Melting arkonor

22nd October 2009 – 5.17 pm

Arkonor can really glow! Granted, at least one of the capsuleers needs to have impeccable mining skills, and perhaps just the right camera angle is needed, but pulsing strip miners on two Retrievers and a full complement of drones results in an impressive light show. If there were gravity, the arkonor would be dripping in to our holds.

Conversely, a single Retriever running combat drones, to give at least a pretence of security, embodies the lyric that 'it's lonely out in w-space'. But there is no one else around in our w-space system and some huge rocks to be turned in to profit, so I take Fido for walkies. Mining is more interesting when there is someone to chat with, or a similar distraction, so that I don't have to pay attention to the actual act of mining. Maybe this reflects poorly on mining, but I prefer to think of it as a multi-tasking opportunity.

Mining in w-space is a rather intensive act, unfortunately, and not simply a matter of paying a little attention every few minutes to dump the mined or in to a jet can. A constant eye needs to be kept on a frequently refreshed directional scanner, watching for unknown ships and scanning probes, indicating that the idyllic pasttime may be interrupted by aggressive threats with murderous intentions. It's like fishing in Deliverance country.

There is the occasional false alarm, when unidentified flickering coming from my monitor turns out to be the targeting icon rotating around the arkonor asteroid, causing a few moments of tension, before full-blown panic breaks out as I realise someone is shooting Fido, and hitting! I relax a little when I realise my d-scanning has probably been vigilant enough, and I haven't missed the early-warning signs of scanning probes, as the shots are coming from Sleepers. Even so, a mining barge is no match for Sleeper rats.

I hit the warp button as quickly as possible to return to the tower. But Retrievers are not known for their agility, the shields dropping quickly and armour now facing the brunt of the Sleeper shots as still I turn. Luckily, I enter warp before the next volley of heavy-hitting missiles reaches me, and I get back to the tower still in one piece and really quite alert. I fit a repairer module and start running it to fix my armour damage, before once again cursing the lack of adherence to standard terms and removing the hull repairer to fit an actual armour repairer. If a ship's structure were called the 'hull', or hull repairers were called 'structure repair modules', I am fairly sure I then wouldn't get confused between 'hull' and 'armour' repair modules. As it is, I know I don't need to repair the ship's structure or shield, so I fit the hull repair module and wonder why it's not working.

With the Retriever's armour repaired, I tuck it away in the corporate hangar and launch Non-sentient Ship. Two Sleeper cruisers are no match for a w-space Drake battlecruiser of mine, as I prove. Another ship swap and I grab the loot from the Sleepers and salvage their wrecks. Before I know it, I am back in Fido, shooting arkonor and refreshing the d-scanner, hoping the radar catches the pings of duelling banjoes before I'm made to squeal like a pig.

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