I'm back in the empty space of the home system. But it's not empty for long, as a minute later my glorious leader appears. Let's get going! The home system is clear of ships and signatures of dubious origins, there being only some expected gas and the static wormhole. The next question is what we want to achieve tonight, because we could either shoot Sleepers at home or head out and hope to find other capsuleers to shoot. We have plenty of anomalies here, but we could stumble in to a system that has its own anomalies, as well as other pilots. I think we'll look abroad.
Our neighbouring class 3 w-space system has a tower visible on my directional scanner, but no ships. I start to head off to explore the rest of the system, but exploration is easy today. Opening the system map shows the farthest planet is a mere 8 AU distant, well within d-scan range, so what we can see is everything there is to see. With no one obviously at home I launch probes and scan. Four signatures and eleven anomalies looks good for shooting Sleepers without dwindling our own supplies, as long as there aren't any unexpected wormholes. Our K162 I know about, which leaves gas, more gas, and, by a process of elimination and indication of signature strength, a static exit to null-sec k-space.
We leave the static wormhole in C3a unvisited for now—even though this doesn't guarantee it being unactivated—and head home to swap to our Sleeper boats. Fin boards a Tengu strategic cruiser and I slide in to a Golem marauder, which we take back to the C3. We send our ships in to the first anomaly of the evening and joke about being a bit rusty. It's been a while since we've regularly engaged Sleepers, and it hasn't been long since I got my replacement Golem, so it feels like we're learning it all again. But we get back in to a groove soon enough. I even remember that I have a shield booster when the shield alarm blares at me, and when I repair all the damage in only a few cycles I then remember I have a very expensive shield booster.
The state of the anomalies remains constant, at least, and we haven't forgotten how to clear them efficiently. One, two, three fall to our combined firepower without drama, and as I pull the last wreck to my marauder and fling Fin towards the fourth anomaly of the evening she spots a Helios blip on d-scan. A covert operations boat hardly seems worth worrying about, but it's where he's come from and who he's with that concerns us. We agree immediately to bug out and head home, if only to determine the threat accurately before continuing. And, as Fin points out, piloting the Golem means that we get home without then having to worry about getting our loot back afterwards. The marauder pays for itself quickly.
I dump our evening's loot—almost two hundred million ISK, by my count—and we swap back to our scanning boats. We should scan the home system and C3a for signs of new connections before assuming that the Helios was a scout local to the C3 waking up. Fin's ahead of me, already having found and resolving a new signature in the home system. It's always much nicer to be able to prove a positive. Fin sits her Tengu outside the K162 from class 2 w-space whilst I, hmm. Actually, I think I'll take a stealth bomber in to the C2. I doubt we'll have much scanning to do and the Manticore adds some decent firepower for relatively little cost.
I take point, in my cheaper ship, and jump in to C2a. I immediately see the shadow of a Falcon recon ship, it looking to cloak as it sees the wormhole flare that announces my entrance, but I definitely saw something. That's good information. Maybe he was on his way to hopefully catch a Tengu and Golem pair engaging Sleepers. And now a Nighthawk warps to the wormhole, after I've moved away and cloaked. But as our Sleeper ships have disappeared from their scout's view in the C3, and my stealth bomber has been seen entering their C2, the command ship has little to do but warp away again.
It certainly looks like we could have been in for a surprise had we shrugged the Helios off as a mere scanning boat. Whether the ECM of the Falcon would have been enough to keep these pilots safe, or the damage of the Nighthawk sufficient to break our tanks, it's hard to say. We definitely could have been in real trouble if there are more pilots and ships available, and curious to see if that's the case I warp away from the wormhole to explore this class 2 w-space system. D-scan is clear from the wormhole but getting closer to the centre of the system throws up two towers, three Orca industrial command ships, the Nighthawk, a Noctis salvager, a Merlin frigate, and Hawk assault ship. There certainly could be greater numbers here.
Both towers are around a single planet, which only has two moons, making finding the towers straightforward. All ships and hangars are at one of the towers, which is well-defended indeed, and I see the Nighthawk still piloted and one of the Orcas having a capsuleer aboard. The Falcon remains unaccounted for, as does the Helios, but I think we can presume them both scouting wormholes for ship movements, being cloaky ships. Nothing is likely to happen here, unless we bait the locals out, and as they have more pilots than us that doesn't seem like a good idea. Either way, I'm happy to have an early night, as is Fin.
As the Nighthawk warps back to the wormhole to unintentionally bid me farewell, Fin lists the main objectives of any evening in w-space. '1. Survive. 2. Make ISK. 3. Find potential targets.' Yep, it's been a pretty successful evening. I make it more successful by managing to ignore the Nighthawk, sitting tantalisingly away from the wormhole, helped by Fin's reminder not to be suckered in to doing anything stupid. To be fair, I gave myself the same warning a minute earlier and Fin's just repeating it in case I'd forgotten or decided that it didn't apply in this situation, and I manage to ignore the command ship and jump home safely. We hide in separate corners of the system, denying our new neighbours any intelligence or indication of our intentions, and go off-line.