Moving on from the low-sec relic site, in which sits merely the looted wreck of a Heron frigate, I head towards the K162 from class 1 w-space looking for another soft target. I doubt I'll find it in C1a, though. Appearing in the system over seven kilometres from the wormhole, with a tower and no ships visible on my direction scanner, is not an encouraging sight. Launching probes and scanning the eleven anomalies and thirteen signatures for more wormholes doesn't find any either. Fair enough, there's another wormhole in low-sec to try.
Out to low-sec, across the system, and through the K162 to class 3 w-space. This time d-scan is clear and there is only one planet out of range. Circumstances look bleaker in C3b than in C1a. Undeterred, I launch probes, perform a blanket scan, and warp to that distant planet, where I find no tower and so no occupation. My probes confirm a lack of activity too, with three anomalies, six signatures, and no ships. But the wormhole to low-sec has been opened by someone, and if no one lives here there is almost certainly another wormhole leading backwards.
Scanning resolves a wormhole, although the signature identifier suggests the connection is OLD. It's worse than that, it's not actually a K162 but a T405, an outbound connection to class 4 w-space. And, curiously, there are no other wormholes. Only two outbound connections in an unoccupied system is unusual, but it's possible that occupation further back, who scouted this way, collapsed their wormhole to this system once they were finished with it. The circumstances aren't worth lingering on.
Despite it not being a K162, I still jump through the T405. After all, you never can be sure what you'll find until you look. And this time there is a tower and ships on d-scan, nice and squishy industrial ships too, with a Procurer mining barge, Venture mining frigate, Iteron V hauler, and Helios covert operations boat. D-scan suggests all the ships are at the tower, which I find despite my notes being out-of-date, and all but the Iteron V are piloted.
There is an ore site in the system, there are piloted mining ships, and the ore refinery at the tower is running. It seems a little too quick for the miners to have retreated from the ore site, come to a complete halt inside their tower's force field, and been able to feed and start the refinery all in the time after the discovery scanner pinged the new K162 to their scanning interfaces. I probably can't blame it for not finding active miners this time. I still will, though, because it's still an extraordinarily short-sighted idea to implement the discovery scanner in w-space, where new signatures shouldn't be trivial to detect.
Of course, the T405 could have been open for a while and, as it comes in from an unoccupied system, the locals of this class 4 w-space system may have relaxed about the wormhole being in their system. Well, the former is likely, the latter is pushing it. It's much more relaxing to collapse any unwanted wormhole than just to assume no one's going to come through it, but whatever. My hopes that the wormhole is going unnoticed are raised when a new contact in a second Iteron V warps in to the tower.
The Iteron comes in to the tower from an exaggerated angle, suggestive of a pilot coming on-line and not returning from a wormhole. I would say it's worth watching him for a bit. The miners, either finished naturally or spooked back in to the tower by the discovery scanner, may have all wandered off to be in no position to tell the new arrival about possible threats. And although the first ship to move is the Procurer, not the new Iteron, all it does is blink off-line. He may not have even noticed his colleague newly appeared.
Now it's the Iteron's turn to move, perhaps only to a canister to start with, but afterwards aligning out of the tower. It's easy to tell that the long, thin ship is aligning towards a distant planet, one with a customs office in orbit, and it's a fair assumption that the pilot is about to collect some planet goo. I'd like a piece of that action, so head towards the same customs office in my Loki strategic cruiser.
We arrive at the customs office about the same time, but my Loki decelerates more quickly than the Iteron. I decloak my ship, approach the hauler, and wait for it to fully drop out of warp before blowing the living crap out of it, releasing more pent-up angst about not seeing nearly enough of these cargo-expanded fragile haulers warping around collecting planet goo these days. They die so easily, albeit without an explosion this time, which is a shame partly because I don't get a nice picture to share, and partly because my Pavlovian response to aim for the ejected pod doesn't kick in quite so quickly.
I aim for the pod anyway, once I see it, but I am too late. Off he goes, back to the tower. Never mind. I loot the wreck of a few more expanded cargoholds for my collection, then shoot it to destroy the bacteria and biomass that I can't carry, having the goods suffer the same fate as the proteins and biofuels that didn't survive the Iteron's destruction. Reload, cloak, and return to the tower. In fact, I'll return home. It's probably best to end now because, despite my reservations, this has turned out to be a rather satisfying evening.