Monday 31 July 2023

Keepstar on the Edge of Infinity


The desire to seek remoteness is not about adventure, it's about escape - from other people, from yourself. It's a calling. An obligation, to save your soul.

from Essays on New Eden's Sociological Evolution, 3rd Edition

I've been performing a series of experiments with Needlejack Filaments: those devices that came about as a by-product of the Triglavian Invasion.

I'm loath to get into this sort of thing, as it is experimental technology that is still not completely understood, which is why nobody has yet to get past the pseudo-random nature of the result of using one. Something this small, that doesn't need the power of a stargate, that burrows so deep into hyperspace that you end up 50 or more light-years away from where you activated it, but you won't know where, is to be handled very carefully. Yet these things are available on the open market, to be treated like an amusement. A laugh.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have an imagination. These things are dangerous. You could end up in another dimension. You might not ever come back. I mean, do you know of anyone that this has happened to? Of course not, because they don't come back to report on the experience. How many capsuleers do you know that have just disappeared..?

I ran this series of tests using a basic Probe-class frigate, rigged and fitted to a very basic exploration capability but with a couple of missile launchers for a token feeling of safety.

I bought ten of the 'Noise' filaments, had them set up to interface with the ship's systems and warp drive, and departed from my home system of Kor-Azor Prime. The first filament took me back to Syndicate. There was one other capsuleer in the system, ice-mining in an Endurance. I thought about hitting it for a few minutes but then thought better of it as it would be waste of ammo. No way am I going to catch an Endurance, not in a Probe.

The second 'Noise' took me to the Catch region. I'm not really familiar with it. I've never had much cause to go there. I wasn't interested.

The third one flung me way out to the extremely remote outer limits of the cluster - Cobalt Edge!

I've been here once before, six years ago. To this same system, HB-5L3. This is the end of the line - the last system on the network in the north-east. The one with the stargate that reaches out all the way through the centre of Jove space (or what's left of it) to the Tenal region in the even more remote, empty, godforsaken far north. 

But I understand why people want to go there...

The last time I passed through HB-5L3 six years ago there was nothing here, no human presence to speak of except the maintenance crews in the stargates. One of the system's four terrestrial worlds had a few automated weather stations broadcasting faint signals in the radio bands from its surface, but that was it.

But now, to my great surprise, and despite me going on about remoteness and emptiness, there's a damned Keepstar here:  

Pandemic Horde has two industrial facilities, a couple of Ansiblexes, a Pharolux Cyno Generator, and this thing, the whole complex probably housing a population equal to a small planetary colony, out here on the edge of the cluster. 

What in God's name are they doing out here?

It's possible that by advertising this facility's existence in the public domain like this has violated some sort of Horde opsec, but I doubt they'll care. The sheer remoteness of the system is its best defence. If they're building supercaps out here then there is no better location.

Of course the machinery of the faceless bureaucracy even reaches this far, which means the 'sov' out here is actually owned by the enigmatic Pan-Intergalactic Business Community, but these are Horde structures. Some kind of renter arrangement, presumably.

I couldn't hang around too much because a) this Probe is so cheaply-fitted it does not have a cloaking device, b) the ops crew of that Keepstar will have noted my presence here and told somebody, who would have undoubtedly been on their way here right now, and c) the Rogue Drones eventually showed up with those horrible mutations of ex-capsuleer ships with their probably-forcibly-cyborgised crew facing a deathlife worse than that of a Sansha zombie. 

See what I mean about having too much of an imagination..?