World Ark Proving Ground
Editor’s note: While the World Ark can still be seen at times (particularly, as I understand, in systems that have reached Final Liminality), the Proving Ground appears to no longer be accessible.
I’ve always loved big ships. I realize that’s somewhat ironic for someone who is best known for flying a Buzzard-class frigate and could probably count the number of times I’ve flown a battleship on one hand, but just because I couldn’t stand to fly such a slow and unwieldy ship doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it every time something comes along that just dwarfs my poor Professor Science. Indeed, I’ve always enjoyed the architecture and, dare I say it, artistry that goes into the largest ships that ply the spaceways of New Eden, and I always try to track down such ships whenever I can find them. It’s why I so frequently visit Titanomachy or Empress Catiz’s Honor Guard whenever I’m out those ways. Heck, if I knew where the empires had squirreled away their Iapetan titans or the Emperor Ship, I’d be there in a heartbeat, undoubtedly waxing poetic about the sheer majesty of it all.
I guess the best thing about liking titanic ships is that, sooner or later, something bigger is likely to come along and take your breath away all over again. Heck, if you’re willing to ignore fuel requirements, matériel requirements, and sheer cost, there’s not really an upper bound on how big you could make something, slap some engines on it, and call it a ship. I’m sure at some point there’s a point of diminishing returns in increasing the size of ships, but given the proliferation of titans in null sec, I’m not sure we’ve hit it yet. I suspect the only reason we haven’t seen even larger vessels on the scene is that CONCORD and the Empires have kept us capsuleers outside of the ship design business. Frankly, that was probably a smart idea.
Of course, this is all a rather circuitous way of bringing up that apparently there is a new record holder for ‘largest ship in New Eden’, and it’s probably not a good sign that its from a race of people we didn’t know about 18 months ago. By now, most everyone has heard about those thrice-obsessed Triglavians. They barreled onto the scene over the course of the last year, seemingly intent on declaring war against the Sansha and the Drifters and very undecided about us non-cybernetic zombies. But the Triglavians, despite their ambivalence, seem willing to give us a chance. Ever since we started blundering our way into abyssal deadspace, the Triglavians have been throwing us into ‘proving grounds’ of various sorts, to see if we’ve ‘aligned the flow of Vyraj’, whatever that may be specifically referring to.
But their willingness to give us chances to prove ourselves have grown, shall we say, rather aggressive in recent weeks. Starting in the middle of last month, the Triglavians have started full on, if localized, invasions of New Eden. Paradoxically, the Triglavians are thus following in the footsteps of the Sansha, whom are one of the enemies that the Triglavians seek to ‘extirpate’. These invasions radiate out 2 jumps from the beachhead system in high security space, and involve hundreds, if not thousands, of Triglavian vessels flooding in through minor and major conduits to Abyssal deadspace. They trawl the invaded systems, scurrying over stations, gates, and other landmarks, attacking any ships they see. Eventually, some threshold is reached with the Triglavians, and then they bring out the big guns in the beachhead system, at the center of the invasion.
The Xordazh-class world ark, as the name and this essay may have implied, is a truly vast, yet gorgeous ship. CONCORD in fact has officially designated it as the largest known vessel in New Eden, stretching some 55 kilometers across from wingtip to wingtip. As a comparison, the length of an Avatar-class titan is just under 14 kilometers. Indeed, it’s even larger than an Astrahus-class citadel, which tops out at 45 kilometers across. The general shape is one of a flat, angled plane. Below the plane, the familiar, if similarly titanically proportioned, Triglavian triple-singularity power core can be seen. The power core evokes the sight of the gates used to travel between pockets in abyssal deadspace, which may well be purposeful on their part. The surface of the ship is studded with the familiar cascading forcefields that signify docking bays for the mammoth vessel. Although they weren’t activated, the back, of course, was covered with large engine exhausts that could probably swallow 2 dozen Buzzards without being noticed.
