Sightseeing in the Cluster

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Expedition Office

Expedition 1

The remains of the Sisters’ Expedition Office

I’ve never been one to aim to rock the boat. I appreciate that governments may not and cannot tell us everything that happens, and that some secrets are best kept as that: secrets. But over the past few years, I find myself growing more and more distrustful of the various governmental entities found throughout the Cluster. There have been far too many unanswered questions, too many unexplained actions. Why has Empress Jamyl all but vanished from the public scene? What, exactly, have the Sisters of Eve been doing in Thera, and why haven’t they released more information about their colonization of the system well before general access opened up? On a more personal level, why has CONCORD unilaterally moved to shut down my research project? Rumor has it that they’ll be moving to do so again soon with little to no comment on their part. The list of questions goes on and on.

Expedition 2

The Hel-class supercarrier wreck can be seen nearby to the left.

Today, though, I want to focus on a question that we didn’t even know we had until fairly recently. But first, a bit of history may be useful. We all, of course, remember the horrors of the Seyllin disaster. Five hundred million people died in a matter of hours after a completely unpredicted stellar eruption shattered Seyllin I, along with its mining colony. Although much less disastrous, we know that there were 10 other so-called “main sequence events” that occurred around the Cluster at roughly the same time. Most of these other stellar outbursts were buried under the repercussions from Seyllin, but a close watcher of the news may have noticed that beyond Seyllin, a Thukker caravan, called the Lakat-Hro, was also lost in SL-YBS in the Great Wildlands. Sanmatar Shakor himself confirmed the loss. At the time, however, it seemed like a mere drop in the bucket.

Expedition 3

Sleeper drones can be found prowling in the wreck.

However, it seems that not only did portions of the Lakat-Hro great caravan survive, but they somehow got transported to Thera. Whether the Caravan made its way to Thera beforehand and the Minmatar used Seyllin as a convenient cover, or whether the Seyllin explosion somehow opened up a temporary wormhole that the Caravan was able to dash through before betting smashed to bits, has remained unconfirmed by the Shakor administration to this day, despite proddings from fellow writer Rhavas on the subject. Regardless of how the Caravan arrived in Thera, it ended up suffering an ironically identical fate to the one it missed in SL-YBS. Stationed near the devastated Expedition Office, the remains of the Hel-class supercarrier Matyrhan Lakat-Hro can be found scorched near the Sisters of Eve’s former command center in Thera.

Expedition 4

The wreck drifts in orbit around Thera VII.

Similar to the previously-profiled Testing Facilities, the site is the scene of an almost completely destroyed Sisters station. Scans of the area managed to piece together some sense of what happened here:

Scarred and scorched by devastating forces, this wrecked station apparently served as the command post for the Sanctuary expedition to Thera. Wreathed in clouds of plasma, gas and dust, the station’s destruction, while not absolute, is profound and the interior has been gutted by fire and explosions.

The station itself, of clearly Gallente design, sits near the shattered remains of Thera VII. It’s now an empty husk of a station, with glowing plasma clouds still slowly dispersing from the station and rings of debris, both from the station itself and the planet below.

Expedition 5

The relay is nearly untouched… except for the disablingly precise weapons fire.

I next turned my attention to the nearby satellite that seems remarkably untouched next to the destruction that the station suffered. To say that the scan results quirked my eyebrows would be putting it mildly:

Apparently a hastily converted radiation monitoring satellite, this device seems to have briefly functioned as an emergency communications relay. It shows relatively few signs of damage but seems to have been knocked out of commission by several precise energy weapon strikes to its processing cores.

Expedition 6

The Thera VII debris ring can be seen in the distance

The fact that the relay was relatively untouched suggests that it was setup after the Thera main sequence event struck the system, bringing ruin to much of the Sisters’ inner stations. That would certainly necessitate emergency communications equipment from any possible source, including converted radiation monitoring satellites kept in storage. There’s no way such a delicate structure could have survived when every other surrounding structure was so completely annihilated. What was much more puzzling was who could have struck the relay after it had been converted. It seems unlikely the Sisters would attack their own (barring more evidence of a schism within the organization, at least), and energy weapon signatures don’t match with Minmatar tech. Which means we have at least one more player in the Thera mystery. Two possibilities spring to mind: either the Sansha or the Sleepers/Drifters. Both entities have at least some connection, however vague, to the events in Thera, but without more information from the notoriously tight-lipped humanitarian organization, we may never know for sure.

Finally, there were the remains of the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro. The supercarrier appeared to be moored at the station at the time the disaster struck. Scans of both the ship itself and GalNet archives revealed an intriguing analysis:

Expedition 7

A closer look at the wrecked Matyrhan Lakat-Hro.

Surviving markings on the wreck of this Hel-class supercarrier identify it as the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro. In many places symbols of the Thukker Tribe are present along with numerous caravan markings that appear to confirm a link to the lost Lakat-Hro Great Caravan.

The presence of such a vessel in the Thera system has drawn attention to the Thukker contingent working with the Sanctuary here but no comment on the matter has been forthcoming from either party. Early delvers into the wreck’s scorched interior soon discovered that all data storage devices had been carefully purged and destructively irradiated.

Expedition 8

The wrecked supercarrier still has a dense debris cloud

Again, what caught my eye wasn’t the ship’s scorched interiors, but the fact that someone had gone through and wiped any potential data sources struck me as very odd, especially so soon after the disaster. Perhaps it was the same entity who attacked the Relay? Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sisters themselves had gone back to wipe the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro’s databanks in an effort to protect their many, many secrets. Regardless, its presence in Thera helps to highlight the close working relationship that the Thukker and Sisters enjoy. But it once again only raises more questions than answers.

