Sightseeing in the Cluster

Posts tagged “Essence

Old Man Darieux’s Stargate

For the record, Professor Science's 3992c top speed equals warp 9.969 on the Star Trek TNG warp scale, making it faster than the Enterprise-D (warp 9.6) but slightly slower than Voyager (warp 9.975)
The haphazard assemblage of the gate between Old Man Star and Villore.

As the cliché goes, space is vast. Frankly, its easy to forget that these days. It takes light more than a century to cross the expanse of New Eden, something that I can do in a little over an hour with Professor Science, assuming no gate camps or other ne’er-do-wells. What makes this possible, of course, isn’t our Sotiyo-Urbaata drives (more colloquially known as the warp drive). Professor Science’s warp drive tops out at a hair under 4,000 times the speed of light. Even at that jaw-dropping speed, it would take me more than 9 days to travel the roughly 100 light-year diameter of New Eden, and that’s before we even begin to take into account needing to drop out of warp every few hundred AU’s to recharge the capacitor. That kind of travel time across the Cluster would give a very different feel to the geopolitics of New Eden.

Bless you Wolfram Alpha for knowing exactly what inane FTL speed translations I was looking for lol
A closer look at the cables holding the gate in alignment.

No, what makes New Eden’s 100 light-years feel so small is the presence of stargates, a revolutionary device that can fling you a dozen light-years in the span of a few seconds using a stabilized wormhole. Even having to travel “slowly” (I say, flying my spaceship capable of flying thousands of times the speed of light) between gates, the ability of the gates to bring travel time between systems down to mere seconds is what makes New Eden feel, at times, so claustrophobic. Throw in jumpdrives and you get ability for force projection almost anywhere in the cluster at almost any scale within only a few minutes of getting the ships launched. And thus we have the posturing frequently seen between both null sec alliances and the modern empires.

After the battle of Vak'Atioth, this was the site I was most excited for when I heard the announcement of the sites being dropped.
A view of the gate-builder ship partially cannibalized to complete construction of the gate.

What’s key to remember about stargates, however, is that, aside for a few ancient stargates that allowed the modern empires of New Eden to reverse engineer the technology, the gates had to come from somewhere. If an empire is looking to expand to a system not already connected to the gate network, a construction ship needs to get to that new system in order to build the companion stargate. Because of quirks of how the warp drive navigates at FTL speeds, using the warp drive between systems generally isn’t (to my continual surprise) as reliable as some may assume, sometimes leaving as the only real option something that almost any capsuleer dreads to hear: slowboating, or traveling at sublight speeds to get to a destination. If reduced to that, it can sometimes take years to get a construction ship to the new system and then to get the gate built.

Also wordpress is being real weird today and not letting me see the captions, so if I have typo there, sorry (but also: I know I have typos everywhere so I guess also... not sorry?)
A closer view of the gate and the surrounding infrastructure.

If space travel has taught us anything, if something can go wrong, it eventually will, regardless of the precautions you take. And so it was with the ill-fated expedition to build a stargate from the Gallente capital system of Villore to the system of Ouperia, leading to an event now indelibly linked to the gestalt of New Eden. But if space travel has taught us, say, two things, it’s that even in the midst of disaster, humanity has a weird way of… persevering. Because rather than let disaster stand in his way, the sole survivor of a massive disaster not only survived, but completed his mission, if only a few decades too late. And it’s his perseverance that today allows nearly instantaneous travel between Villore and the system known today as Old Man Star. But let’s let Aura tell the tale:

I really love how desolate this shot seems.

Old Man Star to Villore

A unique stargate constructed by Ceul ‘Old Man’ Darieux using a fleet of drones of his own design, following a disastrous navigation accident that left him as the sole survivor of a Federation gate-building expedition.

In YC11, a Gallente gate-builder vessel was sent to construct a link between the then Ouperia system and Villore. A critical error in the gate-builder ship’s jump drive navigation systems placed the ship several light years off course, in the middle of an asteroid cluster. In the confused aftermath, an asteroid struck the vessel and killed four of the five crew. Ceul Darieux was left with the daunting task of regaining control of the ship and somehow completing his mission or returning home.

The story of OMS is probably one of the most well-known chronicles, even to non-lore nerds

Given the relative distances, Darieux decided to press on to Ouperia, though without the benefit of a functional jump drive the journey would take decades. In YC55, the gate-builder ship arrived in system and the work of building a new gate back to Villore could begin. The effort to correct the ship’s flight path had been difficult but hardly took four decades. With the time on his hands, Darieux, knowing he would need help, had worked to design tools and drones to replace the materiel and crew lost in the accident.

I also appreciate that the ship is very clearly of gallente design lol

Setting up a drone assembly station on a conveniently located asteroid in Ourperia, Ceul Darieux managed to use a combination of intact gate components, drone-built replacements and cannibalized elements of the ship’s systems to construct a functional stargate back to Villore. The labor he and his drones carried out took five years but was a remarkable success given the disaster and long decades of Darieux’s solitude.

