Sightseeing in the Cluster

Author Archive

Titan Honor Guard

[Editor’s note: Just a very quick entry as I don’t expect this to last past the Succession Trials next week. If you want to see these, get to Amarr ASAP!]

[Additional edit: As of 5/3, only 4 titans, the titans of the winning ‘retainers’ of the Trials, remain in Amarr. Not sure how long they will last!]

OK I JUST LIKE THAT QUOTE DEAL WITH IT.

Night gathers, and now their watch begins.

 

Just as the Empire races headfirst towards the Succession Trials to choose its next ruler, so too did I race headfirst towards the Empire’s homeworlds. With the end of the Trials close at hand, an honor guard has formed, the likes of which many space denizens have never seen before. The various champions of the two remaining Heirs in the Trials, Lord Aritcio Kor-Azor and Lady Catiz Tash-Murkon, have began holding vigil in spectacular fashion outside the Emperor’s Family Station in Amarr Prime, forming a fleet of Titans that haven’t been seen publicly in high security space since I’ve been a capsuleer. Next week, these titans will escort Lord Kelon Darklight and Lord Lysus, the two remaining champions, to the conclusion of the Trials.

See them while you can!

Hulls gleam in the sunlight.

Few denizens of high security space have seen a titan, much less a fleet of them. While I have before experienced the truly humbling experience of seeing such a, dare I say, titanic piece of engineering next to even my more sizeable vessels, seeing a fleet of them in formation is enough to once again remind me how small we truly are in the grand scheme of things. That being said, seeing these ships up close also helps to remind us the things that we can attain when we work together, and I have little doubt that the Empire hoped to instill that sense of unity when planning this display. Although I have little direct interest in the outcome of the Trials, I wish both sides the best of luck.

And if you have ever wanted to see eight titans in-person, now is your chance.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Honor Guard
  • System: Amarr Prime
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Domain
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional notes: No beacons are present; you can easily see the formation off of the undock point outside of the Emperor Family Academy station. These are not expected to last past next week.

Silent Battleground

I FINALLY FOUND IT GUYS

The silent battleground stands silhouetted against J010000

You may have heard that there’s a war on. It’s been mentioned once or twice in the news. It doesn’t particularly affect me, of course, as I have little interest or say in the machinations of the capsuleer empires. I’m not the one paying the price of this war in blood and treasure. That being said, it’s fascinating to watch this war develop as an outsider. I don’t pretend to understand all of the underlying dynamics between the various sides in this feud, but to see essentially all of the capsuleer-led entities take one side or the other is a fascinating development, and one not seen in quite some time in New Eden. While I hope that few innocents get caught in the cross-fire, I can’t help but read each new report with an excited zeal to see what the next twist in this story is, even if I take care to keep myself a step or two removed from the conflict.

It took a while but I'd like to think it was worth it

The remains of the Sleeper enclave

Of course, while I keep myself on the outskirts of the current war, I can’t help but dive headfirst into the wars of the past. I had mentioned in my past few entries that I had holed up in Anoikis to search for a site hidden deep in Anoikis. Fittingly, given current conditions, the site I was searching for is the remains of another battleground. Not one from the current war, of course, but the remains of a war that, in its own way, shaped the current condition of the Cluster as much as this World War Bee has the potential to shape null sec. I speak of the war between the Sansha and Sleepers that resulted in Sansha Kuvakei apparently attaining Sleeper – or possibly even Talocan – technology, allowing him to project his cybernetic reavers across the Cluster in pursuit of his goals.

Of course now I have to figure out what to search out next

The remains of the Revenant-class supercarrier.

Exactly how Sansha found these other Anoikis systems – systems that hadn’t yet joined the general wormhole network – is unknown. Exactly how Sansha learned of these systems in the first place is unknown. Exactly when these battles occurred is, as you might have guessed by now, unknown, but probably occurred shortly after Anoikis opened to the general space-faring public. In any event, we know now that Sansha managed to stumble upon the ability to create his own wormholes to any destination he so desired. An ability he used to devastating effect, especially in the early days of his incursion. But it seems that he did not earn this ability easily. Indeed, remains of his struggles against the Sleeper protectors of these relics can be found scattered throughout the depths of Anoikis. It was one of these battlegrounds that I set off to Anoikis to find. These sites are most likely to be found in shattered Anoikis systems colonized by the Sansha (evidenced by the appearance of Sansha, rather than Sleeper, guardians at the system’s epicenter), but can be found throughout Anoikis; a sign of just how widespread the fights were to gain control of this technology. I fairly quickly found such a Sansha colonized system, and waited for my scanners to pick up signs that I had found what I was looking for.

And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

I think this is just a cool shot

Some of the debris that can be found throughout the battleground.