Expedition 9

Thera shines brightly in the background

As I finished my survey, I sighed, briefly debating calling it a day in Thera before remembering that if I docked in the system, I’d almost never successfully undock thanks to the omnipresent campers in the system. Capsuleers: yet another thing I could never trust in New Eden. I had always considered myself a good citizen but the rash of unexplained governmental actions taken has made me begin to question exactly where my loyalties lie. I had always supported CONCORD’s presence, seeing it as a necessary check on capsuleer power, but their refusal to act on the Drifter threat (beyond releasing panicked press releases) and, indeed, to actively cover up parts of it, has lessened my enthusiasm for the organization. And the Sisters… well, I haven’t trusted them in ages. At least with capsuleers, you know not to trust them from the start.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Expedition Office
  • System: Thera
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Thera is well-known for being a hotbed of player activity. Despite the system size, fights break out often, and the working stations in system are often gate camped, as can the wormholes into and out of the system. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.

Jove Observatory

Jove 1

The Jove Observatories are now damaged.

(Editor’s Note: For previous entries on the Jove Observatories, please see here and here).

A persistent beeping brought me to consciousness. For a moment – just a moment – I had forgotten not only where I was but who I was. For that brief moment of awareness, I forgot about flying through the stars with only myself and my ship. I had forgotten that I was an immortal human, a paradoxical statement until even a few decades ago. I had forgotten not only the wars and the death that ground on throughout the Cluster, but also the beauty and mystery found throughout it.

And then that moment passed, and it all came rushing back to me.

Jove 2

A close-up view of one of the breaches. A flash of lightning can be seen in the Structure’s depths.

The beeping, of course, was a rather insistent series of communiques, both from fellow pilots and Aura, telling me that I needed to get into my ship yesterday. The Drifters and Circadian Seekers had made their move, and it wasn’t in the direction I was expecting.

I undocked and, once again, made my way back to the no-longer-unidentified structure in my current home system of Iyen-Oursta. CONCORD had finally unveiled their initial analysis of the structures, and had concluded, as most had, that they were Jove in origin. More importantly, CONCORD has identified the structures as observatories, meant to watch the systems they were planted in, and those around them. A little unnerving, to say the least. Aura summed up the analysis in her classically succinct phrasing:

::vents gas into space::CONCORD’s analysis has revealed only scant and confusing information about this structure. Surveys of the damaged areas of the structure reveal a series of clearly powerful but functionally mysterious elements. The structure is undoubtedly Jove in origin but it is hard to determine its exact age given the advanced nature of the materials and construction. Regardless of its age, it is safe to say the structure surpasses anything we have previously seen.

Jove 4

A Seeker flies towards the Observatory

As I came out of warp, the observatories loomed in the distance. Even this far out, my poor Buzzard-class frigate felt minuscule next to such a hulking structure. I enjoyed the sight of the massive yet still graceful structure before I actually figure out what had everyone up in arms. While the overall superstructure appeared intact, the observatories had three clear breaches of the hull, with each breach surrounded by slowly a expanding cloud of debris. Immediately, I needed to know what caused the breach. I knew it wasn’t capsuleer in origin, though that certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Numerous attempts, both by myself and others, could not even dent the resilient alloys used by the Jove in construction of the observatories.

Jove 5

The Seeker fires a cutting beam into the Observatory.

I examined the breaches closely, looking for any clues as to why they were there. The breaches did not appear intended to destroy the overall observatory: instead, they appeared to be surgical strikes towards targeted area of the structures. Precisely what was being targeted in the observatory was a mystery, of course, since our own scans couldn’t even penetrate the surface. Even with the breaches, my sensors weren’t able to make heads or tails of what, if anything, was viewable in the interior. But even without knowing what the attackers were after, it was clear that the assaults targeted three areas in the observatories. The biggest breach could be found near the middle of the superstructure. The breach was near what appeared to be some vents in the observatory, and the damage is severe enough that lightning can be seen arcing through the interior of the observatory at various intervals, their bright sparks lighting up the insides for the briefest of moments.

Jove 6

The Seeker activates a second beam, possibly a tractor.

Although I assumed that the Seekers and Drifters were behind these attacks (who else could have done this kind of targeted damage?) I waited for confirmation for a few days. Eventually, while camped out at the observatory in Iyen-Oursta, I finally saw some Circadian Seekers assault the Jove structure. It was a long-running affair, as the Seekers came out of warp near the beacon to the site, and then slow-boated the 150+ kilometers to the structure itself. Once a few kilometers from the structures, rather than using the gentle blue scan beams I had become accustomed to seeing from the Seekers, they lashed out with a brilliant orange cutting beam towards the various areas that had already been breached. After attacking the structure further, they activated a narrow white beam on the area.

At the time, I was unable to figure out exactly was the purpose of the white beam, but I now believe that this beam is a form of tractor beam. Evidence for this comes from a newly-discovered piece of equipment found in many Seeker and Drifter wrecks: the Antikythera element. Just what this piece of equipment does is unknown, and, as usual, Aura’s analysis isn’t particularly helpful:

Jove 7Limited information is available on this object.

A direct analysis reveals some vague and distorted results.

Slight external damage signals that it was detached from something else, but despite its removal, the core structure continues to thrum with a deep, surging power.

