Excuse me a moment. I just have to plug in a new implant. Oh yeah, 10% more scanning strength. That's well worth training cybernetics up to level V. And I have my glorious leader to thank for the gift, which is awfully generous of her. Here she is, too, just as I am launching probes to put the new implant to use. But it doesn't take a scanning genius to decipher the blanket scan of the home system. Fourteen anomalies and one signature gives us only the static wormhole again. And the anomalies.
Ignoring the Sleepers for another day has me jumping to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where some bubbles crop up on my directional scanner but nothing else. D-scan covers the whole system today as well, so I'm not not missing anything obvious, which doesn't surprise me considering the system has a static exit to null-sec. A blanket scan reveals ten anomalies and ten signatures, but they're crappy anomalies and I start looking for more wormholes.
A chubby signature looks promising, and resolves to be a K162 from class 4 w-space. With Fin and a newly arrived Aii wrapping up scanning in C3a I jump to C4a, where d-scan shows me a Drake battlecruiser and tower. My notes suggest a second tower is in the system, out of range, and they are right, but there are no more ships. Warping to the first tower sees the Drake piloted, and although Fin says to 'ask him if he is going to bother even doing anything', I think I know the answer. I ignore the battlecruiser, and warp out to launch probes and scan.
Fin and Aii find three more wormholes in C3a, but they are all k-space connections and uninteresting. I, on the other hand, resolve a single wormhole in C4a which turns out to be a K162 from class 5 w-space. I think I've been watching the wrong tower, on the assumption that this C4 has been the end of the constellation. Let's see what's on the other side of the K162 in C5a. Bubbles. Big bubbles. A pair of them enveloping the wormhole quite thoroughly.
D-scan shows me more than the bubbles, and a fair bit more. A fleet is somewhere, and I know it's a fleet because there is no tower to go with them. A Tengu strategic cruiser, Fleet Issue Tempest battleship, Rapier recon ship, Megathron battleship, Archon carrier, Absolution command ship, and two Moros dreadnoughts are creating Sleeper wrecks somewhere. As it turns out, an easily found somewhere, as a passive scan of the system reveals twelve anomalies, one of them holding the ships.
Circumstances look promising for ambushing a salvager. There are plenty of Sleeper wrecks with the fleet and no obvious signs of them diminishing, which means a salvager will need to appear at some point, but before the red mist descends I had best reconnoitre the rest of the system. If I am going to be warping in to trouble I'd rather know about it first. I find occupation, with three towers around one planet, as well as a few more ships—an Anathema covert operations boat, Damnation command ship, and two Thanatos carriers. Nothing any more serious than the dreadnought-led fleet, though. All looks okay for a potential ambush.
I warp in to the anomaly, creating a tactical monitoring point as I do, and invite Aii to join me there, cloaked, shortly after the fleet has finished and a Noctis salvager warps in. Most of the ships have gone, but the Absolution and Archon remain, maybe acting as escort, maybe not. It's hard to tell. As the Noctis moves amongst the wrecks the escorts maintain a casual distance, not really moving with the salvager. Perhaps they are merely a deterrent. A pretty bad one, I have to say, as I'm willing to give this ambush a shot. Not just yet, though. I want to take a closer look first.
Warping in to the site, but not too close, lets me see what the Archon and Absolution are doing. They are moving, but aligned towards their tower, which not only makes them look less threatening but actively takes them further away from the Noctis. That's good, for us. I still want to be as cautious as possible, though. There is a nice clump of wrecks further from the two combat ships, which the Noctis will have to move to. Once he's there, and further from the escorts, we will pounce. And, as a happy consequence, the Noctis will have swept more loot in to his hold too.
I tell Aii my intentions and we align towards the Noctis in preparation. Fin would join us, but a Helios covert operations boat has jumped through the wormhole to C4a, potentially monitoring the wormhole now. It's got there far too late to keep their system safe, as we are about to show, but it means Fin has to sit this one out, sadly. At least she won't die with us. Aii and I are ready, though, and the Noctis is now nicely distant from the other two ships, nearly finished with the main clump of wrecks. I throw our Tengu and Loki strategic cruisers in warp towards the Noctis.
We decloak as we get close, getting our weapon systems hot. The Noctis doesn't get clear by the time we get positive locks and disrupt his warp engines, and we start shooting. I burn to get close to the salvager, realising this puts me in more danger than aligning away from the site, but the C5 Sleeper loot is pretty good and I want to snag it from the wreck. What might stop us is the Rapier reappearing. Maybe not from his position, curiously nearer the Archon and Absolution than the Noctis, but I have a nagging sensation that those recon ships have increased range on one type of module.
Whatever, Rapier pilot, you're too late and too far. To show how casual I am about this, I snag some loot from a wreck being tractored in to the Noctis—cheeky—moments before the salvager explodes. I aim for the pod but miss, but maybe that's for the best, as time may not be on my side.
Even so, as the Rapier gets closer and Aii warps clear, I get my Loki on top of the wrecks of the Noctis. Loot, done. Shoot, done. Warp... done! I cloak as I flee, the Rapier apparently not having much negative effect on my ship, and comfortably return to the tactical bookmark I made.
Maybe not so comfortably, actually. That combat really got my adrenalin pulsing through me. I'm a little tense. I quite like the 350 Miskies of loot in my hold, though, stolen from the destroyed Noctis. That's a calming influence. And I think we should probably get it home. There are bubbles on the wormhole out of here, after all, and even though they may not stop us directly we probably shouldn't linger to gloat. We both turn around and warp to the connection. Quite why the wormhole was bubbled but not collapsed, and not monitored whilst the fleet was in action, is beyond my ken. Maybe the locals thought bubbles would be enough. They're not, by the way.
I return to C4a. And I see the Helios sitting on the K162. As it doesn't look like we've been followed yet, and cov-ops can be pretty fragile to autocannon fire, I give little thought to the hundreds of millions of ISK in my hold and turn on the Helios. I gain a positive lock and loose a volley or two at the tiny ship, but the pilot gathers his wits and jumps through the wormhole before I can claim another kill. I'd better get safe now too, so pulse my micro warp drive to get clear of the wormhole and cloak, moments before the Rapier comes through the connection.
Okay, I want to get safer than I am. The C5ers probably didn't stop scanning when they reached C4a, and so undoubtedly know about C3a, which means the Rapier could be heading that way. As such, I warp to the wormhole and jump, moving and cloaking in C3a until I am a safe distance from the wormhole, where I stop for now. The C5ers may know about this system, but they are unlikely to know about the connection to our home.
Now I can relax a bit, and realise how much fun that was! A good spot, good teamwork, and some fine piloting under pressure got us a good kill, with no loss and an excellent hold full of loot. More importantly, my expensive implant remains intact. Losing the Loki would have lost my ability to get through the bubbles quickly, and would no doubt have lost me my pod. But you need to think positively.