Having some extra money to spend can make people do interesting things. There I was, with a pile of cash in the bank from my newfound career salvaging, with no particular widget I wanted to buy. Believe me, that’s not a situation I’ve found myself in very often. I could now buy Minmatar frigates by the half dozen, and with the single exception of a Rifter, replace them all with about half an hour’s work. Surely, there must be some fun in this somewhere.
Time for an adventure. Strike out into the unknown, as they say.
I had been playing around in what’s called Empire Space all this time, the area where ubiquitous CONCORD police kept order. I no longer paid much attention to the orange-background icons that indicated bad boys or girls, even if they were miscreant bullies who robbed someone’s grandmother crossing the street. Even the ones with little icon skulls that denoted a price was on their head drew nothing but a yawn. Ho hum….
But then there’s the mysterious NullSec, EVE Online’s equivalent of the Wild West. There are no cops out there; it’s a place where one takes one’s virtual life in one’s own virtual hands. People in the forums kept saying it was the place to be.
Well, let’s go see.
I bought the cheapest frigate I could find and set it up to run away — I knew I couldn’t win any kind of fight out in NullSec. I fit a salvager just in case I could stay alive long enough to use it and get back. If I got lucky, I might make a little money along the way, but I definitely thought of this enterprise more as a sightseeing trip.
My 11-year-old daughter loves EVE Online. She has an alternate character that she plays on my account, but probably more often than that, she hangs out with me while I play or runs things while I’m busy. She’d take my ship and go for a round of salvaging while I made dinner, that kind of thing. Her monologue while ratting and salvaging is hysterical: Imagine threats worthy of Genghis Khan emanating from a mere slip of a girl as big around as a pencil. Other than slaughtering NPCs, she also loves reading and analyzing, and she’s a serious information junky. While I cooked dinner, I set my daughter to work finding us a nice LowSec system, adjacent to NullSec. One with a base and services, something more or less complete. I’d know where my EVE destiny would take me by the time the pancakes were done.
I finished cooking, we ate, and with dinner out of the way, we sat down to go.
With autopilot turned off, half a dozen jumps in HighSec space got us into LowSec, where I was careful to “warp to 0.” That is to say, I got us as close to the stargate as possible and quickly jumped through. On the other side, I would promptly locate the next destination gate and “warp to 0” again. Finally, we arrived at our destination system, one with a security rating of 0.1.
It was quiet, with just one or two ships flying about. I was paranoid as I flew right next to a station, actually wondering whether I could dock before being destroyed. One of the ships had a name that struck me funny, so I struck up a conversation in chat. Nothing seemed threatening. Fair enough.
I warped over to an asteroid belt and was set upon pretty quickly by rats that decidedly out-gunned me. I escaped by warping back to the station, where things were still calm.
“Nice quiet system, eh?” I said to my daughter.
She nodded. “Oh, yeah.”
“We could hang out here a while, don’t you think?”
“Sure. Say, look at that stargate there. The one with the funny name. I bet it goes to NullSec.”
I was curious. “You really think?”
“Of course, Dad. All the funny-named stars are in NullSec.”
“I knew that.” What an impertinent little assistant! How did she know that? Who’s the expert here, anyway? She’s only 11.
She rolled her eyes.
“Well, let’s go then, Smarty Pants.” Alpha-male bravado was rising. I was in charge here, wasn’t I? Nervous? Who’s nervous?
I sent the ship through the gate. Yep, it was NullSec alright. There were wrecks of small frigates all over the screen. For about five seconds, I thought “Salvage! I could make a bundle here just going around and…”
Then the missiles hit. Two-thirds of my shields were gone on the first hit. My daughter and I started laughing. Salvage? What the heck was I thinking? This was a gate camp! The next hit finished my shields and was into my armor. I tried warping somewhere, anywhere. No chance. I was warp scrambled. I double clicked on space just to try to get some distance. We were in tears now, laughing at how silly the whole situation was. We knew we might not survive very long on this trip, but we hoped it would at least be more than 20 seconds. One more hit splattered my ship all over the screen. The next thing I knew, I was waking up one jump from home.
We just looked at each other, chuckling at the misadventure of it all. We had had a lot of fun setting this thing up, getting the ship and outfitting it, and picking the system. We spent an hour preparing and 20 minutes getting there. And it was over in less than 30 seconds. What a joke!
But you know what? I had the best partner in the game, and I hadn’t laughed that hard in months. I guess having some extra money could be fun after all.
— Will Collum
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