Even without proof or solid knowledge of the function of this component, it is quite clear that it forms a vital part of something much larger.

Jove 8

Two Seekers focus on one area of the structure.

I could immediately imagine a few reasons why the Seekers would only focus on the element and not the larger machine, but each hypothesis raises its own questions. More important, in my mind at least, is whether the Jove observatories and these Antikythera elements are what the Seekers were sent out to, well, seek. That they’re hunting them down now is obvious, but is it what they were designed to do? It’s also clear that the Seekers’ threat response protocols have been repeatedly increased in recent months. Seekers, along with their Drifter brethren, have become more and more aggressive, and the most recent reports state that they’ve even begun attacking capsuleers with no provocation. Such a change in behavior is troubling indeed, and I can’t help but wonder if the Drifters have somehow assumed control of the Seekers.

Jove 9

Exactly what the Seekers are after is unknown but probably related to the Antikythera elements.

I was shaken out of my reverie as the Seekers finished their excavation and warped on to their next target. I quickly managed to get my hands on my own Antikythera element. I’m not sure what good it’ll be, but I felt better knowing that I had my own copy of the mysterious device. It also felt more than a little awe-inspiring to have a piece of actual Jove tech sitting in my hanger, and not something that’s been dumbed down for the rest of the Cluster. I may have no idea what it does, but it’s my own piece of history, sitting in my own hanger. As I settled back down in my bunk to get back to sleep, I wondered what stories it had to tell.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Jove Observatory
  • System: Various throughout known space
  • Security Rating: Various throughout known space
  • Region: Various throughout known space
  • Potential Hazards: Both Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships will attack if you are uncloaked at the Observatories (or in other places in system). Seeker offensive strength has risen. Caution is advised.

Unidentified Structures (Uncloaked)

uncloaked structures 1

The fully decloaked Jove structures.

(Editor’s note: if you’d like to read my first write-up of the only partially-decloaked unidentified structures, please see here. To see my write-up after the assault by the Seekers and Drifters, please see here.)

They’ve been listening to us. For how long? We don’t know. Why? We can only guess. Who are they? Well, that finally seems to be crystallizing. We’ve long known the Jove to take a light touch with Cluster politics. They have a knack for showing up unannounced, preening their advanced technology and, if they so deign, gifting us with a bit of it if they so desire, and then disappearing again as quickly as they arrived. Long the distant older sibling of the New Eden family, it’s become clear that the Jove have in fact kept a much closer eye on us than we have previously realized. Which brings us, of course, to the question of how they’ve been watching us. That has become more obvious in recent weeks. I had previously mentioned the appearance of partially-decloaked unidentified structures that had popped up across the Cluster. Well, those structures have now fully decloaked, and it’s now fairly clear that these structures are part of a Cluster-wide observing network. Both the media and the Sisters of Eve agree that the structures are probably Jove in origin.

uncloaked structures 2

Professor Science heads towards a rendezvous

These structures fit with the Jove’s general modus operandi. It’s long been rumored that the Jove have hid the remains of ancient technology surrounding the Eve Gate that far surpasses the technology of today. If the Jove are able to cloak debris and remains of this magnitude, it’s a small logical step indeed to suppose that they could also have cloaked these structures across the Cluster with us knowing nothing about them. Of course, this raises the question of why the structures are decloaking now (as well as the question of whether the rumored tech near the Eve Gate will also start appearing on our scanners). Most people seem to agree that whatever caused Caroline’s Star devastated what remained of the Jove Empire, as evidenced by the collapse of their stargate network. Why that would lead to structures spread throughout New Eden to decloak at roughly the same time is anyone’s guess, although there are a few plausible theories out there.

uncloaked structures 3

Professor Science is dwarfed next to the structure.

Whatever the reason, the structures are now here for all to see, with CONCORD already marking them with beacons for all to see. And quite a sight they are. For one, the stations are absolutely gargantuan in nature. They dwarf even a titan in size, with estimates showing that the stations are roughly 190 kilometers from top to bottom. Needless to say, Professor Science is but a mote of dust next to such a large structure. Indeed, it takes me a good one to two minutes altogether to transverse the entire structure, even with a microwarpdrive attached to my Buzzard-class ship. The power requirements to cloak such a vessel must have been enormous, even if the station was designed with cloaking in mind. Sitting next to the structure was enough to make my head spin.

uncloaked structures 4

A look up one side of the Jovian structure

But that’s nothing next to the design itself of the structure. This was the first time I’ve come in contact with anything Jove. I’ve, of course, seen pictures of Jove ships and stations. But this is the first time that I’ve seen Jove engineering up close (the Gnosis and Apotheosis excepted, of course, but it has not been clear how closely the Society of Conscious Thought and the Jovian Directorate were intertwined since the Society’s scandal with Sansha’s Nation), and the results are, understandably, stunning. The architecture is different from the almost-organic feel (which is distinct from the Gallente’s graceful organic architecture) that other Jove structures and ships have displayed. Instead, the tower, with buttress-like structures and ridges traveling up and down the observation post reminds me most of the soaring cathedrals often seen on Amarr planets. It was not an impression I was expecting from the Jove, perhaps the antithesis of the Amarr when it comes to religion, but it was the impression I got nonetheless.

uncloaked structures 5

The top of the structures.

