwise. It's a bit of a weird manoeuvre too. I follow behind, unsure whether he warped to the zero point or to drop short by a hundred kilometres, and see the pod floating too far for me to engage. That's perhaps for the best, as he may just be trying to make me show myself a second time. I've already seen a Loki strategic cruiser in this system, albeit indirectly using my directional scanner, but I know we're not alone.

Talking of the Loki, I warp back to the wormhole, the pod already having left the system again, to see the Loki decloak and jump to C6a, followed moments later by a Buzzard cov-ops. Was the pod acting as bait? I don't know, but the wormhole crackles to bring the Loki back, and I am really tempted to engage it. He will be polarised, I won't be, and I am often tempted to pit my own Loki against another. But I'm also often too slow in working up the resolve to do so, and this time is no exception.

Loki jumps from class 6 w-space

The Loki warps clear, launches probes. If he scans for and reconnoitres other wormholes maybe we can still catch him. It's probably worth a go, with Aii back and able to supply a second ship, both to watch a second K162 and to add to our firepower. I watch the wormhole to C6a, Aii the one to home. We don't see the Loki, but the K162 in front of me crackles, two pods jumping in to the system, pilots of the Anathema and Buzzard, and warping to the U210 to exit to low-sec. Nothing we can catch.

Now nothing at all. Still nothing we can catch. I am tempted to poke in to C6a, a temptation made stronger by Aii playing the devil on my shoulder. 'Do it.' Okay. I jump in to the pull of a class 6 w-space black hole, almost already feeling the crazy speeds my Loki could reach. But nothing sits on the wormhole, nothing appears on an update of d-scan. It's all a bit disappointing.

I suppose this isn't the pilots' home either, which will sit a further jump back, through another wormhole waiting to be found. Launching probes and blanketing the system reveals nineteen anomalies and twenty-seven signatures, not a result that suggests active occupation. Notes made three months ago say otherwise, but exploring finds that old tower gone. Being a class 6 system, or a black hole system, one may have been too much for them. Or the maybe combination.

As it turns out, it's not too much not for the pods. A new tower has been erected, the owner corporation matching that of the pods' pilots. But not of the Loki. That's got to be important. 'I am curious as to what they are bringing back', says Aii. So am I. We can spot them on the low-sec wormhole and catch them here. That's the plan, anyway, so when the wormhole crackles in front of me with no word from Aii, now moved to the U210, I know it's not the pods returning. I watch as a Proteus decloaks, the strategic cruiser piloted by an AHARM capsuleer.

AHARM Proteus appears on the wormhole to class 3 w-space

The presence of an AHARM scout can't be good. I suppose the odds are fair that they'd be connected to any given C6 system, though. And although he's just one pilot, how many more could be behind him? A Taranis jumps past me, from C6a to C3a, and I give Aii a heads-up to watch for it. The interceptor appears on Aii's d-scan and drops off it again, not having gone past him or back past me. There's another wormhole we haven't found yet. There's also an interceptor on the loose.

An alternative option is that a new wormhole has opened up in our home system, and the Taranis originally came from that direction. That would be interesting, and it's worth checking, if only because heading that way would give me a good excuse to go off-line for the night. I jump to C3a, cross the system, jump home. The wormhole's clear, d-scan's clear, the system's clear. My excuse is made better when the wandering AHARM Proteus blips on d-scan in C3a, making it look like an excellent time to feel sleepy. I think I'll call it a night.

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