Sightseeing in the Cluster

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Empress Catiz I Honor Guard

honor guard 1

The Fleet stands at parade rest

Say what you will about the Amarr (and trust me, I could say quite a bit), but they do know their pomp and pageantry. Their ships and stations bring the art that is space architecture and design to a whole new level. I would say that they have overly prioritized form over function, but the fact that they stand as the premier military power in New Eden suggests otherwise (assuming the Jove are as dead as they appear and ignoring the Drifters…). Although I have never quite gotten the hang of flying Amarr ships myself, I have always admired their graceful lines and glorious golden hulls that make my preferred ships look they just escaped from a trash can somewhere. And, obviously, if you’re looking for a lot of pomp and circumstance in swearing in a new leader, look no further than the Amarr Empire.

honor guard 2

Seemingly unending rows of ships

Unfortunately, due to a previously-planned engagement, I was forced to miss the grandest example of Amarr pomp and circumstance in recent memory: the coronation of Empress Catiz I. Granted, it was to take a long-planned vacation (it never hurts for even empyreans to reconnect with their planet-side roots every now and then), so it’s not like I didn’t have some compensation for missing the coronation, but I was still somewhat bemused to miss the it, if only to make sure that the Drifters didn’t make another appearance at an Imperial event. But at least I was missing the coronation for a good cause. I would just have to cross my fingers and hope I didn’t miss anything too exciting, while keeping an eye on GalNet every now and then. I went on my vacation and had a delightful time, the coronation seemed to have gone relatively smoothly, except for a few minor surprises here and there, and honestly, I had assumed that that would be that.

honor guard 3

The central cathedral of the coronation

A few weeks after returning from my vacation and re-settling to non-vacation life (always a more difficult transition then I’d care to admit), I was finally catching up on a market run I had been meaning to make for a while now. I undocked my trusty Viator-class Planet Express Ship and made my way to my closest market hub, Amarr Prime. It wasn’t until after I had finished my business and I was preparing to leave Amarr that I noticed something on my sensors. Having flown to and through Amarr countless times, I hope I can be forgiven for not necessarily paying as close of attention to my sensor returns in the system as I might normally do. Been there, done that, so to speak. However, if I hadn’t given even a cursory glance to my sensor returns, I might have missed that Aura was detecting a new beacon in the system. My curiosity duly piqued, I warped away from the jumpgate and over to the Empress Catiz I Honor Guard that Aura had discovered for me, not quite knowing what to expect.

honor guard 4

Hulls glinting in the sun

As I dropped out of warp, however, it became clear that Catiz had never officially dismissed the Honor Guard that escorted her to her coronation and, like good soldiers, they had remained at their posts until instructed otherwise by their leader. It was certainly an impressive display of Imperial might, all the more so because what was surely a merely ceremonial honor guard was able to field 12 Avatar-class titans, along with countless other capital vessels and battleships. I was even able to spy one or two of the new Apostle-class force auxiliaries that are a relatively recent entry into the ranks of Amarr capital ships. And these were apparently ships that the Amarr Navy was content to just leave lying about. There is a reason that the Amarr are commonly considered to be the strongest of the four empires, and its displays like this that prove just how right the conventional wisdom is in that regard.

honor guard 5

The Professor flying past a Providence

Needless to say, I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store in having the chance to examine most of these graceful yet powerful vessels up close. As I had mentioned, I always appreciated the artistry that Amarr ship designers brought to spacefaring ships, and seeing them all arrayed in perfect precision is definitely a sight to behold. From Avatars to Armageddons, many of the most iconic Amarr ship designs could be seen standing at parade rest, ready and waiting to serve the new Empress. It was enough to send a chill down my thoroughly-Gallente-loving spine. Indeed, I spent quite a while just wandering up and down the rows of ships, trying to notice all the details and structures that the Amarr have built in to many of their ships. I may never agree, even with the new Empress, with the vast majority of Amarr policy, but I will say this: they sure know how to put on a show.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Empress Catiz I Honor Guard
  • System: Amarr Prime
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Domain
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

ISHAEKA Tactical Response HQ

Sorry CONCORD.

The sight that greets you upon warping in (and killing all of the enemies).

(The Author would like to thank the Misfits crew of  Markus Vulpine, Situla Vaire,  Dr Zemph,  Kaia Starchaser, and Cali Estemaire for helping him clear the site!)

Living just off the main pipeline to the Eve Gate, I’m used to seeing a certain amount of traffic fly by on a regular basis. Capsuleers making their pilgrimage to the Gate, capsuleers hunting down the pilgrims, research vessels, and a fair amount of Blood Raider activity really round out the area. It is perhaps not the quietest area in game, but for the past few years now I have called it home quite happily. Being in low security space was an added bonus, as I was able to get away from the increasingly worrisome oversight of CONCORD and its many, many regulatory heads. When you add in the bonus of more lucrative loot from exploration than you might find in high security and being able to check in on a number of significant New Eden historical sights on a regular basis, I find that choosing to live in my little corner of New Eden was a smart choice indeed. And while I may have moved on temporarily at different points in time, the area is always there to welcome me home when I’m done with my latest adventure.

