Sightseeing in the Cluster

The Crystal Dust Compound

Crystal Dust 1

Tvink shines in the background of the asteroid field.

Drugs are well known throughout New Eden. Medicinal drugs, spiritual drugs, and yes, particularly recreational drugs have a rich history throughout the Cluster. But there’s more to drugs than just making you feel better (either during a sickness or just, you know, in general, depending on your proclivities). For quite a while now, drugs have also been used to help improve certain aspects of your life. Steroids are probably the best example of this, by vastly increasing your capacity for building muscle, and thus improving your overall physical condition (at the risk of some fairly significant side effects, even today). However, while steroids have been around since before the dawn of the true space age, we have only recently seen significant development of a kind of ‘neural steroid’ that could significantly increase cognitive abilities. Oh, we’ve had drugs to increase mental focus, for a while, but that really only lets you marshal your current cognitive abilities on a task better.

Crystal Dust 2

A forgotten sign floats nearby.

No, true neural boosters – drugs that could not only increase your concentration, but also increase your actual cognitive processes (your ‘intelligence’, if you will, though it’s not quite that simple) as well – have only been in development for the past century ago. So-called neural boosters were able to drastically increase memory and other cognitive abilities. These achievements were accomplished through the use of genetically-altered viruses that directed infected cells to alter the structure of synapses and other neurological structures, increasing synapse formation. More importantly, these viruses seemed to originally have no adverse side effects. Boosters quickly grew in popularity once government approved them for human consumption, and it soon became all the rage to increase your intelligence with boosters.

Crystal Dust 3

The Thukker manufacturing base.

But, of course, nothing is ever free. It turns out that there WERE side effects to these boosters, even if they didn’t manifest themselves for a few decades. The incidence of epilepsy reached record proportions, and other long term cognitive disorders soon manifested themselves. The cause of these diseases were soon traced back to boosters; it turns out that changing protein synthesis in neural cells eventually lead to significant protein deformities, causing a whole range of neurological illnesses. The resulting backlash was all-encompassing and harsh. Well-regarded biochemical companies soon collapsed under a deluge of lawsuits, and governments couldn’t act fast enough to ban these boosters. Given the severe long term side effects, it was thought that the booster industry was gone for good.

Crystal Dust 4

One of the Thukker ships camped near the base.

Of course, that was before the advent of a consumer group that had little care for long term side effects. With the rise of the capsuleer, boosters are once again coming into vogue. The new generation of boosters are much more targeted, both to reduce side effects and to create much more precise benefits for their users. The long-term protein deformities no longer mattered, because chances are that a capsuleer would be podded into a new body before the disease manifested itself anyway. And now that the market is back up and running along nicely (regardless of continued bans on boosters), various nefarious organizations have taken it upon themselves to ensure a continued supply of boosters and other illegal drugs. The Thukker Tribe, one of the Seven Tribes (though not quite as well integrated into the Republic as some of the others), is one of those who have taken to producing these drugs. In a surprisingly bold move on their part, they set up one of their minor production facilities in Ani. As Aura explains:

Crystal Dust 5This is a secluded factory site operated by some Thukker tribe nomads. It is used to manufacture various illicit substances, most notable the brand new Crystal Dust neural boosters. The Thukker tribe have used the Ani constellation for several decades as a base for illegal operations and to hide themselves or valuable stash in. They’re not too happy with the increasing Republic authority in the constellation, but are hoping that by laying low will keep them under the Republic’s radar.

Of more immediate concern for the Thukker nomads here is the Angel cartel, which has earmarked the Ani constellation as an area ideal for organized crime. Even if the cartel and the Thukker tribe are nominally allies when it comes to dealing with the empires, the cartel is renown to tolerate no competition in those areas they consider their own.

Crystal Dust 6

One of the Angel Cartel ships that hide amidst the outskirts of the base.

The Thukkers did their job well of hiding the base (even if it is, you know, well marked in CONCORD databases apparently). The base sits amidst an asteroid field, with the production facilities hidden in the shadow of a large, hollow asteroid. It’s a small base, consisting only of a few labs, as well as a tower of some kind. A few Thukker tribe ships sit nearby. Surrounding the base sit a number of large asteroids that easily dwarf the small production lab. A quick scan of the surrounding field shows a number of useful minerals sitting in the depths of these rocks, surprisingly untouched by miners as of yet. That strikes me as a bit odd, given the obvious hopes of the Tribe to keep a low profile here, but I’m in no position to question them. A few Angel Cartel ships prowl along the outskirts of the asteroid field, apparently probing the defenses of the base (but not being afraid to go after the stray capsuleer who may wander along).

I spend a few minutes poking around at the base, but frankly, there’s little to see. Perhaps the most exciting thing is seeing Tvink VII, a large gas giant with a significant ring system, providing a pleasant backdrop to many of my pictures. But it is soon time to move on. After all, plenty of more interesting sites out there to see.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: The Crystal Dust Compound
  • System: Tvink
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: Metropolis
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Minmatar COSMOS site. Furthermore, the larger asteroids here are capable of being mined.
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