Monday, 19 May 2014

Day 703 : The Caravans of the Dead

I arrive in the optimistically named system of Dead End in an odd mood. The colonists I'm following have left no real trace. I'm becoming disillusioned with the hunt, idling around quiet systems, keeping out of the way. I'm generally a solo non-combat pilot but I like to fly with a noisy background. I'm trying to hold to my project but I'm becoming sure that our ancestors had ample reason to flee this backwater. Thousands of years later I'm coming to the same conclusion, which makes what happens all the stranger.

Despite the gloom there is reason to be optimistic for the system. Not only are there two temperate planets but the authorities have dropped a becon highlighting the presence of something unusual called a Monolith. I take the planets first.

Neither have a station nor any indication of civilisation. By this point I'm unsurprised. Why settle here when the cluster beckons? The second of the planets I look at confirms this. It's grey.

An impending ice age? An unusually active hydrosphere reflecting light? For a second I ponder a colony overrun by it's own nanotech, a world down there in a slow, losing battle with terraforming nanobots unleashed by the desperate people who washed up in this pit of a system. You can see what kind of mood I'm in. I shake it off. My targets aren't here. I doubt they're in the pipe out to the cluster. I might as well indulge this dark storm of imagination and go and survey this Monolith thing.

Of course there were others there before me. The Blood Raiders are here. Gathered around the becon like vultures circling a potential meal site. For some reason this infuriates me and before long I've got a contact flying in a Coercer destroyer. This will enable me to do three things

1. Kill blood raiders.
2. Kill blood raiders quickly in a low powered ship and hence mocking them while setting some kind of low level challenge to boost me from my current apathy.
3. Feel better by "Flying Bling". I give the Amarr a lot of grief but damn. The Gold and Ivory and Guns of Light. Kudos.

Once my HUD is clear of annoying red crosses and my cargo hold full of surprisingly interesting things like meta Damage Controls I investigate the monolith itself. Defeating sensors other than simple optics it's a dark hyperectangle that reflects the background sky . Stare too long and too darkly and you'd swear it was full of stars. Though simple in appearance its mystery is hypnotic. Isolated, free standing, apparently purposeless, it nevertheless manages to convey the impression of patience, of waiting. I can't shake the feeling that not only am I being watched, even judged, but also that I'm being affected somehow. A more suspicious person would wonder where this information was being sent and what conclusions were drawn from it.

Perhaps this accounts for a sudden bout of free roaming violence. I visit the two belts of the system in turn, quickly magnifying the value of the cargo hold with some Clone Soldier tags. I fly these out to high sec but feel compelled to return and attempt the haul again. The next bag of loot is of less value which makes it all the easier to cope with being ganked by a gate camp on the way out. Members of the Easily Excited alliance camp the trail out with alarming regularity. Come here at your own risk.

Despite this I want to return. I want to see the monolith again. Spend more time near it. I have more hardware flown in. An Omen cruiser with a specific cargo load in addition to a belt combat fit. A gate running fit and a Mobile Depot. The latter is a space caravan (note to Americans and other non UK life forms : A Caravan is the UK term for a mobile home mounted as a trailer behind a vehicle). I spend a couple of weeks roaming the Dead End system living out of this box since there is no station in system. It even holds repair units for my hull and shield, and remote repair units for my drones. So much for my fear of wormhole lifestyles.

 I trawl the system idly. As if I have no choice. I run the belts every now and again. At the depot I refit the ship to a gate camp running spec' and fly out tags, meta damage controls, webifiers and neuts. I make a lot of money with a fairly low amount of effort. Each time I'm out though, I return to the scene of these solo pilot crimes and make an orbit of the monolith.

I begin to think that the name of the system is prophetic in more than one way until one morning I find my caravan has been scanned down and destroyed. I hadn't even noticed it being reinforced such was the level of my apathy. Fortunately I'm fit to fly out, even though I think it might be late. I'm right. A few jumps down the pipe out to the cluster I'm caught by a Devoter and a Fleet Issue Stabber which trap me and take down my gate running Omen fit. Lesson learned. Prop mod required. Out in my pod though I feel free and bounce off the sun and out, down the pipe, past the odd rock bound gate in Djimame (which I really must have a closer look at) to the calmer waters of Imya.

Once docked I realise the mild adrenaline has broken whatever hold the system of Dead End had on me. It's unlike me to not care about the loss of a ship that made so much ISK. I'll be back one day to investigate again and continue the trail of the colonists but for now I need to get out of the vicinity and far away from this strange addiction to lonely gloom. Good luck to any other prospectors that try the lifestyle a young pilot with a T2 fit Coercer and a bunch of luck could make some ISK down here. Getting out alive is another matter.

EVE Tracks of the Days

(I was here a while)

A Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel
What Am I Doing Hanging Round - The Monkees
The Blue Danube - Strauss