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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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:
This 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.
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.
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.
- Attraction: Space Oddity
- System: Anywhere, including wormhole space (thanks to the two readers in comments for confirming this)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Author’s Note: I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Makato Priano and Itsukame-Zainou Hyperspatial Inquiries Ltd. [IKAME] for allowing me to accompany them on two ops into the Conflux and Vidette sites, along with the other non-IKAME pilots that accompanied us. Their assistance was invaluable in allowing me to survey both the Conflux and Vidette complexes, and their companionship was instrumental in ensuring that despite long waits and tense situations, I managed to keep myself sane.
It’s been said that the waiting is the hardest part. I have learned this lesson all too well ever since Hilen Tukoss, or, at least, someone claiming to be Dr. Tukoss, appeared on the Intergalactic Summit back in October of last year. Since then, I have been waiting for more information to make its way to those of us in New Eden who are interested in our collective history and future. And come it has, although often the new information merely brings more questions than it does answers. Sometimes, though, that is the nature of the beast. Realistically, expecting to get all answers to mysteries that have lasted for perhaps thousands of years within the span of a few months is perhaps too much to hope for. But anything that helps us understand the fascinating story that is New Eden is something to be cherished, even if it just acts to show us how much we don’t know.
One prime example of something we only recently have started to know that we don’t know (which, I suppose, is better than not knowing something we don’t know) are the Drifters. An unexpected plot twist, if you’ll forgive me extending the story metaphor, the Drifters were completely unexpected even by those who study the history of New Eden. Indeed, while large gaps still remain in our understanding of the cluster, we at least thought we understood all the major players. That assumption appears to have been in error. While the Drifters are clearly related in some ways to the Jove, they are a distinct faction in their own right, aligning themselves with the Sleeper Circadian Seekers as they continue to salvage data from the Jove Observatories. And don’t even get me started on the obvious technological differences between the Drifters and what we’ve seen of Jove technology.
But the layers of mystery surrounding the Drifters are beginning to be peeled back. As I’ve discussed here before, the Drifters began probing New Eden at the same time that the unidentified wormholes started popping up in systems with Jove observatories. While Drifters were observed coming and going through these new wormholes, these holes were somehow locked out for use by non-Drifter ships (the fact that the only other wormholes to demonstrate this kind of selective passage were those generated by the Sansha during their initial invasion of New Eden has led to significant speculation, but that’s a bit beyond the purview of this entry), so we contented ourselves with what little we could observe of Drifter behavior and what could be seen through these wormholes.
That changed a few weeks ago. With no fanfare or explanation, these wormholes suddenly became traversable to the general spacefaring community. The reasons for this sudden access remain unclear. It may be deliberate on the part of the Drifters, although this seems unlikely given that they continue to fire on any vessels they see approaching the wormholes. It may also reflect an error on their part, or some sort of malfunction of the equipment. My personal opinion is that this reflects the continued degradation of Jovian and related technologies that began with the explosion that led to Caroline’s Star. Of course, I have nothing to with which to substantiate that theory, but it’s as good a reason as any. Regardless of the cause, however, it quickly became clear that capsuleers now had access to core staging areas for Drifter forces, including the system from where Dr. Tukoss both warned us of the coming invasion and came to his unfortunate demise.
These staging areas can be found in five new systems that, until now, capsuleers did not have access to, with each system containing its own unique complex. Aura was able to provide a rough translation for the complexes found in each system: the Barbican complex can be found in J110145, the Conflux complex can be found in J200727, the Redoubt complex can be found in J174618, the Sentinel complex can be found in J055520, and the Vidette complex can be found in J164710. Note that almost all of these names evoke the idea of guarded fortifications, while the last one, the Conflux, evokes the idea of a coming together of forces. Indeed, these names alone are the principle reason that I believe we have not yet discovered the true home systems and stations of the Drifters. Rather, we have gained access to the Drifters’ primary naval staging ground, where their forces can gather, resupply, and drop off whatever it is that they are searching for. Notably, despite the heavy Drifter presence, analyses indicate that the structures found at these sites are almost all Sleeper, and not Drifter, in origin, suggesting far closer collaboration between the two civilizations than even we had previously believed, as Drifters appear to use these facilities to, among other things, construct their ships. Despite their Sleeper origins, I’ll refer to them as Drifter complexes given how integral the Drifters are to these sites and to prevent confusion with other, more common Sleeper complexes found throughout Anoikis.
Needless to say, I was extremely interested in diving into these complexes as soon as it was evident that they were accessible to us, especially once I started seeing pictures of the structures that could be found in them. Thankfully, being well-known in the exploration community has its advantages: within 2 weeks of the discovery of these new systems, I was invited to join an expedition organized under the auspices of Itsukame-Zainou Hyperspatial Inquiries Ltd. [IKAME], and its CEO, Makoto Priano, to explore two of these Drifter staging areas, the Conflux and Vidette complexes. Normally, of course, I tend to operate as a solo explorer (as do most people in the profession). The freedom allowed by having to depend on no one but yourself, and explore as much (or as little) as you’d like is something that is hard to lose. However, within hours of the discovery of these complexes, it became evident that if pilots were to have any hope of penetrating the depths of these areas, they would have to do so with a group of fellow pilots. And so, with that in mind, I found myself in a fleet of 10-15 other capsuleers last weekend as I prepared to plumb the depths of these two complexes.
Before moving on, a few caveats for those who may be interested in following in my footsteps: First, these sites cannot be completed solo. As I’ll describe below, it is physically impossible for fewer than 2 people to get to the end of any of the complexes, as it often requires simultaneous or near-simultaneous hacks of multiple deadspace pockets at once. Furthermore, as might be expected, Sleepers can be found in significant, though not overwhelming, quantities in almost all of the deadspace pockets of a particular complex. And this says nothing of the Drifter battleships that roam the various deadspace pockets. These rotating sentries change rooms every half-hour or so, and unless you have substantial firepower (and a sacrificial ship or two), requires you to cloak to wait for them to move along. Indeed, moreso than most other sites, a cloak of some kind is almost essential to ensure that you can choose when (and where) engagement of defenses occurs. Definitely not a place for the weak of heart, but, in my opinion, well-worth the risks.
And, finally, a word (ok, multiple words) on the basic structure of these complexes. As I said, they cannot be completed solo. This is because in order to get to the final portion of the complex, universally called a Hive amongst all five sites, you generally need to be taking portions of your fleet up two parallel tracks. Various data centers need to be hacked on one track to allow further progress up the other track, meaning you’ll need both combat capability and hacking capabilities in each track. Maps of each complex (courtesy of pilot Xindi Kraid), including threat assessments and gate locations, can be found here. While I only had the chance to explore two of the complexes, comparing notes with others has made it clear that while substantial differences exist amongst the five complexes, their similarities in discoveries and basic composition are similar enough to not warrant separate entries (though seeing the length of today’s entry, perhaps it may have been more intelligent to break this into multiple parts).
With all of that in mind, I finally turned my attention to the complexes themselves. Both Conflux’s and Vidette’s opening deadspace pockets, known simply as the Beacon, look the same: a lone acceleration gate surrounded by a few simple Sleeper constructs. Even here, Drifters may be found upon dropping out of warp, and avoiding getting decloaked by the beacon as you enter the area may take some tricky piloting on your part. The lone acceleration gate will take you on to what is colloquially known as either the Lobby or the Split: the area where the two parallel paths diverge. Like all rooms past the entrance, the Split contains a spatial rift that will take pilots back to the start of the complex if necessary. The fleet from then on will not rejoin each other until the penultimate stage of the complex, but the two parts will still need to rely on each other in order to progress through the rest of the complex.