It should be noted that both the Circadian Seekers and the Drifter Battleships, despite neither being strictly Jove in origin (so we think, at least), have taken a keen interest in our interactions with the observation posts. Indeed, I let myself get careless with Seekers nearby, and just heading in the structure’s general direction earned me weapons fire from the Seekers. Both types of ships seem intent on preventing interaction with the structures whenever possible, and they will not hesitate to use weapons if they are around. Not that much interaction is even possible. The structures are resistant to scans and as well as any and all communications requests, and Aura’s analysis simply notes that the structure doesn’t match anything in her database. We don’t even know if the stations are manned, for that matter. Too many questions, so few answers.

uncloaked structures 6

Zooming up the structure

Given all we have learned in the past few months, and the even more that we haven’t, its natural to wonder exactly what has happened to the Jove. I do fear the worst for our erstwhile benefactors; it seems unlikely that they would let these Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships roam around unchallenged if the Jove were at all capable of responding to them. I’ve always been slightly disgruntled with them given their potential to improve our lives in so many ways, but it has taken this level of potential disaster in their space for me to realize that even given their hesitance to interact, I will miss them if they are gone.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unidentified Structure
  • System: Various throughout known space
  • Security Rating: Various throughout known space
  • Region: Various throughout known space
  • Potential Hazards: As noted above, both Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships, if present at unidentified structures, will attack if you try to approach while uncloaked. Caution is advised. EDIT: With the release of Scylla, Circadian Seeker drones have become stronger and more hostile. Drifter battleships have begun to pod players. Caution is strongly advised.

Unidentified Wormholes

wormhole 1

A profile view of a Drifter battleship

It’s remarkable that just six months ago, I was worried about running out of things to discuss with in my travelogue. I had seen much (though certainly not all) that there was to see, and I had been consciously spacing out my entries to prolong my writing for as long as possible. But oh how things can change. Since Caroline’s Star quite literally exploded onto the scene, I have had a plethora of things to discuss, and for the first time in quite a while, I have a sizeable backlog of sites to catalog, analyze, and explore, to the point where I feel bad that I’ve let things go for as long as I have without comment. I suspect I’m not the only one who has felt this sense of renewal in New Eden in recent days. Between Thera and various happenings in New Eden, it certainly feels to me that the plodding ship of New Eden is getting underway again.

wormholes 2

A near-front view of the battleships, with freefloating turrets visible

Indeed, perhaps the most evident demonstration of this newfound momentum is the rather explosive appearance of a new faction in the Cluster. The Drifters are a mysterious, biomechanical race of beings that, if CONCORD is to be believed, are a splinter sect of the Jove… and perhaps all that remains of the Empire. Rumors surrounding the death of the Jovians have spread rampantly since Mouse Nell managed to capture a photo of what appeared to be Sansha Nation vessels stationed just off of a conquered Jove station in YC 112. Indeed, the last known communique from the Empire was that they had expelled the Sansha fleet. For the next 5 years, there has been only silence from the Jove, and the apparent collapse of much of the Jove stargate network following the appearance of Caroline’s Star only exacerbated those rumors. But CONCORD intelligence on the Drifters released to capsuleers suggests that the Empire may indeed have fallen:

wormholes 3Emerging from the ruins of the Sleeper civilization spread throughout Anoikis – otherwise known as ‘W-Space’ – the Drifters represent a tremendous challenge and perhaps a dire threat to the empires and capsuleers alike. Seemingly inheritors of a legacy left behind by some of the most ancient Jove, the Drifters are unafraid to wield tremendous power in response to any who get in their way. In this regard, the Drifters are a very different conundrum than the relatively benign presence that was the Jove Empire. (emphasis mine)

wormholes 4

The Drifters also have a scanning beam.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the Drifters is that CONCORD has determined recognized pilots in the battleships. Oddly, for all of the Drifter ships seen, there are only two pilots: Apollo Tyrannos and Artemis Tyrannos. From what data CONCORD has released about them, their appearances are the stuff of nightmares. While the Jove had always had an otherworld-y appearance about them, the result of millennia of genetic manipulation, Apollo and Artemis are another breed altogether. Their bodies are nearly completely covered in various cybernetic devices and enhancements. What functions these devices serve can only be speculated about at this point, but given their relationship to the Jove, perhaps the devices serve the same functions as what the Jove accomplished through genetic manipulation. Same ends, different means. Perhaps.

wormholes 5

The unidentified wormhole and accompanying structures

The Drifters are frightening not just for their appearance, but also for both their hostility and technological prowess. Although the Drifters have not (as of yet) begun to attack pilots at random, they have shown no hesitation in both defending themselves and protecting areas that they deem important (to date, Drifters have shown particular interest in protecting the unidentified wormholes and the unidentified structures that have popped up around the cluster) from capsuleer incursion. Drifter ships utilize a new form of propulsion that seemingly upends our understandings of physics. Rather than relying on classical concepts of propulsion (utilizing that good old law of motion that for every action there is an equal, but opposite, reaction), CONCORD analyses of the Drifter ships suggests that they interact directly with the fabric of space-time to move around. This method of propulsion evidences itself through a number of antennae at the back of the Drifter ships, with a nearly invisible field that is mostly seen by how it distorts background stars and planets when looking through it.

