Our target has left w-space, our neighbouring class 3 system is quiet, but there is still the matter of the scanning probes seen earlier in our home system. There was no point looking for the source of the probes when we had an active target, but now they offer us potentially more exploration, if my suspicion is right and a new wormhole has connected to our system. Fin and I board our Buzzard covert operations boats and look for signs of a K162 at home. Fin finds a new wormhole and warps to it, with me following close behind. She lands at a connection coming from another class 4 system, and she jumps through to investigate.
Fin's directional scanner shows no activity in the C4, and I follow her in to the system. In fact, the system is tiny, the entirety of it visible to d-scan from just about any relative position, making it obvious that there is no occupation. And no occupation means there is likely to be a further K162 here, an origin for the scouts who opened the connection to our system. We launch probes and scan, finding eighteen anomalies and fifteen signatures to sift through. I imagine that after scanning this C4 and getting to our home system, with its fifty-plus signatures, the scouts despaired and turned around, probably never making it to our neighbouring C3. But going backwards to find them looks to be easier.
Both Fin and I resolve a wormhole each, almost at the same time. Mine is a K162 from a class 5 system, but reaching the end of its natural lifetime, whereas Fin's is a healthy C5 K162. We swap positions to bookmark the other's found wormhole, and I jump through the healthy K162 in to the class 5 system beyond. D-scan reveals a Tengu strategic cruiser and Magnate frigate in the system, along with a tower. Sweeping d-scan around finds the tower, but warping to it doesn't reveal any ships. But they are here, they just aren't on my overview. It is only when I see the green-backed white star insignia that I realise why my overview is apparently deceiving me. We've found our splinter faction!
Actually, I suppose our splinter faction, set-up in this class 5 system with a static connection to a C4, found us. But they didn't stop to say hello, which is a little rude. I warp in to the tower, wondering when I will be noticed, but it takes a while even with my loud all-caps shouting in the corporation channel. Being invisible has its benefits, though. We need some more ECM modules and drones at our tower, and the hangar here seems to be much better stocked than our own. I cram a bunch of drones and modules in to my Buzzard's cramped hold as pilots start to notice I'm actually flying around them and not just being noisy in the communication channel.
'We could use some laser crystals too', points out Fin, thinking of our next tower siege, but our colleagues don't have many themselves. But that's okay, they have a link to high-sec empire space and a pilot is on a supply run, he just adds them to his shopping list for us. That's awfully kind. I almost feel guilty about coming back in my Crane transport ship and taking a Retriever mining barge, particularly as Fin notices on my return that we have three unused in storage ourselves.
The high-sec trader brings back the supplies, gets help hauling them to the tower, and we are thankful to get some stock for ourselves. We hang out for a bit, happy to be physically in the same system for the first time in months, but the hour is getting late. We turn around and head home. We didn't find activity we wanted to shoot, but it was a lovely surprise to see some old friends that are generally just floating heads. Maybe next time they'll recognise our system and stop to say hello, although maybe they would have done this time had I kept home a bit tidier.