Sightseeing in the Cluster

Posts tagged “The Forge

Journey of Katia Sae Memorial

Katia Sae 1

A full view of the monument. The star she holds looks like it could be a background star.

On February 20, YC 112, shortly after posting my survey of the Traumark Installation, I received a comment from another pilot. My explorations and reviews have never generated much in the way of comments, and while other writers may be disappointed by the lack of engagement, I was always content that what few comments I did seemed to be genuinely kind and positive comments. This particular one was no different, even if it was from a pilot I hadn’t encountered before. After finishing her remarks, she ended by noting, “We’re on similar missions. My goal is to explore all of the new planets. Good luck in your journey, fly safe.”. I’ve encountered pilots with that goal before, and those pilots generally tend to get daunted once they realize the sheer immensity of the task of visiting over 7,800 systems within and connecting to New Eden, so at the time I didn’t give it much thought.

Katia Sae 2

A closer look a the star system in Katia’s hand.

Though that was the first time I met Katia Sae, it wouldn’t be the last. She would pop up every now and then, always with generous praise of my various musings here, before moving on, while I quickly began watching her own progress once I found her site. Since then, we’ve interacted not just on our respective journals, but on the GalNet and elsewhere, and I’ve become much more comfortable with calling her not only a fellow pilot, not only a fellow explorer with a deep sense of wanderlust, but a friend. And now, some 7,806 systems later, with that friendship comes a deep sense of pride as well as Katia has now visited every system accessible in and to New Eden, including a much-coveted (by me, at least) visit to Polaris, a system within the generally inaccessible depths of what used to be Jove space. And she did it all without losing a single ship (a claim I certainly would not be able to get away with).

Katia Sae 3

A closer view of the ghostly Astero that can be found hiding in the system.

I get the sense that Katia remains a little overawed by the response to her achievements. The end of her journey gained her attention not just within the fairly tight-knit exploration crowd, but well beyond. While it is perhaps not surprising that her own corporation, the ever-friendly Signal Cartel, took not a small amount of pride in her accomplishment, it is perhaps more surprising that Katia has captured the imagination of not just the capsuleer press and other writers, but broader news sites as well. All to celebrate what truly is a remarkable achievement. And that wasn’t the end of the celebrations for Katia, as the Achura Stargazers Society quickly announced that they would be erecting a permanent monument to her achievement next to the very first stargate she used in starting her journey, the gate to Abagawa in the system of Saisio.

Not one month later, the Society unveiled the likeness of Katia about 35 kilometers from that gate, saying the following:

Katia Sae 4In the unending dark of space, there are a few bright lights to which we can reliably turn for guidance and inspiration. Katia Sae is one such beacon, a shining example of what we can all aspire towards. She exemplifies the attitude of a true explorer: friendly to all in her travels, neutral and never initiating aggression, and very, very hard to catch.

She began her quest to explore all of New Eden from Saisio III on December 1, YC111 and came full circle back to Saisio on March 9 of YC121 after having explored every known-space and wormhole system that can be reached – all without a single ship loss.

Katia Sae 5May Katia Sae’s epic journey be remembered forevermore by all who travel into the furthest reaches of New Eden and the fathomless depths of Anoikis. Every star is one of her footprints, and every heavenly body tells the tale: “Katia Sae was here.”

The Journey of Katia Sae Memorial,

raised by the Achura Stargazers Society,

in association with Signal Cartel.

Katia Sae 6

Going in for a look.

As expected, the statue is magnificent. A gargantuan Katia, who dwarfs my lowly Professor Science, is seen standing on a shimmering plinth reaching up to the stars, quite literally holding a star system in the palm of her hand. The details included on the statue are impressive. Individual strands of hair can be seen gathered behind her head in a utilitarian ponytail, along with creases in her pant legs and jacket. Her expression is one of a certain calm confidence, seemingly quite comfortable in knowing the limits of herself. The metal plating riveted together to form the statue might in other circumstances detract from the monument, but here adds a striking juxtaposition to the otherwise quite-real appearance.

Katia Sae 7

Gazing in wonder.

