'I am hauling.' So says my glorious leader as I come on-line, immediately indicating that our wormhole is open and the constellation scanned, at least to some extent. But the wormholes are ageing, Fin 'being cavalier about the exit, as I know we can get another'. The static exit to high-sec in our neighbouring class 3 system is at the end of its life, Fin thinking it soon to die, and although she's right that we will get a replacement I can't help but remind myself of the high-sec islands in Aridia.
I can no more stop Fin than she me, so I take my cloaky Loki strategic cruiser through our static wormhole to take a look around, potentially prepared to resolve a new entrance for my colleague. What I first find is a weird-looking system. Most of the planets are clustered close to the star, with one lonely, moonless plant orbiting much further out, some 60 AU away. It's quick to check that there's no occupation, my directional scanner being clear within range of all the moons—Fin suspects a recent eviction—and with some good anomalies in the system maybe we can make some ISK once the wormhole dies.
That's assuming, of course, that the static exit is the only wormhole in the system, otherwise making ISK won't be safe. As Fin continues to haul minerals around, I scan. Four gas sites, the static exit, our K162, and, oop, another wormhole before two more pockets of gas. Warping to the second wormhole is a pretty disappointing experience. Not only is the N968 outbound connection to class 3 w-space a poor result because of the frustrating dumbscovery scanner, but it may well have been inactive until I warped to it. Now there's no doubt, and a second system connects to this one.
Still, the second wormhole gives me more w-space to roam. Jumping in to C3b sees the usual d-scan result in class 3 w-space of a tower and no ships, and the tower, when located, is new, owned by a tiny corporation, and is lacking defences. Maybe we can make a diversion in to this system for some Sleeper combat before tidying up in C3a too. Again, the plan revolves around there being no other wormholes connecting to this system, so I'll need to scan here too.
Before I can launch probes I get the feeling that this system isn't as inactive as it first looked. Call it a hunch, or call it the Noctis salvager blipping on d-scan. Either way, I need to scout further. And warping to a distant planet finds a second tower, along with the Noctis, three Iteron V haulers, and a shuttle. The Noctis is piloted, naturally, as is one of the haulers, but the Iteron has clearly been inactive for a while. I'm more curious about what the salvager has been up to.
There's nothing else in the system. No other towers, no other ships, and no sign of any wrecks. Of course, if the Noctis returned from somewhere then there won't be any wrecks to find, if he's not rubbish at his task, but more exploring sees that there was nowhere for a salvaging ship to be that was out of d-scan range of the K162 except this second tower, and the Noctis had no reason to warp past me. Maybe a fleet is active in another system, and the salvager will go out to help them again. I should scan to find out.
A blanket scan of the system reveals five anomalies and three signatures, and I think I can scan the two unknown signatures in the inner system without the pilots at the tower knowing. This is made easier when the Iteron blinks off-line, leaving just the Noctis. I'll be quick, in case he moves. But a subsequent blanket scan has one of the cosmic signatures disappear too. That's a little disconcerting, although I've not seen or detected any massive ships that may have collapsed the wormhole I used to get here. I hope it's okay.
Perhaps the static wormhole was at the end of its life and has been replaced. Two more blanket scans see no more changes, so I scan the one signature I don't yet know about to resolve, what a surprise, the static exit to low-sec. It looks healthy, but not pristine. On top of that, a new signature has now appeared under my probes, back in their blanket configuration. It's all go in this system.
Resolving the new signature finds another wormhole, of course. It's a K162 from class 5 w-space, with no one obviously having come through it yet. I loiter for a minute, and when still no one comes through I decide to check the low-sec exit before poking in to C5a. I warp, jump to a system in Genesis—with two extra signatures if I end up needing them—and return to see what's up with the class 5 system.
What's up is that the wormhole crackles before I get myself sorted enough to jump through. An Orca appears from C5a in to C3b, returning immediately, and the mass of the industrial command ship drops the wormhole's stability to half mass. I get the feeling this wasn't his first trip. Maybe I should wait on this side of the wormhole for now. And so I wait and, after a little longer than polarisation effects last, the wormhole crackles again. It's the Orca a second time, who jumps straight back once more, this time collapsing the wormhole and leaving me floating in empty space.
I'm not entirely sure how the Orca killed the wormhole from its half-mass state with one further jump, but loitering for longer than is necessary sees no panicked pilot, isolated from his C5 w-space home, shedding his session-change cloak and launching probes to take him to empire space. Maybe I can look up the numbers on that wormhole later. With nothing to catch I take one last look at the tower in C3b before moving on. And at the tower I see the Noctis swap in to a Drake battlecruiser, tempting me not to leave but to linger.
What's the pilot planning to get up to in the Drake? Nothing, it seems, and quite a bit of nothing at that. Meanwhile, Fin's repeated hauling through the same wormholes has attracted some attention, a Manticore stealth bomber catching her ship and ripping it apart. Well, that's what we get for being predictable. But maybe we can also look a bit stupid, in case the Manticore hangs around expecting stupidity on the part of an industrial pilot.
I leave the idling Drake to his nothing and return to C3a, warping to the, well, ostensibly to the high-sec wormhole but actually ending up in empty space. The connection was closer to collapse than works for us. Still, maybe the Manticore is still around, from through a new wormhole, and is watching to see if a new hauler is warped to where there now isn't even a wormhole. We don't want to disappoint him.
Fin fits a Badger with some more shields than they generally have and warps it to where the wormhole should be, trying to bait the Manticore in to a second attack. But nothing. She turns around and heads home, carelessly dropping short of our wormhole, but still nothing. It seems the Manticore was from high-sec, now no longer connected to our w-space constellation, almost confirmed when I scan afresh and find only the new high-sec exit and no other wormholes.
I check the exit system for C3a's new static wormhole. It leads to a system in Kor-Azor, five hops to Amarr. That's a pretty decent replacement for a wormhole that was only two hops from Amarr, and can keep Fin's industrial activities running. I doubt anyone's watching this connection just yet. Talking about watching, I head back to C3b to see if the Drake is doing anything yet. He's still there, floating idly in the tower, and although there's a bit of movement, getting my hopes up, it's just the ship re-aligning itself in to its inactive attitude. Why am I still here?