Sightseeing in the Cluster

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Tribal Council Orbital Caravanserai

I'm alive!
The Orbital Caravanserai complex.

A younger sibling inevitably ends up having a complicated relationship with the older one. I don’t mean that in a bad way, of course (or, at least, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a bad way), but the relationship is almost never a simple one. The older sibling is the trailblazer (like it or not): he or she figures out what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. The younger sibling, in turn, is left to figure out how to follow in the older sibling’s footsteps (or not). As a result, the younger sibling almost inevitably goes through phases of idolizing, hating, copying, and pushing away the older sibling over the course of years (or, perhaps, over the course of seconds). Eventually, however, the younger sibling realizes that they are their own person. What worked for the older sibling may not work for the younger, and vice versa. Realizing that separation and becoming one’s own person can be a difficult, but vital, realization for any sibling (and for the parents of those siblings, for that matter).

And moved!
A closer view of the main station.

As usual, this is a rather tortured metaphor for New Eden on a broader scale: in this particular instance, the Minmatar and the Gallente. The metaphor is obviously not perfect, but in many ways, the Federation did act as an older sibling to the Republic as the Minmatar re-learned how to be a self-governing nation after winning its independence from Amarr slavery. In classic self-important Gallente fashion, when it was time to set up how the Minmatar would govern themselves, the Gallente “strongly recommended” that the Republic follow the model that had proved (mostly) so successful for the Gallente. And the Republic followed suit, setting a tripartite republic that would look familiar to any Gallente schoolchild, but ignored the unique cultural and political history of the Minmatar.

I had a LOT of problems writing this entry for some reason.
The arc of Tribal embassies can be seen here.

I speak, of course, of the Seven Tribes. The Gallente, in our usual way, ignored the importance of the Tribes in the every day life of the Minmatar, unwilling to believe that something that meant little the Gallente (familial relations on such a large scale) could have deep and significant meanings to another. And for two centuries, the Republic tried to follow the Gallente example. But the cultural inertia eventually became too much to ignore. As the disastrous premiership of Karin Midular came to its ignoble end (a story I will turn to in the next entry), Maleatu Shakor, another leader in Minmatar society, decided that the time was ripe for the Republic to put its own stamp on the concept of self-governance.

There was just SO MUCH to talk about this with this, sigh.
A closer view of some of the Tribal embassies.

Shakor had a new vision for the Minmatar Republic that restored the supremacy of the Tribes, flinging off the ideals of its older sibling, the Gallente. Rather than being led by an elected Parliament, the Tribal Council, with representatives from each of the Seven Tribes, would meet weekly to decide matters of state in the Great Caravanserai on Matar. Shakor also revived the concept of the Sanmatar to lead the Tribal Council, and soon found himself installed in that position. In the way that all younger siblings eventually must, the Minmatar had finally decided how they themselves wanted to live. They kept the self-governing ways that the Gallente tried to instill, but in a unique way that more fully represented the rich cultural history of the Minmatar.

Kind of overwhelming in some ways, but hopefully I managed
The entire complex orbits the Matari homeworld.

Although the Great Caravanserai on Matar served as the formal meeting place of the Tribal Council, it eventually became apparent that a Council that governed an interstellar republic needed better access to interstellar space, leading the Council to eventually establish the Tribal Council Orbital Caravanserai in orbit of Matar. Here, the Council could more quickly gather in times of emergency, while also providing both additional space for the offices and embassies necessary for the burgeoning Republic and the more modern settings necessary for interstellar governance that might seem out of place in the storied and ancient halls of the Great Caravanserai itself.

Needless to say, I was eager to check out the Orbital Caravanserai once construction was complete. As I arrived in the vicinity, I queried Aura to get her take on the station complex:

Also I... think the introductory metaphor works? I couldn't figure out a good hook for today.

The Tribal Council is the collective head of state of the Minmatar Republic. The council is made up of the chiefs of the Seven Tribes of Minmatar and is chaired by the Sanmatar. While each tribe is substantially sovereign unto itself, the Tribal Council in practice wields enormous executive power by the common consent of the tribes. The traditional leadership role of Sanmatar functions as a mediator with no formal vote in the Council, but the holder of this office can be given emergency powers and is typically delegated command of the Republic’s armed forces by the tribes.

PROBLEMS ALL AROUND IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY.

The formal meeting place of the Tribal Council is the Great Caravanserai in the Eyniletti Plains of Matar. However, the Tribal Council often meets remotely or at other convenient locations. The “Orbital Caravanserai” was established to provide a meeting place and transit station for chiefs, appointed deputies, and others attending Tribal Council meetings. The Tribal Council’s secure FTL communications are now routed through this fortified location and it readily facilitates remote participation by holopresence. The facility is also used by delegations from Minmatar clans and circles, ambassadors from other empires and states, and corporate executives seeking the ear of the Council.

