Sightseeing in the Cluster

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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: Egbinger 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.

Myxhaut K8 – Waste Yard

Myxhaut 1

A former toxic waste dump serves as a base of operations for the Cartel

I’ve often wondered what drives non-capsuleers to the pirate life.  For us pod pilots, the reasoning is pretty simple: mayhem is fun and screw the consequences.  But there’s a somewhat more nuanced decision chain for people who won’t wake up in a vat of goo with a new body should they take their craft a bit too far.  Some, undoubtedly, are just like capsuleers: they just want to cause some mayhem even if it cuts their lives short.  But many, if not most, have a different dynamic at work.  Some may truly believe in the ideology behind their causes (such as they are).  Others may simply have nowhere else to go.  For whatever reason, they can’t return to civilization so they turn to the only people who will give them some food and not ask questions.  For others still, some other reason may have brought them into the pirate life.

Myxhaut 2

One of the Cartel ships stationed at the site

And the pirate life is not an easy one.  Most pirate organizations tend to be rather… tough when it comes to troop discipline.  Not to mention the variety of inter-pirate turf wars that can frequently pop up with little warning.  And CONCORD, who would undoubtedly love to bring some civility to low and null security space if they had the resources.  And 90% of capsuleers, who will go after pirate ships either as a way to ingratiate themselves with CONCORD or just to earn a few extra bucks between CTAs.  Given what is undoubtedly the short life span of most pirates at any given time, any rational person would have to be pretty desperate indeed to willingly choose to be a pirate (the fact that most of these dangers exist at equal, or perhaps even higher risk levels for members of a capsuleer crew are another matter entirely).

Still, for whatever reason, pirates do exist, and in force.  And given the size of most pirate organizations, they often need local gathering points to marshal forces.  One of these sites can be found in Eurgrana for the Angel Cartel.  As Aura notes:

Myxhaut 3Pirate hideouts are often found tucked away inside the deadspace pocket of a high security system or floating more openly in the lawless sectors of space, where they attract questionable clientele. For the Cartel, these places serve as a home and base of operations. At any given time, the occupants must be able to answer the call to arms or provide sanctuary to ranking members of the Cartel’s shadowy leadership.

Myxhaut 4

An abandoned missile battery

The re-purposed toxic waste dump here was crawling with activity.  Cruisers lumbered about, ready to respond warp out to some trouble spot at a moment’s notice, if necessary.  Or flee should there be a hardened assault on the site.  Smaller frigates flitted about, but that was about the extent of the fortifications to the site.  A solitary missile batter ostensibly stood guard, but it didn’t look like it had been fueled, much less stocked with ammo, in quite some time.  Presumably, sites like this were a dime a dozen in lower-security space.  Should the Cartel lose one site for any reason, 10 more within a 2 jump area stood ready to take its place.

Myxhaut 5

Two of the silos still hold their toxic waste, the distant one has lost integrity, however.

The area itself is suffused with a dull red glow that looked rather sickening.  It seems one of the silos holding the toxic waste in the area has been melted by the goop it held (although for a melted silo it looked to be… exactly like a non-melted silo but I guess my sensors wouldn’t lie), spreading said goop around the area.  Although shields easily held off the shower of radioactive particles being flung at me, it was still nothing I wanted to particularly concentrate on for any extended period.  Thankfully, the other two silos appeared to be holding together a little bit better than the first one.  So it looks like the Cartel found themselves a nice little hiding place: one that I was in no shape to assault in my Buzzard-class Professor Science.  It didn’t look like it would take much to push them out, however.  Still, it wasn’t going to happen in my frigate, and so I soon pushed on.  As I left, though, a lyric from an old song from my childhood came unbidden in my mind.  Awkwardly, thanks to the connection I shared with the ship, it blasted through the (thankfully empty) ship:

A pirate’s life for me…

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Myxhaut K8 – Waste Yard
  • System: Eurgrana
  • Security Rating: 0.4
  • Region: Metropolis
  • Potential Hazards: Eurgrana is located in low security space.  Pirates and gate camps should be expected, and caution is advised.  Rats can obviously be found at the site, but it’s nothing too major.   A cov ops or other cloaking ship is recommended.

The Labyrinth

Labyrinth 1

The first thing you see upon entering the Labyrinth.

I’ve been having a recurring dream lately.  In it, I’m trapped inside an endless maze.  Every few meters, I’m presented with an option of going left or right, with no indication of which option will let me out of the maze, which direction will get me to the center of the maze, and what I will find at the maze’s end.  I spend the entire dream running through, knowing that I have to find an exit to the maze, without knowing at all why.  Half of the time, I’m being chased by an unknowable Something Evil, but the other half I’m merely wandering aimlessly, feeling more and more desperate.  Inevitably, I wake up safely ensconced in my ship or captain’s quarters, with no mazes in sight (station interiors notwithstanding), but inevitably, I wake up drenched in sweat.  Capsuleers aren’t supposed to be afraid of anything, but clearly something has me uneasy.  I guess demigods still fear their own dreams.

