I guess if you've never been and the pilgrimage is on your cockpit list too, you should probably stop reading right now.
The first task is to pick a ship. A proper explorer would take an exploration ship, a Covert Ops frigate at least if not the Sisters of EVE ships. The latter would fit very well since the Sisters are rumoured to be down at the EVE gate doing whatever it is they do. They've probably used these hulls before. Then again I have my doubts about the Astero and I suspect the Stratios would be like flying a one man honey trap down there. Additionally, in my mind, this "pilgrimage" has more of an aspect of "joyride" than most pilgrims would like. "Tourism" wouldn't be far off the mark. I'm EVEs first tourist. I'm Twoflower in space.
To ameliorate this image and inject a suitable amount of macho bullshit back into the mission I pick a muscle car. The Ares.
It's fast, armoured enough to probably survive an insta locking gate sniper, and red. I keep thinking that it would look good if it had the Gallente shield badge on it but with the shield having a yellow background instead of a green one.
I've not pimped my ride. This isn't a case of "how fast can you go" it's a case of cheap, suitably amusing, cap stable, 5k per second speed, high warp speed, and manoeuvrability.
The route to the EVE gate is fairly short. Fourteen jumps or so of hi sec and another nine of low sec. Thanks to the Ares I'm at my last hisec waypoint in record time. Along the way I notice that some Amarr stargates have a rotating ring built into them. Given my recent obsession with all things rotaty and ringy I note it down for future inspection.
I arrive at Imya and decide to take a break, I spend this manually flying the Ares round a spike on one of the systems stations. I tell myself this is to test the manoeuvrability of the ship under MWD but mainly it's because my inner RP geek is imagining the stations inhabitants looking on with abject fear at 1.5 million kilos of spaceship travelling at 4km per second less than a kilometer from their windows. It's good practice for the PVP technique of spiralling too. Circling something by clicking halfway into a tangential vector and producing a rough, ever decreasing, circle.
Enough faffing. I check my route. This is when the plan changes. After a few jumps in the systems all have meaningful names. Access, Exit, Gateway, Central Point and Promised Land. There's a story here. I'm going to be here longer than I thought because I'm going to trace the earliest arrivals route out into the cluster and see if I can get a feel for what they might have seen. This is now Space-archaeo-social-anthropology. It also gives me an excuse to roar through the systems at top speed. I'll see them at length on the way back.
On arrival in New Eden the gate isn't hard to miss though I'm briefly confused by the sun having a distant nebula at it's back. That's a messy origin story structure. I turn around and see what I'm really here to see.
Apparently over three light years away there isn't any chance of reaching it. There isn't even an indication that it's there in any of the navigational sensors. The rest of the system is as quiet as the grave. A single barren planet without even a moon sits in a tight orbit around the sun. There isn't even a station in the system. Had I been the Amarr, who own this neck of the woods, I'd of dropped a station just for research and the tourist trade. Scratch the latter.
I pay attention to local for the first time. There is something odd going on. From the tone of the messages I think these capsuleers are here to do something not too far from worship. Like the Amarr who, along with the other crime of thinking that hoods are a good year round fashion statement, decided that the supernatural is a go-to excuse for doing whatever you want, these capsuleers hold a reverence for the EVE Gate that borders on mysticism. Despite a few attempts to get me involved in their ritual greetings I'm still thinking of announcing that I've filled the hold full of explosives and I'm on a collision course with the gate. Of course I won't get there for several hundreds of millennia but I'm still tempted to say I'll try. I'm immortal. There's bound to be enough TV to keep me entertained for epoch making levels of time. No.
Instead, I'm tempted to leave my own can, undoing all the good work of mocking everyone that I wrote above. The main reason is a can emblazoned with this message
"Know, Pilgrim, that you do not travel alone. Palcus Jan 26, 2007"
For some reason this message resonates. I look around the system and try to think what it must have been like to end up here after a legendary journey. Apart from the gate itself, something of a depressing anti-climax. I like these early, supposedly legendary, colonists. They had balls. They named the system after a garden, origin implied or not. They had a sense of humour. I would have taken one look at the half frosted, half burnt ball of rock in orbit around the sun and said "Guys, wait, I think I forgot something. You go ahead, I'll just nip back and get it and then catch up." Perhaps they had their eyes cast towards further stars. I'm going to follow their route and see what it's like.
Before I go I travel 50,000 km out from the arrival gate and leave my own can, my own message. It's there now if you care to go and find my own identity claim in a bottle. In a highly confused and hypocritical way I leave a token behind, a single Ultraviolet laser charge. Suddenly I'm understanding the "why" of votive offerings that I never really understood from my Archaeological studies. There's a palpable sense of deep humanity here in the emptiness for some reason. Something that almost contrasts the electromagnetic glory of the EVE Gate itself. Something that demands acknowledgement. Here we began.
Having waxed lyrical and morally perjured myself enough for one day, I turn the ship around. Next stop. Promised Land.
EVE Track of the Day
The Eve of the War - Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds
(It works on so many levels! There's also a tenuous joke in the lyrics about my journey here for those that care to figure it out. )