But either way, with the move completed I am hoping to move back to more regular updating. The backlog is getting a bit long again!
A Thukker Hurricane-class battleship stands guard near the Thukker embassy.

The most striking aspect of the Orbital Caravanserai complex is the main station itself. A classic example of Minmatar architecture, the station that hosts the legislature of the Minmatar Republic still feels as if it is held together by rust, duct tape, and dreams. Of course, like all Minmatar engineering these days, the structures are bound together quite more soundly than that, but despite the relative richness of the Republic these days, they seem to pride themselves on that aesthetic. Between the various docking pathways into the station, the arcology domes connected to the main structure host a dense urban landscape within them, presumably home to the many support staff and bureaucracy necessary for the functioning of the Tribal Council. Somewhat surprisingly, the station also appears to host some heavy industry, with flares and vents very visible on the station superstructure. Unsurprisingly, when I requested docking clearance at the station, I was turned down rather unceremoniously.

v e r t i c a l  s u p r e m a c y
Another view of an embassy.

In an arc around the station, each Tribe has also been granted an embassy. Although structurally the same (and demonstrating the classic Minmatar love of vertical supremacy), each embassy is burnished in the colors of that Tribe, and is guarded by a small task force of that Tribe’s ships. Near the embassy proper also stands a small structure flying the standard of that Tribe. The embassies allow each Tribe to have its own administrative center, where it can be sure of secured channels for deliberations and consultations. In querying each embassy, Aura provides a brief summary of each Tribe (reproduced in the appendix at the end of the entry), but has this to say about each of the embassies itself:

I am pretty sure those stars are going to get subbed in with actual Tribal icons at some point (if they haven't yet! I verified that nothing had been filled in somewhat recently).

This [Tribal] Embassy serves as a facility that is unarguably the territory of the [Tribe] within the Orbital Caravanserai complex. Here the Chief [of that Tribe] takes counsel with elders, advisors, industrialists, and delegations from member clans of the tribe, secure in the knowledge that opportunities for eavesdropping and subtle interference by other parties are severely curtailed.

I feel like I've been mocking the Gallente a LOT lately but honestly we just make it so easy.
A Tribal standard.

I remain vaguely uncomfortable with the cultural imperialism so endemic to the Federation. We have a bad habit of assuming that, despite the vast diversity in human history and experience, ultimately everything is one size fits all, and that the Gallente way of doing things is the best for everyone. But that viewpoint has caused the Federation any number of problems in the past, most notably in the Caldari secession, but also with respect to the Minmatar. We assumed our system would work, without giving any consideration to the history and values of the people we helped to free. Sure, the Republic declared independence from the Amarr and those that enslaved its people in the past (and continue to do so). But it took another 2 centuries for it to declare independence from those that helped the Republic achieve that independence. In its own way, that takes just as much courage.

But it’s a courage that little siblings across the cluster are more than familiar with.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Tribal Council Orbital Caravanserai
  • System: Pator
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Heimatar
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Appendix (Tribal descriptions):

Sebiestor

With a culture emphasizing the virtues of patience, contemplation, and practical skill, the Sebiestor are known far and wide as engineers and inventors. The Sebiestor reputation for tinkering with any kind of technology is well deserved, and this excellence in engineering naturally propelled the Sebiestor to the fore during the period when the old Minmatar Empire pushed into space. During the Amarr occupation, the Sebiestor did much to hold what remained of Minmatar society together with their skill at maintaining or adapting technology. The Sebiestor Tribe was one of the four founding tribes of the Minmatar Republic following the success of the Great Rebellion.

Krusual

Pride is a common Minmatar trait, but the Krusual are wont to take it to extraordinary lengths. They rarely lose an opportunity to remind the other tribes that they alone managed to maintain strongholds in the mountainous Tronhadar region of Matar during the Amarr occupation. It is certainly remarkable that in all the long years of the occupation, the Amarr were unable to once and for all crush Krusual resistance. Their ability to hold onto a certain amount of independence during the occupation resulted in the Krusual retaining more of their pre-conquest culture than any other tribe, and their underground bases played an important role in sheltering some Vherokior mystics. The Krusual Tribe was one of the four founding tribes of the Minmatar Republic following the success of the Great Rebellion.

Brutor

The Brutor are marked by a disciplined stoicism and deeply spiritual cast of mind that combine to project a sense of nobility around the people of this tribe. While the Brutor have a traditional mindset, they suffered great loss of cultural heritage and knowledge of their history during the Amarr occupation. To the occasional annoyance of the other tribes, the Brutor consider themselves responsible for the freedom of the entire Minmatar people and make no bones about standing on this claim for political purposes when it suits them. In particular, the Brutor are great supporters and protectors of the Starkmanir Tribe, on account of the former originating as an offshoot of the latter. The Brutor Tribe was one of the four founding tribes of the Minmatar Republic following the success of the Great Rebellion.