We blew up a LOT of CONCORD and they do not seem happy with me.

The classic silhouette of a CONCORD battleship. Some of the stationary defenses can be seen near the gate.

When settling into the area, however, I quickly discovered something odd. This was shortly after Sansha Kuvakei had started rearing his ugly head in New Eden once again. At the time, CONCORD essentially abdicated defense responsibilities when incursions by the Sansha occurred, preferring instead to coordinate with the empire navies and focus on protecting civilian populations while leaving it to the capsuleers to rid the constellation of Sansha’s space-based presence. I, along with many others, were very vocal at the time, criticizing CONCORD for not taking a more proactive response to the clear threat. However, as time went on, it became clearer that CONCORD was at least gathering significant intelligence on the Nation, and a number of classified reports were eventually leaked, suggesting that CONCORD’s response to the Nation was centered in something called Operation ISHAEKA. This, along with clear evidence that capsuleers were able to handle the Sansha threat, eventually lessened the calls for a coordinated CONCORD response to the incursions beyond what they were already providing.

The poor, poor Stratios :-(

One of my fleet’s ships comes under heavy fire.

But back to the story at hand. As I was first settling into my new home, I quickly became aware that there was a heavier CONCORD presence than I would normally encounter in low security space. Generally, low security space should be beyond the reach of the Directive Enforcement Division, the part of CONCORD that most directly interacts with capsuleers (not to mention the part of CONCORD that seems to have the most anger issues…), but there was a suspiciously high amount of CONCORD activity throughout my local constellation, Monalaz. They didn’t seem to act like the CONCORD fleets in high security space, reacting to capsuleer aggression and the like, but they were there nonetheless. Within a few weeks, I discovered that Operation ISHAEKA was more than just intelligence gathering when my probes managed to dig up the ISHAEKA Tactical Headquarters.

Sometimes I feel bad that the pictures don't match where I am in the narrative very well, but I write so long after I take pics its very hard to coordinate :-(

The CONCORD battleships under heavy fire.

Eager to see what kind of response CONCORD had planned, I grabbed the Professor and warped to the site. Although cloaked, my comm system pinged with an automated warning for all capsuleer vessels to stay away lest we be met with lethal force. I came out of warp near a large taskforce of combined CONCORD and Amarr vessels, along with heavy fortifications. Cruise missile batteries, stasis towers, and a large array of ships ranging from lowly frigates to the fearsome standard-issue CONCORD battleships. To say that it was a little intimidating would be, shall we say, an understatement. But your intrepid travel guide was intent on seeing all that there was to see. On the far end of the landing area, I could see an acceleration gate leading deeper into the complex. I maneuvered the Professor around the various fortifications, quickly decloaked, activated the gate and-

Died. Quite quickly.

This and the past pic might be my two favorites

CONCORD is not having a good day.

I gathered one or two close friends to try again a few weeks later. The site had moved to another part of the constellation but it was still fairly easy to track down. We managed to take a few larger, better armed ships in. Needless to say, CONCORD and the Amarr agents, apparently a division of the Amarr military called the Justiciars, were not happy with our arrival, and scrambled a large reaction force. However, we managed to fight them off and even cleared out the fortifications of the landing area. Triumphant, we gathered up what loot we could and activated that heretofore elusive acceleration gate to take us deeper into the complex. Our small flotilla quickly dropped out of warp and then-

Dead. Again. Quite quickly.

I love my little drones look at them go!

The drone buzzes past the staging area in the Haven.

Thankfully, CONCORD didn’t seem willing to attack our pods. Although we couldn’t progress past the second area, we were able to see the sizeable fleet that had so quickly and effectively destroyed us. The fleet’s core was a set of 16 battleships who locked us almost immediately upon warp-in, screened by lighter forces of frigates, cruisers, and battlecruisers. Clearly, something was here that CONCORD wanted to protect. Unfortunately, at the time I was not quite in a position to replace my losses. My interest drifted to other, more accessible locations and despite the fact that I still lived in Monalaz, I quickly stopped giving the Headquarters much more than a second glance as I saw what else the Cluster had to offer.

And a nice little contrail to go with it!

A closer view of the landing pads and logistical centers.

That is, until a few weeks ago. For what should be obvious reasons, I have been on pretty friendly terms with the Evesploratory Society, a group dedicated to exploration. Indeed, the members of the Society were kind enough to name an Astrahus-class citadel after Eve Travel as a tribute to my work (I was admittedly tempted to profile the citadel here but it seemed oddly self-serving to do so, though that hasn’t stopped others from talking about it). In any case, while chatting with members of the Society and some other explorers, the topic of the ISHAEKA Headquarters once again came up. After I explained my prior difficulties getting into the complex, a number of pilots agreed to challenge CONCORD and their Amarr allies yet again. A week or two later, we formed up in a fleet and headed off. Although some of the local pirates decided that our forming fleet was an ideal target, we eventually got in a ragtag fleet consisting mainly (though not entirely) of Stratioses. And so we brought the fight to CONCORD and warped in to the ISHAEKA Tactical Response HQ.

