Sightseeing in the Cluster

Hi Sec Sights

Unidentified Structure

Unidentified 1

Lightning crackles next to the Professor

It is perhaps needless to note that I have my hands full over the next few months. New Eden is in a state of upheaval, and CONCORD has deigned fit to mark quite a few new beacons and landmarks throughout and beyond the Cluster. I, of course, fully intend to canvass all of these sites here, but doing so will take time indeed. Over one hundred new systems have been added to the wormhole network, and it’s still not completely clear what can be found in them. I’ve already given myself the goal of visiting all new systems to ensure that I can bring the most accurate information here. But for today, we’re going to have to just settle for what is, from what I’ve seen at least, the least visually impressive landmark that has been uncovered in recent weeks, but what I think is perhaps the most important.

Unidentified 2

The barest outline of the odd structure can be seen here.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came out of warp. The beacon had appeared in space in my home system with little ceremony, and reports were coming in that these beacons had popped up across the Cluster. At first, I saw absolutely nothing. It seems the beacon, marked as an “Unidentified Structure” had been wrongfully placed in the middle of a normal dust cloud. But then a flash of light caught my eye. Lightning crackling in the distance. What was lightning doing in space? As I watched for it again, I noticed a faint shimmering. Lightning crackled again, and I noticed that the lightning seemed to travel up the edge of… the faint shimmering thing. Sensors were, of course, inconclusive, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say that a station’s cloaking device was failing. I’d never seen a cloak fail quite like this, but I’d also never seen a cloak on quite this scale before.

Unidentified 3

Another view of with hints of a new structure

I strained my eyes (and my sensors) trying to see what was there. I couldn’t glean much either, though. It was tall, that much was obvious. Tall and fairly narrow. It seemed to have three prongs on the bottom of it, but that could just be my eyes playing tricks on me. Aura, with her prodigious analytical capabilities and access to various databases, couldn’t identify the station either. But something was tugging a bit at my memory nonetheless. With the nearly-cloaked station still seemingly flickering in and out existence a few kilometers away, I pulled up old archival photos of Jove stations. While certainly not identical, there did seem to be… similarities to the contours. A certain conical shape to them, though the Jove stations of old had a more organic feel to the harsher, almost crystalline angles that I could barely discern. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was a plausible theory. For a better view of the general shape of these objects, Aurora Arcology News has an image enhanced view of the structure here.

Unidentified 4

A Circadian Seeker scans a nearby object in New Eden.

Another thing leads me to think that these stations may be Jove related. Rumors have long swirled that the Jove know more than they have let on regarding the Eve Gate in New Eden. One of the key parts of that theory is that the Jove have long cloaked any wreckage leftover from the Eve Gate catastrophe to prevent us lesser-developed nations from getting our hands on technology that could very well disrupt (or destroy) the balance of power in the Cluster. I had never believed in these rumors myself (I tend to like theories that can be proven one way or another rather than just relying on saying the Jovians did it), but there was certainly evidence now that I couldn’t ignore. Assuming that the Jovians are, in fact, behind these newly discovered but apparently long-standing structures (and this is a larger assumption than I am generally comfortable with making), they would indeed have experience with cloaking structures and other items over large areas. Though New Eden itself showed no readings, it is notable that one of these unidentified structures can, in fact, be found there. More and more curious.

Unidentified 5

The purpose of the sphere coming out of the Seeker is currently unknown.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other thing that can almost always be found in systems with these Unidentified Structures: the new Circadian Seekers. These appear to be Sleeper drones within the New Eden cluster. While initially a cause for concern given the reputation Sleeper drones have in being fearsome defenders of their turf in Anoikis, these drones appear to be docile. Despite numerous and repeated attacks on them, I have yet to run into any verified reports of them responding with any kind of force. Instead, they merely appear to roam the system, firing what appears to be a scanning beam on any objects they find. No negative repercussions of these scans have yet come to light. Given that these seekers almost always appear in systems with these new structures (Eram, apparently, is an exception to that rule), a substantial possibility also exists that these unknown structures are also Sleeper in origin, but the designs of these structures would represent a significant departure from known Sleeper architecture. Furthermore, the seekers have been seen attempting to scan the new structures like they would any other object in space, which suggests that they are unknown to them as well.

