Fed and ready to frolic, I'm tempted to take a stealth bomber roaming through the w-space constellation. It's already been scanned and there has been activity seen in at least one direction, but it has been a few hours since I was last around and new wormholes may have opened. I think it would be more productive to take my scanning strategic cruiser out again, at least to look for new targets before settling for what we can see. And it's a good plan, because there isn't much to see. The K162 from class 2 w-space in the home system is wobbling its way to imploding of old age, and through our static wormhole the only activity in the class 3 system has my glorious leader about to burst a bubble.
The warp bubble surrounded a K162 from high-sec empire space in C3a, until about five shots in when the wormhole collapsed. It's not an inconvenience to us, then, but destruction of property is always a fine goal in w-space. Still, I had a dream that the wormhole would collapse and the locals would wake up and send a flimsy hauler along to collect the bubble. It would be the perfect ambush, with an industrial ship caught in its own bubble, and then its pod, and so with a fair measure of undue optimism I suggest Fin stops shooting the bubble. Whilst we wait for the locals to appear, I exit through their static wormhole to low-sec to scan afresh. And the locals may actually appear soon, as the static connection is reaching the end of its life too, which could mean we are close to their activity period.
In the low-sec system I bounce across space to check on the two wormholes I found here earlier. Both K162s are gone, from class 6 and class 3 w-space, the latter where I popped a salvaging tourist whilst his chums watched. It's no surprise they're gone, as the wormholes were EOL when I found them, and maybe more have appeared now. I launch probes and scan, but only get the same gravimetric and two radar sites as I saw earlier. I return to w-space feeling a bit aimless. Um, Penny? You could always scan C3a for new connections. Oh, right. I'll do that. I scan, see no new signatures, and thank my subconscious anyway but we still have nothing to do. Nothing apart from popping the bubble and collapsing our static connection.
Combined fire takes down the anchored bubble quickly enough, and two Orca industrial command ships over-stress our wormhole nicely. The wobbly C2 K162 is still in our system but we don't feel much threat coming that way, particularly as we haven't actually seen any ships jump through to our home system, and so we peacefully finish off collapsing only our wormhole with a supercruiser and a final Orca trip. The new static wormhole is simple enough to find, confirming there are no new signatures at home at the same time, and we warp to it and jump through to see what's in the replacement C3a. A Navy Apocalypse battleship shooting Sleepers, that's what.
'I think we can take the Apocalypse', Fin says, and I think she's right. The pilot of the Apocalypse probably thinks so too, though. Fin looks for the tower, I look for the battleship, Fin finds both. A passive scan reveals the anomaly with a Sleeper wreck, and warping in to the site sees the first wave destroyed and looted, and the second wave mostly untouched. The Apocalypse is back at the tower with Fin, unpiloted now, and an Anathema is on the loose. It must be the same pilot, because there are only three ships in the system—the other being a Sigil hauler—and no hangars at the tower. I spy the Anathema launching probes at a planet and warp to surprise him, but land too far to make a fuss of myself. The probes disappear, the Anathema cloaks, and a couple of minutes later the pilot goes off-line. That could be the end of our fun for the evening.
Then again, even though whoever lives here believes in self-sufficiency, as the three-member corporation is living out of a covert operations boat, hauler, and battleship alone, they don't believe in defences. The tower is bare not only of modules, but also guns, missile batteries, and even hardeners. The tower really is bare. And small. And left to us to do with what we please. 'We could put it in to reinforced mode', says Fin, knowing that we don't stand much chance of actually destroying it, but wanting to be disruptive all the same. Sure thing, let's do it. After all, there's not much the local pilot can do here but bring out his Apocalypse to defend, and that's what we wanted all along.
We jump home, swap to Oracle battlecruisers, and return to start the tedious shooting of a stationary object. At least the Oracles have lasers, so that we don't have to worry about reloading, and big lasers at that, doing plenty of damage with each volley. But it's still quite dull. We update our directional scanners regularly, just to make sure we're not about to be ambushed, but nothing comes. It's just shoot, shoot, shoot, and essentially all to irritate someone. I suppose that's what we do. I take the time to order some furniture, and even my Tallest Purple gets bored and decides to have a lie down. And slowly, slowly we whittle down the tower's shields until we hit the magic 25% mark, at which point damage bleeds through to its armour and triggers... uh, nothing.
The tower doesn't enter reinforced mode, where it becomes invulnerable for as long as its supply of strontium clathrates lasts, which can only mean it has no supply of strontium clathrates. This tower has no defences at all! We were ready to turn around and head home, but now we are tempted to keep on shooting. It will take at least half as long again to destroy the armour and structure as it did the shields, but we can actually blow up the tower and get the Navy Apocalypse as a result. That seems worth the effort of staying awake a little longer.
Thankfully, the armour and structure are weaker than the shields, and progress is much smarter. It's still rather tedious, even with the enlisted help of a puppet, but we can see our target drawing ever closer. Quite why my lasers turn invisible near the end of the siege, I'm not sure. But it may also be why the tower doesn't explode, simply disappearing from space-time once we shred its last 1% of remaining structure. I was really hoping for much more of a bang than a whimper after all this time, making the culmination of our efforts rather anticlimactic. Still, the tower's gone, and the meagre but shiny reward is ours.
I'm so mean. I snatch the Navy Apocalypse before Fin can, stranding the Tallest Purple for our puppet to collect. I need to learn how to share. It's an interesting fit but I don't really know battleships, and it looks expensive enough. I take the Apocalypse home. Fin collects the Sigil, leaving the system bare but for the off-line Anathema, only to see nothing in the hauler's hold. Quite how the pilot was living here with no resources is a mystery. Maybe he had moved in recently and was planning on bringing in defences, hangars, and more ships, who knows? He may change his mind now, after we've ruined his w-space existence. Still, a completely unprotected tower holding an expensive ship can't be expected to last long in lawless space. And it turns out that Fin was right after all. We can take the Apocalypse, just not the way we expected to.