The last time I tried to visit this place was the first time I died.
That was well over a year ago. I've died several more times since then and a lot more has changed besides, both to me and to the owners of this relic of an ostentatious past.
The Traumark Installation is in an isolated part of the Saminer system, which is at the southern extent of the Tash-Murkon region and at the end of a 'pipe' of low security space. The system is one of the southern extremities of the Amarr Empire and beyond here is nothing until the wastes of southern nullsec.
It is seriously remote.
House Tash-Murkon built the Traumark Installation ages ago as a monument to their legitimacy as a ruling family and as a visible demonstration of wealth; a self-indulgent exercise in vanity with no expense spared. Why House Tash-Murkon built it out here in Saminer though, instead of in the heart of their region where it would have been more visible, is not clear. Perhaps it was in part a form of holiday resort, a gigantic luxury villa for tens of thousands of favoured House acolytes and business partners, populated during an earlier period of overt prosperity and calm here in the Anidaza constellation, before Sansha moved in.
Information about the facility and its exact fate is restricted, as is common with anything in the Amarr Empire that constitutes visible evidence of failure. We know the official version: the Installation had its time, its pomp and ceremony, but at some point in the past this remote part of the Tash-Murkon region was overrun by Sansha's Nation and effectively laid waste. The system was downgraded to lowsec, the Traumark Installation was evacuated; and wrecked, looted and destroyed by Sansha, leaving these massive derelict husks behind with visible evidence of conflict scarring their outer hulls. Time froze for them then. House Tash-Murkon withdrew, and orchestrated a collective forgetting.
On the evidence that I found when I arrived, there could still be some pockets of Sansha fanaticism hiding in there, handfuls of undead, stalking perma-dark corridors in zero-G like wraiths, never understanding what their flashbacks of a former life actually mean. On the other hand those towers probably are as dead as they look, but the handful of Sansha's Nation vessels hanging around them, waiting to prey on passing trade, at least raise the possibility of it.
The Saminer system is deep lowsec. As I said at the start of this, the last time I tried to visit the Traumark Installation, I was fresh out of Hedion University and totally clueless, doing everything by the book. I didn't even get to Saminer; I got ganked in the Sagain system next door by a frothing, foaming-at-the-mouth boostered-up scumbag in a Gnosis, who sent me back to Conoban by the pod express, where Taltha regenerated me. For bringing me to Taltha, I should probably thank him.
Over a year has passed since then. I never tried to return to the Traumark Installation during that period, but since I moved most of my personal affairs to Tash-Murkon Prime, the Traumark Installation has appeared on my radar again and its proximity - six jumps - has taunted me as a piece of unfinished business.
This time I used my Astero, which was built for this sort of op (lowsec tourism). The principal risk in Saminer now is not Sansha, but nullsec capsuleers that use the system to bring jump freighters into Empire space by the backdoor. On this occasion though, Saminer was deserted apart from me and those Sansha ships, to which I was invisible and undetectable.
On seeing it now, for the first time, I understood how massive the Traumark Installation really is. It actually dwarfs anything in the Throne Worlds. Three full-sized stations, totally inert, still retaining bits of their gold armour plate, long-since dulled by the sleet of cosmic radiation and tarnished by the arrow of time. Fragments of shattered metal drift around it as if gravitationally-bound to this edifice to thwarted ambition. You really wonder what it might have become if Sansha hadn't purged its soul forever.
As usual with places like this, I departed with more questions than I'd had when I arrived, which is the torment of every explorer. If only I could dock, unjack, suit-up and go inside that huge central dome where it would be as cold as the surrounding vacuum.
As cold as Sansha's heart.
Who the hell knows what relics are left inside there.
A thought occurred to me while I was speeding back to Tash-Murkon Prime: it is timely that I returned to Saminer and finally got a look at this epic ruin, with its spellbinding backdrop of the Domain Nebula - the heart of the Empire - because later this year, Empress-elect Catiz Tash-Murkon will ascend the Throne of Amarr and all of what lies within (and without) that nebula will be hers. Perhaps she will look favourably upon this forsaken relic of her family's past and restore it.