What's with the proliferation of signatures? The home system is positively bursting with them. Launching probes to see what they are, as I'm going to be exploring anyway, finds a new pocket of gas and a decent haul of four wormholes. Well, I think that's what I've found, but the first wormhole is dead-on-arrival, landing me in empty space, the second is our static wormhole and generally assumed to be in our system, and the third is also dead-on-arrival. What the hell, space, stop being a dick. At least the fourth wormhole is an actual K162. It comes from class 4 w-space, which means I am going to class 4 w-space.
My directional scanner shows me not just a tower but also a bunch of ships in C4a, which is almost exciting. There are no wrecks, though, so I doubt the pair of combat ships are fighting, the lack of probes probably means the covert operations boat isn't scanning, which leaves me hoping the haulers are getting ready to collect planet goo. I'd better find the tower to check.
Locating the tower locates the ships, and most are piloted. The Proteus strategic cruiser has disappeared, which could be a concern, but as the Iteron hauler goes off-line moments after I arrive I hope that's what happened to the Proteus too, rather than him roaming cloaked. But there is activity. An Occator transport poops a canister, which a different Occator scoops. The first transport pilot swaps to a Helios cov-ops and warps away, not to the wormhole heading to our system, and is followed a minute later by the second transport pilot, still in his Occator.
The Helios warping to empty space didn't indicate much, but the transport following behind strongly suggests there is another wormhole out there. I warp to the wormhole home in case the pilots are bouncing off a safe spot to misdirect anyone watching, and see no one come past me. Considering our static wormhole leads to class 3 w-space, which itself will exit to k-space, I imagine the other wormhole in C4a is a K162 from class 2 w-space. A C2 that naturally connects to class 4 w-space will hold an exit to high-sec, giving a shorter and potentially more secure route out of w-space. But only potentially.
Making sure the pilots are out of the system, leaving only one idling capsuleer at the tower, I launch probes and scan. There are only four anomalies—all ore sites—and five signatures, and I saw the direction the ships headed, making finding the wormhole almost trivial. A couple of scans later and I'm warping to what turns out to be the expected C2 K162. Now I just have to hope that I don't accidentally cross paths with the Occator whilst I reconnoitre its route.
Jumping to C2a has d-scan clear, with only a moonless planet in range and almost 90 AU to the furthest planet. A transport will easily out-pace me across that distance, so rather than explore I simply launch probes and scan whilst loitering on the wormhole. A blanket scan reveals twelve anomalies, eight signatures, and a single ship briefly. Making a few more subsequent scans has the ship definitely gone, or at least cloaked, so I resolve the signatures, picking up a pair of wormholes. I should probably see what they are.
As I warp across the system I take the opportunity of having my probes available to locate the three towers I assume there are present. Being so far out of d-scan range and not entirely willing to warp around whilst waiting for the transport, I adjusted the probes' filters to show all structures, revealing clusters around three planets. Now I drop the probes in to a tight, short-range cluster on each of those planets and scan. Once for each planet, I resolve the locations of the defences, tower, and hangars around a specific moon, and bookmark one of each for later reference. It's a quick way to locate towers when there are no pilots watching d-scan.
The wormholes I have resolved are another K162 from class 2 w-space and the high-sec exit. It's possible but unlikely that the C4 pilots are using the second C2 system, as its other static wormhole will exit to low-sec, but that depends on how convenient the high-sec connection is. I poke out to see, appearing in a system in Kor-Azor, eight hops to Amarr. That's not bad, and probably the direction the Occator went. He's not in the local system now, and rather than chase him through the high-sec wormhole, or potentially polarise myself on the connection to their home system, I should probably go and wait in their C4.
I could have waited on the wormhole in C4a in the first place, and I gave the idea some consideration. But it's good to know who has gone where, how long they may be, and what environment not only will they be flying through but where you could possibly be fighting. And now I know that, and feel much more comfortable with the circumstances. I go back to and cross C2a, returning to C4a to cloak menacingly on the K162. D-scan shows me no change, thankfully the Occator not having sneaked back when I wasn't looking, so now I just have to wait. Hopefully he won't be too long.
La la la, I'll just catch up on some correspondence. La la la. Okay, the wormhole crackles. Please be the Occator. I don't want to spook the Helios, who will be nearly impossible to catch and will alert his colleague, and I'd rather not bump hulls with the Proteus, so I stay cloaked until the ship reveals itself. Ah, hello! It is the Occator. I decloak, activate my sensor booster, and wait for the sensor recalibration delay to end. Those few seconds feel like an age, as the Occator begins its acceleration to enter warp, hence the sensor booster to significantly reduce lock time once I am able to target ships.
Here we go. I gain a positive lock, get my warp scrambler active, and start shooting. And just as I start I stop, the transport warping clear from my attentions. I know I caught him, as my autocannons are light a round of ammunition, and my combat log confirms that I had a positive lock. The cad must have augmented the transport ship's already enhanced warp core strength with a stabiliser or two. That's just not cricket. Nor, frankly, is his comment in the local communication channel. I'd shoot him for that, if I could catch him.
Never mind. I reconnoitred the system, watched my prey leave, and followed his trail, patiently lying in wait for his return. I would have caught a stock ship too. But sometimes they get away. And as I loiter on the wormhole, wondering what response I'll get, the connection crackles again to bring the Helios back in to the system. But so what. I suppose I'll leave this system alone. I don't mind so much, as I still have options. I think I'll check C2b first.