Wormholes 6

A closeup view of the wormhole

More importantly, the Drifters possess advanced defensive and offensive technology. Drifter battleships employ some form of dual-layer shielding system. Collapsing the first layer of shielding triggers some form of electro-magnetic pulse that forces all nearby vessels to lose target lock on the ship. And, of course, any attackers would then have to penetrate a second layer of pristine shields. Beyond the pulse, collapsing the first layer of shields also triggers an important step in Drifter rules of engagement: the deployment of their heavy weapons. Ships that do not collapse the first layer of shields are hit by weapons that CONCORD has designated as ‘lux kontos’. Once the first layer of shields drops, however, Drifter commanders authorize the use of what capsuleers have started calling ‘lux destructum’. This heavy weapon is capable of taking down capital ships in just a few shots, and has proven extremely destructive on the battlefield. However, similar to their Circadian Sleeper cousins, they also scan nearby ships and structures with their curious scanning beams.

wormholes 7

The multiplex forwarder and thermoelectric converter array.

So far, at least, Drifters appear only in systems that have or have had what CONCORD has dubbed an unidentified wormhole in them. And these wormholes, so far, have only appeared in systems with unidentified Structures in them. These unidentified wormholes are a mystery in their own right. Unlike the more common wormholes I’m well-familiar with, these wormholes, but like the ones found at Promised Land I and the various shattered star Epicenters, the unidentified wormhole here is not transversable by standard ships. However, that does not stop Drifter vessels from using the wormholes as they see fit: they can be found coming and going through the wormhole. The other side of the wormhole seems to be similar to Thera: at least from what little we can see through the spatial distortions of the wormhole. However, thorough capsuleer scans from Thera cannot find the other end of the wormholes. That may indicate that the other side of the unidentified wormholes, while not in Thera itself, may be near enough Thera’s location so as to share the same general sky.

Wormholes 8

The wormhole appears to lead to, or near, Thera.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the wormhole isn’t the hole itself, but what comes with it. The hole is bracketed by twin arrays of Sleeper structures. Each array consists of two types of structures: Sleeper Multiplex Forwarders attached to Sleeper Thermoelectric Converters. The Forwarders appear to be massive data-transfer conduits, presumably for transferring information through the wormholes, while the Converters act as the Forwarders’ power source. Exactly what is being transferred through these conduits is unknown, though given that these wormholes only appear in systems with the unidentified structures, it seems safe to assume that at least part of the bandwidth is dedicated to uploading whatever data the Drifters and Seekers discover (assuming the two factions are working together… I am admittedly uncomfortable with the amount of supposition in today’s entry).

wormholes 9

These wormholes raise much more questions than answers

As mentioned, the Drifters are generally not a fan of capsuleer ships snooping very close to the wormholes. However, I was able to take my bare capsule in for a look. As noted, I wasn’t able to transverse the wormhole, but I was able to get a good look through the distortions. As I was doing so, I recalled the various statements that have been made by CONCORD, the Sisters of Eve, and others, as well as the communiques we’ve received by someone claiming to be Dr. Tukoss. I’m uncomfortable with the feeling that so many people know so much more of what is going on than the general public does. What are they hiding from us? And why? Troubled, I quickly re-entered my ship and moved on before the Drifters took note of me.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unidentified Wormholes
  • System: Various throughout known space
  • Security Rating: Various throughout known space
  • Region: Various throughout known space
  • Potential Hazards: As noted, Drifter battleships may be found near the wormholes and will attack with force if they see you near the wormhole (they do not attack capsules and do not attack cloaked vessels). You do not want to make Drifters angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry. Like Seekers, Drifters have followed hostile pilots through warp. Caution is advised.

Testing Facilities

Testing facilities 1

The remains of the Testing Facility and Exotic Specimen Warehouse

Since the opening of Anoikis space almost 6 years ago, capsuleers had gained a solid practical understanding of wormhole space. Oh, there was plenty of mystery surrounding it, but the community, particularly those who lived there, had a good idea of how to take advantage of the resources available. But us pilots were not the only ones who saw the potential of Anoikis space. Imagine our surprise, not even 6 weeks ago, shortly after Caroline’s Star first made her appearance, when not only did we discover that there were new systems connected to the wormhole network, and not only did each and every one of these systems show signs of massive devastation, but that the Sisters of Eve have been inhabiting at least one of those systems. And, in fact, they’ve been doing so for quite some time. Eight Sisters’ stations, in various stages of array and disarray, can be found in a system they’ve named Thera.

Testing Facility 2

The Testing Facility is clearly Gallente in origin.

This, of course, raises any number of questions. How did the Sisters even get to Thera in the first place? The wormholes between New Eden and Anoikis are fairly well-mapped, if not always well understood. If the old wormhole network connected to Thera, pod pilots would have discovered it in the 6 intervening years. So the Sisters didn’t just stumble through a wormhole to find it. Then how did they get here? And what, exactly, happened here? The devastation is evident throughout the new wormhole systems, but particularly in Thera. Over the years, the Sisters had managed to establish 8 stations throughout the massive system, and only 4 of them now remain active. The other 4 are but drifting wrecks now, and with the Sisters being characteristically tight lipped on the subject, we’re left to only speculate how these stations met their fates.

Testing facility 3

Damage appears concentrated near the former docking port

Today, I’m focusing on what I think is the most interesting of the wrecks: the remains of the Sisters’ Testing Facilities. As might be expected, information from Aura was scarce:

Apparently set up to study nearby Talocan technology, this station has been buckled and broken by numerous impacts, possibly from material thrown up from the devastated planet below. The array of Talocan static gates nearby is eerily intact and seems to be functional to some degree.

Testing Facilities 4

The Exotic Specimen Warehouse sits about 200 km off of the Testing Facilities.

