Sightseeing in the Cluster

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Children of Light

Children of light 1

The Perimeter gate in Iyen-Oursta

The universe just isn’t fair sometimes. If the universe knows anything about me, it’s that I live for the visuals. I am willing, happy even, to travel for hours on end, risking ship and limb, to see something and write about it so others don’t have to. I pride myself on careful research on sites, so I can offer informed explanations, giving both context and meaning to the sights that I see. I work hard for what I do, and it’s all for the sake of that one shining moment, that first time the view clarifies in front of me coming out of warp. That sense of wonder as I see something for the first time. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I know what to expect. But other times, I’m going into the true unknown, which makes that first sight all the more thrilling. With all of this in mind, you would think some sense of cosmic karma ought to be working in my favor.

But no, of course not. I forgot for a split second that I was in New Eden and that the laws of the universe were tipped very much against me.

The story here begins in Iyen-Oursta. It’s a rather unassuming system on the Gallente-Caldari border, a front often forgotten given that Algogille and Luminaire are already so close to the border, and thus bear the brunt of any defensive and offensive posturing. I’ve flown through it many times, and have even flown over just to enjoy watching the Roden Shipyards in system build up its fleet of Megathrons.

Early on in my career as a capsuleer, I came across reports of something called the “Children of Light.” Reports were few, but fairly straightforward. There had been reports in the past of clouds of light converging on the gate at activation. The scientific consensus seemed to be that the discharge was most likely due to some kind of plasma leak that, in certain conditions, formed a resonance with the jumping ship, briefly charging the surrounding plasma. There were a few more, shall we say, unscientific hypotheses, but I brushed those aside. Eagerly, however, I put Iyen-Oursta near the top of my list of places to visit. Being based in Gallente space at the time, it was practically a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Children of light 2

Blink blink blink

When I got there, I had to admit a certain amount of disappointment.  The gate, while a gorgeous example of Gallente architecture, showed no signs of these so-called children. There’s a small beacon a few kilometers off the gate, blinking in rather dull fashion, that dutifully broadcasts “Children of Light” to anyone in system, but Aura is oddly silent on the subject, offering absolutely none of her usual commentary.  But I brushed off my disappointment: this was far from the first time that a hoped-for view had fallen through (Atioth, I’m looking in your direction), and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.  And besides, I had managed to find the aforementioned Roden Shipyards on the visit, so it wasn’t a complete loss.  I made a mental note that this particular clue was a bust, and carried on my merry way.

I’ve passed through the system countless times since then. As I jump in, my heart momentarily jumps as I see an unexpected beacon on my overview, and then as I read what it is, a twinge of disappointment again sets in. But I’ve learned to brush that aside as one of many things that are simply legends. Ghosts of stories from long ago.

Or so I thought.

I was contacted out of the blue a few days ago by a pilot named Jon Tarant.  I was over in Pure Blind on an unrelated research project, and was in the process of making my way through the never-ending piles of paperwork that always seem to appear whenever coordinating more than one or two people comes in to play.  The unfamiliar name immediately piqued my interest.  Jon initially asks me if I had ever heard of the Children of Light. I chuckled mirthlessly to myself, that twinge of disappointment once again tickling my brain.  I replied that I was.  Then he told me that he thought he had seen it.  And not only that, but that he had a picture. Immediately, my eyebrows raised.  My other projects were immediately forgotten.  Before he had my curiosity, but now he had my attention.

Children of Light 3

Jon Tarant’s raw sensor footage of the Children

I immediately asked if I could see his photo.  He dutifully obliged.  It was not in the best resolution, and was clearly taken on the fly (pun intended).  Having only just recently upgraded my own camera drones, I was able to sympathize.  But the view itself.  The view itself was astounding.  The gate was immersed in a haunting blue glow.  Tendrils of light went every which way, creating a complex lattice of light.  I could see where the name “Iyen Pixies” had come from.  Even from that image, I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

I hounded any and all details out of Jon, who happily obliged with what he was able to recall.  I grilled him on his ship (Taranis) the date (March 10 YC 115), whether he was with anyone (a few in local).  He said he had asked around the locals to see if anyone else had run into this effect.  They all said no.  He had a friend a few jumps behind him, also on his way through Iyen-Oursta.  Jon asked his friend if he had seen the lights, the friend responded there was nothing on the gate.  He had apparently filed away the information, and only when he happened across EVE Travel did he think to reach out to me regarding this discovery.

I immediately ran over to Iyen-Oursta myself.  Once again, I was presented with empty space beyond the gate itself, a few Gallente customs officials, and that accursed beacon with its steady blink blink blink, almost mocking me.  No lights.  No lattice.  No children of light.

Children of Light 4

Sunset on the gate.

