My time comes to enter low-sec space in New Eden, EVE Online's galaxy, as part of a small corporation fleet. The director of the corporation makes it clear that we are not pirates picking on the weak and defenceless, but there's nothing wrong in looking for a fight. Low-sec space is dangerous because there is no security response from CONCORD should missiles start flying and lasers pulsing, and people know this. Jumping between systems is dangerous in itself, because there is no way of knowing for sure what is on the other end of the stargate without someone being there to tell you, and to get in to the system you need to jump through a stargate.
One tell-tale sign of trouble is the presence of ships on your side of the stargate. Well, big ships are definite trouble, perhaps a gate camp in itself. But smaller ships, or even a lone shuttle, could just as well be a scout, someone who can inform the gate camp on the other side of the stargate who and what is jumping in to their system.
If there is no one around the only way to tell is by jumping yourself. One member of the fleet, suitably equipped, makes the jump through the gate and investigates what is on the other side. I'm not entirely sure what happens if there is a squadron of ships waiting, whether he warps away or tries to jump back to us, but the rest of us don't follow until we get acknowledgement that the gate on the other side is clear. Indeed, most of the time we are distant from the stargate in a safe spot, waiting for the signal before we even warp to the stargate.
Once in a system it is scanned for other ships. The local channel offers a headcount but gives no information as to where the capsuleer is or what he is flying. If he can be traced he is scouted, and if he's a viable target we warp in to engage. That's the theory. Most of the time is spent getting several systems deep in to low-sec safely, before trying to track down a suitable target. It is not assured and if no target is available we need to move to the next system, again taking the necessary precautions.
The first excitement of the evening comes when some ships are detected in the system. Deciding to take a chance we warp in as a fleet to see what awaits, hopefully catching some pilots sufficiently unawares to gain a good early advantage. As we drop out of warp we are met by a well-organised mining operation. It is well-organised because there are several battleships as well as some smaller ships protecting the mining barges and we consider ourselves lucky to warp out as quickly as we had warped in. Everyone makes it out cleanly.
Our next dose of danger comes when lingering at zero-point from a stargate waiting for the signal to jump through. As we wait, we are told that several large ships have dropped out of warp at the gate on the other side and are jumping through. We need to warp to a safe location rapidly! Quickly selecting a celestial object, on my overview newly set-up for PvP operations, I punch the warp drive and get clear. After a few seconds all wings report that they made it cleanly away from the gate, with one saying that he saw the big guns arrive in the system. It looks to be another roaming gang and they warp away from the gate, not wanting to draw attention to themselves, leaving it clear for us to return to and jump through safely.
For the time spent in low-sec there are only those two moments of dangerous excitement, with no combat engagements. Re-entering high-sec space is something of a relief, allowing me to jump freely from system to system until I am happily back in a station. I had a great time for my first operation and I learnt about flying in a fleet, safe spots, and how a small operation is run in the corporation. I am looking forward to the next one.