This might be my longest entry ever. I'd have to check.

CONCORD under attack in the fleet staging area.

As before, the initial area surrounding the warp-in point consisted primarily of heavy fortifications for the rest of the complex. It was clear that CONCORD didn’t want anyone poking around (and we were once again threatened with lethal force if we tried to breach the rest of the complex). However, with the help of my fellow fleetmates, who called themselves the Misfits, we quickly cleaned up the initial fleet, and made our way deeper into the complex. As we worked our way through the defensive forces, it quickly became evident that although the forces were formidable, they apparently did not have authorization to utilize the classic anti-capsuleer technology that capsuleers rightly fear. Instead, the CONCORD forces appeared to be restricted to classical weapons. After the fighting had finished, I was able to pause and examine our surroundings a little more closely. The initial area was fairly bare beyond the defensive fortifications, as you might expect. On the other side of the area from the warp-in point, an acceleration gate led deeper into the complex. With some amount of trepidation given my prior history, we activated the gate and were flung deeper in.

This was a fun area.

A better view of the Fleet Staging Area

As I remembered, upon dropping out of warp in the Justiciar Haven portion of the complex, we were immediately pounced upon by over a dozen battleships and another dozen smaller vessels waiting at the warp-in point for us (undoubtedly warned by their compatriots in the landing area of our impending arrival), and they opened fire almost immediately. As you might expect, they were cold and methodical in their attempts to eliminate us. Most, if not all, of the ships would target one person in the fleet in hopes of wearing us down. When it became clear the fleet member wouldn’t break or the fleet member had to warp out to repair, they calmly selected their next target. Eventually, however, we managed to eliminate the resistance, and I managed to get a good look at the second area. I had plenty of time to poke around after the fighting ended as we waited for our ships to repair themselves. The haven area of the complex seemed to be a central loading area for the allied forces. A number of landing pads and administrative centers were arrayed between two acceleration gates, both leading deeper into the complex. Notably, although there were plenty of pads to receive freighters and sort out cargo, they didn’t seem to be in use at the time. Since this was undoubtedly a mobile site, perhaps this site was where the construction ships were based out of, but that is only speculation. Finally, after everyone’s ships were back up to fighting status, we moved deeper into the complex, and on to the ISHAEKA Fleet Staging Area. As we activate the gate, a general broadcast goes out to all ships in the area:

We are under heavy attack! Capsuleers are breaching our staging area! All local files are to be transferred immediately from the archives to a secure location offsite. Initiate burn protocols for all hard data. DED forces will delay the capsuleer incursion at the staging area until we can secure all intelligence. Give ’em hell!

I'm really not sure what to make of this, tbh

The wreckage of an Archon-class carrier.

Once again, our ragtag fleet was met with heavy resistance. While there were 5 fewer battleships waiting for us, those missing battleships were more than made up for by the 20 smaller ships flitting between the battleship behemoths. But once again, our fleet kept its collective cool and we calmly worked our way through the various vessels. I only hoped we were giving the CONCORD crews enough time to evacuate their vessels: I only wanted to see what CONCORD had hiding here, I had no desire to cause mass destruction unless absolutely necessary. Eventually, however, all that was surrounding us were cooling wrecks and I had a chance to examine the area once again. As a fleet staging area, I was not surprised to find a large array of shipyards waiting for us, along with quite a few landing pads filled with freighters in various states of loading and unloading. Most of the drydocks were empty, but a few held various CONCORD or Amarr ships nearing the end of construction. Surprisingly, one of the drydocks also held the shattered remains of an Archon-class carrier that had clearly undergone heavy fire. Why had they bothered dragging it back to the shipyard for analysis? Perhaps it had been damaged by Sansha forces and they were studying it for purposes of developing countermeasures. It was at this point that I was startled to realize that I had seen few, if any, indications that the forces here were in fact organized to fight Sansha’s Nation. Indeed, I had seen few indications at all of any relation to Sansha. This struck me as very odd.

SO MANY PICTURES AND STILL SO FEW PARAGRAPHS.

A CONCORD battleship nearing completion

However, before I had time to ponder the mystery, it was time to move on yet again. We activated the acceleration gate, which somewhat unexpectedly took us back to the Justiciar Haven. However, the second acceleration gate, previously locked to us, had become active, and we headed to the final area: the Justiciar Archives. Although I was hopeful that our answers would be found there, another general broadcast shattered that hope:

The information you have come for is gone. All that awaits you now is the cleansing light of Amarrian laser fire! All pilots engage!

These damage textures really are quite awesome

A damaged Amarr defender with the remains of the Justiciar Archive in the background

Not exactly the welcome I was hoping for. But we were quickly once again fighting for our lives against a combined CONCORD and Amarr onslaught. But we once again managed to prevail through sheer force of will (and the timely arrival of two logistics ships to help us repair). As soon as we were once again surrounded by cooling wreckage, I took a look at this last area of space. Clearly, this was the central administrative area of the complex. A large, though now abandoned, station formed the backdrop of the area, while a multitude of communications and other equipment could be found arrayed nearby. A quick scan confirmed that there was no information salvageable; the CONCORD technicians had done their job quickly but thoroughly.