Even now, I write this safely from the station in Iyen-Oursta.  I have no doubt I will spend a bit of time here, trying to see if I can pull off what Jon saw.  I have the means and willpower to test different approach angles, different ships, and other variables to see if I can trigger the Children, now that I know that they can be triggered.  And that’s the key.  Knowing that there was something out there to see.  I had been lulled into a false sense of security, confident in my ability to root out anything that was hidden.  I had grown overconfident.  But this, this changes everything.  Suddenly, the universe was new again.  What else had I missed?  What else had I brushed aside as unseeable?  Sometimes it takes an extra set of eyes to remind you that one person alone can’t see everything out there.

After all, sometimes the universe simply isn’t fair.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Roden Center
  • System: Iyen-Oursta
  • Security Rating: 0.8
  • Region: Sinq Laison
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: Obviously, I haven’t confirmed this myself yet. I suspect that triggering the Children is simply a matter of chance (very very very very low chance). I’ve tried warp-ins from every celestial to no avail. If anyone else has a sighting of the Children, or any other info, please leave a comment here or message me. This is by far one of the more mysterious sights I’ve encountered in the game, and I find it fascinating!

Titanomachy

B-R5RB 1

Titanomachy

It’s easy to think that contemporary events are gamechangers. How many times have we heard some crisis as the “defining moment” of Roden’s presidency, or any battle as a “tipping point” in a broader war? And when you look back a few months or years later, you see that these events were nothing of the sort. It’s natural to think that the most recent events are the most important. But in most cases, events – even ones that at the time seem monumentally important (pun is very much intended) – are mere drops in the ocean of human history. It is rare indeed that an event actually bends the course of human events. It’s almost impossible for most people to objectively determine the effects that any one incident will have until we’ve had a chance to move on. In fact, it’s precisely that reason that most historians try not to look at modern events that closely, until time has passed, passions have cooled, and the repercussions have made themselves more verifiably known, leaving it to the more pedestrian punditry to give the who, what, where, and why of modern events.

B-R5RB 2

The ruined remains of an Avatar-class Titan

Even with all of this in mind, I find it hard to look back at the now infamous battle in B-R5BR and see it as anything short of historic. This was not the first time that a capsuleer alliance had neglected to pay its bills to CONCORD, nor was it the first time that a tiny mistake led to a massive battle. The battle of B-R5RB doesn’t even come close to the record of largest naval engagement. Both Pandemic Legion and the CFC have fielded more ships in a battle and more pilots have lost ships before. But what makes this battle different, beyond the sheer amount of isk lost, is the effect it has had on the general public. Never before has the general public’s imagination been captured so much as the day that the titans began to fall. While there have always been niche news sites dedicated to covering capsuleer goings on, for the first time, mainstream media have started to look to the skies. New pilots are flocking to capsuleer training centers in record numbers, flooding the spacelanes with new opportunities and new fodder alike.

B-R5RB 3

The sheer amount of tonnage destroyed here is staggering

CONCORD, to its credit, has moved quickly to memorialize the battle site. Within days, the often slow-acting agency declared the system a place of historic significance, and acted to preserve the wrecks so they don’t decay away in the harshness of space. What’s left is a stunning, haunting (or, should I say spooky?) tribute to this very literal clash of the titans. To some, it’s a tribute to the victory of the CFC; to others, it’s the gravesite to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of crew aboard the various ships. Whatever its meaning to you, this heretofore unknown cul-de-sac system has attained a new place of prominence in the interstellar consciousness, and its newfound memorial will ensure that it remains so long after the pundits have stopped their prognosticating on its meaning.  Of course, the quieting of the punditry won’t keep Aura from becoming rather existentialist on us:

B-R5RB 4You are entering the graveyard of Titans, a silent memorial to one of the grandest, most violent, most cataclysmic battles New Eden has ever borne witness to. Halt your ship, capsuleer, and take a moment out of the mad swirl of your life to ponder your own impending deaths.

The beacon that CONCORD has placed on the site is a bit more on-point and a bit less poetic than Aura:

Here lie the wrecks of monstrous ships, commemorating a battle that blotted out the sky on Jan 27-28 in YC 116.

B-R5RB 5Two coalitions of capsuleers clashed in vessels numbering in the thousands, causing destruction on a scale of war never before seen by human eyes. CONCORD elected – after advising with the various empires – to leave a few wrecks left on the field for all spacefarers to see. Ostensibly this was a warning of capsuleers to where their folly would lead them, but those who’ve encountered the immortals will know it was more likely taken as an ideal of death and destruction to which they can aspire from now until the end of time.

B-R5RB 6

Some ships are still very recognizable. Others are less so.

