Sightseeing in the Cluster

The Solitaire

 

Solitaire 1

The giant vessel looms like a giant shadow out of its surrounding dust cloud.

Crews are vital to the running of just about any ship. Although us capsuleers tend to think of ourselves as the only people on a ship at any particular time, only the smallest of ships can operate with only a capsuleer onboard.  Although a capsuleer can drastically reduce crew requirements for a ship, giving proportionally more room to strengthen and reinforce ship systems (the reason why capsuleer ships can generally destroy non-capsuleer ships of the same size and even bigger with relative ease), we cannot completely remove the human element.  We still need crew to carry out our commands, keep an eye on ship systems, and repair and contain damage when possible.  Given the turnover rates for most capsuleer ships, it’s surprising that people still sign up for capsuleer ship duty, yet when 1 isk could make most planetside families live comfortably for a year, crews are always willing to sign up as long as escape pods remain up to code.

Solitaire 2

Professor Science banks as it orbits the Solitaire, which was left adrift in space.

As could be expected, crew requirements increase substantially as the size of the ship increases. Although frigates may require only 1-2 crew members, capsuleer titans can require anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 crew to maintain basic systems.  For non-capsuleer titans often found in Empire militaries, up to 10,000 may be required, enough crew to populate a small planetary colony, all told. The crew requirements for a titan are simply staggering. Then again, when titans are 14 kilometers long, just about anything that have to do with titans are simply staggering. They are hard things to destroy, be they capsuleer or not, and even harder to misplace.  These valuable military assets are simply not something that can disappear or get misplaced, so to speak.  And yet, oddly enough, that seems to be precisely what happened.

Solitaire 3

The engines alone for the vessel dwarf the Professor.

I was warping through Ienakkamon when I saw a strange reading on my sensors.  If I was reading the Professor’s sensors correctly, the signature was massive.  Instead of moving through Ienakkamon onto the next system in my route, I dropped out of warp and immediately headed for the source of the strange readings.  As the warp tunnel collapsed around me, a massive structure seemed to zoom in from infinity.  At first, I thought it was yet another abandoned structure, Caldari no doubt given my position near the outer fringes of Caldari space (though now Gallente space, I suspect that this wreck dates back well before the Federation conquered the system).  And yet, as the first details of the massive structure became evident, the first thing that came into view were the cone shaped constructs of truly gargantuan engines, which alone dwarfed my poor Buzzard-class frigate.  More details came into view, and a massive Ragnarok seemed to materialize in front of me. My stomach immediately dropped before realizing that the titanic ship was adrift in the void, tumbling slowly end over end.  I checked to see if Aura had any information to shed some light on what this ship was doing here:

Solitaire 4A ghost ship of enormous proportions, this Ragnarok-class Titan should be at the core of a Minmatar strike force or planetary defense, yet here it floats in silence. Its hull is airtight, yet all useful technology has been meticulously stripped from it, including weapons systems, propulsion, and electronics. There is no trace of its crew, despite all of its escape pods being present.

Solitaire 5

Parts of the hull have dissolved over time. Here, part of a massive cargo bay has been exposed to space.

The mysteries surrounding this ship, which some remaining paint on the ship identified (fittingly) as the Solitaire, were manifold.  For one thing, Ienakkamon was almost as far as you could get from Republic space before entering capsuleer-controlled null sec space. Why the Republic would deploy a Titan class vessel so far from home, especially when the Republic has no particular grudge against the State except for their general dislike for any friends of the Amarr, is in no way clear. Nor is it clear what caused the ship’s obvious destruction. Although there were certainly holes in the ship’s superstructure now, sensor analysis made it clear that the breaches happened AFTER the ship’s destruction and were the normal wear and tear of any non-maintained structure left to the harsh vacuum of space. And, of course, there’s the mystery of the missing crew. Titans are massive vessels, almost impossible to vaporize in one blow. Though the ship may become broken beyond repair, it’s surprisingly difficult to destroy outright; indeed, with most titans much of the crew is able to make it to escape pods when it is clear that the ship is going down. Clearly, whatever caught the crew by surprise prevented the ship from launching any escape pods before whatever caused the ship’s destruction.

