Okay. No wasting time watching inactive, idling industrialists in haulers tonight. Well, not too much, at least. But maybe I won't even find one in the first place, and I certainly won't if I don't leave the home system. Let's see what's out there. Three new signatures at home to start with. Rocks, gas—space, you're boring me—oh, and a second wormhole. Okay then. Our static wormhole to class 3 w-space is joined by a K162 from class 4 w-space.
Jumping to C4a sees two towers, a Bestower hauler, and shuttle on my directional scanner, and despite only having been in this system two months ago my notes are already out of date. Dammit, there may be an inactive, idling industrialist to watch ineffectively for hours! Thankfully, locating the towers is straightforward enough, and indeed there is an idling industrialist in the Bestower. Maybe I can sit here for a little while.
Huh, the shuttle is outside of the tower's force field. Ah, I see. It is given a name and left there as a hilarious token sacrifice to supposed w-space god 'Bob'. How very tedious. I'd consider taking it, if the locals wouldn't then come to some spurious self-affirming realisation that 'Bob' is pleased with them, or some other bullshit. Such is the nature of religion, even faux-religious appeals. I rather put my trust in the abilities and achievements of capsuleers. But whatever. The Bestower's not moving.
I calm myself down by watching the oddly hypnotic shimmering of an active hardener on the hauler, whilst the tower's force field shimmers in the background and the star's light bathes everything in an orange glow. The only way this moment could be made better would be if the Bestower actually warped somewhere so I could shoot him. But maybe he's not moving because the system is known not to be safe, not because of my presence but because of that Buzzard briefly visible on d-scan.
The covert operations boat appears and disappears, not warping to this tower or the second, and probably indicating a second wormhole in this system that I don't know about. A Loki follows the Buzzard, at least on its appearing on d-scan, whose name suggests the strategic cruiser is local to C4a. Again the Buzzard, then an Anathema cov-ops. Am I in the wrong place? Well, obviously, as the Bestower isn't moving under such uncertain conditions, and all the transitions are happening on wormholes.
Still, maybe there is benefit to loitering at the tower, as a Manticore stealth bomber warps in to join the Bestower. Join it in doing nothing, that is, and I am still not following my advice at the start of the evening. But here's Fin, and perhaps now we can do something, like uncovering that Loki. The question is, how? We can't reliably bait one Loki with another, as it may not want to engage one-on-one, particularly not with other pilots seen scouting. But perhaps if we faked collapsing the wormhole we could provoke a reaction.
Throwing a battleship through the wormhole connecting our two systems is not a guarantee of action, but it seems to me like our best option. The scouts may not be watching this wormhole, or updating d-scan at the tower, but in trying to get one or two ships to engage a third we really need a bait ship that looks functional and un-bait-like. We also ideally need a ship that can handle itself, and perhaps a way to bail out if the situation escalates, so Fin prepares a Scorpion battleship fit with ECM jammers for the task. It should look the part, whilst not being entirely useless if jumped.
Here comes my glorious leader. She jumps to C4a, with me sitting in my cloaky Loki in the system already, and takes her merry time jumping back. Fin warps back to our tower to wait for polarisation effects to dissipate, whilst I gauge the reaction. Nothing. Fin makes a second jump in the Scorpion, again trying to look obvious but not too obvious, jumping casual, and still makes it back to our tower with no obvious activity. Do we try again?
Hullo, the Manticore has come to the wormhole and jumps to our home system. 'I think it might be biting', says Fin. If it is, the stealth bomber isn't much of a prize, but it will do. But I'm starting to have concerns. I'm on the wrong side of the wormhole for optimum usefulness, for a start. I ideally need to scout, to see what will be pulled through. But the bait will be taken on the other side of the wormhole, when Fin's polarised and the attackers won't be. I'll need to jump to join the fray, and although I won't be polarised I won't have much option for escape should the engagement go awry.
I'm also stuck. With the Manticore on the other side of the wormhole I can't change my position now. But it is just the stealth bomber for now, and even if the errant Loki joins it we should be able to engage both successfully. So Fin returns to the wormhole for a third jump. In she comes. Back she goes. The wormhole destabilises to half mass, but the Manticore remains hidden. Still, the Loki has reappeared, now visible on d-scan in C4a, and at the tower with the Bestower. I warp there to check on him, but the Loki's gone in seconds. Gone towards the wormhole.
Maybe one more jump will do it, will pull the Loki in to engaging. Except it looks like it won't just be him, and not just him and the Manticore either. A Proteus appears on d-scan in C4a, and a second strategic cruiser, one built like a brick, doesn't look good for our survival. On top of that, another ship, a Prophecy battlecruiser, shows up. I've no longer got a good feeling about this operation. Despite my earlier resolve in the reverse of this situation, I'm pretty sure that I'll probably just run away from all of these ships. We're outnumbered and out-gunned.
I try to discourage Fin from continuing, but she's fearless. 'Just a sec, checking my clone.' That's not making me feel better. 'Okay, going to make a run for it.' The Manticore may be watching Fin at the tower, as the Proteus jumps through the wormhole as Fin enters warp. I can't stop her now. In she comes, and home she goes, followed by the Loki and the Prophecy warping in good time to the wormhole. Fin's already said she'll only call for help if she needs it. Does 'engaged with all three' sound like a call for help?
Do I come? 'No no no.' Yeah, that's not good. But, despite our Scorpion blowing up pretty easily under the combined fire of the three combat ships, Fin's pod gets clear without trouble. 'The Loki was jammed, then the Proteus, but I couldn't get the Prophecy and the damage was too much.' Oh well. It was a good idea, until the situation escalated. But we offered the bait, and our targets took it. I just have this nagging doubt that we did the last part wrong.