As your view adjusts after warping through B-R5RB VIII, one of the first things you’ll notice is the bright gray of the temple that CONCORD’s erected on the site (why the temple is already battered-looking and worn is another discussion entirely). Examining the temple closely will reveal a list of all the pilots that lost a Titan in the battle. As your eyes adjust, however, you’ll notice a number of hulking, looming shadows surrounding on all sides. These shadows eventually clarify into the hulking shapes of shattered ships. Surrounding you are ships from all four empires, torn apart by the massive forces brought down upon them in the battle. Fires still glow from the interior, and possibly will continue to do so for years (especially if the ships were Caldari built). Each wreck is surrounded by a cloud of debris, which is especially dense near the site of the hull fractures where these gigantic ships finally cracked. Each of them dwarfed Scientia and its small crew.

B-R5RB 7

Twisted girders can be found at the site of the superstructure’s failure

To the left, ships blot out an appropriately blood-red star. To the right, now-nameless titan wrecks, worth billions of isk and with thousands of lives lost on each of them, gently tumble through space against the green backdrop of the Immensea nebula. And all around, there is an eerie quiet. The stark stillness of the scene stands in sharp contrast to the ferocity of the battle that took place here just days before.

B-R5RB 8

Shadows of B-R5RB

Am I wrong to think that this battle was different from the countless others that have happened over the years in New Eden? Have even my amateur historian’s eyes been clouded by the media coverage and the endless echo chamber that has come out of this battle? After all, this will hardly be the last time that B-R5RB will change hands. PL has already finished reimbursing its pilots for the ships lost in the battle. Other battles will rage, breaking this record or that. Only time will tell of the grander effect, if any, of this battle.  But for now, for once, more eyes are focused on the stars. For now, the happenings of New Eden are drawing the attention of the broader masses. And for now, at least, B-R5RB certainly seems like a gamechanger. And even if it isn’t, at least this monument will help us remember the day that the titans fell.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Titanomachy
  • System: B-R5RB
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Immensea
  • Potential Hazards: B-R5RB is deep in 0.0 space, involving jumps across a number of different alliance territories, many of which may be operating under “Not Blue, Shoot It” protocol. Gate camps (including warp interdiction bubbles) can be found often in transitioning from 0.0 to high security space, as well as on other gates. Caution is advised.

Brutor Tribe Community Area

I’ll be the first to admit it: the concept of the Minmatar tribes confuses me.

Frarn 1

The Community Area stands in the shadow of an old Amarr station

Coming from the pluralistic Federation, the idea of such extensive family units is baffling to me, especially since the tribes seem to play such a large role in determining who you are. And with the new changes to the Republic, it seems like the Tribes will be taking even more of a center stage for the average Matari. In some ways mimicking the Caldari (of all people), the Tribal Assembly has radically decentralized the Republic, in favor of allowing the Tribes to handle most, if not all, internal matters. The Tribal Council, composed of the seven tribal chiefs and the Sanmatar, will be the true powerbase of the Republic, with the Parliament being reduced to a subservient, almost advisory council. From what I’ve read in GalNet, the Tribes will be acting in a very similar capacity to Caldari megacorporations, with tribes handling almost all internal matters. Considering the fact that some have declared Sanmatar Shakor’s centralization of power in recent years almost dictatorial, the fact that he agreed to this radical restructuring of the Republic is surprising indeed.

Frarn 2

The station is surrounded by 8 “Rememberance” stones.

Thus, it seems almost fitting that I find myself sitting today in Frarn, closely examining the Brutor Tribe Community Area. Before running across this site, I hadn’t even realized that the Brutor (or any of the tribes, really) had such large space-based colonies, but here we are. I have, of course, run across a few Brutors in my day, but I rarely run across the average Brutor citizen. Then again, that’s hardly surprising given the fact that these days, I only rarely see non-capsuleers of any sort. But given the newly-forged primacy that the Tribes were taking in Republic life, I happily dove into my examination of the Brutor tribe. It seems that the Brutor ought to be pretty happy these days. They have long advocated for a tribal-based Republic, and with the recent reforms advocated by the new Sebiestor Chief, Acassa Midular, they are getting their wish. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they tend to congregate together, as it seems it is their tribal bonds that helped them survive the Amarr enslavement.

Given the trauma of Amarr enslavement, it is perhaps unsurprising that the tribes have remained relatively close-knit. In many circumstances, it was the tribal bonds that helped the culture survive through the Dark Days. Those bonds remain as strong as ever today, as can be seen with these Community Areas found throughout the Republic. As Aura explains:

Frarn 3Hundreds of these small community areas have been erected in recent years to accommodate those returning from travels abroad and seeking temporary accommodation. Ironically, they were originally designed to facilitate a great exodus to Federation space, but with the rise of fresh new ideas inside Minmatar borders causing many to return to their homelands, these spacebound communities have come to play an entirely different role. Typically, a single community will be dedicated to one tribe or another, but it is not unheard of for two or more tribes to share the one area.

A close view of the cargo pads at the community area, with a cargo ship in the background.

A close view of the cargo pads at the community area, with a cargo ship in the background.