I really am confused about what this site is supposed to be about. What info was CONCORD afraid we'd be stealing? Why the ISHAEKA tie in but no Sansha? So many questions.

The structures in the Archive area.

As the rest of the fleet celebrated their conquest and rare victory over CONCORD, I couldn’t help but notice that once again, CONCORD was raising more questions than answers. Absolutely no reference was found to Sansha or combating the scourge of his forces throughout the cluster. What, then, is Project ISHAEKA actually concerned with? Their last message to us especially made it clear that they clearly thought we were after specific information. What were they afraid we’d find? What could force CONCORD to enact such drastic measures? I couldn’t help but feel that, as usual, if CONCORD were just more open with the capsuleer community, more willing to treat us as equals rather than rabid animals to be contained, we’d be able to help CONCORD achieve whatever goals they had… assuming it wasn’t something directed against us.

I had a lot of fun with these guys!

A view of the triumphant fleet.

Whatever unanswered questions I had, however, certainly weren’t going to be answered that night. Those were worries for another day. Instead, I chose to revel in the feeling of finally overcoming something that had mystified me for years, and to do so with a group of good friends. Although we left a trail of destruction in our wake (and it is rare indeed that a group of capsuleers leaves behind anything else), successfully completing our mission in a group of friends is a feeling that can’t easily be described or replicated. As I set a course back for home, I felt happy that after five long years, I had finally met the neighbors.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: ISHAEKA Tactical Response HQ
  • Constellation: Somewhere in Monalaz
  • Security Rating: Low Security Space
  • Region: Genesis
  • Potential Hazards: Monalaz is an entirely low sec constellation.  Pirates and gate camps, especially when flying in from Amarr, are common, and caution is advised. Additionally, the rats are quite difficult in the site and heavy resistance is to be expected. Soloing the complex is not recommended, though you can see that we completed the site without too much difficulty with a number of smaller ships.
  • Additional Notes: The Tactical Response HQ should almost always exist somewhere in Monalaz, though I did not confirm if the site respawns immediately after completion or whether you must wait until downtime before finding it again. It is listed as a combat site, and you do need probes to scan it down.

Abandoned Guristas Transportation Facility

This was a Valkyrie event, FYI

The abandoned transportation hub

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re missing an important story? Do you ever run across something out in the world, and it seems significant even if you can’t place it into context or even say why it’s important? It’s a frustrating feeling. Even with the adage that ignorance is bliss, generally we like to know the full story on something. We long to be a fly on the wall in order to hear exactly how a crucial meeting went down, or just to have the schadenfreudic joy of hearing and seeing others get in trouble out of the public eye. We’re curious creatures by nature and the idea that there are things that we are not and cannot be privy can be a very maddening experience when you stop and think about all that happens around us that we don’t know.

I actually don't know much of the story behind this, which makes it a bit fun in that regard actually

Planet 11 hangs in the background

I bring this up because I very much got that feeling while flying through Nalvula a while back. It’s a low-sec system a few jumps out from Tribute, in an otherwise nondescript area of space perhaps most notable for being in-between Taisy (the home of the notorious Kyonoke Pit) and Vuorrassi (the former location of the Terminus Stream). In the outskirts of the system, near planet 11, an abandoned Guristas transportation facility stands out easily on a ship’s scanners. This in and of itself isn’t particularly unusual; abandoned Guristas facilities can be found throughout Caldari space and beyond. Indeed, space is almost littered with their abandoned facilities (yet that doesn’t seem to stop them from making more…). No, what’s weird about this is that someone has clearly hacked the facility’s transponder, taking it off of private Guristas frequencies and broadcasting it throughout the system with a rather odd message. Aura interprets it as:

No seriously, there isn't much to see hereOnce a hive of pirate activity, this Guristas Transport Facility now drifts in space blackened and scarred, left partially intact by its attackers to serve as a message to its former owners. As you draw closer, it is apparent that the facility’s distress beacon has been hijacked and reprogrammed to loop an audio message of defiance:

>>CQD/NULL-REBROADCAST/30001445

“You believed you could hunt us, but you have become the quarry. You believed you could subdue us, but we have risen up. You may be Fatal, but we are immortal.
We have proven that the Empyreans stand with us.

Do not test us again. If you attempt to do so, you will burn at the hands of the Valkyrie and our most loyal and skilled capsuleer wingmen.

Kavik out.”

A data packet is attached to the transmission, listing the DED profiles of a number of capsuleers known to have aided the Valkyrie during their fight against Guristas forces:
Jaret Victorian
Kev Lar
Krastor Sandoval
Morwen Lagann
Asher Kagen
Walter Islands
Pelea Ming
Dr SetiWon't stop me from posting pics of it anyway vOv
Sheldon d’Albion
Imperator Trajanus
MINIMA16
OneWay Trip Hunter
Angelina Fortrueks
BUISNESSWOMAN
Maja Chou
Antarah ibn Shaddad
Alvarez Akachi
Angeli Inferna
slphy vansyl
Sargeant Summers

It almost looks like the mast of a ship here. Almost.

