Lots of scanning yesterday ended with little to show for it. Hopefully there will be less scanning and more shooting this evening. The only shooting in the home system will be to get rid of the repopulating Sleepers. But by myself the best I can achieve is shooting rocks or gas, which doesn't sound too appealing, so I have to start by scanning as usual. Once all the eight sites are known and activated I resolve the static wormhole and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system.
A tower with no ships waits for me in C3a, which when checking shows it to be in the same place as six months ago. I warp out, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan. The system is tidier than home, with six anomalies and five signatures, and apparently a ship on a distant planet. I wait to see if the ship returns to the local tower, but it simply disappears. Cloaked or jumped back out through what must be a wormhole I cannot tell from here, but as the ship doesn't appear on subsequent scans and there are no obvious probes in the system I start scanning.
The mysterious ship indeed appeared and probably returned through a wormhole, which turns out to be the system's static exit to low-sec empire space. Judging by the lack of other wormholes in the system I would suppose the visitor was a tourist, poking in from low-sec to see what w-space looks like. I do the opposite, leaving empty w-space to see what low-sec can offer me, although I'm ostensibly looking for other wormholes. I jump to low-sec, appearing in a system in Derelik with one other pilot, no doubt the source of the scanning probes currently in the system and the ship I briefly spotted in C3a.
Mystery solved, I set about scanning. In fact, I can probably rat whilst I scan, given the other pilot is scanning too. Or, better still, I can find another off-line tower with intact hangars waiting to be blown up by an opportunistic capsuleer. Well, here I am. I just hope the scanner sticks to scanning with his probes for the time being. And unlike the previous off-line tower, this one is owned by a corporation and alliance with more than two members, so I'm hoping some ships will pop out of the maintenance array when exploded. I lock on and start shooting so I can find out.
A new contact appears in the system shortly after I start shooting the SMA, and checking his details shows him to be a member of the corporation that owns the tower. What a coincidence. I keep my directional scanner updated as I continue shooting, and all looks clear for the moment. The hangar explodes and... nothing. How disappointing, but I suppose if I've attracted attention I probably wouldn't have managed to recover many ships anyway. The question now is whether I can also destroy the corporate hangar array before I'm interrupted. The answer is no.
I'm shredding the last of the CHA's armour, slowed by a reload cycle of my guns, when a Punisher appears on d-scan. By this time, two more contacts have appeared in the low-sec system, both of them also members of the corporation I'm ransacking. So even though the Punisher is a mere frigate I'm not going to take the chance that it can tackle me long enough for bigger guns to drop on top of me and make me pay for my actions. I cloak and move away from the off-line tower, but staying on-grid to see what happens next. A Hurricane battlecruiser follows behind the Punisher, along with a third ship, which cloaks before I realise what I've seen. Cloaking was probably the right option.
I suppose I could have shot the CHA first and hoped to steal or destroy any spare fuel in there, as well as stock up on expensive modules that I could carry. But I couldn't have known that I would provoke such a prompt reaction, and if the corporation was careful enough to store spare fuel they'd probably be careful enough to keep the tower itself stocked. As it turns out, there can't be any fuel, as two of the three pilots leave the system with the tower still off-line, leaving the Hurricane as a deterrent to any further assault.
I doubt there is much more I can do but rue my once-again negative security status, but before long the Hurricane warps away. I don't see where he goes but the pilot remains in the system, which is pretty obvious thanks to the populated local communication channel. It doesn't take detective d-scan long to locate the Hurricane, given a little thought. The pilot is sitting in the closest rock field, and is probably aligned towards the tower and updating d-scan constantly, waiting for me to be lured in to attacking the seemingly unguarded CHA. How stupid do they expect me to be?
Instead of falling for an obvious ambush, I warp out of d-scan range of the tower and return to my first plan. I rat and scan. I pop a cruiser, the biggest rat I can find, and resolve a dirty site and some Sansha. That's it then, as I don't think there's anything left to do. Actually, I suppose I can toy with the Hurricane, who still is sitting in the rock field near the tower. Sitting comfortably away from the CHA I decloak my Loki, letting my strategic cruiser be visible for only as long as it takes for the recloaking delay to expire and let me reactivate the module. As expected, like I pulled on some puppet strings, the Hurricane warps back to the tower within seconds, perhaps scratching his head as to where I went.
Fun over, I turn to leave, but hold when I see one of the corporation pilots return to the system. He's in a simple frigate and poops a canister that the Hurricane scoops. It's fuel for the tower, I suppose, which is confirmed when the tower starts to be brought on-line again. Six minutes and counting, and I'm going to be within the effects of the
Genesis machine force field. I'll never get out in time! I turn my Loki away and start moving under impulse power, but, dammit, Jim, we need warp drive to get clear. Spock makes his way down to engineering and sacrifices himself to get the engines working, and I warp clear seconds before the tower comes on-line.
Phew. That wasn't close at all, but the added dramatic tension was awesome. I leave the Hurricane behind, still wondering where I am, as he anchors some defences, and return to w-space. An Anathema covert operations boat is scanning in C3a, but not for long. I see a few probes here and there, but they go shortly before the Anathema goes off-line. Once again, empire space provides my entertainment for the evening. It will need to do that a bit more, as I work to get my security status positive again. But, for tonight, I simply turn my Loki homewards to get some rest.