Out of curiosity, what is that other wormhole? I resolved two in our neighbouring class 3 w-space system and got diverted down the first, an outbound link to a tedious chain of class 5 systems. I have spent my evening scanning unoccupied or empty systems, being a tourist in a unique C6, and failing to disrupt moving day. But returning home has me pausing in C3a, wondering what the other wormhole type is and where it leads. Only recently, a similar situation had me jumping to a class 1 system where miners were becoming active. I can't not look tonight.
'If it's a C2 with Hulks I might cry', says Fin, coming back with me. And warping across C3a lands me next to a terribly enticing outbound connection to class 2 w-space, so I get the tissues ready. Jumping to C2a doesn't see any exhumers stripping rocks of ore, but my directional scanner does pick up a tower and a Hoarder, so perhaps there is a hauler to surprise. Or a transport ship, now that an update of d-scan also sees a Bustard, and now an Iteron. And back to just the tower and Hoarder. Were the other ships local, or passing through? Passing through seems the obvious option, but I search for the tower anyway as a sensible first step.
The Hoarder is empty at the tower, which lends more credence to the other ships bridging through this system. I warp away to launch probes, bumping in to two more towers but no more ships, and perform a blanket scan of the system. The scan is partly out of habit, but it also gives me an idea of the number of signatures, how strong they are, and where they are clustered, which can save time when looking for K162s. At least, I assume I'm looking for a K162.
A ship appears under my probes on the edge of the system, giving me a good idea of where I may find one of the two connections the haulers are using, so I concentrate my probes there first. I resolve the wormhole and warp to it, hoping mostly that it's not the static exit to high-sec this C2 holds. It isn't, but it is the second static wormhole, the one that connects to class 4 w-space. Whilst the C4 occupants couldn't have opened this connection themselves, there's nothing stopping the wormhole being opened independently and the C4 pilots using it to get access to the high-sec exit. Besides, the wormhole I land next to has been stressed to its half-mass state, almost as if multiple hauling trips had already been made. Funny, that.
As if the mass-stressed wormhole weren't evidence enough, as I approach from twenty kilometres away the connection flares. The Iteron and Bustard appear in unison, along with a new contact in a Mammoth hauler, and they all align and warp away, no doubt towards the high-sec connection. What a beautiful sight. With any luck they'll also come back together, so we can blow them up. I let them go out, because they are too far away for me to stop effectively, and because I can't catch them all. Fin can, with her Flycatcher interdictor, and she's on her way to me now.
Because of the size of the system, where I saw the haulers first on d-scan, and where the C4 wormhole is, I am confident the two wormholes being used are out of d-scan range of each other. I have no problem calling Fin in and to the C4 wormhole. But should she stay there? Sitting on the other side sounds like a better option, unless there is a tower in range with pilots maybe occasionally pinging d-scan. The odds are slim, I suppose, so Fin jumps to C4a to be a neat surprise for the pilots, whilst I remain in C3a to, well, I dunno. Watch for the ships? I suppose so.
I don't really need to stay in C3a, not with Fin being so immediately obvious once the ships jump through the wormhole. And when they are all coming back—really quite soon too, so the high-sec wormhole must be convenient, or they've stacked up all their goods in the exit system—I think I would be better waiting with Fin. If only I had more time to think about this, or wasn't so tired. I jump to C4a to make the ambush more proper, but not quite in time. The ships drop out of warp just as my Loki strategic cruiser finishes its transit through the wormhole. Arse.
Did the pilots see me? Will they turn around and seek refuge in high-sec until a scout takes a look around? I don't know any more. My own mistake may need to be compounded with another, and I send Fin's Flycatcher back to C3a, just in case the ships are turning tail to run. The only problem is if they didn't see me, or think they're safe, and blindly jump through the wormhole anyway. Which, of course, they do. Maybe Fin's interdiction sphere helped their decision, though.
