Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Journey to Null

The nice thing about EVE is that something as trivial as travel can be noteworthy.

My new Alliance and her friends are moving to Curse to (eventually) take a piece of the Russian pie. I had hoped to pod jump there with a medical clone, but the CEO has been away and hasn't set up an office. I decide to make the trek.

I fit a Vigil with some speed mods, a prototype cloaking device, and some salvagers, and I plot the 31-jump route, 11 of which are through null sec.

I am fairly comfortable with low-sec, using the Star Map for activity statistics and celestials for gate observation. As I traverse the systems, I create tactical bookmarks with my speedy Vigil in case I'm ever here again.

A friend of mine in the alliance, Squrriel, wants to come scout for me. I assure him the route is pretty quiet and that I'm in a cheap ship with a fresh clone--no need to risk his Stealth Bomber. He insists, and by the time I've made my last low-sec bookmark on the gate to null, he catches up.

We avoid jumping from gate to gate to evade any drag bubbles. While in an empty system, he warps to the out-gate, and warns me that there are NPCs camping. "No worry," I tell him. "I'm not concerned with rats." I warp to 100 km since I'm making bookmarks at 200, and I'm startled as the NPC cruiser begins to lock me. Impressed with its range, but ultimately dismissive, I turn on my MWD, and do a 180.

In a blink of an eye my shields are gone. Frozen in disbelief, I watch 2 more shots destroy my tiny frigate.

Shocked, my pod lingers as my friend frantically searches for a station. "Forget it. Let's just run it," I demand. He jumps through the gate as I bounce off a planet and back. The path is clear, and within another two jumps, I dock in a station and grab a rookie ship to at least buffer one blow, should the situation arise.

We land in a system with 11 in local, the most we've seen since low-sec. He cloaks his Anathema and warps to the out-gate, 70 AU away. Not wanting to be on the gate when my jump cloak wears, I warp to a planet.

"F*ck, a bubble!" He's pulled out of warp, but we both know he is cloaked. Unfortunately the little spider littered cargo cans all over his web, and Squrriel is bumped out of warp. "I'm dead. Pod and all." He wakes up back in high-sec. After consoling him, I resolve to make the final 6 jumps alone, and I warp off to the gate.

I land in a bubble 90 km from the gate! Surprised that I'm not a horrible ball of fire, I make my way to the edge, noticing that there are two bubble traps in front of this gate. I'm not sure if there were only one guy manning both bubbles, if he took pity on my rookie ship, or if he went AFK after eating a juicy Stealth Bomber, but by some miracle I escape to a planet.

I open the System map to take a look at the layout, and my out-gate is well above the ecliptic plane. The system itself is pretty small, and most celestials are bunched up. The two bubbles are angled well enough to catch not only people coming from the in-gate, but also smarter pilots who bounce to a planet first.

I warp to a moon as far away from the other gate as possible, hoping to squeeze past the trap. I align and enter what is possibly the longest warp I've ever experienced. I land at 0 on the gate with a giant grin, jump through, and exhale.

The remaining six systems are empty, and just as cresting a mountain to gaze upon a bountiful valley, I enter my destination system to see local filled with blues.

There is a bit of confusion as to where the cloning vats are, and it would be hilarious to die while searching for them, but I eventually dock up and install a medical clone.

Now to fit a ship.

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