A whole host of exploration bookmarks is waiting for me today. A K162 from class 5 w-space is still here, still in a critically unstable state, but now it's also reaching the end of its life. It's pretty sickly. Our static wormhole looks fine, however. But before I explore I have prudence looking over my shoulder again, telling me the bookmarks are older than yesterday's were, so I scan the home system briefly. Since the earlier scout was active, only some new gas clouds have popped up, almost sensing Aii's arrival and desire to suck them in to his harvesters. I can even explore ahead to sate my exploration itch whilst making sure no one is coming his way as he collects the gas. Or I could, if Aii weren't in high-sec empire space at the moment.
I'll still push ahead, only now I'm scouting to get Aii an entrance to w-space. That should be easy enough, as the bookmarks point a way through our neighbouring class 3 system and to a class 2 system with an exit to the Tash-Murkon region. That sounds high-seccish. But looking closer shows the wormhole bookmark to be tagged as 'EOL', and if that was made around ten hours ago I can't expect the connection to remain. I swing past to take a look and, sure enough, the wormhole is dead. It wasn't a static connection for this system either, so there won't be a replacement. But there is a static connection in the C3, and Aii fears no low-sec, but reconnoitring the wormhole shows that too to be EOL and perhaps not long for this constellation.
I'm no fan of stale constellations. All is discovered, everything is dead or dying, and as a result I have little to do. A quick scan of the C3 has no new wormholes appeared either. If I want to do anything, or get Aii home, I will need to collapse our static wormhole and start again, which is always an option. But collapsing a wormhole takes time and entails some level of risk, particularly solo, so it's not really an action I want to take as a matter of course. To exacerbate the circumstances, our static wormhole is not fresh, so I have no reliable measure of what ships have been through so far, adding their mass with each jump. The C5 K162 in our home system could also be a source of ships passing through the wormhole, adding more uncertainty. This could end badly if I don't take care of the numbers.
One return trip with an Orca goes as expected, but the second outbound trip in the industrial command ship stresses the wormhole to half-mass. That's a little early, and so unexpected. But rather than think about how much mass I have pushed through the wormhole, if I now consider how much mass can potentially still be pushed through I get a better idea of what I need to do. It doesn't matter than I've taken 900,000,000 kg through the wormhole with three Orca trips, what matters is that it took between 650,000,000 kg and 900,000,000 kg to destabilise the wormhole. That means the wormhole has between 950,000,000 kg and 700,000,000 kg of its mass allowance remaining, give or take.
On my subsequent return to the home system, the jump adding another 300,000,000 kg, there remains between 650,000,000 kg and 400,000,000 kg of mass allowance left. Viewing it this way gives a much clearer estimate of what needs to be done. I can push the Orca through again with negligible risk of the wormhole collapsing, and bringing it back may even collapse the connection. If not, I can use our crashing heavy interdictor to finish the task. It seems easy given the right perspective. One more trip with the Orca has it pass both ways through the wormhole safely, and although the wormhole doesn't collapse it does become critically unstable. My numbers were good enough. One trip with the Devoter, bubbling to exit light and burning its oversized reheat to return heavy, kills the connection. I can start the evening afresh.
I scan the home system, as I float near the still here, still dying C5 K162, and have my probes return one signature less than expected. But the gravimetric site from a few days ago hasn't disappeared, the K162 has. It's no longer on my overview, even though the pulsating throb of the connection's weakened state persists in the vacuum of space for a little longer. Now I am really isolated and alone. And I just made myself a little sad. Maybe I can find some new friends to shoot in the fresh constellation. I resolve the static wormhole and jump to the new neighbouring class 3 system.
A well-equipped tower but no ships appear on my directional scanner in C3a, and opening the system map shows there to be nothing else to see. Scanning finds even less, with a single anomaly and two signatures, which will be our K162 and the static wormhole. I imagine the anomaly is brand new and not long for this system. I resolve the static connection and, naturally, it's an exit to low-sec. But, in this most basic of constellations, does it lead to Aridia? No, disappointingly not. I exit to be in a faction warfare system in Essence, a few hops from high-sec. That should be good for Aii when he gets back, but maybe I can do better.
Scanning the low-sec system reveals a bounty of signatures, but I'm not sure if they will be useful or related to faction warfare. Resolving them finds out. I have a wormhole connecting low-sec to low-sec, some rocks, a magnetometric site, some more rocks, an outbound connection to class 3 w-space, a K162 from class 2 w-space, another magnetometric site, an outbound connection to class 5 w-space, and some Serpentis rats. I'd say that's a good result. If only initial scouting and collapsing the wormhole hadn't take so long, as I could then do more than poking my nose in to each w-space system. But here I go.
C2a is my first destination, where a tower floats somewhere, bereft of ships, and with nothing more to see. That's one system explored. Back to low-sec and in to C3b has me out of d-scan range of all but the furthest planet. I launch probes and blanket the system, if only to get an idea of what's out there, and see three ships in the direction I'm warping. D-scan updates me to show them as three haulers: a Bestower, Iteron, and Hoarder. I start tingling with expectation, only to find the tower and see none of the ships are piloted. And that's it for this system. Back to low-sec and in to C5a. I know from ten months ago that the static in this system leads to more class 5 w-space, so I'm certainly not about to go looking for that, and even though a corporation has now moved in no one is currently home.
Without scanning further I have only one more wormhole to check, and that's the intra-low-sec connection. I may as well take a look, as it could be more convenient in bringing Aii home. I jump through and, ah, here's Aridia! I knew I'd find it somewhere. Okay, so this isn't better for Aii, but I am alone in a low-sec system, so I may as well take a minute to pop a rat. In fact, I'll scan and rat, because ratting alone is likely to bore me silly. It's a good choice, as the nine bountiful signatures keep me occupied as I bounce between rock fields in a vain search for a rat battleship. I find only a couple of cruisers amongst the frigates, and only a single wormhole from the nine signatures.
The wormhole is a nifty outbound connection, and holds an occupied but inactive class 2 system behind it, which will have another link to k-space. But if I don't have time to scan C3b, from the first low-sec system, I don't have time to scan here. That's okay, as Aii reappears and is more than happy with his simple eight-hop journey to the entrance in Essence. With Aii happy, I'm happy, as bringing him home means I have accomplished something this evening. Given what little else was out here tonight, it's good to know my efforts haven't been wasted.