I was looking forward to a long, quiet night of mining in our new home.
The corpmates had long since gone to bed, my Mozart was queued up in my iTunes library, and the hulk was ready to go. But, my curiosity had gotten the better of me, and before I hit the belts I had decided to probe out a couple new signatures that popped up on system scanner.
It seemed like almost everyone in my corp had found something since we got here--from strange materials, to a gate that looked like a replica of the EVE Gate. Everyone had found something, that is, but me.
But I’m Harry. Harry doesn’t do crazy stuff like jump through scary, unknown stargates. Or warp to big, unknown objects that are probably death traps.
Harry patiently watches ore accumulate in his ore bay, to the gentle strains of Requiem in D minor.
To my disappointment, the sites were nothing unusual. Nothing to wake up corpmates for. Pretty typical stuff for what we were used to finding out here. But, I decided to go take a look at one of them before trading my covert ops in for a mining barge. I hadn’t done a whole lot of poking around yet. I’ve been too busy gathering supplies to build ships to replace all those lost by corpmates who poked around a little too much.
Not that I mind, exactly. In fact, I should probably go check on those cruisers that I put in last night…
I’m about half way to my destination, thinking about the cruisers put in the oven last night, and semi-day dreaming about finding the largest chunk of veldspar anyone has ever seen before, when my ship randomly drops out of warp 20 AU before it’s supposed to.
Oh my god, the creepy NPCs have devices that can knock me out of warp, I panicked. They’re going to pod me and it’s going to be weeks before I can find a way back here…
But as my ship drifted to a stop, there were no NPCs to greet me and blow my Helios out of the sky.
Just a really, big….red….
Obviously, I know real clouds don’t exist in outer space, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. I sat at the very edge of it, the nose of my ship almost touching it. And it was massive, spanning as far as I could see to either side of me.
Inside, the redness drifted and shifted, semi-translucent. And I could see eerie flashes of faint light as if there was some sort of lightning storm deep in its depths.
I sat there gaping for a minute, and then my brain started working again, going through my choices of what to do next:
A. Run away as fast as I can.
B. Take screen shots and THEN run away as fast as I can.
C. Bookmark it, run away as fast as I can, and then wake up Joey.
Before I could think any more about it, I increased speed and my ship slowly drifted inside. This was my discovery. My only discovery. I could tell everyone about the strange cloud and how I had bravely explored it tomorrow when everyone came back online.
Maybe there was a big, secret asteroid belt inside….
As soon as I was enveloped in the murky redness, I checked my ship’s instruments. Nothing appeared on the overview. Nothing on scan. It was as if the strange site wasn’t even registering. According to every scanner, I was out in the middle of normal space somewhere.
I also tried to warp, just on a hunch. Sure enough, it failed due to ‘external’ factors. That somewhat explains how it broke my warp, though I’ve never heard of any sort of site ever doing that in New Eden.
I scrolled out, and then back in again, and finally decided to jettison a probe. A can popped up on my overview, marking where I entered the red expanse. Just in case. Currently, I could zoom out and see the edge, but the further I got inside this thing, the harder it would be to figure out how to get back.
I increased to full speed, and sped ahead for a good while without seeing anything. The marker I had left got further, and further away. 100K….200K…..
Great. My corpies had found interesting gates, new sorts of resources, and even a blueprint copy of a yet unidentified module.
I found a big red pile of dust.
It’s too bad CCP hadn’t invented some sort of mobile flag structure I could plant. I hereby claim this pile of dust.
Harry’s red pile of dust. I chuckled to myself.
And, the can disappeared. Apparently, I had fallen off the grid.
I stopped my ship, and looked around. Red dust as far as the eyes could see, and getting somewhat denser straight ahead.
I popped another can, and continued on. Now, I was curious at how big this thing was. It obviously was too big to fit inside one grid.
Maybe, this red dust stuff was like mineable gas. Or, maybe it was some sort of extremely valuable resource…Maybe this was the motherload of discoveries and I was about to turn all my corpmates into trillionaires….
It was quite a while later, and I was nearly 600K from my third can when I saw something. The red ‘dust’ had gotten really dense, and scrolling out no longer showed the edge. It spanned on all sides of me as far as I could see, and only the cans I was dropping showed me the path back.
Off to the left, I could barely make out a dark shape. Finally. Something besides redness. I adjust my course, and made straight for the murky object.
It was further away then it looked, and bigger. The closer I got, the bigger it loomed in front of me. I briefly thought about waking someone up. I was probably flying right into a death trap, and reinforcements would be nice.
But I had already come so far.
Something nicked the side of my ship.
I zoomed in at one of the tiny objects floating next to me, and nearly gasped aloud at the grotesque face that looked back at me. Frozen, unseeing eyes stared out of a badly mangled corpse.
Plink. Plink. Plink. Plink.
It was like an asteroid field, only instead of rocks, I was surrounded by dozens of frozen bodies. They looked like they had been human….once. They must have been here, frozen, for a very long time to look the way they did. Most disintegrated the second they hit the ship.
All at once, the red dust parted and I fell into a clearing of sorts. The large object I had been flying toward stood clearly in front of me –a station of magnificent size and a design I had ever seen before. It was broken, battered, and in ruins—pieces of it spilling into space in every direction.
Behind it, and all around were the remains of what appeared to have been a battle of epic proportions. Badly mangled ships of every size spread possibly hundreds of kilometers. And in the distance I could see wrecks of ships comparable in size to New Eden’s titans.
I kept going, not with a little trepidation. Surely this is some sort of trap, and at any moment those terrible NPCs would pop out from behind a wreck to blow my Helios to smithereens.
But, nothing ever happened.
I floated past the remains of a ship that looked to be about the size of a cruiser. The port side was badly damaged, and even getting as close as I dared, I could not make out any recognizable weapon systems.
Another ship looked to have been a transport. Probably containing those attempting to flee from the now desolate station. It looked like something had torn the side of the ship off, and the nearby area was still littered with the frozen crew and passengers that had been suddenly exposed to the harsh void of space.
One ship ahead looked better intact then many of the others, and I could see more of its design. It was sleek, and shiny with hull plating of some unknown alloy. And protruding from it was some sort of flat, rounded disc. A landing pad? some sort of strange, unknown weapon?
I tried to see if I could get any more info about it, knowing full well my ship’s databases would be void of such a craft, but trying anyway. Instead, I got options I did not expect.
Without thinking, I did the most stupid, careless thing I could have ever done in such a situation. Who am I? What was I thinking?
The Helios fell behind me, as I ejected my pod out into space.
From this vantage point, I am a tiny speck. Like an ant in the ruins of a human city, I am dwarfed by the wreckage surrounding me. And I grit my teeth, knowing that only a thin wall separates me from the devastation that engulfs this place.
I fire up my capsule’s propulsion, and edge closer to the alien ship.
I can now see damage in the hull I couldn't see before. Protrusions. A place where a piece of the hull plating has been ripped off. Subtle inconsistencies in the surface. The ship obviously went through heavy combat.
I push closer.
There are shadows –no, symbols—etched into this side of the hull. Hard to see within the other damage, until it’s in your face. The symbols of a long forgotten race? A foreign message in a foreign language.
I push closer, and scramble for those options that left me terrified in anticipation.
And suck in my breath as I am able to successfully board the alien ship.