The station itself seems to be built to Gallente specifications. Close examination of the station shows the damage seemed, oddly enough, to be greatest near the docking port of the station. Almost as if there was an explosion inside the station that forced its way out, rather than from the outside in as Aura’s scans suggest. The station’s graceful rings, though no longer spinning of course, add a surprising serenity to the site, despite the near total devastation. The entire station is enclosed in a dim greenish glow that I’m not immediately able to identify, and with significant amounts of debris nearby, navigation was a hazard.

Testing Facilities 5

Sunlight glints off the Warehouse wreck, surrounded by a dense debris field.

In stark contrast to the devastation wrought on the station, the nearby Talocan static gate appears almost completely untouched. The gate here is, as far as I can tell, identical to the operative ones seen in Epicenters throughout the shattered systems. Where this particular one came from is anyone’s guess: a quick visit to the Epicenter in Thera showed that none were missing there. Static gates in such good condition haven’t been seen outside of Epicenters, but the Sisters just happened to find one in a secret system? Curiouser and curiouser. I have little doubt that the Facility here was working on Talocan technology, and probably focused on unlocking the secrets of the static gates. If I thought that they had done so, I would be tempted to say that the Sisters got to Thera using the static gates, but with no indications of any functioning static gates in any previously explored systems, I still can’t figure out how the Sisters got to Thera in the first place. But that is not all that can be found at the site. About 200 kilometers from the testing facilities stands a second station, which Aura calls an Exotic Specimen Warehouse. Per Aura:

Testing facilities 6

A close up of the central complex of the Warehouse. Note the radioactive fullerene gas clouds.

Wrecked and battered, though largely intact, this station and its neighbor must originally have been sheltered in the lee of the planet to some extent. Disruption of orbital mechanics in this system make it difficult to be sure but the proximity of Thera III to the central star and the survival of recognizable station ruins requires an explanation of this kind. Some have suggested wilder theories concerning the nearby Talocan technology. The station itself seems to have functioned as a vast storehouse of materials and specimens gathered from the core of the system. Not much remains and large quantities of radioactive fullerene gas seem to have bled from the ruptured storage vessels.

Testing facilities 7

A nearly pristine Talocan static gate remains untouched next to the ruined station.

Encased in the same debris and eerie green glow, which I now knew was the aforementioned radioactive fullerene gas, the Warehouse gave few clues as to the other materials it held. The station itself was heavily damaged and cratered. Although we have no indication of exactly when the devastation wracked Thera, given news reports, it seems likely the devastation was recent. Given how silent the station is now, the thought that just weeks ago these two stations were teeming with life and science is a bit too morbid for my tastes.

Testing facilities 8

Quite a few mysteries remain to be solved.

Events seem to be accelerating quickly these days. So much so that at times I can hardly keep up. But I suspect the mysteries surrounding Thera are going to be with us for a while. I heard it once said that there 4 kinds of information: the information we know we know, the information we don’t know we know, the information we know we don’t know, and the information we don’t know we don’t know. With the events surrounding Caroline’s Star and Thera, mysteries still abound but at least we’re moving items from the ‘information we don’t know we don’t know’ category to the ‘information we know we don’t know category.’ It’s not the most heartwarming of realizations, but in times like these, I’ll take what I can get.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Testing Facilities
  • System: Thera
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Thera is well-known for being a hotbed of player activity. Despite the system size, fights break out often, and the working stations in system are often gate camped, as can the wormholes into and out of the system. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.

Epicenter

Epicenter 1

Epicenters are sprawling complexes of Talocan and Sleeper structures

There are worse things in the world than having too many things that interest you. Surely you know that feeling of wishing you had more eyes in your head or more hours in the day just to make sure you were able to keep up with all that was going on around you. Between planetside concerns, keeping up with friends, ongoing presidential elections, concerning changes in Sleeper behavior, and my own personal treasure hunt, it was all too easy to forget that I had promised myself that I would visit and scan every new Anoikis system that has become accessible since Caroline’s Star appeared. I haven’t even yet reached 10% of that goal, but the things that I have seen so far have been absolutely fascinating. The new systems appear to have suffered absolutely catastrophic damage. If we thought the Seyllin Incident was devastating, these systems appeared to have suffered disasters exponentially worse. Not only were the first planets destroyed, but all planets in almost every so-called shattered system have been, well, shattered (the one partial exception to this has been the newly-discovered Thera system, where only planets out to 70 AU have been so cataclysmically damaged).

Epicenter2

A Sleeper preservation conduit, with a Violent Wormhole in the distance.

But more importantly for my purposes, every system I’ve visited (and, from all reports, every shattered system in general) has another thing in common: they all have Epicenters. These are gigantic sites, sprawling across over 100 kilometers of open space within a million kilometers of the local star. And they offered such tantalizing clues into both the Sleepers and the Talocan, civilizations about which we still know far too little. My fellow explorer, friend, and researcher into the events surrounding Seyllin, Rhavas, has been practically giddy since the Epicenters were first discovered, putting together a speculative tour de force as to what the Epicenters may actually mean. But, as per my usual tendencies, I will try to stay towards what we can consider facts, and let others make their own judgments as to what those facts suggest.

Epicenter3

A (nearly) working example of Talocan gate technology

The first thing I noticed about the first Epicenter I discovered (deep in J012402) was how, even moreso than many other Anoikis sites I’ve seen, the Epicenter demonstrates a melding of both Talocan and Sleeper components. Many of the traditional Sleeper stations can be found at Epicenters, such as enclaves, preservation conduits, and thermoelectric converters. You can find these kinds of buildings within almost any Sleeper site in Anoikis, and wormhole denizens would almost find them boring background objects at this point, they are so plentiful. Somewhat rarer, however, are the Talocan structures interspersed throughout. Though any Anoikis inhabitants are bound to be familiar with Talocan polestars and disruption towers, they are not quite as common as the Sleeper structures. Although Talocan and Sleeper structures intermingling like this is a common sight, we still have precious little information on the nature of the relationship between the Talocan and Sleeper civilizations.

