Wraith dropped out of warp and Rhavas banked her over, taking in the view. Despite the huge amount of work and the volume of donated material that he knew on paper had gone into the site, Rhavas had not expected anything so massive. The site was over 100 Km across, with two outpost-level stations anchoring the ends of the site. Enough station capacity to support two entire systems. Midway between them hung a huge array of anchored platforms – each dedicated to one of Arek’Jaalan’s projects.
The Visitor Center had a small crowd of ships within its docking ring, with curious crews, capsuleers and locals taking in the newly-opened site. There had been a limited handful of aggressive actions by Sansha sympathizers, but their actions had been largely against the site security forces. In typical Minmatar – and capsuleer – fashion, this was taken as part of the attraction, and the traffic of visitors had grown rather than diminished.
As Rhavas glided in toward the dock of the Administrative Outpost, it was impossible not to take in the enormity of the achievement that had been wrought. A year ago, Rhavas had never thought that he would be sitting here – in fact, had never considered that Tukoss might want to build such an edifice.
“Hello, Rhavas. Welcome to Antiquus.” Tukoss’ voice was a bit tinny over the comm channel. There must still have been some tuning going on with the equipment.
“Good afternoon, Dr. Tukoss. I must say I’m impressed.”
“I’ve cataloged your ship’s transponder signal, you’re free to dock at the Research Center and set up your office. Most of Eifyr’s folks and the Republic and government relations staff are in the Outpost here, but we’ve set up operations for all of you over there. I hope you’ll find the new homes for your projects satisfactory.”
“I’m sure I will.”
“Uploading site data to you now.”
“Received. I’ll see you later on this week?”
“Depends, the schedule’s a nightmare as usual.”
Rhavas angled away toward the other outpost, glancing over the heads-up data Aura was passing him.
Arek’Jaalan was an expansive effort, crossing the breadth of available research across disciplines and technologies of five ancient races, as well as the rogue drones. Each of the currently-active projects across that huge scope was accorded its own platform – a station in its own right – to house all the archives, materials and research for that individual project.
Tukoss had done him a favor – the archives for Project Teseract and Project Catapult were right next to one another in the center of the array, and not far from the one for Project Compass.
Rhavas was really not a researcher – he was an explorer and a combat pilot. Arek’Jaalan was only a means to an end. He wanted only two things, and those two projects were that means.
Project Tesseract represented the hunt for an explanation for the utter destruction he had seen in the wreckage of the shattered planets. Project Catapult was the search for a method by which he could dramatically shorten the amount of time it took to travel between them. It was at once that complicated and that simple.
He passed between the flat, bulky structures dedicated to the two projects and briefly double-checked all the datacores remotely. It looked good, and station sensors indicated that the archivists were hard at work. He downloaded copies of the abstracts to take back with him to Villore.
Individual capsuleer ships from across New Eden floated from one to the next, downloading research abstracts, to be distributed them throughout known space. It gave him a strange feeling to know that the research he had worked on quietly, behind the scenes for so many months, now had his name emblazoned on it in such a way that it could hardly be missed.
He docked at the oupost, gave orders, and the crew began unloading equipment to be hauled up to the new research office. After a few moments to escape the pod and clean up, he returned to stand atop Wraith‘s hull, leaning back against her sail.
As he looked out on what Tukoss and the broader team had wrought, he could not help but acknowledge just how grand the initiative’s scope was. He also was struck as much by what the site did not say as what it did. Why had Tukoss built an acceleration gate, currently offline? Why the massive size of the installation, containing enough materiel and facilities to support two full systems, despite the fact that there were several other fully-functional stations in Eram? If this gargantuan installation was just “Site One”, how massive was Tukoss’ full plan?
“Sir,” came a voice from his commlink.
“Where would you like us to put your desk, sir?”
“Facing the window, of course.”
“Very good sir. By the way, the comm messages are already backing up and there’s a gentleman by the name of Aechpee here to speak to you about Isogen mining.”
Rhavas smiled. For now, he would have to be content with simply enjoying the view.