After nearly 3 months of searching, it wasn’t even I who ended up finding the site, but rather a pilot with whom I was placed in contact with through the Arataka Research Consortium. I received notice of the site at a slightly awkward time, after I had shut down my ship’s systems for the night and had been preparing to rest in my ship in low power mode, but science waits for no man, even a capsuleer demigod. I quickly booted up my ship’s systems and raced towards the scene, joining a few fellow explorers from ARC while I was at it. Even if my months spent in Anoikis were for naught and I wasn’t the one who found the site, I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass me by. The entrance wormhole to the system with the battleground required me to travel through k-space. Although I had lived in k-space for the vast majority of my time as a capsuleer, it was surprising how eerie it felt to be back amongst the thriving masses of New Eden after such a relatively short absence. It was a feeling I quickly overcame in the coming weeks, but it was notable at the time.

Another really cool shot, I think.

Fires still rage in the Revenant’s interior.

Of course, thoughts of the rest of New Eden quickly left my head as I finally approached the so-called Silent Battleground after three long months of searching. Despite my various mods, implants, and general skills at exploration, the site barely registered as a blip on my ship’s sensors, so I wasn’t really expecting to see much there. As the warp tunnel around my ship collapsed, I was pleased to discover that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first thing to catch my eye was the destroyed superstructure of a Sleeper enclave. In fact, it was hard to miss, as it took up almost one-half of my view as I dropped out of warp. Despite the massive amounts of damage done to the enclave, I was surprised to see that the power infrastructure appeared to still be intact: lights still glowed throughout the enclave and the lack of fires or other explosions suggested that fire containment systems were still active. However, it was clear that the battle had taken its toll on the enclave.

Well its almost time to get back to Project Discovery

My Tengu flies past the enclave.

On the other side of the battlefield, the wrecked remains of a Revenant-class supercarrier can be found. Even though Sansha ultimately won the fights, as evidenced by his getting hold of the wormhole technologies, it was clearly not without a high cost. Revenants aren’t cheap, and although Sansha’s power has only grown since his reintroduction to New Eden, I have little doubt that the losses of so many Revenants across Anoikis were keenly felt. The behemoth vessel has been pulverized almost as much as the Enclave. Part of me wishes I could have been there to witness the colossal battle that took place here between the Sleepers on one side and the Sansha on the other. I have no doubt that such an image would be burned in my head even today if I had been able to witness it.

TEAM CYTOPLASM 4 LIFE.

More debris found throughout the site.

The rest of the site is filled with debris and detritus from the battle. Throughout the site, local data clusters and safeholds within the various vessels involved could be seen, and the entire area contains a plethora of debris that a data or relic analyzer would salivate over, if the modules were capable of such a thing. Sadly, nothing particularly noteworthy appeared in the scans of me or my companions… although a lot of salvage debris and other remains could be found, I wasn’t able to recover any data archives of the pitched battle or anything of use to uncovering more of the secrets of Sansha. Still, at least I managed to get some isk out of the deal. It felt a little like desecrating the graves of the unknown, but I consoled myself with the idea that one side of the battle was fought by mindless drones while the other side was fought by people essentially turned into mindless drones. Death may very well have been a blessing.

KTHXBAI

The battleground is silent once again

Eventually, however, it was time to return to New Eden, my months-long search finally at an end. I profusely thanked the pilot who had found the site (who wished to remain anonymous) as well as the pilots who had ventured forth with me to explore the area, and made my way back home. I re-entered New Eden almost feeling like trumpets should be sounding to blare my success, but my reappearance in New Eden caused little stir, except perhaps to my docking crews whom had undoubtedly gotten used to their boss being away for so long. But as my now well-used Tengu slipped back into its docking bay, I couldn’t help but feel that it was good to be home.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Silent Battleground
  • System: The site, though rare, can be found throughout wormhole space (including Thera). It registers as a data site, but it can be very difficult to scan down.
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: Few beyond the normal dangers of wormhole space. No Sansha or Sleeper rats were found at all during the observation of this site. Still, you will be wormhole space so caution is always advised.

Sisters of Eve Flotilla

No seriously I could stare at this all day.

The Sisters Flotilla stretches off into the distance.

Strange as it may be, I find few things as majestic as a fleet of ships flying in formation. There’s something very elegant as seeing a multitude of ships flying with a singular purpose, acting for a single goal, with each having its part to play. Ships flying through the inky depths of space are graceful enough on their own, but put them together with others of their kind, dancing together among the stars, and they become much more than the sum of their parts. It’s a bit weird that a few tons of metal could elicit this kind of reaction in me, but I’ve always had this fascination with fleets. Heck, I even get giddy when a few ships happen to join me in a warp tunnel as I fly to my next stargate. It is perhaps ironic, then, that I focus so much on individual activities as opposed to activities where I could enjoy flying in a fleet more, but that’s a musing for another time.