Epicenter4

A closer look at the Static Gate structure.

Perhaps the most exciting discovery found at Epicenters, however, are the discovery of what are almost certainly working-examples of Talocan technology. It’s been long known that the Talocan are masters of hypereuclidean mathematics and spatial manipulation. And their disruption towers and static gates have long hinted at the Talocan’s ability to utilize a different form of long-distance transportation, separate from our stargate network. But what the Epicenters offer are working (or nearly so) examples of the Talocan tech in action. Four Talocan static gates tied together with a disruption tower appeared capable of opening a spatial rift to another location. Along with these rifts, various violent wormholes can be found interspersed within the Epicenter complex, though they are unusable by our ships.

Epicenter5

A close up of one of the violent wormholes. Note that Cloud Ring can be made out through visual distortion.

If violent wormholes sound familiar to you, they should: another one has long been found in Promised Land as a leftover of the Sansha invasion of Yulai back in YC 113. Oddly, all the violent wormholes in Epicenters (along with the one in Promised Land) seem to point to somewhere in Pure Blind, given the nebulae we can see through the wormholes. Although I long ago conducted a survey of Pure Blind, I was never able to find any indication of where the other side of the wormhole in Promised Land was. We have long known that Sansha has had the ability to create wormholes of his own. Back in YC 112 and 113, he used this technology to wreak havoc and spread terror across New Eden, as system after system came under attack, with millions of civilians taken by his vessels. Today, he primarily uses this technology to attempt to stop capsuleers through his incursions. We’ve long wondered where Sansha has gotten this technology, and the discovery of these systems strongly suggests that Sansha and his minions were able to reverse engineer how these devices work. With the ability to open a wormhole into any system, it would only be a matter of time before he set his sights on New Eden.

But I’m wandering back into the realm of speculation here, aren’t I?

Epicenter6

Another view of the Epicenter

The last notable piece of the Epicenter puzzle are the presence of Sleeper drones. The drones themselves are not particularly notable, but the fact that they hang back as far as they do is. I admittedly did not have the ability to engage the drones when I visited the Epicenters (and given the Circadian Seeker’s increased hostility to aggressive capsuleers as of late, perhaps this was for the best), but it very much seemed as if the drones were guarding the Talocan polestars. Most archeologists agree that polestars were the center of Talocan civilization, and to find the drones focusing their patrol routes around the polestars, always found on the far side of the Epicenter from the star in my experience, suggests yet another connection between the two civilizations.

Epicenter7

A Sleeper drone, one of three usually found at Epicenters, continues its route near the polestar.

In my travels, I find myself repeatedly spending a lot of time at the Epicenters. Many of them are similar, if not identical, in appearance from system to system, but I can’t help but get swept away by the beauty of them, and the tantalizing hints that they offer. As I threaded my way amongst the various structures, I felt like I could actually feel the heartbeat of these ancient civilizations. And they stand as testaments to both the Sleepers and the Talocan. The civilizations are long dead, but their technology lives on. Considering the devastation wrought in these shattered systems, that is indeed saying something. I can only hope that the current crop of New Eden civilizations can build something that withstand the test of time even half as well as the Sleepers and the Talocan.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Epicenter
  • System: In shattered systems, or Thera and any other wormhole system whose name starts with a J0xxxxx
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Epicenters can only be found in Anoikis, or wormhole space. As such, it is impossible to see in local chat if any other players are present in the system with you. As noted in the entry, Sleeper drones can also be found at the Epicenters. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.

Unidentified Structure

Unidentified 1

Lightning crackles next to the Professor

(Editor’s Note: The Unidentified Structures have undergone a few changes since this entry. To see my entry on the uncloaking of the structures, please see here. To see my entry on their assault by the Seekers and Drifters, please see here).

It is perhaps needless to note that I have my hands full over the next few months. New Eden is in a state of upheaval, and CONCORD has deigned fit to mark quite a few new beacons and landmarks throughout and beyond the Cluster. I, of course, fully intend to canvass all of these sites here, but doing so will take time indeed. Over one hundred new systems have been added to the wormhole network, and it’s still not completely clear what can be found in them. I’ve already given myself the goal of visiting all new systems to ensure that I can bring the most accurate information here. But for today, we’re going to have to just settle for what is, from what I’ve seen at least, the least visually impressive landmark that has been uncovered in recent weeks, but what I think is perhaps the most important.

Unidentified 2

The barest outline of the odd structure can be seen here.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came out of warp. The beacon had appeared in space in my home system with little ceremony, and reports were coming in that these beacons had popped up across the Cluster. At first, I saw absolutely nothing. It seems the beacon, marked as an “Unidentified Structure” had been wrongfully placed in the middle of a normal dust cloud. But then a flash of light caught my eye. Lightning crackling in the distance. What was lightning doing in space? As I watched for it again, I noticed a faint shimmering. Lightning crackled again, and I noticed that the lightning seemed to travel up the edge of… the faint shimmering thing. Sensors were, of course, inconclusive, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say that a station’s cloaking device was failing. I’d never seen a cloak fail quite like this, but I’d also never seen a cloak on quite this scale before.

