The Helios pilot swaps the covert operations boat for a battlecruiser and disappears. The pod of the pilot whose Epithal hauler I just destroyed is plonked in to a Viator transport, but even I can't be that lucky, even after catching an Epithal, and the pilot doesn't try to finish collecting his planet goo. That's fine, as it gives me a little time to bask in the glory of the kill of an over-designed hauler.
Basking complete, and nothing else happening in this class 3 w-space system, I wonder what's happening in the other systems connected from here. Probably not much through our K162; I'm not expecting the T405 outbound link to class 4 w-space to offer anything, what with the discovery scanner active; and the three I have yet to visit are a K162 from low-sec, the static exit to low-sec and, bah, a dying K162 coming in also from low-sec.
Low-sec is probably my best option. How disappointing. Almost as disappointing as jumping out to a faction warfare system in Sinq-Laison with just the one extra signature. That's not enough to make me launch probes. The three extra signatures through a K162 from low-sec would be, but this is through the dying wormhole and I'm not going to risk it collapsing behind me. The healthy K162 from low-sec doesn't have any signatures beyond the wormhole I'm sitting on, which leaves me little option. I'll go through the T405.
Jumping in to C4a and updating my directional scanner sees nothing. That's about right. Two planets sit out of range, in opposite directions, so I launch probes, perform a blanket scan, and warp to one of the distant planets. My probes reveal twelve anomalies, four signatures, and three ships at the planet I'm not currently heading to. I chose poorly. Once I stop moving I turn my Loki strategic cruiser around to investigate these ships, which d-scan shows me are an Anathema cov-ops, Buzzard cov-ops, and Tayra hauler, probably all in the tower also on d-scan.
Naturally, it's the two cov-ops that are piloted, the hauler empty, giving me nothing to shoot at. At least, not until the Buzzard pilot swaps for a Venture mining frigate and warps out of the tower. He can't be using the ship as a shuttle, surely, and there doesn't appear to be any hint that the locals are trying to bait me. I may actually have a hunt on my hands. I don't know why. Checking my logs, I first visited the T405 around forty minutes ago, so the pilots must be aware of it by now. Maybe the pilot of the Venture thinks he can escape in time. Maybe he can.
The Venture has warped right across the system, to be near the other distant planet, and appears to be staying there, according to my combat scanning probes. I go to the planet to get closer and start using d-scan to gauge where the frigate is. I narrow down my search until I have the ship in a five-degree beam, and adjust the range gate to determine that he's around 1·8 AU away. That's pretty close, making it relatively easy to cluster my probes around the estimated position. I'm confident enough that I use an almost-minimal range for my probes. That should pick up the small ship's signature.
Checking d-scan one last time shows that the Venture is still in the same place, my probes nicely surrounding him. I warp back to the K162 from C3a where my glorious leader waits, calling Fin to jump in to the system. The Venture probably could evade my slow-locking Loki, which is why we've got Fin in a Flycatcher interdictor. Dropping a warp bubble over the top of the Venture should surprise it.
The K162 is out of range of both the planet with the tower, and the site of the Venture. This lets us align towards its position in readiness of warp without being directly detected. We're ready. I call my probes in to scan. Perfect. 100% hit on the Venture and the site. I recall my probes, warp us towards the Venture's position, and bookmark both hits for reference. Let's see how much attention the pilot is paying.
I was hoping Fin's interdictor would accelerate faster than this, but we are a fleet and our fastest speed is governed by our slowest ship. That's me. As I needed to scan the Venture's position and warp immediately I don't think I can change this, but hopefully we'll still be fast enough. I update d-scan on my way in, looking for the Venture, but not seeing it. That's odd, because we are definitely in range. But, sure enough, we drop in to a gas site with no one sucking on the gas. The pilot must have been paying plenty of attention to d-scan.
Back to the wormhole with us, not wanting to remain vulnerable in a known site, and I re-launch my probes to take a full look around. Four ships are now in the tower, and warping there sees the empty Tayra now accompanied by a Zealot battlecruiser, Thorax cruiser, and one more ship that warps out before I can identify it. I tell Fin to get clear, but she has other ideas and jumps back to C3a and drops a bubble on the wormhole. That's a cool move. Sadly, it doesn't catch anything.
The combat ships in the tower look more like an idle threat than a response, although, to be fair, there isn't any obvious threat to respond to any more. They could warp to the gas site, but no one's there. Or at the K162. The locals revert to scouting mode, with Zealot swapped to Anathema cov-ops and the Thorax to a pod. That's not so bad, not with an interdictor on our side. Maybe we can actually catch a cov-ops today. Probably not if they don't explore through the K162, though. And why would they? It looks like the locals are sensibly just monitoring their system, and our fun is over. It's time to call it a night.