Unidentified 6

A customs office gets scanned by the seekers

What is more disconcerting about the appearance of these seekers is what they represent in the evolution of the Sleepers. Since Anoikis became accessible to capsuleers a few years ago, Sleepers have been a purely reactionary force. Capsuleers and the empires would appear near Sleeper sites, and the drones would reactively attempt to repel them. Despite initial fears, the Sleepers never, to our knowledge at least, attempted to follow us beyond the confines of their small patrol routes. They never followed us back to New Eden, and certainly never attempted to discover more about us. We had lulled ourselves into thinking that the Sleepers were unintelligent drones with no curiosity. But then, a few weeks ago, it came to light that various Sleeper caches had started appearing in New Eden. Not only have the Sleepers been in New Eden for quite a while, but they were collecting information and items on us. For what purpose I don’t know, but I have little doubt that these Seekers are a more blatant attempt at learning more about us now that the caches have come to light. (Edit: Furthermore, for the first time, these Sleeper drones have active shielding systems. Sleeper drones prevalent in Anoikis have strong armored hulls, but they’ve never exhibited shield systems before. These new Circadian Seekers, however, have shields as well as armor. That they’ve managed to reverse engineer shield systems is yet another indication that the Sleepers are not as passive as they have seemed. Special thanks to @BlackDeathJazz for reminding me to note that here.) (Second edit: As of 1/13/YC 117, Circadian Seekers have begun responding to attacks with force. Seekers have been known to follow hostile pilots through warp and may pod hostile pilots as well.)

Unidentified 7

The scanning beams do not appear to cause any ill effects.

I realize that this has been a somewhat meandering entry, but I fear that this cannot be helped. I try my best to tell a clean and concise narrative in these entries: Eve Travel exists to give context to the universe around us. Unfortunately, right now there is no clean, concise narrative for many of these new objects. We don’t know everything yet, and you’ll have to bear with me as we all discover what all of this truly means. I don’t know what, if anything, the seekers are looking for, and I don’t know the purpose of these unidentified structures. There is a very good chance that there are other things out there that haven’t even come to light yet. And I, for one, am excited to see exactly what the universe has in store for us.

EDIT: I’ve received a number of reports (now personally confirmed) that the Unidentified Structures will appear and disappear in a system. It’s unknown at this time if they move positions when they reappear.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unidentified Structure
  • System: Various throughout known space
  • Security Rating: Various throughout known space
  • Region: Various throughout known space
  • Potential Hazards: As noted in the second edit above, Circadian Seekers have begun to respond to attacks with force. Seekers have been seen to defend themselves with heavy missile launcher-strength weaponry. Seekers have followed hostile pilots through warp and may even pod hostile pilots. Caution is advised.

Caroline’s Star

Caroline's Star

The new star is bright in some skies. And growing brighter. Photo courtesy of pilot per.

I picked a heck of a time to go planetside for a few days. Reports started trickling in a few days ago regarding a new star that has appeared in New Eden skies. Even scientists are baffled as to how a phenomenon like this could appear simultaneously across hundreds of lightyears. For now, theories abound but facts are few. What we do know is that the star’s position appears to be close to the edge of Jove space, and that the phenomenon is only growing brighter. What exactly this means is anyone’s guess at this point, but I will note that this is not the first time we’ve seen a phenomenon like this. As for me, given that I anticipate being planetside for the next few days still, I’ll continue to gather my information second hand. The situation is very much still developing, and information will continue to trickle in from a variety of sources. Keep watching the skies.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Caroline’s Star
  • System: Unknown
  • Security Rating: Unknown
  • Region: Unknown
  • Potential Hazards: Unknown for now.

Brutor Tribe Community Area

I’ll be the first to admit it: the concept of the Minmatar tribes confuses me.

Frarn 1

The Community Area stands in the shadow of an old Amarr station

Coming from the pluralistic Federation, the idea of such extensive family units is baffling to me, especially since the tribes seem to play such a large role in determining who you are. And with the new changes to the Republic, it seems like the Tribes will be taking even more of a center stage for the average Matari. In some ways mimicking the Caldari (of all people), the Tribal Assembly has radically decentralized the Republic, in favor of allowing the Tribes to handle most, if not all, internal matters. The Tribal Council, composed of the seven tribal chiefs and the Sanmatar, will be the true powerbase of the Republic, with the Parliament being reduced to a subservient, almost advisory council. From what I’ve read in GalNet, the Tribes will be acting in a very similar capacity to Caldari megacorporations, with tribes handling almost all internal matters. Considering the fact that some have declared Sanmatar Shakor’s centralization of power in recent years almost dictatorial, the fact that he agreed to this radical restructuring of the Republic is surprising indeed.