Vherokior

Vherokior are disinclined to engage in great collective efforts, and their various clans are rather loosely grouped under the tribal chief’s authority. Indeed, the clans themselves hold nominal authority in many cases, with the family being by far the most important social unit to the individual Vherokior. These families are traditionally matriarchal in structure, though the aftermath of the Amarrian occupation has disrupted this pattern somewhat, as with so many other aspects of Minmatar tribal culture. Most Vherokior have long-abandoned the ancient nomadism of their tribe but the Vherokior mystics are the guardians of the Voluval Ritual and travel immense distances in this role. The Vherokior Tribe was one of the four founding tribes of Minmatar Republic following the success of the Great Rebellion.

Nefantar

The Nefantar Tribe played a notorious role during the Amarr Empire’s occupation of the Minmatar home worlds as collaborators who actively assisted in the enslavement of other tribes by the Amarr. When the Great Rebellion succeeded in driving the Amarr from the Minmatar Regions, the Amarr subsequently set up the Nefantar in a puppet state called the Ammatar Mandate. Unbeknownst to anyone else, certain Ammatar elites had hidden a large number of Starkmanir survivors from the Amarr within the Mandate. After the discovery of the Starkmanir led to a Minmatar invasion in YC110, the Nefantar conspirators and their families led a mass defection back to the Minmatar Republic, assisting in the recovery of the Starkmanir. Today, the Nefantar tribe has been restored as one of the Seven Tribes of Matar.

Thukker

According to what remains of the historical records of the Minmatar, the Thukker tribe had always been a nomadic people, journeying back and forth across Matar in large caravans. The development of the old Minmatar Empire appears to have done little to inhibit the wandering of the Thukker. Indeed, the Great Caravanserai itself was constructed by the Thukker long ago to serve as a major junction in their network of routes and caravanserais. The Amarr found the Thukker intractable and many escaped to remote areas of space, forming the nucleus of the later culture of Great Caravans. The Thukker were notable fighters in the Great Rebellion but declined to join in the founding of the Republic. The wanderering Thukker Tribe officially joined the Republic in YC111, maintaining full autonomy of their Great Wildlands region but once more uniting the Minmatar as seven tribes.

Starkmanir

Subjected to an Amarr campaign of annihilation, the Starkmanir Tribe was considered lost for centuries until the discovery in YC110 of a viable surviving population hidden by Nefantar elites on Halturzhan, the sixth planet of Jarizza in the Ammatar Mandate. The discovery spurred a Minmatar fleet into an invasion of Amarr territories with a view to recovering the Starkmanir and as many other enslaved Minmatar as possible. The vast majority of surviving Starkmanir were successfully recovered, evacuated to the Minmatar Republic, and settled on lands set aside for them by the larger tribes. The Starkmanir tribe is also notable for being the mother tribe of two splinter clans that went on to become major tribes in their own right: the Brutor and the Vherokior. This Starkmanir Tribal Embassy serves as a facility that is unarguably the territory of the Starkmanir within the Orbital Caravanserai complex. Here the Chief takes counsel with elders, advisors, scholars, and delegations from clans of the tribe, secure in the knowledge that opportunities for eavesdropping and subtle interference by other parties are severely curtailed

A History of War

Sorry, sorry, I know, it's been ages.
The oddly terrestrial-seeming History of War monument.

I have never hidden the fact that I am not exactly an expert on the history of null-security space. Oh, sure, I could string a coherent overall storyline together with a few commonly known corporations, alliances, and CEOs and, and it might even be close to being historically accurate, but for whatever reason, null sec space has never grabbed my interest as much as other areas of New Eden’s history. And I’m okay with that. There are others out there far more adept than I at threading that particular tapestry of stories together. Mostly, this is fine. My interests tend to run in a particular direction, if you, as my readers, haven’t noticed, and there is enough history in New Eden for everyone to enjoy their own particular specializations.

RL got away from me this summer and it was not fun?
The glowing red of the monument’s interior is more apparent in this backlit image.

But every now and then, my somewhat determined-avoidance of the intricacies of null sec history leave me puzzled. For example, as I was making my way to M2-XFE to examine the monument recently constructed there, I came across something that was unexpected. It was only a bit of luck that I saw it at all, frankly. I’m not entirely a stranger to null security space and the dangers it can bring, meaning that when I fly through null security space for whatever reason, I tend to be paying far closer attention to other capsuleers that may be nearby than I am to other constructs that I might normally be on the lookout for. But, thankfully, something prompted me to be paying more attention to non-capsuleer related matters than I normally would in null-sec when I jumped into the system of C-J6MT. C-J6MT is a system a few jumps into Insmother, not too far from the region’s borders with Etherium Reach and Scalding Pass. My rather barebones knowledge of New Eden history gave me no reason to be familiar with that system, but that changed in a moment.