But, of course, what truly catches my eye is the system she holds in the palm of her hand. I can’t help but zoom in for a closer look at that orrery, and as my camera drones approach, my view becomes awash in holographic static. The central star is but a pinprick of sapphire light; even close up, I can’t see any features, though it throws Professor Science in sharp relief when I approach. Surrounding it are 3 planets in inclined orbits around the central orb. Although  supposedly metal in nature (metal that reflects the light of both their own sun and Saisio), their true nature is belied both by their ghostly orbital paths and the holographic grids that can be seen superimposed on the edges of the spheres, regardless of your viewpoint.

Katia Sae 8

Passing through.

If that were all there was to the monument, I’d be satisfied but perhaps ready to move on. But in examining that star system, after just a few moments I caught a hint of movement. I at first thought it was just the movement of another ship at the site (I was by no means the only person there to inspect the monument, and CONCORD had made its presence known as well), but after casting around for a few moments for whatever movement caught my eye, I came across the spectral apparition of a half-cloaked Astero – Katia’s signature ship – also in orbit around the central star. The ship, ironically slightly large than an actual Astero, is a clever addition to the monument.

Katia Sae 9

Off to the next adventure.

I’m, of course, incredibly happy for Katia and proud to have played some small role in her journeys. She’s certainly earned the adulations that she’s so far received. Exploration takes a certain type of personality, a certain amount of patience, and a whole lot of perseverance, all of which Katia has in spades. I can’t imagine having the dedication to see a project 10 years in the making all the way through to completion, so I must content myself to celebrate those who can. And now this monument stands as a testament not just to Katia’s achievement, but to that ineffable spirit of wanderlust that drove her.

Congrats, Katia!

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Journey of Katia Sae Memorial
  • System: Saisio
  • Security Rating: 0.7
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Note: Unlike most of the sites I profile, this one is not marked with a beacon and thus cannot be seen on the overview if offgrid. It’s classified as a Large Collidable Object for overview purposes. It can be seen in the sensor overlay, however, and, as mentioned above, is located about 35-40 km off the Abagawa gate.

In honor of intrepid explorer Marcus Yeon

Jakanerva 1

The Explorer Relief Post

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

Jakanerva 2

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

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

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

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

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

Jakanerva 5

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

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

Jakanerva 6

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

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

Jakanerva 7

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

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

Jakanerva 8

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

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

Basic Information:

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

Nugoeihuvi Information Center

Nugoeihuvi 1

The information/administration center for Nugoeihuvi’s space-based operations.

I know myself pretty well, I think.  I know that, much as I might like to pretend at times that I don’t have biases against anyone, I am not the biggest fan of either the Amarr or the Caldari, and I often let those biases through in my writings here.  I often portray the Amarr as brainless theocrats who care for nothing save either their God or their own power.  Of course, the thing about stereotypes is that while they may be true sometimes, ascribing stereotypical features to any person of a given background is asking for trouble.  The Gallente too have a well-earned stereotype for their decadent and drug fueled ways, but heavens know I lead a humble (for a capsuleer) life, and I don’t even take performance-enhancing boosters, much less the more addictive narcotics that are out there.  And just as the Minmatar are the stereotypical brutes who know nothing other than what their own fists (or autocannons) can do, I know plenty who are quiet, reserved, and thoughtful.  Stereotypes may be appropriate for some… but they cannot or should not be used as a blanket rule.

Nugoeihuvi 2

Some of the many ships in a holding pattern awaiting docking clearance.

I bring this up because I know particularly that I give the Caldari a hard time.  I often portray them as soulless corporate zombies, who care for nothing but their corporation’s own bottom line and have little conception of the word “fun.”  This is, of course, entirely incorrect.  Indeed, the Caldari are some of the Federation’s biggest importers when it comes to the various entertainment products that are the Federation’s flagship exports.  But that’s not to say that the Caldari can have no fun on their own.  Indeed, one of the Caldari megacorps is geared almost exclusively towards providing the State with various entertainment products, such as holos, songs, games, and a host of other devices meant to cheer up State citizens as they look at the bland gray walls that they love so much (sorry, couldn’t help myself there).  Nugoeihuvi (thankfully shortened to NOH much of the time) is the State’s leader in a whole phalanx of products; indeed, it’s the only megacorp that focuses on such products.  It’s somewhat ironic, then, that NOH is a member of the so-called “practicals” bloc.  Then again, considering that NOH has rather overt connections to the criminal underground, it fits in well with the practicals’ “ethics have no place in society” view of life.