Frarn 2

The station is surrounded by 8 “Rememberance” stones.

Thus, it seems almost fitting that I find myself sitting today in Frarn, closely examining the Brutor Tribe Community Area. Before running across this site, I hadn’t even realized that the Brutor (or any of the tribes, really) had such large space-based colonies, but here we are. I have, of course, run across a few Brutors in my day, but I rarely run across the average Brutor citizen. Then again, that’s hardly surprising given the fact that these days, I only rarely see non-capsuleers of any sort. But given the newly-forged primacy that the Tribes were taking in Republic life, I happily dove into my examination of the Brutor tribe. It seems that the Brutor ought to be pretty happy these days. They have long advocated for a tribal-based Republic, and with the recent reforms advocated by the new Sebiestor Chief, Acassa Midular, they are getting their wish. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they tend to congregate together, as it seems it is their tribal bonds that helped them survive the Amarr enslavement.

Given the trauma of Amarr enslavement, it is perhaps unsurprising that the tribes have remained relatively close-knit. In many circumstances, it was the tribal bonds that helped the culture survive through the Dark Days. Those bonds remain as strong as ever today, as can be seen with these Community Areas found throughout the Republic. As Aura explains:

Frarn 3Hundreds of these small community areas have been erected in recent years to accommodate those returning from travels abroad and seeking temporary accommodation. Ironically, they were originally designed to facilitate a great exodus to Federation space, but with the rise of fresh new ideas inside Minmatar borders causing many to return to their homelands, these spacebound communities have come to play an entirely different role. Typically, a single community will be dedicated to one tribe or another, but it is not unheard of for two or more tribes to share the one area.

A close view of the cargo pads at the community area, with a cargo ship in the background.

A close view of the cargo pads at the community area, with a cargo ship in the background.

Like many Matari sites, this one is based around Amarr ruins left over from the occupation. Many of these old Amarr structures don’t appear to be utilized in anyway; rather, the ruins are left intact solely as a reminder of how far the Republic has come from the Occupation (and, possibly, as a giant middle finger to the Empire, though I suspect most Matari architects would deny that… or maybe not. In fact, it’s a bit odd that the primary feature of the site is completely abandoned and unused. An old Amarr station, broken, decayed, and stripped of any useful materials, is the first thing that draws the eye upon coming out of warp. The next thing a person notices is that the abandoned station is curiously surrounded by eight large rocks, all named Rememberance. The stones were clearly placed by the Minmatar around the station, perhaps as a reminder that metaphorical sticks and (in this case, at least) rather literal stones were able to bring down the might of the Amarr Empire. The entire memorial helps reinforce the Matari self-image as a plucky, technologically backward species that nonetheless manage to throw off their oppressors, never mind the fact that these days the Minmatar are just as technologically advanced as any in the Cluster.

Frarn 5

The Community Area is a hive of local activity

It’s only after the eye thoroughly examines the Amarr station and its immediate environs that you really notice the actual location of the community area. It’s tucked off to one side, well outside the influence of the Amarr station, preferring to remain the shadows of the Amarr leviathan, perhaps hoping it won’t be seen. The community area is, in typical Matari fashion, a rather hodgepodge assortment of cargo bays, living quarters, bars, and ships. Perhaps surprisingly given the pains the locals took to arrange the Amarr station just so, little thought is given to the appearance of the community area. A number of large, bulbous storage vats anchor the bottom of the site, while the top is dominated by the cargo platforms that help transfer needed goods to and from the community center. The area also appears to act as a banker for many of the local residents, since I can’t understand why else the area would need a Bursar. The Republic has stationed two Tempest-class battleships to watch over the area: one remains docked at the facility while one stays stationed nearby.

Frarn 6

The abandoned station looms behind a nebular mist.

