Chasing crokite

14th February 2010 – 3.02 pm

It's a quiet evening in w-space that doesn't require any scanning for a change. But a lack of scanning and combat can only mean it's time for a mining operation. I prepare my still-not-quite-destroyed Retriever and head out with a couple of other pilots to find some bistot. Naturally, pesky Sleeper frigates turn up, a strange devotion to protecting rocks causing their demise when I swap in to my now rarely-used Drake. The Sleeper wrecks are then swept up in a Catalyst. A cautious eye is kept on the direction scanner as we settle in for the equivalent of fishing in space.

The bistot rock gets chewed up surprisingly quickly. I am not entirely sure how much ore we mine, as I don't make use of the survey scanner beforehand. With only one bistot rock to shoot it is unnecessary to find the richest deposit first. And I don't count the jet-cans spewed all over the place in case I don't feel I am contributing enough to them with my puny twin beams. It still takes many cycles to effect the asteroid's disappearance in to oblivion, though. The rock appearing quite whole mere moments before leads me to suppose mining lasers work from the inside of the rock outwards. With no more bistot, we race towards the crokite rock, which in mining barges and exhumers means we may as well get out and push our starships to help them along.

The crokite ore is chipped away and jetted, but before too long one of the exhumers' lasers deactivate. The ship's hold must be full, causing the mining lasers to stop, but it only takes the ore to be jettisoned for mining to continue. A little while later, when there is still no activity, I begin to worry. It looks like we have lost the pilot, but I am not sure to what. I also don't know how to recover the situation. Not being the squad commander I cannot warp everyone back to the tower, but I really don't want to leave anyone vulnerable in deep w-space. It seems I have no choice, though. What I can do is recover as much as possible. I call a halt to the operation and return to the tower, planning to haul the mined ore back. If we are to lose any resources, it is best to minimise those losses.

My first choice of hauler is naturally the sleek Crane, but even with an expanded cargohold it would take far too many trips to bring back the jet-cans of ore remaining after the last Orca trip. There is another option, as a Bustard is in the hangar, the sister transport ship to the Crane and somewhat more of a hauler than stealth-runner. Planting my pod in to a Bustard for the first time is an experience. The cargo hold feels massive, but so does the whole ship in relation to what I normally fly. Based on the standard Badger Mark II industrial hull, it may be built like a bistro but it handles like a steakhouse. The extra 10 m/s of boost the reheat grants is hardly worth the capacitor. But being able to haul more than a jet-can's worth of ore in one trip makes the Bustard a thoroughly useful ship. The twenty-odd trips I would have had to make in the Crane are reduced to a handful, so I end up not caring about the turning circle being measured in parsecs.

As I am bringing back the last load of ore, the missing capsuleer returns and decides that perhaps it is wise to park inside the shields for now. Luckily, our system remains deserted of other capsuleers during this time, allowing all our safe returns and the profitable ore to be brought back to our hangars. I also realise that it would be a good idea if I were to be squad leader, keeping our mining director as squad booster, in case I need to warp accidentally AFK members in the future.

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