Back in to class 2 w-space, and across to the wormhole leading to our neighbouring class 3 system. At least, that was the plan, taking me home after a night of stalking shadows, until I casually update my directional scanner in C2a to see a Procurer in empty space. Of course, the mining barge isn't in actually empty space but in its natural environment, an ore site, surrounded by rocks. The pressing question now is if it is also in its natural role, that of being bait.
Finding the Procurer is straightforward enough, and warping to the rock field sees the barge chomping on some hemorphite, that particular rock really nicely positioned to let a covert Loki strategic cruiser get close without being decloaked accidentally. I should probably be suspicious, particularly in a system with implied activity, and I am. I'm also somewhat inclined to want to believe the pilot is unaware of my presence.
I get closer to the mining barge, as my glorious leader swaps ships back at our tower, choosing a Manticore stealth bomber for being covert, having heavy-hitting weapons, and cheaper to lose than a strategic cruiser. Hopefully the Manticore's torpedoes will do a nice job on the Procurer, even if it is bait. We can find out, as Fin crosses C3a, jumps in to C2a, and warps to my position. 'Ready.'
The Procurer's mining lasers cut off and the ship starts moving. Did the pilot notice Fin entering the system—I did, on d-scan, but I knew she was coming—or is he just dropping off a load of ore? We sit and wait for the warped-off barge's return to the hemorphite, until I get antsy and decide to see what's taking him so long, warping my Loki to the local tower.
I get to the tower as the Procurer leaves it, which is good timing of sorts. I turn around, return to the rock field to see the Procurer chomping on the same rock, and confirm with Fin that we're both still ready. We are. Let's do it. I decloak my Loki, Fin decloaks her Manticore, we get positive target locks on the Procurer, and start shooting.
Our target returns my target lock, which isn't a great sign, but can be simply explained by his launching ECM drones. They catch me, breaking my lock, but Fin keeps hold of the Procurer. Soon enough, the ECM drops and I am shooting the miner again, but perhaps I shouldn't be. When will I learn that all Procurers in w-space are bait? Not soon enough.
Updating d-scan shows ships heading our way, two Talos battlecruisers and the unsporting Falcon recon ship. I tell Fin to flee, which is pretty easy for her Manticore to do, not least because her ship isn't the prize the locals want. Not that I won't try to get away too, but I'm not confident. At least, not until I realise the Procurer is only projecting a warp disruption effect, not scrambling my drives.
My micro warp drive is still functioning, and I'm pretty sure my Loki at full pelt can out-pace a mining barge pretty comfortable. I direct myself away from the Procurer and burn hard, opening up a gap pretty quickly, but only as the combat ships land in the site. But they need to decelerate out of warp, then accelerate towards me, and I am already moving pretty fast. In fact, my situation looks pretty good, particularly as I get out of warp disruption range, the Procurer no longer stopping me from leaving.
Warp drive available again, it's the perfect time to bug out. I aim for my perch and activate my warp drive, not realising until this moment that I initially headed almost directly away from it when escaping the Procurer. I was only trying to increase my separation from the barge as quickly as possible, not giving much thought to direction. And now I am only trying to warp to the most convenient bookmark, not giving much through to direction. This is why my Loki turns around and accelerates back towards the ships that are chasing me. This can't end well.
I imagine my actions look a bit peculiar. That's because, objectively, they are. I really needed to align to my perch with my MWD active to start with, or now spot the planet closest in line with my vector to warp clear. I knew what I wanted to do in both instances, but got them mixed up in the implementation. Naturally, the small fleet catches me, not hard to do when I turn and run back towards them, and the Taloses and new Harbinger battlecruiser start applying their damage. It's pretty heavy.
My Loki has no chance of surviving, even burning both ancillary shield boosters, overheated, whilst trying to blast through the fleet and escape on the other side. I pretty much just throw myself in to their weapons fire. Still, at least I get my pod clear. That's something, right? My poor Loki. I didn't have it long. And I could have saved it. Still, it's a learning experience. What confuses me most is where the ships came from. Fin passed nothing, no one was at the tower. Maybe there's an edge of the system I overlooked. Or haxxx.
I should probably call it a night, but I don't want to be stuck in w-space without a scanning strategic cruiser. I've got used to the little luxuries of w-space life. Besides, this C2 has a static exit to high-sec that we've scanned, it seems churlish not to make use of it. I take my pod through the exit and start heading towards Jita, updating my skill queue as I go. I'll buy a new ship, but I won't come back this way tonight. It's late and I'm tired, and a little deflated. I can return to the home system tomorrow.