It's almost therapeutic to get back to mining. Maya Nao had once again followed me down to our home system in Null Sec and was again out in a Retriever beside my Procurer mining in an anomaly. Anomalies are best for mining here in Null not just for their sheer size, but they also contain some of the most valuable ores in New Eden. Most people refer to them as the ABC ores; Arkonor, Bistot, and Crokite. The rest here are pretty valuable as well, Mercoxit being the only source of Morphite known so far, a key material used in mostly Tech 2 Equipment and ships.
It wasn't just Maya and I out here. A lot of our Corp mates were floating around the belt, mostly in Barges and Exhumers of various types, all slowly eating away at the ores around our ships. I pulled up beside Koswin, one of our Directors and started shooting rocks. We were there for a few minutes when Maya sent me a message over fleet comms.
Maya Nao: I'm full. Heading to the Compression Array.
Sain Darkwing: Already?
Maya Nao: Yes. This is why I like it here.
Sain Darkwing: True. The Rorqual boosts are amazing.
This is one of the great perks of being in a Corporation like this. You get the best mining boosts from a Rorqual pilot that sits at the local POS and you make a killing at mining. I was busy daydreaming about how much ISK we were making when one of the lesser favorite things about Null Sec arrived. Pirates.
"Angels are here!" Koswin snapped over voice coms, "Drones out people." Maya heard and stayed put at the POS for now, just finishing compressing the load of ore she had and putting it in the Personal Hangar Array. Her drone skills weren't that up to par for the local Pirates as she had trained primarily for a boosting Orca. Something her current assignment couldn't make the most of.
I sent the order and a fleet of Valkyrie II's launched from my drone bay, circling around my Procurer as the small fleet of Angels closed in. I moved slightly closer to the rest of the ships around me, hoping to spread incoming damage around the fleet and keep all of our drones concentrated together, yet all the while watching my distance to the asteroid I was mining and making sure I didn't go out of range. The local pirates weren't that big of a threat, but it was best to get rid of the annoyance before too long.
As they closed in range, I activated my hardeners and started targeting their ships. I saw my fleet mates drones start chewing through shields and ordered mine to do the same. The small, unmanned crafts shot forward and started attacking the BattleCruisers and Battleships that came to try and ruin our day, but with our greater numbers they were no match for us. Once the last one went down, all the drones on the field darted back and recalled to their respective drone bays, and I turned off my shield hardeners with a huff. I don't think I was even shot at that time.
"Are they gone?" Maya asked.
"Yep." I responded. Short communications but it was time to get back to business. I saw her warp in beside me and start shooting rocks again, repeating the cycle to fill her ore hold.
Bad luck struck again at the sound of an audible alarm from a program called "Near" I had installed because I was not very attentive to the intel channel
"Hostile enemy reported two jumps out."
It made me jump a little even inside my pod. My ship responded by igniting the engines to full power for a second then going dark again. I drifted forward a hundred meters or so and stopped once more, my attention going to our coalition Intel channel.
There is a big difference between local Pirates and wandering Neutral Capsuleers, or 'Neuts' as they are called. Pirates are not flown by Capsuleers but rather by a crew who are nowhere near as efficient as a Capsuleer neural interface. Pirate ships are sluggish, stick to one target usually, and rarely ever warp scramble in asteroid belts and mining anomalies. Other Capsuleers, on the other hand, are slippery, cunning and will use any means necessary to remove you from existence. Even in smaller ships, a single Neut is a big threat. Especially when they could be carrying a Black Ops Cynosaural Generator. A single pilot can fly into a swarm of mining ships, use a warp disruptor bubble, then use his Cyno to allow other Black ops ships to portal to his position and quickly outnumber us. Even if they do not have a Cyno, a single ship can catch one or two of us and cause some serious damage and cause credible loss of ISK to someone.
"Hostile enemy reported one jump out."
"Time to go." Koswin says over comms, "Neut next door. Everyone safe up." This is standard practice to save your ship and limit the number of potential targets for the unfriendly Capsuleer. All of the ships in the Anomaly slowly turned to point to the POS and one by one they suddenly burst off into warp in a stream of blue light and a dull pop as the wake from their warp drives hit my ship and reverberated off the hull. It's the only thing I can think of as to why I can hear other people warp off in the vacuum of space. Still, it's interesting to see a dozen or so ships all warp off at roughly the same time in the same direction.
As my ship enters warp, Maya's Retriever somehow matches my speed and follows me into the same warp bubble, gently flying along beside me in the tunnel before we exit inside the POS shields among the rest of the fleet. A few of us started bouncing off each other but there was plenty of room inside the shield.
Everyone stared at the local com channel as every ship in system would show their pilot's name in the list. A pilot appeared that had no friendly tag, and someone in fleet reported it in the intel channel.
"Enemy is present in your system." Yes. I know. I can see that.
Voice comms became active with other pilots in the system trying to figure out what kind of ship he was flying, where he is and that sort of thing, trying to organize a defense against the unknown threat. Several of them undocked and gave chase as the offending pilot turned around and left the system in the same direction he came from, but some of our more combat oriented pilots in our corporation smelled a little blood in the water so to speak and was off hunting.
The mining ships around me started zipping off into space towards the anomaly once more.
With great reward comes great risk...