After the Split comes room after room filled with stunning examples of Sleeper architecture. Dazzling arrays of particle accelerators, enormous constructs of Sleeper enclaves, and mysterious structures whose function both Aura and I could only guess at can all be found throughout these complexes. There was even a room that had a spatial phenomenon that appeared very similar to how the Children of Light are supposed to appear. Almost every area was breathtaking in its own way. Clearly, the Sleepers care as much about form as they do about function. In one particularly fascinating room, the Sleepers have constructed a number of rings, stacked upon each other to make a giant cylinder, seemingly to contain a large monolith identical to the one that can be found in Dead End. This is not the first time that the Sleepers have been found associated with these mysterious structures, but rarely have I seen the structures so central to Sleeper architecture.
This was not the only room where the focus wasn’t on something clearly of Sleeper construction. A few rooms instead bring focus to apparently natural asteroids. Perhaps there was something about these asteroids that my sensors couldn’t detect, or perhaps they were just there as pieces of Sleeper art, I don’t really have any idea. Still, my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to these towering hulks of rock surrounded by various pieces of Sleeper equipment. In one room, the asteroid itself seemed to be teeming with Sleeper structures, but my sensors could no more make heads or tails of those than they could of most other structures. That being said, I did have plenty of time to examine some rooms while waiting for the Drifters to move on to the next stop on their patrol.
Even beyond these potential pieces of Sleeper art, I made some interesting observations. For example, despite these areas supposedly being Drifter and Sleeper strongholds, Drifter battleships and Circadian Seekers could be found roaming and, more notably, scanning any items they find in the areas. While such behavior might be reasonable in New Eden, where presumably they are gathering information, why they would feel the need to repeatedly scan their own structures is beyond me, unless the scanning also performs some sort of secondary, unknown function. Circadian Seekers can also be seen performing this puzzling behavior, which is even odder considering that the Seekers are Sleeper in origin themselves.
Even more surprising, though, was the discovery that signs of damage can be found throughout the complex. Most commonly, this damage manifested itself as partially destroyed Sleeper enclaves. Bright fires can be seen burning in and on the affected enclaves, even from a distance. There was no indication, however, of what caused the damage to these structures. As usual, capsuleer weaponry has no effect on any of the Sleeper structures, so it was highly unlikely that any groups of capsuleers who may have already surveyed the complex was the cause of the observed damage. Perhaps it was some sign of inner turmoil amongst the Drifters or the Sleepers, or some sort of retribution brought by the Jove, because the damage could be seen even in the innermost sanctums of these Sleeper complexes, with the drifting pieces of wreckage marring the beauty of even these sights.
Eventually, after clearing the gates and hacking what needs to be hacked, the fleets rejoin each other in the Antechamber. Here, two full Sleeper enclaves can be found towards the periphery of the area. In the middle, the Sleepers once again show a somewhat odd fascination with an apparently normal, if sizeable, asteroid. This time, the rock is probably about on par with the size of the Jove observatories that can be found throughout New Eden. More importantly, sheltered in the shadow of the large rock can be found the last, unlocked acceleration gate. The last gate is a good ways away from warp-in point, giving you plenty of time to reflect on the journey you took to get here (or, if your expedition goes anything like our journey into Vidette went, it will be a harrowing high-speed burn as you try to dodge incoming Drifter fire long enough to activate the acceleration gate, but that is neither here nor there).
Finally, then, you get to the heart of these complexes. And the moment my view stabilized after dropping out of warp, I had no doubt whatsoever that the journey was worth the effort. This central room, which Aura marks as the Hive, is dominated by a central Drifter station, for lack of a better word. But that gives these colossal structures far too little credit. Rough estimates make these structures over 200 kilometers across, dwarfing even our largest titans. The station appears comprised of multiple rotating rings, which can be seen slowly rotating when looking at the inner rim of the station. The exterior of the structure is generally a sheer grey wall with many features, multiple kilometers in height. Despite the structure’s size, it is far too easy to lose yourself examining the countless nooks, crannies, antennae, viewports, bays, and other details along the outer rim, not to mention the giant points coming off the outer rim, like spokes of a wheel pushed past the rim.
Aura’s analysis has this to say on the structure:
Dwarfing the majestic enclave in size, the scale of this Hive sends shivers of awe into all those who bear witness to its grandeur. Its walls stand defiant against the harsh black vacuum. Its structure, testament to the unfathomable technological prowess of the Sleeper race.
Cold, sharp edges seem to tear at the very fabric of space, distorting reality around it. One can only cower in fear at the thought of what a construction of this magnitudes purpose could be.
Poetic license of the ship’s resident AI aside, I couldn’t help but agree with what she had to say. Particularly noteworthy was the mention of space-warping technology. Indeed, some of the antennae poking out of the Hive seem to mimic the effects found when the Drifters are engaging their sublight, non-classically-propulsive engines. Which, of course, raises the rather disturbing possibility that not only are these structures truly titanic, but these structures are truly titanic as well as mobile. Indeed, some of my fellow fleet members speculated that we may be looking at a particularly large stargate, given that the Hives are oriented differently in each of the five complexes. Regardless, beyond the fact that these structures seem to be used as manufacturing facilities, little is known about the purpose of the Hive beyond the fact that the Drifters and Sleepers put substantial defenses in place to keep it safe.
While the Hive definitely dominates the final area, it is by no means the only thing to be found in this final area. After I finally tore my eyes off of the structure, I had a look around. It should be needless to say at this point that the area was littered with various Sleeper structures and constructs, but a few other notable things bear mentioning. First, even here in the very heart of the Sleeper and Drifter complexes, signs of non-capsuleer-caused damage can be seen. A Sleeper enclave near the Hive once again bore signs of significant damage to its outer hull, with pieces of the structure torn away. What caused this damage even in the heart of these complexes again brought the prospects of civil war or, perhaps even more ominously, an as-yet unknown party, to my mind once again.
Further, or perhaps in answer to my question regarding the cause of the damage, the Hive is also littered with Jovian corpses. This is interesting for two reasons. First, of course, is that there is no particular reason why the corpses should be here in the first place, as there have been no other signs of Jovian encroachment on these sites. The second reason that the presence of these corpses is notable is that the Drifters have shown a particular affinity for space-flight-adapted bodies after death, with the evidence heavily suggesting that the Drifters re-purpose and augment the corpses in order to create new copies of Apollo and Artemis, our dear Drifter friends who pilot most of the Drifter battleships. Why would the Drifters simply leave these presumably perfectly-good corpses in the heart of their space, rather than re-purpose them as they have capsuleer corpses? Is there something incompatible, given the Jove proclivity for genetic engineering?
In the center of the Hive, surrounded by literally dozens of Sleeper structures and protected by one of the largest security systems ever implemented (when measured in terms of sheer distance traveled, at the very least), sits the goal of most expeditions into the complexes. A small beacon is protected by a third, until-now unmet Drifter: Hikanta Tyrannos. Like Apollo and Artemis before him, he flies a standard Drifter battleship, one that must be taken down if you hope to gain the fruits of the expedition. Unfortunately, given his powerful doomsday weapon, this means that at least one of your ships must be sacrificed, as he will invariably fire his doomsday weapon after his primary shield matrix is brought down, and it is highly unlikely a ship could survive a direct hit from that.
