It's getting untidy at home. Some gas has gone but more has cropped up in the meantime, creating a mess that I cannot eradicate quickly enough. I activate the new sites and ignore them for now, jumping to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. Two towers show occupation but there's no one home, letting me scan the six signatures to find one of each type of site—gravimetric, ladar, radar, and magnetometric—and a weak wormhole that, being the only one beyond our K162, inevitably leads to null-sec k-space. The exit takes me to a system in the Providence region with a handful of pilots who will no doubt stop my trying to profit from the plentiful anomalies here. I think I'll consider exploration complete for now and hide at home chomping on a sammich.
I'm back. 'Anathema, Tengu, Bestower next door', Fin tells me, my glorious leader ahead of me and watching our neighbours. I grab a stealth bomber from our hangar and go to join her, hoping to catch the covert operations boat or hauler being silly. I won't discount catching the strategic cruiser but I'll need a different ship if the Tengu goes anywhere. Anywhere except off-line, that is, the cruiser no longer an option before I even get my ship in to the C3. The Anathema cov-ops changes state too, being swapped for a Widow black ops ship which then warps out of the tower towards empty space. It disappears from my directional scanner, and probably not because it cloaked.
A Widow would be an excellent target to catch, even if it will be tricky to catch and hold, what with it being able to cloak and with impressive ECM capabilities. But if it is heading out to null-sec we could lay an ambush on the wormhole for its return and try to overpower it quickly. The problem is that the direction it warped is not towards the wormhole to null-sec. Fin's in her scanning Tengu and is happy to scan for new connections, finding one that sadly turns out to be a K162 from high-sec empire space. High-sec! We'll never catch the Widow on that connection, with the safety of Concord-patrolled space to jump back to when threatened.
The Bestower in the tower isn't doing anything silly either, leaving us with few options. Our best, we decide, is to collapse our static wormhole and start again, which we do. The new static wormhole takes us to a different class 3 w-space system, which is occupied but currently empty. Scanning reveals nine anomalies and twenty-one signatures, the static exit to low-sec popping up nice and early in our results. The exit leads to the Placid region, in a system one hop from null-sec, with a veritable bevy of signatures to resolve. I don't think I've ever seen seventeen signatures in empire space before, resolving to be radar and magnetometric sites galore. It's a shame there are no other wormholes.
No other wormholes except this one, the penultimate signature weak and puny, looking like a site but turning out to be a nifty outbound connection to class 2 w-space. Fin continues to scan C3a behind me, resolving a K162 from class 4 w-space, as I jump in to C2a from low-sec to see two Drake battlecruisers and Sleeper wrecks on d-scan, with no tower in sight. We have targets. I inform Fin and set my passive scanner running, pulling away from the wormhole and cloaking as I do. There are only two anomalies in the system, the Drakes obviously in one of them. I prompt Fin to prepare a ship to come here, except I don't quite know what yet. I need to see if there is a tower here first and locate it to see what else the locals could bring to any fight we start.
I find a tower, in which floats three Tengus, two Orca industrial command ships, a Noctis salvager, Crane transport ship, Bustard transport ship, and Broadsword heavy interdictor. The ships would be more threatening if more than only the two Orcas were piloted, but that's still two more pilots available who could swap ships if necessary. I check back on the Drakes, warping across the system to the other anomaly, only to see a second tower with even more ships crop up on d-scan. I locate this second tower to find that, thankfully, there are no pilots to accompany the other ships. But there certainly are a lot of ships available to these pilots at short notice. The Drakes are also sweeping through the second and final anomaly pretty efficiently. I know what ship Fin should bring now, as we won't have Drake targets by the time she can get here.
As Fin prepares a Manticore stealth bomber for a Noctis ambush I continue shadowing the Drakes. They finish the second anomaly and warp back to the second tower, the pilots belonging to a different corporation than the Orca pilots in the first tower I found. Maybe that will slow down reaction times. I watch as one of the Drakes is predictably swapped for a Noctis, but the second switching to a Bestower is curious. Maybe they are expecting to recover too much loot for the Noctis to gather itself, but I doubt it. The Noctis warps out and Fin jumps in to the system, but I can't guide one to the other as the salvager must be in an anomaly cleared before I arrived.
I am not going to risk blowing the ambush on scanning for the Noctis when I have two anomalies bookmarked that the Noctis must visit to collect all the loot. In preparation, I guide Fin to the first of the anomalies I saw the Drakes in, on the assumption that the salvager will quaintly sweep up the sites in the order they cleared them, and leave her to wait like a coiled snake as I keep watch on the pilots in the towers. A Buzzard cov-ops at the first tower is new, and as he's launched core scanning probes we are a bit wary that maybe Fin's entrance to the system was seen and we could already be rumbled. But it looks more like a pilot has come on-line and is simply taking a cursory look around the system. The Noctis is still out and about, at a second or third cleared anomaly now, busy as a bee.
And now the Noctis has warped in to where Fin waits. As I hear this I spur my Tengu in to warp to help Fin greet the Noctis, but tell her not to wait for me if she has a shot. And she does. I drop out of warp to see Fin's bomb explode, and even though I decloaked on my way to the site to negate the recalibration delay I don't even have time to lock on to the Noctis before Fin's first salvo of torpedoes reduces the salvager to rubble. My leader hits pretty hard, so hard that even warp core stabilisers couldn't keep the salvager safe. At least I'm in time to help crack open the pod, although I suspect Fin's stealth bomber was rather quicker than my Tengu in locking it and disrupting its warp engines.
We scoop, loot, and shoot the corpse and wreck, before cloaking and heading in different directions. I check the tower holding the podded pilot's companion to see the reaction, which is for the other pilot to go off-line. There's not really anything else to do here, so we head homewards. I pause briefly in low-sec as I see a pilot from the C2 is somewhere in the system, judging from the transparent local communication channel, and make a dash back to the wormhole as the Buzzard pilot seen earlier jumps back to w-space now in a Crane. I'm far too slow to even try to lock on to the cloaky transport ship, though, jumping back to the C2 to see empty space. That's okay, we got our kill, and the Noctis was worth the wait.