A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.'
Some days as a Pirate it feels like I've taken a vow of poverty. I never actually run out of ISK, but I never seem to have much of it laying around. One of the ways I've found for making a steady, if still meager, income is by picking up just about anything not nailed down. You'd be surprised how many people don't bother with looting the wrecks as they rack up bounties on Lowsec rats. I once managed to find a Faction Module worth 40 million ISK on one such rat, and have obsessively checked wrecks ever since. I'm not here to talk to you today about taking loot that others have discarded, but rather taking loot that others still wanted.
Having recently gotten a taste of Lowsec miners, I had gone out hunting for more. In order to do this, I had to start thinking like one. This is an activity I don't dare indulge in for long periods of time, but in short bursts it should be safe. However, if I ever was to try mining in Lowsec, I'd do the only sensible thing; I'd mine in a Lowsec Pocket. The term Lowsec Pocket (as I'll use it anyway) is an area of Lowsec separated from the more contiguous majority of Lowsec systems by one or more Highsec Systems.
The perception of these systems is that you're safer than in the wide-open reaches of Lowsec because Outlaws won't be able to cross the intervening Highsec. The reality, considering I was roaming around in a pocket of six such systems, is somewhat different. There are still three scenarios you have to watch out for in these pockets.
The first, was me. An Outlaw pilot cruising around in an Interceptor just looking to cause trouble has very little to fear by moving through Highsec. Barring unanticipated circumstances, any fast ship can simply warp to the next gate and jump on contact with little risk to its safety. The second scenario involves a Pirate who is just crazy prepared and has moved ships into the pocket beforehand with a hauling alt so that he has easy access to larger ships whenever he needs them there. The third is that you encounter what I like to refer to as Weekend Warriors. Pilots who spend most of their time elsewhere ratting up their Security Status, but come to Lowsec to experience the excitement that is solo and small gang PvP.
I was not crazy prepared, and in fact had never been in this Lowsec pocket before. That also meant I had no bookmarks prepared when I arrived safely (ironicly enough I'm much more worried by moving through Highsec than Lowsec) in the first Lowsec system of this pocket. There was only one other pilot in Local, no ships on scan and 15 asteroid belts for me to scan down and check for ships. I picked a belt at random, put myself in warp, dropped a bookmark within scan range of the gate I'd just come through and another once I was close to the cluster of belts.
Having been fiddling with the People & Places window I wasn't using my Directional Scanner while in warp, so imagine my surprise when the random belt I'd warped to also contained a Procurer. Surprised doesn't even do it justice, in fact stunned is probably a better word for it. Thankfully for me, this wasn't my first rodeo, and instinct kicked in enabling me to lock and orbit the Procurer even while I tried to process the odds of me randomly picking an asteroid belt in a system and it having a Mining Barge sitting at the warp in.
As I orbited my target I sent him an invitation to our ransom channel and began preparing my scariest Yarrr!!! to help move negotiations along. That's when I was introduced to another one of life's great disappointments for a Pirate...
So the Procurer safely warped away from me. Not the end of the world, as I hadn't exactly done a lot to earn the kill. I offered him a "Well played, sir." in local and went on my merry way. It was only a few jumps later that I was staring at a Hyperion on Scan towards a belt and trying to round up enough DPS to get over here and help me with it.
It seemed the universe was not working with me, however, as it wasn't long before we were joined in local by some of those aforementioned Weekend Warriors. Of course, I noticed the spike in local. I noticed the Ishkur, Hurricane and Loki appear on scan at the gate they came in through. I noticed them warp to a safe spot in the middle of the system. The Hyperion pilot? Not so lucky.
When I saw them begin appearing on scan at the belt, I went in for a closer look. Warping my Interceptor in at 100km on the Belt, I started orbiting and watching the fireworks in the distance. It didn't take long until the Hyperion was reduced to wreckage, but not before I witnessed what seemed to be the Pod ejecting and warping away. It was then that the trio began burning towards me.
"Wait a minute," I thought, "they can't be that dumb. They're going to try to catch an Interceptor that has a 100km head start on them?" But that was exactly what they were going to try to do. Deciding to see if I couldn't turn a little profit off this Hyperion after all, I set course away from them and set my speed to slightly less than their fastest ship, the Ishkur.
By the time the Ishkur was 50km away from me, his two friends slightly farther behind, I was now 150km from the site of their previous battle. Which is exactly how far I needed to be to warp to the Hyperions wreck. A moment later I was transferring everything that had survived from the wreckage into my cargohold and then warping to a safespot.
Judging from the response I got in local, they were less than pleased with my actions. The stinging of insults to my man-hood for running away from them was somewhat soothed by the thought of how much these Large Blasters were going to fetch in Jita. My venture into this Lowsec pocket may not have net me any kills, but it I did come away with ISK, and I didn't even have to waste any ammo to get it.
PS This post was originally scheduled to come out last Thursday. Then Blogger had some sort of Meltdown. When I was finally able to log in over the weekend, this post was chilling as an unpublished draft. Hopefully my posting schedule will get back to normal this week.