Nugoeihuvi 3

Some of the military support available at the station.

I’ll admit that I don’t have a lot of personal experience with NOH products, though admittedly I don’t have a lot of experience with non-capsuleer entertainment these days.  However, what little from them I’ve seen is remarkably similar to what comes out of the studios on Luminaire, Algogille, and Dodixie.  Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Caldari entertainment is how unremarkable it is compared to its Gallente brethren.  I’m not sure if this is a belated victory for the Cultural Deliverance Society or just the inevitable cultural exchange that comes with (relatively) free trade, but it seems to work for NOH regardless.  It works enough so, actually, that NOH has seen fit to create an information center and administration center in NOH’s corporate headquarters system of Josameto.  Acting as the interface between NOH’s corporate boardroom and the broader cluster at large, the center helps not only coordinate NOH’s interstellar interests but also acts as a minor tourist attraction to drag sightseers into NOH’s embrace.  As Aura explains:

Nugoeihuvi 4This small complex acts as the first point of contact between many spacebound travelers and representatives of Nugoeihuvi Corporation. Since traffic around major corporate stations is often at or near maximum capacity, Nugoeihuvi and other State organizations frequently set up their own temporary administrative facilities away from the hurried masses.

Nugoeihuvi 5

A look inside the upper pressure dome

“Hurried masses” indeed.  I’m used to thinking of Jita and Amarr as the economic hearts of the cluster, but even if Josameto doesn’t give these systems a run for their money, it certainly puts on an impressive display for a non-capsuleer-based presence.  The spacelanes here are filled with shuttles, freighters, and other ships as they come and go from the massive structure; their scarcely seems room for even my tiny Professor Science amongst the traffic control queues.  I did not envy the traffic controllers for the port.  Still, even while waiting in a queue somewhat off of the main spacelanes, it was fascinating to watch the parade of military and freighter vessels come and go as they get shuffled around by the station.  Local chatter was filled with the somewhat eclectic dialect that traders inevitably develop, be it space-based or land-based.  I’m not sure what “going 2 centi’s on the inbound” or “clear shot for a sling” but everyone seemed to be happy with it so I didn’t question it.  I mostly just hung back and watched the action.

Nugoeihuvi 6

Some of the transshipping facilities available in Josameto.

The station itself was surprisingly artistic for general Caldari architectural design, even if it was clothed in the standard gunmetal gray so favored by the corporate boards.  The station gently expanded from the bottom up, spreading what almost looked like flower petals from the central stem.  These panels angled away from the central structure, giving the entire station a rather vase-like appearance.  The top of the station was strikingly Gallente in design, actually: a clear dome that allowed me to see into the central core of the building.  Although a Gallente station would have parkland or other open areas under a clear dome like this, the harsher, angled surfaces of the buildings visible within the pressure dome suited the station well.

Nugoeihuvi 7

The bottom of the information center.

Unfortunately, after being told that I was somewhere in the sixties in terms of the docking queue, I decided it wasn’t quite worth the wait and got on my way.  Still, I enjoyed a glimpse into a side of Caldari culture that I rarely see, as well as the introspection it provided.  Being reminded of your prejudices, even if you don’t quite manage to do anything about them, never hurts, and I left the area as a slightly better person than I was when I first arrived.


Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Nugoeihuvi Information Center
  • System: Josameto
  • Security Rating: 0.6
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Caldari COSMOS site.
  • SCHEDULING NOTE: As you may have noticed, posting on here has been infrequent at best, recently.  This is due to a combination of factors, most notably the fact that I’m moving in RL and things are hectic as it is, and also that I’m in that bane of players everywhere: A classic EVE Slump ™.  In an attempt to nip this as much in the bud as I can, as well as give myself all the time I need to settle into the new place and take care of the holidays, EVE Travel will be going on Hiatus until the new year.  Of course, I have no intention of leaving twitter and I should be logging in, even if not as regularly as I normally do.  That said, I’ll be keeping an eye on comments and evemail, so if anyone comes across anything they’d like to see profile, feel free to drop me a line.  Fly safe, New Eden, and I’ll see you on the other side o7

Grand Crag Watch

Author’s Note: I would also like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Sean Smith, aka Vile Rat.  His death was a loss for the entire EVE community. I didn’t know Vile Rat, so I will leave it to others who have summed up their feelings much better than I ever could.  I will say this though: seeing the EVE community unite as they have has only served to remind me how proud I am to be a part of it.  May Sean’s favorite ships be always on hand, and may good fights be never hard to find.  Fly safe o7

Grand Crag 1

Airmia V hangs shrouded in nearby dust.

