Okay, I'm not going home. I can't scan my way through a null-sec system with an astonishing eleven wormholes without at least trying to exploit this opportunity. The class 5 w-space system I've ended up in may have a static connection to a C6, but the supposed threat of deadly w-space shouldn't stop me looking for it. I pause at the wormhole, re-launch my scanning probes, and start sifting through the fourteen signatures. And I realise again why I initially decided to turn around and head home.
The fourteen signatures aren't really a problem, as I could sift through them without too much effort. It's more that I don't really know what I'm looking for. K162s are nice and chubby, easily found and easily resolved, and from experience I know how to find wormholes in class 3 w-space. The guaranteed exit to k-space limits the type of static connection I will be looking for in a C3, and my notes often let me know the specific type. Exits to low-sec are chubby, high-sec not so much, and null-sec pretty weak. But looking for a wormhole to a C6 in class 5 w-space reduces me to scanning methodically.
I ignore rocks and gas, and then radar and magnetometric sites, until the wormhole appears. It must be the static connection, as it's too weak to be a K162, and its initial feel is that of a D845, I suppose. I doubt I'll remember that, or even need to rely on it at all, but there you go. And because I scanned for it I jump through it, appearing in C6a with a tower and Reaper frigate on my directional scanner. The tower has moved from my last visit seven months ago, and locating it has the completely unsurprising result of seeing the Reaper unpiloted. What is interesting, though, is that C6a has a static connection to class 3 w-space. That could be worth looking for.
A blanket scan reveals five anomalies and ten signatures, and the first signature resolves to be a wormhole. I would say that was quick, but as the connection is an exit to low-sec empire space I need to keep scanning for the C3. A second wormhole gives me a second exit, this one leading out to null-sec k-space, and a third wormhole isn't third-time-lucky, as I warp to see a K162 from more class 6 w-space. Finally, I uncover the static connection, and jump in to C3f. I would remark at having to use 'f' to denote a w-space system, but what comes out instead is 'MINERS!'
D-scan holds the beautiful site of a mining operation in progress. Three Covetor exhumers, mining drones, a Bustard transport ship, and an Orca industrial command ship all get my attention, the tower and Heron frigate registering but only barely. The hunt is on. I move away from the wormhole, cloak, and warp across the system so I can launch scanning probes covertly. Unfortunately, the miners are on one side of the system and the tower the other, so I can't get out of range of everyone, assuming the Orca is piloted. And, to add a complication, I see on d-scan a Legion strategic cruiser decloaked and launching his own combat probes.
Clever boy. He has decided to launch probes in range of the tower instead of the miners, knowing that the miners would be taking more care to monitor d-scan than would a pilot sitting safe in a tower merely providing a boost. That's just what I would do. So I do. Not only do I have miners to hunt but I have a race against another hunter. Let's see who gets them first. I fling my probes out of the system and re-activate my cloak, warping across to get back in range of the miners as I do. With the Covetors back on d-scan I start narrowing down their location. I get them in a five-degree beam soon enough, but place their range at 9 AU. I double-check the range, as there are lots of zeroes to add, and realise I need to get closer. I don't want the azimuth error such a distance could introduce.
I make sure my datum probe is in roughly the right place and warp across to what must be the planet closest to the miners, some 6 AU away, and look for the miners again. My probe is quite well positioned and needs only a minor adjustment to get it lined up with d-scan again. Another minor adjustment, this time to the range, and I am pretty much ready. So is Aii, apparently, having heard my call and navigated his way to the connecting C6 system. I warp my ship back the K162 as I arrange my probes around the datum, still aware that I'm potentially racing against the Legion, and knowing that as Covetors are relatively big I don't need to be too accurate. All looks good. 'Aii, jump.'
I hear the wormhole flare as my probes are already scanning the area I've assigned to them. It's a good result, resolving all three Covetors, the Bustard, and the mining drones. I don't care that the actual site is a bit fuzzy, as I'm not here to mine, and I recall my probes and fling both Aii and myself in to warp towards our targets, hoping I'm not sending us in to a bigger fleet that will get there moments earlier. I decloak early so that I am ready to shoot on landing, but perhaps a bit too early as we appear almost on top of two Covetors as they're actively recalling their drones. 'Pick a Covetor and start shooting.'
I pick a Covetor too, and start shooting, hurtling my Loki strategic cruiser towards the second to give it a nudge out of alignment. But the nudge is unnecessary, as we got lucky and picked a different exhumer each. Guns fire, launchers flare, and the first Covetor explodes in flames as a good industrial ship should. I catch the pod but don't manage to disrupt its warp drives, perhaps because I also have the second Covetor locked, so it flees as we turn our combined attention to the other ship. A second explosion ejects a second pod, which also manages to flee, leaving us to loot and shoot the two wrecks that are all that remains of the mining operation.
Cloaking for safety, the gravimetric site becomes empty of obvious ships and activity. That was a smooth and very exciting hunt. I'm happy Aii came along to help, bagging us the two ships that remained in the site, and apparently racing against another hunter only heightened the thrill. This was certainly worth taking the time to go deeper down the rabbit hole. I loiter in the rock field for a while, not really expecting a fleet to drop in to empty space, or the miners to return, but just relaxing. Aii locates the tower and notes ship changes, including the locals sending their own scanning boat out to see where we came from.
I am curious to know about the whereabouts Legion, as its ship name suggested it wasn't local, but leave Aii to ask the question. He's a miner too, and speaks their language better. But I only really spoke in the normally verboten local communication channel to let the Legion know he was beaten, not actually expecting an reply. A minute after he's mentioned, we both spot the Legion on d-scan briefly, presumably as he leaves the system, which I suppose answers the question in actions rather than words. That's good enough for me. It's time to head home. Lots of scanning, a remarkable system full of wormholes, and an exhilarating and successful hunt has made this an excellent evening indeed.