Once Hikanta and the remaining Sleeper drones are cleared out, however, a ship can approach the central vault of that complex. When near, the pilot will need to deposit into the vault an Index specific to that complex (i.e. inputting a Conflux Index into the Conflux Vault). Unfortunately, these Indices can only be gained from the Hikanta Tyrannos wreck of a different complex (the Hikanta in the Barbican complex will drop a Conflux index, for example). Once the appropriate index is inserted, however, the Vault will unlock ten Elements. The Element you receive will differ depending on where the Element originated (similar to the above, a Conflux complex will yield a Conflux Element), but all five Elements seem generally similar.
That’s not to say that Aura isn’t completely baffled by them, however. Her analysis is confusing:
The strange, unreal aspect of this object plays havoc with your mind. The distortion is interfering with signal reception and hindering decryption. Despite this, one strong, repetitive motif is breaking through the chaos. A single repeating concept.
While the Antikythera elements discovered in the Jove observatories eventually yielded the now ubiquitous entosis links, it is not yet clear what these new elements do or what they can be used for. Indeed, it was hoped that some revelation would come simply by collecting all five types of Elements in one place, but thus far, despite [IKAME]’s possession of all five Element types, no initial breakthroughs have yet been forthcoming. Still, plenty of experiments remain to figure out just what these elements are to be used for. Theories are rampant, of course, but my personal theory is that all five elements are to be combined into a key of some kind to unlock a final, sixth Drifter/Sleeper system which may very well be their home system. But that’s just me.
After an exhausting twelve hour day, I finally found myself on my way home from Drifter space. While the Conflux complex was completed with little incident, the Vidette complex proved more challenging, with almost all ships in the fleet (including my beloved Scientia) being destroyed by Drifter fire. Indeed, the fact that we easily survived one complex while getting utterly destroyed by the second demonstrates both the survivability and the risk of completing these sites. That being said, I was delighted that I had tagged along. Not only were the views themselves gorgeous (and if nothing else, the views alone were well worth the travels in my opinion), as demonstrated throughout this entry, but the complexes give important clues to the relationship between the Drifters and the Sleepers, while of course, raising even more questions (questions I got to ponder while waiting to travel during my long, long, long trip home, I might add).
Waiting, as they say, is the hardest part, and heavens know I’ve done my fair share of waiting. Waiting until my schedule allowed me to participate in one of these operations. Waiting to find an entrance to the appropriate complex. Waiting for the Drifters to move through the particular area of the complex we got stuck in. Waiting even now for the answers that I have to trust are coming someday. Waiting may be the hardest part, but patience is a virtue. Instant gratification in all respects would soon get boring without the anticipation of life and things to come. The Sleepers and the Drifters have also waited a long time, perhaps thousands of years if some theories are to be believed, and they finally seem to be acting on whatever it is they’ve been waiting for. Like the rest of New Eden, for now I can only watch to see what these civilizations, capability of building such marvelous things, have in store for us. Watch… and wait.
- Attractions: Drifter complexes Barbican, Conflux, Redoubt, Sentinel, and Vidette
- 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: As stressed throughout this entry, dangers are significant. 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. You will need at least one other person to accompany (preferably a small fleet), and that fleet will have to split up in order to successfully reach the hive. Drifters will change the rooms they are stationed in throughout a complex approximately every half-hour. Data analyzers are required to hack the gates. Strong, cloak-equipped ships are strongly advised.
I’ve never been one to aim to rock the boat. I appreciate that governments may not and cannot tell us everything that happens, and that some secrets are best kept as that: secrets. But over the past few years, I find myself growing more and more distrustful of the various governmental entities found throughout the Cluster. There have been far too many unanswered questions, too many unexplained actions. Why has Empress Jamyl all but vanished from the public scene? What, exactly, have the Sisters of Eve been doing in Thera, and why haven’t they released more information about their colonization of the system well before general access opened up? On a more personal level, why has CONCORD unilaterally moved to shut down my research project? Rumor has it that they’ll be moving to do so again soon with little to no comment on their part. The list of questions goes on and on.
Today, though, I want to focus on a question that we didn’t even know we had until fairly recently. But first, a bit of history may be useful. We all, of course, remember the horrors of the Seyllin disaster. Five hundred million people died in a matter of hours after a completely unpredicted stellar eruption shattered Seyllin I, along with its mining colony. Although much less disastrous, we know that there were 10 other so-called “main sequence events” that occurred around the Cluster at roughly the same time. Most of these other stellar outbursts were buried under the repercussions from Seyllin, but a close watcher of the news may have noticed that beyond Seyllin, a Thukker caravan, called the Lakat-Hro, was also lost in SL-YBS in the Great Wildlands. Sanmatar Shakor himself confirmed the loss. At the time, however, it seemed like a mere drop in the bucket.
However, it seems that not only did portions of the Lakat-Hro great caravan survive, but they somehow got transported to Thera. Whether the Caravan made its way to Thera beforehand and the Minmatar used Seyllin as a convenient cover, or whether the Seyllin explosion somehow opened up a temporary wormhole that the Caravan was able to dash through before betting smashed to bits, has remained unconfirmed by the Shakor administration to this day, despite proddings from fellow writer Rhavas on the subject. Regardless of how the Caravan arrived in Thera, it ended up suffering an ironically identical fate to the one it missed in SL-YBS. Stationed near the devastated Expedition Office, the remains of the Hel-class supercarrier Matyrhan Lakat-Hro can be found scorched near the Sisters of Eve’s former command center in Thera.
Similar to the previously-profiled Testing Facilities, the site is the scene of an almost completely destroyed Sisters station. Scans of the area managed to piece together some sense of what happened here:
Scarred and scorched by devastating forces, this wrecked station apparently served as the command post for the Sanctuary expedition to Thera. Wreathed in clouds of plasma, gas and dust, the station’s destruction, while not absolute, is profound and the interior has been gutted by fire and explosions.
The station itself, of clearly Gallente design, sits near the shattered remains of Thera VII. It’s now an empty husk of a station, with glowing plasma clouds still slowly dispersing from the station and rings of debris, both from the station itself and the planet below.
I next turned my attention to the nearby satellite that seems remarkably untouched next to the destruction that the station suffered. To say that the scan results quirked my eyebrows would be putting it mildly:
Apparently a hastily converted radiation monitoring satellite, this device seems to have briefly functioned as an emergency communications relay. It shows relatively few signs of damage but seems to have been knocked out of commission by several precise energy weapon strikes to its processing cores.
The fact that the relay was relatively untouched suggests that it was setup after the Thera main sequence event struck the system, bringing ruin to much of the Sisters’ inner stations. That would certainly necessitate emergency communications equipment from any possible source, including converted radiation monitoring satellites kept in storage. There’s no way such a delicate structure could have survived when every other surrounding structure was so completely annihilated. What was much more puzzling was who could have struck the relay after it had been converted. It seems unlikely the Sisters would attack their own (barring more evidence of a schism within the organization, at least), and energy weapon signatures don’t match with Minmatar tech. Which means we have at least one more player in the Thera mystery. Two possibilities spring to mind: either the Sansha or the Sleepers/Drifters. Both entities have at least some connection, however vague, to the events in Thera, but without more information from the notoriously tight-lipped humanitarian organization, we may never know for sure.
Finally, there were the remains of the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro. The supercarrier appeared to be moored at the station at the time the disaster struck. Scans of both the ship itself and GalNet archives revealed an intriguing analysis:
Surviving markings on the wreck of this Hel-class supercarrier identify it as the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro. In many places symbols of the Thukker Tribe are present along with numerous caravan markings that appear to confirm a link to the lost Lakat-Hro Great Caravan.
