Like so many of us I've been following the Drifter/Sleeper story with great interest, and I've become intrigued/obsessed by the potential connection between them and the EVE Gate and the implications thereof.
It's a known fact that the Servant Sisters of EVE have made the EVE Gate a cornerstone of their operation without ever telling us why. It's also well known that the SoE are into what amounts to the hiring of mercenary capsuleers to go out there on their behalf and patrol the spacelanes, gather info, infiltrate and suppress enemies etc.
I had a conviction that I had to get involved with them on a peripheral level to see what I could find out about their work around the EVE Gate, and then, who knows - maybe I could join them if I could tolerate the excessive religion (which for all we know could be a very elaborate front - look how they got into Thera without any of us knowing).
Oddly enough, the nearest Sisters of EVE Bureau station to my base in Danera is in remote Aridia. Their 'initial point of contact' though - Sister Alitura - is nowhere near here. Alitura is based in the Arnon system which is all the way up in the Essence region on the edge of the Fed; so that's where I had to go.
It's another known fact that the missions that SoE send capsuleers on will take them all over the four empires; these are not the local courier or skirmish-type missions that local agents are into. I needed a true multi-role ship that wouldn't attract too much attention and would have the flexibility to do a bit of freelancing and privateering while nominally on a mission (i.e. salvage!). I thought a cruiser would be overkill; I thought of the Imperial Navy Slicer but felt it was too single-minded. No, it was time to take Shrunken Head - the Tristan - on an extended, long-duration mission 'up north'. A Gallente ship in Gallente territory - perfect.
After a couple more days of preparation, logistics, combat workups and drone training (Level V plus supplementaries now - Tech II-class drones!), I locked up the hangar - because I'll be away for a while - and set off for the 20-jump trip from Danera to Arnon
I passed through Amarr, so I paused for a look at the Amarrian Monument around Prime - it was a lot like how I'd dreamed about it the last time I got regenerated (see 'A Dream...' below).
The border regions of Kador, Genesis, Domain and Essence were a mashup of colourful nebulosity. It's the 'Four Corners' effect. The Cauldron looks completely different: like an angry boiling mass from this distance and angle, with the glorious and tranquil blue lagoon of light as seen in Khanid and Kor-Azor being totally invisible.
As I progressed further 'north', the Verge Vendor nebula became dominant:
I got to Manarq and had a pleasant surprise. I'd been here before: Lear Evanus's Apocalypse battleship was in this system. I called her up and rendezvoused for a chat again like last time. That Apocalypse is a big ship; the small speck silhouetted against The Cauldron on the right is me...
By the time I got to Arnon and berthed Shrunken Head at the Sisters of EVE Bureau station - standard Caldari construction - it was after midnight EVE time, so the station was winding down for the night. There was no point in contacting Alitura at this hour so I arranged the temporary quarters that I'll spending the next few days in.
I retired for the night. Tomorrow: speak to Sister Alitura. The next several days are going to be busy, violent and dangerous.