There's an interceptor in our home system. I don't feel threatened, though, as the Malediction is bearing the name Sad Panda and is sharing my otherwise empty directional scanner reading with a jet-can. Fin's hunting that errant canister down again. As she gets closer, but still days away from the can, I perform a blanket scan of our home to see what's new. Noting, apparently. Fin in the interceptor, some anomalies, three already bookmarked sites, and the new static wormhole are all my probes reveal. I resolve the wormhole and jump through to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, Fin close behind now having swapped to her cloaky strategic cruiser.
I am in a fairly standard class 3 system. There is a tower on d-scan but no ships, scanning probes finding one anomaly and twelve signatures, which turn out mostly to be gas. Fin resolves the static exit to low-sec empire space, the only wormhole present, jumping to an empty system. Having disregarded all of the signatures in the C3 I launch probes in low-sec to look for more wormholes, finding one in the only extra signature in this system beyond the handful of Gallente-populated anomalies. How exciting, I've stumbled on a K162 from class 1 w-space. Jumping in to the C1 gets me tingling even more, a pair of haulers appearing on d-scan along with a tower. I must locate them.
No sooner has d-scan picked up the Badger and Iteron than it loses them again, both ships apparently morphed in to a lone Heron. I'm sure my eyesight isn't so bad as to misidentify two industrial ships for one frigate, but a second check confirms that only the Heron is visible now. I locate the tower and see it empty, which at least gives me hope of bumping in to the Heron where I can shoot him, until the frigate warps back in to the tower and, unsportingly, goes off-line. It looks like we got here too late to be a part of any action, and scanning finds only a radar, ladar, and boring ladar site here, no other wormholes leading elsewhere.
We're going to have to head backwards for some action, but I don't know what to do. We could shoot Sleepers for profit, but we've shot a good number of them recently and seem to be in good shape. We could collapse our wormhole and start again, but I'm feeling a bit indifferent to activities that can feel like chores at the moment. I suppose we need to take advantage of opportunities to make ISK when we can, because it could be a week or more before we are safe to do so again, and we may as well plunder that single anomaly in the C3. Or we could investigate the source of core scanning probes in our home system.
Being mere core scanning probes at home lets me warp away from the wormhole and launch my own probes without my ship being detected, unless the scout is also actively checking d-scan and is coincidentally within range. I'm betting not. Fin holds on the wormhole to see what passes through whilst my blanket scan confirms two new signatures now in our system. And as I confirm this a Cheetah covert operations boat appears on d-scan, but not on our static wormhole. I warp back there anywhere, cloaked again in my Tengu strategic cruiser, to join Fin loitering in hers, just in time to see the Cheetah appear clear as day on the wormhole. Fin engages, I crawl a bit closer and add my ship to the engagement, but despite getting a positive lock and single missile launch at the cov-ops boat it jumps through the wormhole to evade us.
Jumping through the wormhole is hardly unexpected behaviour, so we are quick to follow behind the Cheetah. I abandon my probes, happy to leave them in the home system for now, and try to catch the scout on the other side of the wormhole, but cov-ops boats are agile and can cloak. The Cheetah disappears, my Tengu cannot get close enough in time to bump in to him, and we are left staring at a K162 and little more. Fin stays to watch the wormhole and, with d-scan, the system, whilst I jump home to reconnect to my probes and resolve the two new signatures. And as I scan I ponder on the Cheetah's curious actions.
The Cheetah warped to the wormhole uncloaked, yet cloaked in the C3 to evade us. I wonder if this perhaps means he is a relatively unskilled pilot who cannot use covert operations cloaks yet, limited to the lesser modules that cannot function during warp. As if to confirm this suspicion the Cheetah decloaks fifty kilometres from the K162 in the C3 to launch probes, a strange position indeed unless the Cheetah cannot warp whilst cloaked. We may get a second shot at him, as long as he's going to head back our way. It looks like it, as one of the signatures I resolve is a K162 from class 5 w-space, the other being a new ladar site that I bookmark and plan to activate when I get the chance. For the moment, I feel it more important to reconnoitre the C5.
A tower is on d-scan along with some ships in the C5, locating it also revealing pilots. And these pilots could cause us problems if we try to engage their scout. I could cause them problems first, or at least the Iteron hauler that is on d-scan but not in the tower, but all I manage is to chase his exhaust between a few customs offices before giving up and seeing him nestle safely back in the tower's force field. The moving Orca industrial command ship may be a tempting target if they are planning to collapse the wormhole after our assault, but the ponderous ship just seems to be moving between two separated hangars. The Dominix battleship could certainly be a threat, but it moves out of the tower's force field to inspect a can belonging to the pilot, judging by its name, before bouncing back in to the safety of the shields.
