Aboard Wraith, Orbiting Sarum Prime III
The evidence was there. But it was all circumstantial.
As Rhavas had spent countless hours jumping through systems to gather data, the picture had begun to clarify for him. What he had expected to find – sleepers and drones – were certainly there in some places, but their numbers were thin and their efforts weak or inconsequential when they were present. The expected “sleeper offensive” he had been looking for was nowhere to be found.
There was one clear trend in his research, a very disturbing one that would be difficult for anyone, much less a Minmatar with Thukker heritage like himself, to prosecute to anyone’s satisfaction. Agar Edonbald had laughed when Rhavas had shared his thoughts and calculations, and had simply said, “You begin to see the wheels within wheels, my friend. Keep digging.”
Rhavas pulled up the system map again, showing the ring of planets. Viewed geographically on a map of the cluster, the shattered planets fairly screamed of Amarrian involvement. The question was one really of whether Amarr was the attacker or the attacked. The ring was a clear encirclement of Amarrian territory – while it passed through other empires it truly appeared to paint a target with its center deep in the heart of Tash-Murkon, and likely near to Mekhios, a.k.a. Sarum Prime III, the homeworld of the Amarrian empress and the site where she had supposedly unleashed her superweapon to annihilate the Thukker fleet of Rhavas’ kin. Maybe the same superweapon responsible for triggering the Seyllin Incident, the death of nearly 500 million innocent civillians, and the destruction of the shattered worlds.
The documents and datacores Rhavas had studied made plain that there were other involvements Sarum had in the whole series of events. As best he could tell, she had been aware of the planets that would later be destroyed, even if it was unclear whether she had a hand in their end. Further, her “return from death” seemed highly suspicious – and she had returned changed, unlike a typical capsuleer who picked up more or less where they left off when “killed”. Some of the scientific studies of the Sleepers had begun to theorize that they were actually the stored consciousness of long-dead flesh, waiting for a new body to inhabit, whether it be machine or human.
New information on the chemical C3 continued to surface, suggesting that it was not simply a chemical compound to help capsuleers survive, but had insidious effects on the brain that could potentially be used against them – or to free them from the bonds of the pod much like the Sleepers had achieved.
To make matters worse, the Sansha had a long history of involvement of one kind or another with the Amarr. And who else had returned mysteriously from the long dead? Sansha Kuvakei. And he brought with him the capability to wipe the minds of those his forces conquered, rendering them slaves to carry out his will. He had potentially overtaken a Jovian system with his fleet, an unheard-of feat.
Was it possible that Jamyl Sarum and Sansha Kuvakei were both doppelgangers? Or was Sarum a puppet of the Sansha? Or had Sarum created a new kind of control over the Sansha, making them her own personal army of destruction?
Rhavas knew he was unlikely to find the answers, but he was here to see what he could find.
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 100914, Sarum Prime III (Mekhios), Tash-Murkon
Whatever else can be said of the Amarr, there is little question that the ships of their navy are powerful. After all, the Empire today is built upon the bones of the conquered. Sitting in the so-called Mekhios Graveyard, among the hallowed wreckage of my kin, it is easy to believe that somewhere nearby is the fabled superweapon of Jamyl Sarum. The destruction is palpable – while there are several Amarrian ships among the floating wreckage, the destroyed Minmatar vessels dominate the debris field. If this was all done in one shot, it is easy to believe that she could have lit the fuse that destroyed the shattered worlds.
Numerous scans of the system also turned up at least two Sansha sites. What was unclear when I investigated was whether they are outposts that are there to do the Empress’ bidding, or there to incur on her space. One station clearly has been established for some time and appears to be doing a brisk business. I certainly do not believe that she is unaware of them.
Unfortunately, while Sarum Prime is clearly closer to the ring’s center than the Eve Gate is, my measurements so far indicate that it is not the true center of the ring. I do not think that this absolves the Empress of involvement, however. After all, as far as I’m aware even she cannot control placements of stellar bodies, and the ring itself is far from a perfect circle, so this may be “close enough.” I’ll be looking at Tash-Murkon Prime as well.
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 100915, Tash-Murkon Prime, Tash-Murkon
I have been disappointed again by this system deep within the core of the Empire. This is my first trip to the Amarrian homeworlds, and I expected grand structures and an empire in its glory days, massive and powerful fleets scouring the pirates from their homeworlds. Instead I find it in as least as much disrepair as our own Republic. Instead, I find a system thick with Sansha activity. There were at least three major Sansha installations, including one that was very well-hidden and quite large.
While I am disappointed in the lack of evidence I have found regarding the Empire’s knowing participation in the Seyllin Incident or a direct connection to the Sansha, the Sansha are looking more and more like the real driving force as I get closer to the mathematical center of the ring. Tash-Murkon prime is definitely a bit closer to the center, but still too close to Seyllin and too far from T-IPZB for me to believe that it is truly the “center”. I plan to head further “south” for more measurements – probably all the way down to Saminer.
The statements on the public maps are already ominous. There is a landmark down there called the Traumark Installation. CONCORD describes it as a former massive fortress guarding the territories of the Tash-Murkon family. It had once been thought impregnable, but fell to the Sansha, and numerous Amarrian efforts to retake it have failed. I fear this may be a metaphor for what is to come for all of us.
This is the fourth of a 12-part series. Next – Part 5: Saminer