I'm feeling more positive after yesterday's playful encounter. What's up for tonight? A ship in our home system, for a start, which my combat scanning probes inform me of. Warping across from my safe spot lets me see the Golem marauder on my directional scanner, and switching overviews and repeating the scan sees a Sleeper wreck. Just the one wreck, mind you, and now no longer a Golem.
Did I scare the marauder off, or was his ship just not up to the job? I can't believe the latter option, not with only the first Sleeper in the anomaly popped. I find the anomaly, make a perch, and wait a while, pondering the situation. He's back, so say my probes, but d-scan is showing me a Noctis salvager. That's curious. I update my probes and the ship is still somewhere, but the Noctis is gone. Cloaked? No, probably near his wormhole, as it is the salvager my probes are detecting, not the return of the Golem that I assumed.
The Noctis leaves our system. If the pilot's not going to continue here, I'll scan for his wormhole. Calling my probes in to the system is the perfect time for the pilot to return, of course, this time in a Tengu strategic cruiser. I scramble to get my probes out of the system again, no doubt too slowly, but the Tengu persists on d-scan. He's not in the anomaly, or any site, but he does seem to be on our previously scanned static connection. I warp across to take a look.
Well, a pilot called 'Yummy Worm' in a Tengu some seventy kilometres from the wormhole. 'Could be some kind of bait', says a newly arrived HR. Call me suspicious, but I think he's right. I go back to scanning for the apparently new wormhole, resolving it quickly and warping across to see a K162 from class 4 w-space. I don't quite fancy jumping through this one, because if the Tengu is bait then his support fleet will be right on the other side. So what to do?
It's a bit of a stalemate, until Mick arrives. He's always up for a scrap, and knows much more about ships than I ever will. He encourages us to swap ships and I have no hesitation jumping in to a Manticore stealth bomber to see what we can do. My decision to reveal myself on d-scan, indirectly showing the Tengu my intention, is perhaps a bit rash, but at the very least it could spark a reaction. It does. The Tengu aligns away from our wormhole and back to his, warping and jumping as Mick and HR appear at our tower to also swap for much pointier ships.
My Manticore should be safe against whatever is waiting, so I drop my cloak, burn to the K162, and follow a few seconds behind. The wormhole is clear. A Noctis is on d-scan, along with a tower. No Tengu, no support. 'So it was not bait.' Maybe. Maybe not. There's a lot more space outside d-scan range of the wormhole, and as HR joins me in the system I decide to go on a reconnoitre.
Four more towers are in the inner system, one with an empty Charon freighter, another with the Tengu and an also-piloted Cerberus heavy assault cruiser, presumably the support for the bait. One more tower is further distant but with no more ships. The Tengu and Cerberus do nothing, and if it is just them then better timing by us could have got us a couple of kills. But who knows who is watching in w-space?
HR has a new contact at the tower with the Noctis, which warps to the furthest tower. I follow him as the Tengu heads HR's way, and I see the Proteus strategic cruiser get swapped for a Falcon recon ship and warp to a nearby moon lacking a tower. That's initially odd, but it allows the despised ECM boat to cloak and warp elsewhere whilst keeping its vector unknown. Still, there aren't many locations it could be heading, not with HR calling the Tengu being in warp to the wormhole.
Maybe the Tengu was bait after all, and is continuing to be bait, now with greater support. But we feel we're in a better position too, particularly if I hold back in my Manticore and ambush the Falcon as soon as it appears. I make some tactical bookmarks at the wormhole, on the assumption that the Falcon will appear at its optimal range, as Mick jumps from home to engage the Tengu directly.
Mick's Ishtar HAC and the Tengu trade blows for a short while, before the Cerberus makes an appearance on d-scan. I see it so I call it, still waiting for the Falcon to decloak. Still no Falcon, but a Golem is incoming. A Golem? Who would have expected that? The marauder warps from a different direction, plants himself a healthy distance from any direct threat, and starts firing. 'Hit the Cerberus, with everything', says Mick. Roger that.
I warp my Manticore in close—too close, I must have given the wrong order—and HR follows suit, but it's too late. Mick admits that he wasn't able to control the range as he wanted, and his Ishtar explodes. HR flees, I fumble with decisions again, taking my Manticore in a stupid direction before being more sensible, suffering a single volley of cruise missile fire from the Golem as a consequence. My shields are stripped, but I get my Manticore safe. And where was the Falcon? It not appearing is almost as annoying as one appearing.