The presence of such a vessel in the Thera system has drawn attention to the Thukker contingent working with the Sanctuary here but no comment on the matter has been forthcoming from either party. Early delvers into the wreck’s scorched interior soon discovered that all data storage devices had been carefully purged and destructively irradiated.
Again, what caught my eye wasn’t the ship’s scorched interiors, but the fact that someone had gone through and wiped any potential data sources struck me as very odd, especially so soon after the disaster. Perhaps it was the same entity who attacked the Relay? Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sisters themselves had gone back to wipe the Matyrhan Lakat-Hro’s databanks in an effort to protect their many, many secrets. Regardless, its presence in Thera helps to highlight the close working relationship that the Thukker and Sisters enjoy. But it once again only raises more questions than answers.
As I finished my survey, I sighed, briefly debating calling it a day in Thera before remembering that if I docked in the system, I’d almost never successfully undock thanks to the omnipresent campers in the system. Capsuleers: yet another thing I could never trust in New Eden. I had always considered myself a good citizen but the rash of unexplained governmental actions taken has made me begin to question exactly where my loyalties lie. I had always supported CONCORD’s presence, seeing it as a necessary check on capsuleer power, but their refusal to act on the Drifter threat (beyond releasing panicked press releases) and, indeed, to actively cover up parts of it, has lessened my enthusiasm for the organization. And the Sisters… well, I haven’t trusted them in ages. At least with capsuleers, you know not to trust them from the start.
- Attraction: Expedition Office
- System: Thera
- Security Rating: -1
- Region: Anoikis
- Potential Hazards: Thera is well-known for being a hotbed of player activity. Despite the system size, fights break out often, and the working stations in system are often gate camped, as can the wormholes into and out of the system. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.
A persistent beeping brought me to consciousness. For a moment – just a moment – I had forgotten not only where I was but who I was. For that brief moment of awareness, I forgot about flying through the stars with only myself and my ship. I had forgotten that I was an immortal human, a paradoxical statement until even a few decades ago. I had forgotten not only the wars and the death that ground on throughout the Cluster, but also the beauty and mystery found throughout it.
And then that moment passed, and it all came rushing back to me.
The beeping, of course, was a rather insistent series of communiques, both from fellow pilots and Aura, telling me that I needed to get into my ship yesterday. The Drifters and Circadian Seekers had made their move, and it wasn’t in the direction I was expecting.
I undocked and, once again, made my way back to the no-longer-unidentified structure in my current home system of Iyen-Oursta. CONCORD had finally unveiled their initial analysis of the structures, and had concluded, as most had, that they were Jove in origin. More importantly, CONCORD has identified the structures as observatories, meant to watch the systems they were planted in, and those around them. A little unnerving, to say the least. Aura summed up the analysis in her classically succinct phrasing:
CONCORD’s analysis has revealed only scant and confusing information about this structure. Surveys of the damaged areas of the structure reveal a series of clearly powerful but functionally mysterious elements. The structure is undoubtedly Jove in origin but it is hard to determine its exact age given the advanced nature of the materials and construction. Regardless of its age, it is safe to say the structure surpasses anything we have previously seen.
As I came out of warp, the observatories loomed in the distance. Even this far out, my poor Buzzard-class frigate felt minuscule next to such a hulking structure. I enjoyed the sight of the massive yet still graceful structure before I actually figure out what had everyone up in arms. While the overall superstructure appeared intact, the observatories had three clear breaches of the hull, with each breach surrounded by slowly a expanding cloud of debris. Immediately, I needed to know what caused the breach. I knew it wasn’t capsuleer in origin, though that certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Numerous attempts, both by myself and others, could not even dent the resilient alloys used by the Jove in construction of the observatories.
I examined the breaches closely, looking for any clues as to why they were there. The breaches did not appear intended to destroy the overall observatory: instead, they appeared to be surgical strikes towards targeted area of the structures. Precisely what was being targeted in the observatory was a mystery, of course, since our own scans couldn’t even penetrate the surface. Even with the breaches, my sensors weren’t able to make heads or tails of what, if anything, was viewable in the interior. But even without knowing what the attackers were after, it was clear that the assaults targeted three areas in the observatories. The biggest breach could be found near the middle of the superstructure. The breach was near what appeared to be some vents in the observatory, and the damage is severe enough that lightning can be seen arcing through the interior of the observatory at various intervals, their bright sparks lighting up the insides for the briefest of moments.
Although I assumed that the Seekers and Drifters were behind these attacks (who else could have done this kind of targeted damage?) I waited for confirmation for a few days. Eventually, while camped out at the observatory in Iyen-Oursta, I finally saw some Circadian Seekers assault the Jove structure. It was a long-running affair, as the Seekers came out of warp near the beacon to the site, and then slow-boated the 150+ kilometers to the structure itself. Once a few kilometers from the structures, rather than using the gentle blue scan beams I had become accustomed to seeing from the Seekers, they lashed out with a brilliant orange cutting beam towards the various areas that had already been breached. After attacking the structure further, they activated a narrow white beam on the area.
At the time, I was unable to figure out exactly was the purpose of the white beam, but I now believe that this beam is a form of tractor beam. Evidence for this comes from a newly-discovered piece of equipment found in many Seeker and Drifter wrecks: the Antikythera element. Just what this piece of equipment does is unknown, and, as usual, Aura’s analysis isn’t particularly helpful:
A direct analysis reveals some vague and distorted results.
Slight external damage signals that it was detached from something else, but despite its removal, the core structure continues to thrum with a deep, surging power.
Even without proof or solid knowledge of the function of this component, it is quite clear that it forms a vital part of something much larger.
I could immediately imagine a few reasons why the Seekers would only focus on the element and not the larger machine, but each hypothesis raises its own questions. More important, in my mind at least, is whether the Jove observatories and these Antikythera elements are what the Seekers were sent out to, well, seek. That they’re hunting them down now is obvious, but is it what they were designed to do? It’s also clear that the Seekers’ threat response protocols have been repeatedly increased in recent months. Seekers, along with their Drifter brethren, have become more and more aggressive, and the most recent reports state that they’ve even begun attacking capsuleers with no provocation. Such a change in behavior is troubling indeed, and I can’t help but wonder if the Drifters have somehow assumed control of the Seekers.
I was shaken out of my reverie as the Seekers finished their excavation and warped on to their next target. I quickly managed to get my hands on my own Antikythera element. I’m not sure what good it’ll be, but I felt better knowing that I had my own copy of the mysterious device. It also felt more than a little awe-inspiring to have a piece of actual Jove tech sitting in my hanger, and not something that’s been dumbed down for the rest of the Cluster. I may have no idea what it does, but it’s my own piece of history, sitting in my own hanger. As I settled back down in my bunk to get back to sleep, I wondered what stories it had to tell.
- Attraction: Jove Observatory
- System: Various throughout known space
- Security Rating: Various throughout known space
- Region: Various throughout known space
- Potential Hazards: Both Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships will attack if you are uncloaked at the Observatories (or in other places in system). Seeker offensive strength has risen. Caution is advised.
(Editor’s note: if you’d like to read my first write-up of the only partially-decloaked unidentified structures, please see here. To see my write-up after the assault by the Seekers and Drifters, please see here.)
