The Noctis has warped clear from my assault, and has unsurprisingly exited the class 5 w-space system. The salvager was sweeping up wrecks in some gravimetric and ladar sites in the system, cleared by at least a couple more pilots, until I interrupted, and now a Buzzard looks to be scanning. The covert operations boat may be looking for a new wormhole, but the one I entered through is old, one which I scanned a few hours ago. The fleet should also know about it already, as long as it is the same fleet that I interrupted the first time I was here, which isn't necessarily the case, but the warp-stabilised Noctis suggests it could be.
If the Buzzard's scanning, then so will I. The other pilots know I'm here, and I know there is a static connection to class 3 w-space to find, as well as probably a K162 that the fleet is using. I probably won't be able to, or want to, engage those pilots again, even though my glorious leader is also in the system and perhaps unknown, but there could be more to find further down the constellation. I launch probes, blanket the system, and start sifting through the twenty-two signatures.
There are a lot of rock and gas sites in the system, and, I notice, a whole bunch of Sleeper wrecks remaining unclaimed. Rather than ignore the sites when identifying them, I resolve each one, as they could lead to some easy ISK by looting the left wrecks, including those of a couple of Sleeper battleships. It could also find the replacement salvager, as a Cormorant appears under my combat scanning probes at one of the sites. Salvaging in a destroyer is old-school, but cheaper than using a Noctis and much more agile. And as the wrecks in the mining sites will be close together there is little lost in using the Cormorant.
Of course, the destroyer is probably bait, and as much as I'd like to take a shot at the ship I realise I would more likely end up pretty dead if I did. Fin agrees with me, and so rather than chase the Cormorant I switch tactics. I ignore scanning for now and warp to the rarified deposit of rocks that I have resolved, hoping to find the battleship wrecks there. I find one of them, and a Sleeper battleship wreck in a class 5 w-space system will contain a nice chunk of loot. I make a safe monitoring spot, check that the Cormorant is still around and apparently alone, and warp in to steal the battleship's loot.
That was pretty easy, and relatively lucrative. I grabbed about fifteen million ISK in loot from that one wreck, and although the other wrecks are just from cruisers I am more than tempted to nab a bit more profit. I warp to one of the cruisers to steal again, just as the Cormorant warps in to the site and on top of that very wreck. That's bad timing. Or good timing. I'm not sure which, but I can find out. I drop my cloak, lock on to the Cormorant, and start shooting, and at the same time the destroyer's cloaked retinue appear and no doubt try to do the same to me.
'Help.' I doubt my Loki can turn away from danger and get clear before I'm stopped, so call out to Fin to get her Legion strategic cruiser here. Except I get clear, and warp to my monitoring point, perhaps confusing me more than the Rapier recon ship, Purifier stealth bomber, and Proteus strategic cruiser that all dropped their cloaks simultaneously. I have to check my logs to see what happened, and it seems that luck was on my side. I initiated warp and activated my cloaking device, expecting neither to happen. But the wreck I was trying to loot was pulled out of range by the Cormorant, putting my Loki in clear space, and my reactions were apparently quick enough for my cloak to activate before a ship got a positive lock on me. That's fortunate indeed. At least, it is for me.
I'm clear, but I may have just called Fin in to her death. Thankfully, her Legion can cloak too, and the other ships disappear from sight once I've warped away from them, so although Fin warps to my aid, which is no longer needed, her cloak's integrity remains intact and no one is the wiser. Even so, if the fleet didn't know Fin was around, maybe we could have stayed for a fight. The Proteus is probably built like a brick, but the Purifier is fragile and the Rapier would have been toast if we could have got close. Still, I don't think panic-warping is such a bad reaction to seeing three unknown ships suddenly appearing on my overview. Maybe I'll get better at assessing a situation as I gain more experience.
I think we'll leave the Cormorant alone now, even if I hadn't actually planned to engage it. I return to scanning the system and looking for wormholes, eventually finding a weak signature that resolves to be the static connection to class 3 w-space. I jump through to take a look around, finding a tower but no ships, and my notes informing me that the static connection will lead to low-sec empire space. And that's all I find amongst the seven anomalies and six signatures, bringing this part of the constellation to an end. But it doesn't explain where the other ships have come from.
The fleet wasn't local to C5a, which I'd already checked, nor were they from it's neighbouring C3 system, going by the ownership of the tower. None of the ships jump past Fin, sitting on the K162 to C2c as the fleet disappears from d-scan, and I didn't resolve any K162 connections in the class 5 system. It's possible I missed or overlooked a chubby signature, but I don't think I did. Maybe the C5 locals scanned and resolved a weak outbound connection, opening it before going off-line, and the corporation on the other side of that wormhole made use of it to plunder the C5. I dunno, but I'm not going back to scan for a wormhole that holds hostiles who are aware of us.
There is also the fact that our route home has a wormhole at the end of its life, which I only just remember. It had a good couple of hours left before its inevitable implosion, but our shenanigans have soaked up a fair bit of that and we ought to head home whilst we can. Even though we would still have a valid route home, having scanned alternative routes earlier, the one through the dying wormhole is the most convenient. We turn our ships around and head back through dead w-space systems, through the dying wormhole, and across low-sec to reach our home system at the end of an interesting evening.