First, to pick up where we left off, I was at Zac Nemo's base (after playing the "get rank with Yoru" game...), and so I bought as many upgrades as I could afford (materials wise), and then took off. I got up to rank 4 with him, so I'll have to go back and finish that off.
After that I went to meet Lei Cheung, who the Dweller told me about, but to find him, I needed to trade in 50 markets, and since a lot of my trading has been in just a few markets, I needed to spread out. I just routed a bunch of stations together, and buy, fly, sell, buy, fly, sell until I was done with that. Not terribly profitable, but at least it wasn't a loss... As for a fee, Lei was only interested in gold, specifically 200 tons of it. I could only carry 100 tons, so it took a couple of trips, but once again, I was glad I had the money to do it from mining. He was nice enough, but had a golden gleam in his eye that worried me a bit. Anyway, I again upgraded what I could, and was able to get to rank 5 there. He told me how to meet my next engineer, the renowned explorer and scientist Ram Tah.
Ram Tah was fairly easy to meet, he only wanted an exploration rank of Surveyor with the Pilots Federation, and I was already up to Trailblazer, but then I had to get him some "Classified Scan Databanks." Money I'll part with pretty easily, but this was my precious data scans... Oh well, I visited a data trader, traded around to get his 50 scans, and then visited his base to transfer the data. Now with access, I am pretty much out of materials, so I could only pick up a few upgrades, and topped out at rank 2 with him.
To meet my next engineer, Selene Jean, I need to have mined 500 tons, which is probably not a huge problem for most miners, since they're focused on quantity, but I've been focusing on void opals, which is harder to find. This means that in total, I'm only up to around 250 tons. So, I jumped in my Python, Bridger, and found a good place to mine. I decided that if I'm going to spend time mining, I may as well make some money, so I continued to stick to opals and diamonds. After an hour or so, I had about 50 tons, which I sold for about 32 million space bucks. Not bad, but I still need 200 more tons... sigh...
Later, I met up with my space buddy again. He asked what we should do, and we decided some combat training was in order (for me). The first problem was that none of my ships are really combat ships (let alone combat ready). So we put together some specs (and a budget), shopped around, and decided I should start with a Vulture. They're fast, small, and (most importantly) have a fairly low rebuy... because my combat skill is nonexistent. I had plenty of money for outfitting, but basically no parts for engineering (add that to the todo list). I was able to put a large multi-cannon, but only a medium pulse laser, as any more than that put me over my power budget... I really NEED to engineer this thing.
After I bought things, we went out to a compromised nav beacon (with a nearby station to refuel/reload), and started picking off wanted criminals. I say we... he was there in a nice Corvette and he brought his fighter with him... I was there in my noob pants and a half baked Vulture, so really, it was mostly babysitting for him. But we had some fun picking targets, learning what was more than I could chew, when to run, when to gun. It was a great learning opportunity, but I was really glad to have my safety net. As a bonus, I need some combat rank for some engineers and made a couple million dollars. I'll need to head to a combat zone in order to grab those combat bonds for Juri Ishmaak though...
Anyway, I want to engineer this Vulture (which I named Challenger), so it really shines, which means it's back to the material mines for me. I overhead in the bar that there's a goldmine of raw materials out in HIP 36601, so I kitted my Asp for maximum jump, and off we'll go soon (I'll just need to get some sulphur and phosphorus for SRV reload/refuel... always with the phosphorus and sulphur). Wish me luck!