As I’ve implied above, I was rather taken aback by the powerful symbolism found throughout this site. When it comes to architectural symbolism, I tend to think of the Amarr much more than the other empires, yet here is a stunning demonstration of Minmatar tenacity found within a decrepit Amarr station and a few well-placed asteroids. Perhaps it is yet another way that the Minmatar are casting off their Amarr history, by using the Amarr’s own heavy-handed symbolism against them. I was also surprised by the relative insularity of the community: only Brutors were really to be found here. Perhaps given that insularity, I should be less surprised than I am at the radical shift currently taking place within the Republic. The tribe has been likened to an extended family, and families tend to stay together whenever possible. So its natural that if there’s seven extended families in the Republic, power is concentrated into those seven.

…Nah, it’s still weird to me.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Brutor Tribe Community Area
  • System: Frarn
  • Security Rating: 0.8
  • Region: Heimatar
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

In honor of intrepid explorer Marcus Yeon

Jakanerva 1

The Explorer Relief Post

As an explorer by profession, it’s surprisingly easy to forget just how dangerous the profession can be for the uninitiated.  Things that I often don’t give a second thought to can be the difference between life or death for those new to the profession: fit your ships for speed (especially in low security space); a cloak never hurt anyone; and d-scan, d-scan, d-scan (again, especially in low security space).  With the withdrawal of pirates from most sites about six months ago, most explorers may have even gone so far as to give up giving their ship many defenses; the recent appearance of so-called Ghost Sites (which don’t seem to be very ghostly at all considering anyone can see them, but I suppose that is neither here nor there) and its new potential loot has undoubtedly changed that particular paradigm.  And I suspect we haven’t seen the last of what the pirate research programs have to offer.

Jakanerva 2

I take Professor Science in for an examination of the rift.

Regardless, it’s important to remind explorers that despite all of valuable resources that exploration provides, it is, like so many professions in the cluster, a dangerous one.  And Echelon Entertainment  is here to serve (and undoubtedly get a holo deal or three out of it).  After the Sisters of Eve announced a drive to collect pictures of well known landmarks in New Eden, Echelon randomly selected one of those capsuleers to complete all 29 images to be honored at a so-called Explorer’s Relief Post.  The Post can be found in Jakanerva, near the heart of Caldari space a few jumps from Jita.  Aura’s background on the site, normally only a few sentences long, was a bit more verbose this time as Echelon provided more background on the site:

Jakanerva 3This site stands as a quiet and somewhat unnerving mark of honor for the efforts of Marcus Yeon and all others who took Echelon Entertainment up on its exploration challenge. These capsuleers risked their ships, their clones and their crews on a perilous venture to capture some of the amazing sights of New Eden.

While those pilots who succeeded in the various stages of the challenge were rewarded with various material goods, Echelon Entertainment also commissioned a landmark to be created so that their fearless efforts would be remembered throughout history.
Jakanerva 4

Echelon Entertainment also requested that the landmark be placed next to the scorched ruins of a quite astonishingly ill-fated secret experiment, in order to warn intrepid explorers that on a very few select occasions, discretion is very much the better part of valor. In an interesting quirk of fate, rumor has it that this experiment was being run by Yeon’s own people – possibly a subtle warning from Echelon Entertainment not to get too boastful in the dangerous world of New Eden – and that the ghostly form of one of his past clones still haunts the place.

Jakanerva 5

One of Marcus Yeon’s corpses remains near the rift as a warning to the dangers of moving too fast

Tantalizing hints here, but what did they mean (rumors of ghosts aside: I’ll believe THAT when I see it)?  That Yeon had been conducting his own experiments was news to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the experiments tied into the newly discovered Ghost Sites (which I have yet to discover).  Rumor has it that the Ghost Sites are actually pirate-based research initiatives; if so, then Yeon’s experiments here may have tied in to the pirate factions’ R&D.  That the experiment apparently backfired is just another demonstration that cutting-edge research can be hazardous to one’s health.  Still, it was heartening to see what would otherwise be a deserted research base turned into a testament to expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

Jakanerva 6

One of six “explorer relief posts” found at the site.

