Just the static wormhole to resolve in the home system gives me an easy start to the evening. And ships and a couple of towers visible on my directional scanner in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system gives me a little hope for finding activity so soon, until I see a lack of wrecks, probes, or any other sign of actual life. Locating the towers is simplicity itself too, because, holy moly, there are eight planets in the system but only two moons. A Wolf assault frigate is at one tower, a Hurricane battlecruiser and Buzzard covert operations boat at the other, all empty of capsuleers.
A lack of pilots means the tiny system offers no disadvantage for not being able to hide out of d-scan range to launch probes. There's no one to hide from. Three anomalies and seven signatures give the usual gas, rocks, static exit to low-sec. And leaving w-space puts me in Khanid. Pout, in fact. I remember this system. My glorious leader didn't take kindly to the name, but I'm not one to, uh... Well, anyway, scanning resolves a magnetometric site and wormhole in the low-sec system, a K162 from another unfortunate class 3 system. Let's see if I can make whoever's in there even more unfortunate.
D-scan is clear from the wormhole in C3b, and exploring finds a tower with a piloted Manticore stealth bomber floating inside its force field. I want to warp away to launch probes covertly but the system is again small, giving nowhere to hide. But wait a minute, wasn't d-scan clear from the wormhole? Yes, Penny, it was. Well spotted. The canny placement of the tower has been negated by devious Sleeper technology creating a decent safe spot. Even so, I can't scan without my probes being obvious, it's just that the Manticore pilot, if he's awake, won't know what is scanning his system.
A wormhole, two rock sites, one gas site. The wormhole leads back to class 4 w-space in an eerie mirror of our half of the constellation. I jump through the connection, keen to see what Evil Penny looks like. A tower with a Rorqual capital industrial ship, Mammoth hauler, and Badger hauler is an uncanny replica of our system, except for the ships, and the lack of a pulsar. Never mind. The ships are all empty, quelling my bloodlust temporarily, and I launch probes to look for further K162s.
I concentrate on the chubby signatures of the sixteen in the system, plucking one wormhole out of the noise fairly early in my search. A Buzzard appears as I keep sifting, presumably cloaks and warps, so on a whim I recall my probes and warp to the one wormhole I found, where I see the Buzzard jump further back along the constellation. I follow, wondering why I'm even bothering to try to catch it, and end up in empty space around a wormhole in a different class 4 w-space system.
Whether the Buzzard saw my jump or warped away beforehand I can't say, but the cov-ops doesn't appear on d-scan alongside the tower, Orca industrial command ship, Dominix battleship, and Dramiel frigate. Maybe he's headed back a system further, or sitting here keeping an eye on me. But no ships come to the wormhole, and when I go to them they are all empty of pilots. Further back, perhaps. I continue scanning for wormholes, resolving two more amongst the ten anomalies in the system. Yet another C4 K162 is a possibility, but I rather prefer the look of the K162 from class 2 w-space.
My instincts are good. And bad. But good. A Venture mining frigate appears alone on d-scan in C2a, but my notes from a previous visit have the system being occupied by reds. Proper reds too, not reds I set as a joke. And just to confirm that I am in a pretty hostile system a Proteus appears on d-scan, dropping out of warp on top of the wormhole I've thankfully moved away from. A Legion is also on d-scan now, although this second strategic cruiser doesn't join the Proteus, who is launching probes near the wormhole. This doesn't stop me hunting the Venture, it just means I will probably die if I do.
Warping out, launching probes, and blanketing the system sees four signatures—at least two of which will be wormholes—and twelve ships. That gives me pause for thought, but dying to a dozen ships isn't much different from dying to two. The Venture blips off d-scan, certainly not making me feel relieved about having to make a decision, and I am definitely pleased when he returns a minute later. I suppose I should hunt him.
Being 7 AU away from the target will make probe placement a little awkward, so I warp to a nearer planet. 3·3 AU is better. I narrow down the frigate's position, cluster my probes around him, and scan. It's a good result, with the Venture chomping on rocks and not sucking gas, explaining the need to empty his hold, and I warp his way. Unfortunately, it seems I was spotted, probably. I end up near a rock of arkanor with no Venture in sight, and I think my slightly poor reaction time with recalling my probes is to blame. At least there isn't a Legion sitting nearby waiting for me.
My glorious leader, however, has found the scanning Proteus on her way from our home system to join up with me. In one of our ship-killer Legions, Fin engaged the Proteus but saw it slip back through a wormhole to evade her. It could be coming home now, and without the Venture to pop I may as well see if I can intercept its return. Our paths converge. The Proteus jumps through the wormhole from C4b, Fin's somewhere in that direction and coming this way, and I'm ready and waiting for the strategic cruiser to appear.
I'm decloaked with systems hot ready to engage, and pounce on the appearing Proteus. He returns my fire, adding drones to his blasters, as a second Proteus decloaks and mimics his colleague. That makes sense. The Proteus wasn't running as much as heading towards support, trying to lure Fin to engage on terms much more favourable to him. We were kind of hoping to do the same, but having two Proteuses and their drones blapping at my collection of girders wrapped in gaffer tape quickly takes its toll. I flee through the wormhole, moving and cloaking as one of the reds takes his time following me.
Still alive, but with no explosions of the good kind either, it's time to head home for the night. We're not going to do anything but die to the red ships, and they've presumably already scared away or destroyed any other targets in the constellation. Even if they haven't, they'll no doubt be watching and waiting for us to make ourselves targets. But it's been a good evening scanning, hunting, and shooting. There'll be more adventure tomorrow.