Aboard Wraith, T-IPZB, Delve
Rhavas kept one camera on the T-M0FA gate while the other photographic drones spread out through the debris field. He nudged the ship to one side as the frozen corpse of some unnamed, long-dead Blood Raider floated past.
This, he thought, is where she started it all.
An unknown group had posted a beacon here – more than likely either the IT Alliance holders of the system or some less savory elements who made up the local population and remembered the events themselves. His Aura unit had reported the beacon’s message:
Some believe that the Blood Raiders who died here still haunt these tombs of twisted metal, and that if you listen closely, you can hear their hateful cries across the depths of space. What happened at this place is indistinguishable from fact or legend, miracle or nightmare. All that is known for sure is that the origins of Jamyl Sarum’s resurgence can be traced to this spot, and that the Blood Raiders suffered horribly to her wrath.
It was, for Rhavas, one of the few confirming moments on this long treasure hunt. Because what it reminded him of more than anything was the Mekhios Graveyard of Elder ships at Sarum Prime III. Nowhere else had he seen destruction on this scale with this apparent simultaneous impact. No Fleet Commander worth the title stood and took the kind of damage that was wrought here unless there was matching carnage on the other side. These were different – largely one-sided, with huge dreadnought class vessels slaughtered where they stood, by all evidence in one horrific blow, surrounded in clouds of atomized ship plating and biomass. More than any other words or deeds might, these places spoke to Rhavas of the Empress’ raw power, and the destructive capability of even a relatively small amount of Isogen-5.
T-IPZB I, the last of the shattered worlds on his list to visit, showed the telltale signs that Rhavas and his crew had seen all across the cluster. A handful of things made T-IPZB stand out from its shattered brethren – it was the smallest of the group, only 1/4 the radius of 3HQC-6 I in Outer Ring. It was also closer than most to its sun and consequently higher in temperature than average. But taken as a whole, it was grimly similar to all of the others, showing more flashes of heat than some but less than others, the now-familiar debris field orbiting around the boiled pumice core.
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 101101, T-IPZB, Delve
When I set out on this journey, I left expecting little – maybe a bump in prestige with Boundless Creation but not much else. Maybe an increase in pay, maybe some additional research effort. As I discovered more, I hoped for revelations – the true nature of Jamyl Sarum, Sansha Kuvakei and the Sleepers. The why and how behind the creation of the wormholes. The involvement of the Sisters of Eve, the Blood Raiders, CONCORD, the Jove and Society of Conscious Thought. The true nature of the shattered planets. Yet as I orbit this final* shattered world I find myself disappointed – still strangely ignorant of the events that produced these landmarks of destruction that were left behind.
While Jamyl Sarum’s monument to her triumph over the Blood Raiders dominates the front door of the system, the Blood Raiders are the ones who remain here to tell the tale. Their sites are legion in the system, and their presence is strong despite her evident past victory. That, perhaps, is the greatest solace to me as a Minmatar – that despite the power that she has demonstrated, a people can come back, and even thrive, despite her enmity and ill will. Powerful as she may be, she is only one, and – for now, at least – her fabled superweapon is nowhere to be found.
The Blood Raiders have a fairly typical operations hub here, but also have a massive transmissions array of data equipment that glows like a small sun, looking like a miniature Eve Gate crossed with a Sansha data array. It was guarded by a horde of Bhaalgorn battleships so I was unable to get in for an up-close look. There is also a strange contraption that they have set up that looks for all the world like a jump gate made from a small child’s teething rings – I have no idea what it does nor why it is here. For every mystery solved, more appear.
We had remarkable luck on the way out finding wormholes that cut our journey dramatically, much like we did on the trip to Roua. I am hopeful that we will find a faster way back to Metropolis the same way.
*I do not expect to ever see J115422 I, buried deep in Class 5 wormhole space, and it will be long before I have an opportunity to visit EAWE-2 in person rather than relying on a third-party report.
UPDATE: I recently learned that Mark from Eve Travel was there not long after me. A shame, really – I would like to have met him in person. In addition, I received a message that gives me hope I may actually see the inside of J115422 some day after all.
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 101102, J112948, Class 3 Wormhole Space
In our efforts to return home, we stumbled into yet another anomalous system. Before starting on this journey I had never seen any of these anomalies – yet they seem to huddle like small children around the shattered world systems for some reason. While I theorize that this is due to the shattered systems being the origin points or concentration areas of the wormhole network and the anomaly wormholes being “more impacted” somehow, that is pure supposition.
The black hole here is ominous, and I am glad that we are no closer. The photographs do not do it justice – it looks for all the world like a giant drain hole at the bottom of the system, sucking everything down to it. I am glad to know that we can exit.
The effects on the ship are somewhat remarkable – our speed and agility here are unbelievably good, I assume due to the gravitational fluctuations caused by the black hole.
We will continue to look for exits with a shortened return home.
Wraith Capsuleer Log Entry 101103, J140135, Class 1 Wormhole Space
We were unfortunately unable to find a short road home from T-IPZB, but it appears we will have a route back via this hole we found from T-M0FA next door.
The pulsar here is beautiful – almost the polar opposite to the black hole in J112948. It pulses with life and vibrancy that can only be appreciated in person. It seems somehow fitting that as we return to Empire space from the long journey that we come via a strange, anomalous wormhole. We will be back in Hagilur tomorrow.
Aboard Wraith, in Uttindar en route to Hagilur, Metropolis
The scrubbed result data from his team’s search of CONCORD and Republic public databases continued to stream in. His Chief Scientist back at home in Hek smiled, face filling Rhavas’ mind’s eye.
“Surprisingly, sir, there are still a few stones unturned. There’s a lot of data there in what I’m sending, but a few things worthy of note. I’ve noted two systems in particular that have some strange, potentially-related stuff. But what’s going to knock your socks off is that video.”
“Very well, I’ll take a look,” Rhavas sent. “I was looking forward to wrapping this up and going public. But maybe you’re right … a last check of these things will be quick.”
The scientist dipped his head in farewell and Rhavas cut the transmission. He eased out of warp toward the gate when the transmission alert caught his attention again. As he flipped the comm signal live again, he was surprised to see not his Chief Scientist, nor Edonbald or anyone else from Boundless Creation, but a young Deteis Caldari stranger.
The stranger smiled broadly. “Hello Rhavas, my name is Tilo Rhywald. I’m happy to inform you that you’ve been accepted to join Eve University. I’ve passed your qualifications along to the scouting and wormhole exploration divisions, as well as the salvage team and our war department, the Ivy League Navy.”
It took Rhavas several seconds to reorient. He had been so focused on his research for so long that it was jarring to be brought back to the wheels he had set in motion to join the University. It felt good to think of something else, something different, coming up. “Glad to hear it,” he said. “I have a couple of last things to wrap up. See you soon.”
This is the ninth part of a 12-part series. Next: Part 10 – Loose Ends.