The site itself was fairly extensive, if straightforward.  A formation of Explorer Relief Posts were organized around an empty, but now-iconic data site.  Though the site has long been emptied of useful data, it serves as a graceful centerpiece to the site.  It also gave me the opportunity to closely examine the data hub itself, something I had never paid much attention to during my explorations.  Surrounded as it was by three rings, it brought to mind a gyroscope, with the central hub always maintained upright within.  Surrounding the data site in a diamond formation, Echelon has placed a number of so-called “explorer relief posts”, but what relief they are meant to provide is a bit beyond me.  Apparently consisting primarily of some kind of resource cache stored in a small forcefield, the posts were completely inaccessible to my ship, making me question just what kind of “relief” was to be provided.  Still, it was soothing to watch the various field emitters spin to maintain the field’s integrity.

Jakanerva 7

The remains of one of the site’s initial defenders lies in a tattered wreck nearby.

Nearby, the ruinous remains of the research station loomed.  Above the tattered superstructure of the research station, presumably at the site where the experiments were performed, a spatial rift of some kind had formed.  Aura herself was apparently spooked by it, as she had labeled the rift as “ominous,” despite the other spatial rifts we’ve seen in our days.  I originally didn’t examine the rift particularly closely, but after watching it a while, I noticed a small speck nearby that I had initially dismissed as a sensor blip.  Upon closer examination however, I discovered that that blip was actually a corpse of Marcus himself: presumably the corpse was the origin of those “ghostly forms” that Aura spoke of.  The explosion which formed the rift was clearly a powerful one: besides completely destroying the top half of the research station, a number of ship wrecks could be seen nearby, undoubtedly the station’s former guard battalion, caught up in the blast.  Indeed, given the devastation evidently rained down upon the station from the blast, it’s a miracle that Yeon’s corpse survived at all.  How it survived, and how it remains stable so close to the rift, is a mystery to both Aura and myself.

Jakanerva 8

The spatial rift’s light battles with Jakanerva’s glare.

I actually spent quite a bit of time simply admiring the site.  I didn’t expect to be gratified to see acknowledgment of the work that myself and thousands of other explorers pursue in order to help improve the quality of life in the cluster.  And being the explorer that I am, the site certainly whetted my appetite to see what else was out there.  The pirates are on to something here, and the Empires want them to stop (even if they aren’t always the best at executing their goals).  I look forward to helping the research in any way I can.  There are plenty of clues to be found and discoveries to be made, but ultimately, one of the best skills that an explorer can have is patience.  After all, even after finding everything there is to find, it may not make sense at first.  But if I have anything to say about it, you better believe it will.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: In honor of intrepid explorer Marcus Yeon
  • System: Jakanerva
  • Security Rating: 0.7
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Unmarked Operation

Operations 1

A vessel near the operation ferries supplies.

Governments.  You expect them to, well, govern you.  Provide necessary services, protect you from threats.  It’s all part of the social compact: you agree to submit to the government’s authority in exchange for that government keeping you safe and healthy.  According to some political theorists, in fact, this social compact is the source of the government’s authority.  In fact, keeping its citizenry safe (from threats both external and internal) is perhaps the most important service that a modern day government provides.  And in maintaining a nation’s safety, I, and most people, understand that some… questionable choices must sometimes be made in order to maintain the balance between safety and liberty.  I may not always agree with the choices made, but I do understand that there are broader issues at work.

Operations 2

A closer view of the listening posts.

Of course, it normally does not need to be said that in providing governmental services, we expect of modicum of competence.  We’re all just human, of course, but in providing for Gallente national security, I would expect the Federation to not make idiotic moves or mistakes.  Ethically questionable?  Sure, especially with the rise of the Black Eagles and other national security institutions.  But I’d like to think that, if nothing else, the professionals we hire to safeguard our nation’s closest-held secrets have a bare minimum of common sense.  After all, President Roden created one of the premiere ship-building companies in the Cluster from basically his bare hands.  How hard could it be?

Operations 3

A close up of the odd device attached to the listening posts that probably should not be broadcast to the Cluster.

So, of course, my faith in governmental institutions was severely tested by my discovery in Noghere, a system in Essence not far from the Caldari border.  There, a cursory glance at the system’s beacons will display an “Unmarked Operation,” run by the Gallente government in full view of anyone who passes through the system.  Now, don’t get me wrong, when you’re establishing a site crucial to national security, it’s not necessarily possible to keep a site secret.  After all, spy agencies need headquarters and its not necessarily possible to keep such a headquarters secret.  But you would think that you’d at least not broadcast its existence not only throughout the star system, but on CONCORD controlled maps as well.  Not only that, but the site does not appear to be protected or secured at all.  The only thing warning you away is a brief message you receive upon warping to the site:

Please be advised:

We are here to protect the citizens of the Gallente Federation. Do not be alarmed by our presence, and please carry on with your daily activities.