In YC60, the Federation was astounded when the dormant Villore-Ouperia gate activated and established a stabilized gate wormhole to the abandoned Ouperia system. The stripped-down and patched-up core of the gate-builder ship carried the now elderly Darieux and some of his drone crew back to Villore to a hero’s welcome. Old Man Darieux went on to found the CreoDron corporation on the strength of his designs and fame, while the Ouperia system was renamed “Old Man Star” in his honor.

Although much upgraded, the original Old Man Star to Villore gate is still located within the cleared and stabilized cluster of asteroids Darieux used to as a base and source of materials. CreoDron drones continue to watch over the stargate, maintaining its systems and ensuring the stability of the link to Villore.

Oh, also, CSM voting starts Tuesday. If you're reading this, you should go vote!
The bridge of the old gate-builder ship, with computer panels still active.

For a split second after coming out of warp in Old Man Star, you might be forgiven for thinking this is a normal Gallente gate as the soothing Gallente-green glow of the gate is the first thing that becomes apparent. But any level of examination after that initial reaction will show that this is a very different gate indeed. Instead of the graceful, almost organic lines traditionally associated with Gallente architecture, the gate looks much more akin to something of Minmatar make. In lieu of the long and elegant traditional design of a Gallente intraconstellation gate, the gate aperture is instead anchored to one large asteroid and a half dozen smaller ones, all kept in alignment with a series of heavy-duty cables strung across the gate complex. Other small asteroids sit nearby, their positions long-ago stabilized within the gravitational resonance point associated with the gate.

It feels a bit weird writing like this has always been this way when it's a brand new gate model but WHATEVER.
Although upgraded heavily since, the gate’s appearance remains the same as when it was first activated.

In addition to the gate itself, the remains of Darieux’s gate-builder ship remains quite obvious. Although the ship was heavily cannibalized to construct the hodgepodge stargate, the ship is quite recognizable, permanently set down on the largest of the asteroids used to stabilize the gate. Although many of the essential parts of the ship were used to construct the gate, it’s obvious that power still runs throughout the ship, with glowing control panels and sparking wires still quite evident even 60 years later. On close inspection of the ship, you can even find the remains of the bridge from which Darieux supervised his drones in the construction of the gate. It’s also said that you can see the fleets of modern drones that still maintain the gate, although I wasn’t able to observe them myself when I visited.

An Ashimmu tried kinda hard to decloak me while taking pics and I was basically just like NOT TODAY SIR.
A traveler through the gate arrives from Villore.

I think it’s important to have gates like the one in Old Man Star, and stories like Darieux’s. They serve as an important reminder that we should never take the dangers of space travel for granted. The deep dark is always out there, sitting only a few meters away from you at almost any given time, and all that keeps you safe are the alloys and plastics between you and the vacuum. But the gate also serves as a source of inspiration, a true success story in the face of utter catastrophe. Even when things are at their most grim and a person is stranded light-years away from anything they’ve ever known, as long as they’re alive, there’s a chance to succeed. Space may indeed be vast, but not nearly as vast as the source of human perseverance.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Old Man Darieux’s Stargate
  • System: Old Man Star (née Ouperia)
  • Security Rating: 0.3
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: Old Man Star is only one jump from high sec space (from Villore, of course), but the low security system itself has long been a popular system for player pirates who will often hang out on or near the gate. If you’re looking to take a close or extended look at the gate, I strongly recommend a cloaked ship, and caution is advised.

Federation Grand Prix Starting Line

Oh look, the travel and sightseeing guy likes things that make people travel and sightsee. Imagine that!
The starting line for the Federation Grand Prix

I suspect none of my readers will be particularly surprised to learn that the Federation Grand Prix holds a special place in my heart. An event whose apparent purpose is to force capsuleers to visit and at least briefly consider major landmarks across high sec, low sec, and null? It’s like the Federation was specifically thinking of me when it decided to start holding the yearly event. The event, held for 2 weeks each year, has morphed from humble beginnings. Back in YC120, the event only involved flying to 1 of 13 different sites within 2 dozen jumps of Luminaire. This year, the event had capsuleers flying (at least) one of 3 long-distance routes across the North, South, and East of New Eden. Each route had numerous points of interest (most, if not all, of which have been covered elsewhere on Eve Travel!) along the way, and while there was no fixed route a pilot had to take (only key systems you had to fly through), even the shortest routes took over 100 jumps to complete, at least assuming that you didn’t luck out with some conveniently placed wormhole shortcuts.

Spinny rings go spin.
I’ve always enjoyed this Gallente station design.

Each of those routes, however, start from the same place: The Federation Grand Prix Starting Line in orbit of Gallente Prime in Luminaire. The starting line has grown over the years, and is now a permanent feature in Luminaire. Dominating the landscape by far when you first warp in is my favorite design of Gallente station. Aura tells me it is a Gallente logistics hub, but I always think of it as the tri-ring. If I’m not careful, I can spend quite a while watching the graceful rotation of those toroids. The tri-ring station serves as the administrative hub for the Grand Prix and its associated bureaucrats (because what kind of Gallente event doesn’t have an army of bureaucrats behind it?), but also serves as the backstop behind the true starting line.

