The annoying wormhole connection is still up when I check in the following day. It's wobbly and old, but by my calculations there's still a good three hours left before it's likely to fold on its own, so I talk Berke into pulling out the Monolith to crash it. We've done a lot of hole collapsing in the past and have it down to a pretty quick process that rarely causes us too much stress.
What I failed to count on, however, was that hole had (apparently) seen a fair amount of traffic the night before -- I suspect that the Helios-class covops ship we spotted in our system last night was scouting a route to known space for some kind of beefy hauler that came through after we logged out, and after that kind of use, the very first trip through the wormhole with the Orca is enough to destabilize it somewhat -- not critically, but early enough into our process that I'm left wondering how much mass the jittery thing can withstand. Did we just barely destabilize it, or are we well into the end-game of the hole collapse? There's just no way to tell.
Well, there is one way to tell: keep going. Berke is a veteran hole-crasher, and isn't too stressed by the hole's stress -- if it strands him on the wrong side he'll "just scan a way out". Bold words, considering that our neighboring system only connects to low security known and additional class 2 wormhole space.
Nevertheless, we continue with the collapsing plan and manage to attract St. Murphy during our next pass: as I jump back into our home system with a battleship meant to help the orca with the process, the hole vanishes, leaving Berke on the wrong side.
Berke rolls up his sleeves and starts shoving money where his mouth is. Probes go out, the Monolith cloaks up so he can scan in relative security, and a few minutes later he has an exit to Lowsec.
At this point, he could keep looking for the system's persistent class-2 connection to see if it has a different (better) connection to known space, but he opts to pull in his probes and at least check out the exit he's already found, first.
His navcomp puts him in familiar regions of Gallente space when he jumps through the wormhole, with two jumpgates separating him from the safety of high-security space. A bit more research shows him that the systems he has to get through are relatively unoccupied; only a few registered pilots are active in the systems, with no incidents of violence reported in the last 24 hours.
"Should I go for it?" he asks Gor and CB.
"Have you got Warp Stabilizers on?" asks Gor.
"This is me, of course I do." Another check of the map. "In fact, I have more Warp Stabs on than there are enemy pilots in at least this first system."
"Then I'd go for it."
He does. As predicted, there are few pilots around, and his only face-to-face encounter comes in the form of a very startled-looking Bestower-class hauler. Within a few minutes, he's reached high security space and from there heads to the nearest major trading hub to dock up and log for the evening.