Operations 4

You would think that being approached by a Caldari Tech 3 cruiser would raise an alarm. You would be wrong.

Being, in fact, quite alarmed at the state of Gallente security, I dropped out of warp at the site.  If I hadn’t known what the site was ostensibly for, I would actually find it quite beautiful.  It’s dominated by what appears to be two listening posts, which slowly comb the space surrounding Noghere, no doubt searching for stray Caldari signals.  Strange devices were attached to the end of each listening post, glowing an odd shade of blue.  Neither I nor sensors could make heads or tails of the devices, and it struck me as something that the Federation would PROBABLY want to keep secret, if it had any kind of common sense.  But alas, here was a civilian photographer taking pictures of a government operation and unknown technologies.

Operations 5

A side view of the bunker at the site.

Beyond the two listening posts, the entire area is pretty quiet.  A few smaller Gallente vessels can be seen ferrying equipment and personnel back and forth.  I would normally say they also secured the site, but given what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had orders to shoot each other instead of other ships should hostiles invade the area.  Between the two listening posts, a rather sizeable bunker floated, no doubt housing the operations’ staff and administration complex.  In a vain attempt to cover their tracks, the government appears to have towed a sizeable asteroid to the complex, probably thinking it was a foolproof way to hide the site from prying eyes.

Operations 6

The purpose of this site is still unknown.

As I looked over the site, I realized that perhaps I was being too hard on Federation authorities.  Still, it was difficult to figure out precisely what the Federation hoped to accomplish by making the site so blatant.  If it was perhaps a tad more difficult to find, I would think that it was meant as a diversion or counter-intelligence operation to distract the Federation’s enemies.  But even the Amarr would realize that the Federation is simply trying too hard here to make the site obvious.  Or perhaps this is just a public relations site: meant to show the citizenry that the government is Doing Something to protect it from the Caldari menace.  Whatever the reason, the fact that this site was even conceived disabused me strongly of the notion that governments should ever, ever be run by bureaucrats.  They just don’t exactly ooze competency, it seems.  Perhaps they should just be left to running symoposia and be done with it.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Unmarked Operation
  • System: Noghere
  • Security Rating: 0.7
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

The Labyrinth

Labyrinth 1

The first thing you see upon entering the Labyrinth.

I’ve been having a recurring dream lately.  In it, I’m trapped inside an endless maze.  Every few meters, I’m presented with an option of going left or right, with no indication of which option will let me out of the maze, which direction will get me to the center of the maze, and what I will find at the maze’s end.  I spend the entire dream running through, knowing that I have to find an exit to the maze, without knowing at all why.  Half of the time, I’m being chased by an unknowable Something Evil, but the other half I’m merely wandering aimlessly, feeling more and more desperate.  Inevitably, I wake up safely ensconced in my ship or captain’s quarters, with no mazes in sight (station interiors notwithstanding), but inevitably, I wake up drenched in sweat.  Capsuleers aren’t supposed to be afraid of anything, but clearly something has me uneasy.  I guess demigods still fear their own dreams.

Labyrinth 2

Blood Raiders can be found throughout the site.

And so it was with some trepidation that I approached the site found in Aphi known as the Labyrinth.  Obviously, the name alone brought my dreams to mind.  But with everyone’s sudden interest in exploration and sightseeing, I knew I had to confront my fears sooner rather than later.  But that didn’t mean I had to go in unprepared.  I started trawling GalNet with gusto, trying to find any information on the Labyrinth that I could.  While my research wasn’t quite as productive as I might have hoped, I did at least manage to find a map that would safely guide me through the site, making sure I not be stuck wandering aimlessly.  A warp drive also helped with that, admittedly.  I also discovered that to access the site, I would need the Key to the Labyrinth, which is obtainable either through the Museum Arcana or other capsuleers.

Labyrinth 3

The central temple in the Labyrinth.