Labyrinth 2

Blood Raiders can be found throughout the site.

And so it was with some trepidation that I approached the site found in Aphi known as the Labyrinth.  Obviously, the name alone brought my dreams to mind.  But with everyone’s sudden interest in exploration and sightseeing, I knew I had to confront my fears sooner rather than later.  But that didn’t mean I had to go in unprepared.  I started trawling GalNet with gusto, trying to find any information on the Labyrinth that I could.  While my research wasn’t quite as productive as I might have hoped, I did at least manage to find a map that would safely guide me through the site, making sure I not be stuck wandering aimlessly.  A warp drive also helped with that, admittedly.  I also discovered that to access the site, I would need the Key to the Labyrinth, which is obtainable either through the Museum Arcana or other capsuleers.

Labyrinth 3

The central temple in the Labyrinth.

Upon entering the site, the courageous pilot is presented with a ring of spatial rifts.  Although the rifts bear some similarity to their more well-known cousin, the wormhole (most notably, the ability to move ships a certain distance through non-linear space), a number of differences remain.  Most notably, the rifts only work over relatively short distances, astronomically speaking.  The rifts will only move you tens of thousands of kilometers, instead of the thousands of lightyears that wormholes can throw you.  Additionally, while spatial rifts can be found throughout the Cluster, the Labyrinth’s rifts are one of the few known stable examples of the phenomenon.  However, they are not completely stable; each segment of the Labyrinth has 8 rifts associated with it; despite this, only certain rifts still connect with something on the other side, suggesting that portions of the Labyrinth may be lost to the ages.

Labyrinth 4

One of the many data caches found here. Takmahl debris can be seen in the background.

Whether the Labyrinth is a natural or manmade phenomenon is subject to quite a bit of debate.  On the one hand, as discussed below, the center of the maze was clearly settled by the Takmahl, with the rest of the site perhaps acting as a proving ground or security system.  On the other hand, the Takmahl, clear descendants of an off-branch of Amarr theology (and thus, the fact that Blood Raiders can often be found here should not surprise anyone), were not known for their prowess in spatial manipulation.  Such an honor usually falls to the Talocan.  So how the Takmahl could have put such a site together is unknown, given that the Takmahl tend to date significantly later than the other lost races of New Eden.  Of course, it is just as possible that the Labyrinth was a natural phenomenon merely co-opted by the Takmahl, but that still raises the question of the nature of the Labyrinth.  Such a densely packed area of spatial rifts is unknown anywhere else in the Cluster, and nowhere else do we such rifts surviving for as long as the ones here do; at least 2000 years.

Labyrinth 5

A closer look at the data cache.

As mentioned, when one navigates the, dare I say, labyrinthine connection of spatial rifts to the center of the site, a large Takmahl site can be seen.  The site is dominated by an absolutely massive rock, portions of which had been hollowed out by the Takmahl to serve as a base of some kind.  Aura marks it as a “temple” (perhaps an understandable assumption given the Takmahl’s religious origins) but I’m not entirely sure where she got her information from.  However, it was difficult to see many details from the surface, or even with sensors.  More apparent, however, was the cloud of objects surrounding the central structure.  Takmahl data terminals and caches could be found strewn around the base, many of them still functioning millennia after they were constructed.  Like the Museum Arcana, the Labyrinth is a testament to the Takmahl’s engineering prowess.  A number of Blood Raiders based from here, and a number of other collectors can be seen zealously digging through (and defending) the various artifacts to see what hasn’t been snatched up yet.

Labyrinth 6

The Labyrinth is very close to Aphi.

Given the activity at the site, I didn’t have quite as much time as I would have liked at the central site.  I was unfortunately quickly decloaked and forced to defend myself, giving me only minimal time to take sensor readings and collect data before retreating.  My ships are built for speed and stealth, not combat.  As I warped out of the site, however, I had an eerie moment of déjà vu.  Although I was safely ensconced in my ship and warping out, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been here before.  On the run, tail tucked between my legs as I sought to exit from a massive maze.  Hmmm….

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: The Labyrinth
  • System: Aphi
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: Kador
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.  Additionally, a number of rats, ranging from frigates to battleships, are present throughout the site.  They will fire on you if you remain uncloaked.  Please note that the frigates, at least, may warp scramble you.
  • Additional Notes: You MUST obtain the Key to the Labyrinth, which I purchased on contracts, in order to get past the first acceleration gate.  The key is not consumed upon use.

Museum Arcana

Museum 1

A piece of ancient debris floats in the foreground to the Museum proper.