The top of the damaged but still functional tower.

An intriguing message. The reference to “Fatal” was particularly intriguing. Fatal, of course, is one-half of the infamous duo of Fatal and the Rabbit, the initial founders of the Guristas. Fatal is perhaps most notorious for pulling down the most ambitious joint Gallente/Caldari project to date, the Crielere Project. During a daring raid on the Project, Fatal was podded, and apparently his medical clone was not quite up to snuff. After the raid, Fatal quickly fell off the radar and it was assumed that he no longer held any significant position of power given that he had lost most cognitive functions. This message, from the enigmatic Kavik, suggested he has a more significant role than we had realized. If so, that could mark a dangerous return of one of the most notorious criminals the Cluster has known.

I like this photo though I wish I could have centered it a bit more.

The transportation hub is rather utilitarian in design.

The site itself is pretty simplistic. Obviously, the Guristas had focused on a much more utilitarian design for their transportation hub, and its remains show little regard for aesthetics as well. A series of cargo pads and bunkers surround a central control tower. There are few evident signs of damage, despite the fact that a battle was apparently waged here; the most obvious one being the slowly expanding cloud of debris spreading from the control tower. Beyond that, however, the power systems seemed mostly operational, even in the satellite bunkers, so clearly the offensive wasn’t directed at the transportation hub itself. I made up my mind to ask about the event from a few contacts on the list that I recognized to see if they could provide any additional details.

I pondered the odd message a little while longer before heading out once again. I may not know the whole story here, or even most of it, but I wasn’t going to learn any more about it by just sitting around and hoping it came to me.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Abandoned Guristas Transportation Center
  • System: Nalvula
  • Security Rating: 0.4
  • Region: Lonetrek
  • Potential Hazards: Nalvula 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.

Black Jack’s

Hey look I know how to blog

Black Jack has claimed a small nebula to himself.

In recent months, I’ve been dedicated to hunting down new or moving sites, often giving chase to half a rumor or some breaking piece of news that I had to see before it ended. Those kinds of sites are both exhilarating and, in their own way, exhausting, keying me up so that I can deploy on a moment’s notice but also meaning I rarely had the chance to completely relax, knowing that a new (or old site) might rear its head and require me to dash out on a moment’s notice. But with a bit of a lull, it seems, it means that I got to return to my roots a bit. After refamiliarizing myself with my home system for a few weeks, I found myself ready to go on a good, old fashioned roam. And not just any roam, but a roam to the outer fringes of New Eden.

I do like dense nebula lighting a lot

Ghost of a sun, ghost of a ship

Null sec is, by far, the area of New Eden I have spent the least amount of time in. Though comprising the largest chunk of New Eden proper, the untamed wildernesses beyond the empires has held little appeal to me. And why should it? Null sec is the heart of the capsuleer realms, where the big kids play with their thousands upon thousands of friends. The internecine alliances, grudges, rises, and falls hold little interest and mostly mean I want to stay out of its way, lest the interminable drama seizes a hold of me as well. That, of course, doesn’t mean that no sites exist in null sec to tickle my interest nor does it mean that I won’t go out there (clearly). It just means that I have to take care when I head out that way. Thar be dragons (and other sundry creatures) out there, after all.

So does Caroline's Star for that matter

Planet 5 looms large nearby…

And so, I loaded up my now somewhat-dirty Scientia and plotted a course for Vale of the Silent. Vale stands on the fringes of Jove space, and Caroline’s Star casts a baleful glare indeed from this bordering region. Had the Jove not completely cut themselves out, Vale would undoubtedly be a much more civilized border region between the Fifth Empire of New Eden and its more primitive brethren. Without that through-traffic, however, Vale seems much more sedate than it might have. That’s not to say that I didn’t run across anyone, of course, and I have little doubt that my presence raced across the various intel channels of New Eden, but I ran into few bubbles out that way and even fewer people as I steered towards my destination system. Today, that was the unoriginal name of BR-6XP.

That's one way to avoid Caroline's Star I guess

…But can barely be seen from within.

Hidden in a far corner of BR-6XP was today’s destination, known only as Black Jack’s. A bit of research dug up that Black Jack was a rather notorious Angel’s pirate back in the day, known for terrorizing the denizens of Molden Heath before becoming too famous for his own good. After being unceremoniously shoved out of Molden Heath by Angels command, he retreated back to Vale of the Silent, and his various underlings and followers can be found to this day hanging out in the small gaseous cloud that he apparently claimed and, in true Amarr tradition, promptly named after himself. Although the small nebula bears his name, Black Jack himself is nowhere to be seen. Indeed, it’s not entirely clear what’s become of Black Jack, though further investigation may turn up his fate.

There's something very soothing about the symmetry here

The nebula is bifurcated into two lobes.

