Right, I've got a long skill in my queue. No more pussy-footing around trying to find a useful skill that takes less than three weeks to train, as this time I've gone for the gusto. I won't have to worry about the next skill for a month. Even after that, I could just dump equally almost-useful skills in to continue along the same vague training plan. I just need to remember to update my clone occasionally. Now I can get down to business. The business of scanning. There's nothing at home, so I simply resolve our static wormhole and jump to the class 3 w-space system beyond.
A tower is visible on my directional scanner in the C3, which is remarkable considering just how vast the system is. The star is maybe only 55 AU distant, but to reach the farthest planet I'd need to warp across 167 AU. I'll have to stretch my scanning probes for this. And as I was only here a month ago I would think I'd remember how big the system is, particularly as I have 'travel' listed in my notes for what I was doing. Then again, that was the day we were chain-collapsing our static wormhole looking for towers lacking fuel pellets, and I only passed through this system after a collapse went wrong and I was stuck in high-sec empire space for half-an-hour or so, isolated from Fin. But that also means there is a high-sec connection to be found here. Somewhere.
I can't quite blanket the system with my probes, so resign myself to performing two scans instead of compromising my standard configuration. There's not much to find, at least, with only two anomalies and four signatures. Easy mode engaged, cap'n! Ah, good-o, there's a wormhole 161 AU away. That's nice and convenient. And here's a heavy interdictor on my combat probes, most likely sitting on another wormhole. Indeed he is, and I suspect it's the exit to high-sec, although I am dubious as to what he think he can catch there. Any ship jumping in will probably jump right back to high-sec before getting in to any real trouble. And maybe that's what a second ship blipping on my probes does, but I don't care to check. I'm resolving a third wormhole.
The third wormhole is a K162 from class 5 w-space and perhaps where the Onyx HIC is from. As I'm bookmarking the wormhole's location the connection flares, signalling a ship's passage. I watch as a Drake battlecruiser decloaks and warps away. I warp to where I scanned the Onyx, dropping short to see the Onyx, bubble-up, indeed sitting on top of the exit to high-sec, now joined by the Drake. The two pilots are in the same corporation, so I fully expect them to be from the class 5 system. But as either ship could jump out to high-sec at the first sign of threat I ignore them.
I warp away, to the farthest reaches of the system, to investigate the first wormhole I resolved. I could take this time to grab a drink and catch up on my reading. And watch a film. Ah, here we are, and the trip could have been worth the time, as I am sitting in front of a K162 from class 2 w-space. In I go! There's not much to see, though, not from here. I've been in this system before, and although it was far too long ago for notes on occupation to be useful I have the second static connection listed as also leading to high-sec. That tickles me, thinking that the Onyx is perhaps guarding a connection to high-sec without realising there is a second one over here, unbubbled and untroubled. Well, once I find it there will be.
The C2 is occupied but empty, with only a Moa cruiser and Scorpion battleship left floating empty in the local tower, although the Moa is only just managing that. I launch probes and scan, resolving rocks and gas, but eventually two more wormholes. I have more to explore. One is the connection to high-sec, in pristine condition, the other a K162 from class 5 w-space that has been stressed to half-mass. I pop out to high-sec, appearing in the Devoid region, to make a trip to buy some Sisters combat scanning probes for my glorious leader, before returning to w-space to investigate the system beyond the stressed wormhole. It's not very interesting. Empty and unoccupied, the most interesting aspect of this system is that it's where Mick and I popped an Armageddon battleship being exported seven months ago.
After our months-ago disruption it looks like the export continued successfully, with both towers removed from this C5. I don't feel like scanning backwards right now, instead fancying a peek inside the other C5 where the active pilots are from. I warp back to the wormhole and jump to C2a just as a Helios covert operations boat decloaks on the wormhole. I would curse my timing, but cov-ops boats are notoriously difficult to catch and so I've probably lost nothing. Even so, I am not so pessimistic as to not give it a shot. I hold on the other side of the wormhole and wait for what I hope is the inevitable flare. And there it is. I decloak, activate my sensor booster and micro warp drive, and pounce at the Helios as it appears.
What my covert Tengu strategic cruiser does towards the agile Helios is more of a lunge than a pounce. Somewhat surprisingly, I nearly get a positive target lock before the ship, not at all surprisingly, cloaks and warps away. That's cool, and at least I tried. I warp across this C2 myself, heading to the wormhole back to C3a, loitering on the wormhole for a minute or so. The Helios must be going somewhere, and he may be under the mistaken impression that he can't outrun a Tengu and so have waited for me to move on before he jumps. My short wait pays off, as the Helios indeed appears, after perhaps a minor diversion or slight pause to see what I'd do, and he jumps to the class 3 system.
I follow behind the Helios, looking to get a second shot and still expecting to fail. Once again I activate my sensor booster and micro warp drive, and watch for his ship to appear. Another lunge and, what's this, a positive lock? My systems are hot and activate immediately, disrupting the warp drives of the Helios and webbing his standard engines. Missiles pound in to the tiny ship and still he burns away from the wormhole. But I keep up and keep shooting until pop goes the Helios.
Despite my best efforts at catching the ejected pod of the Helios it evades my clutches, so I loot the wreck, bagging Fin even more Sisters combat scanning probes from my trip, and shoot the wreck just as the wormhole behind me flares. I remain uncloaked and visible for the moment, punching my cloak active when a Maelstrom battleship appears.
I wonder if the Helios was purposely burning away from the wormhole and making himself a target for me, luring me away from an escape route and buying time for the Maelstrom to arrive. It's possible, I suppose, but it cost him his ship. As the Maelstrom merely warps away it makes me think it more likely that the Helios was simply flying point for the battleship, scouting the systems for him. He didn't do too well at that either, I would say. Whatever just happened, I have a kill and some information on ships being moved. Maybe I can find out where they are going and if they have anything to do with the Onyx in this C3.