Never not travel in a fleet tbh

Wisps of nebula set an impressive backdrop to the fleet.

I bring this up because the Sisters of Eve have been spotted flying fleets in the various Drifter systems in Anoikis. The Sisters’ interest in the Drifters is perhaps a tad surprising seeing as how they traditionally focused their research on the Eve Gate and how to open it again. But considering their settlment in Thera and the substantial resources they committed to whatever it is they found there (presumably Sleeper in origin) the Sisters’ sudden appearance in the Drifter wormhole systems is much less surprising today than it might have once been. Perhaps more surprising, however, is that they are not even trying to hide in the Drifter systems. When they first settled in Thera, they managed to hide both Thera and their presence in it exceptionally well, despite the resources they needed to move there. In the Drifter systems, however, they are not bothering to mask their presence, which is particularly odd given that their ships are particularly suited to mount cloaking devices. Indeed, their fleet can be detected from any corner of their system. Between my love of fleets, my love of the designs of Sisters’ ships, and the ease with which I could find the fleets (especially given my last foray), it was a no-brainer that I had to track down one of these flotillas.

I have like 10 pictures almost exactly like this lol

The ring-shaped warp drives are an instantly recognizable feature of a Sisters ship.

As expected, the hardest part of the entire trip was finding an entrance to a Drifter wormhole, but a conversation with a few friends managed to point me to the right direction, and within a few minutes I was on my way. I quickly entered the now-familiar Drifter systems, and for once ignored the large sensor echo that represented the Drifter Hive that could be found in the system. It was a little odd to be ignoring the Drifter mystery for once, but I’ve waxed poetic enough about the Hives, and my intel suggests that little has changed since the collapse of the unidentified sleeper devices. Instead, I focused on a second, smaller (though no less detectible) sensor echo representing the Sisters flotilla. After making sure I could find my way back to my entrance wormhole, I eagerly set a course.

I noticed I got a LOT of shots-from-behind for some reason. Probably because of how the background objects played out :3

The fleet’s destination is unknown.

As the warp tunnel collapsed around me, I have to admit, my jaw dropped. I’ve always found the Sisters’ hull designs to be particularly attractive, but to see them arrayed in such a stunning fleet took my breath away (or would have if my mouth, throat, and lungs weren’t already filled with an oxygen-rich liquid that doubled as a way to cushion inertial stresses while connected in my pod). Dozens of gleaming white ships, each class with those peculiar ring-shaped warp drives that still baffle non-Sister scientists, stretched off into the distance, countless beacons in the night. A group of 8 Nestor-class battleships formed the spine of the fleet, lumbering along the flight patch, with one leading the way and another picking up the rear. Their forward-mounted warp drives were large enough to pilot a frigate through.

I only visited the Vidette hole but I believe all of the Drifter WHs have a flotilla.

The fleet is currently stationed near one of the shattered planets.

Each battleship had a complement of Stratios-class cruiser attendants to act as screens for the much more massive Nestors. The Stratios’s design has been my favorite cruiser design (perhaps even my favorite design period) since the Sisters introduced it a few years ago. Not only do they offer an stellar (pun very much intended) sensor suite to aid in exploration activities, but their ability to mount covert-operations cloaking device as well as a suite of offensive weapons makes it well-suited to my preferred piloting style. Throw in an elegant hull design and that gleaming white hull that stands out so well from other starship designs, and its little wonder that I find myself looking for any excuse at all to take my own Stratios out for a spin. Finally, comparatively-tiny Astero-class frigates flitted among their larger brothers. After going on for so long about the virtues of the Stratios, I’ll just say that I find the Asteros… cute.

I HAVE SO MANY MORE PICTURES I will probably put them online :-s

Five fleets of this size represents a significant commitment of Sisters’ assets.

The fleet didn’t appear to have much in the way of organization. Nor did they seem to be in any particular hurry. Indeed, from all the activity I was seeing, it was a minor surprise that they were all pointing in the same direction, although that direction didn’t appear to be to anything significant. And, of course, their entire purpose for being there is a bit of a mystery. They are presumably out to discover something, but just what they’re trying to discover is anybody’s guess as of now, though I’m sure the Sisters will announce their intentions when the time is right. Still, for all those problems, the fleet itself is still a sight to see. I may not always see eye-to-eye with the Sisters’ in terms of their overarching goals, but they do good work and design gorgeous ships, so I suppose I can’t really complain.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Sisters of Eve flotillas.
  • 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: Few beyond the normal dangers of wormhole space. No Drifter or Sleeper rats were found at all during the observation of this site. While I remained cloak while here, I likely didn’t need to be and I haven’t found any indication that the fleet turns hostile. Still, you will be wormhole space so caution is always advised.

