A new Drake

13th November 2008 – 8.45 am

Maybe it was the World of Warcraft Halloween and Scourge invasion events combined, the sudden rush of my small guild trying to reach 70th level before the Wrath of the Lich King expansion is released, the return of Melmoth to Azeroth EU, or simply a bit of ennui, but I haven't been a capsuleer in New Eden much recently. I think my skill training plan of getting all my level one learning skills up to rank five doesn't help, as it is essentially a month-long endeavour with no incremental improvement in skills beyond gaining skill points more quickly. It isn't interesting but it is a good long-term plan that will lead to faster improvements once finished. With skill switching only required once a week and so much change occurring in Azeroth and Outlands my time in EVE Online has been limited. I was concerned that I have been letting down my new corporation, being unavailable for a few operations, so I dedicated some time to spaceflight.

I turn up as a few members of the corporation are about to run some level four missions as a fleet, gaining some quick reputation and security status increases. Being a mostly PvP corporation the most active members end up with a negative security rating, making it difficult to fly in high-sec space, because of the loss of standings that are incurred when initiating combat with another pod pilot. Heading out in a fleet to complete legitimate missions with a member of good standing, who has access to high-quality level four agents, will boost ratings quickly and rectify the losses, so mission running is occasionally scheduled to keep everyone at least close to the good side of the law.

I missed out on the previous level four mission running because I only have frigates and a PvP cruiser in my hangars, and I don't want to head in to a level four mission in a frigate. I could still have had my old mission runner on stand-by had I not lost my Drake to a gate camp from my own carelessness. There seemed little point in replacing the Drake immediately, as having moved half-way across the galaxy where a different faction was in charge my access to agents has been limited to low-quality level one agents and my need for a strong mission-running ship non-existent. There is no point buying a battlecruiser when acceleration gates only allow frigates through. With an occasional level four mission operation occurring I now have an excuse to buy another big ship and, feeling a little homesick for Caldari space, why not another Drake. I know how to fit one and make it a decent shield tank, after all. I broadcast to my corporation that I am buying and fitting a Drake and they tell me that I can come out and join them when I am ready.

I have my new Drake and christen it Lightness of Being, although I thought I had a better name lined up for my next ship. When taking her out of the station for the first time I witness something I find quite captivating. I warp to a stargate and see a Caracal a few hundred metres off my starboard bow, following me almost exactly in warp! It is possible to warp together as a fleet, and I find it quite cool to have several ships all warp together in formation, but this is impromptu: two separate pilots flying at 3 AU per second close enough to wave to each other out the window, if we had windows. It is quite a cool experience.

After flying through what seems like all of New Eden to pick up modules and set myself up in a convenient system, I am ready. I have shield extenders, shield hardeners, heavy missile launchers, shield power relays and a ballistic control system fitted. I park Lightness of Being in a suitable station not only close to where the mission operations occur but, I discover later, in the station where the agents are located, my instincts kicking in when selecting a station. I carried a shuttle with me to that station so that I can travel to and from the Drake and my level one-running frigates more quickly instead of relying on the Drake itself.

The buying and fitting of the Drake took a fair amount of time. Once I am ready and meet up with the fleet I am only able to pick through the hulls of level four mission wrecks for recoverable modules as the mission is completed. The capsuleer with access to the level four agent has to head back to base for the evening as well. This turns out not to be too much of a problem, as the corporation boss has access to level three agents and we continue mission running with those instead. The missions are completed quickly and efficiently, with little time for picking through the wrecks' holds, let alone salvaging anything. The security status gains and bounties are the required reward for the time spent, particularly when completed in a small fleet.

Mid-way through the first mission, surrounded by frigates and cruisers firing cannons and missiles in my general direction, I realise that I have completely forgotten to insure the Drake against accidental explosion. If I happen to lose the uninsured Drake I will have spent tens of millions of ISK for the privilege of travelling home in a pod. Granted, the chances of my losing a Drake in a mission have decreased rapidly since I first became a space cadet but I cannot forget how I foolishly lost my previous one. In-between stages of the mission I jump to a station and take out a platinum insurance policy. Shortly afterwards, my boss tells me that he has never insured his own mission runner, thinking it a waste of money for a ship that is not likely to be in any danger. I suppose you gain a different perspective when you face more challenging targets most weeks in low-sec, and I can see myself moving towards his philosophy for mission runners.

I am only able to complete a few level three missions, having spent most of my time in New Eden fitting a battlecruiser, but I enjoyed myself and got more involved. I felt the spark of EVE Online touch me again and I know I'll be returning sooner rather than later. I have my own missions to run, a Drake for corporation mission running, and a couple of PvP ships for roaming operations. Everything is coming together.

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