Space is big. Really big.
Rhavas had flown more than 80 jumps – from the Corporation of Noble Sentiments starbase in Great Wildlands, across Catch and Stain, through Esoteria and into Paragon Soul, then back again toward the Wildlands. And he still had over 40 more jumps to go to get back.
In most systems, his had been the sole live transponder signal. A group of Against All Authorities signals blipped from a station in LGK-VP, and another small group of ships was somewhere in UF-KKH, but there was not a physical ship in sight.
80 jumps in silence. He had finished his long-delayed mission and was returning home.
And now, finally, the electric blue glow of two overlapping warp bubbles surrounded the ship, nearly bright enough to overload Spectre‘s video sensors. A Dramiel-class interceptor (calling it a frigate didn’t do the ship justice) and a Curse-class assault cruiser hung 20 kilometers away, waiting for him to make a move.
Now, Rhavas thought, he would find out if a stealth bomber could sneak away to live another day. For a brief moment, Rhavas had a twinge of regret that he had left Wraith, his trustworthy covert ops frigate, back at home.
The microwarp drive roared to life as he spun the ship downward and outward. The deep thrum of the cloak kicked in, cutting out the microwarp drive as it did so, but maintaining the critical burst of momentum, carrying the ship out of the bubble.
Seconds later, he warped away to safety, the gate-campers never having gotten so much as a target lock.
As he began the 40 long jumps back, he took a few moments to review his log entries from the previous days.
Spectre Capsuleer Log Entry 111017, EAWE-2, Stain
I will always be grateful to Mark for sending me those first pictures of EAWE-2 I more than a year ago now. It has bothered me for a long time that there was still one shattered planet that I had never seen in person. But Stain had always seemed too far, across territory too hostile. But the reality was anticlimactic - this first leg of the trip was largely uneventful.
There are obvious signs of Sansha aggression here – Kuvakei seems to be pushing outward from his home base, and warnings abound of his growing strength. Deep in Catch in 3GD6-8, Nation has established a formidable forward base, the Rakogh Administration Complex, with obvious intent to push further into capsuleer-held nullsec territory.
Despite this, I was able to pass unmolested even through their home system of 37S-KO. I doubt I will be so lucky on the return trip.
The shattered planet in EAWE-2 is haunting against the system’s murky dark green sky, but is unremarkable compared with some of its brethren. It does make one wonder, however, what (if any) Sansha infrastructure was obliterated on the day of the Seyllin Incident. Did the impact to this planet Sansha to action or provide him some surprise advantage?
Surprisingly, the planet that has left its visual impact me on the most in this system is not the shattered EAWE-2 I, but rather the flashing electric blue plasmatic surface of EAWE-2 VI as it fills the views of my camera drones at the RRWI-5 gate.
Spectre Capsuleer Log Entry 111018, 5-CSE3, Paragon Soul
It is strange to at last be at the site of what I think of as “the farthest shore” among the systems I have targeted to visit. While the wormhole shattered planet systems were harder to find, once discovered they were only a handful of jumps away. The mystery of 5-CSE3 writ large on the CONCORD system screen has haunted me and called me here, but the actuality of flying this far at this pace has truly been a test of endurance.
5-CSE3 I glows brightly in the sky, great lava flows burning across its surface in the blue light of the A0-class star. It is tempting to think that it, too, is a thinly-disguised shattered planet, but the mass and density readings belie the appearance. 5-CSE3 I is a regular, if geologically active, planet.
I am happy at last to have visited every Seyllin Incident related world I conceivably can reach. I will continue to search for ways to find the “lost” main sequence events, or prove that some planets somehow survived. I have filed petitions with the Thukker Tribe, CONCORD and the Republic for access to the systems in Jovian space, but these of course remain a long shot at best.
I can only hope that Arek’Jaalan will in the end turn up some answers to the puzzles I have long contemplated.
Rhavas felt a sense of relief wash over him as Spectre docked in the Thukker Mix station in E02-IK. The datacore had made it safely back to Minmatar space for upload to Arek’Jaalan.