Space Oddity

Space oddity 1

Tom’s Shuttle floats in the outer reaches of the system.

In an era where I can cross 100 lightyears in less than an hour, I sometimes need to remind myself that space travel used to be a much slower and deliberate event; one where astronauts subsisted on protein pills and put their helmet on whenever possible in case of sudden decompression. It was also an era of more stately space travel in some ways; the time it took to get some place didn’t matter as much as the destination itself. But the stars look very different today than they did back we first left the tenuous grip of our homeworlds. Now, space travel is helter-skelter, as we rush from station to station and on to pick up, unload, and, as necessary, blow up, only to start the process again and again. But perhaps I’m just looking back at the supposed golden years of space travel with more than a bit of rose-tinted glasses.

Space Oddity 2

Scientia swings around the shuttle

As I continued my surveillance for that other wormhole site I’d been searching for, I got word that I may only have one shot to track down a new appearance in the Cluster. Some kind of space oddity had appeared, and it looked to be very slowly on the move. Under pressure to find it before it moved on again, I probed down a wormhole to take me back to the familiar confines of New Eden, and quickly made my way out to Fountain, where sources had indicated it could currently be found. I quickly located the odd little site, but to my sorrow my exploration-fit tengu (along with implants, Sisters’ launcher and probe, and maximum scanning skills) were unable to initially probe down the site to sufficient precision to let me warp there. Indeed, it required some changes to Scientia (mainly the addition of a Scan Rangefinding Array II) before I could finally warp to the site. Aura, who has never let me down with this kind of thing, had a bit to say about Tom’s shuttle as I dropped out of warp:

Space oddity 3This mysterious shuttle is slowly passing through the system, following a predetermined course from some unknown origin. Although similarities between its design and some current starships can be discerned, this vessel appears to predate those ships by many centuries.

Scans indicate that the shuttle once had room for a single occupant but now lies empty, sailing onward in silent memory of the visionary pilot it once ferried.

Space oddity 4

The shuttle sits alone amongst the clouds

I had expected to find some sort of labyrinth around the oddity. Instead, I found a single shuttle, for all the world looking as if it only travelled when the solar winds blow, surrounded by a gently glowing gas cloud. The similarities to the Zephyr, of course, couldn’t be ignored, but according to Aura’s analysis this particular tin machine appeared to be much older than that design. The shuttle floats in a most peculiar way; its design seeming to convey both standing still and a stately glide amongst the stars. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that the spaceship knows which way it wants to go, with or without a pilot to guide it. Soon it would undoubtedly move along from the outskirts of D-Q04X, on to yet another of the prettiest stars in New Eden, though where it will go next is completely unknown to me. But I’ll take what I can get by keeping the sound and vision in front of me as long as I could.

Space oddity 5

Alone in the dark

Eventually, at the risk of being reduced to ashes, I had to move on and return to my broader search. It’s tempting to look back in anger at the time I’ve wasted in Anoikis searching for it, but maybe I should just learn to appreciate the time I have available to me to just sit and float amongst the stars. After all, there’s a certain graceful simplicity to probing down my corner of Anoikis day-in and day-out, and learning the quirks of my own personal corner of Anoikis. For here am I sitting in a tin can, far from the cluster, waiting to see what else is out there; not unlike, I suspect, Tom in his shuttle. Though I never met Tom, I can’t help but feel as if in some ways we’re kindred spirits, both roaming the darkness of space, both of us, in our own ways, starmen.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Space Oddity
  • System: Anywhere
  • Security Rating: Varies
  • Region: Varies
  • Potential Hazards: As far as I can tell, Space Oddity can be found anywhere in known space (though it was in null when I manage to track it down). There were no rats at the scene, but obviously the normal warnings about other players apply.
  • Additional information: Space Oddity appears on your probe screen as a combat site. Please note that it was VERY difficult to scan down, so if you run across it, a dedicated scanning ship is almost a necessity.

Astrahus Exemplar Site

Astrahus 1

The construction site found in Mara.

My legs are cramping. Given that I was in a pod, that was a feat in and of itself. The pod is a marvelous piece of engineering, designed as a complete life support system to protect that little kilogram and a half bundle of neural tissue that we call a brain. The pod feeds the body nutrients, exercises muscles, and provides alternative sensory input all to make the brain (and body) forget that its cooped up in a 2-3 meter capsule and not moving for long stretches of time in order to control a hulking interstellar spaceship. It’s designed to do this for weeks, months, maybe YEARS at a time. But here I am, only 6 weeks into my quest to find a fairly rare and specific site in Anoikis, and I can definitely tell through all of the neural input filters and thousand distractions that come with piloting a starship that my legs are cramping up.

I have no idea how Katia Sae does it.

