Fresh in space, all looks clear. Our gas site has been swept away, and although a new signature has popped up I wouldn't be surprised it if were just replacement gas. I launch probes, perform a blanket scan, and, huh. There are a dozen or more ships along with clouds of drones in our system. That doesn't seem normal.
I'm cloaked and warping to the inner system, from one of my safe spots at a far edge of the system, at which point I update my directional scanner. Yep, ships and drones. Three Dominix battleships, a Rattlesnake battleship, three Vexor Navy Issue cruisers, and enough drones to make a hive. Now I'm pretty sure they aren't ours.
Thieves! I think! I poke our anomalies with d-scan, expecting to find the fleet, but I find nothing. I do it again, because where else would the fleet be? I've got no notifications about damage to our structures. I still can't find the fleet, neither can I see any wrecks. But why the ships, why the drones?
Okay, I've narrowed down the fleet's location to a planet. I warp across to the customs office, dropping in from high above the ecliptic plane just in case they are at an odd range, but they aren't here. Of course they aren't, I just told myself I'm not receiving damage notifications from our structures. They are around this planet, though.
Finally, there they are. I poke each moon with d-scan, not knowing what else to do, and locate the fleet. They are gathered at the off-line tower in our system, the one we've been too lazy to tear down since displacing the owner corporation when we moved in. Well, I say 'too lazy', I more mean that destroying a faction tower under the influence of a class 4 w-space pulsar is a bit too tedious to contemplate under normal circumstances. That just makes it weirder that this fleet, who don't even live here, are doing just that.
I'm rather ambivalent about this action. On the one hand, who cares if the tower is removed? It gets rid of some clutter, and hardly changes our landscape. On the other hand, I was kinda hoping it would serve as a good target dummy for my Revelation dreadnought, if we ever get it fully armed. On the gripping hand, why destroy a valuable piece of hardware if we may be able to unanchor and sell it for ISK within the next six months?
I don't know why they are shooting the tower, and it's not like I can do much about a fleet as big as this. However, although most of the ships may be hugging the column in a rather suggestive manner, a lone Hound stealth bomber is orbiting at a healthy distance from the rest of the fleet, lobbing torpedoes as it goes. That's a ship I can pop, hopefully without the fleet being able to interfere in time. I just need to catch it.
Piece of cake. I can't warp directly to the ship, but there is the tower slap bang in the middle of the grid as a focal point, the defences above and below the tower give me some z-axis reference points, and there are planets and moons all around I can bounce off to get in to range. This shouldn't take more than a couple of tries. I make a bookmark of a defence, check the Hound's position and vector, and bounce off a suitable moon, returning to be, well, nowhere near.
Nil desperandum. That was my first effort, and I at least got closer. Now I can better see how the Hound is moving and get the jump on him with the next bounce. So confident am I that I ignore a newly arrived Nemesis stealth bomber and warp away to come back, uh, nowhere near the Hound again. Third time's the charm, obviously. I use the tactical overlay, gauge the right distance and vector, bounce off a moon, and bloody hell, what am I doing wrong?
I bet the old saying is fourth time's a charm, and it must have got corrupted by people who were clearly more skilful than me. I bounce my Proteus strategic cruiser off a moon and back to the tower, and get my best result so far. I am still around forty kilometres from my target, though, and I'm pretty sure my weapon systems don't have that kind of range. Plot an intercept course, Mr Data.
I try to crawl cloaked to get closer, but the Hound is booking it, and although the speed suggests an active afterburner and not micro warp drive, he's heading away from me again. Balls to it, Mr Data, let's just bounce off a moon again, because obviously that's going to work this time. I get back to the tower once again around forty kilometres from the Hound, once again on a diverging course. You know, at this point, I think I'm just wasting warp fuel.