When last we left the tale of my Stratios Vacation I had decided not to head home but instead to log off in Cloud Ring. I logged back in and indeed the WH to Lasleinur is gone. I did have a momentary panic because I hadn't reloaded my probe launcher before I logged, and it occurred to me that I might have left my probes out to expire. The changes made a while back that auto-retrieve your probes means that it is probably hard to actually lose them nowadays, but just in case that's probably a good point for other explorers: make sure you have a spare set of core probes on board. I probe down the new single new signature - it's one of those low sig sites, but by the time I get to 0.5 AU it comes up as a Gas Site. Nevermind that.
Moving from system to system I found that the area was strikingly absent of signatures. Enough that I wondered if the locals make a point of running/rolling them, though I can't imagine they can be bothered to roll wormholes in such space. Eventually I find a Relic Site and actually successfully run it to find about 7M worth of material. As I start to move to the next can someone enters local, so I aim away from the can, hit the MWD to get range and go for the cloak - just as a Helios lands, with the charming pilot name of "SpaceSlut 3000" - definitely classy. Anyway, the key question was "did he see me?" I circle back towards him under cloak. He's 24km away, so quite a bit more than my scram. And he's off before I can make any other decision. Musta saw me.
I move on to the next system and find seven signatures waiting for me (see what I get for complaining?). After a couple gas sites, my classy Helios pilot enters system, accompanied by a Stilletto. Meta 0 core probes drop, and the Helios stays on scan. Our SpaceSlut is apparently only four months old, and doesn't have cloaking skills yet. But he (no, I can't imagine the player of such a character is female) does have a friend (or a main, as the Stilleto pilot is from 2010) that can keep an eye out for them. Good combination, I'm not interested in trying my luck there.
So time to move on - which brings me into the region of Fade. Hey, I can see Deklein from here! As I come into system, there's another null resident I happened to be in system with. Right as our charmingly named pilot comes back into system, he apparently gets nervous.
Is that for me or the classy pilot? Who knows.
I moved along and got to a much more populated system (8W-OSE). As soon as I cleared the gate, I was greeted in local chat, along with a posted image
This is more like what I've heard of nullsec residents keeps an eye out for intruders, and probably a bit more attention than I'd like. In a Stratios I expect I can clear most gatecamps but, there's always a risk of an instalocker or a spread of wrecks/cans. I also have seen the same toon appear in system about 66% of the time after I enter, so I'm starting to wonder if that's chance or if he's keeping an eye on the neutral.
I double back towards Cloud Ring. In warping through I notice warp disruption bubbles. They aren't in quite the right place to block my warp, but it's a good reminder. I moved on back and there doesn't appear to be any pursuit. Things quiet down and empty out as a I move away, so I get to a safe and put out some probes to check out the signatures. In the middle of scanning local shows the arrival of a new pilot, so I hit d-scan and see a Gnosis. A check on the new pilot shows that it's a new character, started about when Alpha pilots became possible. Hmm, a Gnosis is a logical ship for taking on bigger rats or even scanning for an Alpha pilot... but it's also a very well known hull for baiting.
Okay, so d-scan down the Gnosis. I'm trying to use the d-scan by range trick that I've heard people describe rather than the more intuitive angle-scan approach. Basically if you go to 360 degree scan and start reducing your range, you'll probably find that there's only one celestial at the range where the target disappears. If you go by angle you'll have to do the sector by angle and then reduce range. In any case, if the Gnosis shows up at a belt or an Anom then I'm going for it I figure, counting on my better character skills compared to the greater size of the battlecruiser. Instead, it turns up near a gate. That's a flag, but I warp over under cloak to check it out.
The Gnosis is orbiting the gate at range and I don't recognize the turrets definitively, but they look like they might be Rapid Lights, which would be good for dispatching light tackle. The lazy wide orbit of a gate only seems to make sense as bait to me, so I warp away rather than try my luck. If he had gone to the belt nearest the gate and shot a rat I might have gone for it, and the way I've see Gnosis set for bait I bet he could have tanked me until his buddies showed up. The only trick might have been whether he could have kept tackle. Given that I had a scram and neuts I would have been in range to be scrammed and webbed down, and if the Gnosis had a cap booster then it could have kept point on me despite the neuts. But no.
Instead, I check out the signatures. This area is feeling pretty responsive to neutral presence, and not terribly interesting for solo hunting, so when I find a wormhole to a C5 I decide to move on in. That leads to a C2. Googling shows someone on the forums once lived here and then was trying to buy a path back after accidentally rolling themself out. The C2 has a static C4 and static high, so that could be interesting. I log off here for the night, figuring I can use this as a good point to find something new next time I log in.
Good night, sweet wormhole! Good night, cloaked Proteus!