I'm kinda hoping the static connection in our neighbouring system is dead. It started wobbling earlier, putting it in the last stage of its life, but I don't know exactly when. The wormhole's collapse will kill the promising constellation I have already scanned, but at least it will offer a new one that I can explore, instead of simply the risk of getting isolated from home. After a quick check of the home system, seeing no new signatures spawned, I jump to our class 3 w-space neighbour and warp to the U210. It's still there, still wobbly. I don't fancy passing through it, nor waiting for its demise. But what I can do is force our own static wormhole to collapse, giving me a new constellation from the stump.
I return home, wait for polarisation effects to end, and throw an Orca industrial command ship through the wormhole and back. A second trip in a Widow black ops ship sees core scanning probes on my directional scanner in C3a, which is typical, I suppose. But at least my return halves our static wormhole's mass allowance, which may deter a casual scout. I stay in the Widow for the next trip, as it lets me sit cloaked near the wormhole to see if anyone comes this way, which they don't, and I need a second trip in the Widow anyway. Core probes are still visible on d-scan in C3a when my five minutes of polarisation ends, which only makes me wonder who's scanning. There are three signatures in the system, and it can't take that long to resolve them all.
A final round trip in the Orca through our static connection kills the wormhole, with no obvious transit by a scout, and I'm back to scanning with my covert Loki strategic cruiser. Now a new signature appears in the home system, and although I wonder how close I came to being ambushed when in the Orca the new signature is not another wormhole but more Sleepers moving in. I ignore them for now, resolving our replacement static wormhole and jumping to the new C3a. A tower, Orca, and Badger hauler are all visible on d-scan from the K162, and a territorial control unit is anchored somewhere in the system.
That very TCU caught me out the last time I was here, as I warped there expecting it to be outside a tower and ended in empty space. I won't make the same mistake today, as consulting my notes points me directly to the tower, where I find the Badger piloted, and by reds! Well, a red, but it doesn't sound as sinister in the singular. Reds! And a customs office ambush looks to be on the cards, as my last visit caught a Hoarder hauler making its rounds, after completely failing to spot my combat scanning probes whizzing around the system.
It's a different pilot today, so I wait and watch to see if he also partakes in the planet goo. Yes, yes he does. The Badger turns, aligns to the closest customs office, and accelerates. I point my Loki in the same direction and wait for the hauler to enter warp, at which point I follow at best speed. Dropping out of warp has me drop my cloak, activate my sensor booster, and burn towards the Badger, now only several kilometres away. I gain a positive target lock, disrupt its warp engines, and start shooting, giving the Badger a massive shunt as my Loki's course slams the two ships together.
Knocking the Badger out of alignment will prevent it warping clear in case it has warp core stabilisers fitted, and it could probably use another bump. The hauler recovers its attitude within a few seconds and begins accelerating, as my guns knock down its shields and work quickly through the Badger's armour. It looks like the hauler will pop soon enough, and I want to make sure of the kill. I set a second collision course, aiming to shunt the Badger again, but my Loki thinks we're already close enough, thank you, and gently nuzzles the woodland creature instead. And, with that, the Badger gains enough momentum and warps clear.
So close. The hauler was taking hull damage, and was surely only a couple more volleys away from exploding. I need to work on my bump and grind, and make it more of a bump and bigger bump. I warp back to the tower to watch the Badger, but now sitting with no armour and some structure scratches I imagine he's been startled in to inactivity, so get my Loki out of d-scan where I launch probes to scan. Blanketing the system reveals two anomalies, eight signatures, and three ships. Three ships? The Orca, Badger, and...? The third ship looks to be on the farthest planet, so I warp out there to take a look.
A second tower appears on d-scan, along with what turns out to be a piloted Buzzard covert operations boat inside its force field. It's good to know there is another tower out here, and thankfully it isn't full of vindictive pilots in pointy ships. I have to wonder if this tower was on-line during my last visit too, and I missed scouting it out of carelessness. It wouldn't be the first time. Anyway, the Buzzard looks inert, the Badger has gone off-line, and scanning resolves rocks, gas, and the static exit to high-sec as the only other wormhole beyond our K162.
Exiting C3a puts me in Aliette, gentille Aliette. And, yes, I will continue making the same pun whenever w-space spits me to the system in the Sinq Laison region. I need to keep myself amused in this way, because scanning only finds one extra signature, and that resolves to be rocks. I can't do anything with rocks. But I think that'll do for tonight. Collapsing a wormhole, chasing a planet gooer, and a bit of scanning makes for a satisfying enough evening. I head home, crawl in to a quiet corner, and contemplate the complexities of bumping Badgers.