I'm hoping for more than a newbie in a frigate and empty covert operations boat to shoot today. And here's my glorious leader to help! What shall we do today, Fin? Shoot Sleepers in anomalies—the shortcut to explosions—explore, or both? Explore to start with, we think, so we resolve the static connection and jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. I was in C3a almost two years ago, when two of our Manticore stealth bombers launched against a Crow interceptor, and later the same day I took the obvious bait and lost the Manticore to a Loki strategic cruiser. Great days. But the Tengu strategic cruiser, three Tornado battlecruisers, and Manticore on my directional scanner now should probably be my focus, not my notes.
Two towers are also visible on d-scan, and although it's all change from my previous visit they are easy enough to find. One tower looks to hold all the ships, so I head that way, only to find not quite what I expected. The ships are indeed at the tower, but not in the tower. They're shooting it. We've stumbled in to a siege, albeit a minor one, and, more importantly, a siege where the pilots don't appear to be paying too much attention. I'm not surprised, as shooting a tower for a couple of hours is pretty tedious, and continually updating d-scan for that long is probably less preferable to an ambush and a quick death. Maybe we can help with that. All Fin and I have to do is work out our targets and how best to pick them off. 'Oh', says Fin. What? Oh.
The tower enters reinforced mode a minute after we arrive, giving the siegers nothing left to do today. The tower will remain invulnerable for as long as its supply of strontium lasts, which in this case is a day and sixteen hours. Understandably, rather than floating outside the sieged tower for all that time, the small fleet retreats to their own tower, and then mostly go off-line. One pilot remains, now in an Onyx heavy interdictor for some inscrutable reason, but he probably isn't paying much attention to anything but his watchlist now, looking for pilots of the sieged corporation to come on-line. I think it's safe for us to scan.
One anomaly and five signatures isn't much to sift through, and with two of us scanning we resolve the rocks, gas, and static exit to low-sec with no fuss. There's no movement from the Onyx, so we exit to empire space, appearing in a faction warfare system in Devoid. There are no oranges in the system, neither any additional signatures when scanning, and although there's a fan who says hello I manage to have my least charming conversation with a reader that I can remember. I hope you're still reading after that, arbitrary faction warfare pilot.
There's nothing happening. So Fin and I look to make something happen, by collapsing our static wormhole to start again. A couple of paired trips stresses the wormhole to implosion, with a pause for polarisation effects, and we're scanning for a new connection. Jumping in to the replacement C3a has a clear result on d-scan, and although there is one planet out of range it holds no occupation. A lack of anomalies will stop us engaging Sleepers, and seven signatures doesn't give much hope for wormholes. Indeed, a quick poke reveals no K162s, leaving me looking for the static exit to null-sec which I know is present from a visit six months ago.
I find the static wormhole in C3a, only to warp to it and realise that I haven't. A982 does not equal K346, and I've actually resolved a random outbound connection to deadly class 6 w-space. That's nice. I keep scanning, resolve the null-sec wormhole, and swiftly ignore it as I jump to C6a to look for trouble. D-scan being clear doesn't look promising, but a Legion strategic cruiser and Celestis cruiser warping past, blipping on d-scan for a few seconds, is a more positive sign. Once I'm sure they've gone I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, and the sixteen anomalies, twenty-three signatures, and lack of ships makes me suspect the ships were just passing through.
Warping around finds a tower in C6a, but with no one home, so I poke for K162s. I find a couple, which Fin reconnoitres as I continue shoving scanning probes around, giving us K162s from null-sec and a second class 6 w-space system. Fin jumps to C6b, and reports seeing towers on d-scan. 'Many, many towers.' And ships too. I see a ship as well, a Tornado warping to the C6 K162 as I sit there, still looking for the static connection in C6a, and I alert Fin as it jumps to her position. Right to her position, as it turns out. As the Tornado decloaks to warp clear, it nudges Fin's cloaky Loki, dropping her cloak in the process, and almost forcing Fin to jump out of the system.
That's probably us finished with C6b, then. If the pilots know we're around and what we're flying we'll probably doom ourselves if we push for an engagement. Thankfully, I've finally found the static wormhole in C6a. Well, it's the third-to-last signature, so not really finally, and it's not even worth making a fuss over. The wormhole to class 4 w-space is not only stressed to half mass but wobbling away at the end of its life. Stupid wormhole. It was probably in the prime of its life and full of mass allowance when I started scanning for it.
We don't have much option now. Either we die to the C6bers, or head home and collapse our wormhole again. Or, at least, try to crash it. The connection is a little chubby, resisting our attempts to kill it off early, and sits small and far from silently mocking us in its critical state after our second pair of round trips. Screw you, wormhole, stay like that. We'll just shoot some Sleepers instead. And that's what we do.
A quick scan confirms no new wormholes connect to our home system, and we swap to Sleeper Tengus, making white wrecks that look unfamiliar to my piratical eyes, before swapping to Noctis salvagers to rake in over three hundred million ISK in profit for three anomalies. And it's profit that we realise from our anomalies, which makes a nice change.