Less time-restricted today, I'm going to find another pilot to stalk. Just the static wormhole in the home system sends me directly to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where my directional scanner is clear and the system's J-number looks familiar. And maybe it should be, what with this being my sixth visit, the last being two months ago when the system was unoccupied. That's not a great start, and it gets a little worse when my notes indicate a static exit to null-sec.
A blanket scan of C3a reveals sixteen anomalies, ten signatures, and a continuing lack of occupation. A chubby wormhole amongst the signatures could be good, and even though it's just a K162 from high-sec it may be a better option for further exploration than the only other connection in the system, the null-sec wormhole. Using the K162, though, puts me in a system in Aridia, which is like null-sec except less populated and further from civilisation, and in this case high-sec.
And, being in high-sec, I ponder my choice of safety switch options. I've had my ship safeties disabled since their introduction, probably because I didn't really understand it and didn't want to be fiddling with anything extraneous to combat at critical moments. But over time I have come to understand that a fully engaged safety won't prevent any action in w-space, and perhaps I will be better served by flicking the switch to green, preventing any action that would get me in trouble. So I do. Hopefully I won't regret this decision, and I don't see how I possibly could.
Now I get back to scanning, and the sole additional signature in the system resolves to be a wormhole. The Z971 signature doesn't tell me what w-space class the wormhole leads to as vividly or immediately as the green flashing over the blue colouring seeping through the connection, and I jump through knowing I am entering the lowest class of system. Sadly, I appear in C1a over seven kilometres from the wormhole, which generally indicates a recent lack of activity. Still, I launch probes, blanket the system, and explore.
Yep, there's nothing and no one here. The class 1 system is unoccupied and generally unvisited, as the seventeen anomalies and seven signatures attest. Thankfully, the lack of occupation isn't because the system also holds a static exit to null-sec, like C3a, but a high-sec connection, curiously enough. And today it leads to The Forge, only two hops to Jita. That would be more convenient if the wormholes in and out of class 1 w-space allowed ships bigger than cruisers through.
Ignoring where I am, I scan. The two additional signatures are a boring ladar site and a DED-rated site that won't let my Loki strategic cruiser use its acceleration gate. I suppose that's it for exploration, so back I go. Through C1, to Aridia, to, well, a Vexor is now in the system, and it has drones out. I can't find the cruiser by sweeping d-scan across rock fields, planets, or stargates, and as there weren't any sites in the system about five minutes ago I am at a loss as to where he can be. But as the combat drones have been swapped for salvage drones I'm tempted to see if I can find the ship.
I warp out of d-scan range, launch combat scanning probes, and, not thinking the Vexor will linger long anyway, broadly scan for the ship instead of trying to hunt it covertly. A couple of scans locates the cruiser, still not in a site, and warping in sees it in the not-a-site with a couple of rat wrecks. How he found this place is beyond me, much like the Vexor itself, sitting around fifty kilometres away as his salvage drones lazily return to the ship. I thought I aimed to warp in closer, but maybe not.
I'm not going to cover that much space whilst cloaked, and I doubt I'll catch the Vexor off-guard, but I may as well try. But my safety is engaged, which will prevent any hostile action, presumably including warp scrambling the ship, should I get in range. I could switch the safety to amber, but would that be enough to engage successfully? I could rifle through the glove box looking for the chart that explains the three safety levels but I doubt I have time for that. This is why I had the safety turned off entirely to start with. And this is why I flick it back to red, confirming my selection, as I decloak and burn hard towards the Vexor.
The cruiser doesn't flinch, and still the salvage drones take their merry time returning to the ship. And, somehow, I close the distance and get a positive lock on the Vexor without it warping away. I disrupt his warp engines, get my autocannons chewing away at his shields, and settle in to a, uh, why do I have no capacitor juice? And why can I no longer do anything? I would say that the more important question is why Concord forces are ripping my Loki apart, but by this point I think it's pretty obvious.
I remember now. This is high-sec space. Concord-protected, precisely-why-I-had-my-safety-engaged space. And I've just aggressed a ship minding its own business. Don't I feel a bit silly. I could claim that going from wormhole to Aridia and aiming for another wormhole made me think I was in w-space, or that I associate Aridia with low-sec systems, but it's really just a brain-fart. I made a mistake. A 600 million ISK mistake.
I think this is my first encounter with The Man, trying to oppress my youthful exuberance, and it's quick and brutal. I'm soon reduced to a pod racing back to w-space and swearing never to enter high-sec again, except for this one time when I'll have to buy a replacement ship. At least we've got a good route to Jita. It's a short wait for the Leonard Shelby-run Concord to forget about my indiscretion, and rather than being entirely foolish I grab my Crane transport ship to pick up the bits of the Loki from Jita. It would be embarrassing to lose a second Loki so soon after the first. I can easily construct it elsewhere. Aridia will do.
I rummage through our hangar to see what we've accumulated before I head through C3a, in to high-sec, through C1a, and out to The Forge, where I make the short couple of hops to Jita, buying everything else I need to put a replacement Loki together. Undocking, I aim my Crane for the planet most in-line with my vector and enter warp almost immediately, not wanting to risk even the short turn my agile Crane would have to make back to the Stargate, allowing me to escape the traffic and cloak. It would also be embarrassing to lose a Crane with Loki parts inside, after all.
I get back to C1a and in to the high-sec system in Aridia without trouble, where a station awaits and no one is around. I dump the contents of my hold, get some minions to assemble the new Loki, and take my Crane home with some additional ammunition to fill up the space. One last trip to Aridia—I should be so lucky—has my picking up the Used to be Hip and, on jumping through its first wormhole, swearing off high-sec for a while. I've used the fourth and last winning entry in my ship-naming competition. I'll need to make some more ISK before I can afford another.