Unidentified 3

Another view of with hints of a new structure

I strained my eyes (and my sensors) trying to see what was there. I couldn’t glean much either, though. It was tall, that much was obvious. Tall and fairly narrow. It seemed to have three prongs on the bottom of it, but that could just be my eyes playing tricks on me. Aura, with her prodigious analytical capabilities and access to various databases, couldn’t identify the station either. But something was tugging a bit at my memory nonetheless. With the nearly-cloaked station still seemingly flickering in and out existence a few kilometers away, I pulled up old archival photos of Jove stations. While certainly not identical, there did seem to be… similarities to the contours. A certain conical shape to them, though the Jove stations of old had a more organic feel to the harsher, almost crystalline angles that I could barely discern. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was a plausible theory. For a better view of the general shape of these objects, Aurora Arcology News has an image enhanced view of the structure here.

Unidentified 4

A Circadian Seeker scans a nearby object in New Eden.

Another thing leads me to think that these stations may be Jove related. Rumors have long swirled that the Jove know more than they have let on regarding the Eve Gate in New Eden. One of the key parts of that theory is that the Jove have long cloaked any wreckage leftover from the Eve Gate catastrophe to prevent us lesser-developed nations from getting our hands on technology that could very well disrupt (or destroy) the balance of power in the Cluster. I had never believed in these rumors myself (I tend to like theories that can be proven one way or another rather than just relying on saying the Jovians did it), but there was certainly evidence now that I couldn’t ignore. Assuming that the Jovians are, in fact, behind these newly discovered but apparently long-standing structures (and this is a larger assumption than I am generally comfortable with making), they would indeed have experience with cloaking structures and other items over large areas. Though New Eden itself showed no readings, it is notable that one of these unidentified structures can, in fact, be found there. More and more curious.

Unidentified 5

The purpose of the sphere coming out of the Seeker is currently unknown.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other thing that can almost always be found in systems with these Unidentified Structures: the new Circadian Seekers. These appear to be Sleeper drones within the New Eden cluster. While initially a cause for concern given the reputation Sleeper drones have in being fearsome defenders of their turf in Anoikis, these drones appear to be docile. Despite numerous and repeated attacks on them, I have yet to run into any verified reports of them responding with any kind of force. Instead, they merely appear to roam the system, firing what appears to be a scanning beam on any objects they find. No negative repercussions of these scans have yet come to light. Given that these seekers almost always appear in systems with these new structures (Eram, apparently, is an exception to that rule), a substantial possibility also exists that these unknown structures are also Sleeper in origin, but the designs of these structures would represent a significant departure from known Sleeper architecture. Furthermore, the seekers have been seen attempting to scan the new structures like they would any other object in space, which suggests that they are unknown to them as well.

Unidentified 6

A customs office gets scanned by the seekers

What is more disconcerting about the appearance of these seekers is what they represent in the evolution of the Sleepers. Since Anoikis became accessible to capsuleers a few years ago, Sleepers have been a purely reactionary force. Capsuleers and the empires would appear near Sleeper sites, and the drones would reactively attempt to repel them. Despite initial fears, the Sleepers never, to our knowledge at least, attempted to follow us beyond the confines of their small patrol routes. They never followed us back to New Eden, and certainly never attempted to discover more about us. We had lulled ourselves into thinking that the Sleepers were unintelligent drones with no curiosity. But then, a few weeks ago, it came to light that various Sleeper caches had started appearing in New Eden. Not only have the Sleepers been in New Eden for quite a while, but they were collecting information and items on us. For what purpose I don’t know, but I have little doubt that these Seekers are a more blatant attempt at learning more about us now that the caches have come to light. (Edit: Furthermore, for the first time, these Sleeper drones have active shielding systems. Sleeper drones prevalent in Anoikis have strong armored hulls, but they’ve never exhibited shield systems before. These new Circadian Seekers, however, have shields as well as armor. That they’ve managed to reverse engineer shield systems is yet another indication that the Sleepers are not as passive as they have seemed. Special thanks to @BlackDeathJazz for reminding me to note that here.) (Second edit: As of 1/13/YC 117, Circadian Seekers have begun responding to attacks with force. Seekers have been known to follow hostile pilots through warp and may pod hostile pilots as well.)

Unidentified 7

The scanning beams do not appear to cause any ill effects.

I realize that this has been a somewhat meandering entry, but I fear that this cannot be helped. I try my best to tell a clean and concise narrative in these entries: Eve Travel exists to give context to the universe around us. Unfortunately, right now there is no clean, concise narrative for many of these new objects. We don’t know everything yet, and you’ll have to bear with me as we all discover what all of this truly means. I don’t know what, if anything, the seekers are looking for, and I don’t know the purpose of these unidentified structures. There is a very good chance that there are other things out there that haven’t even come to light yet. And I, for one, am excited to see exactly what the universe has in store for us. EDIT: I’ve received a number of reports (now personally confirmed) that the Unidentified Structures will appear and disappear in a system. It’s unknown at this time if they move positions when they reappear. Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unidentified Structure
  • System: Various throughout known space
  • Security Rating: Various throughout known space
  • Region: Various throughout known space
  • Potential Hazards: As noted in the second edit above, Circadian Seekers have begun to respond to attacks with force. Seekers have been seen to defend themselves with heavy missile launcher-strength weaponry. Seekers have followed hostile pilots through warp and may even pod hostile pilots. Caution is advised.
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