The sites are returning. A new rock field gives me something else to resolve than just our static wormhole, but not an option of system to explore, so I jump to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system. A clear result from my directional scanner on the K162 isn't too discouraging, as only two planets are in range, even if my notes don't make me expect much to be happening elsewhere in the system. Nine months ago this C3 was used as a silo system, and even if I expect silos to be a long-term investment there appears to be change. Exploring sees that four towers have been reduced to two, and there is no substantial silo presence.
The silos may be gone but the level of activity remains low, as my blanket scan reveals no ships. There are thirteen anomalies and fourteen signatures, though, and I resolve an astonishing six wormholes to go with our K162. But as promising as that sounds, all I have found is a K162 from null-sec k-space, a K162 from class 2 w-space that's at the end of its life, a K162 from low-sec empire space, a second EOL K162 from class 2 w-space, a second K162 from low-sec, and the static exit to high-sec. What a disappointment.
I exit through the static wormhole to be in a high-sec system in the Placid region, which offers a grand view of the Cloud Ring and nothing more, except for a safe route home. This lets me head back to w-space and poke my nose through a dying wormhole to C2a, now that I have a safety net. Spat out over seven kilometres from the wormhole in C2a and sat on the cosmic signature makes me suspect nothing has happened here for a while, but a tower, Proteus, and some Sleeper wrecks on d-scan says otherwise. I need to rethink my theory. Not now, of course, as I want to find that strategic cruiser first.
A lack of anomalies in C2a will make finding the Proteus more difficult, but I have space to warp out to and launch probes covertly. Warping back to the inner system has the Proteus at the local tower, which may mean I was spotted entering the system, but I don't know that for sure. I start looking for the site with the wrecks, narrowing down its bearing and range with d-scan, and clustering my scanning probes around where I gauge the site to be. Confident that I can now find the site whenever I choose to call in my probes, I wait outside the local tower and watch the Proteus.
I wait and watch, but the Proteus does nothing. He could be distracted for a few minutes more, so I decide to scan and hopefully get the site bookmarked and reconnoitred early. I call in my probes and scan, but get a negative result. I expand the range of my probes and scan again, but still nothing. I'm confident I wouldn't be quite so wrong in my estimation of the site's location, which indicates the site has despawned. I would suggest the site's despawning is what the Proteus was waiting for, expect the pilot goes off-line moments after I recall my probes. I suppose I lost nothing by scanning.
The Proteus is gone, and whether he was responsible for the wrecks or just for scaring off whoever made them, C2a is dead. The wormhole will be too, if I dawdle, so I turn my boat around and jump back to C3a whilst I can. That leaves me another EOL K162 to class 2 w-space to risk, or at least I think it does. I approach the wormhole and try to jump, but even though I start to get sucked in I am spat right back out again. I would say that was pretty lucky, as a minute earlier and I would have been left scanning for a route home. And I suppose it shows that, just as they are opened, wormholes collapse from origin to destination.
I have no more w-space to explore, so I'll head to null-sec instead. The K162 sends me an empty system in the Kalevala Expanse, which lets me rat and scan. I find a nifty clump of rat battleships and cruisers, which whilst drones are still worth popping, whereas scanning only reveals some rocks and a drone site. Once the rats are gone there's nothing else for me here. I could explore the low-sec systems but simply head home to rest, as I've actually had a good evening already. I've explored and scanned plenty of wormholes, pseudo-hunted a ship in a site, been spat out of a collapsing wormhole, and ratted in null-sec. I've done a bit of everything.