No, you can't dock here.
Some of the repair docks for participating ships.

In front of the tri-ring station, a few repair docks sit ready for ships that may need a last-minute tune-up before undertaking one of the routes. Immediately in front of those repair docks is the starting line itself. In true Gallente fashion, the starting line flag is a set of billboards constantly displaying ads from the many sponsors of the Grand Prix, as well as other organizations. The Caldari may be the ones known for megacorporations controlling every aspect of life, but trust me when I say that Gallente capitalism isn’t all that far behind. I have to admit that I miss the traditional checkered flags that should mark the start of the Grand Prix, but who am I to stand in the way of that advertising revenue.

Nor can you dock at the pleasure hub (and you knew I couldn't not mention the pleasure hub)
A view from one of the domes of the nearby pleasure hub. Some of the viewing stands can be seen in the distance.

Speaking of that special brand of Gallente capitalism, a number of sponsored viewing stands can be found to the sides of the starting line. Although the stands provide an expansive view of the area, with wide observation domes offering a 360-degree view, I can’t imagine there is actually all that much to see other than ships occasionally warping in, getting their routes, and then starting off again (indeed, viewers from these stands don’t even get to see the ships that finish: a more temporary Grand Prix finish line is generally set up elsewhere in the system to process the pilots that finish the race). I have little doubt that drinks and other substances flow freely within those observation domes, which perhaps adds to the excitement of the event. For those for whom the Grand Prix is even less interesting, a traditional Gallente pleasure hub also awaits to serve those needs.

I'll try to come back and update this when the monument gets updated.
The monument of the champions of the Grand Prix.

The final sight at the starting line is the monument intended to commemorate the participants in the Grand Prix who completed the route the most quickly. The Champions of the Federation Grand Prix YC123 monuments is a traditional memorial plinth that stands opposite of the aforementioned pleasure hub. Although, as of the time of this entry, it has yet to be updated for the champions of the most recent Grand Prix, it still has a few things to say:

This monument has been erected to honor the Capsuleers who achieve the fastest completion times in the Federation Grand Prix courses.

Once the YC 123 Federation Grand Prix has finished this monument will be inscribed with the list of top ten racers for each circuit in this year’s event.

Off on an ADVENTURE.
And Professor Science is off!

I’m particularly glad the Federation has taken to promoting tourism not just within the Federation, but across the cluster. There is a legacy in New Eden that reaches across both the capsuleer and non-capsuleer populations that deserves to be acknowledged, and taking a few weeks a year to let people discover that legacy for themselves, particularly when they may not otherwise, is a fine way to encourage us all to learn about our history. Again, it’s probably not surprising that I support initiatives such as these, but I always love opportunities for a new portion of the population to discover the past of New Eden. So for those of you who are new to exploring New Eden’s history or until now have not given it much thought: welcome! Let’s see what’s out there, shall we?

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Federation Grand Prix Starting Line
  • System: Luminaire
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Unmarked Operation

Operations 1

A vessel near the operation ferries supplies.

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

Operations 2

A closer view of the listening posts.

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

Operations 3

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

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

Please be advised:

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

Operations 4

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

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

Operations 5

A side view of the bunker at the site.

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

Operations 6

The purpose of this site is still unknown.

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

Basic Information:

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

Operation Highlander Battleground

Caldari Prime 1

The impact site of the Caldari titan Shiigeru.

The odd thing about history is that all so often it quantifies things while losing the quality.  Think back to your history classes.  We learn names, and important dates.  But we so rarely learn the human qualities of history.  What people knew, what people felt.  History has that odd quality.  Even looking back at the Seyllin Incident, it’s much easier to remember that 500 million people died than it is to remember the sheer horror I felt that day as the news continued to roll in.  Human memory has the tendency of sanitizing horrors like that, undoubtedly a safety mechanism of some kind. And us capsuleers are no different. We rarely think about the horrors inflicted onto the crews of the ships we destroy; and when we do, we try to forget as quickly as possible. It’s just the human condition, be us mortal or capsuleer.

Caldari Prime 2

Professor Science observes the devastation from orbit.

Still, that doesn’t mean I want to forget the horrors of Caldari Prime. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story by now. The Caldari titan Shiigeru, was, depending on the point of view, either a symbol of hope or terror. Tensions had long been building on the surface. This was one of those situations where, objectively speaking, both sides had a legitimate grievance (much as it pays me to say it as a loyal Gallente). On the one hand, the Caldari had reconquered its undisputed homeworld through much blood, sweat, and tears, and they had every right to want to protect it. On the other, it was simply intolerable to the Federation that an armed, 7 kilometer machine of death was sitting mere seconds away from the very heart of the Gallente. The loss of Gallente Prime to the Federation would be simply incalculable. And so, the two sides sat in an uneasy balance. The Caldari unwilling to give up its homeland, the Federation unwilling to risk a fight so close to Gallente Prime.

