I'll have another go at finding ships to shoot in w-space. There are no incoming connections to our home system this evening, making it a straightforward start, if one not holding much promise. Resolve, warp to, and jump through our static wormhole, where updating my directional scanner sees two towers, a bunch of drones, and no ships. Ah, but core scanning probes are already out.
I'll loiter by the wormhole for the moment, see if anything comes my way. My notes tell me my last visit to this class 3 system was fourteen months ago, when there was no occupation, and that there is a static exit to low-sec. Well, that's about all I can do from the wormhole, except wait for a ship that may not even come my way. I ignore the scout, warp away, and launch probes to scan the system for myself.
Warping back to start locating the towers, performing a blanket scan as I do, has the other scout's probes disappear from d-scan. That's unfortunate, but perhaps not too unfortunate. Covert operations boats are difficult to scan, and he may not actually be aware of my presence. I'll press on, mostly ignoring the scout but still curious as to which direction he went. I'll probably find out by scanning the seven anomalies and ten signatures. No, eleven signatures.
Call me irrational, but I imagine that new signature in the scanning results is currently the most interesting. I resolve it first, warping to the unsurprising result of a wormhole to find, oh, only a K162 from null-sec. Even so, a ship may come through, so I orbit the connection as menacingly as a cloaked ship can as I continue scanning, my probes havind detected two more wormholes when resolving this one.
Nothing comes through the null-sec wormhole, and I resolve three more in total in the w-space system. My probes also detect two ships at one of the towers, and when they were clustered over the planet too. I cross the system to see pilots in a Helios cov-ops and Prophecy battlecruiser inside the tower's force field, pilots I can only assume have seen my combat scanning probes. On top of that, a final blanket scan reveals another new signature. It's all go.
I resolve that new signature, that new wormhole, and as there is no movement from either ship in the tower I decide to reconnoitre what I've scanned. If only I'd updated d-scan before initiating the command to warp I may have spotted the Epithal new to the system before warping away from the tower, the tower the hauler warps in to. All I can do is let my Loki strategic cruiser take me to a disappointing T405 outbound connection to class 4 w-space, before turning it right around to head back to loiter outside the tower.
Of course, the Epithal won't be collecting planet goo, right? Because the system isn't secure, what with all the wormholes, and the probes whizzing around, right? So explain to me, hot-shot, why it's not at the tower where I get back there. The Prophecy has gone too, but updating my probes, reverted to their blanket-scanning configuration, has one of the two still in the system. Taking a punt that the Epithal hears the call of the goo, I warp towards a customs office out of range—that's all but the closest, so plenty to choose from.
The Epithal is not at this customs office, but the hauler is now visible on d-scan. So it's not the Prophecy, and he does appear to be gooing. All I have to do now is be at the same customs office, at the same time, and stop a ship that can routinely fit four warp core stabilisers. Sounds easy enough. Bouncing to another customs office, hoping to get ahead of the route, doesn't help, and the Epithal drops off d-scan. That may be good. If he's dropping off goo at the tower, and I catch up with him there, I may be able to see his next destination.
I drop out of warp outside the tower with no Epithal to be seen. At least, not on my overview. D-scan has the hauler, and with just the one customs office in range I think I have a fair idea where he is. And at least this time I am able to cancel my warp command as the ship returns to the safety of the force field a second later. Thankfully, he's not quite finished. Not so thankfully, we are so far away from the inner system that many of the planets lie on coincident vectors. All I know is that the Epithal is aiming for a customs office around one of them.
I make my best guess at the Epithal's destination and enter warp behind it. A bit of luck, a bit of skill, a bit of experience; all mixed together, I drop out of warp near to the Epithal, but perhaps lagging by a few seconds. There's no time to waste. I decloak on decelerating, get my sensor booster working, and am ready to lock on to the ship as my Loki exits warp. The lock is positive, my warp scrambler maybe does something, and autocannons start chattering. I'd better overheat them too, because whatever the outcome here, it will be quick.
The Epithal turns to flee, I surge forwards, micro warp drive active, slamming in to the hauler to prevent it aligning for warp. It seems to work, but it's a temporary measure. I back off and line up for a second ramming manoeuvre, but my target lock drops. Has a full rack of warp core stabilisers thwarted me again? Not this time. The Epithal's shields are gone, armour depleted, and there is no more structure. The hauler explodes in front of me. It's a glorious victory.
The pod flees, sadly, leaving me a wreck full of toxic metals to destroy, and a dust cloud to analyse. Only two warp core stabilisers fitted? Well, that's peculiar, and it's made me waste a chunk of nanite repair paste on my heat-damaged guns. I had him in my grasp all along. Damned silly ship design, if you ask me. But I got him all the same. I reload, activate my cloak, and start to repair my guns, warping back to the tower as I do.