Nope, there's no one home next door. A scout from class 5 w-space that connects to our home system came this way before evading our attentions on his way back, leading me to suspect nothing was happening in this class 3 system, and I'm right. One tower has been ripped down from four months ago and a new one installed elsewhere, currently hosting no ships or pilots, with a curious bubble trap. The warp bubble has canisters scattered in it to decloak covert ships, but its alignment confuses me.
The cans in the bubble don't point towards the system's star, or the planet the moon orbits around, but to the fourth moon of the planet. That's not even the moon where the previous tower was anchored. Maybe the bubble and cans sit on the moon's natural warp capture point, but it's hard to tell when I warp in at range in an interdiction nullified strategic cruiser. But the bubble trap is a mere curiosity, particularly with no one home, so I warp clear, launch probes, and scan.
It turns out I might be right about the Tengu's brief visit, but for the wrong reasons. Scanning reveals multiple wormholes amongst the three anomalies and nine signatures, with a static exit to low-sec empire space that's at the end of its natural life. Perhaps the Tengu merely came this way to see if the wormhole had finally died, giving a new exit from w-space, and returned when seeing it still alive. That's plausible, but it doesn't explain why the other wormholes would have been ignored. A K162 from class 2 w-space offers potential, as does a K162 from class 5 w-space. The EOL K162 from null-sec maybe less so, but there are still options. I'll take one of them.
C2a is a good choice, I would say, and updating my directional scanner when in the system looks like it might be too good. D-scan shows me loads of ships and three towers, although there are no wrecks, and looking around sees reinforced customs offices everywhere. Opening the system map reveals eight planets and eight moons, so locating the three towers doesn't take long. Three frigates sit empty at one, nothing is at a second, and third has strategic cruisers, a battleship or two, battlecruisers, and industrial ships, but only an Orca industrial command ship is piloted in the whole system.
Despite the lack of pilots, the system must be worth a poke with probes. Warping out to launch my probes covertly sees a Drake battlecruiser and Thrasher destroyer somewhere unknown. And a Rapier recon ship. Maybe the ships are on a wormhole, which seems likely given that an, or the, Orca also appears on d-scan briefly. I warp back the way I came to launch probes, now that the Orca is gone from the tower, and perform a blanket scan of the system. Even more ships appear, this time three Retriever mining barges and Mammoth hauler lighting up d-scan. What the bloody hell is happening? And, more importantly, where?
The miners disappear without a trace, which is really confusing, and the Thrasher returns to be somewhere. I scan for a possible wormhole, roughly where I saw the ships to be, as Aii sees the wormhole between C2a and C3a flare. He brought a ship behind me when I started seeing activity and now he sees the Orca jump between the two systems, with the Rapier as escort, apparently stressing the connection in a bid to get rid of it. Quite how I missed the obvious destination of these ships is beyond me, but that doesn't matter. Can you grab the Orca?
'I've got the Drake.' That's not Aii, that's Fin. Perked up from a sleepy state also at hearing the activity I was seeing, Fin has followed behind with a suitably pointy ship, and although the Orca has got away my glorious leader has snared another of its escorts. I warp to join my two colleagues, both piling on the damage already, hoping to get to the battlecruiser before it becomes a wreck of twisted metal.
The Drake's going nowhere, and the damage from Fin's Legion strategic cruiser and Aii's Manticore stealth bomber is formidable against the battlecruiser. I add what little my autocannons can do, but am really just here for the ride, it seems, particularly as no help comes for the Drake. There is nothing our target can do but explode and get his pod to safety with impressive efficiency, leaving us a wreck to loot and shoot. The cloaking device found in the wreck makes me realise why I probably lost track of the ship, and makes me wonder why anyone would fit one to a Drake. And, typical for a Caldari pilot, he forgot to launch his drones.
'Get ready to jump', says Fin, 'they've got overwhelming numbers'. I think she's just taken a look at d-scan. They've got overwhelming ships, Fin, and maybe three pilots. 'Oh.' Suitably calmed, Fin stays menacingly on the wormhole in her Legion as Aii and I activate our cloaks and reconnoitre the various towers. The Orca's returned to where I first saw him, and the Thrasher is joined by a Corax destroyer in what was the empty tower. A Mammoth is new on d-scan, and not at a tower. Surely he can't be collecting planet goo at a time like this.
The hauler indeed isn't at a customs office, but he isn't at a tower either. I launch probes again and resolve his position, this time finding another wormhole, but sadly finding the hauler to be sitting on an exit to high-sec empire space. Still, he's in w-space at the moment and not moving, I won't risk much by poking him with a stick. I move close, decloak, and open fire, as I surge my Loki forwards to give the Mammoth a bump. That woke him up. The ship jumps to high-sec before I can do any more damage, leaving the system subdued.
How quiet is the system? Aii reports the local pilots are perhaps gearing up, as battleships and a new Drake are being prepared in one of the towers, but the capsuleers don't look to be serious in whatever intentions we can assign them. Whether they are considering finishing the collapse of the wormhole or engaging us directly, the battleships don't budge from the safety of the force field. Jumping Fin's Legion from the system and off d-scan doesn't alter the situation either. Never mind. We caught the Drake and got a decent kill, so we can head home happy.