Less nonsense, more sense, please. High hopes for a Penny, but let's see what I can pull off tonight. A new signature in the home system smells like more gas for Aii, and it is, so I send myself through our static wormhole to take a look around. There's not much to see. My directional scanner is clear, and launching probes, blanketing the system, and exploring reveals sixteen anomalies, five signatures, and a lack of occupation. I'm guessing the system holds a static exit to null-sec, but only for as long as it takes me to check my notes, at which point I know it does. So be it. I'll scan.
What's this? Four Iteron haulers appear on a final d-scan check prior to pulling probes in to the system. They can't be local, so whilst I wonder the who, why, and where, I keep myself and my probes hidden until the ships all drop out of the system. Now I know I have a purpose, which is to find the K162 the haulers are using. But are they hauling between null-sec and w-space, or is a K162 allowing null-sec pilots haul to empire space?
A few signatures don't take long to resolve, and the weak null-sec wormhole signature is easy to recognise. That leaves me with a bit of gas and two chubby wormholes, a K162 from low-sec and a K162 from class 4 w-space. I ignore the null-sec connection and head towards C4a, supposing that to be the more likely source of the Iterons. Now I want to know whether they went out or came back.
Came back. Jumping to the class 4 system sees the four ships on d-scan, along with a tower. That could mean I'm too late to catch them, as four Iteron Vs can take an awful lot to and from empire space. But maybe it instead means that the locals don't have the skill to pilot an Orca industrial command ship. Or, more likely, the depth of wallet to risk losing one.
I swing d-scan around looking for the tower, finding it and only three Iterons there. So they are still active, with one apparently collecting planet goo. If I'm quick, maybe I can catch him. I warp to the tower with the fourth hauler returned, but one sitting outside the force field. I can't say why, it's a bit of a weird manoeuvre, but as I watch the ship outside of the tower aligns and warps away. I try to see where the Iteron is going but two planets are in almost perfect alignment from here. I pick one and hope for the best.
I picked well, but clicked poorly. I land at the customs office I wasn't aiming for, and don't see the Iteron with me. Turning around and heading where I intended to be almost catches up with the hauler, but he's now a hundred kilometres from the customs office—which is weird, but whatever—and turning back towards his tower. I guess I'll follow, hoping for more movement. I kind of get it, but nothing that makes the ships vulnerable. They just get in to a huddle around some pooped-out jet-cans.
It could be that the Iterons' huddle was their way of psyching themselves up for a repeat trip to empire space. A short wait sees movement from the ships, all at once, as they align and warp out of the tower. As soon as I got to the tower earlier I determined the relative position of the wormhole, and as soon as the Iterons started aligning towards it I pointed my Loki in the same direction. You can only see the signs if you know what you're looking for, and now my strategic cruiser is about to ambush some vulnerable ships.
I know what I'm doing. There has been no sign of any other ship, the four Iterons are all repeating a journey they've already made. I don't think I'm taking any chances in either warping to drop directly on top of the wormhole, instead of approaching cautiously, or in dropping my cloak whilst still in warp. I can soak up the recalibration delay before I reach the wormhole, and so what if they check d-scan and see a Loki in space? What are they going to do, turn around mid-warp?
I drop on to the wormhole with three of the Iterons, one appearing a little behind me, ready to start shooting. The question now is how many I can stop, and I'm almost crippled by choice. But I get a grip and start targeting each ship, the first that I get a positive lock on becoming my first victim. I only have one warp scrambler, though, so I hope these ships are flimsy. Pop! Yep, that's pretty easy.
I aim for the pod of the ejected pilot, knowing that these are often more expensive than the ships, and perhaps make a mistake doing so. I reserved the scram for the pod instead of putting it on another hauler, which gives enough time for an Iteron to flee as I watch the pod warp safely away. Balls, a second Iteron escapes too. But the last one, late to the party, hasn't had time to turn just yet, and he's got my full attention. Pop!
Again the pod flees, which is a shame, but I ripped apart two of the ships on their own static wormhole, and I caught them carrying ore out of their system. Well, not quite out of their system, but the ships weren't empty. Not much of the expensive ore survives the explosions, but there's enough to make it worthwhile collecting, so I don't shoot the wrecks just yet. I also don't leave the system immediately to get my own transport. I want to see what the locals will do next.
If it looks like I'm gone, will someone risk collecting what remains in the wrecks? I think I could loiter for a while for a chance of another kill, so I stick by the wormhole and update d-scan regularly. Two Iterons, two pods. Nothing changes, nothing comes to the wormhole. Okay, I'll do it myself. I jump back to C3a, after a long enough pause that I doubt any of the pilots was intently watching d-scan for the transit, and head home. I pluck a Bustard transport from our hangar, go back through C3a to C4a, and loot both wrecks still sitting full on the wormhole.
An Imicus frigate is visible in the system as I snag the loot. That's almost interesting, as it shows the pilots may still be active, but I pay it little mind as I head home to dump the ore. Instead, I get back in my Loki and take myself through the low-sec K162 in C3a low-sec, curious to see where it comes from. I appear in a system in Domain, a dead-end low-sec island, six hops to Amarr. I can see why the C4 pilots were keen to use the wormhole. But it's late now, so I'm not even going to scan the few extra signatures in the system.
I return to w-space and take one last look at the pilots in C4a. Loitering outside the tower, hoping for the Imicus to go looking for my wormhole, sees one of the pilots board a Slasher frigate and warp to the wormhole, and the other two pods go off-line. I go to the wormhole myself, hoping for the Slasher to jump back polarised, but he's gone. And if he's gone to Amarr he may be a while in coming back.
I give the Slasher pilot a few minutes but decide I'm not waiting all night, so jump to C3a only to see the Slasher and a Rifter on d-scan, dropping on the wormhole moments later. They jump to their home C4 and I stay right where I am. Maybe I can engage the frigates successfully, but maybe I can't, and I don't want to find this out after willingly polarising myself. That's okay, it's time to go home for the night anyway. I destroyed two ships, it's been a good evening.