Astrahus 2

One of the landing pads near the construction site

But the story of that particular is for another time, if only because I have yet to actually find it. Instead, while browsing galnet a week ago, a news item caught my eye that eventually prompted me to take a sojourn back to civilized space for a little bit. Those of you watching the news are probably aware of the waves being made currently by Upwell Consortium. The Consortium is an alliance of corporations from across New Eden looking to bring new technology to the public. Beyond giving the Serpentis a (rather deserved) public-relations black eye, the Consortium is perhaps most well-known for looking to release so-called citadel stations, which look to up-end the market for capsuleer-owned station services. In order to promote their upcoming line of citadels, Upwell has decided to build some demonstration citadels to show their advantages.

Astrahus 3

Mara I hangs in the background

Unfortunately, I decided to make a trip to see one such citadel, being built in Ourapheh, shortly after it was destroyed by a group of capsuleers who were apparently just looking for trouble. Sadly, I didn’t realize this until after I had left the confines of my temporary wormhole home and made the trip to Ourapheh. Upwell, however, seemed completely undeterred by the attacks on all 5 of their demonstration sites (found in Ourapheh, Anjedin, Asgeir, Mara, and PF-346), and quickly announced that the demonstration sites had been restarted with better security and the removal of a computer virus. That being said, the announcements were made by Upwell’s Department of Friendship and Mutual Assistance. If history is any guide, departments with name such as this tend to have precisely the opposite effect, but I guess I will have to see how these play out.

Astrahus 4

A close up of some of the manufacturing arrays

However, with the construction projects now restarted, I quickly made my way over to the new sites. Apparently, the second time is the charm, and I arrived at a not-blown-up construction site. Admittedly, there was not much to see at this point. The construction site was close to the Customs Office orbiting Mara I, although for now it consists of little more than multiple landing platforms to coordinate supply runs and a multitude of manufacturing sites. Although a bit of work could be seen occurring in the manufacturing yards, little could be seen by way of output, perhaps because Upwell is still waiting on research components to fuel construction. I look forward to seeing the finished sites, however, as all reports of the citadels thus far indicate that even the smallest versions will still be quite sizeable, while the largest version will be able to dock even the largest titans. Those will truly be sites to see, and hopefully someday I will be able to.

Astrahus 5

I look forward to seeing what eventually gets built

That being said, however, my ability to someday see the largest citadels seems contingent on me someday leaving Anoikis to come back to New Eden. After spending a few minutes at the site wondering what was to come, I reversed my course and headed back to my temporary wormhole home. Even though I was only in New Eden for a few short moments, it was nice to see the hustle and bustle of civilized space, not to mention actual ships instead of the feeling of dread that comes over me in Anoikis when probes show up on the d-scan that aren’t my own. Regardless, I was in it to the end. While the Children of Light may have defeated me, I am content to live in Anoikis as long as it takes to find what I’m looking for, even if it means dealing with leg cramps. With one last look around at New Eden, I went forth once more into the great unknown.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Astrahus Exemplar Site
  • System: Ourapheh, Anjedin, Asgeir, Mara, and PF-346
  • Security Rating: 0.9, 0.5, 0.7, 0.4, and 0.0, respectively.
  • Region: Genesis, Tash-Murkon, Metropolis, Lonetrek, and Syndicate, respectively
  • Potential Hazards: Varies, depending on the location. Three of the sites are in high security space, but the sites in Mara and PF-346 should be approached with caution as they are in low sec and null sec, respectively. Caution, as always, is advised.

EDIT: I don’t have time to add a complete new post but some updated pictures of construction on the Citadels can be found below.


Massive Debris Field

WELP HERE WE ARE AGAIN.

The Unidentified Sleeper Device has been drastically rearranged.

All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. Nothing in life is permanent. Change is perhaps the universe’s only constant. Even us capsuleers and other infomorphs can’t last forever, regardless of how hard we may try. It’s to remember this when looking at small, ephemeral things. The newspaper changes every day, as we pick up the previous day’s to toss it out. For certain pilots, they can’t go a day without losing a ship (or five). It’s harder to remember that saying, though, with larger, more permanent objects. Indeed, it’s fairly natural for the mind to make the leap that “big” is fairly equivalent to “permanent”. Anthills are small and easy to destroy. Mountains are big and hard to destroy. Seems simple enough. That’s partially the reason that the Seyllin Incident shook us to our core. Even beyond the staggering loss of lives, many of us were aghast to see entire planets ripped apart like so much tissue paper, and we trembled when the stars themselves seemingly turned against us. For many of us, especially those born planetside, planets and stars are the eternal anchors of our lives, rarely changing, never going anywhere. To see this kind of destruction wrought can’t help but humble us to our very cores.

massive debris 2

My Scythe navigates the thickets of the debris.

