Yesterday was a bust. Exploring the constellation found a K162 connection in the neighbouring class 3 w-space system, red-occupied too, and although there was a pilot wandering around in an Anathema covert operations boat there was not much for me to do. And even less, once my cloaking device went a bit wonky. It didn't turn on when moving away from a wormhole, except that it did and trying to turn it on a second time actually turned it off instead. Activating it after the five-second cool-down delay seemed to work, the module pulsing green to show it functioning, yet my Tengu was still visible. Unsure whether I was cloaked or not I had to de-activate the device and re-activate it again, making me obvious for far longer than necessary to anyone watching. I'm sure the Anathema pilot was confused. Rather than try to shadow him further I decided any element of surprise was ruined and went home for an early night.
Today is a new day, but it doesn't look much more promising. The static wormhole appears to be in the same spot as yesterday's, which I realise only moments after deleting all of my old bookmarks, so I hope that it connects to a different C3. And it does, the wormhole healthy and stable, and I see on my directional scanner an Orca industrial command ship and a couple of Drake battlecruisers. There are no wrecks, though, and locating the tower unsurprisingly finds all the ships unpiloted. I launch probes and scan, pausing briefly as a Helios cov-ops appears on my probes, but as he's not at the tower and perhaps not local I continue scanning, looking for the additional wormhole that he's probably come through. Besides, the seventeen signatures here will keep us both busy for a while.
I resolve a chubby wormhole in the approximate direction I saw the Helios, but it only turns out to be a K162 from null-sec k-space and not terribly exciting. Continued scanning reveals three more wormholes, the second a rather standard exit to low-sec space, the third another boring K162 from null-sec, and all sense of excitement is lost when the fourth turns out to be the dreariest of the lot, a K162 from low-sec that is reaching the end of its natural lifetime and has been bubbled. I notice from a lack of probes in this C3 that the Helios has already got bored and wandered off, and although I may not have any more w-space connections in here I'm going to keep on looking, jumping through the static exit to low-sec and scanning.
I'm far from everything in the Heimatar region, except more low-sec systems, but there are three signatures to offer the potential for more adventure. The first signature is a good result, being a wor— nope, it's just an Angel base with the 'unknown' signature type. Stupid empire space. The other signature, besides the K162 to the C3, is also 'unknown' and I purposely don't get my hopes up so that I can trick fate and resolve an actual, bona fide wormhole. Take that, fate! It's an outbound connection too, taking me in to class 1 w-space. Very nice. There are even a couple of combat scanning probes on scan when jumping in to the system, but no ships or towers. I warp out to the one planet out of d-scan range to find a whole bunch of ships floating inside a tower's shields, a Harbinger battlecruiser and Cormorant destroyer the only two piloted.
A passive scan of the C1 finds five anomalies, but the piloted ships aren't looking particularly active. And I see that the corporation has a mere seven pilots recruited, despite twice as many ships littering their tower. I suppose that's for intimidation purposes, to make them look bigger and scarier than they really are. And a third pilot warps back to the tower in his Anathema, showing me almost half of the corporation at once before promptly disappearing. I should have been paying more attention, because I didn't see if he logged off or not. I check the wormhole I came through and see nothing, and heading back to the tower has the Harbinger and Cormorant pilots gone now too. I suppose my presence killed the system again. At least I can scan unnoticed now.
Only three signatures are in the C1, the wormhole I came through, the static exit that leads to more low-sec, and a magnetometric site. I jump out to low-sec to the Khanid region, even further from everything than Heimatar was and the two exits fifty-five jumps apart, and another three signatures to check. Again I get lucky, one of the signatures being an outbound connection to w-space, this one to a class 3 system. I continue tonight's odyssey and jump in to see core probes and nothing else on d-scan. A blanket scan of the system shows three ships somewhere, which I find to be a Probe frigate, Broadsword heavy interdictor, and Drake all sitting inside a tower's shields. The Probe and Broadsword are piloted but inactive, although I am keen to see if the Probe will investigate the new wormhole I opened. The frigate cannot warp cloaked, so if he investigates the wormhole I may be able to catch him. Or maybe the Cheetah cov-ops freshly warped in to the tower was the scanning boat and I'm wasting my time here.
I was scanning the inner system as I waited fruitlessly for the Probe to move, and have resolved a wormhole. As the Cheetah looks to deny me any action I warp to the wormhole to look for better opportunity, and may have found it in the form of a K162 from class 2 w-space. I leave this C3 behind me for now. Jumping in to the C2 has two towers but no ships on d-scan, a blanket scan revealing one ship that apparently has now warped in to the tower. The towers are easy to find, both sitting around a planet with two moons, and I warp to the one with the Drake to see it soon joined by two more Drakes. They don't look like they are about to do anything, maybe just having woken up and needing some corn flakes to get started, which gives me a chance to check the location of a third tower.
