It's the morning, and I am out for a bit of exploration before work. It's corp night tonight, meaning we have a standing plan to run sites to make money. Part of that involves opening our static C5 the previous night, to scout it out. Last night the system looked great for running sites, other than it not having that many. It had no live towers, just two dead ones. And it had only its static C6 wormhole, and one other small wormhole to nullsec. (This one I likely instantiated; it will last 16 hours and therefore be gone by the time corp night starts.) But now it's been eight hours, and I want to peek in to see if anything has changed.
I jump into C5a, and dscan. Nothing on scan, good. But there are three new sigs -- not so good. One is the static, which is evidently gone since last night. The other two, I don't know. I move off the wormhole, fire probes, and hide them. Then I warp around the system. Nobody home. OK, time to scan.
Scanning reveals three new wormholes. The new static, to C6a. And two new wormholes to nullsec. One is small, which is not a great sign for my plans tonight. Grr. The other is a K162. Having found these wormholes, I start exploring them. The incoming one first. I warp to the wormhole.
As I arrive on grid with the wormhole, I see there's a Tristan here. Huh? Where'd he come from? No time to consider that. I am about to exit out of warp at the center of the wormhole, which will uncloak me. Tristans are drone frigates, which means they are great for killing stealth bombers. Nothing to do but jump. I jump. There are several people in Local in this system. Maybe he's from here. I hear the wormhole noise. He followed me. I bookmark the entrance just in case, then jump back into C5a. Once in, I order a warp to the next nullsec wormhole, and cloak. The Tristan has followed me, again, but he does not catch me. It's really hard to catch anyone in a cloaky frigate on a wormhole any more. If the Tristan pilot was trying, he did not succeed.
I assay the remaining two nullsec wormholes one after the other, coming back in immediately. Nobody in nullsec in either system. The Tristan remains on scan. I'm ignoring him: not my target profile. On to C6a. I instantiated it last night, but did not enter. (Instead I sucked gas, confident that it was closed because I saw it in the "new" phase.) Now I plan to enter.
As I warp up to the wormhole, I see a Venture on scan. That's interesting, but the Tristan is there on grid again. Maybe he is escorting a supply run through wspace? Who knows. Anyway, once again I jump, then elude him. Then I warp around C6a hoping to find something, perhaps a mining op? But nothing is there to be found. Instead I launch probes, and start scanning. I figure that will deter the Tristan and his friends from... whatever it they are doing. And it does seem to. The Tristan leaves the system. I scan down two wormholes: a second C5, and a C4. My time here is growing short -- must go to work -- but I have time to check those two systems out to gank any really obvious targets.
I duck into C5b. Nothing on scan from the wormhole. I fly around the system, and I can see a Buzzard at a POS at an outer planet. There's also a bubble trap there, and I start thinking about trying to get on grid before I realize that's idiotic. Not for a Buzzard, and not with limited time. I warp back to the wormhole, and back into C6a.
Now I try C4c. I jump in, and see a lot of anoms. Nothing on scan from the wormhole. Looks abandoned; I'll have to fly around -- no, wait a minute. There's a ghost site! That means that almost certainly the system is empty; nobody leaves a ghost site around. It also means time to get back home and get my ghostbusting Tengu. (Nobody leaves a ghost site untouched, I'm not nobody.) I jump back to C6a immediately.
In C6a I scan as I cross the system, but nothing has changed. Good. Back into C5a. Again I scan, expecting nothing, but I see two things of interest. First, the Venture I saw before is still on scan. Gassing? Second, so is the Tristan I saw earlier. But there's something more interesting: Ishamael Balthamel's corpse. Since it is there, and the Tristan is not a wreck, I guess that he must have ejected and self-destructed his pod. Why? I have no idea why. Let's find it first.
A bit of dscanning shows the Tristan is at the wormhole to nullsec where I first encountered it. I warp over for a look.
Just being near planet VII does not mean that I can find it. I can find it if it is at the POCO or a moon; otherwise I'll have to combat scan for it. Both of those are weird places for a Venture to be. But then, anywhere around a planet other than inside a POS is. I find it at a moon. Weird. I warp over to look.
I land on grid about 170km from a dead tower, and sure enough there is the Venture over near the tower, next to a giant freight container. It is unmanned, just like the Tristan. Weird. And hey, look at that. The POS modules are unanchored. I could grab them.
|A dead tower. Ooh, look at those modules.|
OK, now I have two ships to grab. And maybe those unanchored POS mods, too. I log off my Jita alt and log on my alt Otto. He puts his Hound into storage so he can pod over and get the ships. Back at the dead POS, I make a picture of the Venture, and in doing so notice something... do you see it?
|Something here is unusual.|
Otto jumps into an Iteron V, and refits it for more warp core stabilization. I am pretty sure this is not a trap -- if so, it's very elaborate. Still, it might be a trap, and more WCS won't affect the mission; the tower is 8000m^3. Otto warps to the C5 wormhole, then in, and he makes the grab. Nobody kills him. He warps back home and dumps the Iteron. Now for some ships.
First Otto goes for the Venture, hoping that it is packed with gas as its name suggests. It's not. It has no cargo or drones, just two gas miner Is, a nanofiber (offline), and a microwarpdrive (offline). Otto onlines the microwarp, then heads home. He has to wait briefly for polarization to abate.
Next Otto goes to grab the Tristan and its corpse. This also goes without incident. The Tristan is completely unfit. No modules at all and no drones. Really strange. More polarization on the way home.
As Otto is warping (and sitting polarized the second time), I notice something. Some of the POS modules, the energy neutralizers, are actually faction. Ooh. OK, that determines it: I am grabbing them too. I warp Von out to make a perch so that Otto can bounce back and forth quickly. Also I bookmark one POS module in each of six locations. (There are two clumps of two each.)
Otto gets into a different Iteron V, fit for maximum cargo. There are eight POS modules, all 4000m^3. I can do it one run. Otto warps over, jumps in, and starts grabbing.
|Coming for more loot.|
|POS and parts.|
|Not from C5a.|
I got lots of loot, but I am left with many questions. What was Ishamael Balthamel doing in wspace? Why was he in a completely unfit ship? (Indeed, how did he manage to even get into wspace with no probe launcher?) Why did he not convo me for help? I could have gotten him out. Was he connected to the Venture in some way? Why was there a Venture and a juicy tower and parts just sitting there to grab? Who left it there, and why?
I probably will never find answers to any of these questions. But it's stuff like this that keeps me playing. You never know what you are going to find when people shape the environment.