The nebula itself sits fairly close to the ringed gas giant of planet 5 and is remarkably dense. Indeed, it was difficult even for Scientia’s sensors to penetrate that thick soup. Camera drones flown to the middle of the nebula had difficulties determining in just what direction the local sun could be found, and in most areas, BR-6XP V was merely a ghostly outline of a planet, barely visible through the dense haze. In the depths of the nebula stands a ship that, if BR-6XP were a little more highly traveled, would undoubtedly spawn a few ghost stories. The ghostly outlines of a Machariel can just be made out from the fringes of the nebula. Closer investigation proved that the ship was quite real and belongs to one of Black Jack’s compatriots, but its eerie semi-appearance and the quiet of the surrounding system lends itself quite well to a spectral story or three.

I do like the Mach design.

Softened starlight glints off the hull.

All in all, it felt good to be getting back to my roots. Out here on the fringes of space, just seeing what there is to be seen. No rush, no particular goal, just a very cathartic trip all in all. After admiring the view for some time, I turned my ship to the gate and on to the next system.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Black Jack’s
  • System: BR-6XP
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Vale of the Silent
  • Potential Hazards: BR-6XP 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.

Titan Honor Guard

[Editor’s note: Just a very quick entry as I don’t expect this to last past the Succession Trials next week. If you want to see these, get to Amarr ASAP!]

[Additional edit: As of 5/3, only 4 titans, the titans of the winning ‘retainers’ of the Trials, remain in Amarr. Not sure how long they will last!]

OK I JUST LIKE THAT QUOTE DEAL WITH IT.

Night gathers, and now their watch begins.

 

Just as the Empire races headfirst towards the Succession Trials to choose its next ruler, so too did I race headfirst towards the Empire’s homeworlds. With the end of the Trials close at hand, an honor guard has formed, the likes of which many space denizens have never seen before. The various champions of the two remaining Heirs in the Trials, Lord Aritcio Kor-Azor and Lady Catiz Tash-Murkon, have began holding vigil in spectacular fashion outside the Emperor’s Family Station in Amarr Prime, forming a fleet of Titans that haven’t been seen publicly in high security space since I’ve been a capsuleer. Next week, these titans will escort Lord Kelon Darklight and Lord Lysus, the two remaining champions, to the conclusion of the Trials.

See them while you can!

Hulls gleam in the sunlight.

Few denizens of high security space have seen a titan, much less a fleet of them. While I have before experienced the truly humbling experience of seeing such a, dare I say, titanic piece of engineering next to even my more sizeable vessels, seeing a fleet of them in formation is enough to once again remind me how small we truly are in the grand scheme of things. That being said, seeing these ships up close also helps to remind us the things that we can attain when we work together, and I have little doubt that the Empire hoped to instill that sense of unity when planning this display. Although I have little direct interest in the outcome of the Trials, I wish both sides the best of luck.

And if you have ever wanted to see eight titans in-person, now is your chance.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Honor Guard
  • System: Amarr Prime
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Domain
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional notes: No beacons are present; you can easily see the formation off of the undock point outside of the Emperor Family Academy station. These are not expected to last past next week.

Silent Battleground

I FINALLY FOUND IT GUYS

The silent battleground stands silhouetted against J010000

You may have heard that there’s a war on. It’s been mentioned once or twice in the news. It doesn’t particularly affect me, of course, as I have little interest or say in the machinations of the capsuleer empires. I’m not the one paying the price of this war in blood and treasure. That being said, it’s fascinating to watch this war develop as an outsider. I don’t pretend to understand all of the underlying dynamics between the various sides in this feud, but to see essentially all of the capsuleer-led entities take one side or the other is a fascinating development, and one not seen in quite some time in New Eden. While I hope that few innocents get caught in the cross-fire, I can’t help but read each new report with an excited zeal to see what the next twist in this story is, even if I take care to keep myself a step or two removed from the conflict.

It took a while but I'd like to think it was worth it

The remains of the Sleeper enclave

Of course, while I keep myself on the outskirts of the current war, I can’t help but dive headfirst into the wars of the past. I had mentioned in my past few entries that I had holed up in Anoikis to search for a site hidden deep in Anoikis. Fittingly, given current conditions, the site I was searching for is the remains of another battleground. Not one from the current war, of course, but the remains of a war that, in its own way, shaped the current condition of the Cluster as much as this World War Bee has the potential to shape null sec. I speak of the war between the Sansha and Sleepers that resulted in Sansha Kuvakei apparently attaining Sleeper – or possibly even Talocan – technology, allowing him to project his cybernetic reavers across the Cluster in pursuit of his goals.

Of course now I have to figure out what to search out next

The remains of the Revenant-class supercarrier.

Exactly how Sansha found these other Anoikis systems – systems that hadn’t yet joined the general wormhole network – is unknown. Exactly how Sansha learned of these systems in the first place is unknown. Exactly when these battles occurred is, as you might have guessed by now, unknown, but probably occurred shortly after Anoikis opened to the general space-faring public. In any event, we know now that Sansha managed to stumble upon the ability to create his own wormholes to any destination he so desired. An ability he used to devastating effect, especially in the early days of his incursion. But it seems that he did not earn this ability easily. Indeed, remains of his struggles against the Sleeper protectors of these relics can be found scattered throughout the depths of Anoikis. It was one of these battlegrounds that I set off to Anoikis to find. These sites are most likely to be found in shattered Anoikis systems colonized by the Sansha (evidenced by the appearance of Sansha, rather than Sleeper, guardians at the system’s epicenter), but can be found throughout Anoikis; a sign of just how widespread the fights were to gain control of this technology. I fairly quickly found such a Sansha colonized system, and waited for my scanners to pick up signs that I had found what I was looking for.

