Although I like to think of myself as a veteran 0.0 pilot, the validity of such a bold statement is highly overstated. During my time as a member of The Caldari Confederation (abbreviated as the TCA) I spent an inordinate amount of time in Providence, basing myself out of 9UY4-H for weeks on end, ratting, mining and dodging- sometimes fighting- the occasional AAA or U’K gang that would pass though.
That said, it is hard to imagine providence as ‘true’ 0.0 space. For one thing, the area I like to call ‘
Sothern providence is slightly different (I personally think of 'Southern Providence' as the area adjacent to the system of D-GTMI). Here, AAA and U’K roaming gangs are a frequent, almost everyday, occurrence and are generally free to roam the systems of 'Southern Providence' with relative ease. Thus 'Sothern Providence' can be likened to more to real 0.0 space, as opposed to an extension of lowsec, albeit a lowsec extension with better rats and ores. I’ll not say much about sothern providence as I have only really spent 3 or 4 days down there, during my short stint in the corporation ‘Whips Chains and Ballgags’. During that stint, I lost a drake to a U'K pilot and vowed never to head down there again.
However, yesterday, spurred on by the efforts of fellow tusker pilots such as Wensley, I decided to go for a roam in 0.0, namely the drone regions of the Kalevala Expanse and Etherium Reach. If I was lucky, I might extend the trip by heading to the system of M-VACR (a personal goal that I have yet to achieve) in the Cobalt Edge region. Spurred by the thrill of adventure, I fitted up a classic ‘active’ Rifter, filled its cargo hold with ammunition, and excused myself from the locality for the time being.
In order to save time, I decided not to travel exclusively through low security space and to cut through Gallente and Minmatar high security systems or ‘highsec’. This was to prove difficult as I cannot travel through any systems with a security of 0.6 or above in Gallente space. I am also dubbed an ‘enemy’ of the Minmatar, by virtue of the -5.0 standing I have with the faction, and thus cannot travel through any high security Minmatar systems without incurring the wrath of the local faction police.
This proved to be a non issue for the overwhelming majority of the highsec leg of my journey. However, an on the ball pilot in Colelie decided to annoy me slightly and bumped my Rifter while I was aligning to the Bei gate. This allowed a few members of the faction police to squeeze of a couple of shots at my rifter, successfully demolishing my shields and cutting slightly into my armor. However, I was able to warp out and passed through the remaining high security systems undisturbed.
I arrived in LXQ2-T without incident and set my destination for the system of HPV-RJ in the Kalevala Expanse, a system I was vaguely familiar with, having travelled through the system and the surrounding locality by means of a wormhole a number of months ago.
The Journey through Etherium Reach continued to be uneventful and somewhat boring. The drone regions are very large and tend to be sparsely populated, save for any border systems and some isolated pockets of activity. One pilot however took to chasing me through the region in his Vagabond. However he seemed ill experienced with 0.0 space as well as the local pipelines and systems, as he seemed to take his time at each gate, carefully contemplating where I could have gone. Eventually, he took a wrong turn and disappeared from local altogether, leaving me free to pass through the remainder of Etherium Reach unscathed.
Things took a turn for the worst as I jumped in to AY-B15. Both of the gates in the system were camped (but not bubbled, thank god). I evaded the first camp with surprising ease (no sensor boosted ‘ceptor and no interdiction bubbles meant that I went to warp before any of the camping pilots could lock and point me). Thus, I took to being chased by a group of rowdy pilots who were spoiling for a kill. As I jumped in to SG-3HY, a sensor boosted crow was waiting on the other side of the gate. As I aligned to the G-KCFT gate, the crow pilot locked and pointed me. However, I didn’t panic as I normally do in hopeless situations such as these. I returned his lock, loaded EMP ammunition into my autocannons and engaged my afterburner. It worked beautifully. I started to land light blows against his ship and my shield was absorbing his light missiles, corrently holding at 60% integrity. At least for the moment, I began to feel that I could win this fight and continue my journey.
As the Crow’s shields dropped to 50% integrity, support by means of a veritable fleet of Vagabonds (this ship is a damn Vagabond magnet!) as well as several Crows and Taranises. However only one Vagabond and one other crow managed to land blows on me before my poor little Rifter popped. To add insult to injury, my pod was popped shortly afterwards too.
It turned out to be a rather fruitless and uneventful trip. I didn’t make it to my destination system of HPV-RJ, nor did I learn that much from my one and only engagement of the trip, but such is life. At least now I have an idea of what real 0.0 is like!