They’ve been listening to us. For how long? We don’t know. Why? We can only guess. Who are they? Well, that finally seems to be crystallizing. We’ve long known the Jove to take a light touch with Cluster politics. They have a knack for showing up unannounced, preening their advanced technology and, if they so deign, gifting us with a bit of it if they so desire, and then disappearing again as quickly as they arrived. Long the distant older sibling of the New Eden family, it’s become clear that the Jove have in fact kept a much closer eye on us than we have previously realized. Which brings us, of course, to the question of how they’ve been watching us. That has become more obvious in recent weeks. I had previously mentioned the appearance of partially-decloaked unidentified structures that had popped up across the Cluster. Well, those structures have now fully decloaked, and it’s now fairly clear that these structures are part of a Cluster-wide observing network. Both the media and the Sisters of Eve agree that the structures are probably Jove in origin.
These structures fit with the Jove’s general modus operandi. It’s long been rumored that the Jove have hid the remains of ancient technology surrounding the Eve Gate that far surpasses the technology of today. If the Jove are able to cloak debris and remains of this magnitude, it’s a small logical step indeed to suppose that they could also have cloaked these structures across the Cluster with us knowing nothing about them. Of course, this raises the question of why the structures are decloaking now (as well as the question of whether the rumored tech near the Eve Gate will also start appearing on our scanners). Most people seem to agree that whatever caused Caroline’s Star devastated what remained of the Jove Empire, as evidenced by the collapse of their stargate network. Why that would lead to structures spread throughout New Eden to decloak at roughly the same time is anyone’s guess, although there are a few plausible theories out there.
Whatever the reason, the structures are now here for all to see, with CONCORD already marking them with beacons for all to see. And quite a sight they are. For one, the stations are absolutely gargantuan in nature. They dwarf even a titan in size, with estimates showing that the stations are roughly 190 kilometers from top to bottom. Needless to say, Professor Science is but a mote of dust next to such a large structure. Indeed, it takes me a good one to two minutes altogether to transverse the entire structure, even with a microwarpdrive attached to my Buzzard-class ship. The power requirements to cloak such a vessel must have been enormous, even if the station was designed with cloaking in mind. Sitting next to the structure was enough to make my head spin.
But that’s nothing next to the design itself of the structure. This was the first time I’ve come in contact with anything Jove. I’ve, of course, seen pictures of Jove ships and stations. But this is the first time that I’ve seen Jove engineering up close (the Gnosis and Apotheosis excepted, of course, but it has not been clear how closely the Society of Conscious Thought and the Jovian Directorate were intertwined since the Society’s scandal with Sansha’s Nation), and the results are, understandably, stunning. The architecture is different from the almost-organic feel (which is distinct from the Gallente’s graceful organic architecture) that other Jove structures and ships have displayed. Instead, the tower, with buttress-like structures and ridges traveling up and down the observation post reminds me most of the soaring cathedrals often seen on Amarr planets. It was not an impression I was expecting from the Jove, perhaps the antithesis of the Amarr when it comes to religion, but it was the impression I got nonetheless.
It should be noted that both the Circadian Seekers and the Drifter Battleships, despite neither being strictly Jove in origin (so we think, at least), have taken a keen interest in our interactions with the observation posts. Indeed, I let myself get careless with Seekers nearby, and just heading in the structure’s general direction earned me weapons fire from the Seekers. Both types of ships seem intent on preventing interaction with the structures whenever possible, and they will not hesitate to use weapons if they are around. Not that much interaction is even possible. The structures are resistant to scans and as well as any and all communications requests, and Aura’s analysis simply notes that the structure doesn’t match anything in her database. We don’t even know if the stations are manned, for that matter. Too many questions, so few answers.
Given all we have learned in the past few months, and the even more that we haven’t, its natural to wonder exactly what has happened to the Jove. I do fear the worst for our erstwhile benefactors; it seems unlikely that they would let these Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships roam around unchallenged if the Jove were at all capable of responding to them. I’ve always been slightly disgruntled with them given their potential to improve our lives in so many ways, but it has taken this level of potential disaster in their space for me to realize that even given their hesitance to interact, I will miss them if they are gone.
- Attraction: Unidentified Structure
- System: Various throughout known space
- Security Rating: Various throughout known space
- Region: Various throughout known space
- Potential Hazards: As noted above, both Circadian Seekers and Drifter battleships, if present at unidentified structures, will attack if you try to approach while uncloaked. Caution is advised. EDIT: With the release of Scylla, Circadian Seeker drones have become stronger and more hostile. Drifter battleships have begun to pod players. Caution is strongly advised.
It’s remarkable that just six months ago, I was worried about running out of things to discuss with in my travelogue. I had seen much (though certainly not all) that there was to see, and I had been consciously spacing out my entries to prolong my writing for as long as possible. But oh how things can change. Since Caroline’s Star quite literally exploded onto the scene, I have had a plethora of things to discuss, and for the first time in quite a while, I have a sizeable backlog of sites to catalog, analyze, and explore, to the point where I feel bad that I’ve let things go for as long as I have without comment. I suspect I’m not the only one who has felt this sense of renewal in New Eden in recent days. Between Thera and various happenings in New Eden, it certainly feels to me that the plodding ship of New Eden is getting underway again.
Indeed, perhaps the most evident demonstration of this newfound momentum is the rather explosive appearance of a new faction in the Cluster. The Drifters are a mysterious, biomechanical race of beings that, if CONCORD is to be believed, are a splinter sect of the Jove… and perhaps all that remains of the Empire. Rumors surrounding the death of the Jovians have spread rampantly since Mouse Nell managed to capture a photo of what appeared to be Sansha Nation vessels stationed just off of a conquered Jove station in YC 112. Indeed, the last known communique from the Empire was that they had expelled the Sansha fleet. For the next 5 years, there has been only silence from the Jove, and the apparent collapse of much of the Jove stargate network following the appearance of Caroline’s Star only exacerbated those rumors. But CONCORD intelligence on the Drifters released to capsuleers suggests that the Empire may indeed have fallen:
Emerging from the ruins of the Sleeper civilization spread throughout Anoikis – otherwise known as ‘W-Space’ – the Drifters represent a tremendous challenge and perhaps a dire threat to the empires and capsuleers alike. Seemingly inheritors of a legacy left behind by some of the most ancient Jove, the Drifters are unafraid to wield tremendous power in response to any who get in their way. In this regard, the Drifters are a very different conundrum than the relatively benign presence that was the Jove Empire. (emphasis mine)
Perhaps the most notable thing about the Drifters is that CONCORD has determined recognized pilots in the battleships. Oddly, for all of the Drifter ships seen, there are only two pilots: Apollo Tyrannos and Artemis Tyrannos. From what data CONCORD has released about them, their appearances are the stuff of nightmares. While the Jove had always had an otherworld-y appearance about them, the result of millennia of genetic manipulation, Apollo and Artemis are another breed altogether. Their bodies are nearly completely covered in various cybernetic devices and enhancements. What functions these devices serve can only be speculated about at this point, but given their relationship to the Jove, perhaps the devices serve the same functions as what the Jove accomplished through genetic manipulation. Same ends, different means. Perhaps.
The Drifters are frightening not just for their appearance, but also for both their hostility and technological prowess. Although the Drifters have not (as of yet) begun to attack pilots at random, they have shown no hesitation in both defending themselves and protecting areas that they deem important (to date, Drifters have shown particular interest in protecting the unidentified wormholes and the unidentified structures that have popped up around the cluster) from capsuleer incursion. Drifter ships utilize a new form of propulsion that seemingly upends our understandings of physics. Rather than relying on classical concepts of propulsion (utilizing that good old law of motion that for every action there is an equal, but opposite, reaction), CONCORD analyses of the Drifter ships suggests that they interact directly with the fabric of space-time to move around. This method of propulsion evidences itself through a number of antennae at the back of the Drifter ships, with a nearly invisible field that is mostly seen by how it distorts background stars and planets when looking through it.