The only problem now is that Fin is polarised in C3a—the ships really were quick in turning around—and I am left with the initial problem of stopping three targets with one warp scrambler. Well, I can't stop any if I don't try, so I lock, lock, lock, and the first ship to be locked becomes the target for my scrambler and guns. I get lucky. The Mammoth is first and it pretty much shakes itself to pieces when trying to enter warp. I'm not entirely convinced I fired a shot. The Iteron is luckier, as it is pushed in to warp by the Mammoth's explosion. That leaves me with a pod and Bustard to choose from.
I am locked on to the Bustard and not the pod, so I let the pod fly free and make the Bustard my next target. I scramble its warp drives, burn towards it and give it a big bump away from the wormhole, and start shooting. And continue shooting. And shoot a bit more. Damn, this Bustard's shields are harder to crack than a Drake's. 'Ninety seconds' says Fin from the other side of the wormhole. I'm not going to pause my guns just yet, because I am far from convinced I'll pop the Bustard before Fin's polarisation will end. Anyway, the Bustard's not going anywhere.
No, really. The Bustard's not going anywhere. It's not moving at all. If I didn't know better, I'd say the pilot is drafting an angry letter to Lai Dai to get compensation for her soon-to-be-destroyed ship, perhaps unaware that her +2 warp core strength is being countered by my faction warp scrambler's +3 strength. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Maybe Bustards are modified small Caldari towers with engines. Whatever their construction, those ninety seconds are up and the wormhole flares again. Fin dumps another interdiction sphere and adds her launchers to the combat. By now I've hit the Bustard's armour, which drops much more quickly, but it could simply be Fin's increasing the damage rate.
The Bustard wakes up with Fin's arrival, maybe realising her ship is no longer polarised either, and makes a half-hearted break for the wormhole. No can do, I'm afraid. I give her a little nudge like a bop on the nose with a newspaper, and the Bustard stops again. The ship exploding kinda stops it moving too, with the exception of a few outlying bits of the Bustard accelerating away. And we have the pod trapped, thanks to Fin's interdiction sphere. I lock on and wait for Fin's launchers to start firing again before I let loose with my autocannons, and we share in the massacre of the pilot.
Scoop, loot, and shoot. There are some fancy modules in the wreck of the Bustard but nothing special. Fin flies over to the Mammoth wreck to see it full of tritanium, almost three million units of the ore. It seems the same was in the Bustard, but which is now dust. 'Is it worth collecting?' Probably. 'Do you think they'll send reinforcements?' Not after the hour it took to pop the Bustard. D-scan stayed clear for the entirety of the combat, by the way, and we remain unmolested. And it will take time for Fin to go home and prepare a hauler, during which I can scout. So I scout.
There's a tower in the system, in which are four pilots in an Orca industrial command ship, Anathema covert operations boat, and two pods. It's the same corporation, and they aren't looking to mobilise against us. It's safe to collect the tritanium. Fin brings our own Bustard across C3a, C2a, and in to C4a, loots the Mammoth wreck, and heads home again without any problems. As it was late before we even found C2a it's certainly late now, so I'm off too. I pass by the wormhole and destroy the Mammoth wreck, regretting it as soon as the criminal timer resets, and leave C4a to go home. Job's a good 'un.
Woah, this has been another job better than simply 'good'. The criminal timer gives me a chance to examine the new corpse, and what juicy, expensive brains I have managed to collect. That solo Tengu pilot had some pricey implants, but this industrialist beats them easily. +5 training implants again, but she's also stacked up on some top-notch mining yield chips. The brain's estimated value tops two billion ISK. If only we could dig them out of her head to re-sell. It makes me wonder why she didn't eject, abandoning the Bustard and running for her tower when she could. It's a bit crazy. But it makes for an excellently destructive end to the night, and compensates for my lack of competence in executing the ambush in the first place. Maybe I'll cradle her lifeless head in my lap as I sleep.