Undock from Jita, homeward trip planned and mapped, and align to the first stargate. This is all working out rather well, having sold a billion ISK of loot through a fortuitous wormhole, and we'll soon have the Revelation up and running properly. It may even be worth making a second trip for more fuel, given the ease of the route, rather than poking that second wormhole in C3a. Or I may need a backup plan.
I get back to the system in The Citadel and warp to the uh... Warp to the uh... There should be a wormhole leading back to Solitude right about here. Of course, it was sitting at half mass when I found it, but how dare someone else use the wormhole to their benefit and its destruction! Oh well, I suppose I'd better consider my options.
I could take the Bustard back to Solitude through stargates, but I don't much like this option immediately. The transport may be designed to operate in hostile space, but that doesn't guarantee its survival and I'd rather not lose what we've got inside its hold. Checking my region map also reveals that the high-sec area of Solitude, where our neighbouring class 3 w-space system exits to, is essentially just a big high-sec island surrounded by low-sec. It's not a welcoming region.
A second option is to simply dock in high-sec and wait for a better exit to appear on another day. This isn't a great option either, though, as I'll be stuck outside of w-space and without a scanning boat. I wouldn't be able to scout an exit for the Bustard's return, or do much whilst waiting in high-sec. It looks like my best option is to dock, drop to my pod, and head back to Solitude leaving the Bustard stranded outside of w-space.
I should be okay in my pod. It enters warp quickly, and only heading through low-sec will mean a lack of bubbles that would be the main and serious threat to my survival. I take the transport somewhere more convenient within The Citadel, drop to my pod, and set the autopilot. Twenty-six stargate hops. I wonder what I'll see on my mini Odyssey.
The first hop from high- to low-sec is in to Tama, which sounds familiar for the wrong reasons. All is quiet on the other side of the gate, although the gate leading out of Tama has a corpse on it. Not mine, thankfully. Jumping to the next system sees a bit of a scrap happening, however, but if they are fighting each other then they aren't fighting me. I move on.
Back to high-sec, and the next crossing to low-sec, oh, actually takes me in to null-sec Syndicate. That's what those deep-red boxes are on my route. I remember now. Now I'm starting to be concerned for my safety, enough to consider turning around, but I've come this far. I just hope there are no bubbles. Bubbles like the one I warp directly in to when crossing the system to the next stargate. Crap.
Thankfully, despite the wrecks around the stargate itself, no one is monitoring the drag bubble I find myself in. A bit of manoeuvring gets me clear, and I find a suitable planet to bounce off to get a direct route to the stargate. I really hope that I don't jump in to a field of bubbles encompassing the gate. I don't, not this time, but there are several more null-sec hops to negotiate.
I'm alone in the next system, which is good. Even if there are bubbles there are no pilots to take advantage of them. The following system has no pilots either, and it is only when I hit the null-sec border with low-sec that I see any more capsuleers. Sadly, it is the border system, which is probably a hot-bed of activity for trying to catch naive pilots like myself.
Even worse, the stargate I need to use to get to the relative safety of low-sec floats in the middle of empty space, nowhere near a planet, and far out of directional scanner range. I can't check to see if there are bubbles on the gate, or ships, and I can't approach it from an unexpected vector. I suppose I'll just have to suck it and see. I warp to the stargate, and am pleasantly relieved to have my pod drop on top of it, no bubbles, no one else around. I hop to low-sec.
I can't quite believe I made it through that pocket of null-sec. I'm glad I didn't try it in the Bustard. Now it's just a few more hops through low-sec, to high-sec, and back through the wormhole to C3a and home. Fin's been busy whilst I've been travelling, scanning and exploring wormholes in neighbouring systems to our exit, hoping to get a connection to the stranded Bustard, but with no luck. Never mind. We have our little cache ready to be picked up, just not today, and at least our potential ISK got converted to actual ISK.