Passing through the Faction Warfare Zone
Pretty early in the route I went through some faction warfare areas. I didn't do much belt ratting there as they were generally pretty active with people hunting for cheap dirty kills, as you would expect. I did spend some time dscanning the plexes, avoided a few unwinnable encounters, and then found a solitary Merlin Nugoeihuvi Edition in a novice site. I'd never fought one of these fancy new painted Merlins before, but am fairly confident of my fit in Merlin vs. Merlin encounters. He was looking to fight also, so we closed into blaster range and slugged it out. We were both MASB fit, but he had more tank and better resists and I had more dps and possibly better gunnery skills. In the end I was out of cap booster charges and well into armor when he exploded. We exchanged "gf's", I scooped the loot and dropped it at the nearest station, and went on my way.
Gathering Security Tags
I kept hunting, checking the belts when I found myself in a quiet system. No Mordu's rats were found, but I did locate a few of those Clone Soldier rats that drop security tags. Never having really hunted these in the past, I decided to try and kill one, a Blood Clone Soldier Transporter. I found that he was quite dangerous to approach in my little frigate. He had webs and evidently excellent tracking for an NPC rat, and I burned through a few ASB charges trying to get into blaster range. I ended up having to warp off and warp back from a better angle before I could get close enough to get under his guns and grind him down. Eventually, though, he died and dropped a tag worth 25 million isk or so. I dropped it in a station and moved on.
During the hunt I dodged a scary looking cruiser gang with a Cynabal, a Stabber Fleet Issue and a Vagabond. To engage them would obviously have stretched the capabilities of my little Merlin. I mean, I am almost unbeatable (powered by the Code :D), but not completely unbeatable. My mystical powers are somewhat diminished outside of my own space, in high sec, I have found. So I ran from them across several systems before giving them the slip.
I probably crossed another 20 jumps without anything resembling a fight. I was getting fairly complacent at that point, and was poking around in the belts in a system with two other guys in local. Neither of them looked too scary judging from their bios, and I had nothing on dscan, so I was willing to gamble that they were docked up in station. I had almost forgotten them when suddenly an Astero decloaked about 5000 meters from me and I found myself warp disrupted. The incident took me by surprise way more than it probably should have, but I recovered quickly, put scram and webs on him and unleashed a few volleys of Void S. The attack turned out to have been ill-considered on his part.
I was well into Aridia at this point. This region at one time in my career was a regular hunting ground for me, but I hadn't been there for better than a year and I found it almost eerily quiet. I was seeing nobody in local in most systems I passed through, or maybe one or two at most. Usually with 5.0 sec status - the shameful mark borne by only the most risk-averse of players. It occurred to me that if someone wanted to set up an industrial or PVE corporation in today's EVE, these quiet back pockets of Aridia would be a remarkably safe place to do it, provided you could get your logistics straight, and manage to communicate with each other and actually do something when a Godzilla passes through. Probably safer than high sec.
As my play time for the day was winding down, I came to the ice system of Illi, in 0.2 space, and noted two Retrievers and a Griffin on dscan. I warped to the ice belt, knowing that the Griffin could jam me, but figuring that if I acted quickly I might catch him off guard. Protecting miners, after all, is a tough job for somebody to focus their full attention on. Unfortunately, he was on top of things and I found myself jammed immediately as I landed in the belt. I ran off, checking the market for ECCM modules and finding that the closest was 14 jumps away, too far. Soon, though, it became apparent that the Griffin and one of the Retrievers were evacuating the system, leaving their colleague behind, so I returned to the anomaly and attacked. I overheated my blasters and ate quickly through his shields. His armor was already at 50% when I targeted him, so it looked like his explosion was imminent, when he warped off, having made use of warp core stabilizers.
[ 2014.06.05 23:25:12 ] Kalim Dabo > coward!
[ 2014.06.05 23:26:34 ] Shane Zoor > Well, cant mine u 2 death :)
[ 2014.06.05 23:26:43 ] Kalim Dabo > you could at least try
[ 2014.06.05 23:27:46 ] Shane Zoor > next time
Day 2, Hunting the hunters
I woke up this morning and started checking the belts. I found nothing but empty clone soldier wrecks in the first system I checked, then moved on, back into Illi. There was one other guy in local there (no stations in system), and I had an Oracle with a Russian name on dscan. He had a slightly intimidating character age and bio, but I decided to start checking belts and try to ascertain his position.
I noticed lots of wrecks and came to the conclusion that he, too, was belt ratting. After a bit of warping around, I found a Clone Soldier Transporter and began killing him. Dscan told me that the Oracle was within 1 AU of me, likely at another belt on the same planet. I reset my scan range for 1 million kilometers (I know it's been around for awhile but I do love the new dscan - no more typing in numbers while you try to do other things), and continued killing the rat. Soon I spotted the Oracle slowing down out of warp, and I warped away, noting that he had landed in the belt at 100km range.
I gauged my odds of coming out on top in a fight. An Oracle, with large guns and no drone bay, generally can instapop a frigate at range, but has terrible tracking and has a hard time hitting small, fast targets up close. I figured if I could get a good warp-in then I could kill him. So I warped to the belt from the sun at 100 km. I found myself still a good 100km from him, and him about 100km from the center of the belt in a different direction. A bit of on-the fly triangulation told me that he had likely warped from one belt up the list at 100, so I went to that one, and then warped back to the Oracle.
I landed at 15km from him and burned in, overheating my warp scrambler. He reacted slowly, and before he could target me and get a volley off I was orbiting at 500m, had scram and webs on him and was digging into his tank. His guns proved incapable of hitting me, and he didn't have warp stabs fit. I debated asking for ransom, but decided against it and just blew him up. He dropped 4 sec tags and a few T2 modules, making it more than worth the risk.
No Mordu's rats yet...
So far I've been to several hundred belts in two days of casually roaming, have gathered roughly 235 million isk worth of sec tags and loot from PvP, have killed three player ships, doing a total of 360 million in damage, and I still haven't seen any of these rare NPCs. It wouldn't surprise me to learn tomorrow that they only appear in several regions, and this ain't one, but I have a few days to kill before my alliance declares war on a particular carebear corporation that I am eager to destroy, and my almost invincible Merlin is still going strong, so we'll just see what kind of trouble I can get in.