Upon entering the site, the courageous pilot is presented with a ring of spatial rifts.  Although the rifts bear some similarity to their more well-known cousin, the wormhole (most notably, the ability to move ships a certain distance through non-linear space), a number of differences remain.  Most notably, the rifts only work over relatively short distances, astronomically speaking.  The rifts will only move you tens of thousands of kilometers, instead of the thousands of lightyears that wormholes can throw you.  Additionally, while spatial rifts can be found throughout the Cluster, the Labyrinth’s rifts are one of the few known stable examples of the phenomenon.  However, they are not completely stable; each segment of the Labyrinth has 8 rifts associated with it; despite this, only certain rifts still connect with something on the other side, suggesting that portions of the Labyrinth may be lost to the ages.

Labyrinth 4

One of the many data caches found here. Takmahl debris can be seen in the background.

Whether the Labyrinth is a natural or manmade phenomenon is subject to quite a bit of debate.  On the one hand, as discussed below, the center of the maze was clearly settled by the Takmahl, with the rest of the site perhaps acting as a proving ground or security system.  On the other hand, the Takmahl, clear descendants of an off-branch of Amarr theology (and thus, the fact that Blood Raiders can often be found here should not surprise anyone), were not known for their prowess in spatial manipulation.  Such an honor usually falls to the Talocan.  So how the Takmahl could have put such a site together is unknown, given that the Takmahl tend to date significantly later than the other lost races of New Eden.  Of course, it is just as possible that the Labyrinth was a natural phenomenon merely co-opted by the Takmahl, but that still raises the question of the nature of the Labyrinth.  Such a densely packed area of spatial rifts is unknown anywhere else in the Cluster, and nowhere else do we such rifts surviving for as long as the ones here do; at least 2000 years.

Labyrinth 5

A closer look at the data cache.

As mentioned, when one navigates the, dare I say, labyrinthine connection of spatial rifts to the center of the site, a large Takmahl site can be seen.  The site is dominated by an absolutely massive rock, portions of which had been hollowed out by the Takmahl to serve as a base of some kind.  Aura marks it as a “temple” (perhaps an understandable assumption given the Takmahl’s religious origins) but I’m not entirely sure where she got her information from.  However, it was difficult to see many details from the surface, or even with sensors.  More apparent, however, was the cloud of objects surrounding the central structure.  Takmahl data terminals and caches could be found strewn around the base, many of them still functioning millennia after they were constructed.  Like the Museum Arcana, the Labyrinth is a testament to the Takmahl’s engineering prowess.  A number of Blood Raiders based from here, and a number of other collectors can be seen zealously digging through (and defending) the various artifacts to see what hasn’t been snatched up yet.

Labyrinth 6

The Labyrinth is very close to Aphi.

Given the activity at the site, I didn’t have quite as much time as I would have liked at the central site.  I was unfortunately quickly decloaked and forced to defend myself, giving me only minimal time to take sensor readings and collect data before retreating.  My ships are built for speed and stealth, not combat.  As I warped out of the site, however, I had an eerie moment of déjà vu.  Although I was safely ensconced in my ship and warping out, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been here before.  On the run, tail tucked between my legs as I sought to exit from a massive maze.  Hmmm….

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: The Labyrinth
  • System: Aphi
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: Kador
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.  Additionally, a number of rats, ranging from frigates to battleships, are present throughout the site.  They will fire on you if you remain uncloaked.  Please note that the frigates, at least, may warp scramble you.
  • Additional Notes: You MUST obtain the Key to the Labyrinth, which I purchased on contracts, in order to get past the first acceleration gate.  The key is not consumed upon use.

Museum Arcana

Museum 1

A piece of ancient debris floats in the foreground to the Museum proper.

Most people often think of museums as musty old buildings filled with fading exhibits and the bones of animals long dead, or perhaps artifacts from cultures of days past.  They’re quiet buildings, filled with knowledge for those who are willing to seek it out.  Unless, of course, you happen to be a capsuleer, in which case anything that doesn’t involve explosions isn’t worth doing, be it for knowledge or some other cause.  Which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that, tucked away in the Araz constellation, the Museum Arcana combines the thrill of combat with the soporific effect that museums tend to have on people.  More an archeological site than a true museum, the area is still overseen by a Curator who seems curiously oblivious to the ships fighting over the choicest archeological artifacts.

Museum 2

One of the aspiring archeologists can be seen in the background.

