Sightseeing in the Cluster

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Drifter Complexes (Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, Vidette)

Drifter 1Author’s Note: I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Makato Priano and Itsukame-Zainou Hyperspatial Inquiries Ltd. [IKAME] for allowing me to accompany them on two ops into the Conflux and Vidette sites, along with the other non-IKAME pilots that accompanied us. Their assistance was invaluable in allowing me to survey both the Conflux and Vidette complexes, and their companionship was instrumental in ensuring that despite long waits and tense situations, I managed to keep myself sane.

Drifter 2

The warp in point for the Conflux complex

It’s been said that the waiting is the hardest part. I have learned this lesson all too well ever since Hilen Tukoss, or, at least, someone claiming to be Dr. Tukoss, appeared on the Intergalactic Summit back in October of last year. Since then, I have been waiting for more information to make its way to those of us in New Eden who are interested in our collective history and future. And come it has, although often the new information merely brings more questions than it does answers. Sometimes, though, that is the nature of the beast. Realistically, expecting to get all answers to mysteries that have lasted for perhaps thousands of years within the span of a few months is perhaps too much to hope for. But anything that helps us understand the fascinating story that is New Eden is something to be cherished, even if it just acts to show us how much we don’t know.

Drifter 3

A stunning example of Sleeper architecture, found in Conflux’s Split

One prime example of something we only recently have started to know that we don’t know (which, I suppose, is better than not knowing something we don’t know) are the Drifters. An unexpected plot twist, if you’ll forgive me extending the story metaphor, the Drifters were completely unexpected even by those who study the history of New Eden. Indeed, while large gaps still remain in our understanding of the cluster, we at least thought we understood all the major players. That assumption appears to have been in error. While the Drifters are clearly related in some ways to the Jove, they are a distinct faction in their own right, aligning themselves with the Sleeper Circadian Seekers as they continue to salvage data from the Jove Observatories. And don’t even get me started on the obvious technological differences between the Drifters and what we’ve seen of Jove technology.

Drifter 4

The spatial rift near the center will return pilots to the beginning of the complex.

But the layers of mystery surrounding the Drifters are beginning to be peeled back. As I’ve discussed here before, the Drifters began probing New Eden at the same time that the unidentified wormholes started popping up in systems with Jove observatories. While Drifters were observed coming and going through these new wormholes, these holes were somehow locked out for use by non-Drifter ships (the fact that the only other wormholes to demonstrate this kind of selective passage were those generated by the Sansha during their initial invasion of New Eden has led to significant speculation, but that’s a bit beyond the purview of this entry), so we contented ourselves with what little we could observe of Drifter behavior and what could be seen through these wormholes.

Drifter 5

The Sleepers again show an odd fascination with the mysterious monoliths

That changed a few weeks ago. With no fanfare or explanation, these wormholes suddenly became traversable to the general spacefaring community. The reasons for this sudden access remain unclear. It may be deliberate on the part of the Drifters, although this seems unlikely given that they continue to fire on any vessels they see approaching the wormholes. It may also reflect an error on their part, or some sort of malfunction of the equipment. My personal opinion is that this reflects the continued degradation of Jovian and related technologies that began with the explosion that led to Caroline’s Star. Of course, I have nothing to with which to substantiate that theory, but it’s as good a reason as any. Regardless of the cause, however, it quickly became clear that capsuleers now had access to core staging areas for Drifter forces, including the system from where Dr. Tukoss both warned us of the coming invasion and came to his unfortunate demise.