I’ve always found the interplay between corporate governance and actual governance within the Caldari State fascinating.  Perhaps that’s the political science nerd in me struggling to get out.  To an extent, the fundamentals of corporations and your more normal democratically elected governments are similar.  Voters (shareholders) elect those who they trust to keep the corporation on the right path.  Safeguards are put in place to require that the corporate officers put their corporation’s interests ahead of their own.  They are required to spend their money for the good of the shareholders (aka dividends), and consensus building within the Board of Directors is required for policy to be implemented.  Such requirements are not that far amiss from parliamentary democracies.  But there are differences, too.  Unlike governments, businesses are always expected to bring in profits.  Rather than relying on policy considerations, shareholders are often more concerned with the profit forecasts in making their selections for CEO.  And, of course, there’s the fact that some things just aren’t profitable: fire fighting services, roads, infrastructure.  Things that are necessary for modern life, but just aren’t easy to make a dollar off of.

Grand Crag 2

A lonely Lai Dai ship keeps a watching on the surrounding area.

That’s why it always vaguely surprises me when I see a Caldari corporation provide services that typically a government would provide.  Each of the Caldari megacorps have their own police and quasi-military arms, which continues to surprise me.  I’ve never quite been able to figure out where they fall (if anywhere) in the military chain of command under the Caldari Navy.  Given just how much the corporate identity permeates Caldari culture, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see that, beyond the general services provided to employees, they have also delved into the world of intelligence.  I suppose once corporations enter into the world of military operations in general, military intelligence won’t be far behind.  Still, it’s an odd thing for me to see.  But if I didn’t believe that before, Grand Crag Watch has shut me up.  As Aura tells me:

Grand Crag 3Lai Dai constructed a surveillance outpost here after they lost control of their nearby mining facility. The remotely-controlled surveillance equipment keeps the tabs on the struggle taking place for control of the contested mining facility. Recently the Grand Crag Watch has become a favored meeting place of pilots with Lai Dai sympathies.

Grand Crag 4

Airmia shines in the background over the repair and lookout facilities.

The nearby facility that the observation outpost was keeping an eye on has long been the site of battles between the various factions vying for control of Okkelen.  And now Lai Dai is trying to get a piece of the action.  I’m forced to wonder what exactly is so valuable in Okkelen that everyone is fighting over.  There have been hints of something major being discovered over in Friggi, but despite years of research at the Devil’s Dig site, as far as I know nothing of note has ever been discovered outside of things that are of interest only to archeologists and scholars of the Talocan.  Despite this, however, both pirates and megacorporations alike seem to be dedicating significant resources, while the rogue drones that have become ensconced on the site have also been fighting tooth and nail to protect what, if anything, is in there.  But exactly what Airmia had to do with the Devil’s Dig site wasn’t clear; if establishing control of the dig site were more important, you’d think that they would be fighting over Friggi itself, not the next system over.

Grand Crag 5

Professor Science approaches

Regardless of the reasons for its existence, Grand Crag Watch isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  The Watch itself is a fairly drag, expectedly utilitarian affair, consisting entirely of a lookout post and a repair yard for local Lai Dai ships.  If, as Aura suggests, this is truly a “favored meeting place of pilots with Lai Dai sympathies”, then Lai Dai could use some more pilot outreach programs.  The only ship beside my own that I saw near the Watch was a small Hawk flown by Lai Dai agent Oniya Arkimo, who looked rather bored when I briefly started talking with her.  She was all business, however, and once she realized I wasn’t there for work, she sent me on my way.

I didn’t spend long at the Watch. Beyond the fact that there was simply nothing to see, I was eager to get my explorations of Okkelen to an end.  Although it was enlightening to view the culture that I had been raised to distrust, I was ready to move on and see what else was out there.  There were still a few things that I needed to explore, but they would require more resource gathering before I was ready to tackle them.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Grand Crag Watch
  • System: Airmia
  • Security Rating: 0.6
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Caldari COSMOS site.

Frontier Stockade

Frontier Stockade 1

The Frontier Stockade floats above Moon I of Sakkikainen VI.

