Sightseeing in the Cluster

The Carnival

Carnival 1

The remains of the original Carnival Station drift through space.

When I was young, I remember being so excited when the carnival made its way to our hometown on Gallente Prime every year. In retrospect, the carnival that came to town was a rather dinky affair that took up only half of a small park near us. But at the time… it was like the heavens themselves opened up and placed these rides on the planet. The sounds, the lights, the rides, the games… even the waiting in line took on an almost surreal feel to them. Despite the fact that the carnival was less than 10 minutes from our house, the moment I stepped inside that wonderland, I felt I had been whisked away to some magical wonderland. To this day, I treasure those days that my family went to the carnival, and I treasure the memories of those happy times. That feeling of connection serves as significant comfort to me when I find myself alone in the distant depths of space, as there’s few times I can remember when I felt more connected to my loved ones.

Carnival 2

The basis of the present day, and significantly less impressive, Carnival.

It’s always amazed me how the universe can warp even the happiest of memories and concepts into something dark and twisted. Leave it to New Eden to take some of my happiest memories and warp them into something sad and depressing. Or, to be more specific, leave it to other people to try to cover up sad and depressing things by giving them happy sounding ( or at least, ironic) names. After so much time spent in New Eden, I’m usually able to figure out that almost ANYTHING that sounds remotely happy actually is, but I have to admit that this week’s site fooled even me. I wasn’t exactly expecting the carnivals from my youth, with the glitzy rides, games, and foods entirely unhealthy for you, but I was expecting something considerably more upbeat than what I actually found. Granted, I had some idea of what was up from the moment that Aura pulled up the initial background information for me:

Carnival 3At the height of Amarr Empire the Ani constellation was a busy place, bustling with activity. The Carnival was once the main trade hub between the Nefantars, the rest of Minmatar space and the Amarr Empire. After the Rebellion the Carnival quickly fell on hard times. While it has never been totally abandoned only thugs and black marketers remain.

Carnival 4

A close up view of what I'm sure used to be a quite nice biodome or park

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as familiar with Minmatar history as perhaps I should be. I recognized from the description that the Nefantar were one of the original Seven Tribes, but I knew little more than that. As such, I had to dig around a bit more than I would necessarily have liked to uncover just what role the Nefantar Tribe played in Ani. What little research I had done to date showed me that they still have a significant presence in Ani, even if that presence is in the form of old, abandoned ruins. During my limited research, I was startled to discover that the Nefantar and the Ammatar were one and the same. To give a too-brief summary, essentially the Nefantar assimilated more readily into Amarr society than the other tribes, to the point where they apparently started believing Amarr theological doctrine. Once the other tribes began rising up against the Empire, the Nefantar made their choice: they chose to cast their lots with the Empire against the other Tribes. From that, the Ammatar Mandate was created. Once the Republic had solidified its boundaries, most, if not all, of the Nefantar’s traditional homelands in the Ani constellation had been subsumed to the Republic. It was a galling act, from a Matari point of view, a betrayal of their very being. I couldn’t say I blamed the Matari for having a less than positive view of the new Mandate. Even after the Nefantar were removed from Ani, their legacy remains, especially in areas like the Carnival.

Carnival 5

The admittedly unnerving sight of an Amarr-based battleship found near the ruins of the Carnival.

Whatever state the Carnival may be in today, I have little doubt that back in its heyday, the site lived up to its name. Thriving trading hubs often took on an almost carnival like atmosphere, as traders from all over tried to hawk their wares to the public. Those marketing schemes get progressively more and more elaborate, and if the hub is active enough, a certain festive atmosphere can overtake it all. That’s how I imagine the early Carnival days, even if today’s site is a mere shadow of its former self. Perhaps most surprisingly, the old Carnival site seemed to revolve around a Gallente-designed station. I find it odd that, especially in the days before the Rebellion, the Gallente were this far out from their core space, willing to construct stations. Today, the old Gallente pleasure hub, as the design is commonly known, sits adrift. Station keeping thrusters have long since run out of fuel, meaning that the station is now almost flipped upside down compared to its original orientation. Some of the old park biodomes remain surprisingly intact, the trees and grass flash-frozen, leaving a somewhat eerie hint of green on an otherwise drab atmosphere. In the distance, an ancient Amarr ship sits, decaying in orbit. The massive superstructure had already broken in half, and it seemed rather close to disintegrating entirely. Fittingly, the entire site sits above Barkrik IV, a frozen iceball of a planet that only adds to the feelings of being frozen in space and time.

Carnival 6

A number of the smaller patrol pickets can be seen here, while a mammoth Amarrian hulk sits decaying in the distance.

But not everything is dead at the Carnival. A number of rather drab-looking trading hubs sit in the shadow of the former station. Small, squarish things that aren’t really much to look at. Nearby, a drug repository sits, ready to draw in the next unwary capsuleer to the heights of drug-induced euphoria. I made a point of staying well away from THAT particular station. A number of ships also flitted about. The Republic was obviously intent on keeping its hold on the Ani constellation, as a number of patrol frigates could be seen cruising, keeping an eye on things even in this less-savory part of the system. Perhaps surprisingly, a few Ammatar vessels could also be seen. What they were doing here, I didn’t know, but if the Minmatar and the Mandate could keep an uneasy peace here, I wasn’t about to interfere.

Carnival 7

Legacy manuevers near the trading station

All in all, the Carnival was certainly not what I was expecting. Despite my feelings on the Minmatar enslavement, part of me almost wished that I could have seen the Carnival in its prime. Being able to walk along the colorful promenades of a bustling trade hub is always a unique experience. No two hubs are the same. The bustling, yet ordered crowds of Jita are a far cry from the almost-solemn Amarr Prime hub, with hymnal music being piped in. Different yet are the overall extravagance of the Dodixie markets, while Rens sometimes seems on the verge of exploding from the amount of energy it contains. The Carnival would have been different still, and I almost wish I could see what had given this site its name. But maybe that was just me longing once again for the days of my youth.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: The Carnival
  • System: Barkrik
  • Security Rating: 0.6
  • Region: Metropolis
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Minmatar COSMOS site.
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