CONCORD’s managed to put some (as usual) unhelpful analysis together for capsuleers that face these vessels:
The immense World Ark is the center of operations for the local Triglavian forces in this invasion zone. The vessel appears to function as a mobile base of operations and is speculated to incorporate a Triglavian conduit gate through which additional forces can flow from Abyssal Deadspace to New Eden.
The Xordazh-class World Ark would seem to be easily the match of any vessel known to New Eden and is presumably at least as powerful and hard to destroy as the heaviest military structures. The ship has been observed deploying “field effect subpylons” of a variety of types as part of its defensive network. Approach with extreme caution.
The world ark is easy to find. Once it’s entered a system, the ship quickly becomes viewable across the system, with Aura marking it as a “World Ark Proving Ground”. Anyone in system can warp to it, though if an observer doesn’t intend on engaging the Triglavians, I would recommend warping in some distance from the center. I found that warping in 100 kilometers from the center put me well outside of the defensive perimeter established around the world ark. Thankfully (for me, at least), Triglavians don’t appear capable of seeing through cloaks. I was able to warp in some distance from the proving ground, and remain completely unmolested as I carried out my observations. I shudder to think of what would have happened, however, if I had accidentally decloaked myself somehow.
CONCORD was not joking when it mentioned the defensive network of the world ark. Whether it’s there as part of the “proving” or just there to protect what even for the Triglavians has to be a substantial asset, the world ark has quite a number of defensive fortifications. The ship itself seems to be protected by a hefty, visible shield. The area around the world ark is seeded with Triglavian devices and installations. Somewhat surprisingly, before a capsuleer fleet engages the begins its proving, the defensive fleet of the world ark consists of only a ½ dozen ships or so, with no ship bigger than a cruiser. Surrounding the complex, pylons of some kind have been constructed to form a rather visible perimeter to the proving ground.
I had the opportunity to watch the initial parts of the proving with an unsuspecting fleet. They warped into the proving grounds in unison, and quickly dispatched the small defensive fleet. The proving itself seemed to progress in waves. As the fleet tackled one wave, the power core (which, as I mentioned, evokes the gates used between abyssal deadspace pockets), opened a synthetic conduit to abyssal deadspace to bring in additional reinforcements. While the conduit was open, the power cores glowed an eerie green, standing in stark contrast to the overwhelming red of an overrun New Eden system. Reinforcements could include more ships or the subpylons that the CONCORD analysis mentioned. Looming over all of the fighting, the world ark keeps a watchful eye.
And yet, despite the world ark’s presence, the Triglavians apparently aren’t (yet?) willing to let it engage us directly. Rather than actively participating in the battle, the ship instead disengages at the end of the proving, jumping itself back to abyssal deadspace. I was, unfortunately, not able to witness this myself, but the Triglavian disengagement is well documented at this point, with the ship seemingly jumping from the inside out back to its home facilities, wherever they may be. I suppose I can’t blame them for not wanting to put those ships at risk.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel concern about these world arks and what they represent. Vastly technologically superior races of all kinds have taken a sudden, rather unwelcome interest in the denizens of New Eden. And I have no for what purpose. What happens if we prove ourselves worthy to the Triglavian Conclave. For that matter, what happens if we don’t? I find myself back in the familiar place of having far too many questions with far too few answers (and for that matter, I’d even take the poorly translated Triglavian-speak at this point). At least I’m used to it at this point.
- Attraction: World Ark Proving Ground
- Potential Hazards: There are a lot. The proving ground can bring in substantial Triglavian reinforcements, and the proving should not be attempted without significant fleet assets. Caution (and a good covert ops cloak-fit ship) is strongly advised.
- Additional Notes: As of the posting of this entry, Triglavian invasion beachheads are only found in high security space (though the invasion may bleed into low sec space if the beachhead is near low sec space). Once in the beachhead system, the Triglavian information panel will show if the world ark has been detected for that invasion yet. As noted in the entry, you may warp to 100km from the proving ground while cloaked and avoid detection.