The gas has gone, bringing sweet relief to me. Still, it's made way for some stones the size of small European countries, which is probably going to cause a little more discomfort than a couple of stinky gas clouds, but they should pass through my system in a few days and I'll be none the worse for wear. Strangely, the new static wormhole has not moved from where I found the previous one, which I haven't seen in a while. Being in the same place doesn't really save much time, though, as it still takes a few scans to realise and confirm this.
There is the temptation to assume the location is identical and cluster my probes tightly around it, but sometimes the signatures appear in a nearby volume of space without being the same, resulting in a wasted scan as I pick up on a vague sniff the wormhole. And I can't reliably use the old bookmark, as each great galactic reboot tends to jolt the cosmic signatures a couple of kilometres this way and that. So even though the current static wormhole sits in the what is essentially the same position as before I still need to resolve and bookmark it as normal. That's okay, I was going to do it anyway.
Jumping through the static wormhole shows me a humdrum system on my directional scanner, with a tower but no ships visible. I'll warp out, launch probes, and, uh, oh. I would warp out and launch probes, but opening the system map shows the furthest planet from me as being a mere 7 AU distant, which means d-scan is showing me everything that can be seen. I'm in another occupied but inactive w-space system. Okay, so warping anywhere won't gain me any benefit, but scanning could find an extra wormhole or two that leads to opportunity and excitement. Or, although there are eight anomalies, it could find the bare minimum two signatures that is our K162 and the static wormhole.
The static connection doesn't even lead to null-sec k-space, forcing a couple of extra scans to resolve the weaker signature of a K346, so I am recalling my probes after three scans instead of five. That's okay, as I will have an empire space system to scan for more wormholes, or look for rats, so exploration doesn't have to end here. Not unless the static exit to low-sec is reaching the end of its natural lifetime, the bastard. This is not a welcoming class 3 w-space system. It will be best for us both if I collapse our static wormhole to isolate our two systems.
I jump home, board a borrowed Orca, and send the industrial command ship to the wormhole. Making sure I count the trips I start pushing the Orca through the connection, taking care to increase the ship's mass by using the fitted reheat module. One trip is complete, and I wait for the polarisation effects to dissipate before making a second. But this is awkward, as the C3 now has core scanning probes visible on d-scan. Even more awkwardly, as I make the return jump home the probes disappear to be replaced by an Anathema covert operations boat.
The cov-ops can hardly destroy an industrial command ship by itself, but I'd rather not be spotted in the midst of collapsing our wormhole, because the pilot could easily swap to a more suitably pointy ship. Thankfully, the Anathema doesn't appear at our K162 when I jump home, nor does he jump in to the home system before I've warped the Orca clear of the wormhole. Back at our tower, I would normally be tempted to plonk an interceptor on our wormhole in a generally futile effort to catch the Anathema, but it would be even more futile given that I'm polarised and couldn't give chase even if I spot the cov-ops.
I have to wonder why I didn't see the Anathema, though. There are only two signatures in the C3, and as the exit to low-sec is EOL our K162 must be an enticing find. Even if the scout was hoping for a replacement static connection for himself, surely he'd be interested to see what else is happening. But I realise that my second trip destabilised our wormhole to half-mass, which perhaps makes the connection look rather less attractive. Now it looks used and potentially old, perhaps not worth exploring beyond. That could be the case, but I still won't push another Orca through it until I have some certainty that it will come back.
Once my polarisation effects have worn off I swap in to a Manticore, and warp to the wormhole. The stealth bomber is cloaky, small, and agile, whilst packing some decent firepower, which makes it a good ship to reconnoitre a potentially hostile system. I sacrifice one polarisation cycle to take a look around the C3 again, which I consider to be a sensible precaution. There are no ships obviously waiting on the wormhole for me, and d-scan looks clear. In such a small system there's not much else I can do but decloak and warp away, to see if the scout reveals himself, which he doesn't. Maybe he really is just waiting for the exit wormhole to die of old age. I think I'll risk the Orca.
There's only one more trip to be made with the Orca, which limits its risk, but it only needs to be caught once. Besides, I know a few manoeuvres. I swap back to the massive industrial ship, warp to the wormhole and jump. D-scan again looks clear in C3a, but I'm pretty sure cloaked ships aren't detected, and jumping back has no one follow me. Well, that was easy. But the wormhole is still there. That's according to schedule, though. That was my last trip with the Orca, and now I've got to finish the collapse in a different hull, my Widow black ops ship.
I wait for polarisation to end once more and take my Widow to the wormhole. I feel less vulnerable in my powerful ECM battleship, although as I jump out and the wormhole looks to collapse I realise that I have no means to scan fitted to the ship, and if the ageing exit to low-sec happened to die I would be stuck here. Much to my blessed relief, our static was merely destabilising to critical levels, not actually collapsing, so I don't need to find out if the exit wormhole is still alive. Instead, I return home, reheat blazing, to have our static connection finally collapse, on schedule and without a fight. That was rather more involved than I had expected. Now to get back in to my scanning boat and start again.