What's shaking in the constellation? Well, the K162 from class 4 w-space has mysteriously disappeared from our system, perhaps having something to do with my popping and podding a pilot from there for having the temerity to try to haul planet goo safely through our home. That's okay really, as I doubt we'd catch them unawares again, and all they've really done is make our system that bit safer. Our own wormhole is still there and healthy, and although there is no change in activity levels in the neighbouring class 3 system there is one difference: their static wormhole has died.
Resolving the replacement exit to high-sec is a simple matter, particularly as it is the only new signature in the system. Let's just hope the wormhole takes me somewhere interesting, which generally means a system with more wormholes when considering high-sec empire space. And, indeed, the system in the Essence region holds an extra signature, one that resolves to be another wormhole, this one a K162 from class 2 w-space. That's a good result, because the C2 system will hold a connection to more w-space too. I'm going in.
My directional scanner shows me a tower and ships, although neither the Rorqual capital industrial ship or Cheetah covert operations boat are particularly inspiring. One will be unpiloted, or never moved from the tower, and the other almost impossible to catch, even if that is piloted. And it is, but, still, I don't care, for the stated reason. There are no probes visible either, so I doubt the Cheetah is even active, which convinces me to ignore him and do my own scanning.
Wormhole, wormhole, gas, gas. I have an outbound connection to class 3 w-space and a K162 from class 5 w-space, which looks good to me. And, in a break from habit, I am heading to the more dangerous w-space first, given the increased likelihood of finding activity through a K162. I think I find it too. Well, almost. I enter C5a and, whilst cloaked on the wormhole, a Hound sits on the wormhole. That's a bit weird, a stealth bomber not being stealthy. The Hound jumps to C2a, I hold my position.
I don't follow the Hound. The wormhole crackle for my entrance must have been spotted, and stealth bombers are almost as hard to catch as cov-ops boats. That he jumped should indicate something. I just don't know what. I keep holding, expecting one or more ships to arrive behind the Hound, with there being five towers and some ships on d-scan, until my session change cloak drops. And then I activate my module cloak. But another ship appears, just not the one I was expecting. The Orca industrial command ship drops unexpectedly on top of the wormhole, and I start shooting it.
Maybe it's a little presumptuous to engage the Orca on this side of the wormhole, given that it's almost certain to jump to the C2 system, but as it decloaked me on landing I didn't see a reason why I should pretend I'm not there. My Loki strategic cruiser's autocannons send volley after volley in to the Orca, and the Orca sits on the wormhole and takes it. That's weird too. But I'm not going to stop shooting, so I keep my guns chattering as the Orca's shields get vaporised.
I see ship changes on d-scan. A Nemesis stealth bomber and Enyo assault frigate are being prepared, by the looks of it, just as the Orca wakes up, now taking significant armour damage, and jumps to C2a. I suppose I could follow but that seems like a foolish move. The Orca could jump right back and polarise himself, but also me, and the last situation I want to be in is polarised in an unscouted system on top of an Orca. And if he doesn't jump back it's possible I'll just have a small swarm of ships coming after me anyway, giving my only choice of jumping back with one chance of evading them whilst polarised. I don't like the sound of that either.
As much as I don't like it, my best option is to cloak on the wormhole and jink, letting the Orca go free. And as I hide my Loki the Enyo drops on to the wormhole. I suppose he knows I haven't jumped to C2a, given that his Orca colleague can report as much, and so he starts making orbits around the connection in an effort to find me. Needless to say, it doesn't work. After a while the Enyo warps away, but to empty space and not a tower. That's weird, right? And anyway, where's the Orca? Maybe it was actually exporting goods and not collapsing the wormhole. That's a shame.
A shuttle comes through the wormhole from C5a, neither the Hound nor Orca pilot though, and I let the tiny craft go without revealing myself. He seems local, warping towards a tower I can see on d-scan, at which point I also notice a Mammoth hauler new to d-scan. That's interesting. But the hauler poses the same problem as the Orca, in that he could jump in both directions and polarise himself, potentially in a direct bid to polarise me. But if I jump now, maybe I can get sufficiently ahead of him not to be polarised on the way back. I'll do that.
I return to C2a, where I see no Orca much to my lack of surprise. After a little wait the wormhole crackles and, sure enough, the Mammoth comes through. This is bait, right? They know a Loki is here, so the Mammoth is going to 'flee' back to C5a and drag me with it, where I'll be ambushed. So why, in that case, is he not jumping back when I get a positive lock and start shooting? You know, this system feels like flying in treacle for some reason, and maybe that's affecting his timing. Or maybe Mammoths are just really flimsy, I get a good bump, and my guns rip his ship to shreds. I think it's that.
I really think it's not system conditions that caught the Mammoth when both the pod flees and I see the wreck loaded with ores and gas. He actually was exporting materials through a known-dangerous wormhole. Super weird. But maybe it wasn't without an escort, as the Hound makes a reappearance whilst the pod skitters away from the Mammoth wreck. I like that, as stealth bombers are pretty flimsy too.
I return the Hound's target lock and start shooting, easily tearing through its shields and armour. The wormhole crackles, but the Hound stays. In fact, the Hound stays long enough to explode, and for me to catch and crack open the pod. Maybe there are negative system conditions after all.
Ah, no, the wormhole crackle was to announce the arrival of the Enyo, not the departure of the Hound. More's the pity for the Hound. His fifty million ISK ship and hundred million ISK head may have liked to escape my clutches. Much like I would like to escape the Enyo's. It's just a frigate, I think, I can have a crack at the Enyo too. We reciprocate target locks and warp disruption effects, as I scoot across to collect my new corpse, but the warp scrambler and web of the Enyo are slowing me down. On top of that, not only are my guns failing to track the ship, after only one successful volley, but his guns are chewing right through my shields. I may be in trouble.
I abandon the idea of scooping the corpse, to my disappointment, and decide an intact Loki is worth more than a minor trophy. I jump back through the wormhole to C5a and jink away from the wormhole to evade the Enyo's further attentions. Now to wait, at least for any polarisation effects to wear off, which shouldn't be long, thanks to my planning. I still think it's a little embarrassing to be chased to cloaking by an assault frigate, but I don't really know much about them.
And now there are two assault frigates, a Wolf joining the Enyo, as I notice a Damnation command ship on d-scan somewhere. The Damnation will be providing hefty armour bonuses to the armour-based frigates, in a class 5 w-space system with an armour-boosting wolf rayet phenomenon plainly visible. And here I am, in an unfashionable shield-based Loki. You know, I'm not entirely sure I'm going to get out of this system in one piece.