Calling International Rescue! It's time to bring my glorious leader home. But there's been a signature explosion in the home system. Is it lots of gas? Or maybe wormholes offering more routes for an isolated Fin? That's pretty optimistic of me, I must be in a good mood. I'll scan and see what I can find. It's just one pocket of gas, which will keep our industrialists happy, and three extra wormholes on top of our static connection. If this doesn't provide a good entrance for Fin I'd be amazed.
A K162 from class 2 w-space is a good sight to see in a class 4 system when trying to bring a colleague home, as the C2's other static wormhole will connect to high-sec. That can be Plan A. The second wormhole is a K162 from class 4 w-space, which will not connect anywhere but backwards to more w-space, making it an undesirable connection for all but exploration. That it is at the end of its life almost entirely suppresses my interest in it. Our static wormhole leads to class 3 w-space as usual. C3a will exit w-space directly, but it could be to null-sec space, even if the odds are in favour of a low-sec exit. The last wormhole is a K162 from class 5 w-space, and even though it may have additional K162s from empire space in the system beyond, unlike the C4 K162, it is also at the end of its life. Plan A, then.
Jumping to C2a and updating my directional scanner sees nothing but a tower, which is probably a good result for tonight's primary operation. My notes from a previous visit, only two months ago, have four towers listed, and that's probably still right, considering how only one planet is in d-scan range of the wormhole. I launch probes, perform a blanket scan of the system, and warp around to check on the towers in turn.
My probes reveal three anomalies, twelve signatures, and two ships. Three of the four towers remain in the same locations, one is now off-line, one is new, keeping the tally at four. The two ships are empty and boring, an Ibis frigate and a shuttle, so I scan. The signatures are mostly gas, with one relic site to slow me down, and three wormholes. One is the exit to high-sec, as expected. I jump out to be in the Heimatar region, and relay the system to Fin. 'Twenty-six jumps', she says, 'not bad'. But it isn't great, certainly when having to make the journey in a sluggish Orca industrial command ship. Maybe I can do better.
The other two wormholes in C2a are both K162s, one to more class 2 w-space, the other to a C5. It's hard to gauge which system is the next best option. C2b will definitely link to low-sec and may have other connections. C5b is not guaranteed to have any other wormholes but class 5 w-space seems to have regular random connections to k-space. I'll try C2b, if only because Fin is already heading for Heimatar and I may find a soft target.
Updating d-scan in C2b gets me excited, as I see an Iteron V hauler, Procurer mining barge, and Talos battlecruiser in the system, as well as a tower. But they can't all be there, can they? And they can't all be there and unpiloted, surely. But they are all there, and are all empty of pilots. The only positive aspect of there being no pilots is that there is no one around to see my ship decide to stop communicating to itself, crashing me off-line and dropping my cloak as I land outside the tower.
Okay, I'm back, and I'm scanning. Eight anomalies and four signatures give way to a data and relic site each, and a dying exit to low-sec Kor-Azor. It's not much of an option. Back I go to C2a and in to C5b, where a black hole looms ominously in the background and only a moonless planet sits out of d-scan range. I launch probes to poke this unoccupied and inactive system for K162s, discarding the seven anomalies and sifting through the nine signatures.
I resolve a wormhole, getting the 100% result just as an Osprey jumps though. Not quite expecting this, I fumble desperately to get my probes out of d-scan range of the cruiser, taking long enough for a Ferox battlecruiser to be on d-scan with the Osprey once I've got my wits about myself. A Gila faction cruiser joins whatever party is getting started, and even though I have to assume at least the first pilot saw my probes I warp across to the wormhole to see if there's any chance that I could crash the fun.
Landing at a K162 from null-sec has me too late to see the combat ships, but an Anathema appears near the wormhole, the covert operations boat moving away to launch probes before it cloaks. What about the others? I can see no Sleeper wrecks on d-scan, but that doesn't surprise me. Even gas site Sleeper ships are pretty tough in class 5 w-space, and the ships that came would probably struggle against them. But that still leaves the question of what they are up to.
Sweeping d-scan around the system locates the Osprey, Ferox, and Gila, and they appear to be at the star. I suppose it's possible they are loitering there whilst the Anathema finds them a site to plunder, not that I think they'll manage it, but it seems odd to leave the relative safety of the wormhole to sit at the star. I warp in to take a look, and the Osprey is supplying both the Ferox and Gila with either shield or capacitor energy, all ships motionless. I dunno, that's not going to be enough in this system, chaps. Not that I know what you're planning to do.
Movement. The energy chain stops, the Ferox moves, the Gila a few seconds later. The Gila enters warp first, followed by the Ferox, leaving the Osprey by itself. Hey, the Osprey is by itself! Thanks, brain, maybe you can think about that a bit quicker next time. I register the situation with reactions slower than Martin Blank staring in to a microwave of plastic explosives, only realising that I could probably rip apart the Osprey just as it starts to accelerate in to alignment for warp. And it's gone.
Maybe it's time to hunt the three ships. Or maybe I can just enjoy the show, albeit from a distance. I ping d-scan to see the Gila no more, a pod in its place. The pod of the ex-Gila pilot warps back to the star, swiftly followed by the pod of the ex-Osprey pilot. Somehow, the Ferox lives. The pods are sitting still, and although they are agile little buggers they may be sufficiently shell-shocked to not react in time to my appearance. If only there weren't a hundred kilometres from me.
I close the distance between me and the two pods anyway, just in case I can catch one, but they warp before I can get anywhere near them. Never mind. I see a Scythe cruiser on d-scan now, still probably not enough repping power to save the ships, even if it were here earlier, and I warp to the null-sec wormhole to see what's going on. The pods leave before I get there, the Ferox warps to the wormhole and exits as I land, and the Scythe is elsewhere in the system for the moment.
I wait and watch, and see the Scythe warp to the wormhole. I think he'll just jump back out, probably the last I'll see of this small fleet, but the cruiser just sits there. This may be my best opportunity for a bit of excitement now, so I decloak, approach the cruiser, and, well, he jumps back to null-sec just as my target lock completes. I didn't expect much else from the engagement, to be honest. Rather than follow, maybe I can work out what the ships were doing here.