The appearance of a Dramiel frigate looks menacing even when it is ditched almost immediately for a Tempest battleship, but the pilot just wants more room to stretch his legs as the ship doesn't then move. The pilot of the Orca swaps to an Occator transport ship, the Dominix pilot downgrades to a shuttle, and although there is activity it all looks like busywork, simple logistics in the running of a tower and keeping minions content. Even though the pilots here and the pilot of the ambushed Cheetah are in the same corporation there is no sign that the Cheetah has alerted his colleagues of a couple of Tengus on the prowl. We may have a chance of catching the Cheetah uninterrupted.
We may have a chance of catching the Cheetah, just not in these ships. Fin swaps her Tengu for the Malediction, whilst I return home and to our tower to refit our Onyx heavy interdictor so it isn't in a wormhole-collapsing configuration. We really need to get a second HIC so that we don't need to fiddle about like this, particularly as I am only just loading ammunition in to the refitted launchers when Fin announces that she has just missed intercepting two ships coming back through our static wormhole. I punch d-scan and see indeed the Cheetah returned, as well as a Helios cov-ops with it. It looks like the scout was guiding a friend home.
All looks lost. The cov-ops boats have evaded Fin, she doesn't have the location of the K162 to their system yet, and I am ineffectually piloting a HIC in our tower. I'm not giving up, though. I fling the Onyx as fast as it can turn towards the K162 and, in warp, tell Fin to warp to my position on my mark. If we can get HIC and interceptor to the wormhole in time and trap the ships on the other side we may still have a chance, as slim as it seems, particularly if the Cheetah cannot warp cloaked. I land on the wormhole having missed the Helios, it no doubt having jumped home to the C5 already, but the decloaked Cheetah is there, and too far from the wormhole to jump.
I activate the Onyx's warp bubble, trapping the Cheetah in place, and gain a positive lock. It's only when I'm loosing my first volley of missiles that I realise my 'mark' has not been sent to Fin, thanks to the dodgy focus selection of the communications channels. I correct this and get her warping my way, remaining only too conscious of the possibility that the Cheetah can escape through the wormhole once it gets close enough. My web will slow it down, as well as perhaps its pilot's own confusion, and I continue to pummel it with missiles. The Cheetah explodes in my bubble with a satisfying flash of light.
The pod has nowhere to go. My bubble prevents it warping away, the session change timer prevents it jumping through the wormhole. I lock the pilot's pod and activate the scripted warp disruption field generator, holding the pod in place with the created infini-point. I am still concerned about the number of pilots in the C5, even if they seem a bit dozy, and the infini-point lets me drop my bubble in case I need an escape route myself. Here's Fin, a little late for the Cheetah, I'm afraid, but I've kept the pod warm. We still have enough time to crack it open and retrieve the corpse before its session change timer ends.
The pod is popped, I scoop the corpse, and loot and shoot the wreck, clearing the pocket immediately afterwards. It was a good opportunistic kill and I don't want to get caught preening over the wreck of my victim. Examining what I have in my hold is very interesting. I have a warp core stabiliser and covert operations cloak all of a sudden. The stabiliser may explain the Cheetah's defiance in the face of our assault, particularly as the space dust indicates a second one was fitted too, but the covert operations cloak means the pilot must have been able to warp cloaked. The cloak couldn't have been fitted and sitting off-line, because of lacking skills, because we both saw the Cheetah cloak.
Maybe the pilot was really pushing his luck, trying to tease potential ambushers by flagrantly showing his ship and planning to warp away laughing as his warp core stabilisers break simple disruption effects. I don't think he's encountered many bubbles before, and particularly the threat of a heavy interdictor's mobile bubble. That's only speculation on my part but I can't otherwise see why he would not be using his cloak at every opportunity. Maybe he's learnt his lesson now. Or his new clone has, as he wakes up in a space station in empire space, his corpse now taking a seat at the child's table in my tea party.
And, look at that, getting involved in the hunt has got me perked right up. Sadly, no one from the C5 comes to investigate the massacre, as Fin and I watch the wormhole from the safety of cloaked ships, and neither of us are inclined to see if they have any ships waiting for us on the other side of the wormhole, mostly because it's getting late. We warp away and settle down for the night, happy after another productive evening.