Our neighbouring class 3 w-space system has an active scout, but still I scan overtly. I don't think it's a problem if I'm spotted. I can pretty much assume the scout knows I'm here anyway, what with him boarding the Imicus scanning frigate after I destroyed his Venture mining frigate in a successful ladar-site ambush. I already resolved a K162 wormhole coming from low-sec kinda by accident when looking for the Venture, and the ladar site that I purposefully found, which leaves me two anomalies and seven signatures to sift through.
Not needing to hide my intentions, I scan systematically, starting from the outer planet and working inwards. That coincidentally has my scanning the planet holding the local tower first, under which I find a wormhole with a weak signature. As the static exit leads to low-sec, and a weak signature means the connection is outbound, it looks like I have more w-space to explore already. I like that. I also like the other two wormholes I resolve, amongst the general collection of sites.
I don't know why this pilot was sucking gas in such a connected system, but maybe he thought the agility and increased warp core strength of the Venture would keep him safe. I wonder what he thinks about that now. Personally, I think the ship means little compared to the vigilance of the pilot, and it's the vigilance that's the hardest aspect to maintain. It only takes a few 'it hasn't happened so far' instances of constant vigilance to skew a pilot in to complacency. I know, because I'm guilty of it too.
Anyway, I'm ignoring the Imicus, which probably won't put itself in to a position of much threat for now, and instead inspect the wormholes. The K162 from low-sec I know about, the static exit to low-sec is no surprise, and a K162 from null-sec is hardly interesting in itself. That weak wormhole, though, is an outbound connection to class 5 w-space, and very much worth exploring through.
Jumping in to C5a has me first notice the black hole gaping away beneath me, before I update d-scan to see a tower, Sabre interdictor, Iteron hauler, Drake battlecruiser, and pod somewhere in the system. My notes give my last visit as being five months earlier, and as opening the system map shows nothing to be out of range it all looks to be unchanged from then. I warp to the tower to see three pilots, the Sabre being the empty ship, and I slow down to watch the Iteron to see if he'll do anything.
The hauler doesn't budge an inch, and I think about heading home, not really wanting to be so obvious in scanning for wormholes in such a small system. But as I ponder my next move the pod boards a second Drake, and the Iteron pilot swaps to a third. Now there's movement. One Drake warps out of the tower, one moves slowly out of the force field, and the third swaps to a Venture. This all looks rather positive. The first Drake returns shortly, and I note his vector of flight as coming from a little above the fourth planet. That may be important, particularly as he swaps ships to be in a second Venture.
Knowing that ships are gassing, and having a rough idea of where they are gassing, means little if I can't scan the site. But just because all of the system was in range of the wormhole it doesn't mean the whole system is in range of the tower. Thankfully, the locals have taken the short-sighted step of planting their tower on the edge of the system, out of d-scan range of a planet on the other side of the system. Before the pilots steel themselves to suck gas, I beat a hasty path to that far planet, launch probes where no one can see me, and return to the tower to watch for further movement. And I do it all just in time.
All three ships are at the tower as I warp back, so I am confident my probe launch went unnoticed, but not for long. The two Ventures warp away, towards but above the fourth planet, leaving the Drake behind. That's fine by me. I have more gassers to hunt. I warp behind the ships, on the assumption that the fourth planet will be closest to the pair, and start looking for them with d-scan once I am in position. The range is good, at maybe 1·25 AU or so from the planet, and knowing the rough vector lets me narrow down their position more quickly than having to guess completely. I'm almost ready to scan.
I align my ship roughly towards the Ventures to help propel me in to warp more quickly. This normally shaves a few seconds off the flight time, which isn't so much of a concern really, except in a system with a black hole. The effects of a class 5 w-space black hole will be quite pronounced too, so the penalty to ship agility could cost me a significant amount of time. Pre-aligning for warp could make the difference between catching the Ventures or having them escape, particularly as the black hole will be affecting their ability to quickly retreat too.
Now I scan, and talk about a perfect result. The ladar site and ships are fully resolved, smack-dab in the middle of my probes. If I could take time to admire the result I would, but time is of the essence. I recall my probes, throw my ship in to warp towards the Ventures, and bookmark their positions for reference. And the ambush is looking good too, as both ships are still in the ladar site as I enter it. But, bah, not for long. It seems that my probes were spotted, as almost before I've decloaked and got my sensor booster active one of the Ventures has warped away. The second, however, is not so quick.
Not so quick, but quick enough. My targeting systems recalibrate themselves and I aim for the remaining Venture, but a split-second before I can stop him he too warps away, back to the tower. I'm still impressed, though. A combination of excellent scanning, good situational awareness, and a strong black hole almost cost a vigilant pilot his Venture. But not quite.
I warp back to the tower, cloaking once clear of the gas cloud, and monitor the pilots briefly. The Drake left behind swaps to a Helios covert operations boat and heads out to scan the system, and one of the Venture pilots breaks out a Tengu strategic cruiser, perhaps to scare me. It's time to go home anyway. These pilots know about me, the pilots in the system behind us know about me, there's not much more to be done. Well, except ponder what the Punisher is doing at the wormhole to C5a in C3a.
Jumping to C3a sees the frigate near the wormhole, but even though thirty kilometres may be 'near' in cosmological terms it isn't close enough for my warp scrambler to stop him warping away. And he's not the Venture/Imicus pilot I've tussled with, which makes me wonder if he's bait. Maybe, probably not, but he's burning away from the wormhole to be further out of range, so I merely move and cloak. And, no, he's not bait, as one look at my Loki has the Punisher scurrying away to his tower. I don't know what he was doing, but it doesn't matter. With a corpse, wrecks, and a near miss, it's been a most entertaining evening indeed.