But also I am now like 8 or 9 monuments behind WHOOPS
An isometric view of the structure displays the unique fins and columns of the design.

Just as Scientia entered warp from the 78-0R6 gate, I noticed something unexpected on Scientia’s sensors. In fact, thanks to the warp jump, it was off of my sensors almost as soon as I realized there was something there at all. Unfortunately, once the warp tunnel forms there’s really no stopping it, so I was forced to warp all of the way to the next gate on my route before I could quickly turn around, recloak, and jump back to the 78-0R6 gate just to see what I had even missed. As I warped back to the site, I found myself wondering just what had happened in this system to warrant any kind of memorial at all. Unfortunately, my questions would not be answered as quickly as I would normally hope.

I can't promise I won't disappear again, though. I move in about 2 weeks, eeep.
A side profile of the monument. In the background, a nebula.

I dropped out of warp to find myself face to face with an odd, red-hued stone monument a few hundred kilometers off of the 78-0R6 gate. Standing tens of kilometers from top to bottom, the monument seemed hewn from volcanic rock (similar in effect, in fact, to the rock that makes up the Fallen Capsuleer Memorial in Molea, though a bit lighter in tone), an effect bolstered by the seemingly magmatic red pulsing from the interior of the monument. In letters about as tall as Professor Science, the monument simply read “C-J6MT”. Various fins and other protuberances could be found protruding from the monument. Aura’s analysis of the monument immediately identified it as a monument entitled “A History of War”. Unfortunately, it seems that the builders of the monument had a bit of a sense of irony, as pinging the monument for information provided no such history at all:

(moving sucks)

Monument honoring the notorious sieges and violent battles in C-J6MT and all those involved or impacted by these events.

That… was not exactly helpful. I’ve become spoiled by many of the more recent monuments that have been constructed in the cluster and their attempts at giving a fuller context for those monuments. With this sentence, I was still very much in the dark as to what significance C-J6MT has in the tapestry of New Eden’s history.

But it is what it is. And this is better than nothing!
Note the weathering on the monument’s facade. In the distance, the red glow of the gate to 78-0R6 can be seen.

Thankfully, a brief search of GalNet and other sources of information sated my curiosity. It seems that the importance of C-J6MT dates all the way back to YC108, where the Red Alliance made a successful last stand. Red Alliance had been one of the early powerhouses in null-security space, quickly gaining prominence after CONCORD authorized independent capsuleers in YC105 and gaining control over large swaths of null-sec. But with its prominence came quite a few enemies, and a so-called Coalition of the South quickly rose in opposition. Overextended, Red Alliance found that it could not defend the space it had claimed. Although able to survive through guerilla tactics, Red Alliance decided it needed a real victory. After looking at its options, it decided to turn the tide in the system of (as you may have guessed) C-J6MT. The Alliance quickly established that system as its last beachhead. And when the Coalition of the South finally caught up to Red Alliance, outnumbering Red Alliance by over 4 to 1… Red Alliance held. It pushed off the invasion, and lived to see another day.

(Also, CCPlz flesh out the show info text here a bit. I was so confused by this at first)
The monument can be seen as a tiny silhouette against the star in this farther out shot.

Since then, C-J6MT has held a special place in the heart of Red Alliance and the various splinters sects of that group. Other battles have been fought there, but it’s that original siege, where Red Alliance held its own for 3 days against a better-armed enemy, that makes the system special to begin with. Defending a system against all odds forges a special, nearly spiritual connection with the system, and makes you far more willing to defend it in the future, no matter the cost.

As I was leaving, I chastised myself for being so unfamiliar with the system. I had read the story of this siege before, but did not connect the system involved in that mighty last stand with the peaceful, quiet system I found myself in that day. Perhaps it was time to give my histories of the null sec empires another read…

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: A History of War
  • System: C-J6MT
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Insmother
  • Potential Hazards: C-J6MT 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 empire space, as well as on other gates.  Caution is advised.

Massacres at M2-XFE Monument

The art team YET AGAIN knocks it out of the park.
The graceful curves of the monument in M2-XFE.

I think I’ve mentioned before that for as much as I love the politics—and political theater—surrounding the major empires and CONCORD, I often pay surprisingly little attention to empires of the capsuleer world. Those giants of null sec, with their ever-swirling array of alliances, coalitions, wars, and backstabs is often the source of much fascination across the cluster. Pilots may be allies one day but fighting savagely the next after some sudden but inevitable betrayal. The constant internecine warfare, needed as much to keep pilots engaged in their respective alliances as it is for more pragmatic astropolitical reasons, can be exhausting to keep track of.

