I start the evening by deleting all the old bookmarks from yesterday. So many anomalies, so much unrealised profit, so sad. But a new day brings new opportunities, and I scan my way through the static wormhole to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where a jet-can immediately catches my eye. My directional scanner shows me a tower and Buzzard covert operations boat too, which could put the jet-can snuggled up inside a force field, but the name of the can looks like a time-stamp, from a mere half-an-hour ago. A can named in such a way is normally an indication of a mining operation, and although I can't see any other evidence of mining in progress I am intrigued.
I soon locate the tower, although two off-line towers messy up the C3 a little, and the Buzzard is piloted inside the shields. I still see no other ships around, so I warp to a distant planet where I can launch probes covertly, and perform a blanket scan of the system. A single anomaly sits amongst the fifteen signatures, which suggests the locals shoot Sleepers more than rocks, but mining sites linger for longer than anomalies. I start to narrow down the position of the jet-can using d-scan when a Nemesis warps in to the tower. I saw the stealth bomber briefly on d-scan before he appeared in the tower, so he's probably only just woken up.
The newly arrived Nemesis stirs soon after reaching the tower, warping off to what looks like empty space. In fact, it looks like he's warping in the direction of the jet-can I've spotted. The can disappears from d-scan, so the stealth bomber almost certainly warped to it and chomped its contents, ending the mystery of the missing jet-can. Even so, I have pilots to watch, even if all the Nemesis does when getting back to the tower is kick back and have a drink. A third contact appears after a short while, this pilot arriving at the tower in a Brutix battlecruiser. Hopefully he'll indirectly explain the origin of the jet-can and go out to collect some more gas, but he doesn't look to have gas harvesters fitted. I'll just have to watch and wait to see what all the pilots do.
The Buzzard blinks out of existence, which is a shame. The Nemesis follows a little while later, and the Brutix is apparently content to sleep or decompose in his pod. I'm not, I need to do something, and as there doesn't appear to be anyone actively paying any attention I may as well scan this system for wormholes. I don't bother resolving any mining sites here, ignoring them as they are identified instead, because I am beginning to doubt the locals will do anything and I don't want to waste my time. I find mostly rocks, with three ladar sites and two wormholes as well, all without the Brutix budging an inch. The wormholes are a dreary exit to low-sec empire space and a K162 from null-sec k-space. It doesn't inspire the explorer in me.
Despite the lacklustre connections I jump out to low-sec, appearing in The Citadel region and only one hop to high-sec. I don't care how close I am to high-sec, though, and simply launch probes to continue scanning. It takes two scans to cover this vast system, which only find one extra signature. Thankfully it's a wormhole, a K162 from class 3 w-space like the one I warped away from. Jumping in shows a clear d-scan result, a blanket scan finding six signatures amongst thirteen anomalies. Two towers sit on the outskirts of the system, with zero activity present. I sift through the signatures, hoping for a K162 and finding one, connecting class 3 w-space with class 3 w-space.
The third C3 I visit tonight is as sleepy as the second, a tower on d-scan but no ships. Unlike recently, I am thorough with my exploration and find a second tower, but it too has no ships or pilots in it or nearby. Scanning finds another six signatures to resolve, one of which must lead back out to k-space and perhaps further opportunity for exploration. Or maybe I'll even find a K162 from class 1 w-space, which looks very nice to me indeed. I resolve the static exit to low-sec too, but I ignore that to explore the C1 instead, hoping for some soft targets. A Loki isn't exactly 'soft', but it looks to be a target in the C1. The strategic cruiser sits lonely on d-scan, with no tower in sight, but there are also no wrecks or jet-cans visible, which makes his presence a curiosity.
I move away from the wormhole in the C1 and cloak, hoping the Loki doesn't see me, and perform a passive scan of the system. There are plenty of anomalies here, and rather than bookmark them all I just keep them sitting safely in my scanner's results. The Loki could be in one of them but there are still no wrecks, and a strategic cruiser should be massacring Sleepers in a low-class w-space system. I sweep d-scan around on a narrow beam and confirm the Loki is not in an anomaly, so I'm supposing he's sitting on a wormhole. And when he is joined by a Legion strategic cruiser, Absolution command ship, and—oh joy!—Noctis salvager, I think his sitting on a wormhole is a safe assumption to make.
