14 December YC 120
Every capsule is equipped with NEOCOM which can plan the route between any two star systems in k-space. It is good enough only if your journey takes you through the hi-sec. For routes which venture away from the CONCORD-enforced “safety” I found a better service in The Net – DOTLAN. When it came to route planning it did pretty much the same job as NEOCOM, but its major advantage was an ability to show ship kills in every star system along the route. Any low-sec or null-sec system with non-zero kills in the last three hours potentially harboured a gate camp and had to be avoided.
When I first used DOTLAN to plan the fastest route between Itamo and KFIE-Z I was stunned by the sheer scale of my endeavour – I had to make 40 jumps through seven regions! Me who had spent all my capsuleer career in The Forge. This is what my journey would look like.
It would be long and tiresome, but cynosis, even if I had it, would not kill me. However, looking at the list of systems, I found one that potentially could. It was Ashmarir, one of only two low-sec systems that I had to pass, and it had two kills in it in the last three hours. I immediately added Ashmarir to the avoidance list and requested a new route from DOTLAN.
Despite being more roundabout than the original flight plan, the new one had the same number of jumps. Also, there were more systems in low-sec than in null-sec and, most importantly, no recent kills. But that last bit could change at any moment. There was no time to lose so I immediately jumped into Yatagarasu and undocked.
The journey through the hi-sec was uneventful: choose the gate, warp, jump; choose the gate, warp, jump; and so on ad nauseam. The latter was not an exaggeration – after fifteen or so jumps I started feeling the first symptoms of cynosis. It was either that, or my anxiety which was increasing with every jump that brought me closer to the first low-sec system. Finally, I reached the Vehan gate which led to Aridia region. Beyond it laid a vast expanse of non-patrolled space, but I tried not to think about it. Even before starting the trip I decided that I would pass that gate without giving it a second thought as if I was still flying in the high-sec. Otherwise, I was afraid I would never gather enough courage to cross the Rubicon. So when I arrived to Zinkon, I automatically gave the same three commands – choose the gate, warp to it and jump. But instead of jumping, the capsule stayed in place and I heard Aura’s voice tinged with carefully modulated warning tones, “Captain, you are about to enter low-security space. Do you want to proceed?”
“So much for advanced planning,” thought I and shouted, “Fuck, yes!” And we jumped…
I don’t know what I expected to see there. Probably, a huge gate camp, full of pirates whose railguns and lasers were trained on my puny corvette. Instead, NEOCOM informed me that there were only two other pilots in the system and they were nowhere to be seen.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…
Er… not really. I had only one minute before the gate cloak would disappear, and I didn’t want to spend a single extra second in that cursed space. So I chose the next gate, warped, and jumped; chose the gate, warped and jumped… There was no warning when I entered the null-sec, so I just kept repeating the sequence of commands until finally I reached KFIE-Z and warped to The Blood Raiders’ station. It was time to see what my standing was really worth.
“Docking permission requested,” said Aura in her business-as-usual tone.
After what seemed like an eternity, the station replied, “Docking request accepted.”
I then realised that I was holding my breath and exhaled a lungful of pod goo.