The devastation from the impact covers 1.2 million square kilometers.

The devastation from the impact covers 1.2 million square kilometers.

But once the Caldari made the decision, after days of unrest, to move Shiigeru to low orbit, the Federation was forced to deploy. And thus began Operation Highlander. With CONCORD essentially declaring a state of emergency, havoc let loose both in orbit and on Caldari Prime itself. While Gallente forces seemed to dominate in the pitched space battle, it seems that Caldari forces held the upper hand on their homeworld. Things seemed to be reaching yet another stalemate when something never before seen in high security space occurred: Shiigeru died. While titans dying in null security space is relatively boring news these days, never have the denizens of high security space seen such a spectacle. The massive vessel simply broke in half, and the second half of the ship was destroyed. In many capsuleer battles, this would be the end of the story. But because Shiigeru was so close to the planet, the remaining half came crashing down onto Caldari Prime.

Caldari Prime 4

The devastation can even be seen from high orbit.

The result, as you might expect from millions of tons of metal, was complete devastation.  The ship came down 700 kilometers west of Caldari Prime’s second largest city, Arcurio, whilst teams from both nations were still fighting on the surface. The impact was so strong that buildings came down in Arcurio, and the entire planet needed to undergo intense environmental decontamination. The impact crater, with titanium diborite fires still raging even weeks later, can be seen from orbit, a chilling reminder of the effects us capsuleers can have. In total, some 1.2 million square kilometers near the southern end of the Kaalakiota Peaks were completely wiped off the map. It remains a minor miracle that the ship didn’t land closer to Arcurio itself.

Caldari Prime 5

But even from this kind of cataclysm, hope springs eternal.

However, despite all of the death and destruction, some hope comes from this. After years of tensions over Caldari Prime, the State and Federation have agreed to demilitarize the planet. Oddly enough, the eccentric mercenaries Mordu’s Legion will now provide planetary security on Caldari Prime. Furthermore, this also demonstrates the first mass-revolt against Tibus Heth’s reign in Caldari politics. Despite Heth’s continued railings against the demilitarization agreement, the megacorporations agreed to abide by the terms proposed by Ishukone. Perhaps now, for the first time in years, peace can come to Caldari Prime. Perhaps history will mark this as a turning point in State-Federal relations, even as it works, as it always does, to sanitize it for the history books.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction:  Operation Highlander Battleground, Caldari Prime
  • System: Luminaire
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Caldari Monument

Guys I am SUPER EXCITED for Odyssey

A monument to Caldari architecture

It’s been an eventful few weeks in New Eden for both myself and the empires, not to mention capsuleers.  Which of course means that the accursed planetside business that we all loath but must take care of on a regular basis decided that now is an appropriate time to rear its ugly head.  So sadly, my space-based activities have been severely curtailed in recent days, for better or for worse.  But I was not about to let a little thing like “serious business” get in the way of my explorations.  And so, I was set to go out on another excursion.  Before I left, however, I had decided to stop by my home system of Luminaire, having heard the rumblings of unrest on Caldari Prime.  When I got there originally, the situation was tense but stable.  After poking my news sources for a few minutes, I was about to get underway when something else caught my eye  Something unexpected.  I quickly banked the Professor and set course for about an AU out from Caldari Prime.

And thanks for CCP for the Community Spotlight.  I feel like an idiot for not being able to post sooner after it was posted, but RL will be the death of me :-(

The asymmetrical lines of the Caldari Station are recognizable to all.

And yet my eyes hadn’t deceived me.  There, well outside of Caldari orbital space, in the cultural of the Federation, sat a monument to the Caldari.  I was half surprised that the Federation allowed it to be kept up, given the unfortunate history between the two states and the more recent tensions that have arisen, and yet another part of me would have been upset if the government had taken it down.  The Federation may be many things, but we respect where we came from.  If we didn’t have the Rouvenors to get started with the Enlightenment, we could just have easily turned out to be some no-name tribe still stuck on Gallente Prime, instead of the cluster-wide power we turned out to be.  And in order to continue being that kind of power, we have to remember what, exactly, it was that brought us to where we are today.  So I, for one, am happy that the Federation has decided to keep the Caldari Monument up.  The Caldari secession was a painful time for the Federation, but it strengthened our resolve and brought about many reforms that are still in place to this day.

But hopefully Odyssey will get me playing more regularly!be just what the doctor ordered

The home systems of the Caldari are visible near the blueish nebula

But philosophical musings aside, the monument itself is fairly straight forward.  An old Caldari station dominates the scene.  As with most ruins, it’s been picked clean in the years since the Caldari evacuated from Luminaire, but the harsh and often chaotic lines of Caldari architecture are still very recognizable.  I never quite understood the Caldari love of asymmetrical structures with odd protuberances from every surface, but I guess I wasn’t exactly brought up in the Caldari tradition either.  In any case, the relic of the pre-secession days still sits out here, in the middle of nowhere, slowly deteriorating in space.  A cloud of debris suffuses the entire area, nearly the same color as the Caldari-home nebula that can be seen even from Gallente Prime.  Fitting, I suppose.