And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

I think this is just a cool shot

Some of the debris that can be found throughout the battleground.

After nearly 3 months of searching, it wasn’t even I who ended up finding the site, but rather a pilot with whom I was placed in contact with through the Arataka Research Consortium. I received notice of the site at a slightly awkward time, after I had shut down my ship’s systems for the night and had been preparing to rest in my ship in low power mode, but science waits for no man, even a capsuleer demigod. I quickly booted up my ship’s systems and raced towards the scene, joining a few fellow explorers from ARC while I was at it. Even if my months spent in Anoikis were for naught and I wasn’t the one who found the site, I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass me by. The entrance wormhole to the system with the battleground required me to travel through k-space. Although I had lived in k-space for the vast majority of my time as a capsuleer, it was surprising how eerie it felt to be back amongst the thriving masses of New Eden after such a relatively short absence. It was a feeling I quickly overcame in the coming weeks, but it was notable at the time.

Another really cool shot, I think.

Fires still rage in the Revenant’s interior.

Of course, thoughts of the rest of New Eden quickly left my head as I finally approached the so-called Silent Battleground after three long months of searching. Despite my various mods, implants, and general skills at exploration, the site barely registered as a blip on my ship’s sensors, so I wasn’t really expecting to see much there. As the warp tunnel around my ship collapsed, I was pleased to discover that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first thing to catch my eye was the destroyed superstructure of a Sleeper enclave. In fact, it was hard to miss, as it took up almost one-half of my view as I dropped out of warp. Despite the massive amounts of damage done to the enclave, I was surprised to see that the power infrastructure appeared to still be intact: lights still glowed throughout the enclave and the lack of fires or other explosions suggested that fire containment systems were still active. However, it was clear that the battle had taken its toll on the enclave.

Well its almost time to get back to Project Discovery

My Tengu flies past the enclave.

On the other side of the battlefield, the wrecked remains of a Revenant-class supercarrier can be found. Even though Sansha ultimately won the fights, as evidenced by his getting hold of the wormhole technologies, it was clearly not without a high cost. Revenants aren’t cheap, and although Sansha’s power has only grown since his reintroduction to New Eden, I have little doubt that the losses of so many Revenants across Anoikis were keenly felt. The behemoth vessel has been pulverized almost as much as the Enclave. Part of me wishes I could have been there to witness the colossal battle that took place here between the Sleepers on one side and the Sansha on the other. I have no doubt that such an image would be burned in my head even today if I had been able to witness it.

TEAM CYTOPLASM 4 LIFE.

More debris found throughout the site.

The rest of the site is filled with debris and detritus from the battle. Throughout the site, local data clusters and safeholds within the various vessels involved could be seen, and the entire area contains a plethora of debris that a data or relic analyzer would salivate over, if the modules were capable of such a thing. Sadly, nothing particularly noteworthy appeared in the scans of me or my companions… although a lot of salvage debris and other remains could be found, I wasn’t able to recover any data archives of the pitched battle or anything of use to uncovering more of the secrets of Sansha. Still, at least I managed to get some isk out of the deal. It felt a little like desecrating the graves of the unknown, but I consoled myself with the idea that one side of the battle was fought by mindless drones while the other side was fought by people essentially turned into mindless drones. Death may very well have been a blessing.

KTHXBAI

The battleground is silent once again

Eventually, however, it was time to return to New Eden, my months-long search finally at an end. I profusely thanked the pilot who had found the site (who wished to remain anonymous) as well as the pilots who had ventured forth with me to explore the area, and made my way back home. I re-entered New Eden almost feeling like trumpets should be sounding to blare my success, but my reappearance in New Eden caused little stir, except perhaps to my docking crews whom had undoubtedly gotten used to their boss being away for so long. But as my now well-used Tengu slipped back into its docking bay, I couldn’t help but feel that it was good to be home.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Silent Battleground
  • System: The site, though rare, can be found throughout wormhole space (including Thera). It registers as a data site, but it can be very difficult to scan down.
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Few beyond the normal dangers of wormhole space. No Sansha or Sleeper rats were found at all during the observation of this site. Still, you will be wormhole space so caution is always advised.

Sisters of Eve Flotilla

No seriously I could stare at this all day.

The Sisters Flotilla stretches off into the distance.

Strange as it may be, I find few things as majestic as a fleet of ships flying in formation. There’s something very elegant as seeing a multitude of ships flying with a singular purpose, acting for a single goal, with each having its part to play. Ships flying through the inky depths of space are graceful enough on their own, but put them together with others of their kind, dancing together among the stars, and they become much more than the sum of their parts. It’s a bit weird that a few tons of metal could elicit this kind of reaction in me, but I’ve always had this fascination with fleets. Heck, I even get giddy when a few ships happen to join me in a warp tunnel as I fly to my next stargate. It is perhaps ironic, then, that I focus so much on individual activities as opposed to activities where I could enjoy flying in a fleet more, but that’s a musing for another time.