The Museum is dedicated to the Takmahl.  Although often playing second fiddle to the more well-known Sleeper and Talocan ancient civilizations, the Takmahl have a fascinating history in their own right, and are probably the most recent of the lost civilizations of New Eden.  The Takmahl started off as an offshoot of an offshoot of the Amarr faith.  Those familiar with Amarr sects might recall that the Sani Sabik believe that purity can only be found through human blood.  While the official Faith disclaims these teachings, these theological ideas have long had some popularity amongst the Amarr.  Every so often, the Faith would set out and purge these blood believers.  One of these purges, early on after the discovery of interstellar flight, led to the expulsion of what would eventually become the Takmahl.  The followers left in cryo-ships, and apparently ended up in the Araz constellation. They became experts in cybernetics and bio-engineering before mysteriously dying out.  One of their more complete data repositories was eventually rediscovered and labeled the Museum Arcana.

Aura has this to say regarding the Museum:

Museum 3The Museum Arcana is an exclusive abode for purveyors of ancient, even arcane knowledge. The museum prides itself in serving only those truly learned in the secrets of the ancient world. To make this a certainty all visitors must not only have a rudimentary knowledge in prehistoric matters, but may be called upon to demonstrate their capabilities.

Museum 4

The still-functioning biodomes can clearly be seen here.

Aura has apparently been developing a bit of a sense of humor, since “a bit of rudimentary knowledge” roughly translates to “able to spend a few million isk.”  By running an analyzer and obtaining a Key of the Arcane, the doorkeeper is happy to let you pass into the primary area of the museum.  There, the Museum becomes a bit of a free for all.  Despite being open for business for a few years now, the Museum still has quite a few juicy morsels at play, and collectors of archaic memorabilia can often be seen tussling with those hoping to find some of that cybernetic and bio-engineering technology that I mentioned.  And, of course, any newcomers can expect to have both of those groups gang up on them for daring to intrude into their territory.  However, it can be useful seeing as how finding a few tokens for the Curator allows you access to another fascinating Takmahl site, the Labyrinth in Aphi.  But that’s for another entry.

Museum 5

One of the still active secondary data repositories.

Assuming you can take your mind off of the people trying to blow you up, the Museum itself is quite a sight to see.  The Museum is anchored by a massive central structure, surrounded by a field of secondary data repositories.  While the main structure has long been mined out of artifacts, many of the secondary repositories are still active, assuming you have the proper equipment with you.  However, the main structure of the Museum dominates from an aesthetics viewpoint.  Amarrian influences are clear in its construction, almost making the entire thing feel like a temple dedicated to preserving Takmahlan knowledge.  In particular, the top of the structure is dominated by the all-too-familiar sweeping hand of Amarrian destiny, demonstrating that the Amarr (and the Takmahl) had delusions of galactic domination for millennia.

Museum 6

The Curator stands watch over the Museum.

Although the Amarr influences are to be expected, perhaps more surprising are the deviations from Amarr architecture.  While the Amarr are well-known for their love of all things golden, the Takmahl structure’s blue-ish hues, organic curves, and biodomes gives much of the structure an almost Gallente feel to it.  I would have thought the styles would clash, but they go together remarkably well, giving the structure a very graceful feel.  The biodomes, of course, fit the Takmahlan historic interest in bio-engineering.  Perhaps the most impressive aspect of it was the fact that even now, hundreds if not thousands of years later, the biodomes were still as verdant and green as anything you would find on Gallente Prime.  Indeed, everything seemed remarkably well-preserved, which is yet another testament to Takmahl technology, regardless of any ethical concerns I might have about their religious beliefs.

Museum 7

Zimse glints off of the Museum’s domes.

I spent some time at the Museum, mostly just looking around and admiring the views.  Professor Science’s cloak meant that just about everyone ignored me, something with which I was perfectly content.  Eventually, however, it was time to move on from the Museum.  As I warped out, I couldn’t help but wonder if museums would be more popular if they all involved guns, explosions, and blood-drinking religious fanatics, but I guess we will never know.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Museum Arcana
  • System: Zimse
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: Kador
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Amarr, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.  Additionally, a number of rats, ranging from frigates to a battleship, are present at the site.  They will fire on you if you remain uncloaked.
  • Additional Notes: You MUST obtain the Key of the Arcane, which I purchased on contracts for about 10 million isk, in order to get past the first acceleration gate.  The key is not consumed upon use.

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