I built a Retriever mining barge by using a blueprint copy I had lying around my hangar from a long-past moment of impulse-buying. I mined about half of the minerals required for it using my Venture, but I bought the more exotic and esoteric requirement straight off the market in Amarr, because it seemed the logical thing to do on the premise of nil-wasted-effort.
In pure forensic accounting terms then, the exercise was barely worth it. It would have been more convenient and cost-effective to just buy a Retriever off the shelf.
I decided to build a Retriever just because I could. I have no particular fetish for industry either because I am market-dyslexic: using spreadsheets to calculate margins is something I have no interest in at all. None. It’s like an allergy. I am an artist, not an accountant.
So after some hardcore wrist-slashing-boredom-risking mining, I had the minerals and the blueprint ready, and I handed it all over (plus a large amount of ISK) to the Royal Khanid Navy and booked a slot on their production line in the Assembly Plant I’m based in at Danera IV.
Less than two hours later (!), I had a brand-new Retriever delivered to my hangar with a spotless and unmarked hull, unblemished by grains of asteroid dust and unsullied by the incessant sleet of stellar radiation.
The interior is all steel grilles, even the deck plates, where you can see down four decks before it becomes too dark to see anything. The ore hold is a vast void that is so big it is not uniformly lit, so it appears as several competing spaces, with the mechanisms for securing the ore appearing like a spider’s web of steel and titanium.
There is a crew lounge that has no carpets and fittings, just the bare minimum required to keep the meathead agency mining crew fed and watered. When I’m jacked-in, I don’t get to see any of it or mix with the meathead crew, but in this business it is better to not know anyone who you’re crewing with as it is only a matter of time and diminishing odds before that crew has to resort to the escape pods or make an appointment with oblivion.
So the interior of a mining barge is sparse, efficient, unpleasant; but then so is mining in general, yet without it we wouldn’t have shiny spacecraft to fly around in.
But that massive ore hold: it is the reason why the received wisdom on Retrievers among the community is that they are the #1 prime targets for suicide gankers, and that an operator needs to fit out the barge in a way that allows it to survive an attack for just long enough for the police to show up and dispose of the ganker.
I read this stuff and took it very seriously; I fitted my barge out with some leftover equipment I had in the hangar which did the job on paper, up to a point.
First trip out in my new Retriever: a hop over to the nearest asteroid belt in Dan IV. A test run, if you will. The strip miner beams make short work of any rock. With five drones on idle out there, any Covenant aggressors are a non-event that I barely notice. Such a waste.
I can go properly ‘afk’ and read holotexts that appear in my visual cortex like an actual book, but are nothing more than coded nerve stimulation with no physical form whatsoever. I can catch up on those box sets that again, are nothing more than a feed. I can watch the news and listen to the latest chapter in the endless cycle of cluster politics. All while the ship semi-autonomously burrows holes in rocks as old as the universe and hoards the granulated by-product in its vast hold.
Nobody made a move on me; no gankers, no aggressors other than Covenant (which don’t count). Danera is a very safe system these days. I believe that a consortium of industrialists and miners have recently moved here as I keep seeing the same names in the Local channel, but in every other respect Danera is a safe harbour as it is not on a ‘pipe’ and doesn’t attract passing trade.
Everyone minds their own business in Danera. That’s how I like it.
On the other hand, excessive safety is conducive to boredom. I had 25,000 m3 of ore and the best price for it was a few jumps away in Soumi in the far western tip of Kor-Azor.
I set off.
It took a while. The Retriever is incredibly slow. It is underpowered because all its power actually goes into those strip miner beams. If the targeting systems did not discriminate and allowed you to use one on another ship, it would burrow a clean sharp-edged hole right through the centre of that ship and turn it into a doughnut (we’re doing a special offer on them at our place in Nandeza right now - stop by and check them out).
I got to Soumi, sold the ore for a large amount of ISK, then decided to stick around and do some mining, just to see what would happen given that the Soumi system had a load of ‘reds’ in it from Another Really Stupid Enterprise who apparently have bad standing with us and vice-versa.
What was the worst thing that could happen..?
I was about twenty minutes into my second-ever session of mining in this ship when I heard the ‘thump’ of another ship arriving in the vicinity (again, reproduced by artificial capsule auditory stimulation, because in space no-one can hear you gank).
It was a Catalyst. A ‘Gankalyst’. I already had my Damage Control II cycling at idle so I thought bring it.
My ganker had done his homework. He was hitting me with around 700 hp of damage each time. My Retriever took damage of course; I had ‘pain’ turned off in my capsule because I’m not interested in that masochistic crap, otherwise I’d have took damage too.
In fact my barge took a lot of damage. The meathead agency crew didn’t like it. But I just sat there and waited the requisite twenty seconds or-so that it takes for the police to arrive in a 0.6 system. The police - CONCORD - with their exotic and highly-secretive Jove-derived ships that can warp in from anywhere and one-shot anything.
My ganker never stood a chance.
I wonder how long it took, and what the expression on his face was like, when the realisation dawned that he wasn’t going to get away with it?
The police did their job, I got 3 mil in loot (top-notch Tech II-class hybrid turrets + ammo), a kill right, and a core sense of righteous satisfaction. I didn’t hang around for a re-match either.
Here’s the kill right. I’ve made it available to all. Help yourself.
After some consultation with the corporation, my Retriever is even more gank-resistant with the addition of an Adaptive Invulnerability Field upgrade. I think I may start going to highsec systems of a questionable nature, and just sit there as bait, then laugh when the inevitable happens. Here’s what I’m using on my barge right now. I haven’t even fitted shield rigs to it yet so there‘s more to come.
One last note: I may be wrong about this, but I suspect that superficially-lucrative market buy orders for ore are a form of bait, to attract barges like mine to systems where pro gankers operate. If it is a tactic, it worked on me. But then I won.