Hop, hoppity, hop. High-sec stargates are easy. Twenty-three of them becomes a bit boring, though. Still, it gets me home, and with less effort and randomness than scanning for arbitrary wormholes. I would be home somewhat earlier were it not for the gimboid who collapsed their static connection that I just happened to be using. It really held the constellation together, man.
But I get home. Or close to it. Jumping in to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, using its rather convenient static wormhole to high-sec, sees no change on my directional scanner, but my bulging collection of bookmarks reminds me there's a system I've yet to visit. In fact, I've yet to visit the wormhole leading to whatever system it leads to, so apart from it being an outbound connection I have no idea where it goes. I can spare a short diversion, so send my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser to take a look.
Oh, how alluring. Dropping out of warp next to a V301 is rather more dangerous than normal, because how can I resist being drawn in to class 1 w-space? Sure, C1s aren't generally dangerous, but it was late when I had to find my way home from the disconnected arm of the constellation, later still when I got to high-sec and faced a couple of dozen system-hops to get here, and the night's not going to suddenly feel younger just because I've found a C1 system. Then again, seeing a tower and three Ventures in C1a perks me up a little.
Seeing that the mining frigates and tower are separated on my directional scanner is like a jolt of caffeine. The system is small, but a rough scan and bit of maths makes me think I can drop out of d-scan range to launch probes, and warping in the opposite direction to the frigates proves me right. I launch combat scanning probes, cloak, and warp to the other side of the system to hunt the ships, barely aware of my fatigue any more.
A Brutix appears on d-scan, but only briefly. The battlecruiser is swapped for a fourth Venture, and a fifth even appears before too long. Despite tonight's trek, I may have appeared in this C1 just in time to catch the start of an industrial operation. But it's kinda hard to pin down for some reason, which I work out when, having finally got a fairly decent bearing on the ships, testing the range to the ships puts them 10 AU away. No wonder small changes were producing erratic results, as my azimuth errors will be significant at this range.
I warp closer to the ships, after placing a datum probe roughly where I think they are. It is pretty rough too, as I have to hunt the Ventures all over again. But I find them again, and now they are about 4·2 AU from my position, which is much better, even if still a fair distance for a site to be from a planet. I get my Loki accelerated in the general direction of my targets, take a breath, and scan. Damn. I've missed. 95% is a good result but not enough for my warp drives to lock on to, and I don't even get a solid hit on the gravimetric site.
An adjustment of my probes puts them pretty much on top of the mining operation and a second scan gets what I needed the first time. Two scans already feels too long, like my probes must have been spotted, but there's no point giving up now. I recall my probes, warp to the Ventures, and bookmark their position for reference. But, yes, my probes were noticed. Two Ventures remain in the site when I reach it, and those not for long. The last leaves me alone near a rock I wouldn't know what to do with, before I've even dropped out of warp.
I don't think I can blame my poor scanning on being tired. It was just a bit shabby, and I took a short-cut when gauging the distance rather than being more precise about it. I pay for that by missing my targets. Considering that I still managed to get to the site to see a ship warp out suggests that it was the second scan that was spotted, or that their reactions were sufficiently delayed that the extra ten seconds or so the adjustment took would have been enough for me to pounce on a ship or two had I not needed it. Either way, they've all gone.
Ventures are swapped for scanning frigates, one of which chooses the curious option of scanning outside the safety of the tower's force field. I warp to the K162 at range, wondering if I could catch him when coming to see what type of wormhole connects to them, only to see the pilot choose another curious option of landing on top of the wormhole instead. I can't shoot him from there! The Heron warps away again, back to his safe spot, and I'm ready to take out my frustration on his tiny ship. Sadly, by the time I've launched probes he's returned to the tower and is inside the force field. That's that, I suppose.
A Brutix and Venture warp away from the tower, towards what must be a wormhole, seeing as the ships disappear from d-scan, and I decide to resolve where they went. It doesn't take long, and I am soon next to an unhealthy static exit to low-sec. Hoping that the battlecruiser comes back, seeing that the wormhole may not have much life left, I call Aii along for the fun, but the locals are alert. They've left someone near the wormhole from C3a and they spot Aii entering the system, saying hello to him in the local channel.
Aii is the lucky recipient of a conversation request, and we try to fool the locals in to thinking it was he who scanned earlier, the equivalent of riding single file to hide our numbers. But whether they believe us or not is immaterial, as the Brutix isn't coming back, not even with just one strategic cruiser potentially waiting for him. Aii leaves again, making a big deal of going back to C3a, but still nothing returns from low-sec. Okay, it's definitely time for bed now.