Sleepers cleared and profit made, there may be time for a quick roam. Our scan man heads out in his Cheetah, now with an added gun, to reconnoitre our local w-space systems of the day. Nothing particularly promising presents itself, but a Buzzard is seen. We set up a new camp on our wormhole, my Onyx heavy interdictor ready to try to panic a pilot in to making a mistake. There is 'no sign of a hostile fleet', according to our scout, who keeps track of the Buzzard's movements as best he can. Our Arazu pilot jumps in to the other system to provide quicker support to our scout in his Cheetah if required.
The Buzzard jumps through a wormhole that heads away from our home system, the Cheetah and Arazu following. Then a garbled transmission comes back from our scout, leaving me unsure what to do. I have experience of miningzen's excellent tips on w-space surivival and know that 'if your corp mate types a sentence fragment, spelled poorly, consisting of any two [common w-space words], run'. As such, I hold my position on our side of the wormhole until given a clear order. The other two pilots with me are equally cautious, or confused. Our scout could be excited about finding a target and the message was mangled in the rush to communicate it, or he has just run in a to a trap and is concentrating more on escaping than communicating. It turns out to be the latter.
A Phobos heavy interdictor has caught our Cheetah in its bubble and we get told to 'come', so I jump through our wormhole point my ship towards the next, still a system away from the fight. But then we are told not to bother, as a Flycatcher interdictor turns up to help pop and pod our poor pilot. I return to our system and follow communications as it is revealed our Arazu pilot followed the Cheetah and is also now trapped. The Arazu is not as flimsy as the Cheetah, being the cruiser-hulled equivalent of the covert operations frigate, but it is still in danger. Our man fights back, concentrating on the smaller Flycatcher, managing to shoot through the armour of the interdictor and inflicting hull damage, causing the ship to warp off. With the warp scrambler of the Flycatcher no longer preventing its activation, the Arazu's micro-warp drive can be brought back on-line to let our pilot burn out of the heavy interdictor's warp bubble and warp away. But he is not quite out of trouble.
The Arazu has warped away from the wormhole and needs to find a way back. Our scout is in a new clone in empire space, so we have no one monitoring ship movements. And a connecting wormhole is now EOL, so he does not have the luxury of time to wait out a patient force. Luckily, the hostile ships look to be treating the Cheetah kill as a good result, particularly with the near-destruction of their Flycatcher, and they are perhaps wise in considering that the Arazu can call for help to turn up. A few minutes of tense waiting sees the ambushing ships disperse, our own pilot making a dash for the wormhole when it looks clear and returning safely to our home system.
Losing a ship and pod is not the best end to the evening, particularly one that started so well. And although the implants and expensively fitted ship will eat through all the profit made by our scanning man this evening, at least we had that profit to lose. The encounter also shows that a scanning boat in w-space can never be considered benign. Certainly, we chased it, perhaps provoking the defensive response, but it is just as likely that the Buzzard was out looking for targets for his own HIC-backed fleet to trap and kill, just as our man in the Cheetah was. Dispose of the scout and the fleet behind it will be blinded. I don't feel guilty about hunting cov-ops boats.