Oh boy, gas! That extra signature in the home system is really getting me excited. I want to see if I can tempt people to suck it. Maybe our neighbours? Maybe not. My directional scanner is clear from the K162 in the class 3 w-space system, and my notes only point me towards a non-existent tower. I suspect the static exit to null-sec has helped move the locals on. Never mind. I warp out, launch probes, and blanket the system, revealing five anomalies and eighteen signatures. Good anomalies too, anomalies Fin and I could burn through if she were here. But I'm alone, so I suppose I'll be scanning for wormholes.
A second blanket scan, taken as a precaution after the little time taken to warp around the system, has a population explosion. Ships and drones are everywhere now, which serves as a good reminder of how quickly w-space can change. Warping to the farthest planet finds the suspected fleet, and as there is an anomaly out here and no other signatures it is trivial to find them engaging Sleepers. A Rokh battleship, Abaddon battleship, Legion strategic cruiser, and Drake battlecruiser makes me wish Fin were here for a different reason. But I'm alone, so I suppose I'll be waiting for their salvager.
The fleet isn't sweeping up as it fights, but neither does a salvager appear directly behind the ships as they clear the first anomaly and move on. That's no real indication that the salvager will be escorted later, I suppose, but it does mean I'll have to wait a little while longer. Then again, if I play this right, and the fleet clears all five anomalies, there could be a lot of booty to rip from a wreck. And the fleet is making light enough work of the Sleepers that this shouldn't take too long.
A second anomaly is cleared and the fleet warps to a third. But on the second wave of the third anomaly all the ships warp away, disappearing from d-scan moments later. What's happened? My cloak is intact, I recalled my probes safely at the distant first anomaly, and d-scan looks clear to me. That's both weird and disappointing. The don't seem to be coming back either, so something's spooked them. Perhaps their home system has been compromised by a new wormhole, and not this C3, which was easier for them to spot than me. Who knows?
I keep updating d-scan and after a short while an Anathema covert operations boat appears, looking to be allied with the fleet. But did he jump in to the system or out of it? Was he keeping his probes hidden and has counted the extra signature of our K162, or is he here to look for something? There were no probes before, and there remain no probes now. I am none the wiser.
There's a Cheetah cov-ops on d-scan now, unaffiliated with the fleet from my assumption of his ship name. Maybe that is the ship the fleet saw, when it entered the system, spoiling my evening's entertainment? Maybe. Core probes are launched and start looking around C3a quite obviously. I keep hidden, remaining reliant on d-scan only.
Both cleared sites will be lacking signatures now, making them impossible to find. I am sorely tempted to bring a destroyer in to the system to salvage quietly, knowing the core probes won't see me and hoping no one is watching d-scan. But that would be foolish. The fleet knows where the anomalies are, and could have their own scout watching. Then again, maybe they've given up on the meagre loot available, as a Scorpion battleship blips on d-scan briefly. Are they collapsing their wormhole?
A Proteus strategic cruiser makes an appearance on d-scan, followed by a couple of Nemesis stealth bombers. Perhaps a salvager will be coming in to the system after all, backed by some cloaky firepower. ...no? Nothing? The Scorpion comes and goes again, dunno why, as does a second Proteus, named 'Red October', so presumably covertly fitted. The Cheetah and Anathema choose this time to make a second appearance too, all ships blipping on d-scan in quick succession. Neither Nemesis shows itself, though.
I've no idea what's happening. Did the ships go back to their respective systems, or find the other corporation's wormhole and are scouting? Or did they find our K162 as well? You know, floating in a perch in the second anomaly is probably not the smartest place for me to be. Watching the only connection I know of would be better, I imagine. I relocate, continuing to watch d-scan for clues.
A whole lot of nothing appears for a while. Ping, ping, ping. Nothing. Finally, a third Proteus blips on d-scan, but nothing passes through our K162. What does that mean? That I should give up? I've spent too long watching d-scan and doing nothing myself? Probably, but I'm not good with advice. Ping, ping, ping. Back to nothing. How about getting that destroyer now, Penny? Do you think a Proteus is watching? Maybe! Three of them appear on d-scan at once, dropping right off again, pretty much suggestive of a command to leave the system.
There is and goes the Cheetah that ruined my ambush, bastardo. And a second time. Is it safe now? I'm going to say yes, if only to break the monotony of updating d-scan almost continuously for the past eighty minutes. But that's what it's there for, frankly. Had d-scan been automatic, this would have been boring, completely lacking in tension. And if you're paying attention, it's actually pretty easy to see covert ship transitions, as they are visible for at least two updates of d-scan.
Anyway, yes, I'm going to make an adventure out of the evening, even if it kills me. The wrecks will decay in another thirty minutes or so, but leaving it to the last few minutes seems like a bad idea. The fleet will have their timing right too, and if anyone will want to snatch up the loot before it dies it will be them. Best to steal it when it looks like it has been abandoned and there's no pressing need to make sure it's still there. So with d-scan looking clear I jump home, swap to a Cormorant, and head back to C3a to be a tiny bit reckless.
I have a bit of an advantage in that the first cleared anomaly is so far out of d-scan range of what are probably two active wormholes. Someone would actively have to be out here and watching. That's not to say they're not, I suppose, and as the wrecks don't belong to me and I can't use tractor beams, so will have to pilot between each wreck manually, I will be vulnerable for longer. Or maybe not. The wrecks are white, not yellow, for reasons I am not about to question, so out of curiosity I activate a tractor beam on one. It works. Excellent.
Easy-mode salvaging is engaged. I'm still only in a destroyer and have to work with a tractor beam range of twenty kilometres, but I whiz through looting and salvaging the wrecks and move on. Of course, I could dump the first site's loot in our tower before attempting to salvage the second, but where's the fun in that? Straight to the other cleared anomaly with me, and I dive prow-first in to the wrecks. Loot loot, salvage salvage. Done. I get clear with my ship intact and about a hundred million ISK of clear profit in my hold.
I have to wonder if anyone was watching. And if they were, did either side they think they'd be jumped by strategic cruisers or stealth bombers if they dared to stop me? It would be funny if both sides were waiting for a salvager but, when it came, didn't want to commit their ships to fight an unknown force. But in reality I doubt anyone was in the system any more, and I'm unlikely ever to find out. And although I didn't get a salvager kill, I suppose I got perfect loot from the sites instead of what may have survived an exploding ship. All in all, it's been quite the interesting evening in w-space.