Penny Ibramovic checked out of space station Haatamo to jump to strange new systems, to seek out new agents and new clusters of rats to kill, to boldly go where everyone else has been some years before me. My choice of agents offering me level two missions first took me to the near-by system of Niyabainen, where a PR man got me to take out a rat or two and then deliver some mining parts half-way across the region. Luckily, half-way across the region is still only three or four jumps if taking an appropriate route, so it wasn't too time consuming. I then left the PR fellow and sought a different level two contact, this time taking me to the Saila system in The Citadel to hook up with an agent in security. I was hoping that I would not only get missions that were more attuned to a capsuleer piloting a Caracal with multiple missile bays but also that I would get better rewarded for my efforts.
It was on my mind that level two missions would be more dangerous but that the rewards for success would be at least as good as I was used to with high-quality level one agents. I left the PR agent because the idea of increased reward didn't seem to be the case. My first mission or two with the agent in the security division didn't seem too positive either. The missions were certainly a little more dangerous, pitting me against more aggressive enemies of the state, but the reward money for completing missions successfully was underwhelming. The four missions I completed to that point had netted me maybe 150,000 ISK, which is about what I was getting for a single mission with the quality 18 level one agent. I was hoping that I could better advance my standing and wallet by taking on level two missions, but so far it looked like I could be better served by running the now-unchallenging level one missions.
Without a sense of progression there is little reason to continue jumping in to a space pilot's seat, so it was good that I persevered and picked up another mission. This time the reward was around 130,000 ISK, getting closer to what I had been getting before, and this was from an agent with a quality level of -14, so moving up to positive levels should net a healthy profit indeed. I have a suspicion that new contacts test your mettle before trusting that you're capable of getting your hands dirty, giving simple missions for little money until you've proved yourself. It's understandable, if a little frustrating, and at least now I have a level two agent that I can work with without feeling ripped off.
A couple of the level two missions I was sent on had me eradicating a drone threat in the system, and I worked out a difference between rats and drones: drones won't actively engage you from a distance. Drones seem quite happy being drones, allowing me to happily sift through the wrecks for minerals and salvage at my leisure without worrying about the second pocket of drones some 50 km away, as that other pocket will simply drone away without bothering me until I get too close. I need to destroy all of them to complete the mission, but it cuts down the time to clean up and salvage if I don't have to travel back-and-forth after the fight.
More money was made from salvaging, although a little unexpectedly. My first salvaging module was plucked from drifting wreckage, which made it easy to find and gave me a skill training plan. Finding another Salvager I module on the market, to equip a second ship, wasn't as easy. Whilst it should be somewhere under 'ship equipment' it is far from obvious what kind of ship equipment it is, and it doesn't help that there is apparently only one type of salvaging module so that it sits in a class of equipment where you would not think to look. It was only through a search of the available items that I found one. Because of this, when a fellow capsuleer asked in the local communication channel where he could get a salvaging module I felt it a duty to share my information, hunting them down in the market again before pointing out precisely how to locate one to this other chap. He seemed quite grateful, but even so imagine my surprise when my wallet blinked soon after and I found a 100,000 ISK gratuity!
Just as I found the salvaging module serendipitously, I came across another useful system yesterday, but through different means than sifting through wreckage. After I got my Caracal and saw the difference in processing power and power grid offered over a frigate I wondered what I could do with it all. One of my thoughts was to upgrade my standard launchers to heavy launchers, giving a big boost in firepower. I had a look at the heavy launchers for sale and they certainly seemed to need a ship larger than a frigate to control and power, but they also seemed only just out of the capacity of my cruiser. I could train some skills to bring power or processor needs down a few percentage points, but I was happy enough throwing around light missiles for the time being and trained in some skills that looked more pressing.
As chance would have it, pΘtshΘt casually mentioned co-processors in a recent post and wondered if one would give me enough processing power, with some to spare, to fit my Caracal out with heavy launchers without sacrificing any of the currently fitted systems. I hadn't seen a co-processor before and either hadn't thought to see if they existed or didn't know where to look, but a quick examination of the market showed me their capabilities. I had the required skills to use them, and the boost offered by just one would let me change to heavy launchers. On top of that, they sit in a low equipment slots, so I wouldn't even need to swap out any modules to fit one. A quick bit of skill training in heavy missiles later, carried out whilst piloting to a system with a bustling market to pick up the launchers, some ammunition, and the co-processor, and I have a rather more menacing cruiser than before.
Now I just need to work out if the puny damage I was inflicting on the drones with my heavy missiles was because their shields have huge resistances, I was too close to some of them, or our relative velocities had an effect on the missiles' explosions. I suspect it's the former reason, as once the shields were depleted the armour and structure were both reduced in short order, so maybe I can experiment with different damage types on drones to find the most effective warhead.