What delights will there be in w-space this evening? Nothing at home, the gas even having drifted away, and jumping to the neighbouring class 3 system sees the standard tower and no ships on my directional scanner. It's an uninspiring start, but, then, it usually is. This is why I scan. Warping out, launching probes, and performing a blanket scan of the system gets me underway, my probes revealing five anomalies and five signatures. And one ship?
The ship isn't visible on d-scan from my position on the edge of the system, and is gone when I return to the inner system to loiter outside the local tower. Maybe it was just passing through, as a previous visit lets me know there is an exit to high-sec to be found. I'll scan for that, as well as likely K162s. There's one, and, as I am in warp to the first wormhole, I scan a second one, this wormhole with a Helios covert operations boat coincident with it.
I drop out of warp next to an uninteresting K162 from null-sec, and bounce across to where the Helios was, landing near a K162 from class 5 w-space that's sitting at half mass. Given the obvious ship transits that have occurred, it's a shame that my probes have almost certainly been spotted by a scout. It doesn't seem to affect the Helios's spirit, as the ship decloaks twenty kilometres from the destabilised wormhole to launch probes. Quite why he's doing that I can't say, as I am assuming he's come from the C5 and, if that's the case, has already scanned this C3.
But maybe the Helios is a tourist, recalled his probes on finding this wormhole, and wants to scan for further connections. I dunno. But if he's scanning, and knows someone else is around, I may as well continue. And it's all wormholes. The third signature is the static exit to high-sec, looking like it goes to Tash-Murkon and definitely wobbling on its last legs, the fourth a K162 from class 4 w-space and also at the end of its life. In-between scanning and warping around a Navitas frigate blips on d-scan.
The only healthy wormholes are our own and the connection from null-sec, and the active system probably knows I'm here. This isn't a great system to be in, but I'll make the most of what I've got. It's possible the C5 wormhole is still being used, and probably where the Navitas went or came from, so I head that way to loiter. But I also still wonder if the Helios came from there or is a tourist, and if I am best served waiting for him by this K162. Obviously not, if he has been here and didn't like what he saw. Even more obviously not when he blips on d-scan elsewhere.
Our own K162 is a better place to watch for the Helios, so I warp in that direction. I don't really expect to see the cov-ops, given how long it takes to warp and how little time it takes to jump through a wormhole. But there he is, near our K162, as I drop out of warp. I think he found the null-sec K162 and went there first before coming this way. Now he's jumping through to our home system, which seems almost promising. We have nothing of interest to see or find, and the Helios may come right back, polarised, in to my waiting cloaky Loki strategic cruiser.
Of course, the Helios is still a cov-ops and difficult to catch, but it remains my best target. At least for as long as it takes for me to update d-scan and see a Procurer now in the system. The mining barge is easily found by d-scan, in an ore site, and smells distinctly like bait. But I'll take it. Of course I'll take it. Bait is meant to be alluring. It's the dessert tray, chocolate cake wafted in front of you after a big meal when you know you shouldn't indulge any more. Just one slice, just the mining barge. What harm can it do?
I ignore the Helios and warp to the ore site, making a perch for convenience, and watch the Procurer bounce off one rock to get closer to another. Plagioclase. That should be a clue, on top of scanning probes whizzing around the system minutes previously obviously giving away the presence of scouts. But still I warp in closer, fully intent on poking the Procurer. D-scan looks clear, naturally, as the barge starts chomping on rocks like that's what it's here for. If only I didn't encounter the occasionally oblivious capsuleer who really does mine like this.
I approach and set a generous orbit around the Procurer, aiming to stay only just in warp scrambler range for an easy escape. Then change my mind and get closer so my guns will do more damage, if only to give historians a point to debate in the future. Now to spring the ambush—whichever way it's going to go. I decloak, lock on to the Procurer and start shooting. Now let's—yep, it's a trap. The Procurer returns my target lock, activates its own warp scrambler and web, and looses ECM drones. I knew I should have been more wary. But no ships decloak around me, so let's see what I can do about my situation.
I align my Loki back to my perch, but the web is slowing me down significantly and I can't activate my micro warp drive. Had I just a kilometre to cover escape may have been possible. But I don't. What I need to do is remove the source of the warp scrambler, and I overheat my guns in an attempt to do that. A hostile Loki has appeared on d-scan now, although not in the rock field yet, so I have a slim chance of surviving this. Very slim. Naturally, a bait Procurer is going to be fit differently from a mining Procurer, so even though I evaporate the barge's shields and rake through most of its armour, it is still intact when the first of the ambush fleet arrives.
Not only am I now held in place by multiple ships, the ECM drones have finally dropped my target lock. I can't even get a crappy kill for my troubles. I'd better save what I can, so burn my ancillary shield boosters to try to keep my Loki afloat whilst the ill-conceived aggression flag prevents me from abandoning ship. I don't think it's going to work, not even with the boosters overheated, when my Loki, taking structure damage, begins to repair its shields at an increased rate. This isn't good.
I'm not keeping my ship intact as much as the fleet is. They've stopped shooting my crippled Loki, that's why I am able to repair it. There is no ransom demand yet, but I'm more thinking that this lull is actually to bring a ship with a bubble in to position. Assuming they want my pod, and as my aggression flag has now dropped, I deny them that, even if it gives them my Loki. It is already lost. I eject, and warp clear. I keep my clone, and my skill points, but my poor Loki, lost to bait that couldn't have been more obvious if the Procurer had been named 'maggot'. I'm shipless. Now what?