Another early start today, this time looking for an exit. Glorious leader Fin is out in empire space, stranded from the home w-space system after yesterday's ambush and prolonged sortie from the attackers. All is quiet and there is only a single wormhole to resolve, letting me jump through to explore our class 3 neighbouring system. Battleships, haulers, and a destroyer are returned by an initial check of my directional scanner, along with an unexpected tower. It is unexpected because I was only in this C3 four months ago and the tower I have listed should be out of range of d-scan from the wormhole. There have been some changes, it seems.
I locate the tower in the C3, and a second one further out of the system, finding no pilots and detecting no activity. Scanning is fairly straightforward with a dozen signatures, and I resolve rocks, gas, radar and magnetometric sites. This system has everything, even a wormhole. I already know the static exit leads out to low-sec empire space, and at the moment it is the only wormhole in the system. Jumping out puts me in the Genesis region, fourteen jumps from Fin's present system. With our home system and the C3 quiet, and no extended w-space constellation to bring unexpected visitors, all looks good for Fin returning home, and she starts the journey.
I have some time to spare, so I scan the low-sec system. A handful of anomalies are here, mostly populated by drones, and three other signatures. The signatures other than the K162 to the C3 are also both wormholes, and although one wormhole is reaching the end of its natural lifetime the other is an outbound connection to class 1 w-space, which is rather enticing for further exploration. I jump in to see if anyone is awake, but it seems even my early bird self is too late, a frigate wreck and corpse on d-scan being the remnants of fight.
A look around the C1 finds a tower with a couple of unpiloted ships floating inside its shields, but no other ships or pilots to be seen. I launch probes and scan the system, my combat probes quickly picking up the arrival of a third ship, d-scan suggesting it to be a Vexor piloted by the capsuleer whose corpse is adrift in this system, according to the cruiser's default name. I fling my probes out of the system and look for the Vexor, but it leaves quickly. I bring my probes back in and scan in the rough direction of the cruiser's appearance, resolving a static exit to high-sec, the wormhole already reduced to half mass. Fin is interested to see if the high-sec connection will reduce her travel time, but I am selfishly thinking about popping the Vexor and don't want to jump through the wormhole in case I spook it.
Assuming the Vexor will return I need a boat with more firepower, so I head home to ditch the Buzzard covert operations boat for my Manticore stealth bomber. It takes a little while to cross the three systems and by the time I return the Vexor is already back in the C1, visible on d-scan. I warp to the other wormhole to see the cruiser sitting stationary on the connection, but I don't engage. The Vexor can simply jump back to high-sec to avoid any confrontation, so my best hope for a successful attack is to catch him on his entrance and hope that he is careless about holding the session change cloak, like he appears to be now. And, sure enough, the Vexor jumps back out to high-sec. I'm not sure why he'd want to collapse the wormhole but I can't currently attribute any other motive to his actions, and I simply wait for what I assume to be his inevitable return.
I may as well spend the few minutes backing off to get in to bombing range of the wormhole, as my engagement time will be limited and a bomb gives a good amount of burst damage. I get in to position and wait for a short time before the wormhole flares again. As hoped for, the pilot pays no attention to the session change timer and reveals himself immediately. I take my cue and decloak, launch a bomb, and lock and, oh, he's warped off. I can't say I expected that, and my bomb detonates harmlessly on the wormhole. I re-activate my cloak and see from d-scan that the Vexor is now in one of the few anomalies in the system, this one already having a Sleeper wreck in it. I suppose he wants to complete what he's started, despite apparently already losing a clone to this system.
I warp in to the anomaly, thinking that maybe I can still get an opportunistic kill, but the Vexor pops to Sleeper fire before my bomb relaunch delay expires. The pilot's pod remains in the anomaly, though, perhaps pondering what to do next. Me too. Sleepers don't shoot pods, making him somewhat safe, but Pennies shoot pods and my Manticore is close enough to give it a go, I just don't know if I will be able to lock him quickly enough. I suppose the worst that can happen is he warps out, and I can align back to the wormhole so that I can avoid the Sleeper fire once they target me. I may as well give it my best shot. I decloak and, holy crap, the Sleepers target me really quickly. I don't even have the pod locked by the time I'm in my own pod and reflexively warping back to the wormhole. And my idea of 'the worst that can happen' is amended when I see the warp bubble of an Onyx heavy indictor encapsulating the wormhole to high-sec.
Thankfully, I entered warp before the warp bubble was activated, and I land on top of the wormhole. I wasn't in much peril either way, as I also have bookmarked the wormhole leading back to low-sec and the home system, so I wasn't going to be trapped, but it was rather startling to see the Onyx. For now, I simply jump out to high-sec and warp off to the nearest stargate as I get my bearings. The region seems friendly and connected enough, and there is a nearby station that has Manticores for sale, so I dock and buy and fit a new stealth bomber. I am not able to buy ammunition locally but I don't think I'll need it for the journey back to our tower. Or, at least, I won't be tempted in to making more mistakes.
I undock, warp back to the K162 to the C1, ignore a Tristan frigate that warps in seconds after I do, and jump in. The Onyx is gone, as is the other pilot, and I warp across to the wormhole leading back to the low-sec system. It is simple enough to make the few jumps home, where I load my launchers and welcome back Fin. Despite my self-indulgent and foolish endeavour, she made the journey to the low-sec system and scanned her way home. Next time, I think I should ignore obviously tempting targets and help my colleagues.