Like many Matari sites, this one is based around Amarr ruins left over from the occupation. Many of these old Amarr structures don’t appear to be utilized in anyway; rather, the ruins are left intact solely as a reminder of how far the Republic has come from the Occupation (and, possibly, as a giant middle finger to the Empire, though I suspect most Matari architects would deny that… or maybe not. In fact, it’s a bit odd that the primary feature of the site is completely abandoned and unused. An old Amarr station, broken, decayed, and stripped of any useful materials, is the first thing that draws the eye upon coming out of warp. The next thing a person notices is that the abandoned station is curiously surrounded by eight large rocks, all named Rememberance. The stones were clearly placed by the Minmatar around the station, perhaps as a reminder that metaphorical sticks and (in this case, at least) rather literal stones were able to bring down the might of the Amarr Empire. The entire memorial helps reinforce the Matari self-image as a plucky, technologically backward species that nonetheless manage to throw off their oppressors, never mind the fact that these days the Minmatar are just as technologically advanced as any in the Cluster.

Frarn 5

The Community Area is a hive of local activity

It’s only after the eye thoroughly examines the Amarr station and its immediate environs that you really notice the actual location of the community area. It’s tucked off to one side, well outside the influence of the Amarr station, preferring to remain the shadows of the Amarr leviathan, perhaps hoping it won’t be seen. The community area is, in typical Matari fashion, a rather hodgepodge assortment of cargo bays, living quarters, bars, and ships. Perhaps surprisingly given the pains the locals took to arrange the Amarr station just so, little thought is given to the appearance of the community area. A number of large, bulbous storage vats anchor the bottom of the site, while the top is dominated by the cargo platforms that help transfer needed goods to and from the community center. The area also appears to act as a banker for many of the local residents, since I can’t understand why else the area would need a Bursar. The Republic has stationed two Tempest-class battleships to watch over the area: one remains docked at the facility while one stays stationed nearby.

Frarn 6

The abandoned station looms behind a nebular mist.

As I’ve implied above, I was rather taken aback by the powerful symbolism found throughout this site. When it comes to architectural symbolism, I tend to think of the Amarr much more than the other empires, yet here is a stunning demonstration of Minmatar tenacity found within a decrepit Amarr station and a few well-placed asteroids. Perhaps it is yet another way that the Minmatar are casting off their Amarr history, by using the Amarr’s own heavy-handed symbolism against them. I was also surprised by the relative insularity of the community: only Brutors were really to be found here. Perhaps given that insularity, I should be less surprised than I am at the radical shift currently taking place within the Republic. The tribe has been likened to an extended family, and families tend to stay together whenever possible. So its natural that if there’s seven extended families in the Republic, power is concentrated into those seven.

…Nah, it’s still weird to me.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Brutor Tribe Community Area
  • System: Frarn
  • Security Rating: 0.8
  • Region: Heimatar
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Minmatar Shipyards

Egbinger 1

The entirety of the shipyard complex.

“Well aren’t you just a little space pirate kitten, aren’t you?”  I gently pet the small kitten curled up in one of my old uniform shirts, trying not to wake her up too much.  I could get away with saying things like that in the privacy of my own quarters. I wouldn’t dare say anything like that in the presence of anyone else; I didn’t want to bring any undue attention to myself. Being a plant in the Republic Fleet for the Angels necessitated such self-censorship. Not that it was particularly hard to avoid suspicion: the security surrounding this isolated capital shipyard near the edge of Minmatar space was shockingly low, all things considered. It was surprisingly easy to get myself and my supervisor, Aton Hordner, inserted into the Fleet’s personnel rotations out here. It was win-win for us: not only did we get a plant inside the Fleet, but we also gained a place to contact prospective capsuleer pilots looking to work for the Cartel.

Egbinger 2

A close up of the upper half of one of the Naglfars under construction

My thoughts were interrupted by a chime. After doublechecking on the kitten, I thumbed the release, and the door to my quarters slid open. An enlisted crewwoman stood outside the door, holding a report of some kind.

“Our latest requisition reports, sir.”

Egbinger 3

The auxiliary power array seemingly glows with the light of Egbinger

I groaned internally before thanking and shooing away the crewwoman. I didn’t understand how people who WEREN’T leading a double life as an agent for the Cartel managed to stay sane in this backwater. All we did was sit here, staring at the three capital ship construction platforms and pretending like we mattered by shuffling supplies between the shipyards themselves and the resource cache nearby. It was clear that the Republic didn’t even particularly care about us: despite the three Naglfar-class dreadnaughts under construction here, the entire security detail consisted of one Tempest-class battleship, the one Aton and I are stationed on. We didn’t do much; frankly, the captain was a bit of a drunk (possibly lamenting the life choices that led to her being stationed here) and merely had us maintain position constantly, with her popping her head up onto the bridge now and then to check to make sure we hadn’t blown up yet, as far as I could tell.