I am pretty sure I'm going to have more pictures than I have text for, even with the GINORMOUS quoted text  block that starts in a sec.
A closer look at the monument.

And yet even I have become aware of the latest in a long-running series of wars that has engulfed null security space. This is partially due to the excellent reporting from a fellow capsuleer I have long followed, but also partially because whenever the null security alliances break some record for the largest battle in New Eden, they seem determined to break the new record again as soon as possible. And so it was with the current war, which, to cut a very long story short, involves the ever-embroiled Imperium (née Goonswarm Coalition) and a coalition of other alliances variously called PAPI or PandaFam. The war, now entering its second year, seems to have stalemated somewhat in the current climate. But when the war was a little more active, a number of high-stakes battles took place in M2-XFE. By the time of the final battle in the system early in YC123, more than 20,000 capsuleer-piloted vessels had been destroyed, including more than 450 titans.

The Powers That Be felt that the astrostrategic battles that took place in M2-XFE, including the largest battle in New Eden to date (a record I can’t imagine will last too long, if recent recordbreakers are any indiciation), warranted a memorial to the lives and ships lost in the system, and goodness did the sculptors hired by the PTB come through (as they usually do). But first, Aura’s analysis of the battle, which does a far better job of describing the battles themselves than I ever could:

I write for a living and I DESPERATELY want to take a red pen to this entire writeup, lol

This monument honors the thousands of capsuleers that participated in the series of cataclysmic battles over a Keepstar-class Citadel in late YC122 and early YC123. At the time these battles represented the largest and bloodiest clashes in the history of New Eden.

In YC122, the southern and western nullsec regions of New Eden were shaken by the massive conflict between the capsuleer coalitions popularly known as “The Imperium” and “PAPI”. By the end of YC122 the primary front of the war was the Delve region, with PAPI coalition forces invading the capital region of the Imperium. In October of that year clashes over an attempted PAPI beachhead in FWST-8 broke the record for the largest battle in New Eden history, a record that was destined to be broken again less than 3 months later.

So many missing commas smh

By the end of December the fighting in Delve was focused on the system of M2-XFE, where an Imperium Keepstar came under sustained attack from PAPI forces. The first massive clash occurred over the Keepstar’s armor timer on December 30th and 31st YC122 with a combined 5,158 pilots fighting in the system at its peak. Supercapital fleets from both sides traded blows relatively evenly as ships exploded all around the Citadel. When the dust settled from this first battle, 3,404 capsuleers ships including 257 titans and a combined value of over 29 trillion ISK had been destroyed.

On the other hand, I would not be in ANY position to give ANY kind of history like this so, hooray!

The second battle of M2-XFE a few days later saw even more capsuleers attempt to join the fray, leading to an infamous result. On January 3rd YC123 a record 6,739 pilots entered the system, and several thousand more attempted to join the fighting. This unprecedented number of warp-capable starships in close proximity led to unpredictable spacetime anomalies as the universe itself seemed to strain under the stress of the battle. The anomalies played havoc on all ship systems within M2[-XFE], but the defending forces of the Imperium coalition were in a better position to weather the storm as they had arrived on location earlier than the PAPI fleets and therefore they did not need to make use of jump drives and stargates during the period of greatest disruption. The result of this second battle was a significant victory for the defending forces, as the attackers faced significant disruption to the operation of their jump drives into the crowded system. Many attacking ships were destroyed as they entered the system, and many more were trapped in the system by the forces of the Imperium. The Keepstar had been saved for a time.

In case you forgot where you were, I guess.

In the weeks following the second battle of M2-XFE, Imperium fleets anchored mobile warp disruptors and patrolled relentlessly to keep as many PAPI supercapitals as possible trapped in the system as fighting raged on across the Delve region, taking advantage of the strategic advantage provided by the trapping of so many hostile vessels. Several smaller clashes occurred over operations to rescue some of the trapped supercapital vessels, and the coalitions also continued to fight over other structures in the system. On January 27th YC123, PAPI were able to free a portion of their trapped pilots after a battle that saw nearly 450 Capitals and 6 Titans[sic]-class hulls destroyed. On February 1st YC123, PAPI forces were victorious in a battle that stretched across the NJU-QV constellation and involved thousands of capsuleers, giving them control of M2-XFE’s Infrastructure Hub. PAPI then began to slowly lay the groundwork to activate their own Tenebrex Cyno Jammer structure which would give them the ability to disrupt Imperium reinforcements to the system. On March 7th YC123 the PAPI Cyno Jammer structure came online and the Imperium retreated the bulk of their forces from the system, freeing the remaining trapped PAPI capital ships. Finally on March 12th YC123 the M2-XFE Keepstar that had been the original focal point of all this bloodshed was destroyed by PAPI forces.