I was last in this class 2 w-space system three months ago and these two towers I've found are new. The one I have listed in my notes should be on the outskirts of the system, but warping out there finds it successfully sieged and off-line. Hullo, d-scan also shows me some Sleeper wrecks in this part of the system, so the Drakes have been active. I warp back to their tower to keep an eye on them, waiting for a salvager to come out. The youngest of the three pilots starts moving his Drake to a hangar and I urge him voicelessly to grab a Noctis and salvage the wrecks, but maybe he just reloads some ammunition in to his battlecruiser's launchers. A previously unseen Purifier stealth bomber appearing at the tower is interesting, even before the pilot swaps in to an Abaddon battleship. It seems likely that the locals had the bomber sitting on the connection to the C3, looking for jumps, and so they aren't about to send a vulnerable salvager out to his doom when my Tengu is lurking here. That's a shame.
The Abaddon warps out of the tower in the direction of the completed anomaly, which I managed to scan before it despawned. I follow behind, wondering if he will act as guard to a salvager, but all I see is the battleship wander aimlessly in the space amongst the wrecks. Or maybe it isn't aimless wandering, as the Abaddon finally reaches one of the wrecks and loots it, changing his vector to head for the next nearest wreck. That seems like a truly inefficient method to recover Sleeper loot. With four pilots and combat ships available it would make more sense to refit a Drake with salvager modules and keep the other ships around for protection. They should be able to fend off a single Tengu, and if they are worried about more ships appearing they should have kept their scout sitting on the wormhole.
I wonder if maybe it's worth attacking the Abaddon, and Mick is available for support, although he's several unscanned jumps away. I haven't been back to make a copy of the bookmarks yet. Still, our previous attack on an Abaddon took a while to complete and although the battleship only scratched us the threat of three Drakes coming in as well is enough to deter too brazen an assault. Besides, even if the Abaddon is looting the Sleeper wrecks that still leaves empty wrecks to be salvaged. I warp back to the tower, where my still-active combat probes are showing two new contacts, to keep an eye on movements there and possible salvaging boats. The two new contacts become three, and I see an Iteron hauler, Jaguar assault ship, and Merlin frigate. The Jaguar is a concern for me, probably able to keep my ship tackled in time for reinforcements to come and pop me, but the Iteron is interesting and I keep my eye on it.
Sure enough, the Iteron is the ship to watch, as it warps out to a customs tower, the one around the nearest planet even. That makes it easy to spot, and I follow behind. I am dumbstruck that the locals are circumspect enough not to have a Noctis salvage, even under guard, yet don't warn a new pilot about collecting planet goo in an even more vulnerable hauler. In fact, I wonder if this is a trap, the names of the pilots of the Jaguar and Iteron being close enough that I'm expecting the assault ship to be flying escort. But I drop out of warp at the customs tower to see the Iteron alone. Alone with me. I shed my cloak and get my systems hot, waiting for the interminable recalibration time to end before pummelling the Iteron with missiles, shredding the industrial ship in short order. With some sense of urgency I try to lock the pod, both happy and wary when I manage to catch it and stop it from warping clear.
I may have another corpse to scoop soon, but the pod will get a reciprocal lock on my Tengu which will prevent me from cloaking. If an assault ship is on its way and I can't align out quickly enough I could be toast, just for a simple pod kill. I pound the pod with more missiles, watching its tiny structure mitigate most of the explosion damage, but eventually spitting a fresh corpsicle in to space. I start to approach the corpse and wreck, to scoop, loot, and shoot, having kept some distance so far in case I needed to cloak quickly, but change my mind as a Drake warps in. I cloak and pulse my micro warp drive, sending me far enough away from the focus of destruction to make me almost impossible to find, and I lurk to see what happens next.
The other two Drakes arrive at the scene of my piracy, as does the Abaddon. It's good to show solidarity in the face of an attack, chaps, but it's all a bit too late. All they are stopping me from doing is scooping another trophy and getting myself a bunch of robotics that the Iteron was collecting. The combat ships loiter for a bit, realise that there is nothing for them to do, and warp off one-by-one. I suppose they are either apologising to the Iteron pilot's new clone about not telling him the system was unsafe, or telling him a firm 'we told you so'. Either way, I'll leave them to it. I jumped out of w-space twice and scanned my way back in twice to find some activity, and then waited patiently for someone to make a mistake, so I am quite pleased with this kill. It also encourages me to keep looking, which is a timely reminder in these quiet periods. For now, I head back through empty or inactive systems, crossing low-sec twice, to get home safely for the night.