Outbound to an ore site

21st February 2014 – 5.11 pm

Two gas sites have floated away from the home system, and the two new signatures only replace one of those sites. The other signature is a wormhole, a K162 from class 3 w-space, making it the same as our static wormhole but with a different direction. That's a good excuse to shake the routine up a bit, so backwards it is. Sadly, jumping to C3b is a bit of a disappointment, appearing as I do over six kilometres from the wormhole and with nothing visible on my directional scanner. Still, it can only get better, right?

Launching probes and performing a blanket scan reveals fourteen anomalies, eighteen signatures, and no ships, but exploring at least finds a tower. Checking for more wormholes isn't a positive experience either. All the chubby signatures are gas sites, meaning there are no K162s and that the static exit will lead to high- or null-sec. I resolve one, its lack of strength indicating it will be a K346 to null-sec, and given my disdain for outbound connections these days I'll treat it as the only wormhole of significance unless prompted otherwise. I recall my probes and warp to the wormhole.

It's a K346 all right, but before I can see where it will take me a final update of d-scan sees there are other probes in this system, two sets even. Have the scouts come from C3a? Whatever, if they resolve every signature I could be waiting here for a while, and they are only core scanning probes and so won't detect my ship decloaking, so I'll check the null-sec system anyway.

I appear in a system in Tenal, no one around, seven extra signatures. I launch probes and scan, but today I'm preferring not to rat and instead lurk on the wormhole in case the scouts in C3b come this way. Resolving the signatures instil a sense of a pattern in me, identifying as I do a relic site, gas site, relic site, gas site, relic site, but stumbling on a weak wormhole and data site makes me think it was mere coincidence. I recall my probes with no one having come past me, and given that I have an obviously outbound wormhole to explore I make the best use of my time. I wait on this K162 for a bit longer.

Proteus jumps from w-space to null-sec

The wormhole crackles, once then twice. A Proteus strategic cruiser appears first, followed by a Pilgrim recon ship. I don't quite fancy my odds against either of them by itself, let alone the pair of them together. But, weirdly, rather than jump back to w-space the two warp towards a stargate and leave the system. Well, they're gone, so that's good. I may as well see what that wormhole is.

I drop out of warp next to an X702 connection to class 3 w-space. It's either this one or the other in the home system, and I'm already here, so I jump to C3c. There doesn't look to be much to see. D-scan is clear, the idiot scanner is already showing me four anomalies and two signatures—this K162 and the static wormhole—and launching probes and blanketing the system indicates the other signature will take me straight back to null-sec.

Empty class 3 w-space system

My probes also reveal seven ships in the system, all no doubt having this K162's signature blinking at them by the dumbscovery scanner pretty obviously, given the general dearth of signatures. Then again, there may be no pilots, or maybe the X702 was opened hours ago and it doesn't register as new any more. I may as well check. Locating the tower finds two ships piloted, in a Helios covert operations boat and Venture mining frigate, the combat ships empty. But I only count six at the tower. D-scan confirms the seventh is elsewhere, a Retriever mining barge. Could I be so lucky?

Finding a miner in a w-space ore site

If the miner isn't paying attention he must be punished. The ore site is easy to find, more's the pity. I much preferred the days of having to actually hunt ships, and being given the time to do it. But now's not the time to reminisce. I warp towards the site and drop short of the Retriever by just over 150 km. It's almost perfect. Without wasting time, I get my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser closer to the mining barge and get ready to wake the pilot up.

Ambushing a Retriever in w-space

Still the Retriever doesn't stir, making it a simple matter to decloak and execute the ambush. There are no surprises as I lock on, disrupt the warp engines, and start shooting, the mining barge exploding without having moved. The lack of any stirrings makes me think it a formality to also catch the pod, but the shield, armour, and hull alarms must have got the pilot's attention. The pod warps clear.

Retriever exploding in a fireball

I loot and shoot the wreck, and, well, I'm not going to loiter, in the site or in the system. All that's left here are potential repercussions. I'll call this a win, despite the lack of skill involved, and head back the way I came. Out to null-sec, across to C3b, and still no one is in the tower in the w-space system. I am close to jumping home when updating d-scan sees a golden pod in the system. The pod drops on to the wormhole with the previously seen Pilgrim behind it, and I recognise the pod pilot as having been in the Proteus. Is he now in his pod on purpose, or did he get a surprise in null-sec?

Proteus pilot returns in his golden pod

Both jump to our home system, followed by an Anathema cov-ops. It looks like we're being used as a bridge. I give the ships a minute to get clear, rather generous of me, I think, and follow. Scanning the home system finds a new signature, and it resolves to be a K162 from class 5 w-space. Despite already being in my pyjamas, I can't resist a peak through. And it is just a peak, after updating d-scan sees thirteen towers—that are in range—and a handful of combat ships. No wrecks means no Penny interest, although I am curious as to what Tenal holds for these pilots. I suppose I won't find out, not if I yawn, jump home, and go off-line.

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