One of the fundamental principles of the New Eden economy is that a free market economy, in allowing (or, to some, forcing) corporations to compete against each other, will lead to the most efficient means of getting a job done. This principle can be seen time again, in the .01 isk wars in the Jita market, in the ways that CONCORD pays out to repel incursions by the Sansha, and even in the competitions between miners to vacuum up asteroids in the most efficient manner possible. Allowing macroeconomic behaviors to determine efficient resource allocation is one of the hallmarks of our interstellar society. There are inefficiencies, of course, there always are when dealing with mere humans (even the immortal kind), but the thought is that, except in fairly rare circumstances, a free market will divvy up limited resources as it sees best. The so-called “invisible hand.” And given the booming economy that New Eden enjoys nowadays, proponents of that theory certainly have the data to back up their assertions.

Frontier Stockade 2

One of the C&C facilities for the Caldari efforts in Okkelen

As might be expected, the Caldari in particular, with the megacorporation providing for almost all governmental services, adhere closely to the free market theory. Working under a theory of both horizontal AND vertical integration, megacorporations in Caldari society function in many of the same ways that governments do in the other empires. But in many other ways, the megacorporations function as just as their names suggest: they act as businesses. And often, these businesses are set against each other in order to find out who can provide certain services most efficiently. The winning megacorp gets to keep the prize for having the more efficient operation, while the losing ones are left to figure out what went wrong and to devise a new strategy for future competition. This technique has been used once again as the Caldari State seeks to colonize the Okkelen constellation. Two corporations, Nugoeihuvi and Lai Dai, have been set against each other to see who can most efficiently settle the wild lands that make up Okkelen. Both megacorps have set up their central base of operations fairly close to each other in Sakkikainen, at the Frontier Stockade. As Aura explains:

Frontier Stockade 3The two mega-corporations charged by the State with the task of settling Okkelen, NOH and Lai Dai, have each recently constructed a station here in the Sakkikainen system. These stations are intended to act as the base from which the Caldari State intends to push the frontier back and claim the constellation for itself. As with all frontier settlements there’s plenty of work to be found for enterprising pilots.

Frontier Stockade 4

While NOH and Lai Dai maintain separate control facilities, they also have cooperatively built research and storage facilities.

As might be implied from the description, the Stockade is a bustling frontier community, with ships flying to and fro as both megacorps struggle to make their claim to the resources of the constellation. Both corporations have set up respective command and control centers to oversee their operations in the constellation. These control centers sit behind a protective cocoon of Lai Dai and Nugoeihuvi corporate police vessels; ships from Lai Dai Protection Services and Internal Security, respectively. Both sides keep a fleet of Raven-class battleships close at hand in order to defend their control centers if necessary. Whether these pseudo-military vessels are there to protect the control centers from pirates or other megacorporations seems to be a matter of perspective.

Frontier Stockade 5

A close up of the central storage facility. Asteroids with mineable minerals can be seen in the background.

Surprisingly, however, there are some hints of cooperation between NOH and Lai Dai. Beyond the fact that both megacorps put their control centers near each other, both seemed to have also cooperated in constructing centralized administrative and storage facilities for operations throughout the constellation. Sakkikainen’s centralized location in the cluster makes logistics fairly easy, while allowing Friggi to act as a buffer from the low security space connected through Ihakana. Seeing that both megacorps clearly had the same thoughts in this regard, it made sense for them to cooperate in at least some respects to save on expenses. Beyond the centralized storage and administrative facility, the megacorporations appear to have also built a small joint research facility. A veneer of newness surrounds the facility, perhaps from the leftover construction materials that still have viable materials in them, or perhaps from the shine on both the stations and the ships.

Frontier Stockade 6

The Stockade stands ready to settle Okkelen once and for all.

All in all, the megacorporations seem to have the settlement of Okkelen well in hand. The jury is still out as to which one will win in Okkelen. But rest assured that whichever megacorp does end up winning (or if neither one wins), that invisible hand of the marketplace will be the one placing the crown on the victor.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Frontier Stockade
  • System: Sakkikainen
  • Security Rating: 0.6
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Caldari COSMOS site. Furthermore, some asteroids here are capable of being mined.

Cactus Mill Lookout

Cactus Mill 1

The Lookout keeps its lonely guard over Vahunomi X.