Solitaire 6

The barest outline of the cloaked Professor Science can be seen here, with Cloud Ring and the Solitaire looming in the background

Nor was it clear whether the ship was part of some horrific mistake during a Republic military maneuver or some capsuleer alliance being caught unprepared.  Although normally such information would be readily available by analyzing the command and control systems, that part of the ship was heavily degraded to the point where I couldn’t tell if the ship was capsuleer based or not. If it was a Republic maneuver gone wrong, it was incredibly bizarre that the Republic wouldn’t try to hide evidence of this incursion into Caldari space.  Military logic and common sense both dictate that they would want to cover their tracks or risk the Caldari opening a second front in the ongoing war… so why just leave this sitting here?  Granted, the fact that this ship, now marked with a beacon, has clearly been discovered without particular backlash from the Caldari. And the Republic has remained notably silent on whether the Solitaire is even a military vessel, much less what it could be doing that far from home.

Solitaire 7

Cloud Ring seen through, well, the cloud

The ship itself, as with the other titans I’ve encountered, takes my breath away from the sheer size alone.  Everything about the vessel is monstrously huge.  Things that, from a distance, look like tiny specks end up dwarfing Professor Science, and I have to fly the ship practically next to the ship to get a true sense of scale, lest my human brain shrink the manmade object to a much more manageable size in my head.  The turret ports, though of course stripped of technology, hinted at the massive damage that this should could deal.  I found myself flying into some of the hull breaches just to get a look at the inside of this magnificent vessel. The inside was desolate, of course, at least the parts I was able to get into. Shockingly, there did seem to be some airtight compartments remaining in the ship, although sensors couldn’t say much of what was in them beyond the lack of crew members.

Solitaire 8

The front end of the massive vessel, with Ienakkamon shining in the background

I spent quite a bit of time just taking the ship in.  There were so many mysteries surrounding this ship, and I wanted to get my mind around them, even if I couldn’t solve them.  However, as I was preparing to leave, a disturbing thought struck me.  While perhaps 10,000 missing people was certainly a tragedy, especially for their families, that was not the only thing taken.  Beyond the standard technology found aboard any starship, titans have a singularly unique weapon: a doomsday weapon.  These weapons of incomprehensible strength are normally found only within the bowels of a titan. But, like every other piece of technology on this ship, the vessel’s Gjallarhorn-class doomsday weapon was now in unknown hands. What they meant to do with it was yet another mystery, and I feared for what someone could do with that kind of power.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: The Solitaire
  • System: Ienakkamon
  • Security Rating: 0.1
  • Region: Black Rise
  • Potential Hazards: Iennakamon is located in low security space.  Pirates and gate camps should be expected, and caution is advised.  Further, Black Rise is part of the faction warfare battleground, and battles there may be ongoing.  A cov ops or other cloaking ship is recommended.

6 responses

  1. topcaliber

    Very nice, I’m trying to read all of your posts!

    October 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

    • mark726

      Welcome to the site! Thanks for reading :-)

      October 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

  2. Elmund Egivand

    You got me curious about this Ghost Titan. What on earth happened to it? If only there’s actually a navigation data to hack for its navigation system or if there’s actually a captain’s log somewhere on this ship, assuming that it’s not a capsuleer vessel, we could have some idea about what happened to it. I assume none of these are available? And I suppose that asking around about the name Solitaire came out nothing as well?

    Then let’s not forget that any titan would be a very valuable asset in any military. If a titan disappears, the Republic Fleet would know and they would probably be making inquiries about its whereabouts. The fact that this titan laid unclaimed for so long despite being found speaks of foul play. Perhaps it’s a victim of a heist engineered by rogue elements in the Republic Fleet, possibly with assistance by, say the Angel Cartel, who are more interested in its technology rather than the ship itself? It would explain why this titan was found stripped down.

    January 2, 2013 at 3:32 am

    • Sadly, if there was a recorder somewhere it’s been long stripped from the ship. I personally still think that this was a Republic military maneuver gone awry (or perhaps part of the Elder Fleet?), and the Republic decided that it was best to just sweep it under the rug and pretend like nothing happened. Not that that worked out too well, all told, but if they didn’t know where this ship ended up, don’t you think they’d be making a stink out of it?

      January 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      • Elmund Egivand

        Though consider it this way: If rogue elements from inside my organisation stole my titan without me knowing it for a while, would I want to claim that titan and expose the weakness or the schism in my organisation?

        January 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      • It just goes to show that there are still plenty of mysteries that are left to be solved, lol, and that interpretations may vary.

        January 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

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