This was another monument that I literally gasped at when I first dropped out of warp. The art team is FAR too good at doing that to me, lol

All in all, the fighting within M2-XFE in late YC122 and early YC123 led to the destruction of more than 20,000 capsuleer vessels including over 450 titan-class starships. The first battle of M2-XFE broke the New Eden record for the most value destroyed in a single battle, and the second battle broke FWST-8’s record for the battle with the most capsuleer ships within a system at one time. The Keepstar was eventually destroyed after over two months of brutal fighting, and the forces of the Imperium regrouped at their nearby capital system of 1DQ1-A. At the time that this monument was erected, the greater war between PAPI and the Imperium was raging on and only time would tell how the conflict would eventually be resolved.

Phew.

Is this even an Eve Travel post if I don't have the sun peeking through in 1 shot?
The local sun pokes through the towers.

The monument itself is absolutely stunning. The entire structure is built using an obsidian-esque shiny black stone. The central complex consists of a series of sweeping, interlocking towers that span from the central axis along a graceful curve. The center of the structure reminds me of an organ from some grand, obsidian cathedral. A blue glow pulses its way from the center of the structure out to its extremities. As those towers gradually grow shorter, new, flatter structures jut out from the extremities, eventually coming to sharp points at each end. If the center of the structure is some grand organ playing a baleful tune, then the outer edges of the structure is a majestic bird of prey, with powerful wings outstretched and ready to strike.

I'm speaking truths here. I'm terrible at artistic intent, lol
A close look at the churning orb of energy.

At the center of the entire complex sits what at first glance seems to be a crackling sphere of blue energy. It’s only when viewed from the sides that it becomes evident that the energy field is actually teardrop shaped, with the point connecting to the rest of the structure. Within the teardrop is a constantly churning globe of lights. I suspect this is meant to symbolize the spacetime-shattering energies unleashed during these battles, or perhaps the sphere contains just a sliver of the rifts that opened up in M2-XFE during the battle that caused the pilots so many problems. Or perhaps the artists just thought it looked cool. I’ve never been fantastic at figuring out the intent of an artist.

I *really* love this pic as an ending pic. (Also, this paragraph also tells true stories. Please do not ask me to summarize null sec history I will fail miserably)
The monument seems to stand as a sentinel against the local sun.

I spent quite some time admiring the monument from all angles. The graceful curves and the spectacular majesty of the site is truly breathtaking. Even if, like me, you didn’t know until fairly recently that there was a fairly significant difference between the abbreviations “NC” and “NCdot” (or, even worse, just “NC.”), I still recommend you come and check the site out for yourself. The capsuleer history of New Eden is worth taking in, even if only for the absolutely magnificent memorials that result from their never-ending feuds. Internecine warfare has rarely looked so good.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Massacres at M2-XFE Monument
  • System: M2-XFE
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Delve
  • Potential Hazards: M2-XFE 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 empire space, as well as on other gates.  Caution is advised.

Intaki Syndicate Executive Retreat Center (Cord of the Elements)

Did you want hot, corporate regulation action? Never tell me I don't know what my audience craves.
The Executive Retreat Center and Cord of the Elements.

I sighed as I glared at the rest of the agenda for today’s meeting of shareholders of Project Compass Holdings. Secure Commerce Commission regulations require that each corporation hold a quarterly meeting of shareholders to make sure all owners of the corporation remain up-to-date on the goings on of the corporation. Never mind that: 1) I was the only shareholder and thus the only required participant and attendee of today’s meeting, 2) Project Compass Holdings main purpose these days is that of a legal shield, and the corporation itself held nothing other than the legally required minimal assets since CONCORD shut down my research projects back in YC114, 3) the corporation was not a moneymaking venture, 4) all of the information being presented was available to me at any time anyway through the magic of computers, and 5) did I mention that I was the only shareholder? But the forms must be obeyed, and obeyed they were as Aura obediently took the minutes of this very important shareholders meeting, serving as both the corporate Secretary and Treasurer.

YES, CONCORD, I'M STILL A LITTLE BITTER ABOUT THAT MOVE.
The biodomes and the Cord.

What I need, I thought ruefully to myself, is a corporate retreat. The meeting seemed to stretch interminably as required report after required report was dutifully read into the meeting minutes, and I allowed my mind to wander. My thought on corporate retreats brought to mind a newsblurb I had read recently that the Intaki Syndicate, a side of the Intaki race I was less than proud of if I was being honest, had recently opened an executive conference center deep in Syndicate space and in full view of another of the natural wonders of New Eden, the Cord of the Elements. As Aura explained, in surprising depth, that Project Compass Holdings took in no revenue nor had any notable expenses for the 37th quarter in a row, I dug up the story again on my console, and loaded the system of D-B7YK into Scientia’s computers for route plotting.