Egbinger 4

The central administration complex of the docks

Me, I worked in the communications section, which easily let me hide Aton’s conversations with Angel contacts. He got the fun job; all I ever did was monitor and delete communication logs to make sure no one got too suspicious. Still, he needed backup, and that, unfortunately, was me. Not quite sure who I managed to piss off at the Cartel to draw this assignment, but whoever it was who got me this assignment was going to get a good kick in the rear when I got back to Cartel space.

Egbinger 5

The apparent entirety of the shipyard’s defenses

Speaking of which, it was almost time for my shift. I checked the kitten’s food and water before I left. I would have to decide on a name for him before too long: I had gotten him smuggled in during the last food shipment with the help of a few contacts in the legitimate Fleet to keep me company out here. Even helping the Cartel, the only family I had really ever known, wasn’t enough to keep me sane during the endless nights in this godforsaken system. I made my way up to the bridge, and tapped my preceding shift officer on the shoulder, pretending not to notice the, uhh, explicit movements two guys on screen were doing before he hastily closed his screens and logged off. Whatever it took to keep you sane.

Egbinger 6

A closer view of one of the construction yards

I logged myself on to the communications console, but before I got down to work for the day, my attention was drawn, as it often was, to the shipyard activity outside. It was surprisingly relaxing to just sit and watch the various workers inside and outside the three as-yet unnamed Naglfar’s build the vessels up. All three were nearing completion: the hull seemed pretty much sealed up and now and then I saw glows as various engine components were tested. They’d be ready for their trials soon enough. The three vessels, of course, dwarfed my own ship, but it was fun (or, at least, distracting) to watch these three ships seemingly grow from scratch, day after day. The power generation arrays surrounding the docks gave a much more solid feeling of protection than our measly ship did (though you would think that SOMEONE would catch on to the fact that the Cartel never attacked the shipyard with us here: Fleet “Intelligence” didn’t exactly live up to its name).

Egbinger 7

The Naglfars are approaching spaceworthiness tests

Nearby sat the bane of my existence, even here in this crap system, the paltry bureaucracy surrounding the shipyard seemed to exist solely to make my existence miserable. The command center and resource cache for the shipyards sat in an extensive station complex a few kilometers beyond the three shipyard docks. Not a day went by that I didn’t contemplate “accidentally” firing a few missiles at the heart of that complex. The thought of those many bunkers and towers flying apart into the coldness of space often warmed my heart more than anything else out here. The amount of grief they caused for the sake of causing grief was astounding. Being ignored by Fleet HQ gave them a giant superiority complex. I’d like to shove their requisition reports right up their-

The console beeped at me, drawing me out of my reverie. A capsuleer ship was contacting us, using a special Cartel encryption set up for those seeking us out. I engaged the decryption protocols while letting Aton know that we had a customer. At least it was something to do today…

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Minmatar Shipyards
  • System: Egbinger
  • Security Rating: 0.1
  • Region: Molden Heath
  • Potential Hazards: Eurgrana is located in low security space.  Pirates and gate camps should be expected, and caution is advised.  A cov ops or other cloaking ship is recommended. As implied by the post, this is one of three starting points for the Angel Cartel epic arc.

In honor of intrepid explorer Marcus Yeon

Jakanerva 1

The Explorer Relief Post

As an explorer by profession, it’s surprisingly easy to forget just how dangerous the profession can be for the uninitiated.  Things that I often don’t give a second thought to can be the difference between life or death for those new to the profession: fit your ships for speed (especially in low security space); a cloak never hurt anyone; and d-scan, d-scan, d-scan (again, especially in low security space).  With the withdrawal of pirates from most sites about six months ago, most explorers may have even gone so far as to give up giving their ship many defenses; the recent appearance of so-called Ghost Sites (which don’t seem to be very ghostly at all considering anyone can see them, but I suppose that is neither here nor there) and its new potential loot has undoubtedly changed that particular paradigm.  And I suspect we haven’t seen the last of what the pirate research programs have to offer.

Jakanerva 2

I take Professor Science in for an examination of the rift.

Regardless, it’s important to remind explorers that despite all of valuable resources that exploration provides, it is, like so many professions in the cluster, a dangerous one.  And Echelon Entertainment  is here to serve (and undoubtedly get a holo deal or three out of it).  After the Sisters of Eve announced a drive to collect pictures of well known landmarks in New Eden, Echelon randomly selected one of those capsuleers to complete all 29 images to be honored at a so-called Explorer’s Relief Post.  The Post can be found in Jakanerva, near the heart of Caldari space a few jumps from Jita.  Aura’s background on the site, normally only a few sentences long, was a bit more verbose this time as Echelon provided more background on the site:

Jakanerva 3This site stands as a quiet and somewhat unnerving mark of honor for the efforts of Marcus Yeon and all others who took Echelon Entertainment up on its exploration challenge. These capsuleers risked their ships, their clones and their crews on a perilous venture to capture some of the amazing sights of New Eden.

