Bearing backwards led to bait, which we naturally took and managed to survive. Forging forwards bagged Fin a hauler incautiously collecting planet goo. And in our currently well-connected w-space there are still options for exploration, which is surprisingly through our static wormhole, given that all we've done so far is investigate the systems behind K162s. I press on, looking for more activity as I enter the neighbouring class 3 system but finding only empty space.
My directional scanner may be reporting clear from the wormhole, but my notes suggest a tower should be somewhere, as long as nothing's changed in five months. But there has been change, as opening the system map shows that the tower should be in range of d-scan, and warping out to the only planet out of range reveals a new tower has been brought on-line. There are no ships and no pilots to be seen, so I launch probes and scan, easily sorting through the four anomalies and five signatures. I resolve the static exit to low-sec empire space, a K162 to class 4 w-space, a gravimetric site, and a ladar site.
In an evening of K162s, I poke my nose in to C4b to see two towers and a handful of ships, although there are no wrecks on d-scan to suggest the Typhoon, Apocalypse and Tempest battleships, or Hurricane and Tornado battlecruisers are piloted. An Iteron hauler rounds off the visible ships, and I locate the towers so that I can determine the number of pilots. And, for a moment, it looks like the Apocalypse isn't at the tower, maybe out to collect gas, but by the time I find the tower he's nestled inside the force field as if he hadn't been anywhere at all. Maybe I imagined his brief absence from d-scan.
All of the ships are piloted at one of the two towers, and some are awake, as the Tempest is swapped for a Loki strategic cruiser. A new contact soon appears in a pod at the second tower, warping in to join everyone else at the first, and it looks like an operation could begin soon. Sadly, there is nowhere for me to launch probes, so I have to hope that the fleet will move to C3a for their action. And they almost do. The pod is slotted in to a Cheetah, and the covert operations boat warps towards the static wormhole, closely followed by the Typhoon. I ask Fin if we should engage and, with her usual keenness to attack anything that isn't us, says simply 'yes'. Okay then.
Fin's sitting on the other side of the wormhole, in C3a, after I mentioned all of these pilots, but she sees no one enter the system. I warp behind the two ships towards the wormhole to drop short of the Typhoon sitting on the connection. No other ships have come this way, and in fact none showed any signs of movement, giving us a solo battleship to engage. But I am not sure that we have enough firepower, and I am wary of the flimsy nature of my cloaky Loki. As the battleship doesn't look to be going anywhere, Fin turns around to pick a different ship than her own cloaky strategic cruiser back at our tower.
Moments after Fin enters warp, I am decloaked. The Cheetah has appeared, approaching the wormhole, and his ship gets close enough to mine to interfere with my cloak. Now's not the time to remind myself to move away from predictable flight paths, as the jig's up. I have little option but to engage and call Fin back, and I rather prefer my chances against the Cheetah to start with. I lock, point, and shoot the Cheetah, webbing him to try to keep the cov-ops away from the wormhole, but I only get a couple of shots off before he jumps to C3a. I could follow, but I know the futility of chasing cov-ops ships even in an interceptor, and our target is the battleship. I move my weapons systems across to the Typhoon, and start shooting.
Actually, I start taking heaps of damage. The delay of engaging the Cheetah first has allowed the Typhoon to lock my Loki and take chunks out of my target-painted shields, and that's before he launches some heavy-duty drones. As my armour depletes, I have to remind myself that my Loki is meant to be shield-tanked and bail out of the fight by jumping through the wormhole, which is before Fin has managed to come to my aid. I think I scratched the Typhoon, but I can't say I really did any damage. Still, if the locals were more alert I could have been swamped by combat ships and been in much more danger. And at least we're out and about being menacing in w-space, which is always a good aim.
I move away from the wormhole and cloak, watching my shields regenerate but armour stay in the red, as the Typhoon jumps in to the C3 and immediately back to his C4 home. It looks like the visit was purely for reconnaissance, as there is no repeat visit after any polarisation timer would have ended, so the wormhole isn't being collapsed. But the C4 is another system where we are unlikely to see any action in our favour, so I look further afield for more adventure. Heading out to low-sec puts me alone in a system in Derelik, where I scan and rat. I rely on another ice field for the rats, this one providing me a battleship to pop, and scanning resolves two more wormholes.
Before I can investigate the connections in low-sec, a Proteus strategic cruiser jumps past Fin, still monitoring the wormhole to C4b, and warps. He appears in the low-sec system, quite obviously thanks to the local channel, and jumps back. As I saw him, he saw me, even if he didn't see my ship, which gives him some information as to my whereabouts. At least Fin is watching the w-space movements, so I won't be surprised if an ambush is arranged for my return. As for the two wormholes, they are both K162s from more class 3 w-space, one healthy and one at the end of its life. I choose the healthy option.
C3c holds a tower in the same place as seven months ago, but there are no ships and no pilots. I could scan for more wormholes, but I'll likely just end up in another low-sec system scanning for more wormholes and pondering the meaning of 'recursion'. With at least two scouts from C4b wandering around it is probably best if I head home. 'I think we've shot we could', says Fin, before proving herself wrong with an attempt on a Cheetah from C4b that wanders in to our home system. And no one died, I say, pointing to my lack of ill-fated predictions. 'Say that after you have made the jumps home.' But Fin's gone off-line by the time I get from low-sec, across C3a, and in to the home system, and I talk to myself too frequently as it is.