Mostly put here because we haven't seen the good Professor in a while

Professor Science heads in for a closer look

The other notable object at the monument strikes me as a bit odd.  It should look familiar to anyone familiar with Amarrian history, but the fact that there is a ruined temple monument here is odd nonetheless.  Although obviously the Amarr and Caldari are close allies nowadays, this certainly was not only the case.  Indeed, the alliance originally started as little more than a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type strategic decision, as the Caldari were being hardpressed by the Gallente when the Amarr and Gallente stumbled into each other.  Still, the Caldari do have a bit of a spiritual side, if substantially less developed then, say, the Amarrian tradition, but it’s odd to see such a prominent display of it at a Caldari memorial.

A little short this week, but I still like the entry.

Luminaire shines through the towers of the Caldari station

I didn’t spend a long time at the monument.  I had seen Caldari stations before and I will undoubtedly see them again.  Caldari station ruins can be found throughout both Caldari and Gallente space, evidencing the oddly mutually-dependent if antagonistic relationship the two nations have had with each other nearly from the moment of first contact.  The histories of the Gallente and Caldari are irrevocably intertwined, no matter how much factions on each side wish it weren’t so.  And so I, for one, am happy that the Federation government has chosen to maintain this monument as a recognition that even though we’ve come so far, we still have a long way to go before the Federation truly lives up to its ideals.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction:  Caldari Monument
  • System: Luminaire
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Mysterious Probe


This beacon has only recently appeared in Charmerout

In my line of work, it’s rare to find something that’s actually new. Oh, there are plenty of sites that are new to me, of course (and I hope to keep finding new ones for a long, long time), but rarely are there sites that are absolutely new. When they are, they’re normally found in sites of catastrophic destruction, either in the scenes of battle or attacks against innocent civilians. Because these are the things that we humans feel the need to demarcate in some way. These are the things we generally feel a need to remember, lest we forget and have history repeat itself yet again. It’s an entirely understandable and cathartic way, uniquely human in many respects, to remind ourselves of who we are, and where we come from. Of course when you’re a traveler hoping to catalog the sites that humans have deemed important, for one reason or another, the constant reminders of death and destruction can be a bit… sobering, to say the least. I enjoy my job and the adventures that it allows me, but it can still take a lot out of someone, even someone as immortal as me.


Professor Science slowly approaches the beacon to see what it can discover.

As such, when I came across information suggesting that there was a newly designated landmark in Charmerout, and more importantly, wasn’t directly related to death and/or destruction, I knew I needed to get out there immediately. I couldn’t immediately find information of just how new the beacon marking the aptly named “Mysterious Beacon” has been present in New Eden (and if anyone does have that information, I would much appreciate you passing it on), but my instincts told me that it was in some way connected to the also relatively new shuttle that was discovered in Geztic. That Charmerout isn’t a spectral class A0 star (a notable spectral class as all systems that suffered “main sequence anomaly” during the incident that correlates to the opening of the wormholes and creation of shattered planets were of class A0. Geztic is similarly a A0 star) only adds to that mystery.


A close up of Professor Science with the beacon seen in the distance

I come out of warp not exactly sure what I should be expecting. Just in front of my ship sits the standard location beacon that can be found in just about every site around the Cluster. It’s a rather drab affair, but serves its purpose of promoting that Something of Interest exists at the beacon’s location. I reach out my scanners around the area to see what that Something of Interest was in the case to find… another beacon. An unbidden “D’oh!” flashed through my mind. At first glance, the beacon seemed nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, it was the exact same design as the one sitting about 15 kilometers distant, that Professor Science initially warped to. The only odd thing was that, unlike the initial beacon, the new Mysterious One wasn’t transmitting on any frequencies my ship normally monitored. Without the other beacon there, it would have been all but invisible over long range scans. Indeed, even my Sisters of Eve modified sensor probes couldn’t detect the beacon even when sitting right next to it.


Distant starlight glints off of the panels of the beacon.

However, things are not always as they seem. Aura’s initial reaction to this beacon as I drop out of warp is telling:

What is this ancient probe doing all the way out here?

There is no outward way to know that this was an ancient probe. Indeed, it looks like (just as the original warp-to beacon) any other beacon that could have rolled off of the assembly line yesterday. There was not a hint of age to the outward appearance. Detailed sensor scans also provided some more clues. As Aura summarized:

Despite its familiar construction, this ancient probe is made from materials and electronics unlike anything you’ve ever seen in New Eden. It floats silently through space, seemingly dormant.