I don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to say the ships are here to plunder the anomalies, the combat ships shooting Sleepers and the salvager sweeping up behind them. Sure enough, all the ships disappear from the tight d-scan beam and I find all but the salvager in a nearby anomaly. But if the salvager isn't on the wormhole or in the anomaly then he may be somewhere obvious, if he hasn't made a safe spot yet. I think I have his position on a planet and warp to try to catch him before he even gets near a Sleeper wreck, but it looks like he's bouncing between planets whilst his colleagues engage Sleepers. That's fairly sensible. What isn't sensible is to warp in to the anomaly before it has despawned, and to be left alone in such a state.
I can understand why the pilots are choosing to fly this way. Rather than going through the tedious task of bookmarking and individually labelling each anomaly, then the laborious process of sharing the bookmarks with the Noctis, the fleet is clearing Sleepers from an anomaly and then calling for the Noctis to warp to their position. That saves a lot of overhead. And the combat ships are leaving the Noctis alone because they can chew through Sleepers so quickly that it would be startlingly ineffecient to sit and wait for salvaging to complete. It would probably halve the profit they could take home. Then again, leaving a salvager unguarded in an active anomaly may mean they take home no profit at all.
I've already located the first anomaly the ships cleared, as well as made a convenient bookmark I can use for quick access. With the combat ships moved on and the Noctis in and salvaging I warp in behind to reconnoitre the site. It all looks too easy. The Noctis is pulling wrecks in close to him, whilst almost sitting on top of the cosmic signature. The other ships are off shooting Sleepers somewhere. I will need to be ready to warp out quickly, depending on reaction times and the fleet's willingness to come to the aid of their Noctis being attacked by my Tengu strategic cruiser, but it looks like I have a good shot. I warp in from my vantage point to get close to the Noctis, decloak, and get my weapons hot.
The recalibration time finishes on my targeting systems and I have the Noctis locked. I disrupt the salvager's warp drive and let loose my missiles, which slam hard in to its shields and armour. No help is arriving yet, and I expect I have a few more seconds before a ship realistically can drop out of warp in reaction to my appearance. A few more volleys of missiles spew from my launchers and the Noctis pops to produce a beautiful fireball and an alluring pod. I am a split-second away from preventing the pod from escaping but it evades my grasp. I take the pod's exit as my own cue to leave, warping and cloaking before I get caught myself.
Out of the site safely, I turn around and warp back in to see the reaction. The command ship of the fleet warps in to where the Noctis was, and its wreck now is, but he is the only ship that does. Absolution is too late for this salvager. I keep watching as the ship potters around for a bit and warps out, d-scan showing me the two strategic cruisers disappearing from the system, the Absolution soon after them. Job's a good 'un! I routed the fleet all by myself, and it looks like they didn't get a single ISK of profit. The wreck of the Noctis even looks unlooted, which is a bit of an oversight by the Absolution. I go back and claim the spoils for myself, getting not much at all, unsurprisingly for a C1 anomaly and having assaulted the salvager almost as he started, but it's mine.
I'm glad I scanned our neighbouring C3 when I did, ignoring the potential for action there. Of course, it could have worked out differently, but my patience has its limits. And, as it happened, my timing on entering the C1 seems to have been perfect. I imagine the Loki I first saw was not really actively monitoring the system but simply waiting for his colleagues to arrive, which let me get in and cloak covertly. His presence also discouraged me from launching scanning probes, and had I got there sooner and had the probes flying around any visitors would have been wise to the danger. And now I have my kill I head back the way I came, through inactive systems, noting that even the Brutix has disappeared from the first C3, until I get home. I dump the meagre loot in our hangar, more trophies for me, and I kick back to get some sleep.