Most people often think of museums as musty old buildings filled with fading exhibits and the bones of animals long dead, or perhaps artifacts from cultures of days past.  They’re quiet buildings, filled with knowledge for those who are willing to seek it out.  Unless, of course, you happen to be a capsuleer, in which case anything that doesn’t involve explosions isn’t worth doing, be it for knowledge or some other cause.  Which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that, tucked away in the Araz constellation, the Museum Arcana combines the thrill of combat with the soporific effect that museums tend to have on people.  More an archeological site than a true museum, the area is still overseen by a Curator who seems curiously oblivious to the ships fighting over the choicest archeological artifacts.

Museum 2

One of the aspiring archeologists can be seen in the background.

The Museum is dedicated to the Takmahl.  Although often playing second fiddle to the more well-known Sleeper and Talocan ancient civilizations, the Takmahl have a fascinating history in their own right, and are probably the most recent of the lost civilizations of New Eden.  The Takmahl started off as an offshoot of an offshoot of the Amarr faith.  Those familiar with Amarr sects might recall that the Sani Sabik believe that purity can only be found through human blood.  While the official Faith disclaims these teachings, these theological ideas have long had some popularity amongst the Amarr.  Every so often, the Faith would set out and purge these blood believers.  One of these purges, early on after the discovery of interstellar flight, led to the expulsion of what would eventually become the Takmahl.  The followers left in cryo-ships, and apparently ended up in the Araz constellation. They became experts in cybernetics and bio-engineering before mysteriously dying out.  One of their more complete data repositories was eventually rediscovered and labeled the Museum Arcana.

Aura has this to say regarding the Museum:

Museum 3The Museum Arcana is an exclusive abode for purveyors of ancient, even arcane knowledge. The museum prides itself in serving only those truly learned in the secrets of the ancient world. To make this a certainty all visitors must not only have a rudimentary knowledge in prehistoric matters, but may be called upon to demonstrate their capabilities.

Museum 4

The still-functioning biodomes can clearly be seen here.

Aura has apparently been developing a bit of a sense of humor, since “a bit of rudimentary knowledge” roughly translates to “able to spend a few million isk.”  By running an analyzer and obtaining a Key of the Arcane, the doorkeeper is happy to let you pass into the primary area of the museum.  There, the Museum becomes a bit of a free for all.  Despite being open for business for a few years now, the Museum still has quite a few juicy morsels at play, and collectors of archaic memorabilia can often be seen tussling with those hoping to find some of that cybernetic and bio-engineering technology that I mentioned.  And, of course, any newcomers can expect to have both of those groups gang up on them for daring to intrude into their territory.  However, it can be useful seeing as how finding a few tokens for the Curator allows you access to another fascinating Takmahl site, the Labyrinth in Aphi.  But that’s for another entry.

Museum 5

One of the still active secondary data repositories.

Assuming you can take your mind off of the people trying to blow you up, the Museum itself is quite a sight to see.  The Museum is anchored by a massive central structure, surrounded by a field of secondary data repositories.  While the main structure has long been mined out of artifacts, many of the secondary repositories are still active, assuming you have the proper equipment with you.  However, the main structure of the Museum dominates from an aesthetics viewpoint.  Amarrian influences are clear in its construction, almost making the entire thing feel like a temple dedicated to preserving Takmahlan knowledge.  In particular, the top of the structure is dominated by the all-too-familiar sweeping hand of Amarrian destiny, demonstrating that the Amarr (and the Takmahl) had delusions of galactic domination for millennia.

Museum 6

The Curator stands watch over the Museum.

Although the Amarr influences are to be expected, perhaps more surprising are the deviations from Amarr architecture.  While the Amarr are well-known for their love of all things golden, the Takmahl structure’s blue-ish hues, organic curves, and biodomes gives much of the structure an almost Gallente feel to it.  I would have thought the styles would clash, but they go together remarkably well, giving the structure a very graceful feel.  The biodomes, of course, fit the Takmahlan historic interest in bio-engineering.  Perhaps the most impressive aspect of it was the fact that even now, hundreds if not thousands of years later, the biodomes were still as verdant and green as anything you would find on Gallente Prime.  Indeed, everything seemed remarkably well-preserved, which is yet another testament to Takmahl technology, regardless of any ethical concerns I might have about their religious beliefs.

Museum 7

Zimse glints off of the Museum’s domes.

I spent some time at the Museum, mostly just looking around and admiring the views.  Professor Science’s cloak meant that just about everyone ignored me, something with which I was perfectly content.  Eventually, however, it was time to move on from the Museum.  As I warped out, I couldn’t help but wonder if museums would be more popular if they all involved guns, explosions, and blood-drinking religious fanatics, but I guess we will never know.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Museum Arcana
  • System: Zimse
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: Kador
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.  Additionally, a number of rats, ranging from frigates to a battleship, are present at the site.  They will fire on you if you remain uncloaked.
  • Additional Notes: You MUST obtain the Key of the Arcane, which I purchased on contracts for about 10 million isk, in order to get past the first acceleration gate.  The key is not consumed upon use.
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