Fin's fickle agent still snubs me. If that's the way it's going to be, I'll look for capsuleers to shoot in w-space. I take my Tengu strategic cruiser to look for wormholes in high-sec, finding nothing in the home system and a single wormhole in the next system along. Sadly, the wormhole only connects this high-sec system with null-sec k-space, and as I sit cloaked to bookmark the link a Buzzard covert operations boat warps in, seems as disappointed as me with his find, and warps right back out again.
It's still perhaps worth a look for more wormholes in the null-sec system, but jumping through to see three red pilots in the local channel is enough to deter me from exploring here. I wait for the session change timer to end and turn to jump back to high-sec, just as the three pilots drop on top of and engage me in their own Tengus. It's no big deal, I jump out and ignore them, warping to the next stargate in the constellation to try my luck in a new high-sec system.
Another system, another lone signature. This one is also a wormhole, a K162 from class 2 w-space that is reaching the end of its natural lifetime. I can afford a quick look. Jumping in presents me with a clear return from my directional scanner, and I launch probes at the wormhole and blanket the system. Eighteen signatures, no anomalies, and no ships. I don't care to sift through all those signatures at the moment, moving on to yet another high-sec system to scan instead. And the next system across has a stable K162 to more class 2 w-space, jumping in showing me a tower and ships on d-scan, which looks more promising.
I move away from the wormhole and cloak, and checking d-scan more closely sees the wreck of an Amarr industrial ship. That's curious, and from experience I would put such a wreck near a customs office. I narrow d-scan's beam and sweep it around, checking each customs office in turn until, as suspected, the wreck appears coincident with one. I warp directly there, pretty much hoping to catch the assailant with his pants down, so to speak. I tend to shoot the wrecks rather than leave them behind, so maybe this is a fresh assault. And indeed it is, as I drop out of warp to see a Manticore stealth bomber move towards the wreck to loot it.
It's not just any Manticore in front of me, it's Bjurn Akely's Manticore, of the 20 Minuters. I share some banter in their channel regularly, which presents all kinds of ethical quandaries about shooting a pilot you are friendly with but isn't blue. Whilst I consider the moral dilemma I decloak and lock on to his Manticore, getting my weapons systems hot, only to watch as he warps away a split-second before impending doom takes a firm grip around his neck. 'PENNY!'
'You can have the loot, I have no room for it.'
Cool, thanks. It's just a few fittings, but they're Tech II and worth a few million iskies. How did you escape my clutches?
'I was already aligned, I've been taught well.'
Yeah. Still, I probably wasn't going to shoot you, and you can't prove a thing.
We share a bit of intelligence about the system and local corporation, and I congratulate him on his planet goo kill, despite it being the terrible act of a bloodthirsty pirate that I clearly cannot condone. I also pat myself on the back for recognising the situation and acting quickly enough to nearly get a sneaky counter-kill on the side of justice. I'm not that smart, though, as in my haste I forgot to bookmark the wormhole I entered through. My launcher fires scanning probes and I cloak, moments before a Thorax cruiser warps in to land almost on top of my probes. I don't know if the pilot thinks I am in a smaller ship, not the Tengu, or if he has warp core stabilisers fitted, or maybe is bait for a bigger fleet behind him. Whatever it is, the Thorax warps away again soon enough and I get to scanning.
My exit is easy enough to find, and my combat probes keep picking up the Thorax, who appears to be warping around randomly, and a Buzzard. The Buzzard looks stationary and tempting as a target, and I get his approximate position before he cloaks, but it looks like he is sitting near a planet and I warp there to see what's happening. The Thorax is back with the Buzzard but they are over two hundred kilometres from my position. I bounce off a nearby moon to try to get closer, which I manage but only by apparently also attracting a Dominix battleship at the same time. Rather than moving closer again to try to engage them, I simply watch what these three ships do, which is warp away to the tower in the system. Maybe the locals have given up trying to find my scanning boat or that pirate Akely. Or maybe not.
I assumed the three ships are local, but warping to the tower to reconnoitre their next movements sees wrecks of the Buzzard and Thorax, and no sign of the Dominix. It appears instead that the fleet of three were from another system and got attacked when warping directly to the local tower. I'm not sure if they were looking to attack the tower, bait the locals, or accidentally warped to the wrong moon, but they've gone now, tails between their legs. I share this humorous moment with Akely before getting back to scanning. I find a K162 from class 2 w-space here, perhaps where the kamikaze pilots came from, and the second static wormhole which leads to a class 3 system.
The C3 is occupied but inactive, only an empty Maller cruiser sitting inside a tower, and the wealth of signatures discourages me from scanning further. I head back through the C2 and return to high-sec. No kill for me tonight, but plenty of space to explore and some minor action and excitement. I return to our mission base happy with the evening's entertainment.