I finally force myself to take a break a few hours later, leaving Pax, Em, and Shan watching things while I get some rest.
When I return, only Shan is around to greet me, but like Radagast he has many beasts and birds doing his bidding, so everything still watched.
“How’d you sleep?” Shan asks. In the background of his voice comms, I can hear the constant pinging sound of the scanning probes with which he’s blanketed the system.
“Eh.” I do some math, frowning. “How did YOU sleep?”
“Haven’t yet.” (ping-a ping-a ping-a)
“It’s all right. I got my second wind.” (ping-a ping-a ping-a)
“How long have you been up?”
“… it’s coming up on 28 hours.” (ping-a ping-a ping-a)
“I’ll take a nap in a while.” (ping-a ping-a ping-a)
“And when you do, you’re going to dream about that scanning probe sound.”
“… huh. Yeah. I don’t even hear it anymore.”
“It’s just blonde… brunette… redhead…”
I drop back into my Arazu force recon cruiser retrofitted for emergency hole crashing and park myself next to the low-sec entrance, chatting with Shan and getting caught up. No one’s seen any sign of the last Loki pilot, things have been quiet, and we have another five hours before our class two connection will die of old age.
It’s another two hours before we manage to convince Shan to take a break, and he’s back only a few hours after that, in plenty of time to help out when our Class Two connection dies and will be replaced by a fresh wormhole.
About thirty minutes before this is likely to happen, we see several of the “occupy” pilots logging in and, like clockwork, the class two connection dies of old age and a Loki and enemy probes appear on d-scan — whatever we might say about our unwanted guests, their recon, planning, and coordination in small groups is damned impressive.
We scan as well, locating the new hole and getting heavy ships en route to weaken the hole.
“So we want to crit it?”
“Actually…” Em says. “Can you get it like… halfway down, but before its appearance changes, so that it looks stable but would only take a jump or two to kill? That might look more enticing for this guy.”
“Guys,” Tweed calls, “I’m picking another new wormhole.”
I look at the low-sec connection right next to me. “Well, it’s not a new low-sec.”
A minute or two passes, and Tweed reports that we have a randomly-generated outbound connection to Class Three wormhole space, leading into a system that boasts only a static null-sec wormhole exit.
“Man…” says Tweed. “It’s too bad these guys are in here, cuz this system is really overgrown.”
“Great,” I mutter, than on comms, “Going to weaken that one too, but leave it looking healthy.”
Our ships proceed to jump and warp back and forth between the two holes in an intricate, planned dance. Feels like we’ve gotten pretty good at this stuff.
That’s about when Dolby logs in for the first time since The Talk.
“Damn, he isn’t gone yet?”
“I thought he was. Haven’t seen him since the talk.”
Everyone chuckles. The talk has been discussed.
“What’s he doing?”
“Looks like he’s at Cab’s tower.”
“Can anyone go look?”
“He’s in a Magnate.”
“A scanning frigate? Why –”
Em gets on the system text comms. “Dolby, we are currently closely watching and controlling access to all the wormholes in the system. Please do not approach or use any of them.”
“He’s got probes out.”
“God damn… how long until we have those two holes set?”
“We’re right in the middle of jumps.”
“If he jumps out of that low-sec…”
Em doesn’t have to finish the thought. If he jumps out of the low-sec, and the hole closes, a new one will appear, and we will be completely out of position to either defend or destroy it — quite a few of our pilots aren’t even on yet.
“He’s back at the tower.” Shan reports. “Looks like he’s reshipping into a… Bestower.”
“A hauler? Christ.”
“Dolby, do NOT jump through any of the wormholes right now.”
Unless you count the Bestower that drops out of warp right next to the low-sec exit, then jumps.