'The wormhole's being stubborn, it's refusing to die.' And so starts another potentially dull night in w-space. There are, apparently, 'no other signatures, anomalies, or anything' in our home system, and there's little point venturing out through a wormhole on its last legs unless I relish the adventure in waiting for someone to contract me bookmarks to the inevitable new constellation I'll need to use to get home. So we wait. Thankfully, it isn't too long before the wormhole snuffs it and a new one pops up, looking rather more vital than its predecessor, and we can go out looking for trouble again.
Our neighbouring class 4 w-space system number looks familiar, and I have indeed been here twice before. I have nothing interesting to note of those past two occasions, though, only that I was last here fully a year ago. It looks like we have a pilot present too, as the Exequror cruiser initially seen on my directional scanner has now turned in to an Orca industrial command ship, and that's a tricky misidentification to pull off. I locate the tower in the system, landing in the middle of a bubble, to find no trace of the Orca. The C4's a big system and the Orca could be out collecting gas or planet goo, but if I were that lucky I'd have my own unicorn and I rather suspect the pilot's made a coincidental exit upon my arrival.
Launching scanning probes reveals two ships, neither being the Orca. Both the Hoarder hauler and Vigil frigate are sitting inside a second tower on the outskirts of the C4, where again I end up inside a bubble. This time, I'm even decloaked by the bubble itself, and the Vigil at the tower is piloted. If he's paying any attention at all, which he should given his ship class, I have been spotted. Still, plenty of pilots sit in the safety of their tower's force field whilst making sammiches, so I could still be an unknown presence. Mick and I scan, restricting ourselves to the inner system where our probes won't be detected by the sole pilot here, and we each resolve a wormhole from the eleven signatures.
Mick's resolved wormhole is the C4's static connection to class 2 w-space, whilst mine is a K162 from a second C4. We swap locations to bookmark each other's find and I jump in to the C2 to explore, with Mick heading to the C4. I warp around to find a Scorpion battleship, Rifter frigate, and Bestower hauler all sitting unpiloted in a tower's shields, which is fairly unexciting, and the C4 is not looking any more active for Mick. There are two towers in the second C4 but no pilots, the only ship in the system being an Imparior frigate abandoned on the fringes. He leaves it where he finds it, there not even being any point in shooting the ship, and we continue exploring.
The two static wormholes of the class 2 w-space system are easily found, scanning being quick in an inactive system, and we have new connections to class 1 w-space and high-sec empire space. I jump out to get the destination system in high-sec, whilst Mick continues along in w-space to the C1. I grab the bookmark in the Citadel region as Mick reports the first activity we have seen today, a Legion and Proteus visible on d-scan with Sleeper wrecks, and a Catalyst destroyer no doubt following behind the strategic cruisers to salvage their mess.
I head back to w-space and across to join Mick, but the K162 in the C1 is in d-scan range of the combat ships. We probably can't engage two active-tanked strategic cruisers in our scouting boats, but the Catalyst is a prime target and we don't want to spook him unnecessarily, so I stay on the wormhole to the system for now. The destroyer cloaks when he isn't salvaging, adding to the difficulty of engaging it, but Mick follows it in to the next completed anomaly, the strategic cruisers moving on to attack more Sleepers, and he has a shot he can take. Rather than risk losing the opportunity I tell Mick to pop the Catalyst solo, which he does easily, podding the pilot too, but he isn't able to loot the wreck before the Proteus drops in to see what's happening and he has to leave behind a few tens of millions of ISK in Sleeper salvage.
I watch the wormhole connecting the C2 to the C1 and, soon enough, it flares a couple of times. The Proteus then Legion decloak, and a third ship too, a Magnate frigate, and all three warp to the tower in the C2. The Proteus then heads out to what looks like high-sec, either to look for us or to buy a new salvaging destroyer, leaving the system inactive again. That's okay, on his way home Mick has found a Covetor in the C4 behind us, which offers exciting prospects of slaughtering a miner. I jump back to the C4 and take up watch at the tower too, willing the pilot of the Covetor to mindlessly shoot some rocks, but he stubbornly refuses to believe in telepathy.
What I notice whilst sitting outside the tower in the C4 is that the Exequror cruiser is back in the system, but not in the tower itself. I go out looking for him and, with some refinements to d-scan's beam width and range, position him a little under the tower. It seems odd for him to be sitting there alone and, warping to get closer, after covertly launching combat scanning probes, I place him just over 1 AU away from the tower, which is too far to be a mere off-grid safe-spot. Mick enlightens me as to the capacity of the Exequror's cargo hold and, as a result, its suitability for harvesting gas without needing to jettison a can often, and it looks like we have a second target.
Mick is in the home system and able to bring a heavy interdictor to the static wormhole, waiting for me to get my probes in to position. Being so close to a known position makes it relatively easy to get a good bearing on the gas miner—at least I think it does, as I suppose I won't find out until I hit 'scan'—and I cluster my probes around where I think the Exequror is sitting. Satisified with the position of my probes I warp back to our K162 and instruct Mick to jump in, as I start the scan. I get a 100% hit on the first attempt, both ship and ladar site fully located, and warp the two of us to the target ship's position, recalling my probes at the same time.
We drop out of warp on top the unsuspecting Exequror, Mick inflating his HIC's warp bubble to stop it escaping. I've already dropped my cloak and am locking the cruiser as soon as my warp engines cut out, which makes this a rather simple affair. The Exequror crumples under our combined fire and the ejected pod, with no way of getting clear, suffers the same fiery fate. We scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck. Smooth and efficient, like a well-oiled machine. That's one for each of us this evening. Happy with the results of our exploration and hunting we turn our ships around and head home for the night.