Pop, pop, pop. High-sec rats are easy. So easy, in fact, that I launch probes to scan the one extra signature in this system to keep myself entertained between target acquisition and cycling my autocannons. It's a wormhole. I may go there, I may not, particularly as a capsuleer tagged in orange appears in the local communications channel. And he's gone again, in a period so brief that he could only have poked through the wormhole from the class 2 w-space system I crossed to get to high-sec.
Someone behind me can check out the activity in the constellation connected to our home system. I'll see where this wormhole I've found leads to. It's an outbound connection to class 3 w-space, and I have no idea whether it's been open for a while and anyone in the w-space system is aware of it already, or I've just opened it and the discovery scanner is about to do that job. I'll jump through anyway and see what I can find.
Entering C3b sees the rather standard sight of a tower with no ships on my directional scanner. So far, so normal. But switching overview settings to look for wrecks, which uncovers the occasional curiosity, reveals Sleeper wrecks everywhere. Not just one or two, like some gas site Sleepers have been popped and left to rot, but dozens. Have they been abandoned? Who would do that, unless they didn't realise the potential value of the salvage?
I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system, showing lots of anomalies and signatures but no ships. This is peculiar. My notes point me towards two towers, one in range and one not. Both remain, which is something, I suppose, but it doesn't explain the Sleeper wrecks. Well, the least I can do is look for the wrecks, see if I can find them, but the likelihood is that I won't, not without a ship as a beacon to what is probably a despawned site.
Ah, two Cormorant destroyers appear on d-scan as I return to the inner system to look for the wrecks. Okay then, that gives me the ship I need to scan where the wrecks are, as well as a proper target of my hunt. A Thrasher destroyer appears too, suggesting three sites' worth of wrecks. I have my sights on a Cormorant, though. I narrow down its location using d-scan, getting the destroyer in a five-degree beam, and determining its range at around 6·25 AU.
I arrange my probes around the Cormorant's estimated position as Fin stumbles through the constellation, trying to quickly work out the bookmarks and my directions. I am not being particularly coherent at the moment, given that I am under pressure to get an accurate scan of the Cormorant before it finishes salvaging all the wrecks and leaves. I have its position, though, so I'm going for a scan whilst I can. I'm a little nervous about all these unscanned signatures potentially confusing my scan result, so select and ignore them all. It probably won't matter, not if the site has already despawned.
I call in my probes and get a perfect result. The Cormorant's location is resolved. I recall my probes and warp to its position—ah, in a site, data or relic, I don't see which as I automatically dismiss the dialogue box. Ignoring the signatures still probably didn't make a difference, as the site would have been weaker than the ship anyway. And here is the Cormorant, only a few kilometres away from my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser, nicely oblivious to my presence, thanks to my cloaky Loki not warping too close to any structures that would disrupt being cloaky.
The Cormorant is even moving towards my cloaked ship. Pinch me, I must be dreaming. Or I could just decloak, activate my sensor booster, and spring my ambush. I gain a positive lock and start shooting, as the Cormorant turns to leave. So do I, my instinct telling me to align out of the site in case of trouble, and I see a Coercer frigate in the system now too, but I'm probably being over-cautious. I turn back towards my target when I see the destroyer jettisoning some cargo, shortly before exploding in a small shower of flames.
I have to admit that I'm a little flustered. What do I do now? Go for the pod, or grab an image? I grab the image, then go for the pod, which gets me a memento of the kill and lets the pod escape. He was pretty quick, I bet he would have got clear anyway. But I am still fumbling a little, particularly as trying to loot the wreck of the destroyer fails, some rat loot needlessly picked up yesterday filling my hold somewhat. I discard it, and take a look in the jet-can. Ah, Sleeper loot and salvage. The Cormorant pilot didn't want to see it perish in the explosion. Thank you for your consideration, sir.
Having looted all I can, I shoot the Cormorant wreck and warp to my perch, cloaking as I do, letting me relax again. That was surprisingly intense, perhaps because of my recent failures. But it was a good hunt, and nicely executed. I got myself a kill and bagged around sixty million ISK in loot. There are some wrecks left too, and the databanks wait to be hacked, but there's nothing worth getting killed over. This system can only be treated as hostile. Sure enough, a minute or so after my kill a Broadsword heavy interdictor appears on d-scan, followed by a Proteus and Legion strategic cruiser, and Megathron battleship.
The obvious place for the small fleet to be is on the wormhole I entered through, and pointing d-scan on a narrow beam towards the K162 from high-sec indeed sees the four ships loitering with intent. It's not much of a threat, not on a high-sec wormhole, even with a bubble up and drones out. Of course, I manage to make it more of a threat by warping to drop short of the wormhole. My standard procedure is normally safer, letting me assess the system's situation via d-scan whilst remaining cloaked, but it seems like a bad idea when pilots are obviously out looking for you. I may be warping in to a small cloud of drones, instead of dropping on top of the locus of a wormhole that can take me immediately out to the safety of high-sec.
Thankfully, the fleet is not as well coordinated as it could be. Sure, they're on the wormhole, the HIC has its warp bubble inflated, and the drones are making their ships bigger, but they are on the wrong side of the wormhole. They must know which site I ambushed their pilot in, and it would make sense that to catch someone making a simple mistake they should place their ships in-line between the wormhole and that site. It's just good that they don't, or I'd be kicking myself for making another stupid mistake that I could easily have avoided. I'll learn one day. For now, I merely approach the wormhole unmolested and jump to high-sec, where I sit safely cloaked at a distance and watch as the fleet starts mass-stressing the wormhole.