Drifter 6

The purpose of many of the Sleeper structures we see is still unknown

These staging areas can be found in five new systems that, until now, capsuleers did not have access to, with each system containing its own unique complex. Aura was able to provide a rough translation for the complexes found in each system: the Barbican complex can be found in J110145, the Conflux complex can be found in J200727, the Redoubt complex can be found in J174618, the Sentinel complex can be found in J055520, and the Vidette complex can be found in J164710. Note that almost all of these names evoke the idea of guarded fortifications, while the last one, the Conflux, evokes the idea of a coming together of forces. Indeed, these names alone are the principle reason that I believe we have not yet discovered the true home systems and stations of the Drifters. Rather, we have gained access to the Drifters’ primary naval staging ground, where their forces can gather, resupply, and drop off whatever it is that they are searching for. Notably, despite the heavy Drifter presence, analyses indicate that the structures found at these sites are almost all Sleeper, and not Drifter, in origin, suggesting far closer collaboration between the two civilizations than even we had previously believed, as Drifters appear to use these facilities to, among other things, construct their ships. Despite their Sleeper origins, I’ll refer to them as Drifter complexes given how integral the Drifters are to these sites and to prevent confusion with other, more common Sleeper complexes found throughout Anoikis.

Drifter 7

A head-on view of the same structure

Needless to say, I was extremely interested in diving into these complexes as soon as it was evident that they were accessible to us, especially once I started seeing pictures of the structures that could be found in them. Thankfully, being well-known in the exploration community has its advantages: within 2 weeks of the discovery of these new systems, I was invited to join an expedition organized under the auspices of Itsukame-Zainou Hyperspatial Inquiries Ltd. [IKAME], and its CEO, Makoto Priano, to explore two of these Drifter staging areas, the Conflux and Vidette complexes. Normally, of course, I tend to operate as a solo explorer (as do most people in the profession). The freedom allowed by having to depend on no one but yourself, and explore as much (or as little) as you’d like is something that is hard to lose. However, within hours of the discovery of these complexes, it became evident that if pilots were to have any hope of penetrating the depths of these areas, they would have to do so with a group of fellow pilots. And so, with that in mind, I found myself in a fleet of 10-15 other capsuleers last weekend as I prepared to plumb the depths of these two complexes.

Drifter 8

Sleeper drone ships can be swarming amidst an odd local phenomenon

Before moving on, a few caveats for those who may be interested in following in my footsteps: First, these sites cannot be completed solo. As I’ll describe below, it is physically impossible for fewer than 2 people to get to the end of any of the complexes, as it often requires simultaneous or near-simultaneous hacks of multiple deadspace pockets at once. Furthermore, as might be expected, Sleepers can be found in significant, though not overwhelming, quantities in almost all of the deadspace pockets of a particular complex. And this says nothing of the Drifter battleships that roam the various deadspace pockets. These rotating sentries change rooms every half-hour or so, and unless you have substantial firepower (and a sacrificial ship or two), requires you to cloak to wait for them to move along. Indeed, moreso than most other sites, a cloak of some kind is almost essential to ensure that you can choose when (and where) engagement of defenses occurs. Definitely not a place for the weak of heart, but, in my opinion, well-worth the risks.

Drifter 9

Substantial firepower is needed to breach the Sleeper and Drifter defenses

And, finally, a word (ok, multiple words) on the basic structure of these complexes. As I said, they cannot be completed solo. This is because in order to get to the final portion of the complex, universally called a Hive amongst all five sites, you generally need to be taking portions of your fleet up two parallel tracks. Various data centers need to be hacked on one track to allow further progress up the other track, meaning you’ll need both combat capability and hacking capabilities in each track. Maps of each complex (courtesy of pilot Xindi Kraid), including threat assessments and gate locations, can be found here. While I only had the chance to explore two of the complexes, comparing notes with others has made it clear that while substantial differences exist amongst the five complexes, their similarities in discoveries and basic composition are similar enough to not warrant separate entries (though seeing the length of today’s entry, perhaps it may have been more intelligent to break this into multiple parts).

Drifter 10

An array of particle accelerators can be seen in the background

With all of that in mind, I finally turned my attention to the complexes themselves. Both Conflux’s and Vidette’s opening deadspace pockets, known simply as the Beacon, look the same: a lone acceleration gate surrounded by a few simple Sleeper constructs. Even here, Drifters may be found upon dropping out of warp, and avoiding getting decloaked by the beacon as you enter the area may take some tricky piloting on your part. The lone acceleration gate will take you on to what is colloquially known as either the Lobby or the Split: the area where the two parallel paths diverge. Like all rooms past the entrance, the Split contains a spatial rift that will take pilots back to the start of the complex if necessary. The fleet from then on will not rejoin each other until the penultimate stage of the complex, but the two parts will still need to rely on each other in order to progress through the rest of the complex.