Although the meeting only lasted 12 minutes and 43 seconds (per Aura’s fastidious notetaking), I could not wait to get out of the conference room I had rented (using my own ISK, not the corporation’s) and get back into my ship. Within a few minutes, I was en route to Syndicate space to see what I could see. As I did so, I brought up what little Aura could find on the Cord of the Elements:

Scarred but still gorgeous tbh

Winding through the Syndicate region is a natural phenomenon that has baffled scientists for centuries. The phenomenon, a super-dense dark cloud, bends time in such a way that all space-travel in or close to the phenomenon is impossible, or at least extremely hazardous. Most scientists believe that the Cord is the remnant of collision between two black holes millions of years ago that permanently ‘scarred’ space. Others believe the Cord to be the result of a science experiment, possibly conducted by alien life forms, that went seriously awry eons ago.

Pleasure cruiser!
A visitor to the, ah, unique pleasures of the Center.

I soon arrived in D-B7YK and easily found the retreat center on my scanners. The center itself consists of a standard Gallente station design, with an organic-looking design with a gleaming sun-shield and some well-placed biodomes offering dramatic views. In classic Gallente fashion, area surrounding the station was littered with pleasure hubs and pleasure cruisers. I chuckled to myself as I thought of holding my bone-dry legally required shareholders meeting in such a location. It certainly may make it seem shorter, at least. The pleasure hubs, 8 in all, formed a line pointing towards nearby D-B7YK VII, an icy planet that hung in the near distance. Finally, I bothered to look up what Aura, continuing in her role as corporate Secretary, had to say on the center:

This luxurious retreat center has been constructed in one of the rare locations where a gap in the natural clouds of stellar dust allow a clear view of the gorgeous Cord of the Elements phenomena that separates the Syndicate region from the territory of the Gallente Federation.

Operated by the Intaki Syndicate, these facilities are exclusively made available to the Syndicate station governors, their executive leadership staff, and their guests.

I know the station graphics don't really hold up well with these kinds of shots (I'm far too close), but I still love these type of shots anyway??
A view from inside one of the biodomes.

Of course, the real star of the show, so to speak, was the Cord itself. From D-B7YK, the Cord stretched across a quarter of the sky, immediately drawing one’s eye even above the local star. The Cord presents itself as a vast, flattened spheroid cloud of dark gas and dust. As promised by Aura above, the cloud breaks apart slightly to allow a view towards the center of the Cord, from which a bright yellow glow emanates along with a streamer of material.

It’s hard to do justice to the Cord using just words. It’s a magnificent sight. Despite the distance, watching the Cord for just a few minutes is enough to show the fascinating interplay of light and shadow between the dark clouds surrounding the Cord and the glowing center itself. Crepuscular rays stretch across the sky, a thought that boggles the mind once you realize that these shadows stretch over light-years. It’s truly spectacular.

I sometimes wish we were allowed to dock at these things tbh.
Scientia was refused docking clearance.

I will admit that I hailed the station about the prospect of holding my next shareholders meeting at the center. Even ignoring the pleasure hubs, the thought of holding the same boring meeting in one of the biodomes in full sight of the Cord was an image I found hard to resist. But, alas, even appealing to my Intaki ancestry was insufficient to get me access to the corporate retreat center without some direct relationship to the Syndicate or an invitation from one of the Syndicate’s executives. Still, I captured enough imagery of the Cord that perhaps I could spruce up future shareholder meetings with some holograms. At least then I’d have something to look at other than yet another report of a quarter with no earnings whatsoever.

Long live SCC regulations, I suppose, but more importantly: long live the Cord of the Elements.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Intaki Syndicate Executive Retreat Center (and Cord of the Elements)
  • System: D-B7YK
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Syndicate
  • Potential Hazards: D-B7YK 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 empire space, as well as on other gates.  Caution is advised.

True Creations Pool of Radiance Research Lab

HAS IT REALLY BEEN A DECADE SINCE INCURSIONS. HAS IT SOMEHOW BEEN THAT LONG.
The research lab facilities in the foreground, with the Pool of Radiance shining beyond.

Remember the Sansha? Creepy group of mind-controlled cyborg zombies led by a deluded cult leader who has the distinction of being the only person that the 4 empires have ever unified around destroying? Caused a lot of problems a decade or so ago by figuring out how to invade into the heart of high security space and make off with millions of people who were later forcibly converted into the aforementioned cyborg zombies?

Despite the high-profile nature of their attacks over a decade ago, the Sansha have mostly fallen out of the public conscience. Not that I can blame the public for that, of course. Between the Sleepers, the Drifters, the Triglavians, and the recent resurgence of the Equilibrium of Mankind back onto the galactic scene, the denizens of New Eden could be excused for feeling like they need a spreadsheet to keep track of everyone and everything they’re supposed to be afraid of these days, particularly those that have not really made a peep in more recent years.

