I had a great time today playing smuggler. While in the core, I found that a Luddic Path base was sorely in need of both drugs and harvested organs. The base I was in at the time had both at good prices, so I purchased $70,000 worth of them. Transponder off, we set off with the illicit goods to sell to the Luddics.
Of course, on the way my fleet of eight was attacked by a fairly large pirate fleet. We survived the battle but got pretty well beat up, and then continued toward the Luddic Path site. Suddenly a message popped up that the Luddics also were desperate for supplies – and delivering 100 would earn about $46K! I was heading there anyway, and I had enough supplies to sell 100 to the Luddics. So that would be a nice bonus for the dangerous trip. Upon arrival the Luddics purchased the drugs and organs for $136K, just about twice what I paid, and I unloaded the supplies for the hefty bonus… so despite the pirate attack, the trip was very profitable.
Problem was, it left me on the outskirts of the core, and low on supplies, and thus low on combat readiness. And this part of space was teaming with pirates. l left the Luddic base with my transponder off, hoping to make it to the nearest jumpgate without being noticed. No such luck - my fleet was attacked by other pirates not once but twice by rag tag pirate fleets. Had my ships been rested and well supplied, those battles would not have been tough. But instead they were both tough skirmishes. My fleet survived both, and I didn’t lose a ship, but all the ships ended up down at less than 20% combat readiness. A third attack would do me in, so the fleet again flew dark and I tried to sneak back to less dangerous space. I managed to get to a friendly base by the skin of my teeth, and re-stocked. It was truly nail-biting.
And… all that experience jumped my commander up several experience points, as well as my three mercs. Good times.