With all of this in mind, I admittedly did not expect to have to cover happenings deep in the Drifter hives again so soon after my last entry. It had been a long day to get myself into the Hive in the first place, and I didn’t really relish having to repeat the experience so soon. But shortly after posting my entry on the odd, pointy unidentified Sleeper Device, I started to receive some odd intel on happenings within the Hives. First off, somewhat conveniently for me, an acceleration gate was added near the Drifter Hive itself that allowed easy access to the area. Secondly, and much more ominously, it looks like the Device, whatever it was, has been destroyed. Mere hours after I had posted my article.

Apparently I need to filter my readership a bit more.

massive debris 3

Lightning frequently jumps between pieces of debris

Having not meant to dive back into the Drifter systems so soon, it took some time before I was able to dedicate myself fully to the task of another Drifter sightseeing tour. But this past weekend, I was finally able to meet up again with my fellow explorers in the Consortium and take another jaunt into the Drifter systems. Digging up some old and, admittedly, rusty skills, I soon found myself in a Scythe, helping to repair my fellow fleetmates while they fought against Sleeper drones and Drifters. Still, it was a pleasant change of pace from my usual solo sojourns, and even more of a change of pace to not be firing weapons for once, but rather remote repairers. And waiting for the return of the Hikanta Tyrannos drone allowed me to reflect once again both on the staggering size of the Hive construct, and how little we truly know about the Drifters.

massive debris 4

Starlight filters through the massive debris field.

Finally, however, it was time to move on to the big event, such as it were. By using the now-convenient acceleration gate, we were able to cut out the long slog that was the original trip to the unknown device. The near-instantaneous transportation to the area didn’t take away from the grandeur of seeing the majestic, spiraling whirlpools materializing above and below me as I drew close to the area. My eyes were immediately drawn to them, so much so that I nearly forgot what I had even come into area for. But the corner of my camera drones caught flashes of light that quickly drew my attention from the stately, if still completely mysterious, vortices.

massive debris 5

Debris and my ship are silhouetted against the massive whirlpool

The flashes of light, it turns out, belong to what remains of the unidentified sleeper device. As if a giant hand had hand-picked pins out of a pin cushion, the debris field stretched almost as far as the eye could see. The various sticks, originally arranged in circular fashion, now are laid out in a serpentine pattern, as if it were a winding path. Lightning crackles between the various posts: the flashes of light that originally caught my eye. As far as I could tell, the lightning was completely harmless to my Scythe. Even when flying amongst the various pieces of debris, I couldn’t detect any damage being taken by my ship. And debris is how Aura immediately identified the various objects: unlike before, where she identified the space pincushion as one large, over two hundred kilometer object, she now identified dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of individual debris, and labeled them accordingly.

massive debris 6

Why the device was transformed is still unknown

The total length of the debris field, if stretched into a line, was many hundreds of kilometers in length, and why it was laid out in that particular shape is unclear. Indeed, if this were the result of a strict attack on the structure, I would have expected the various prongs of the device to be even more scattered than they had been before. Instead, the prongs have been mostly lined up in the same orientation, and there were few signs of damage on the prongs themselves other than the lightning that can be seen crackling amongst the forest of former arms of the device. Even odder, if there were an attack, it’s not clear who would have done such a thing. There were no signs of Drifters or Sleepers anywhere near the area, and it seems unlikely that they would leave the area unattended after. On the other hand, the acceleration gate may demonstrate that the Drifters and Sleepers are aware of, and have easy access to, the device. Why the Sleepers would attack their own device remains a mystery, but that leaves the unsettling possibility that there may be another, as of yet unknown faction at play here.

Massive debris 7

Whether we’ll see another rearrangement is unknown.

Regardless, it was unsettling to see such a complete restructuring of a device that seemed so stable mere weeks before. It was one thing to watch the gradual deterioration of the Jove observatories as they are slowly disassembled by the Drifters and Sleepers, but it’s another matter entirely to see the complete transformation that occurred here over such a short period of time. It goes against the core of the idea that “big things change slowly”, yet here was obvious evidence that this was not always the case. But perhaps this was just the exception that proves the rule. As I set a course for home, I hoped that I would never be on the receiving end of whatever calamity befell the unidentified Sleeper device.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Massive debris field in Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, and Vidette complexes
  • 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. As of writing, the device has been confirmed in all five hives.
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: 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. Drifters will change the rooms they are stationed in throughout a complex approximately every half-hour. Data analyzers are required to hack the gates. Fast, cloak-equipped ships (to evade Drifters until they out of range) are strongly advised.
  • Additional Notes: An acceleration gate can be found in the Hive room of each of the Drifter complexes that leads to this area. Additionally, the old method of flying in a straight line from the ‘lobby’ or ‘split’ of the complexes towards the complex’s hive is still valid. The device will be found roughly halfway between the two rooms, about 10,000 kilometers from the ‘lobby’ and 10,000 kilometers away from the hive. The device appears to be in the same location relative to the rooms regardless of which Drifter complex is visited.