While those pilots who succeeded in the various stages of the challenge were rewarded with various material goods, Echelon Entertainment also commissioned a landmark to be created so that their fearless efforts would be remembered throughout history.
Jakanerva 4

Echelon Entertainment also requested that the landmark be placed next to the scorched ruins of a quite astonishingly ill-fated secret experiment, in order to warn intrepid explorers that on a very few select occasions, discretion is very much the better part of valor. In an interesting quirk of fate, rumor has it that this experiment was being run by Yeon’s own people – possibly a subtle warning from Echelon Entertainment not to get too boastful in the dangerous world of New Eden – and that the ghostly form of one of his past clones still haunts the place.

Jakanerva 5

One of Marcus Yeon’s corpses remains near the rift as a warning to the dangers of moving too fast

Tantalizing hints here, but what did they mean (rumors of ghosts aside: I’ll believe THAT when I see it)?  That Yeon had been conducting his own experiments was news to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the experiments tied into the newly discovered Ghost Sites (which I have yet to discover).  Rumor has it that the Ghost Sites are actually pirate-based research initiatives; if so, then Yeon’s experiments here may have tied in to the pirate factions’ R&D.  That the experiment apparently backfired is just another demonstration that cutting-edge research can be hazardous to one’s health.  Still, it was heartening to see what would otherwise be a deserted research base turned into a testament to expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

Jakanerva 6

One of six “explorer relief posts” found at the site.

The site itself was fairly extensive, if straightforward.  A formation of Explorer Relief Posts were organized around an empty, but now-iconic data site.  Though the site has long been emptied of useful data, it serves as a graceful centerpiece to the site.  It also gave me the opportunity to closely examine the data hub itself, something I had never paid much attention to during my explorations.  Surrounded as it was by three rings, it brought to mind a gyroscope, with the central hub always maintained upright within.  Surrounding the data site in a diamond formation, Echelon has placed a number of so-called “explorer relief posts”, but what relief they are meant to provide is a bit beyond me.  Apparently consisting primarily of some kind of resource cache stored in a small forcefield, the posts were completely inaccessible to my ship, making me question just what kind of “relief” was to be provided.  Still, it was soothing to watch the various field emitters spin to maintain the field’s integrity.

Jakanerva 7

The remains of one of the site’s initial defenders lies in a tattered wreck nearby.

Nearby, the ruinous remains of the research station loomed.  Above the tattered superstructure of the research station, presumably at the site where the experiments were performed, a spatial rift of some kind had formed.  Aura herself was apparently spooked by it, as she had labeled the rift as “ominous,” despite the other spatial rifts we’ve seen in our days.  I originally didn’t examine the rift particularly closely, but after watching it a while, I noticed a small speck nearby that I had initially dismissed as a sensor blip.  Upon closer examination however, I discovered that that blip was actually a corpse of Marcus himself: presumably the corpse was the origin of those “ghostly forms” that Aura spoke of.  The explosion which formed the rift was clearly a powerful one: besides completely destroying the top half of the research station, a number of ship wrecks could be seen nearby, undoubtedly the station’s former guard battalion, caught up in the blast.  Indeed, given the devastation evidently rained down upon the station from the blast, it’s a miracle that Yeon’s corpse survived at all.  How it survived, and how it remains stable so close to the rift, is a mystery to both Aura and myself.

Jakanerva 8

The spatial rift’s light battles with Jakanerva’s glare.

I actually spent quite a bit of time simply admiring the site.  I didn’t expect to be gratified to see acknowledgment of the work that myself and thousands of other explorers pursue in order to help improve the quality of life in the cluster.  And being the explorer that I am, the site certainly whetted my appetite to see what else was out there.  The pirates are on to something here, and the Empires want them to stop (even if they aren’t always the best at executing their goals).  I look forward to helping the research in any way I can.  There are plenty of clues to be found and discoveries to be made, but ultimately, one of the best skills that an explorer can have is patience.  After all, even after finding everything there is to find, it may not make sense at first.  But if I have anything to say about it, you better believe it will.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: In honor of intrepid explorer Marcus Yeon
  • System: Jakanerva
  • Security Rating: 0.7
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Blood Reach

What, you thought I would NOT link to my Eve Vegas talk?  GUESS AGAIN.

Blood Reach is a bustling Blood Raider hub.

