'Some minor industrial infractions going on', so says my glorious leader when I come on-line. Aii is around along with Fin, and I can only guess that they're oreing it up. 'Just a bit.' So it's more like some miner industrial activity? Ha ha ha! Thankfully, the evening can only get better from here, particularly as my colleagues say that they are in the midst of tidying up and that I can open our static wormhole. Will do!
Keeping our system looking neat, the static wormhole is our only signature, making it straightforward enough to resolve. I jump through to the neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where my directional scanner gives a clear result and nothing lies out of range. That's pretty dull, but not unusual. And I can always scan for more wormholes. Launching probes and performing a blanket scan reveals twelve anomalies, four of which are the good type, and six signatures. If there are no K162s amongst those signatures then maybe we can make some ISK in this unoccupied system.
That wormhole will be the static exit to high-sec, its signature strength pretty much giving away its type. And that wormhole, much stronger, will be a K162. A wormhole with a Proteus strategic cruiser sitting on top of it during the resolving scan. That's crappy timing. I throw my probes out of the system and warp across not expecting to see anything, but I actually learn that this is a brand new K162, opened maybe a minute ago.
I know this because the stupid discovery scanner is still blinking the signature at me in space, just in case my time in w-space has made dumb to how scanning works. There really are few surprises now. I can pretty much say that the Proteus is likely the first ship through this K162 from class 4 w-space, and as I still can't see any probes launched then he probably knows of no other way forward or back than through the same wormhole.
I also know that I was far too slow in withdrawing my probes, because there is no way I can scan a ship without that ship being able to see my probes. So I know the Proteus is here, the Proteus knows there is someone watching. I think this means we're in for a night of patient lurking and no explosions. As I consider all this, the wormhole in front of me crackles, taking the Proteus back home. It may have brought an Anathema in to the system at the same time, as I can't think of another reason why the covert operations boat would decloak to warp away.
The Anathema launches probes and starts to scan. This has my colleagues jump in to suitable ships to catch a tiny, agile ship should it venture through our K162. But the Anathema's probes disappear and the cov-ops doesn't come this way or that, leaving us floating in space looking at and watching nothing. Maybe we can prompt movement by sending our own Anathema to C4a. They could be setting up their own ambush, and the Anathema should be a convincing replacement for my Loki strategic cruiser as the owner of the seen probes, as well as a less threatening target.
But nothing. Aii jumps to C4a, is not molested on the wormhole, and is free to explore the system. At least he can confirm that the Proteus and Anathema are from that system, by locating the tower and matching the owner corporation to the pilots. Still, we're getting nowhere. I may as well complete scanning C3a. Hey, there's another wormhole, not a K162. Warping across finds a V301 outbound connection to class 1 w-space, taking me back to regular exploration mode. Even so, the V301 is rubbish, first for the dumbscovery scanner pinging the wormhole to anyone inside, and also for the other Anathema probably coming this way to scout it before me.
A quick check through the high-sec exit plants me in a system in Everyshore lacking orange pilots, so I head back to C3a and onwards in to the class 1 system, expectations suitably lowered. Probes are visible on d-scan, almost certainly from the Anathema, definitely either putting paid to any activity there was or an indication that there was none to start with, so I feel little compulsion to move away from the wormhole. I make a trip to the one planet out of range, which turns out to hold a tower empty of ships, before returning to loiter on the wormhole. We may have a slight chance of catching this cov-ops. It's not much, but it's probably better than nothing.
Fin wants to wait for something bigger. If we let the Anathema scout and get home without seeing any other sign of activity, and our own Anathema is the only ship possibly seen by the other pair of pilots, maybe our targets will gain a false sense of security. Then again, if they've been in w-space for more than a day their paranoia is probably functioning quite normally and they'll do nothing. But let's find out. The probes disappear from C1a, the Anathema jumps past me to return to C3a, and I pass traffic control over to Fin, my glorious leader sitting on the K162 back to their C4 system. Nothing goes past her.
The Anathema blips on d-scan in C3a. It didn't come back my way, it didn't pass Fin, so it either went through our K162 or out to high-sec. Still there's nothing to see. Not until Fin calls 'Magnate—but not from the wormhole'. That's curious. 'Basic frigate. Sounds like bait.' But Aii saw no other ships or pilots in their C4 home, so maybe they are playing the long game and testing the waters, seeing if we'll pop their disposable ship before they send out what they really want to send out.
If this is a long game I think it's working. I've already been floating in space for quite a while, waiting for the right opportunity, and the appearance of the Magnate looks like we'll be waiting for longer. Not much is actually happening, and tonight I think I'd like to have not much happening where I can slouch and not have to pay so much attention. Still, the intrigue has been interesting, even with a negative outcome, and it's also interesting to wonder how slightly different timing may have changed everything.