Two gas clouds have been dispersed from the home system. I make that sound like I had more to do with it than merely passing my ship through the ladar site a few days ago, but it all counts. And despite now expecting to see only two signatures under my scanning probes I see four, so something has taken the place of the gas. Sadly, neither signature resolves to be a wormhole. We just have rocks and more rocks wandering in to the system. I warp my ship in to each site, activating the countdown to a similar automated destruction as the previous clouds, before heading towards our static wormhole. I'm out of here.
I'm not out of here. Our static connection is reaching the end of its natural lifetime. Some other capsuleer passed through our system earlier, opening the wormhole, and killing their own to leave me no route to trace. And as I can't tell the difference between one wobbly wormhole and another, I have no idea if our connection was opened twelve hours ago or closer to sixteen hours. I could hope that there is around three hours of life left in the connection, which should give me plenty of time for my normal high jinks, but it could also be less than ten minutes. I can't reliably tell.
I don't want to get isolated from our home system for no good reason, and risking a dying wormhole is not a good reason. I'll be loitering here and waiting for the wormhole to die, it seems. It's not the most thrilling of pastimes, I have to admit, but my options are limited. Then again, I have only recently activated the two gravimetric sites, which means that the minor Sleeper wings will appear to defend their resources. I can take them on solo. But I think I'll use a Nighthawk instead of my scanning Tengu. The strategic cruiser could probably despatch the rock site Sleepers without much fuss, but a command ship fit for combat will be like cracking nuts with a sledgehammer.
I warp away from the wobbly wormhole, ditch my Tengu at the tower, and nudge the Nighthawk towards the first of the two gravimetric sites. Enough time has passed for the Sleepers to have woken, and five measly frigates are waiting for me. But I ain't in no Osprey, boys. The Nighthawk makes quick work of the small Sleeper ships, and I warp to the second site. Two cruisers have turned up to this site, which is mildly more threatening, but my missiles just hit the bigger ships harder. The command ship did its job well, now I need a Noctis salvager to sweep up. I loot and salvage the seven wrecks for an amazing seven million iskies in profit, making this a pretty great evening so far!
This has got to be the first time in ages that I'm glad to have mining sites in the home system. Maybe the last time was when Aii and I caught the Proteus strategic cruiser popping Sleepers in a ladar site, so it's a rare occasion. And now hopefully the dying wormhole is dead, so I swap back to my Tengu and swing past to take a look. I don't see empty space, I still see a dying wormhole. That's just not cricket, and it's encouraging me to do something I never thought I'd do again. I throw my Tengu back in the hangar and board a Retriever. The mining barge is still the best rock chomper I can pilot, despite having Orca powers, because I just can't bring myself to train astrogeology for the sole purpose of flying a Covetor or Hulk exhumer.
Still, I don't really want to fly the Retriever either, but I would rather be productive in some way than accept defeat at the hands of a wormhole. I have bookmarks to the richest ores in the rock fields, where I thought I was making them in case colleagues wanted to mine, not for my own benefit, so warp my Retriever directly to a chunk of arkonor and activate my mining lasers. Yeah, pew pew, whatever. I suppose it's good that I didn't 'accidentally' destroy this ship during my d-scan hunting exercise, although it was pretty close. If I hadn't wisely ungrouped my launchers it would have been dust by now.
As my cargo hold slowly fills up, and I incautiously dump the accumulated ore in to a jet-can by my side, I wonder how much ISK I'm making. It occurs to me that mining is rather more hazardous than combat. Sure, maybe most of the rocks don't shoot back, but if anyone wanted to attack me they wouldn't need much of a ship themselves, nor any help. Ambushing during combat with Sleepers, however, would mean overcoming defences designed to withstand attacks, whilst surviving our own firepower, and probably that of the Sleepers once they change their fickle minds about who they should be attacking. I hope I'm pulling in a few hundred million ISK per hour.
There's not much to do. I'm shooting the same rock with auto-repeating lasers, and moving ore from one place of storage to another once every few minutes. I can't really focus on a second screen for long, because I have to keep my directional scanner updating as often as I can. Naturally, I see nothing with each update, but you never see them coming. I'm not a fan of faux-tension, so I can only take so much before giving up. Two-thirds of a jet-can is my limit, apparently, which is more than I thought I'd achieve. I take the Retriever back to the tower, pull a Bustard hauler out to collect the ore from the jet-can, and store my rocky riches in the hangar. I'm alive! And so is the wormhole still. I swing past to take one last look, and seeing it wobbling away convinces me that I should take an early night after all.