I'll see if I can stick to my natural habitat of w-space tonight. Popping a salvager in null-sec was okay, but it didn't seem to be much of a challenge for some reason. A second wormhole in the home system makes me optimistic that I can stay out of k-space, and a K162 from class 2 w-space sounds lovely indeed. I jump to C2a to see the system number pleasantly aligned, as J123450 is aesthetically agreeable. I wonder if these little happenstances will continue.
Three towers, two Orcas, one Navy Armageddon, and zero anomalies. A combination of my directional scanner and on-board ship scanner shows me the occupation, industrial command ships, battleship, and lack of easily found sites, but I suppose the progression is a coincidence. And I need to rely on general exploration to discover that none of the ships are piloted. A blanket scan of the system reveals five signatures, which I quickly whittle down to be rocks, a radar site, and two more wormholes, with the static exit to high-sec empire space accompanied by a K162 from class 4 w-space.
I jump through the high-sec exit to bookmark a route home, in case of the worst, and appear in a system in Domain only five hops to Amarr. That's pretty good, and if the C4 is empty maybe I should think about getting fuel for the tower. I return to w-space to reconnoitre C4a, finding two towers, an empty Bestower hauler and Orca, and decide that I don't care to scan for K162s. The hour is early, I have a good route to Amarr, so I should probably take the hint and run logistics. Naturally, my plan changes before it even begins.
I return to C3a to see a Megathron battleship now on d-scan, and get a conversation request. I find the Megathron piloted at one of the towers and accept the request, wondering what be-oranged pilot wants to talk to me. 'I doubt the Megathron will come out to play', says BayneNothos. Yeah, like I'm in the same C2 as you, I reply, because what are the odds? Like a million-to-one. But maybe a bit less if he is a pilot from the C4a corporation who just spotted me jumping back through their static wormhole.
'These dudes won't give you any trouble, as they lost two boats twelve hours ago. They'll be gun-shy', Bayne says, as two covert operations boats come on-line, the Helios and Anathema appearing at the same tower. I'd like to make them shier, but I could only do that if they leave the tower. And they kind of do, launching probes to scan, but catching a cov-ops is an exercise in frustration. I'm still one to try, though. But considering chasing a target through wormholes raises an interesting question of the etiquette of shooting fans you're currently chatting and sharing intelligence with, particularly as it's possible we'd gang up to bag a bigger boat.
I like to think I wouldn't shoot unless shot at, but I never can tell with me. As it turns out, only I'm foolish enough to chase the Anathema as I see it appear on the K162 to C4a. I drop out of warp to see the cov-ops still decloaked and sitting on the wormhole, perhaps wondering if he should bookmark the location, or location the location, but he finally decides and jumps. I follow behind, trying to give just enough time for him to get caught in a cluster of launching probes, but not enough for him to be clear and free to cloak. I don't quite manage it, as the wormhole is clear, as is d-scan of probes. There are two new Badgers in the system, though! 'In the tower', says my new friend. Aww.
The Anathema drops his cloak on the wormhole, and I follow suit. I engage the cov-ops, but only to force the ship back to C2a. I pursue again, but the Anathema gets clear of my attentions without too much fuss, leaving me little option but to cloak and return to loitering. The Helios in C2a is now swapped for a Proteus strategic cruiser, which Bayne notes is fitted purely for combat, but I think it's just sabre rattling and ignore it. It's not long before the Anathema warps out of the tower again, and this time stays cloaked. He doesn't have much choice in direction, though, and I warp to the wormhole to our system, if only because I certainly won't catch the ship on the high-sec wormhole.
Sure enough, the Anathema is here, and after a pause jumps to our home C4. I don't follow this time, as rather than scanning I expect him to check d-scan and return. And he does. As the wormhole flares a minute later I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and get ready for the Anathema to flee. Flee he does, a split-second before I get a positive lock, which is a bit of a shame, particularly as he was polarised, but not unexpected. I think I've done all I can in this system and head homewards to explore our neighbouring class 3 system, but not quite being the trusting sort I don't tell Bayne this. He's smart, he'll work it out.
C3a looks clear from the K162. A blanket scan reveals fourteen anomalies and signatures each, and exploring has a tower on a far planet that is empty of ships. I know from my last visit that there is a static exit to high-sec, and my notes remind me of my shameful podding of a pilot outside one of the towers. Nothing like that will happen with no capsuleers around today, so I scan and resolve the static exit, as well as another high-sec link, this one a K162. And is that weak signature an outbound connection? Yes, to class 4 w-space. How exciting!
I poke through C3a's static exit to appear in Domain, also five hops to Amarr. And although the K162 doesn't lead to Domain, the system in Sinq Laison is only three hops from Dodixie, another trade hub. I think the galaxy is telling me to get fuel. I quickly reconnoitre C4b through C3a, but the most exciting aspect is finding from my notes that I engaged a Manticore stealth bomber in a Buzzard cov-ops, with Fin bringing a Pilgrim recon ship to the fight to be met by a Rapier recon ship, Nighthawk command ship, and Onyx heavy interdictor. That sounds like it was fun, and somehow there were no losses. I'll leave the unoccupied system's seven anomalies and thirty-one signatures untouched for now, as it will give me something to do later if I get fuel now.
I go home, swap my scanning ship for an Orca, and decide that heading to Amarr through the empty C3 is probably safer than the active but probably unthreatening C2. Bayne tells me of the static exit to high-sec in C3a, should I want to sneak an Orca through, and I let him know about the K162 too with a wink. I'm still not convinced he won't try to stop me. But I make it to Amarr and back in the Orca without fuss, only wondering how 7,988 five cubic metre lego bricks fill a 40,000 cubic metre hold, and leaving 12 fuel blocks behind as a result. It's still a lot of fuel, and I top up the tower and leave almost a full tower's worth in storage. That'll keep us going for a while. Now for food. I'll be back later for more of the same.