Aboard Wraith, Seyllin I, Essence
Watching through the eyes of his probe cameras, Rhavas found himself incredulous that there had been any survivors at all.
According to the sources he could find, dropships had rescued nearly a million people from the surface before it had been boiled from the inside out by the massive radioactive fire that had torn the planet apart.
Nearly 500 times that many had been instantly converted to ash and flame deep underground in the cities that had once housed vibrant life.
As he watched now, many months after that fateful day, he could still see the flames in some areas, the boiling rock spilling over the landscape and lighting the dark sky where the ship sat, cloaked, amid the floating asteroids that had once been part of the planet’s surface, ejected violently in the throes of the planet’s immolation.
As his scan probes flew through the system, he began his measurements and distance checks to the other systems purported to have shattered planets. He also watched closely as the probes brought back data on the planet itself.
It was obvious fairly rapidly that the planet was, for all intents and purposes, a giant sponge. Despite its still relatively average size, it had a tiny amount of mass. In his mind’s eye, Rhavas pictured the mass of air pockets that must now make up most of the planet – a giant ball of light, airy pumice.
The scan probes were remarkably silent. There were no wormholes, no cosmic anomalies in the system at all. Just this planet. This horrific mass grave.
Before he had left Hagliur for this leg of the trip, he had put out a call for assistance to the scientific community. In all, a full trip to all of the shattered worlds would be hundreds of jumps. Given the time and the security issues involved, anyone who could help him get data and pictures would have been a welcome bit of assistance.
As he finished up data collection in Seyllin, a comm request came in. The capsuleer on the other end was tall, thin, and shaved entirely bald. He had a long, gaunt face with deep-set, haunting eyes. He looked like he hadn’t slept in some time. “Hello, Rhavas,” he said, “My name is Ivvor. I have something for you.”
“Thanks for contacting me. What do you have?”
“I got lucky today and found J164104, which is one of the two W-space systems with a shattered planet. Interestingly it has only one static wormhole spawn and that is to high-security space. For a class 3 system I believe this is unusual. The exit is in Croleur, in Caldari space; I am sending you the coordinates now.”
Rhavas reviewed the data and began setting course and alerting the crew as he listened to Ivvor elaborate.
“The shattered planet seems similar to the few descriptions I could find about the K-space versions. I could find nothing new on scan in the system even with a full scan using deep space probes. There doesn’t seem to be anything unusual about the system at all. I tried everything I could think of, but I need to leave the system myself for a while so don’t know if I’ll get back before it closes. There are a lot of signals in the system. Mostly Ladar sites,” Ivvor said.
“Thank you. I am en route now.”
“You’re quite welcome. Keep me informed on your research. And be warned, the system appears occupied.”
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 100905, J164104 (Class 3), Wormhole Space
While things seem similar in many ways between the shattered world in this system and Seyllin I, there are significant differences as well. This planet shows little or no sign of the active molten rock on Seyllin I. It looks older and colder. While Ivvor was correct and there does not appear to be anything completely out of the ordinary, the system is a hotbed of Sleeper activity. There are nearly 15 emplacements I have been able to probe down in my time here. I have seen no evidence of any occupants other than a silent customs office, despite Ivvor’s warning – no ships or outposts.
It is pure speculation on my part, but it does not seem out of the question that perhaps this world was destroyed long before the Seyllin incident. In fact, the existence of these planets in wormhole space (there reportedly is one other, in a Class 5 system) seems counterintuitive to me.
After all, the Seyllin incident’s effect was to destroy the group of planets in New Eden in a chain reaction that gave birth to the wormholes. Was that focused event triggered here rather than in New Eden? Were these test planets for a superweapon like the one Jamyl Sarum was rumored to have, but in the dim past? Were these destroyed by some other factor?
Regardless of the answer, the two wormhole shattered planets are perhaps the biggest mystery of all to me in this galactic geography puzzle.
The man on the comm this time might have been half Ivvor’s age. In contrast, he looked the wide-eyed optimist to Ivvor’s grizzled veteran. His brown hair was long and thin, and day-old stubble dotted his chin.
“Hi Rhavas. I’m Mark.” The young man paused. When Rhavas didn’t react, the man said, “Eve Travel.”
“Ah,” Rhavas said, suddenly aware who he was talking to, “I’m a fan of your publications. I’ve actually been repeating some of your travels as well, but more for scientific purposes than tourism.”
Mark smiled. “So, like I said in the note I wrote you, I’m down in Stain right now, and I snapped some pictures of EAWE-2 I like you requested. I’m transmitting now. Hopefully these are what you were looking for. I actually really enjoyed EAWE. The warp in point for planet I is just inside of the debris field. If you’re warping in through one of the gates, you actually warp right through the field. It was pretty spectacular.”
Rhavas scanned through the photos as they came in. EAWE-2 looked like the missing link between the two planets he had already visited. There were spots of magma activity – far less than Seyllin I, but not as dormant as J164104.
“Thanks, Mark,” he said. “They look like exactly what I needed, and you saved me a very long trip. Did you do any scanning in the system?”
“No,” the younger man said, “I didn’t think of it, sorry.”
After a thoughtful pause, Rhavas asked, “Did you go through 37S? It’s only a few jumps away from there.” 37S-KO was the old homeworld of the Sansha, and rumored to be open for business once again with the incursions into Empire space.
Mark briefly look surprised at the question before taking on a conspiratorial air. “That’s actually what I’m doing in Stain in the first place. I was hoping the Sansha home system would have something for an upcoming EVE Travel publication, but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary there, which is rather unfortunate. Maybe there’s something there when an invasion is actually getting set up, but I don’t know.”
“Good to know,” Rhavas replied.
On the way back to Hagliur, Wraith‘s secondary navigation computer finished its telemetry run and presented some preliminary conclusions.
Rhavas frowned as he reviewed it. He wasn’t going to find many Amarrians who would be thanking him for bringing to light what it showed.
This is the third in a 12-part story. Next: Part 4: The Case Against Jamyl Sarum and Sansha Kuvakei