Having a go at a Helios

11th March 2014 – 5.42 pm

Two pods are at the tower with the Orca industrial command ship. One has stowed his Retriever mining barge, the other left his behind as a wreck in the ore site, kinda helped along by yours truly. I'm curious to see what they do next. A Buzzard covert operations boat is boarded and manoeuvred out of the force field to launch probes and, presumably, scan the new signature that brought me in to this class 3 w-space system.

Can I do anything about this? I could plant an interceptor on our side of the wormhole, but I consider it highly unlikely that the locals will do anything but register the new wormhole. It would be remarkable if they decided to jump through out of curiosity, knowing that at least a hostile Loki strategic cruiser is at large. But I can grab the next-best ship, and I head home to swap to a Manticore stealth bomber. I can lurk cloaked and still have a chance of catching a cov-ops. Or I could, if scanning a single signature took longer than crossing systems and changing ships. Which it doesn't.

Returning to C3a in the Manticore has probes gone from the system, according to my directional scanner. I loiter for a minute on the K162, just in case a jump comes, but none does. Warping to the tower sees the Buzzard and the Orca pilot now in a Prowler transport, but the third pilot is missing and there's a Bestower hauler on d-scan. What have I missed? Whatever it was, I've definitely missed it, as the Bestower drops in to the tower and all three ships blink off-line one after the other.

I don't think the hauler pilot was doing anything silly. There are three towers in this system, and the hauler's vector in to this tower came from the direction of another, so I really don't think I missed another ambush opportunity. And seeing all three pilots go off-line is good in its way, as I can be confident no one remains in this system. I swap the Manticore back for the Loki and launch probes to scan C3a for more wormholes.

It's mostly gas in this system, plus a bit of Retriever dust, and unsurprisingly there is only the one wormhole, hence the earlier mining, leading out to low-sec. The connection takes me to Aridia, of course, where I am by myself and have five extra signatures to scan. As I scan I look for a decent rat to pop for a gain in security status. I resolve three wormholes and ignore two combat sites before finding one, but that's okay.

My probes have found three K162s, two from class 5 w-space, one from class 3 w-space. One of the C5 K162s is at the end of its life and critically destabilised, but no one seems to want to finish the job. I ignore it in favour of the C3 K162, where jumping through sees nothing on d-scan, perhaps explained by the black hole in the system. A blanket scan reveals five anomalies and eight signatures, exploring finds no occupation, and scanning only resolves an N968 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space. No K162s.

C3c is worth a look, I suppose, and at least it has occupation, if not any ships. A blanket scan reveals five anomalies and six signatures, and a d-scan update has core scanning probes in the system with me now. Someone else is out there. I look for wormholes and resolve three in succession: the static exit to low-sec, a K162 from null-sec, and a second K162 from null-sec. Not the w-space I was looking for. A bit of gas gets ignored and a fourth wormhole is revealed, but that too is just another K162 from null-sec.

The other scout is still scanning, and as he's probably not worth waiting for anyway I'll poke the null-sec systems and head home. Oop, the probes disappear and, yep, a Buzzard is on d-scan. Not worth trying to catch, not in a lumbering ship like my Loki. Not that I don't try to catch a cov-ops when one is right in front of me. Jumping through the first K162 lands me in a system in Omist, where I see nothing of interest until I decide to jump back to C3c. A Helios cov-ops decloaks on the wormhole and jumps. Naturally, I follow, futilely try to lock on to the tiny, agile ship on the other side of the wormhole, and watch it disappear. Really not worth it.

The second K162 in C3c comes in from Fountain, where my motivation drops sharply enough that I don't care to rat or to see where the third null-sec K162 would take me. That's probably for the best, and it's through C3c, across C3b, and back to low-sec, where curiosity tugs at my warp engine, sending me to the healthy C5 K162. Okay, I can spare a few minutes. Seeing a tower and no ships from the other side of the wormhole tempts me to give up, but there must be more to see. I launch probes and blanket the system. Eight anomalies, three signatures, and eleven ships. Yep, more to see. Primarily, I suspect another tower.

Not just one more tower waits to be found in C5b, but at least three more in the system centre alone. In them are a piloted Loki, empty Noctis salvager, and piloted Orca. That's three ships, which my keen mathematical mind is telling me is less than the eleven my probes are showing me. I wonder if they could possibly be around that one planet still out of d-scan range. I warp across and, who could have known, see two more towers and, um, five more ships.

The Proteus, Legion, and Tengu strategic cruisers, and Guardian logistics ship and Cynabal cruiser are all piloted, split amongst the two towers, but five and three isn't eleven, right? I interrogate my probes and they agree, adjusting their ship estimate to match the reality of eight being in the system. Did three go off-line, or abroad to another system? A quick scan resolves relics and a wormhole, but poking through the static connection to C5c sees only a tower and Imicus frigate, with not enough out of range to convince me anything's happening. And, with that last look around not finding anything to convince me to continue, it is time to call it a night.

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