I've talked about how there is high sec, low sec, and 0.0 space in Eve right? You would think that low sec would be halfway between high sec and 0.0 space in terms of safety right? Reality is that low sec is only a fraction safer than 0.0 space, and often it can be far less safe!
You see, low sec differs from 0.0 in three points:
1) There are NPC stations almost everywhere.
2) The gates and stations are protected by sentry guns that will fire upon anyone that does an aggressive action towards another player; however, battlecruisers and battleships are barely scratched by the guns.
3) The belt rats suck and asteroids are only marginally better than high sec.
The result of these things is that there is no overwhelming reason for a corporation to try and hold a low sec area compared to a 0.0 area. In 0.0 there are far fewer stations so fewer places for enemies and pirates to hide, the belts rats and asteroids are superior quality, and the low sec sentry guns don't scare off any serious threat anyways. With no corporations patrolling and protecting low sec space and NPC police providing essentially no real protection and low sec being the zone you have to cross to get from high sec to 0.0 and back, it all makes low sec space a haven for pirates, roaming gank squads, and gate camps.
Ok, I have set the scene.
For safe money I run level four missions in a high sec area, that way the only threat are the NPCs I'm fighting. No one can scan me down and attack me without CONCORD police showing up in seconds and killing their ass. They can steal from or salvage my wrecks but my expensive battleship is safe unless I am stupid.
Then I got offered a mission that took place three jumps away... in low sec. Normally when this rare occurrence occurs I turn down the mission and take the next one. But damn, its a storyline mission. You see, when you complete 15 missions successfully for a faction you get offered a special unique mission called a storyline mission. Not only do they have regular ISK rewards that all missions have, they sometimes have special rewards and they have huge impact on faction standings the regular missions do not have. To put it simply, the rewards of the offered mission were sufficiently high enough for me to work at getting past the risks of running a mission in low sec space.
And that is where the anxiety comes in.
First off, I had to get my expensive battleship into the low sec system. Fortunately it was only one jump from high sec space; unfortunately, the gate camps tend to show up on high sec to low sec jump gates. So I made use of an alternate character (alt) with a cheap ship to scout the gate for me on the low sec side and make sure it was clear for my ship, the Insisto Oblivium II.
Once in the mission I still have to watch out for pirates that are resourceful enough to have a ship with scan probes. Although most missions are run in what is called "Deadspace" which has a property of making things in it 99% harder to scan down, its not impossible to do. Heck, I've done it myself many times, especially since any drones you use also have a chance to be picked up by the scan probes.
So not only am I fighting a hard mission against rats swarming me, I'm also paranoid that pirates are going to warp in on my any minute and attack me which would be certain death. Mission running ships are notoriously poor at PvP. To make matters even more scary, one time I had to warp out after I aggro'd 4 battleships and 6 battlecruisers and my shields weren't holding, I accidentally warped to a belt instead of a station only to find a neutral pilot in a rifter there. As I frantically turned around to warp to the station, I prayed he wasn't interested in scrambling my ass and calling for help as I wasn't sure my drones would kill him fast enough. Fortunately, he ignored me and I was off.
Eventually I completed the mission and received my standing increase and reward which was a Siege Warfare Mindlink implant worth around 10 million ISK on market, but even more to me as I plan to use it someday in my kickass Vulture command ship I'm planning.
Now to get back to figuring out how to get to 0.0 space with a decent ratting ship!