Back in the home system, I repair the damage to my Proteus strategic cruiser after the curious case of the onffline tower. Now to return to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system, where I'll ignore the Epithal hauler up for grabs by the same tower, what with the Onyx heavy interdictor piloted and available in the system, and instead see where the various wormholes I've resolved will take me.
There are four wormholes in all, and the first is the system's static exit to high-sec, obviously leading to Domain from its golden glow. Lucky me! I'm trying to get our Bustard transport back from high-sec, and this exit could be awfully convenient. I'll check the other wormholes first, before doing anything else rash in this system, like leaving it. Warping around sees that there is also a second high-sec exit, this one a K162 from Heimatar, as well as a K162 from class 4 w-space, and a dying K162 from null-sec.
I ignore the null-sec connection and get the high-sec exits. The K162 takes me to a system in Heimatar fourteen hops to our Bustard, the static exit to Domain being seventeen hops to the transport. That's backwards to what I expected, but my geography isn't great. There's also one orange in the Domain exit, which could be the cloaky Legion strategic cruiser I saw earlier, now guarding the wormhole.
Just in case the Legion is watching, I wait for polarisation to end before heading back. My paranoia makes me think I shouldn't use this route to bring the Bustard home. That, and the shorter distance through the Heimatar wormhole. Then again, I'm not sure I should try to bring it home at all tonight, not when one of the C3 locals starts talking to me in the local channel immediately on my return to the system.
The other pilot is curious about the state of their on-line tower with the off-line force field. I don't see any point in hiding my presence, not when it's blindingly obvious that I'm here, and am happy to reply. My own curiosity even gets me digging through knowledge databases to ascertain the circumstances that have caused this tower's curious behaviour, which I relay to the scout. Even so, I doubt my trivial good deed will be repaid by free passage, so abandon the idea of bringing our Bustard home for another day.
I take my Proteus home, ready to call it a night, except the discovery scanner is showing me a new signature. Stupid discovery scanner, I could be going to sleep entirely oblivious to the changes, but no. I launch probes and scan, resolving the new wormhole, and warping to what turns out to be a K162 from class 4 w-space. I suppose I can spare a few minutes to see what's in the connecting system.
My directional scanner is clear from the wormhole in C4a, and a blanket scan reveals a mere three anomalies, all ore sites, and two signatures. My combat scanning probes also show me one fat ship out by a distant planet. An Orca industrial command ship, most likely. I warp in that general direction, locate the tower, and see the Orca floating inside the force field. Although I expected the ships, I didn't expect to see it piloted.
I have no idea what the Orca is up to, given that he is the only ship in the system, and even less idea when I resolve the other signature and find it to be a gas site. Maybe he is half-way through trying to collapse the wormhole to our system, but if so he's not trying that hard, not having moved since my arrival in to the system. Fine, I'll leave him alone.
Time for sleep, or so I think. Aii comes on-line, and I update him with all the evening's shenanigans, warning him of C3a's potential activity. I also mention the Epithal just crying to be picked up in what is an unintentional tower trap, but what I give as a warning Aii takes as an invitation. He wants that ship. Who am I to deny him?
We can make the grab easier. I go in to C3a ahead of Aii, in my Proteus, and reconnoitre the Epithal at the tower. It's still there, still unpiloted, the tower's force field still down. I manoeuvre myself to give Aii a good beacon to warp to, on the other side of the Epithal to our K162, and close enough that I can provide support if necessary. I hope I don't need to do that, though, as the tower will only get angry with me again.
Now to bring Aii in. He drops to his pod at our tower and warps to our wormhole. Aii jumps to C3a and warps to drop short of my ship. There he is, on top of the Epithal. He boards the ship and, heeding my advice, as if he needed to, spins the Epithal around and aligns straight back out to the K162. As he does, a new contact appears on my overview. It's the Legion.
The new ship's appearance is unexpected, but thankfully also rather distant. The Legion is a few dozen kilometres away, too far to stop Aii, and the strategic cruiser only cloaks again, not chasing my colleague in his stolen ship back to to the wormhole. That lets Aii get home safely, albeit still with a tinge of excitement, and he stows the Epithal in our hangar. Now I really do think it's time to get some rest.