We're around five light years from the EVE Gate now and it's time for a little analysis of my subjects and a little introspection on how I view them.
First, a quick look around the system of Central Point. It's quiet. Like every system I've visited so far on the journey. Capsuleer activity is muted, there are a few stations running but plenty of empty moons. The belts are pristine and chock full enough of interesting amounts of minerals that I almost consider moving here. A man with a mining plan could make a lot out of a system as quiet as this. Even the planets are underused. Half of them still have the infrastructure of the old Interbus customs office racket in orbit. They must have been here for years.
In fact the only activity I really see in space is the presence of the Blood Raiders. I've heard they now hunt for capsuleers in the their pursuit for the red stuff. This is about as clever as it sounds. A craving for rusty water leads them to the only place in the cluster I've ever seen quiet. There's less life here than anywhere else. It's a shame I've no guns on board. I've a inkling to get a rack of hybrid blasters fitted, load them with damp Iron Charges and roar in shouting "hey you guys, here's another mix of water and iron". I'm sure they'd appreciate it.
Planet wise there is nothing to write home about. The only planet you'd consider setting foot on is a barren world about 1.5 AUs out from the star. It's value? You could get a good sun tan before leaving a good looking corpse. I wonder what our ancestors thought when they passed through here, which brings me back to my central theme.
Crossroads are odd places in the minds of humans. The obviously required decision causes our poor monkey brains to overheat when they start over-thinking and begin to ponder all kinds of other decisions and perhaps even the nature of decision. Here we are. East or West? Why West? Why travel at all? What's the purpose of it all? What am I in the grand scheme of things? Hey presto, you've gone from a simple choice of direction to the last stop on the line, Existential Dread, by falling asleep on the philosophy train. Nevertheless I'm going to use this effect. I'm going to consider how I've been thinking about my subjects and lay some ghosts to rest here, burying the criminal corpses of old ideas at a crossroads so that their intellectual shades don't follow me on the rest of my journey.
I've been romanticising the notion of our ancestors in two ways. Firstly, in their identity. I've grouped them into a single tribe. A people of purpose. In fact we have the evidence to suggest they were just as fractious, greedy, opinionated and political as, well, as we are now. The Gallente and Caldari ancestors must have aimed straight at Luminaire, the Amarr for what was Athra, and the Minmatar for what became Pator. I doubt they hung around to enjoy the view. The evidence suggests they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going. It's not those "successful" colonists that I'm following. It's the ancestors of the smaller groups who either vanished altogether or turned up later in places like Intaki. Particularly the former. The independent explorers who never formed viable colonies after the EVE Gate shut down. The directness of the larger groups brings me to the next myth I've invested in.
I've been romanticising the colonists mode of travel, imagining rag tag convoys at sub light speed, slowly being whittled down to a hard core of solid explorers by their arduous travails through the void. This didn't happen. I've listened to too many tellings of the chronicle of Old Man Star perhaps. I've made the mistake of thinking that they had less tech than us, when there is evidence to suggest they had more. They terraformed and put up stargates to speed travel after all. They left all this behind for us to find. Additionally they picked home worlds far from the gate. Luminaire is somewhere around 15 light years from the New Eden system. It's unlikely that they'd look at the results of an astronomy survey, pick a planet and think "Hey, brilliant, we'll be there in two or three decades. This was a great idea. To the cryo chambers!". They either had warp capable ships that could sustain indefinite, or long periods of, warp, perhaps at low FTL speeds, or they were able to focus jump drives on natural gravity wells at distances as much as or more accurately than our current technology can. They had something. The dispersal across the cluster doesn't match sub light speeds.
So who am I following? I'm following the independents. I'm following the people who made the journey into the cluster system by system. I'm following the people who named each waypoint on this star road and left the names behind as a story of the experience. I'm following those who vanished afterwards, and along the way I'll think about why.
I look back towards New Eden and see the gate and the star glowing together, distinctly separate even here.
No wonder the Amarr looked at the night sky and dreamed of the distant. Mind you, the Amarr could take significance from just about anything. I hear you can't even do sleight of hand tricks in Amarr cities for fear that it will cause a religious schism or be taken as proof of validity of whatever genocidal, human rights violating idea they come up with next. The muppets. Still, the star and the gate are an inspiring sight, as long as you don't take it too far. I'll bury my mysticism and my annoyance with the Amarr here at this crossroads and keep a smidgen of spirituality for the rest of the trek. Slightly ironic but also vaguely amusing.
In the end it's back to the simple choice. Where next? I decide randomly rather than try and figure out what the travellers would have done. Decision made. It's a short hop as the duck flies to Canard.
EVE Track of the Day
Blowing Up My Mind - The Exciters
(back to rolling down the space lanes to Northern Soul again)