Tuesday 11 April 2023

Cosmic Rifts and Spacetime Distortions


'On a long enough timeline, the survival rate drops to zero'

Overheard in a bar in Kandashi Station in M2-CF1

At some point in the deep past, the area of space that we now call the Syndicate was an unusually violent place - in a cosmic sense, not in terms of the behaviour of its inhabitants. Evidence of that past is demonstrated by three 'landmarks' located here, all of them within a few light-years of each other.

The Cloud Ring Nebula is unmissable of course; proven to be a supernova remnant by Intaki astronomer Alnadil Jouber many years ago, it has always been my favourite piece of cosmic architecture in all of New Eden. If you're in visual range of it, then more than any other nebula in the cluster, you can establish your position in the North-West Quadrant just by looking at it, and I've spent many hours during quiet duty periods in the Cathedral's tactical command centre doing just that.

Cloud Ring from Black Rise

Cloud Ring from Outer Ring

Cloud Ring from Placid

Cloud Ring from Syndicate

The odd thing is if you go to the region named after the Cloud Ring, you're in the centre of the nebula and completely surrounded by it so the effect is not so dramatic, but anyway this is about stuff going on in Syndicate.

There are two other 'things' going on here that are far more dangerous and far less visible, so you can only view them from the systems that are closest to them, but the presence of one of them is given away by the large void in the centre of the stargate map of Syndicate. The network appears to loop around something.

It's called Cord of the Elements.

This is a flaw in spacetime that stretches much further than we can see; the only part of it that is visible from a stargate-connected system - the D-B7YK system - is just a fraction of its total area. You can easily guess the extent of it just by looking at that void in the map, as it forms a natural barrier between the Fed and large parts of the Syndicate.

To travel to D-B7YK from my home system of XS-XAY means traversing the perimeter of that void, some 22 stargate jumps. In reality, XS-XAY is closer to D-B7YK than Poitot is. 

From browsing the scientific literature on the Cord of the Elements, it seems to be similar to the EVE Gate in that it is a massive rift in spacetime that emits extravagantly lethal levels of hard radiation and gravity waves, preventing any close analysis or any transit of it. Probes have gone in there and never come out. Like the EVE Gate, the portion of the Cord we can see is still several light-years away from the closest system; and like the EVE Gate, the sight of it activates a primal fear in the observer. It does in me, anyway.

The residents and guests of the Intaki Syndicate Executive Retreat probably beg to differ. 

Capsuleers are not permitted to dock in this station; it's built exclusively for the owners, directors, heads, CEOs, and ruling families of the various 'city state' stations that form the Intaki Syndicate in all its cosmopolitan diversity. Maybe Silphy herself has a permanent suite here. I would expect her to.

Whatever deals get done here - I tried to look for evidence of a recent Caldari presence re: DS-M4Q - and whatever after-parties take place in those Pleasure Hubs, it is before a stunning vista formed of an incredibly violent cosmic phenomenon that cannot be explained definitively or explored without great personal risk, kind of like a metaphor for the affairs of the Intaki Syndicate itself.

When I took a trip out here, after checking out the Intaki station and confirming that I was in fact not allowed to dock in it, I took up a position in a 'safe' and observed the Cord of the Elements for a while. My sensors were all over the place, it was obviously as deadly as a magnetar in Anoikis. The D-B7YK system is a 'dead-end', uninhabited and unremarkable except for its proximity to this thing, which is, if you consider its sheer size and extent, a far more violent and threatening phenomenon than even the EVE Gate; and yet hardly anybody outside the Syndicate knows about it. Even fewer have visited it, just because it is in deep nullsec. 


* * *

The other cosmic phenomenon in this part of space isn't actually in Syndicate, it's in Solitude, a few light-years to the 'south'. I took some licence there, I know, but since the regions of New Eden are entirely a political invention and are mostly determined by the stargate network, the distinction is redundant because the regions of Syndicate and Solitude actually vertically overlap each other with respect to True Galactic North.

So this thing, called Trace Cosmos, is not really in a 'different region' at all. It's just down the road, in a cosmic sense.

Trace Cosmos is a field of miniature black holes visible from the Gererique system. It moves, with pulses of visible light and gravitational shockwaves ripping through clouds of dust and hot plasma . The Fed has built an installation in the Gererique system to monitor it. The Duvolle Gravitational Wave Observatory is here to do serious science; it is not a holiday resort like the place in Syndicate. 

Like the Cord, and like the EVE Gate, you can't get anywhere near the Trace Cosmos for the same reasons: deadly radiation and gravity fluctuations. There are about nine or ten black hole accretion discs visible from Gererique, bright enough in visible wavelengths, but by far the brightest things in the sky in x-rays and gamma rays; but God knows how many of those things there are in there in total, because the Trace Cosmos is like the Cord in that it covers a sufficiently large area of space that the layout of the stargate network has to take it into account. It is the reason why access to Solitude in general is so difficult and why there is another large void in the map between Solitude, Genesis and Aridia.

It's a remarkable coincidence that four violent unstable gravitational phenomena - the Cloud Ring supernova remnant, the Cord of the Elements, the Trace Cosmos and the EVE Gate are all located within about 17 light-years of each other, here in this sector of New Eden.

As to their creation, the Nebula is entirely natural; the Trace probably is too; the EVE Gate almost certainly is not; and as for the Cord, some outlandish fringe theorists have even postulated an artificial, alien origin, like an industrial or scientific accident that occurred aeons ago. That would actually place it on a par with the EVE Gate, if that's what the collapsed EVE Gate was. If aliens caused the Cord of the Elements, we'd see other evidence of their existence somewhere else in New Eden. We have more obvious evidence of our human ancestors in the form of relics from the epochs of the Talocan, Yan Jung etc. Nobody, nothing intelligent appears to have pre-dated human presence in New Eden.

If that wild theory about the Cord is even remotely true then history, from the universe's perspective, keeps on repeating itself, because just a few years ago the W477-P system in Jove space was the location of a catastrophic event that might one day produce something similar to these phenomena, millennia from now.

Then just last year my own Amarrian 'superiors' nearly caused the collapse of a star and the destruction of the Turnur system while attempting to replicate Triglavian technology. And then of course that lot are the only ones seemingly capable of mastering that much power, but to what end?

History does indeed repeat itself all the time, and it is only a matter of time before something happens, or more accurately we cause something to happen, that will, aeons from now, make our descendants build monuments and stations to its aftermath, and they will marvel at its stark cosmic beauty.

That is if we don't wipe ourselves out in the process.