Gas has gone, new gas has come. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. My glorious leader is present and scanning, resolving a wormhole as I launch my own probes. As Fin warps to what turns out to be our static connection to class 3 w-space my probes converge on a second wormhole, a K162 also leading to class 3 w-space. In some kind of fashion that probably shouldn't be interpreted too rigidly, Fin goes forwards and I head backwards, each picking the wormhole based on where we have landed.
I appear in a system where my directional scanner shows me nothing. Even launching scanning probes, performing a blanket scan, and looking for towers that were present fifteen months ago doesn't find much. The towers are gone, no one else has moved in, and there are seven anomalies and eight signatures to sift through. I resolve a magnetometric site, an unsurprising two wormholes—the static exit to low-sec and, well, the N968 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space actually is a surprise. I was expecting a K162, leading back to the scout who opened the wormhole to our system, and thankfully rather than leaving me scratching my head I eventually find the K162, hiding in plain sight near the centre of the system.
The K162 comes from class 5 w-space. I jump through to see if anyone is still awake and active. Yes, I'd say so. Not only are there towers and plenty of ships on d-scan, moments after I appear in the C5 a Prorator transport ship warps to the wormhole, pauses perhaps a little longer than it should, and jumps to C3b behind me. I realise the futility of chasing the blockade runner and hold my session change cloak on the wormhole, hoping that by remaining hidden I will have a shot at another ship, only to see a Falcon recon ship follow immediately behind the transport. I can feel my pulse rate rise as I hope my session change cloak continues to hold, and breathe a sigh of relief as the Falcon jumps with me still unseen.
Before any more ships come I pulse my micro warp drive to get clear of the wormhole and activate my covert operations cloak, which will keep me hidden until I decide otherwise. Now I can look at d-scan more closely. Two towers are in range, as is a Tengu strategic cruiser, Prophecy cruiser, three Moa cruisers, three Hurricane battlecruisers, and a Badger hauler. I imagine some of them are active, what with a bunch of Sleeper wrecks appearing when adjusting d-scan's settings, but this doesn't look like a fleet that could survive C5 w-space anomalies. A bit more d-scan detective work shows none of the ships at the tower and the wrecks scattered here and there, which, along with the presence of the Moa cruisers, makes me think some gassing is occurring.
I warp across the system and am happy to see I drop off d-scan of the towers and the ships, although a few Sleeper wrecks remain in range. I launch scanning probes quickly, throw them out of the system to keep them from appearing on d-scan, and re-activate my cloak. I warp back to the wormhole and start looking for the ships, which have now split in to two groups. The Tengu, two Hurricanes, and Prophecy are now in a tower, leaving the Moas, one Hurricane, and a Badger together, along with some ECM drones and a couple of jet-cans. I have some gas harvesters to hunt.
I get a bearing and range on the ships using d-scan, and position my cluster of probes around them. Warping a bit closer, to reduce angular error, I am able to triangulate the gassers' location with a bit more accuracy, and adjust my probes to agree with a second d-scan bearing and range. I'm ready to scan, but maybe not ready to dive head first in to these ships. The Hurricane's presence is a little unsettling, even if it makes an adequate gas harvester, and there are clearly other active pilots in the system who may well be ready to scramble quickly to engage any ambusher. This could be suicide, so even though dropping Fin in an Onyx heavy interdictor on this group sounds like a lot of fun I am going in alone to minimise our losses.
I call my probes in for a scan, and it is good. No, it's freaking awesome. The ships appear dead-centre in my probe cluster and I get solid hits on all of them. I recall my probes and push my cloaky Loki in to warp almost immediately, already having roughly aligned my strategic cruiser to the ladar site, saving a valuable few seconds. I drop out of warp in the middle of a gas cloud and a whole bunch of red pilots, which I'm not sure is a good situation or bad just yet. Let's see how it goes. Although I'm not sure I'll be seeing anything, as the bloom generated by the cloud is almost blinding.
I have to fly using instruments alone, picking out the three Moas and the Badger to target from my overview. The heftier Badger gets locked first, and so I disrupt its warp engines and start shooting. The Moas scatter to the solar wind pretty quickly, not sharp enough to see my probes but clearly not hanging around to see if my Loki is friendly, but the Badger's going nowhere. The hauler explodes, probably in a flash of light but who can tell, and I aim for the pod as the Hurricane aims for me. We both get positive locks, but even the ECM drones buzzing around me don't save the pod from being cracked open to chill another capsuleer to corpse temperature.
With just the Hurricane and me left in the ladar site I turn my attention towards the battlecruiser, wondering if I will be able to best the ship if it is fit for gas harvesting. But when a Tengu appears on my overview, and it's no longer just the Hurricane and me, I remember that I have to be somewhere else quite urgently. But that's okay. I was aware of the extra ships and the potential danger in this ambush, so as soon as I dropped out of warp I aligned my Loki back towards the wormhole out of the system, and the Hurricane doesn't seem to be impeding my drive. The Tengu is barely in the ladar site when I'm flinging my Loki out of it.
I land on the wormhole at zero, not bothering with any finesse for my escape, and jump straight back to C3b and in to empty space. That was pretty thrilling! I have no loot, and no corpse, and only popped a single industrial ship, but it was worth 150 million ISK, thanks to all the high-value gas it was carrying at the time. Of course, it would have been better if the gas had been destroyed in the explosion, or I had been able to see the wreck in the horrific mess of bloom so that I could have shot it, but I podded a pilot in w-space and disrupted an operation pretty effectively. And reds at that. Suck it, reds!
I have to admit that I feel pretty fulfilled right now. I should take some time to calm down. I warp to the static exit to low-sec in this class 3 system and loiter, wondering if the ships I saw leave the C5—who curiously weren't red, which explains my surprise when warping in to the ladar site—will return. I don't see them, but a red Tengu and Buzzard covert operations boat pass by me, coming from low-sec and heading presumably to their C5 home. A few more minutes has no movement, and I duck out to low-sec to appear in a faction warfare system in the Black Rise region. No reds are in the system, and I wait for potential polarisation effects to dissipate before jumping back to C3b. I've had my fun in the C5, so I think I'll see what Fin's found in the other direction.