Each of the Empires seems to have areas of space that are just representative for them. Areas that help to sum up who that nation is as a people, and what values or ongoing issues they have that help to define them. The Gallente’s Algintal constellation is enmeshed with a debate over whether environmental or business concerns should win out, representing a deeper debate over the liberty and beauty the Gallente prize and the economic prosperity that allows them the freedom to have that debate.  The Minmatar’s Ani constellation shows the continuing struggle of the Republic to come to terms with its past while still embracing the future. The Amarr’s Araz constellation demonstrates a bloated bureaucracy and aristocracy struggling to control the largest nation in New Eden.

Cactus Mill 2

The old ore refinery is being repurposed as a sensor station to guard Bank assets.

So what about the State? The State has Okkelen… and the only real thing I can say about it is that it is very utilitarian and homogenous. Which, to be fair, fits the State quite well. But it’s notable how little there is of note to say about the State’s various sites in Okkelen. Sure, there are undertones of inter-corporate rivalries that I have discussed previously, as well as attempts to reclaim Okkelen from pirate groups, but I can’t get away from the fact that, moreso than the other constellations that I’ve mentioned, many of the sites that are marked here are just boring. As a semi-professional traveler around New Eden, I hesitate to use such a strong term (a death knell for anyone relying on tourism to boost income), but as I have repeatedly noted throughout my exploration of Okkelen that many of the sites seem to be very homogenous. Which, as I’ve mentioned, fits the cultural tropes of the Caldari well, but just does not make for very exciting exploration.

For example, let’s take a look at this week’s site: the Cactus Mill Lookout. Aura, as usual, comes to the rescue with some basic information:

Cactus Mill 3An old ore refinery, the Cactus Mill is being refurbished with the latest surveillance gadgets courtesy of the State and Region Bank. Great wealth can be found in the nearby station vault and the bank is anxious to protect it. It’s a race against time as bandits will inevitably fall on the vault sooner rather than later. The help of independent pilots is greatly appreciated.

Cactus Mill 4

One of the ships that has set up station here as the station itself trails off into the distance.

Having seen this in my research, I was at least hoping to see a security perimeter and some sensor posts. Perhaps some corporate navies out in force to protect their investments in the Bank. Or even some State naval vessels to help protect what is clearly an important national asset. I came in to Cactus Mill with high hopes and instead I got… an old, abandoned station. The same as any number of others that I’ve seen in my time here. Though I do take solace in the fact that there’s no asteroid colony evident. If there’s any retrofitting going on, it’s clearly an entirely internal affair. Meshing well with the State’s utilitarian nature, the station’s exterior is clearly dinged and dirty, but still intact. As such, it’s not being touched as far as I can tell by any repair crews. Any ore processing facilities have clearly been removed by the Bank by now, but any upgrades to the interior of the station are completely invisible to me.

Cactus Mill 5

One of the asteroids present near the Lookout.

Beyond the station itself, there is very little of note around the Lookout. Vahunomi X floats quietly in the background. It has a wispy ring system surrounding it that adds a hint of background beauty to the site. A few ships have also made the site their home port, ready to offer missions out to enterprising capsuleers who are looking to help protect the Bank and its aforementioned vault. A few asteroids also sit near the station, presumably leftover from the station’s life as an ore refinery. A brief glance at sensor readouts shows that there’s still some usable minerals to be found in the depths, but of course Professor Science isn’t outfitted to go mining, so I just leave the rocks be.

Cactus Mill 6

The old docking bay of the station.

I spend very little time at the Lookout. There’s simply very little to see. Another old and abandoned station in a constellation that is replete in fairly uninteresting sites. Indeed, old and abandoned stations can be found throughout the State, a reminder of times past when the State felt it necessary to defend its perimeters from Gallente onslaught more closely. That is not to say that the sites here serve no purpose to the people of Okkelen, or even that the stories that they tell are not worth telling. But compared to the beauty of Algintal, the majesty found in Araz, or the haunting reminders of the past found in Ani, Okkelen just leaves something to be desired for travelers like me.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Cactus Mill Lookout
  • System: Vahunomi
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Caldari COSMOS site. Furthermore, some asteroids here are capable of being mined.

Diamond Ace Den

Diamond 1

An overview of the Den, with Otitoh VII looming in the background.

