It's been slim pickings of late, my roams only culminating in a couple of near misses. Maybe today will be luckier for me. I have to cope with a couple of stray signatures in the home system first, one of which is naturally a wormhole. A second wormhole in our class 4 system is the first sign of activity and a positive indicator, even if it means possible intruders. I resolve the final unfamiliar signature as a ladar site and warp to the two wormholes, finding our static connection and a K162 from class 5 w-space. I go where the action is and jump to the C5.
A visit to this class 5 w-space system only a month ago has my notes give me positions of three towers here, two of which are visible on my directional scanner from the wormhole. I also see some ships, and warping to the towers finds a Nightmare battleship and a pod piloted, the Fenrir freighter, three Orca industrial command ships, and Covetor mining barge empty. A Moros dreadnought turns up at the tower with the two pilots but does little more. I am interested by the presence of shield maintenance bots in the system but, like the last time I saw some, they appear to be happily floating alone in space.
I warp to the third tower, out of d-scan range of the other two towers, to find it still there but empty. Returning to the first tower has the Nightmare gone, and I'll be buggered if I'm sitting here watching a Moros do nothing, particularly when I have a class 3 w-space system to explore. I leave this populated but boring system behind me, warp across our home system, and jump to the connecting C3. D-scan is clear on my entry, and launching probes and performing a blanket scan of the system reveals no ships, a tower on-line but empty on the outskirts of the system. I start scanning the handful of signatures here.
A gravimetric site is first resolved, then the system's static exit to high-sec empire space, followed by two more wormholes and a radar site. The second wormhole is an outbound connection to more class 3 w-space, which would be dandy if it weren't reaching the end of its natural lifetime, leaving me with a K162 from low-sec empire space to complete my exploration here. I check the exit to high-sec and am happy to see myself out in Caldari space, in The Citadel region no less, but rather less pleased to have a Nighthawk command ship and Guardian logistics ship sitting right on top of the wormhole with me.
It's possible that the Nighthawk and Guardian were preparing to enter the C3 and shoot some Sleepers until I appeared in their midst. Possible, but unlikely, and not just because the pilots are from a Russian PvP corporation. The Guardian repairs armour and feeds capacitor to ships, the Nighthawk has a formidable and generally passive shield tank. The two are like oil and water in fleet operations. Whatever they are doing there, they are no immediate threat in high-sec, and they don't follow my Tengu strategic cruiser back in to the C3. I warp away from the wormhole and check the low-sec system on the other side of the K162.
The low-sec exit looks to be better situated than the high-sec one, a mere six jumps from our stored assets. There may be a low-sec system or two to navigate to get there and back, but my Crane transport ship will be able to cross that with no difficulties. And with w-space still quiet it looks like a good opportunity to get my utitily ship back home, along with some more sundries we exported as part of our evacuation. It's settled, then. I'll bring my Crane home.
I drop off the Tengu at our tower, grab a shuttle, and make my way through w-space, to low-sec, and then high-sec. Travel is easy and quick, and I dock and load my Crane. I stuff a couple of giant secure containers in the hold, letting me carry almost all of the modules and some of the ammunition that I brought out previously, leaving only some ammunition and a few modules that I may want to keep for the ships still stowed here. I undock, make my way peacefully back through high- and low-sec to the wormhole, and jump in to the C3. No one's waiting for me, but I can see two Badger haulers on d-scan now. Just my luck to miss some soft targets as I peform logistics myself.
I warp the Crane home, throw the returned modules in to our hangar, and get in to my Manticore stealth bomber, wanting to get back to the C3 as quick as I can. I return to see a Crane on d-scan, apparently picking up planet goo, but I only follow in its agile shadow until I chase it back to the local tower, where its pilot takes a nap. Three Drake battlecruisers are also now at the previously empty tower, all piloted along with a Heron frigate. My interest in the now-active system wanes somewhat when the Drakes disappear in a puff of disconnection smoke, leaving only the Heron.
At least I have a chance of catching a Heron, it being a scanning boat that cannot warp cloaked. And it even warps around, launching probes and scanning, but I'm always one step behind. The appearance of a Proteus on d-scan has me chasing two ships with d-scan, and I am finally able to get eyes on the strategic cruiser when I warp to the N968 connection, still there and awfully wobbly. The Proteus isn't local, but nor is it a particular threat to us. Well, it is, as the pilot's corporation is red to us, but the Proteus doesn't seem to be taking an interest in our system. In fact, he appears to be muscle for his own logistics operation, ships moving between the now-EOL connection to high-sec and and this N968, aided briefly by Absolution and Nighthawk command ships at different times.
A local ship is stalking the system too, a stealth bomber lurking on the wormhole to high-sec and perhaps protecting their own ships' passage. I consider trying to engage him, confident I can win a stealth bomber duel, but the exit to high-sec makes it a futile endeavour. This leaves me chasing the Heron again. The problem, though, is that the Heron is using a safe spot when he isn't at a wormhole, and I don't seem to be quick enough with d-scan to find him when he's vulnerable on a wormhole. I think I catch sight of him visiting our K162 and wait patiently for him to jump back to the C3, on the assumption that he went in to explore our home system, but his reappearance on d-scan in the C3 shows he never left, damn him.
I make one final attempt at provoking a confrontation this evening, in a horribly mis-matched—in my favour—hunt for the Heron in my Tengu. Warping around has put the frigate's safe spot under 0·1 AU from the system's star, which will make scanning his position trivial, but I'll definitely need the Tengu to do it. I stow my Manticore to bring my strategic cruiser in to the C3, and launch probes and cloak as quickly as I can, throwing my probes out of the system. But the Heron's combat scanning probes likely picked up my presence as I did this, and his ship cloaks. I get one attempt at scanning the Heron when he reappears, but my tightly clustered probes pick up no ship. Rather than continue this frustrating chase I recall my probes and head home for the night, knowing only too well what can happen if I press for combat. I'll get a good opportunity again soon enough.