Unidentified Sleeper Device

Sleeper device 1

The mysterious Sleeper device.

[Editor’s note: This site appears to have already been replaced in all five hives with a large debris field.]

While my space-based life is a fairly solitary one, when I’m planetside I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly. I’ve talked to capsuleers from all walks of life, from fellow solitary explorers to those who are at the heart of the nullsec battles that the interstellar media love to cover. I’m often struck at just how regimented a null sec pilot’s life can be when in one of the larger capsuleer alliances. Regardless of any planetside concerns, you’re supposed to available and on-call as often as possible for potential flare-ups with other alliances and other operations. Some alliances can require certain minimum participation requirements and those who are particularly poor at flying can even be booted from their corporations or alliances. All of these requirements and schedules seem like a bunch of pressure to me, and I’m often quite happy that I have to deal little with that regimented life.

sleeper device 2

The Sleeper device is dwarfed by not one, but two large maelstroms.

So it struck me by surprise a few days ago when I was contacted by a fellow explorer that it would be well worth my while to join a fleet with the simply-named Consortium to dive into the Drifter hives yet again. The time was generally a few hours before I undocked after returning from planetside activities, but after raising my eyebrow at the closest thing I’ve received to an order since becoming a capsuleer, I agreed to show up at the appointed time. Before I even had time to eat after returning from the nearest planet, I found myself undocking and racing to meet the rest of the fleet, in a standardized fit Caracal, no less. But with little info to go on other than a promise that I would be well-served to attend this fleet, I joined up with my fellow pilots, a collection of friends and other explorers that I have grown to know quite well. I chuckled as I was initially slotted in as a squadron commander, as putting me in any kind of leadership capacity tended to not end very well.

sleeper device 3

The small dot near the center is a Buzzard-class ship for scale.

The initial dive into the Barbican complex was remarkably similar to what I recall during my initial foray into the Hives. Indeed, nothing seemed out of place as we progressed farther through the Hive, and I began to wonder what, exactly, I was supposed to be looking for. That is not to say that there was nothing to see, of course. The Drifter and Sleeper structures sprinkled throughout the Complex continued to dazzle me, and I was told at least once to stop taking pictures and keep my eyes on the various Sleeper and Drifter drones before they blew me up. After reminding them exactly who they had recruited into their fleet, I did refocus my attention on the various Sleeper and Drifter vessels, though I still managed to sneak a few more pictures along the way.

Sleeper device 4

Many of the arms appear to have snapped over the aeons.

Finally, after a fairly smooth operation, we made it to the Barbican hive. Telling me to pay attention to the site and not the views ended up being fairly prescient when I ended up losing my Caracal after a few broadsides from Hikanta Tyrannos, and my feeble instincts of not remembering to broadcast for reps until it was much too late. I looked on in dismay as my pod was summarily expelled from my disintegrating ship, but thankfully Hikanta chose to ignore me afterwards as I looked around the rest of the Hive. The only noticeable change that I was able to see was that the Hive had taken on rather more of a greenish hue than I had previously remembered. Certainly there was nothing here that really attracted my attention as particularly noteworthy, even if the company and sights were still enjoyable.

sleeper device 5

Flying through the structure was often an eerie experience.

At this point, seeing that there was no other way to view the alleged Noteworthy Site, we were told to reship into the fastest vessel available, as we had a bit of a slog ahead of us. Thankfully, I had brought Professor Science with me to the fleet rendezvous, and after flying back in my pod to pick it up, I returned to the Barbican system. I had never fit the good Professor for speed in particular, but I felt that it’s 2.5 kilometers per second (with microwarpdrive active, of course) would at least be respectable. We arrived back at the site, and headed in the indicated direction (from the second room, we were told to head directly towards the now-bookmarked Hive). After finally getting out of range of the local Drifter forces (which took ages at sub-MWD speeds whilst cloaked), I was able to finally push the Professor to full speed… just to watch everyone else in fleet zoom past me, clipping along at 7-10 kilometers per second.

sleeper device 6

Some of the arms showed signs of age or damage.

Left in the metaphorical space dust, I was left to my own devices for the next 45 minutes or so as we trudged over 10,000 kilometers to the site. Being smackdab in the middle of a deadspace pocket, it wasn’t even possible for the faster fleet members to arrive at the site, bookmark it, and warp out to the rest to drop off the bookmarks; anyone wishing to see this site has to take it the long way. Perhaps the one silver lining to be in such a relatively sluggish vessel was being able to listen in as other pilots raced ahead and first came into view of the new site. Whatever it was, it was apparently impressive, as reactions ranged from startled gasps to yells of disbelief, with quite a few expletives thrown in for good measure. As I picked up the tail end of the fleet, merrily going along, I couldn’t quite help but wonder if this thing wasn’t just getting hyped all out of proportion.

