Sightseeing in the Cluster

Rogue Drone Sites

rogue drones 1

The largest of the observed drone constructs.

I’m not entirely sure if its restlessness or merely writers block, but obviously I have not been writing much recently. Or perhaps it’s me getting tired of finding new ways to write “the Drifters and Seekers are weird and I have no idea what’s going on but here are some fun things to look at instead.” In any case, I was looking for a bit of a change of pace when searching for things to discuss. Such moods usually involve me browsing through the map of New Eden, aimlessly clicking to see if there is something, anything, that I was previously unaware of. After all, in a cluster of 5,000 star systems, there are bound to be things that I haven’t heard of even after nearly 6 years of writing Eve Travel. At first, nothing really caught my eye. When I got near the eastern end of the map, however, I noticed one site kept popping up: the rogue drone site.

rogue drones 2

A flatter drone construct.

I had cataloged the rogue drone sites intending to do an article on them almost two years ago, it turns out, but intervening events meant that I never actually wrote anything on the topic. Still, with a bit of a lull in discovering yet another Drifter or Sleeper colonized system that we knew nothing about (though CONCORD, Sansha’s Nation, and the Sisters all did), I took this opportunity to update my image albums, and set a course for the Drone Regions for a tour. The Rogue Drone sites can be found sprinkled across these eight regions, with almost no development by the other empires either now or in the past. Such is to be expected, however, given the unique way in which the Drone Regions were unlocked to capsuleers and the general public.

rogue drones 3

The last of the three observed types of rogue drone sites

It is rather ironic that the Gallente were the ones to begin colonization of the Drone Regions in the manner they did. One of the oft-cited triggers of the original Caldari-Gallente war was the fact that the Caldari megacorporations had colonized areas of space without informing the federal Senate, as required by law. Once these hidden colonies came to light, the Caldari refused to submit them to federal authority, and it was the demand to do so that finally broke the back of Caldari citizens, prompting their withdrawal from the Federation. Two hundred years later, the Gallente attempted to do the exact same thing, and began quietly preparing for the colonization of what are now known as the Drone Regions in YC 88 without informing anyone, as was required by interstellar law. In order to do so, the Federation utilized their massive armadas of drones to do much of the grunt work. Four months in, however, the drones went berserk with little warning, prompting a full evacuation of the regions. The Federation swept everything under the rug, and that, as they say, was that.

At least, until the gates all opened unexpected 20 years later.

rogue drones 4

A distant sun shines past a rogue drone construct

The backlash against the Federation was severe, but perhaps more important was the fact that, while the gates were fully operational, the drones, now considered fully rogue drones, had colonized the region. The area is replete with their structures, and they used the reactivation of the gates into the Drone Regions to spread beyond, and they now have a presence in almost every area of space. Today, however, I turned my attention to the drones’ homelands, such as they were, intent on investigating a random sampling of the rogue drone sites that can be found throughout their space. They answered few questions, but were fascinating nonetheless. Upon warping to one, Aura offers up this succinct analysis:

rogue drones 5Although the rogue drone threat has never been fully understood, perhaps the most well-known characteristic of this enigmatic scourge is its capacity to replicate and expand. Within only a few short years of their discovery, rogue drones have been reported in every sector of the cluster, from deep-space research facilities to densely populated market hubs. The consequent discovery of the “drone regions” has only served as a further demonstration and revealed a more centralized structure behind the rogue drones’ aggressive expansionism.

rogue drones 6

A pair of drones guard one of the constructs.

Although there appear to be three different types of sites, they all remain similar in appearance. Each site is anchored by a massive drone construct, consisting either of a disk or a semi-completed sphere. These constructs are massive (though perhaps not as massive as various Drifter structures that have since come to light), and dwarf both my own ship and the ships of the independent drones that can be found buzzing about it. Although the purpose of these structures can’t be known until we establish more solid communications with the drones, they undoubtedly act at least in part as a station or staging area for drone fleets. That they were able to construct so many of these in just the thirty years since they’ve claimed their independence goes to show their true potential.

rogue drones 7

The surface of one of the constructs.

Beyond these massive central structures, there appears little of note nearby. One class of station seems to always be found the destroyed superstructure of another station; presumably the cannibalized ruins of partially-completed Gallente stations. Others have multiple drone bunkers nearby, arranged in odd toroidal shape, but the purpose of the structure, especially so close to the larger drone construct, remain unknown. Beyond that, there were some scraps of construction debris and other wreckage nearby: I guess even rogue drones are not always the neatest of neighbors.

rogue drones 8

Another view

Of course, there were also the drones themselves. Most of them are fairly alien in appearance, with their spindly appendages and odd attachments, but by far the most disturbing drones are the ones that act as their standardbearers. The drones that are converted Dominix-class hulls are probably the most well-known, and the most disturbing, members of the drone fleets. Undoubtedly originally leftover from the original Gallente attempt at colonization, the Dominix hulls have since been converted to serve as drone vessels, with frail-looking collection arms and other additions to the hull, giving it a distinctively creepy appearance.

rogue drones 9

Even nearby asteroids have a drone presence

My full tour of the Drone Regions was extensive, but I never saw a site that varied from the three baseline sites I saw. That is not to say that there are not others out there, but with eight full regions under the command, I did not have the time or resources to visit every one of them. After all, I’m not Katia Sae. Still, it was a nice change of pace, and my tour of the area also served to have me do a full lap around Jove space (not that I was able to visit Jove space itself, of course; the area is as locked down as ever). I am convinced that the drones are connected to all of the recent happenings in a way we aren’t entirely familiar with yet. Their machine intelligences would, at least on paper, seem to mesh quite nicely with what we know of the Drifters, but that remains my suspicions only. For now, I’ll have to be content with having yet another mysterious race flying around New Eden that we know little about.

But hey, at least saying “rogue drones are weird and we know little about them” is at least a bit of a change of pace.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Rogue Drone Sites
  • System: Across the drone regions
  • Security Rating: 0.0
  • Region: Cobalt Edge, Etherium Reach, Kalevala Expanse, Malpais, Oasa, Outer Passage, Perrigen Falls, the Spire
  • Potential Hazards: These systems are often deep into null security space, involving jumps across a number of different alliance territories, many of which may be operating under “Not Blue, Shoot It” protocol. Gate camps (including warp interdiction bubbles) can be found often in transitioning from 0.0 to high security space, as well as on other gates. Caution is advised.
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