Drifter 11

A closer view of the spatial rifts present throughout the complexes

After the Split comes room after room filled with stunning examples of Sleeper architecture. Dazzling arrays of particle accelerators, enormous constructs of Sleeper enclaves, and mysterious structures whose function both Aura and I could only guess at can all be found throughout these complexes. There was even a room that had a spatial phenomenon that appeared very similar to how the Children of Light are supposed to appear. Almost every area was breathtaking in its own way. Clearly, the Sleepers care as much about form as they do about function. In one particularly fascinating room, the Sleepers have constructed a number of rings, stacked upon each other to make a giant cylinder, seemingly to contain a large monolith identical to the one that can be found in Dead End. This is not the first time that the Sleepers have been found associated with these mysterious structures, but rarely have I seen the structures so central to Sleeper architecture.

Drifter 12

Even in these strongholds, Drifter ships will scan nearby objects

This was not the only room where the focus wasn’t on something clearly of Sleeper construction. A few rooms instead bring focus to apparently natural asteroids. Perhaps there was something about these asteroids that my sensors couldn’t detect, or perhaps they were just there as pieces of Sleeper art, I don’t really have any idea. Still, my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to these towering hulks of rock surrounded by various pieces of Sleeper equipment. In one room, the asteroid itself seemed to be teeming with Sleeper structures, but my sensors could no more make heads or tails of those than they could of most other structures. That being said, I did have plenty of time to examine some rooms while waiting for the Drifters to move on to the next stop on their patrol.

Drifter 13

A Sleeper ship under heavy fire.

Even beyond these potential pieces of Sleeper art, I made some interesting observations. For example, despite these areas supposedly being Drifter and Sleeper strongholds, Drifter battleships and Circadian Seekers could be found roaming and, more notably, scanning any items they find in the areas. While such behavior might be reasonable in New Eden, where presumably they are gathering information, why they would feel the need to repeatedly scan their own structures is beyond me, unless the scanning also performs some sort of secondary, unknown function. Circadian Seekers can also be seen performing this puzzling behavior, which is even odder considering that the Seekers are Sleeper in origin themselves.

Drifter 14

Sleeper architecture varies significantly throughout the complexes

Even more surprising, though, was the discovery that signs of damage can be found throughout the complex. Most commonly, this damage manifested itself as partially destroyed Sleeper enclaves. Bright fires can be seen burning in and on the affected enclaves, even from a distance. There was no indication, however, of what caused the damage to these structures. As usual, capsuleer weaponry has no effect on any of the Sleeper structures, so it was highly unlikely that any groups of capsuleers who may have already surveyed the complex was the cause of the observed damage. Perhaps it was some sign of inner turmoil amongst the Drifters or the Sleepers, or some sort of retribution brought by the Jove, because the damage could be seen even in the innermost sanctums of these Sleeper complexes, with the drifting pieces of wreckage marring the beauty of even these sights.

Drifter 15

Potentially a Sleeper processing center

Eventually, after clearing the gates and hacking what needs to be hacked, the fleets rejoin each other in the Antechamber. Here, two full Sleeper enclaves can be found towards the periphery of the area. In the middle, the Sleepers once again show a somewhat odd fascination with an apparently normal, if sizeable, asteroid. This time, the rock is probably about on par with the size of the Jove observatories that can be found throughout New Eden. More importantly, sheltered in the shadow of the large rock can be found the last, unlocked acceleration gate. The last gate is a good ways away from warp-in point, giving you plenty of time to reflect on the journey you took to get here (or, if your expedition goes anything like our journey into Vidette went, it will be a harrowing high-speed burn as you try to dodge incoming Drifter fire long enough to activate the acceleration gate, but that is neither here nor there).

Drifter 16

Towers amongst the black.