More importantly, the Drifters possess advanced defensive and offensive technology. Drifter battleships employ some form of dual-layer shielding system. Collapsing the first layer of shielding triggers some form of electro-magnetic pulse that forces all nearby vessels to lose target lock on the ship. And, of course, any attackers would then have to penetrate a second layer of pristine shields. Beyond the pulse, collapsing the first layer of shields also triggers an important step in Drifter rules of engagement: the deployment of their heavy weapons. Ships that do not collapse the first layer of shields are hit by weapons that CONCORD has designated as ‘lux kontos’. Once the first layer of shields drops, however, Drifter commanders authorize the use of what capsuleers have started calling ‘lux destructum’. This heavy weapon is capable of taking down capital ships in just a few shots, and has proven extremely destructive on the battlefield. However, similar to their Circadian Sleeper cousins, they also scan nearby ships and structures with their curious scanning beams.
So far, at least, Drifters appear only in systems that have or have had what CONCORD has dubbed an unidentified wormhole in them. And these wormholes, so far, have only appeared in systems with unidentified Structures in them. These unidentified wormholes are a mystery in their own right. Unlike the more common wormholes I’m well-familiar with, these wormholes, but like the ones found at Promised Land I and the various shattered star Epicenters, the unidentified wormhole here is not transversable by standard ships. However, that does not stop Drifter vessels from using the wormholes as they see fit: they can be found coming and going through the wormhole. The other side of the wormhole seems to be similar to Thera: at least from what little we can see through the spatial distortions of the wormhole. However, thorough capsuleer scans from Thera cannot find the other end of the wormholes. That may indicate that the other side of the unidentified wormholes, while not in Thera itself, may be near enough Thera’s location so as to share the same general sky.
Perhaps the oddest thing about the wormhole isn’t the hole itself, but what comes with it. The hole is bracketed by twin arrays of Sleeper structures. Each array consists of two types of structures: Sleeper Multiplex Forwarders attached to Sleeper Thermoelectric Converters. The Forwarders appear to be massive data-transfer conduits, presumably for transferring information through the wormholes, while the Converters act as the Forwarders’ power source. Exactly what is being transferred through these conduits is unknown, though given that these wormholes only appear in systems with the unidentified structures, it seems safe to assume that at least part of the bandwidth is dedicated to uploading whatever data the Drifters and Seekers discover (assuming the two factions are working together… I am admittedly uncomfortable with the amount of supposition in today’s entry).
As mentioned, the Drifters are generally not a fan of capsuleer ships snooping very close to the wormholes. However, I was able to take my bare capsule in for a look. As noted, I wasn’t able to transverse the wormhole, but I was able to get a good look through the distortions. As I was doing so, I recalled the various statements that have been made by CONCORD, the Sisters of Eve, and others, as well as the communiques we’ve received by someone claiming to be Dr. Tukoss. I’m uncomfortable with the feeling that so many people know so much more of what is going on than the general public does. What are they hiding from us? And why? Troubled, I quickly re-entered my ship and moved on before the Drifters took note of me.
- Attraction: Unidentified Wormholes
- System: Various throughout known space
- Security Rating: Various throughout known space
- Region: Various throughout known space
- Potential Hazards: As noted, Drifter battleships may be found near the wormholes and will attack with force if they see you near the wormhole (they do not attack capsules and do not attack cloaked vessels). You do not want to make Drifters angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry. Like Seekers, Drifters have followed hostile pilots through warp. Caution is advised.
Since the opening of Anoikis space almost 6 years ago, capsuleers had gained a solid practical understanding of wormhole space. Oh, there was plenty of mystery surrounding it, but the community, particularly those who lived there, had a good idea of how to take advantage of the resources available. But us pilots were not the only ones who saw the potential of Anoikis space. Imagine our surprise, not even 6 weeks ago, shortly after Caroline’s Star first made her appearance, when not only did we discover that there were new systems connected to the wormhole network, and not only did each and every one of these systems show signs of massive devastation, but that the Sisters of Eve have been inhabiting at least one of those systems. And, in fact, they’ve been doing so for quite some time. Eight Sisters’ stations, in various stages of array and disarray, can be found in a system they’ve named Thera.
This, of course, raises any number of questions. How did the Sisters even get to Thera in the first place? The wormholes between New Eden and Anoikis are fairly well-mapped, if not always well understood. If the old wormhole network connected to Thera, pod pilots would have discovered it in the 6 intervening years. So the Sisters didn’t just stumble through a wormhole to find it. Then how did they get here? And what, exactly, happened here? The devastation is evident throughout the new wormhole systems, but particularly in Thera. Over the years, the Sisters had managed to establish 8 stations throughout the massive system, and only 4 of them now remain active. The other 4 are but drifting wrecks now, and with the Sisters being characteristically tight lipped on the subject, we’re left to only speculate how these stations met their fates.
Today, I’m focusing on what I think is the most interesting of the wrecks: the remains of the Sisters’ Testing Facilities. As might be expected, information from Aura was scarce:
Apparently set up to study nearby Talocan technology, this station has been buckled and broken by numerous impacts, possibly from material thrown up from the devastated planet below. The array of Talocan static gates nearby is eerily intact and seems to be functional to some degree.
The station itself seems to be built to Gallente specifications. Close examination of the station shows the damage seemed, oddly enough, to be greatest near the docking port of the station. Almost as if there was an explosion inside the station that forced its way out, rather than from the outside in as Aura’s scans suggest. The station’s graceful rings, though no longer spinning of course, add a surprising serenity to the site, despite the near total devastation. The entire station is enclosed in a dim greenish glow that I’m not immediately able to identify, and with significant amounts of debris nearby, navigation was a hazard.
In stark contrast to the devastation wrought on the station, the nearby Talocan static gate appears almost completely untouched. The gate here is, as far as I can tell, identical to the operative ones seen in Epicenters throughout the shattered systems. Where this particular one came from is anyone’s guess: a quick visit to the Epicenter in Thera showed that none were missing there. Static gates in such good condition haven’t been seen outside of Epicenters, but the Sisters just happened to find one in a secret system? Curiouser and curiouser. I have little doubt that the Facility here was working on Talocan technology, and probably focused on unlocking the secrets of the static gates. If I thought that they had done so, I would be tempted to say that the Sisters got to Thera using the static gates, but with no indications of any functioning static gates in any previously explored systems, I still can’t figure out how the Sisters got to Thera in the first place. But that is not all that can be found at the site. About 200 kilometers from the testing facilities stands a second station, which Aura calls an Exotic Specimen Warehouse. Per Aura:
Wrecked and battered, though largely intact, this station and its neighbor must originally have been sheltered in the lee of the planet to some extent. Disruption of orbital mechanics in this system make it difficult to be sure but the proximity of Thera III to the central star and the survival of recognizable station ruins requires an explanation of this kind. Some have suggested wilder theories concerning the nearby Talocan technology. The station itself seems to have functioned as a vast storehouse of materials and specimens gathered from the core of the system. Not much remains and large quantities of radioactive fullerene gas seem to have bled from the ruptured storage vessels.
Encased in the same debris and eerie green glow, which I now knew was the aforementioned radioactive fullerene gas, the Warehouse gave few clues as to the other materials it held. The station itself was heavily damaged and cratered. Although we have no indication of exactly when the devastation wracked Thera, given news reports, it seems likely the devastation was recent. Given how silent the station is now, the thought that just weeks ago these two stations were teeming with life and science is a bit too morbid for my tastes.