Pilgrimages are a sacred rite of passage in many cultures, and important in almost all others.  There are certain places, certain sites that are hallowed grounds for many cultures, for varied reasons.  It’s not that you go there to witness what is happening at the site now.  But there is something ineffable to visiting a place that has had such a marked impact on who you and your people are.  Even though all that may remain are ghosts and stories, people still flock to these sites to remember what had been.  Religions, of course, are particularly susceptible to deeming a site holy, but any culture seems to have their sacred areas.  Even capsuleers have been known to make a journey out to the Eve Gate or Steve, to see where we came from.  And while there, we reminisce about what it means to be us, what it is that ties us together.  In traveling to these sites, we journey not just to a physical destination, but also to a psychological one.

GUYS.  EVE VEGAS WAS AMAZING.  10/10 WOULD PLAY AGAIN.

A view from near the Cathedral

And, of course, it’s not only rational people that have holy sites to make pilgrimages to.  The Blood Raiders are perhaps the most devout in New Eden, in their own twisted ways.  The more militant parts of the sect truly believe that drinking the blood of others (particularly us apparently tasty capsuleers) will bring them closer to salvation, and will endure almost anything to reach their version of immortality.  But like just about any religion, the Blood Raiders have made their own holy sites as well.  One in particular can be found in the constellation of OK-FEM, deep in Delve.  The holy site itself is the former Amarr exploration ship Pagera Manton, which was discovered adrift by Blood Raider devouts and transformed into a place of worship.  Why they decided to use this particular ship, I’ve never asked.  But because Pagera Manton itself is heavily guarded, the Blood Raiders have constructed their own waypoint for weary pilgrims, named Blood Reach.  As Aura explains:

It was great meeting so many other players.  I can sincerely say that everyone I met there was amazing.Blood Reach is a fortified outpost run by the Blood Raider organization. Its purpose is to house pilgrims coming to visit the holy site in OK-FEM. In recent times it has also served as a base of operations for Blood Raider forces sent here to find and eliminate Amarrians who come to the constellation to sabotage the Pagera Manton.

And, of course, Eve Valkyrie was AMAZING.

A mined out asteroid sits nearby.

Blood Reach is a bustling spaceport in the heart of fortified null sec.  Despite being owned by capsuleers, the Raiders have carved out a substantial niche to call their own.  The site is dominated by two massive structures.  The first is your traditional Blood Raiders cathedral.  Based off of the classic Amarr design, the colors have been changed to a bloodred to reflect the, well, you know, love of blood.  But opposite that, an even larger structure is under construction.  Although for now only part of the superstructure is complete, the design hints at a station that will dwarf even the current cathedral.  Presumably meant to house the faithful and those passing through, for now the structure’s skeletal appearance gives a rather unnerving feeling to an already-unnerving area.

TIL: I continue to be TERRIBLE at PvP.  Lol, someone gave me a gank thorax and I ended up 50km away from the battle before I figured out what was going on :-(

A close up of one of the bloodsport arenas

Beyond the two large stations, a variety of smaller structures can also be seen.  Off to one side, a set of six bunkers can be found.  Presumably meant to act as temporary housing for wayfarers until the larger structure is complete, their sleek Gallente stylings actually stand out quite a bit compared to the rest of the site.  But around the cathedral is where the bulk of activity can be found.  Although the cathedral sports a number of docking slips, the most notable thing here is what is rather untactfully called the “bloodsport arenas.”  These are massive stadiums, whose tops are covered in clear materials.  Inside, I could see hundreds, if not thousands of spectators surrounding a playing field that was already coated thick in blood.  Despite blood being sacred to the Raiders, they seemed to be spilling an awful lot of it here in the thrill of competition.  Right next to the arenas, a number of slave pens could also be seen.  It was times like this that made me wish I didn’t fly an essentially unarmed Tengu.

And given that, I didn't even TRY my hand at DUST, lol.  I'd be spinning around in a circle shooting the ground.

A Blood Raider battleship keeps an eye on the surroundings

A variety of Raider vessels could also be seen flitting between areas of the site.  Thankfully, they seemed to ignore me, despite my obviously capsuleer-based ship.  Whether they mistook me for a member of the faithful or just wanted me to make sure I could tell people of what I saw, I have no idea.  But they left me alone, and for that I was grateful.  The site also supported a significant industrial infrastructure.  A number of mined-out asteroids could be seen surrounding the site, while foundries worked seemingly day and night.  I decided not to examine too closely precisely why the foundries had been named “Clone factories.”

So thanks to everyone I met.  You were amazing.  And thanks for not throwing things at me in my speech and asking some fantastic questions.