So now we have a beacon of untold age that is constructed of materials that even Aura can’t identify. The beacon was quickly living up to its name. But that was not quite all. As I approached within 5 kilometers of the beacon, my comm system unexpectedly became active:

The probe establishes a remote communications channel with your ship, then transmits a single ‘beep’ noise.

It was almost as if a ping that networks use to determine if the computer is active, responding, and the computer the program is looking for. Somehow, I doubted I was.


The beacon is substantially smaller than even a Buzzard class ship.

After that curious interaction with the beacon, I subjected it to every type of test I could think of. I used my analyzer, codebreaker, even my salvager. I made the trip back home to grab my Echelon-class ship, Cryptos, to see if it responded to the specially crafted Purloined Codebreaker. Mindful of reactions that the shuttle in Geztic showed, I attempted to use electronic counter measures on the beacon as well: again to no effect. Outside of the initial “beep”, there was absolutely no sign of life (electronic or otherwise) that I could detect. Its silence was infuriating. Eventually, however, I had to give up (just about the only test I had left was of the violent variety, and I wasn’t quite prepared to take that step). As I warped off, I wondered what the beacon was supposed to mark. There was nothing of note surrounding the probe. And perhaps more ominously, who, precisely, was the beacon supposed to alert?

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Mysterious Beacon
  • System: Charmerout
  • Security Rating: 0.6
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Shattered Planets


The remains of Seyllin I float in the distance

Five hundred million. A decent amount of isk for any capsuleer. A stockpile of ammo that would make any industrialist, pirate, or combat pilot leap for joy. A well fit battleship, with good fittings. Five hundred million of almost any item can be exchanged for great value and used to buy a capsuleer’s next ship, implant, or module. But five hundred million lives is a different calculus altogether. But that’s how many lives were lost March 10, YC 111 in the heretofore relatively unknown system of Seyllin. It was an inconceivable number of lives. It’s amazing how reasonable or even small five hundred million can seem when talking about the proper units, but talking about five hundred million people puts it well beyond any sense of comprehension.


Chunks of the planet remain in orbit around Seyllin I

If only we had had more warning, such a human disaster could have been averted. Alas, it was only hours between the first indication that something was amiss and the impact of the “large, superheated mass” (to put it in cold, scientific terms; perhaps the only way to even begin to think about such events) in Seyllin. All told, from a mining colony of five hundred million people, only 843,000, or 0.1%, were evacuated. I tried to remind myself that we should be grateful that these events didn’t take place in the heart of any of the empires, but it was cold comfort to think that in the midst of such tragedy.


A Thukker tribe was lost in SL-YBS. The remains of SL-YBS can be seen here through an ice field

No one is quite sure what caused the disaster at Seyllin, or the three other systems affected by strange solar occurrences that day. It is surely not coincidental that wormholes appeared the same day. Presumably whatever ripped spacetime apart enough to cause these temporary holes in space caused the outpouring of solar energy that led not only to Seyllin, but to the death of an entire Thukker tribe caravan. Such catastrophic energies were not to be taken lightly, but of course that hasn’t stopped some capsuleers from venturing through into the unknown. Despite the roiling energies that caused the wormholes in the first place, I found it almost heartening that the wormholes never lasted very long, as if space itself was trying to mend the harm done to it by these catastrophic events.


A cloaked Professor banks into the remains at 35-RK9 I.

With his background in mind, I made a point of visiting as many of these shattered planets as my schedule would allow. They were hauntingly breathtaking in their beauty. Rings of debris, or rather, chunks of the planet, formed an arc around the each planet, tumbling slowly in space. I couldn’t help but wonder if this debris would form smoother ring systems in the distant future. The planets themselves were red-hot, due to the massive amount of stress the planet interior had undergone. Even Seyllin’s nightside glowed with heat. Presumably, those that weren’t killed in the initial impact of the mass in Seyllin were baked to death as the planet’s surface melted. Nothing, even with our advanced technology, could survive that.


The Professor goes in to examine the debris in Seyllin

The idea that anything, natural or manmade, could create so much havoc was utterly terrifying. Planets were often one of the comforting constants of a changing universe. Always there, never changing. To see such destruction wrought on not one planet, but four, was startling. I wasn’t comfortable looking at these shattered planets, mere echoes of their former selves, but I forced myself to look at every one of them, not only to pay my respects to those lost, but to remind myself that even planets can die.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Shattered Planets
  • System: Seyllin
  • Security Rating: 0.4
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: Some planets are deep in 0.0 space, involving jumps across a number of different alliance territories, many of which may be operating under “Not Blue, Shoot It” protocol.  Gate camps can be found often in transitioning from 0.0 to high security space, as well as on other gates.  Caution is advised. Seyllin is located in low security space, and you may run into gate camps here as well.
  • Locations: Shattered planets can be found in T-IPZB (Delve); SL-YBS (Great Wildlands); Z8-81T (Immensea); 3HQC-6 (Outer Ring); EAWE-2 (Stain); 35-RK9 (Syndicate). Other shattered planets can be found in locus signatures J115422 (Class 5) and J164104 (Class 3) in wormhole space. Thanks to Arvash over at Interstellar Privateer for his putting this list together.
  • Additional Note: Despite repeated search attempts, there are apparently no actual ruins of the Thukker Tribe caravan in SL-YBS, despite the EVE Online canon that states that a caravan disappeared here. Please contact me if you discover any debris.