Because what we really need more of in eve is spreadsheets
A view of the research lab looking towards the 13th moon of the fourth planet of 6QBH-S.

To be quite clear, that is not to mean that the Sansha have not been keeping themselves busy. Indeed, their assaults on New Eden continue to this day, even if I am caught by a sense “oh yeah, those guys are still around” every time I jump into a system to find that now-familiar warning from CONCORD about yet another constellation currently undergoing a Sansha incursion, along with the creepy green hue that Aura has seen fit to add to systems under threat. But I was surprised to learn recently that Sansha have interests that go beyond converting the citizens of New Eden into zombies to bring their dream of a cyborg utopia, or whatever dream it was that Sansha Kuvakei professed (or at least that their interests extend to things that may only tangentially lead to such an outcome).

So... pointy.
A closer view of the research lab.

For you see, if you have ever needed proof that the universe is deeply unfair, you only need look to the fact that one of the natural wonders of New Eden is located smack dab in the middle of Sansha-controlled space. Although Stain is best well known for the Vapor Sea nebula (and the fact that it’s the home of Sansha’s Nation… a true stain on any map of New Eden), it’s also home to the Pool of Radiance. Stain curls around the Pool, with only the very northern part of it encompassed by a handful of systems in Catch. But, of course, the best views come from deep within Stain itself, the heart of Sansha territory, specifically the system 6QBH-S. If you ask me, the risk is worth it. Of the Pools of Radiance, Aura has this to say:

Space holds many spectacular sights and few are as spectacular as the crystal-clouds in the Pool of Radiance. The Pool is illuminated by surrounding stars, which makes it shimmer and shine in every color imaginable, radiating an almost hypnotic glow that delights anyone that sees it. The only problem is that the Pool is located in space controlled by Sansha’s Nation, so any prospective visitors are advised to carry an armed escort.

SHINING, SHIMMERING, SPLENDID.
One of the outer satellite stations.

The Pool is indeed hypnotic, a shimmering whirlpool far grander than any you could see elsewhere in the Cluster. The heart of the whirlpool shines a bright purple-pink much of the time, but the Pool swirls around so much that the center is frequently obscured by one of the many-hued gas clouds that surround it, letting some of the other colors of the Pool dominate a bit better, for a time. The view is indeed hypnotic, as the ever-shifting clouds of the Pool seem to always reveal some new hidden feature.

Perhaps it’s that hypnotic ability of the Pool that the Sansha seek to study with the establishment of the True Creations Pool of Radiance Research Lab. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Aura doesn’t have many details to share:

What are crystal-clouds tho

This Sansha’s Nation facility appears to have been constructed within the 6QBH-S system in order to study the spectacular crystal-clouds of the nearby Pool of Radiance phenomena.

The Nation jealously guards its secrets, and intruders to this location have been known to come under fire from True Creations forces immediately.

OK a lot of these photos ended up looking very similar, so shoot me
Note how the Pool’s appearance varies in every shot.

Not wanting to risk that fire, I visited 6QBH-S in my cloakable Tengu-class cruiser, Scientia. Hidden under my cloaking device, I was able to get a good look at both the Pool itself and the research lab studying it. True to Sansha form, the most that can really be said about the Lab is that it is… pointy. A standard Sansha station, the lab appears to present a shield to the Pool (a shield that, in actuality, I imagine is chock full of scientific instruments and, of course, many cyborg zombies) and is topped with what almost appears to be a crown. The central lab is surrounded by 4 smaller stations, presumably there either for defense or full of additional instrumentation. I didn’t decloak to find out.

(no please don't shoot me)
The barely visible outline of my cloaked ship

All told, it was fitting to once again see Sansha’s Nation overshadowed by the Exciting New Thing. If not for the fact that they were capturing and enslaving millions through cybernetic-induced bondage, one might be willing to compliment them for not letting the loss of the spotlight get in the way of their mission. That kind of plodding reliability, like a shuttle that is not the fastest one out there but never seems to need a stop at the mechanic, has a certain admiration to it. I have no doubt that, someday, there will be a resurgence for the Sansha too. And I hope that when the Cluster’s attention is once again drawn down to Sansha’s Nation in Stain, we wipe them out, if only so more people can get to safely enjoy the Pool of Radiance.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: True Creations Pool of Radiance Reseach Lab
  • System: 6QBH-S
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Stain
  • Potential Hazards: 6QBH-Sis 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 empire space, as well as on other gates.  Caution is advised. Additionally, the site’s description ingame warns of near-immediate fire if you come to investigate, but I will admit that I did not test that personally.