The station remains very much a work in progress

I didn’t spend long here.  The Blood Raiders worry me more than any of the other factions in New Eden, with the possible exception of the Sansha.  Religious fervor combined with cannibalism never seems to end well, and I couldn’t even begin to understand where they were coming from in their philosophy and theology.  Still, even they are humans (though of a very deviant sort, I’ll concede), and like any humans, they need a place to call their own.  Blood Reach and the nearby Pegara Manton appear to be precisely that.  And so the faithful Raiders will continue making their pilgrimages, just like the devout have for thousands of years.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Blood Reach
  • System: CX8-6K
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Delve
  • Potential Hazards: CX8-6K is deep in 0.0 space, involving jumps across a number of different alliance territories, many of which may be operating under “Not Blue, Shoot It” protocol. Gate camps (including warp interdiction bubbles) can be found often in transitioning from 0.0 to high security space, as well as on other gates. Caution is advised.
  • Additional Notes: This site is a COSMOS site, and agents are available if you have the proper standing with the Blood Raiders.

Unmarked Operation

Operations 1

A vessel near the operation ferries supplies.

Governments.  You expect them to, well, govern you.  Provide necessary services, protect you from threats.  It’s all part of the social compact: you agree to submit to the government’s authority in exchange for that government keeping you safe and healthy.  According to some political theorists, in fact, this social compact is the source of the government’s authority.  In fact, keeping its citizenry safe (from threats both external and internal) is perhaps the most important service that a modern day government provides.  And in maintaining a nation’s safety, I, and most people, understand that some… questionable choices must sometimes be made in order to maintain the balance between safety and liberty.  I may not always agree with the choices made, but I do understand that there are broader issues at work.

Operations 2

A closer view of the listening posts.

Of course, it normally does not need to be said that in providing governmental services, we expect of modicum of competence.  We’re all just human, of course, but in providing for Gallente national security, I would expect the Federation to not make idiotic moves or mistakes.  Ethically questionable?  Sure, especially with the rise of the Black Eagles and other national security institutions.  But I’d like to think that, if nothing else, the professionals we hire to safeguard our nation’s closest-held secrets have a bare minimum of common sense.  After all, President Roden created one of the premiere ship-building companies in the Cluster from basically his bare hands.  How hard could it be?

Operations 3

A close up of the odd device attached to the listening posts that probably should not be broadcast to the Cluster.

So, of course, my faith in governmental institutions was severely tested by my discovery in Noghere, a system in Essence not far from the Caldari border.  There, a cursory glance at the system’s beacons will display an “Unmarked Operation,” run by the Gallente government in full view of anyone who passes through the system.  Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re establishing a site crucial to national security, it’s not necessarily possible to keep a site secret.  After all, spy agencies need headquarters and its not necessarily possible to keep such a headquarters secret.  But you would think that you’d at least not broadcast its existence not only throughout the star system, but on CONCORD controlled maps as well.  Not only that, but the site does not appear to be protected or secured at all.  The only thing warning you away is a brief message you receive upon warping to the site:

Please be advised:

We are here to protect the citizens of the Gallente Federation. Do not be alarmed by our presence, and please carry on with your daily activities.

Operations 4

You would think that being approached by a Caldari Tech 3 cruiser would raise an alarm. You would be wrong.

Being, in fact, quite alarmed at the state of Gallente security, I dropped out of warp at the site.  If I hadn’t known what the site was ostensibly for, I would actually find it quite beautiful.  It’s dominated by what appears to be two listening posts, which slowly comb the space surrounding Noghere, no doubt searching for stray Caldari signals.  Strange devices were attached to the end of each listening post, glowing an odd shade of blue.  Neither I nor sensors could make heads or tails of the devices, and it struck me as something that the Federation would PROBABLY want to keep secret, if it had any kind of common sense.  But alas, here was a civilian photographer taking pictures of a government operation and unknown technologies.

Operations 5

A side view of the bunker at the site.

Beyond the two listening posts, the entire area is pretty quiet.  A few smaller Gallente vessels can be seen ferrying equipment and personnel back and forth.  I would normally say they also secured the site, but given what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had orders to shoot each other instead of other ships should hostiles invade the area.  Between the two listening posts, a rather sizeable bunker floated, no doubt housing the operations’ staff and administration complex.  In a vain attempt to cover their tracks, the government appears to have towed a sizeable asteroid to the complex, probably thinking it was a foolproof way to hide the site from prying eyes.

Operations 6

The purpose of this site is still unknown.

As I looked over the site, I realized that perhaps I was being too hard on Federation authorities.  Still, it was difficult to figure out precisely what the Federation hoped to accomplish by making the site so blatant.  If it was perhaps a tad more difficult to find, I would think that it was meant as a diversion or counter-intelligence operation to distract the Federation’s enemies.  But even the Amarr would realize that the Federation is simply trying too hard here to make the site obvious.  Or perhaps this is just a public relations site: meant to show the citizenry that the government is Doing Something to protect it from the Caldari menace.  Whatever the reason, the fact that this site was even conceived disabused me strongly of the notion that governments should ever, ever be run by bureaucrats.  They just don’t exactly ooze competency, it seems.  Perhaps they should just be left to running symoposia and be done with it.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unmarked Operation
  • System: Noghere
  • Security Rating: 0.7
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
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