Caldari Prime Titan


The Leviathan sitting in orbit of Caldari Prime

Editor’s note: The Caldari Prime Titan is no longer in orbit. To see what happened to it, see this entry.

I dropped out of warp into a warzone. Aura calmly relayed warning of drones, missiles, torpedoes, bombs, and countless types of ammo flinging themselves through the vastness of space. I, meanwhile, was desperately trying to get the Professor to respond and get me out of there. Buzzards were known for their sneakiness, not exactly for their tank. I was in the middle of telling the Professor to align and warp when the sight of the behemoth stopped me, and consequently, the Professor, dead in my tracks.

As always, Aura noted my interest in the object and pulled up some information from the local, and therefore Caldari-controlled, GalNet access:

Titan2To the Caldari, the Leviathan that prowls the space over Caldari Prime is the symbol of a national homecoming. With the Caldari Navy protecting the skies above them, it was here where the triumphant armies of Tibus Heth descended onto the planet’s surface to reclaim their ancestral birthplace. But to the Federation, there is no greater symbol of infamy, as millions of their citizens are trapped below, held at gunpoint by Caldari instruments of death in space.


The Levianthan herself hovered silently amidst the battle.

After I took a moment to truly appreciate what this was, it occurred to me that I was not, in fact, waking up in a clone bay, despite the fact that I had been sitting in the middle of a warzone for a good two minutes before realizing what was happening. I took this to mean that as long as I didn’t take any action, both sides of the fighting were willing to ignore a lowly Buzzard. Normally, I knew better than to trust combatants to ignore a covops ship, no matter how busy they were, but opportunities to examine fully functional titans did not present themselves to me every day so, with an extra gulp of pod fluid, I steeled myself and began to fly around the Leviathan.


The Professor was a mere speck next to the Leviathan

Seeing Steve, a dead Avatar, was one thing, but seeing a fully operational flagship was another matter entirely. Along the sides of the ship, transit pods raced back and forth, delivering the small army that was needed to maintain the ship to their destinations. In fact, “small” probably didn’t begin to describe it, since this ship was larger than some stations: hence why the beast couldn’t dock. For that matter, I still am not entirely sure how the Caldari managed to slip her into Luminaire in the first place. While the invasion itself was spearheaded when CONCORD’s rapid response network went offline, I don’t remember seeing reports that the Empire cyno-jammers were also offline. But clearly, they had to have been for the Leviathan to get in-system in the first place.

I take the Professor in for a close look as ammunition flies around me.

Still, something seemed off about the entire scenario. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on it: despite the titan’s presence, the ship herself wasn’t participating in the battle raging around her. Rather than acting as the anchor of the fighting force defending Caldari interests, she sat there like a mere centerpiece. It seemed like a bit of a waste, especially given the battle around her. And what a battle it was: Federal Defense Union ships were going all out against the local Caldari navy units. A brave Proteus was taking damage from four separate Caldari battleships, while calmly firing off shots of her own. I had rarely seen the new Tech 3 ships in action, but I had to admit that I was impressed on her handling, a surprising combination of both tank and firepower for a ship of her size.


Multiple bombs, that could have blown up the Professor many times over, roll harmlessly over the Titan

The Caldari were certainly asserting themselves, though. More ships were called in as some were destroyed, it seemed that the nearby Caldari station was well stocked in Caldari navy vessels. And given the tenacity of the Federal Defense Union pilots fighting the good fight, it seemed clear that the skies of Caldari Prime were not going to be clear any time soon, as one empire fought for their home, while the other fought for their lives.

A bomb hit the titan. Then a torpedo. Despite the destructive damage that could kill the Professor many times over, the Titan shrugged it off, above such petty concerns. It was at that point that a bomb got a little too close to me. I quickly aligned the Professor for warp to safer space. As if such a thing were possible these days, with war raging even at the heart of an Empire.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Caldari Prime Titan
  • System: Luminaire
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen. Firing on the titan or the Caldari warships, or having poor standings with the Caldari, may also result in you being fired upon by the Caldari Navy.

Luminaire Graveyard


Finally, the Caldari started to encounter some resistance. In the background, the Algogille gate lights up.

As I jumped into Luminaire, birthplace of the Gallente Federation, I couldn’t help but notice how things life seems to go in circles. I struck out from Gallente Prime, the son of Intaki immigrants. My mission was simple: to see what was Out There. New Eden was full of a variety of sights, sounds, and adventures, and I wanted in. Eventually, I decided to write down the major landmarks (so to speak) as I came across them. A kind of log of what was, in fact, Out There. And so now, my trusty Buzzard, named Professor Science, and I are returning back to where I started oh so long ago to see some of those very landmarks that I set out to see. In my defense, of course, these were not present when I first set out from Luminaire two and a half years ago, but that didn’t make them any less noteworthy.