Never not travel in a fleet tbh

Wisps of nebula set an impressive backdrop to the fleet.

I bring this up because the Sisters of Eve have been spotted flying fleets in the various Drifter systems in Anoikis. The Sisters’ interest in the Drifters is perhaps a tad surprising seeing as how they traditionally focused their research on the Eve Gate and how to open it again. But considering their settlment in Thera and the substantial resources they committed to whatever it is they found there (presumably Sleeper in origin) the Sisters’ sudden appearance in the Drifter wormhole systems is much less surprising today than it might have once been. Perhaps more surprising, however, is that they are not even trying to hide in the Drifter systems. When they first settled in Thera, they managed to hide both Thera and their presence in it exceptionally well, despite the resources they needed to move there. In the Drifter systems, however, they are not bothering to mask their presence, which is particularly odd given that their ships are particularly suited to mount cloaking devices. Indeed, their fleet can be detected from any corner of their system. Between my love of fleets, my love of the designs of Sisters’ ships, and the ease with which I could find the fleets (especially given my last foray), it was a no-brainer that I had to track down one of these flotillas.

I have like 10 pictures almost exactly like this lol

The ring-shaped warp drives are an instantly recognizable feature of a Sisters ship.

As expected, the hardest part of the entire trip was finding an entrance to a Drifter wormhole, but a conversation with a few friends managed to point me to the right direction, and within a few minutes I was on my way. I quickly entered the now-familiar Drifter systems, and for once ignored the large sensor echo that represented the Drifter Hive that could be found in the system. It was a little odd to be ignoring the Drifter mystery for once, but I’ve waxed poetic enough about the Hives, and my intel suggests that little has changed since the collapse of the unidentified sleeper devices. Instead, I focused on a second, smaller (though no less detectible) sensor echo representing the Sisters flotilla. After making sure I could find my way back to my entrance wormhole, I eagerly set a course.

I noticed I got a LOT of shots-from-behind for some reason. Probably because of how the background objects played out :3

The fleet’s destination is unknown.

As the warp tunnel collapsed around me, I have to admit, my jaw dropped. I’ve always found the Sisters’ hull designs to be particularly attractive, but to see them arrayed in such a stunning fleet took my breath away (or would have if my mouth, throat, and lungs weren’t already filled with an oxygen-rich liquid that doubled as a way to cushion inertial stresses while connected in my pod). Dozens of gleaming white ships, each class with those peculiar ring-shaped warp drives that still baffle non-Sister scientists, stretched off into the distance, countless beacons in the night. A group of 8 Nestor-class battleships formed the spine of the fleet, lumbering along the flight patch, with one leading the way and another picking up the rear. Their forward-mounted warp drives were large enough to pilot a frigate through.

I only visited the Vidette hole but I believe all of the Drifter WHs have a flotilla.

The fleet is currently stationed near one of the shattered planets.

Each battleship had a complement of Stratios-class cruiser attendants to act as screens for the much more massive Nestors. The Stratios’s design has been my favorite cruiser design (perhaps even my favorite design period) since the Sisters introduced it a few years ago. Not only do they offer an stellar (pun very much intended) sensor suite to aid in exploration activities, but their ability to mount covert-operations cloaking device as well as a suite of offensive weapons makes it well-suited to my preferred piloting style. Throw in an elegant hull design and that gleaming white hull that stands out so well from other starship designs, and its little wonder that I find myself looking for any excuse at all to take my own Stratios out for a spin. Finally, comparatively-tiny Astero-class frigates flitted among their larger brothers. After going on for so long about the virtues of the Stratios, I’ll just say that I find the Asteros… cute.

I HAVE SO MANY MORE PICTURES I will probably put them online :-s

Five fleets of this size represents a significant commitment of Sisters’ assets.

The fleet didn’t appear to have much in the way of organization. Nor did they seem to be in any particular hurry. Indeed, from all the activity I was seeing, it was a minor surprise that they were all pointing in the same direction, although that direction didn’t appear to be to anything significant. And, of course, their entire purpose for being there is a bit of a mystery. They are presumably out to discover something, but just what they’re trying to discover is anybody’s guess as of now, though I’m sure the Sisters will announce their intentions when the time is right. Still, for all those problems, the fleet itself is still a sight to see. I may not always see eye-to-eye with the Sisters’ in terms of their overarching goals, but they do good work and design gorgeous ships, so I suppose I can’t really complain.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Sisters of Eve flotillas.
  • System: Barbican can be found in J110145, Conflux can be found in J200727, Redoubt can be found in J174618, Sentinel can be found in J055520, and Vidette can be found in J164710.
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Few beyond the normal dangers of wormhole space. No Drifter or Sleeper rats were found at all during the observation of this site. While I remained cloak while here, I likely didn’t need to be and I haven’t found any indication that the fleet turns hostile. Still, you will be wormhole space so caution is always advised.