Events seem to be accelerating quickly these days. So much so that at times I can hardly keep up. But I suspect the mysteries surrounding Thera are going to be with us for a while. I heard it once said that there 4 kinds of information: the information we know we know, the information we don’t know we know, the information we know we don’t know, and the information we don’t know we don’t know. With the events surrounding Caroline’s Star and Thera, mysteries still abound but at least we’re moving items from the ‘information we don’t know we don’t know’ category to the ‘information we know we don’t know category.’ It’s not the most heartwarming of realizations, but in times like these, I’ll take what I can get.
- Attraction: Testing Facilities
- System: Thera
- Security Rating: -1
- Region: Anoikis
- Potential Hazards: Thera is well-known for being a hotbed of player activity. Despite the system size, fights break out often, and the working stations in system are often gate camped, as can the wormholes into and out of the system. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.
There are worse things in the world than having too many things that interest you. Surely you know that feeling of wishing you had more eyes in your head or more hours in the day just to make sure you were able to keep up with all that was going on around you. Between planetside concerns, keeping up with friends, ongoing presidential elections, concerning changes in Sleeper behavior, and my own personal treasure hunt, it was all too easy to forget that I had promised myself that I would visit and scan every new Anoikis system that has become accessible since Caroline’s Star appeared. I haven’t even yet reached 10% of that goal, but the things that I have seen so far have been absolutely fascinating. The new systems appear to have suffered absolutely catastrophic damage. If we thought the Seyllin Incident was devastating, these systems appeared to have suffered disasters exponentially worse. Not only were the first planets destroyed, but all planets in almost every so-called shattered system have been, well, shattered (the one partial exception to this has been the newly-discovered Thera system, where only planets out to 70 AU have been so cataclysmically damaged).
But more importantly for my purposes, every system I’ve visited (and, from all reports, every shattered system in general) has another thing in common: they all have Epicenters. These are gigantic sites, sprawling across over 100 kilometers of open space within a million kilometers of the local star. And they offered such tantalizing clues into both the Sleepers and the Talocan, civilizations about which we still know far too little. My fellow explorer, friend, and researcher into the events surrounding Seyllin, Rhavas, has been practically giddy since the Epicenters were first discovered, putting together a speculative tour de force as to what the Epicenters may actually mean. But, as per my usual tendencies, I will try to stay towards what we can consider facts, and let others make their own judgments as to what those facts suggest.
The first thing I noticed about the first Epicenter I discovered (deep in J012402) was how, even moreso than many other Anoikis sites I’ve seen, the Epicenter demonstrates a melding of both Talocan and Sleeper components. Many of the traditional Sleeper stations can be found at Epicenters, such as enclaves, preservation conduits, and thermoelectric converters. You can find these kinds of buildings within almost any Sleeper site in Anoikis, and wormhole denizens would almost find them boring background objects at this point, they are so plentiful. Somewhat rarer, however, are the Talocan structures interspersed throughout. Though any Anoikis inhabitants are bound to be familiar with Talocan polestars and disruption towers, they are not quite as common as the Sleeper structures. Although Talocan and Sleeper structures intermingling like this is a common sight, we still have precious little information on the nature of the relationship between the Talocan and Sleeper civilizations.
Perhaps the most exciting discovery found at Epicenters, however, are the discovery of what are almost certainly working-examples of Talocan technology. It’s been long known that the Talocan are masters of hypereuclidean mathematics and spatial manipulation. And their disruption towers and static gates have long hinted at the Talocan’s ability to utilize a different form of long-distance transportation, separate from our stargate network. But what the Epicenters offer are working (or nearly so) examples of the Talocan tech in action. Four Talocan static gates tied together with a disruption tower appeared capable of opening a spatial rift to another location. Along with these rifts, various violent wormholes can be found interspersed within the Epicenter complex, though they are unusable by our ships.
If violent wormholes sound familiar to you, they should: another one has long been found in Promised Land as a leftover of the Sansha invasion of Yulai back in YC 113. Oddly, all the violent wormholes in Epicenters (along with the one in Promised Land) seem to point to somewhere in Pure Blind, given the nebulae we can see through the wormholes. Although I long ago conducted a survey of Pure Blind, I was never able to find any indication of where the other side of the wormhole in Promised Land was. We have long known that Sansha has had the ability to create wormholes of his own. Back in YC 112 and 113, he used this technology to wreak havoc and spread terror across New Eden, as system after system came under attack, with millions of civilians taken by his vessels. Today, he primarily uses this technology to attempt to stop capsuleers through his incursions. We’ve long wondered where Sansha has gotten this technology, and the discovery of these systems strongly suggests that Sansha and his minions were able to reverse engineer how these devices work. With the ability to open a wormhole into any system, it would only be a matter of time before he set his sights on New Eden.
But I’m wandering back into the realm of speculation here, aren’t I?
The last notable piece of the Epicenter puzzle are the presence of Sleeper drones. The drones themselves are not particularly notable, but the fact that they hang back as far as they do is. I admittedly did not have the ability to engage the drones when I visited the Epicenters (and given the Circadian Seeker’s increased hostility to aggressive capsuleers as of late, perhaps this was for the best), but it very much seemed as if the drones were guarding the Talocan polestars. Most archeologists agree that polestars were the center of Talocan civilization, and to find the drones focusing their patrol routes around the polestars, always found on the far side of the Epicenter from the star in my experience, suggests yet another connection between the two civilizations.
In my travels, I find myself repeatedly spending a lot of time at the Epicenters. Many of them are similar, if not identical, in appearance from system to system, but I can’t help but get swept away by the beauty of them, and the tantalizing hints that they offer. As I threaded my way amongst the various structures, I felt like I could actually feel the heartbeat of these ancient civilizations. And they stand as testaments to both the Sleepers and the Talocan. The civilizations are long dead, but their technology lives on. Considering the devastation wrought in these shattered systems, that is indeed saying something. I can only hope that the current crop of New Eden civilizations can build something that withstand the test of time even half as well as the Sleepers and the Talocan.
- Attraction: Epicenter
- System: In shattered systems, or Thera and any other wormhole system whose name starts with a J0xxxxx
- Security Rating: -1
- Region: Anoikis
- Potential Hazards: Epicenters can only be found in Anoikis, or wormhole space. As such, it is impossible to see in local chat if any other players are present in the system with you. As noted in the entry, Sleeper drones can also be found at the Epicenters. Caution (and cloakable ships) are strongly advised.
(Editor’s Note: The Unidentified Structures have undergone a few changes since this entry. To see my entry on the uncloaking of the structures, please see here. To see my entry on their assault by the Seekers and Drifters, please see here).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Editor’s note: The source of the star has since been tracked down to W477-P, a system in the Jove regions and, as of now, inaccessible to capsuleers.
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.
- Attraction: Caroline’s Star
- System: W477-P
- Security Rating: Unknown
- Region: UUA-F4
- Potential Hazards: Unknown for now.
The following is a Scope Special Report.
YULAI, Sanctum- Yulai stood aghast this week as, just days following an invasion into the heart of CONCORD-controlled space, five constellations went dark as the Sansha Nation initiated simultaneous incursions in what is believed to be the single largest offensive in the history of New Eden. Despite the shutdown of official means of communications, stories quickly spread as capsuleers, crews, and civilian vessels fled the scenes, causing mass chaos. Even CONCORD-patrolled space was not immune from the Nation’s reach, as Algintal, a constellation in the Gallente Federation, fell completely dark for several minutes before officials were able to re-establish contact through emergency channels.