Part of the wreckage after the Caldari broke through Algogille

The Caldari followed their own circles, of course. After choosing to leave the Federation hundreds of years ago, they came back with a bang just two years ago, now. They brought nothing but death and destruction when they arrived at the very heart of the Federation. This manifested itself in the graveyard that the Professor was just now arriving at, just a few hundred kilometers away from the Algogille gate.


The Professor pushes through the wreckage

This time, however, it was clear that the Gallente were going to put up a fight.  Unlike the Algogille slaughter, the tonnage destroyed from both sides appeared much more even. Plenty of Megathron hulls could be see gently spinning in space, but along side (and occasionally colliding with them) just as many Raven hulls could be seen. It was a tragic reminder of the treachery of the Caldari, taking advantage of CONCORD’s absence to launch a full out attack on the homeworlds of the Federation, and even just seeing the remains of so many patriots threatened to get my blood boiling, but I managed to calm myself after a few moments.


A larger view of the battleground

I returned my thoughts to the battlefield itself. It was clear that this was the Federation’s last stand… I could almost feel the desperation from the Gallente ships as they fought off the Caldari.  They couldn’t have known that the Caldari would (thankfully) limit themselves to only going after Caldari Prime.  Those pilots were desperate to protect their homeworld.  On the other hand, the Caldari were just as determined to save theirs, and return Caldari Prime to its “rightful” owner.  When you have two equally desperate and determined forces… well, the wrecks said all that needed to be said.


A large, unfamiliar wreck anchors the rest of the graveyard.

In the middle of the wrecks, however, floated the wreck of a surprisingly large ship. I frowned at it for a moment.  It was heavily mangled, but even so there wasn’t a hint of recognition in its strange contours. I wasn’t sure what kind of ship remains I was looking at. Was it a freighter caught after the CONCORD lockdown? Some larger naval vessel from either side? Or something else altogether? Sensors weren’t showing anything overly remarkable about it, though, so I moved on in my observations.

As always, however, it was eventually time to move on. I banked the Professor around on a new heading, and sent it into warp. It was time to see what else was Out There.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Luminaire Graveyard
  • System: Luminaire
  • Security Rating: 1.0
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

Algogille Graveyard


Debris floats near by as I warp to the scene

I normally enjoyed my visits to the homeworlds.  The soft lights of home beckoned to me.  It had been far too long since the last time I had swung through the homeworlds of my ancestors, but I was determined to make up for that today.  As I jumped into Algogille, the Professor’s sensors noted the nearby graveyard.  Instinctively, I still felt goosebumps as I remembered what happened on that tragic day.  Sadly, almost hesitantly, I did a short warp hop over to the graveyard.

As I warped to the graveyard, Aura, helpful as ever, sent me a short blurb of information:

Algogille2This charred wreckage is all that remains of the warships once charged with protecting the borders of the Gallente Federation. It was here where the Caldari Navy spearhead, led by Tibus Heth, pierced the line on its unstoppable charge towards Luminaire. Caught by surprise, the defending Federation vessels had no chance against such overwhelming numbers and firepower. There is a legend that these wrecks whisper to those of Gallentean origin, begging those who are still alive to bring their Caldari murderers to justice.


A Megathron wreck

Maybe it was just the shock that I felt whenever I saw such destruction.  Maybe it was sheer one-sidedness of the carnage.  Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that brave Gallente men and women gave their lives to protect the Federation as a whole.  Regardless of what it was, something seemed more… real, more visceral to me as I slowly worked my way through this particular graveyard.


A look at the battlezone

This wasn’t a fair fight, this wasn’t a true slugfest worthy of two of the strongest empires in New Eden.  This was just… a massacre.  When CONCORD fell, the Caldari, almost as if they had been anticipating this, took full advantage of the situation.  Caldari ships roared through across the border, intent on taking what they claimed was their right.  And the Gallente, caught unaware, responded the best they could, but… well, the tonnage of the wrecks per side spoke for itself.  Nary a Caldari wreck could be found here, while pieces of Megathrons and other Gallente Navy vessels littered the area.


Slowly floating

I spent a solemn few minutes here, not quite sure what else there was to do, yet not yet wanting to leave. As the wrecks slowly spun around me, I thought about all those who had died so that someone like me could fulfill his dreams, free to do and think as he pleased.  People often compared capsuleers to gods, not bound by any one nation or empire.  But we all came from somewhere, we all have a story.  We’re never entirely free of the society who raised us, and I was proud to come from the Federation.  Each of the men and women who died fighting here in Algogille had a story too, and if there’s had any moral, any sense of meaning, it was that liberty was never free.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Algogille Graveyard
  • System: Algogilled
  • Security Rating: 0.9
  • Region: Essence
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -2.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.