Genesis Region – Mih Constellation
Serren System – Planet III
3 May YC 122
Having returned to scanning I quite soon pinned down a wormhole and warped to its location to check where it led. As Neocom showed its description, both Aura and I gasped – it was a wormhole to Thera! You probably know that my corp maintains a publicly available list of Thera connections but I never used it because I wanted to find that system myself. And finally I did!
Aura and I looked at each other and nodded, “Let’s go!”
Region G-R00031 – Constellation G-C00324
“Wow, it’s huge,” I whispered in awe when I checked the system map. “How many capacitors do I need to cross this system?”
“How many capacitors do you need to even reach the nearest planet?” asked Aura.
“Let’s check. And I will establish a safe spot as we go.”
“I don’t think you need safe spots here. If you try to warp to a space object in the bottom half of the overview, you will naturally end up in a safe spot because you’ll run out of capacitor.”
“True,” agreed I, “but having SS bookmark in the list is somehow reassuring. It’s a kind of a celestial inscription which can be read as ‘Vlad was here’.”
It took me almost two full capacitors to reach the planet, or rather the place where it used to be. The space was filled with asteroid- and even planetoid-size debris slowly rotating around their common centre of gravity.
“What has happened here?” said Aura, shocked.
“Looks very much like the result of Seyllin Incident in k-space.”
“But in that incident there was only one planet destroyed in each system, the closest to the star. Seyllin I, for example, was just half-AU away from the sun. Here the first 9 planets are shattered, the farthest having the orbit radius of 55.603 AU! I can’t start imagining how such massive amount of energy could be delivered over such distance without destroying the star.”
“Maybe Sisters of Eve will eventually find it out,” said I pointing at the overview. “They have set up four research stations here.”
“Let’s visit one of them and ask!” suggested Aura.
“No, I find the idea of approaching a station in J-space unsettling – you have to lose cloak. Maybe some day when I decide to try Thera scanning… But today let’s just fly around and see sights.”
“What kind of sights?”
“Just the usual tourist stuff – ruins, of course,” grinned I. “We have already seen the remains of the planet. Now we can check out artificial objects – the overview advises that there are a couple of historical station wrecks.”
The first place we visited was marked by a beacon named ‘Expedition Command Outpost Wreck’. Can’t say it was in one piece but the station was in a much better shape than the shattered planet. Still, obviously uninhabitable.
“I wonder who could possibly attack the outpost in J-space and how they managed to get enough firepower,” asked I. “The amount of ship movement through wormholes required to bombard such a huge station could not go unnoticed.”
“Could be them,” said Aura and switched to a different tab on my overview which revealed two Sleeper frigates and one cruiser patrolling the space around the wreck.
My hands involuntarily curled into fists. Sleepers again!
“Aura, next time I plan to visit Thera, remind me to fly a cruiser. With DPS fitting.”
Aura perked up, “A Stratios?”
“Probably something less expensive, for starters.”
“Okay,” said Aura in disappointed tone, but I could still see sparkles glinting in her eyes – she would love to fit and fly a cruiser, Stratios or not.
Our next destination was called ‘Epicenter’.
“Do you think it’s safe?” asked Aura suspiciously. “That’s probably the place where the wave of destruction originated.”
“Oh, come on! Someone has already been there and installed a beacon to mark a point of interest – it must be a reasonably safe place to visit. Otherwise, they would write some kind of a warning on it.”
“‘Epicenter’ sounds like enough warning to me,” said Aura glumly, as I warped to the site.
She was right – the place was dangerous. An unwary explorer could be sucked into a violent wormhole, burnt by menacingly pulsating radiation or attacked by roaming Sleepers. But it was amazing too. Where I expected to see a scene of complete devastation we found a number of almost intact pieces of alien-looking technology. The structures were obviously long abandoned but some of them were still functional. I checked the overview and my eyes grew wide.
“Look, Aura, they were built by Talocan!”
“If they were playing with powers which could destroy everything within 50-AU radius, no wonder they are not around anymore,” grumbled Aura.
I found myself excited by the first part of that statement, and almost totally ignoring the grim second one.
“The SOE researchers must be making one discovery after another! I wish I could meet some of them. You know, those guys are really smart – they invented Astero, Stratios and Nestor, some of the best ships in New Eden!”
I thought Aura would be delighted to meet creators of her favourite ships but Thera seemed to have a depressing effect on her, and she rather drily reminded me that I didn’t plan to dock at Thera stations.
“Yeah, right,” agreed I. “Let’s continue the tour.”
The two remaining locations were Testing Facilities and Planetary Colonization Office Wreck. While I was gushing about the mysteries hidden in those ancient artefacts, Aura just silently and suspiciously eyed the structures, looking wary.
“Aura, what’s the matter?” I finally asked a direct question.
She started and shivered, “I don’t know. I feel some danger here. This system was a place of a horrible tragedy, much worse than Seyllin Incident. I can’t help thinking that it was caused by all those structures. And look at them – they seem half-alive, like zombies. Who knows why Talocan abandoned them? What if one day they come online…” her voice trailed off.
“Aura, you have an overactive imagination,” I said soothingly, while thinking to myself that Thera scanning, that I planned to do in future, might be a challenge. But that was a problem for another day.
“Don’t worry,” added I, “we won’t be here much longer. Let’s scan our way out.”
“Why wouldn’t you use one of the bookmarks that your corp mates so painstakingly collect in a shared folder?”
I slapped myself on the forehead, “Aura, you are a genius!”
“Am I?” suddenly she looked her former bubbly self.
“Positively,” said I and warped to a bookmarked wormhole.