I follow the pod back to the tower. The pod whose Atron frigate I just destroyed. The pod who bounced back to the wormhole and out again. I have no idea why he did that, but if it means the pilots local to this class 3 w-space system will continue to offer me targets I'd like to see what happens next. My cloaky Loki strategic cruiser—fresh from popping a hauler before the Atron—reaches the tower in time to see the pod once again warp to the wormhole, and leave w-space through the static exit to low-sec.
I don't know where in low-sec the wormhole leads, as I haven't had time to check yet, and I'm not about to find out now. I won't catch the pod, and I'd prefer to stay cloaked and covert rather than appearing in the local communication channel. Not that the locals don't know I'm here, of course, but they have displayed goldfish-like attention spans. If I'm cloaked, it seems, they forget I'm around. With that thought in mind, when the wormhole flares a couple of minutes later, and I wonder what to do, I drop my cloak and prepare to ambush yet another ship. After all, why not? It's not like I've been dealing with professional killers.
The incoming ship is a Purifier. I try to catch the stealth bomber, but it warps clear before I can gain a positive lock. Naturally, the ship warps towards the local tower, and now I am intrigued. It's possible that the pilot will return to lob a bomb at me, maybe not in an attempt to actually kill me but more as a way of showing some disdain, hoping to shoo me out of their system. That's cool. I can take a bomb. Better still, I can savage a bomber. If I can catch it, that is.
I have little option but to assume that the Purifier will return directly from the tower, and, because of the range of bomb launches and radius of the explosion, the ship will probably warp to be thirty-to-forty kilometres from the wormhole. I won't be able to prevent him warping away from that distance, and although I can withstand a bomb blast I'd rather not have to. But what I can do is align towards the tower until I am thirty kilometres from the wormhole, and roughly where I assume the Purifier will appear to launch his bomb. Now if he comes, I can pretty much reach out of my pod and grab his ship manually.
If he comes. And although Purifiers can cloak, having the stealth bomber drop off my directional scanner looks more like a ship swap when it is replaced directly by a Drake battlecruiser. That's a shame, as I'd have liked to spring my surprise on the stealth bomber. But there looks to be more activity occurring, as probes appear in the system now. I doubt they belong to the Drake—but you never can tell—and as there is not much to scan in the system, a mere three signatures, I'm not waiting long before a Helios appears on the wormhole and jumps to low-sec.
The covert operations boat is interesting in that it isn't local. But that's about it. Even when he returns a minute later to w-space, and so is polarised, I don't try to catch him. Cov-ops are rather slippery, and as the pilot isn't local I'd prefer he didn't know my Loki has been causing mayhem in the system. This is why I shoot the wrecks of my victims. The system looks clean to casual scouts. Still, a neutral Helios and inactive Drake doesn't offer much excitement, making it time to move on. Or it would, if I hadn't bounced off the tower on my way out of the system only to see the Drake not there.
If the Drake isn't at the tower, where is it? He's not on the low-sec wormhole, as I was just there, and he's not at the gravimetric site, being a tougher miner than the earlier Bestower, if equally as ineffective. Swinging d-scan around a bit shows the battlecruiser is actually, somehow, in one of the system's four anomalies. That's weird. I've popped two ships, podded one pilot, and even if I'd been spotted leaving, which I haven't, a second scout has passed by, obvious probes and all.
I suppose the Purifier could be protecting the Drake, but if it is that is precious little protection. It's more of an appetiser to the main dish. And I'd be more concerned about a counter-ambush if I hadn't loitered with intent in this system for a while, and pretty much seen all capsuleer movements. I think the Drake is simply being careless, particularly as reviewing my images now obviously shows the pilot to be the same as was in the Purifier. So now I have to wonder if I want to attack the battlecruiser directly, or wait for a possible salvager. To answer that question, I ought to see what the Drake is doing in the anomaly.
The anomaly is easy enough to find, and simple enough to make a perch in. The Drake is indeed engaging Sleepers, and leaving the wrecks for separate looting and salvaging. Checking the capsuleer's details shows he should be competent at piloting the Drake, but my mind is made up to strike directly when the ship warps out of the anomaly. If he can't withstand the Sleeper fire, my Loki can probably kill him too. But I will, of course, need the pilot to return to the anomaly. I warp back to the tower, expecting to see the Drake recharging its shields, and get an unexpected sight instead.
The Drake is at the tower, but not in the tower. The battlecruiser is floating just outside of the force field, for reasons I can't fathom, with the pilot now in a Griffin frigate. Maybe he's going to repair the shields remotely. I dunno. But I think it's worth trying to pull off a risky gambit. I warp to the farthest planet, far out of the d-scan range of the tower, making a safe spot along the way. Safe-ish, anyway. I warp to the safe spot, eject from my Loki, and warp to the tower. If I'm lucky, I can nab the Drake, drop it off at the safe spot, take my Loki home, and come back for the Drake before the pilot has the idea to scan for it.
I'm not lucky this time, however. Returning to the tower has the pilot back in the Drake, although still just outside of the force field, and so I take my pod right back to where I ditched my very expensive Loki in empty space. I wonder what the pilot thought of my pod's appearance. Not much, maybe, as going back, cloaked this time, sees the Drake warp away, returning to the anomaly he started. He's a curious fellow. I follow behind, back to my perch, and watch as the battlecruiser continues popping Sleepers. And he's even taking down the Sleeper guns, which perhaps are causing him problems. How thoughtful. If he didn't do that they'd shoot me too when I spring my ambush.
I'm going to time the ambush right. I make a second perch, one that will let me warp almost on top of the Drake, using a Sleeper wreck as a reference point, and align myself towards my target, waiting for the last gun to be destroyed. As the explosion flares in my display I enter warp, dropping close to the Drake and decloaking as I do. I start my approach, aiming to get in to an orbit around the Drake, in order to mitigate some of the inevitable missile damage, but before I get close, and even a positive target lock, the battlecruiser warps clear. It seems he was aligned too, back towards his tower.
So the locals aren't entirely clueless. Losing two ships and a pod, and seeing my pod try to steal his ship, the Drake pilot tried to keep safe. Even so, I'm not sure what he was thinking in engaging Sleepers under such conditions. I don't know how he thought he'd collect the loot and salvage to earn any ISK for his efforts. But that's not my problem. And time is running late, so now I think I really will head home, after a fun and productive afternoon. I don't even think it matters if I leave, as the locals must be nicely paranoid about everything by now.
I jump back to C5a, and warp across to return to C3a, where I see a sad sight. The wormhole connecting the two systems is at the end of its life, which means that, after I grab a sammich, the constellation may not be available to roam later. That's a shame, but I can always find new w-space systems. Or I could shoot the Buzzard cov-ops that jumps to C3a right in front of me. I burn to the wormhole, jump, and try to catch the tiny ship, only to be thwarted by it cloaking effortlessly. I could have predicted that, but there was no harm in trying. And his orangeness intrigues me. Where is he from?
The Buzzard pilot is local to C3a, as he says hello to me in local system comms in my native tongue. That's sweet of him. On top of that, a Helios coming to C3a from C5a, a minute behind me and the Buzzard, initiates a private conversation. It's all go today. The Helios is the same as I saw checking the U210 in C3b, and asks why I scared the Drake. Because I wanted to kill it, I say. It turns out the Helios had spotted him and his corporation were lining him up too. Well, I'm glad I jumped him when I did, I say, as I wouldn't want to have got caught in the middle. Not again. But I was going home for food, so say au revoir to the Buzzard and wish the Helios good hunting, as I jump home to go off-line for a sammich.