Finally, then, you get to the heart of these complexes. And the moment my view stabilized after dropping out of warp, I had no doubt whatsoever that the journey was worth the effort. This central room, which Aura marks as the Hive, is dominated by a central Drifter station, for lack of a better word. But that gives these colossal structures far too little credit. Rough estimates make these structures over 200 kilometers across, dwarfing even our largest titans. The station appears comprised of multiple rotating rings, which can be seen slowly rotating when looking at the inner rim of the station. The exterior of the structure is generally a sheer grey wall with many features, multiple kilometers in height. Despite the structure’s size, it is far too easy to lose yourself examining the countless nooks, crannies, antennae, viewports, bays, and other details along the outer rim, not to mention the giant points coming off the outer rim, like spokes of a wheel pushed past the rim.

Aura’s analysis has this to say on the structure:

Drifter 17Dwarfing the majestic enclave in size, the scale of this Hive sends shivers of awe into all those who bear witness to its grandeur. Its walls stand defiant against the harsh black vacuum. Its structure, testament to the unfathomable technological prowess of the Sleeper race.

Cold, sharp edges seem to tear at the very fabric of space, distorting reality around it. One can only cower in fear at the thought of what a construction of this magnitudes purpose could be.

Drifter 18

A looming asteroid.

Poetic license of the ship’s resident AI aside, I couldn’t help but agree with what she had to say. Particularly noteworthy was the mention of space-warping technology. Indeed, some of the antennae poking out of the Hive seem to mimic the effects found when the Drifters are engaging their sublight, non-classically-propulsive engines. Which, of course, raises the rather disturbing possibility that not only are these structures truly titanic, but these structures are truly titanic as well as mobile. Indeed, some of my fellow fleet members speculated that we may be looking at a particularly large stargate, given that the Hives are oriented differently in each of the five complexes. Regardless, beyond the fact that these structures seem to be used as manufacturing facilities, little is known about the purpose of the Hive beyond the fact that the Drifters and Sleepers put substantial defenses in place to keep it safe.

Drifter 19

The Hive dominates the last area of the complex

While the Hive definitely dominates the final area, it is by no means the only thing to be found in this final area. After I finally tore my eyes off of the structure, I had a look around. It should be needless to say at this point that the area was littered with various Sleeper structures and constructs, but a few other notable things bear mentioning. First, even here in the very heart of the Sleeper and Drifter complexes, signs of non-capsuleer-caused damage can be seen. A Sleeper enclave near the Hive once again bore signs of significant damage to its outer hull, with pieces of the structure torn away. What caused this damage even in the heart of these complexes again brought the prospects of civil war or, perhaps even more ominously, an as-yet unknown party, to my mind once again.

Drifter 20

Hikanta Tyrannos comes under heavy fire.

Further, or perhaps in answer to my question regarding the cause of the damage, the Hive is also littered with Jovian corpses. This is interesting for two reasons. First, of course, is that there is no particular reason why the corpses should be here in the first place, as there have been no other signs of Jovian encroachment on these sites. The second reason that the presence of these corpses is notable is that the Drifters have shown a particular affinity for space-flight-adapted bodies after death, with the evidence heavily suggesting that the Drifters re-purpose and augment the corpses in order to create new copies of Apollo and Artemis, our dear Drifter friends who pilot most of the Drifter battleships. Why would the Drifters simply leave these presumably perfectly-good corpses in the heart of their space, rather than re-purpose them as they have capsuleer corpses? Is there something incompatible, given the Jove proclivity for genetic engineering?

Drifter 21

And Hikanta responds in kind.

In the center of the Hive, surrounded by literally dozens of Sleeper structures and protected by one of the largest security systems ever implemented (when measured in terms of sheer distance traveled, at the very least), sits the goal of most expeditions into the complexes. A small beacon is protected by a third, until-now unmet Drifter: Hikanta Tyrannos. Like Apollo and Artemis before him, he flies a standard Drifter battleship, one that must be taken down if you hope to gain the fruits of the expedition. Unfortunately, given his powerful doomsday weapon, this means that at least one of your ships must be sacrificed, as he will invariably fire his doomsday weapon after his primary shield matrix is brought down, and it is highly unlikely a ship could survive a direct hit from that.

