While exploring a bit on Dotlan's maps, it struck me that there are vast areas of non-FW low-sec space out there that I have yet to visit. I set out with the idea of hunting mission runners and belt ratters who are farming clone soldier tags. I also have about 2 billion isk worth of purchases planned in the next month, so I figured that this would give me the opportunity to collect tags myself if there were no fights to be had. Clone Soldier Recruiter and Clone Soldier Transporter tags, which are found in 0.1 and 0.2 security systems, are both selling for 25-30 million isk each (the other tags are selling for much less, and aren't worth farming).
Large clusters of 0.1 and 0.2 systems are in Genesis, Solitude, and Aridia, so I put together a shield Vexor and set out and made the 30-odd jumps away from Verge Vendor. The trip out to Genesis was uneventful, everyone I saw in the local systems was either an explorer or was docked. This was about to change. Bear in mind, when I left I had absolutely no idea who the locals in these regions were, and no clue what type of ships/gangs I might run across. I quickly came to realize that I had been taking my knowledge of the local systems around Hevrice for granted.
There are several 0.2 security systems out towards the Eve Gate. This appears to be the home of the Strictly Unprofessional alliance, but for they most part, they were all docked up and didn't appear to be active. I'd collected several tags, and was moving closer to New Eden when I noticed that a Hurricane was belt ratting in the system with me. A quick search of his killboard revealed that he was experienced in PvP and knew how to properly fit his ship. I wouldn't be winning this fight, and he didn't seem to be particularly interested in me, so I left him alone and moved on.
I jumped into a system called (no joke) Dead End, which is exactly what its name suggests: a dead-end system with no stations. I picked up another clone soldier tag, but in the meantime the Hurricane had roused several of his corp mates, and they started camping the gate. Their gang consisted of three Hurricanes, a Sacrilege, and a Stratios. The Stratios released combat probes. Unfortunately, with 150m worth of clone soldier tags in my cargo hold, my Vexor was no longer a cheap throwaway ship. This would easily be my most expensive loss ever if I couldn't get myself out of this. I spent the next 10-15 minutes bouncing around the system hoping that they would get bored and go away if they were unable to scan me. No dice.
I was going to have to bust my way through. I warped to the gate, and waited for the Hurricane to engage me before I jumped through (this was a mistake on his part). Another Hurricane and the Sacrilege were on the other side, but I was prepared for this because my cov-ops alt had eyes on them. As an aside, training a cov-ops alt on the 2nd account has proven to be incredibly useful. Dual-boxing with two accounts when solo roaming is so useful that I can hardly imagine not doing it now. They pointed me, but they either didn't have webs, or they weren't able to get within web range. My ship was faster than theirs, so I was able to burn away and warp off. If they'd had an Interceptor or a Rapier in their gang, then I wouldn't have had a chance of escaping. This was a new experience for me, and it was the biggest rush I've had in a while. I don't think I'll be returning unless I can at least field a Battlecruiser.
My experience in Solitude was very different. This was occupied by the Requiem Eternal alliance, who mostly seemed to be oblivious to my presence and any potential threats. I made quick work of a Maller in a belt: http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=105690. He then opened a conversation, and politely offered to buy the loot from his wreck back from me. Does it get any better than that? It did when I found a Naga running a mission, and quickly scanned him down and killed his ship and his pod:
My stay here was pretty brief because I wanted to haul my loot back to Hevrice, but I definitely think that it's worth returning.
I hope to explore even more regions in the future, and I can see how valuable it is to scout an area and know the locals before settling into an area in low sec. You might run into an alliance who are willing to scramble together a Battlecruiser gang to chase down a lone Vexor, or you might find lots of good ganking opportunities.