There are seven signatures at home today, which means new sites or extra wormholes. Or both! How exciting. I activate a new ladar site, hoping for it to pop but instead giving it a slow puncture, and drop out of warp in front of a K162 from class 5 w-space. That's nice, but I'll look for the exit through our static wormhole first. I jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system to see a tower, ships, and scanning probes visibly on my directional scanner. Yes, probes are in the system but I'm not rushing back home to stick an interceptor on our wormhole. For all I know, the scout is from the C5 and is heading outwards himself, so I'm not about to waste my time waiting for no one quite so early in the evening.
That's interesting. Adjusting the range of d-scan to see how close the scanning probes are to our K162 shows a Drake to be oustide of the local tower. There are no wrecks in the system that I can see, and further adjusting d-scan puts his ship apparently around a planet. I warp across to see the battlecruiser floating inertly at the planet, making me wish I had a ship that could kill it. But maybe my Tengu can, even if the strategic cruiser is configured for covert operations. Checking the details of the pilot shows him to be young, certainly young enough that he won't be able to fit a Drake with its normally formidable tank. Now all I need to hope is that the ship isn't bait, like the previous day's Myrmidon battlecruiser, as I decloak and lock my target.
The Drake's shield drops nice and quickly, and although the battlecruiser's systems automatically return my target lock the pilot doesn't return fire. Instead he ejects from his ship and warps off, a second before I lock his pod. The pilot may have escaped but I'm popping this Drake. There is no way I'm going to risk recovering the ship myself and I'm not letting the pilot have it back. I earned this kill, I'm going to take it. And pop the Drake does, in the kind of happy not-me explosion I haven't seen in what seems like quite a while. I loot and shoot the wreck, and find out why the piloted bailed out so quickly. The probes I saw here belong to this unconventional scanner.
The battlecruiser's configuration may have been compromised to fit the probe launcher but I didn't—couldn't—know that before my assault. I even attacked before reconnoitring the rest of the system. I took a risk and it paid off this time, giving me a good kill. And maybe there will be more action here, as a Nemesis appears on d-scan briefly, suggesting the stealth bomber is coming out to look for me. That's cool, I can take a bomb blast, but I see nothing more of him, probably because I re-activate my cloak to take a look around.
I find the tower and see the Drake pilot swapping between a second Drake and a Bestower hauler. Surely he can't be that silly to collect planet goo after a Tengu shot his Drake, and thankfully for him he doesn't stray from the tower. A Retriever mining barge is also piloted at the tower, a Badger hauler sitting empty nearby, but I doubt I'll see any more action from these pilots now. I warp away, launch probes, and scan, bookmarking five anomalies and ignoring the three known ships before starting to resolve the handful of signatures here.
It doesn't take long to resolve a radar site, two magnetometric sites, and the exit to low-sec empire space. As I do, a new contact appears, a piloted Buzzard covert operations boat turning up at the tower before slow-boating out of the shields to launch his own scanning probes. If only I was in a stealth bomber, I may have a second kill tonight. I ignore the scanner for now and head out to low-sec, finding myself once more in the Placid region and not feeling comfortable about the route to high-sec. I don't need to use stargates to scan, though, so I launch probes and see what else there is for me to find.
Eight signatures seems like quite a bounty out in empire space. I scan a ladar site, a K162 wormhole from class 1 w-space, a Serpentis annex, another ladar site, a magnetometric site, another ladar site—what is this, w-space?—and some dumb drones. I jump in to the C1 to take a look around. D-scan is clear, which is unsurprising when only the outer planet of the system is in range, and blanketing the system reveals three signatures, one anomaly, and five ships. All the ships look to be at a tower, warping out to the distant planet finding a Drake and Bestower piloted at one tower, and two Velator frigates presumably at the second tower. The Velators are newbie ships and I don't bother warping across to see if they are piloted. The Heron frigate I saw on d-scan as I approached the towers is now missing.
I quickly scan the C1 system whilst I'm here, resolving a gravimetric site, and a K162 from high-sec space that would be more interesting if it weren't nearly dead of old age. The piloted ships here look asleep so I head back to low-sec and then in to the—hello, there's a pilot from the C1 corporation in the low-sec system, and scanning probes are visible on d-scan. I think I know where the Heron went. I really could use my stealth bomber now, the Tengu not quite as useful at catching smaller ships. I jump back through the C3, seeing no change, and then home, swapping ships to my Manticore before heading back out. I stop on the exit wormhole in the C3 to loiter with intent, hoping the Heron pilot will inquisitively jump in to take a look around.
The Heron doesn't jump in, of course, leaving me waiting for nothing again. I jump back out to low-sec just in time to see the pilot disappear from the local communication channel, showing that I've missed my chance at catching him. Whizzing across to the C1 and shadowing the pilot has her change in to a Drake and jump back out to low-sec, apparently to engage in some action out here. I could probably use my Tengu, particularly as this pilot is quite young too, and now I'm kicking myself for not resolving and bookmarking the sites out here.
Wait a second, d-scan is showing me a ship name I recognise for some reason, a ship name attached to a Bestower. And there in the local channel is the pilot of the Drake I shot earlier in the C3, the one who swapped to a Bestower. This is too good to be true, but I warp across to the K162 to the C3 as fast as I can, moments after the pilot disappears from the system, in case he really is that foolish. I jump back in to the C3, see the Bestower just off the wormhole and aligning for warp, and spring in to action again. I decloak my bomber, gain a positive lock almost immediately—this being a major benefit of the bomber—and get my launchers hot. The flimsy hauler with an inexperienced pilot in control pops with only one volley of my torpedoes, and the pilot's pod is caught by my fast-locking systems to give me a corpse to scoop.
I loot and shoot a second wreck this evening, boggling a little to see some Sleeper loot stuffed in to the Bestower. Even after I shot his Drake the pilot thought it safe to haul his profit around in a defenceless and unescorted industrial ship. Oh, I suppose I am a little evil for taking advantage of him twice, but I am not hunting him specifically, both kills being quite opportunistic, the first one a little risky and the second a result of paying attention and remembering details. The pilot probably ought to have known better, and if he didn't maybe his does now. Or maybe he will vent at me for being mean and nasty to him, sending me a mail to tell me just how he feels.
I don't know what to say. My first wardec! I'm so proud. I take a couple of minutes to reply, hopefully managing to be diplomatic, before getting back to seeing what the Drake in low-sec is up to. She's there, but not for long, swapping back to her Heron and scanning low-sec again. I manage to jump out of the C1 in time to see her frigate drop out of warp seventy kilometres from the wormhole and cloak, me still with the session change cloak active. I have to move away and cloak at some point, and she is bound to see me, so I head back home and let her know I am doing so in the local channel. I've had an interesting evening, I'm not about to play the who-can-wait-the-longest game now. And that K162 from class 5 w-space will remain unvisited. There was too much happening in the other direction to bother with turning around.