The Caldari have always struck me as very straitlaced. Very prim, very proper, and not likely to do much in the way of entertainment when there is work to be done. To an extent, I’m sure, that is just some leftover government propaganda that was ingrained in me when I was younger. But when we come to the heart of it, I still can’t get over my internal image of the Caldari as the ultimate utilitarians. After a moment, of course, I realize that they’re as human as any of us, but for the first instant that I think of a Caldari, “fun” just doesn’t seem to enter into the equation at all. It’s not useful. It won’t help corporate profits. Of course, then my conscious brain engages and I remember that, you know, stereotypes don’t completely describe any one person or culture.

Diamond 2

The storage silo can be seen in the background here.

I bring this up because I have to admit that I was vaguely surprised to find a casino pop up on my scanner as I was passing through Otitoh. I shouldn’t have been. For as long as there’s been currency there have been people willing to gamble it away. But it just doesn’t fit with my cultural expectations of the Caldari. They’re MUCH too restrained and reserved to do something like gamble away precious money. Now, us Gallente on the other hand, we love our gambling. Just like we love our drugs, sex, and basically any other vice that the Amarr proclaim as a sin. We like to live life to the fullest. But I guess I just never expected to see that kind of thought from the Caldari. Even beyond that, a bit of research proves that the Caldari are actually prolific gamblers, at times giving even the (fully legal) Gallente casinos a run for their money. Most of the time, Caldari casinos are forced underground, but Caldari officials seem to have given the one in Otitoh a pass. Perhaps that is because the workers in Okkelen already have enough on their plates. But for whatever reason, the Diamond Ace Den is one of the most happening places in the constellation. As Aura notes:

Diamond 3The Caldari love nothing better than to gamble. Whether the bet is on the upcoming Splinterz tournament or the survival rate of the latest green newbie miner that passed through; there is always someone willing to take you on here at the Diamond Ace Den.

Diamond 4

One of the ships that are stationed at the Den.

I shook the thought of just how bored you had to be to bet on miners and focused on looking around. The site was dominated by a familiar site: another storage silo. Possibly to hold the Den’s immense winnings, or just to hold the items they must confiscate to pay off customer debts. I didn’t know, nor was I particularly tempted to ask. The other thing that you first notice upon warping in are the massive hunks of rock floating near the periphery. I noticed after a brief glance that some of those rocks had veldspar glimmering on the surface… maybe the rocks were dragged here for some of the gamblers to have something to watch. Or maybe it was here to make it easier for the casino to call rats in when necessary.

Diamond 5

Otitoh shines weakly onto the Den.

Other than that, there is little of note at the Den. If the Den were planetside, it would almost certainly be found in some dimly lit backstreet alley, with a blinking neon sign found above it. Somehow, the space-based casino manages to recreate that feeling. Set off from the rest of the compound, with Otitoh barely peaking over the limb of the third moon of Otitoh VII, the casino looks small, dark, and dirty. A dim yellow sign balefully blinks the casino’s existence to the universe, even though it stands far removed from the rest of the buildings at the site. Still, it presumably provided the main income for the owners of the Den.

Diamond 6

The casino is oddly set off from the rest of the site.

Beyond the casino, however, the Den’s owner has clearly expanded its business a bit. Playing up the vice angle, a brothel has been built nearby, providing a second way for patrons to waste their money in an hour or two. The brothel, in many ways, seems more prominent than the casino that the Den is named for. Beyond being placed much closer to the warp-in point for the Den, it is bathed in spotlights from two wings sprouting from the top. Whereas the casino almost seems trying to remain hidden in the gloom, the brothel is happy to shout its existence. Nearby, the owners apparently try to maintain a veneer of respectability by also providing a repair bay for patrons.

Despite my Gallente heritage, I had little desire to try my luck at the gambling tables. I had better things to spend my money on, that left far less to chance (my particular skills at flying spaceships is another matter entirely). Still, for those who are looking for a new way to spend their money, there are plenty of opportunities to be found at the Diamond Ace Den.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Diamond Ace Den
  • System: Otitoh
  • Security Rating: 0.5
  • Region: The Forge
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4.5 in security status, or -5 standing with the Caldari, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
  • Additional Notes: This also serves as a Caldari COSMOS site. Furthermore, some asteroids here are capable of being mined.