CONCORD officials reacted swiftly to the news. After a hastily convened Inner Circle closed session, CONCORD quickly announced measures the peacekeeping force has taken, as well as new legislation authorizing capsuleer response to these so-called incursions. The quick turnaround time on the legislation, as well as immediate upgrades to capsuleer software in their ships, have lead some to believe that there were those in CONCORD who have been expecting this to come. Indeed, some Inner Circle observers have referred to the so-called “Operation Ishaeka” as evidence that CONCORD has had information regarding the Sansha movements for some time, and yet has taken little to no action before now. These observers have referenced CONCORD’s inability (or, at least to some observers, CONCORD’s unwillingness) to respond to prior Sansha invasions, even when concentrated to only one system, as proof of some kind of détente between Yulai and the Nation, while others argue that this simply shows how capsuleer forces are better able to handle the situation.
Meanwhile, reports on the situation within Sansha-controlled space have been few and far between. Federation officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as they are unauthorized to speak for the Federation, expressed surprise as the first reports from Sansha-affected space came in to Luminaire. Said one: “They’ve managed to infiltrate everything. All the various financial and administrative control systems we thought were secure have proven not to be. I don’t know where they managed to develop their hacking software, but its years ahead of anything either the Federation or the other empires have been able to produce.”
Initial reports indicate that after Nation forces move into a constellation, they quickly overwhelm many software safeguards in place around financial systems and protective measures. Gallente intelligence reports show that these Sansha forces are stronger than many other non-capsuleer forces that capsuleer forces have encountered before. Initial threat assessments show that even the weakest sites should not be handled by less than five to ten capsuleers. Reports also refer to money being diverted from CONCORD accounts traditionally paid for bounties on known criminals to Sansha bank accounts instead of capsuleer accounts, demonstrating an ability to hack into Secure Commerce Commission accounts. Similarly, the Sansha have been able to quickly establish cyno-jammers in null and low security systems, preventing capital ships from jumping in to join the fight. Early reports even indicate an ability to hamper, though not destroy, capsuleer-piloted vessels by reducing armor and shield resistances, as well as damage output. Strangely, these setbacks appear to affect at least some Sansha ships themselves, which some have suggested are indicative that the exploits that the Sansha are using are endemic to all capsuleer technology, and cannot be turned on and off at will by any particular ship.
Despite early CONCORD reaction to the recent incursions, many have criticized what they see as non-action by the Directive Enforcement Division, the enforcement arm of CONCORD responsible for keeping the peace beyond planetary atmospheres. CONCORD spokesmen were quick to respond to the accusations. Said DED spokeswoman Ruera Penthe, “CONCORD is working closely with capsuleer forces. The DED has made the determination that capsuleer forces are better able to respond to fluid situations, while DED ships maintain their customary peacekeeping roles. However, recent legislation by the Inner Circle has authorized CONCORD to hand out ISK to capsuleers and open private CONCORD materiel stores to capsuleers who have worked with us to resist the Sansha threat. We thank all pilots for what they’ve done so far to ensure the safety and security of all citizens of New Eden, and we look forward to cooperating and planning offensive and defensive operations in the future.”
There are at least some indications, however, that CONCORD’s trust in the capsuleer community is misplaced. Since the legislation authorizing capsuleer response to the Sansha incursions, reports have come to light that while many capsuleers have taken up arms against the Sansha, a number of capsuleer corporations and individuals are either sympathetic to Nation causes, or at least excited for the prospect of wreaking havoc. Some, mostly in the null security space beyond CONCORD jurisdiction, appear to not care about the incursions at all and are, so far, ignoring them, letting Nation forces fulfill their plans without resistance. Reports of outright defense of Sansha ships by capsuleer supporters are few and far between. However, there have been a number of reports of capsuleers joining fleets with so-called “logistics ships” (a capsuleer term to refer to ships that are able to support either shields or armor repairers to help other vessels) only to find that another logistics ship that they were trying to help will violate CONCORD rules, triggering CONCORD’s automatic threat elimination response. These responses will destroy not just the offender’s ship, but also those who were repairing the defender, meaning that even well-intentioned and dedicated capsuleers to lose their vessels. Questioned on this apparent defect, Penthe responded: “Since these incursions have begun, DED has begun re-evaluating it’s threat detection and response procedures in response to capsuleer concerns. However, due to the essential nature of these software changes, DED is unwilling to give any kind of time frame on when improved software may be deployed to prevent this situation in the future. In the meantime, DED strongly advises all capsuleers to only join fleets with others you know and trust.” Furthermore, in order to prompt capsuleer participation, DED has released the standard message sent to all capsuleers when entering an incursion constellation, giving some insights into CONCORD’s defensive strategy:
Attention all capsuleers: Sansha’s Nation forces have staged an incursion of the  constellation. Local empire navies are standing by to protect against planetary abductions. Reinforcements are required to actively remove the threat.
CONCORD has created this channel to aid in the organization of capsuleer fleets willing to fight the Sansha. All pilots who offer assistance will be rewarded.
Authorized by Operation Ishaeka Commander Vieve Creston, DED Special Operations. CONCORD cannot guarantee the operational security of this channel. Attendants are advised to use caution when sharing intelligence.
While this is by far the largest coordinated Sansha incursion, this is not the first time Sansha Kuvakei or his forces have invaded the cluster. The CONCORD Directive Intelligence Agency has released background information regarding Sansha Kuvakei and his history. Kuvakei’s motives are as of yet unclear, but ever since his return last year, his ire appears principally directed at the capsuleer community. However, in order to achieve his goals, he has been known to abduct planetary citizens. To date, such abductions number into the millions, despite heavy capsuleer resistance to any and all Sansha incursions even prior to the current breakout of hostilities. In recent weeks, however, Nation tactics appeared to change. In last weekend’s attack on Yulai, most Sansha forces appeared to ignore the inhabited planets in favor extracting plasma from Yulai itself. The Nation’s intentions with the solar plasma is as of yet unknown.
In the meantime, CONCORD advises all spacefaring and planet-bound citizens to be aware of their surroundings. CONCORD has already deployed new software to all capsuleer vessels to alert them when entering Sansha-controlled space, while planet-bound citizens are advised to keep watching newsfeeds to determine if a Sansha incursion is occurring nearby. Penthe, the DED spokeswoman appeared to acknowledge CONCORD’s limited ability to respond to the Nation threat, “All we can do is give out the information and alert as many people as possible. Watch your neocoms. Know where you’re going, and where the Sansha are currently active. The rest, unfortunately, is up to the citizens of the cluster.”
This has been a Scope Special Report.
- Sansha infested systems can be found anywhere, and at any time. It’s strongly encouraged to check whether your routes take you through Sansha space.
- As noted in the story, effects in Sansha controlled space can be severe. These include a halving of all damage outputs, as well as lower shield and armor resistances. NPC bounties of non-Incursion sites are cut in half while an incursion is active in the constellation. Null and low sec space will be cynojammed.
- There’ve been too many stories of people fleeting up with strangers only to have CONCORD’s aggression mechanics used against them. Beware of who you’re fleeting with. (UPDATE: With the release of the latest Incursion patch, CONCORD will no longer respond to remote repping issues, as you can no longer remote rep anyone with a GCC. Once a person triggers GCC, any reppers on him will shut off, and the GCC’d person will get CONCORDed, but the reppers will not).
- These are not for the solo players. These sites were specifically designed to be done in groups. Your journal can show recommended force sizes, as well as isk payouts from completed sites.