Then it came into view and I immediately understood what everyone else was saying.

sleeper device 7

The local star pokes through the central mass of the device

It’s almost impossible to describe the truly awe-inspiring scene that rather abruptly resolved on the Professor’s sensors (I wonder if rather than me, the fleet should have included a poet). Infront of me stood a large… pointy thing. Well, large is an understatement. Final measurements appear to put the structure at over 200 kilometers across on its largest axis, meaning that it has bigger dimensions than even the Jovian observatories. Needless to say, it put my tiny Professor Science to shame. The structure appeared to have two rough halves, with spindly arms extending straight out from a top or bottom ring. The arms themselves, despite being dozens of kilometers in length, were relatively skinny. Though a standard Sleeper gray, portions (I hesitate to say “windows” or “portals”) of these arms also had a greenish glow to them. Aura was of no help identifying the device, noting that it was only an Unidentified Sleeper Device. Somewhat oddly, despite only recently appearing (to our knowledge, at least), portions of the arms also appeared pockmarked, while other arms seem to have snapped liked twigs on the proverbial tree. Unlike the damaged Sleeper enclaves that could be found near the Hives, these only appear to have been damaged by age and exposure to the elements, but they do give the structures a more aged appearance than we’ve really seen so far from the other Drifter or Sleeper constructs.

sleeper device 8

The structure is over 200 kilometers across.

I was so entranced by it that it took me a few minutes to notice that the spindly structure was not all that there was to see. Both directly above and below the structure (relative to the system’s ecliptic, of course) were two large, swirling maelstroms of energy. Glowing with a mysterious blue energy that reminded me strongly of the spatial rifts we can see in the Sleeper epicenters, the energy present spiraled slowly inwards towards a central point in each maelstrom. If these truly were large whirlpools, what the energy was being sucked in to was not at all clear, other than some large, white, glowing mass in the center of each. Towards the fringe, each vortex took on an almost cloud-like appearance. Exactly what caused them were completely unknown, but considering that it lined up with the axis of the center rings of the spindly structure, the whirlpools were undoubtedly related to the mysterious structure. Whatever the Sleepers were doing here, it was having quite an effect.

sleeper device 9

Despite certain arms appearing bent or snap, there were no signs of damage at the ends.

I spent more than an hour spellbound by the mysterious Sleeper device and its environs, and spent much of it running up and down the various arms, just to see if I could find any further clues. Unfortunately, there is little that can be divined from a purely visual inspection, and instruments are of little to no help right now. But a dearth of evidence has never stopped speculation from running rampant, with some even suggesting that it was a map of some kind. But I remain unconvinced of most of the theories we’ve seen so far, since we need to first know exactly what the energy vortices are for first. Figuring those out may well be key, even though attempts to approach them have, as of yet, proven fruitless. That being said, investigations will undoubtedly be ongoing, and I have no doubt that any changes in these structures will be reported widely.

sleeper device 10

The structure has many mysteries yet to reveal.

Finally, however, the long day began catching up to me, and I regretfully turned my ship towards home. I was even more reluctant to leave, given that once I warped back, even with a bookmark, I would be stuck making the 10,000 kilometer trek back to see the structure again should I ever want to visit (unless the Sleepers are kind enough to install an acceleration gate of some kind to the area, of course). The joys of deadspace physics, if you want to call it that. But as the structure shrank to a pinpoint and disappeared behind me, the spindly arms seemingly collapsing into the rear of my warp tunnel, I got the distinct feeling that even though the mysteries surrounding these structures seemed almost impenetrable now, we would be learning details of them much sooner than we might think.

Basic Information:

  • Attractions: Unidentified Sleeper devices in Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, and Vidette complexes
  • 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. As of writing, the device has been confirmed in all five hives.
  • Security Rating: -1
  • Region: Anoikis
  • Potential Hazards: 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. Drifters will change the rooms they are stationed in throughout a complex approximately every half-hour. Data analyzers are required to hack the gates. Fast, cloak-equipped ships (to evade Drifters until they out of range) are strongly advised.
  • Additional Notes: As of now, the only way to discover these devices is to fly in a straight line from the ‘lobby’ or ‘split’ of the complexes towards the complex’s hive. The device will be found roughly halfway between the two rooms, about 10,000 kilometers from the ‘lobby’ and 10,000 kilometers away from the hive. The device appears to be in the same location relative to the rooms regardless of which Drifter complex is visited.

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