Dirfter 22

Another view of the Hive structure

Once Hikanta and the remaining Sleeper drones are cleared out, however, a ship can approach the central vault of that complex. When near, the pilot will need to deposit into the vault an Index specific to that complex (i.e. inputting a Conflux Index into the Conflux Vault). Unfortunately, these Indices can only be gained from the Hikanta Tyrannos wreck of a different complex (the Hikanta in the Barbican complex will drop a Conflux index, for example). Once the appropriate index is inserted, however, the Vault will unlock ten Elements. The Element you receive will differ depending on where the Element originated (similar to the above, a Conflux complex will yield a Conflux Element), but all five Elements seem generally similar.

Drifter 23

Even here, damage to Sleeper structures can be seen.

That’s not to say that Aura isn’t completely baffled by them, however. Her analysis is confusing:

The strange, unreal aspect of this object plays havoc with your mind. The distortion is interfering with signal reception and hindering decryption. Despite this, one strong, repetitive motif is breaking through the chaos. A single repeating concept.

Conflux.

Drifter 24

A view of the inner rim of the Hive.

While the Antikythera elements discovered in the Jove observatories eventually yielded the now ubiquitous entosis links, it is not yet clear what these new elements do or what they can be used for. Indeed, it was hoped that some revelation would come simply by collecting all five types of Elements in one place, but thus far, despite [IKAME]’s possession of all five Element types, no initial breakthroughs have yet been forthcoming. Still, plenty of experiments remain to figure out just what these elements are to be used for. Theories are rampant, of course, but my personal theory is that all five elements are to be combined into a key of some kind to unlock a final, sixth Drifter/Sleeper system which may very well be their home system. But that’s just me.

Drifter 25

One of the many Jove corpses that can be found in the Hive

After an exhausting twelve hour day, I finally found myself on my way home from Drifter space. While the Conflux complex was completed with little incident, the Vidette complex proved more challenging, with almost all ships in the fleet (including my beloved Scientia) being destroyed by Drifter fire. Indeed, the fact that we easily survived one complex while getting utterly destroyed by the second demonstrates both the survivability and the risk of completing these sites. That being said, I was delighted that I had tagged along. Not only were the views themselves gorgeous (and if nothing else, the views alone were well worth the travels in my opinion), as demonstrated throughout this entry, but the complexes give important clues to the relationship between the Drifters and the Sleepers, while of course, raising even more questions (questions I got to ponder while waiting to travel during my long, long, long trip home, I might add).

Drifter 26

Not all journeys are entirely successful…

Waiting, as they say, is the hardest part, and heavens know I’ve done my fair share of waiting. Waiting until my schedule allowed me to participate in one of these operations. Waiting to find an entrance to the appropriate complex. Waiting for the Drifters to move through the particular area of the complex we got stuck in. Waiting even now for the answers that I have to trust are coming someday. Waiting may be the hardest part, but patience is a virtue. Instant gratification in all respects would soon get boring without the anticipation of life and things to come. The Sleepers and the Drifters have also waited a long time, perhaps thousands of years if some theories are to be believed, and they finally seem to be acting on whatever it is they’ve been waiting for. Like the rest of New Eden, for now I can only watch to see what these civilizations, capability of building such marvelous things, have in store for us. Watch… and wait.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Drifter complexes Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, and Vidette
  • 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: As stressed throughout this entry, dangers are significant. Beyond the normal dangers of wormhole space (including other pilots), Drifters and Sleepers can be found throughout the site. Drifters can doomsday almost all subcapital ships in one shot once their primary shields are brought down. You will need at least one other person to accompany (preferably a small fleet), and that fleet will have to split up in order to successfully reach the hive. Drifters will change the rooms they are stationed in throughout a complex approximately every half-hour. Data analyzers are required to hack the gates. Strong, cloak-equipped ships are strongly advised.

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.
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