New Eden isn’t exactly known for its stable political dynamics. Corporations and alliances rise and fall seemingly at the drop of a hat. Although the empires are always there, their fortunes wax and wane as threats both internal and external assault them. That being said, as of late, New Eden seems even more agitated lately than normal. The State is attacking its own citizens; one of the Heirs is wracked with scandal. And though the Gallente recently conquered the entirety of the CONCORD-mandated warzone (which perhaps explains Mentas Blaque’s recent aggressiveness in foreign policy speeches), the Federation too has been beset by internal struggles; namely, the astoundingly overt raiding of a publicly broadcast concert by the Black Eagles. But it isn’t all bad news either: the Republic’s Tribal Council brought a fully functional government back to the Minmatar for the first time in years. I’m no political commentator – far from it, in fact – but it seems to me that the days of lethargy in New Eden are coming to an end.
And, of course, as events start picking up steam, it becomes all the more important for people to have all the information needed to make the important decisions. Intelligence gathering has a long and storied history in New Eden for both capsuleers and governments alike. Political intrigue, espionage, and the ever-present “metagame” means that information, and the battles over that information, are ever changing and evolving. Indeed, New Eden’s denizens undoubtedly have some of the most sophisticated propaganda machines ever to grace the halls of humanity. Indeed, the propaganda and information machines have gotten so sophisticated that not only do organizations need their own intelligence-gathering sources, they need their own counter-intelligence sources as well to throw others off.
Enter the Counter-Intelligence Center in Orvolle. Established by the Federation government, it’s a center of both propaganda meant to throw enemies off of the Federation’s scent, as it were, but also a center of analysis and research. Of course, as a counter-intelligence center, you’d think that they would want to lay low so enemies couldn’t figure out if information was coming from a legitimate news source or just the Center, but what do I know? I’m certainly not an intelligence operative (though of course if I were that would be exactly what I’d say). Either way, putting the center out there for anyone to see strikes me a bit odd, but I guess that is why I’m not paid the big bucks.
The center itself is a fairly simple affair from the outside. The primary analysis center and work area is dominated by the docking platforms sitting atop of a number of storage vats. Precisely what was being stored in the vats was beyond me, and for some odd reason they didn’t exactly respond to my queries. A lone Lachesis sits amongst the docking structures, apparently piloted by someone willing to give people work. Other than that, however, there was little to see. A billboard was set up, and in true Gallente fashion it alternated between news and Quafe advertisements. And a lone antenna continuously scanned the skies, broadcasting its omnidirectional message out into the night.
I didn’t spend a lot of time here; there simply wasn’t much to see. From an academic perspective, however, I found the blatant attempts at counter-intelligence fascinating. Could the blatant existence of the Center be its own form of propaganda? Showing the enemies of the Federation precisely how confident it was, that it didn’t even bother to hide its intelligence centers? With these questions clouding my head, I veered off, on to my next destination.
- Attraction: Counter-Intelligence Center
- System: Orvolle
- Security Rating: 0.7
- Region: Placid
- 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.
- Additional Notes: This site serves as one starting point for the Guristas Epic Arc missions.
Exploring New Eden can be a lonely endeavor. Exploration is not inherently solitary; there’s no reason that exploration has to be done by yourself, yet many of the explorers that I know also lead somewhat reclusive lives. Perhaps it is our nomadic ways; drifting forever from system to system, never quite content to settle down for any extended length of time. Maybe it’s the draw of freedom: never feeling tied down to any system or group. Or maybe it’s just that we’re the social hermit crabs of the Cluster. I was never quite able to tell, personally.
I was forcibly reminded of this loneliness as I found myself poking around Vilinnon. It’s a relatively nondescript dead-end system, in a small pocket of systems that CONCORD had magnanimously determined was worthy of its protection. Yet I noticed a beacon pulsing faintly on my overview. I quickly set a course to it, and Aura pulled up the relevant information from the local GalNet:
The Serpent’s Coil is at once one of the most exotic and the most dangerous of all space locations in the vastness of New Eden. It is currently inhabited by agents of the Serpentis Corporation, who use the place as a gathering point for smugglers and raiders alike. At the heart of the Serpent’s Coil lies a ruined military installation. This base was constructed by the Gallente Federation during the Gallente-Caldari War to defend against marauding Caldari ships.
After the war, the strategic importance of the base diminished, and it was eventually abandoned. The base itself is ringed by huge boulders the size of mountains. These magnificent rock formations broke away from a comet traversing the Vilinnon system over two centuries ago, and today they stand proud in their protection of the most audacious Serpentis base around.
The site itself is rather spectacular to behold. A decaying Gallente system sits in the middle, its glass-like shield long since deteriorated in the harshness of space. Nearby, twin columns of serpentine rock climb into the heavens, acting as ghostly sentinels to the decaying ruins. Surrounding the entire site is a diffuse reddish haze, adding a rather sinister overtone to the gentle glow from Vilinnon. Despite claims of active Serpentis… infestation, there is not so much as a ping on Professor Science’s sensors to indicate that there’s anyone else around. It seems the Serpentis do little to guard their “audacious” base if even an unarmed and uncloaked Buzzard like the Professor can get in with nary a warning shot.
I got in close to the strange cometary remains. The twisting piles of rock had a unique shape to them; if I stared at them long enough I almost thought I could see them actually undulating, like gigantic space serpents, ready to pounce on my defenseless Buzzard. The rational part of my brain, of course, dismissed such flights of fancy out of hand, but that didn’t make the apparent movements of the rocks any less spooky. As such, I was forced to look around at the nothingness that surrounded me. If it weren’t for the station nearby, I could have forgotten that any other people even existed as I stared into the vast emptiness of space. And the decaying ruins did nothing to lessen my sudden need for human contact, if only to remind myself that there was a thriving community out there.
I shook myself out of my melancholy by reminding myself why I was truly out here: to see what was there. It’s not the most social of activities, and it never will be, but I enjoyed it. For whatever reason, I liked being on my own, and even that is becoming a little less lonely these days. Despite being in a bit of a funk when I first arrived at this site, it was with renewed enthusiasm that I left it.
Still, maybe I should give Mom a call and see how the family was doing these days.
- Attraction: Serpent’s Coil
- System: Vilinnon
- Security Rating: 0.6
- Region: Placid
- Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.0 in security status, or -5 standing with the Gallente, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen. Also, a few rats have popped up in the intervening years… mostly frigates but also a cruiser or two.