Wednesday, 12 October 2016

An Inquiry Into The Jove Observatory In The New Eden System

Another Jovian Enigma

Well over a year ago, somebody in New Eden's scientific community discovered that an Entosis Link could be used to probe the inner workings of a Jove Observatory, those massive fluted columns of mystery that those institutionally-bald, passionless, D-deficient, hermaphroditic freaks seeded throughout New Eden centuries ago and have been using to monitor us ever since.

Capsuleers have since reported Entosising a variety of Observatories, going on to release the results into the public domain. It seems the Entosis Link has the ability to effectively hack into whatever passes for the Observatory's mainframe and download a small part of its data cache. It's not an elegant method by the looks of it; something like using a torch to explore a dark cellar or fishing with explosives - there's no control over the end result. Those published results indicate a level of sameness in the potential download, and that the download is invariably full of short, terse and sometimes cryptic references to key events in New Eden politics.

The commonality between an Entosis Link and an Observatory is, in Jove-speak, logical, because they're both derived from the same sources. In my growing collection of exotic artifacts in Zoohen, I have a piece of the 'Antikythera Element' that you need to construct an Entosis Link, and it's frankly terrifying. I keep it in a box at all times. It really does vibrate and emit sound at a kind of subaural level that you feel rather than hear. I can't tell you what colour it is definitively because it changes, as if it has moods. Worse, it smells. Not unpleasant, mind, but it definitely smells. Of the future.


Backstory: ages ago I looted an intact set of blueprints for a Minmatar Burst frigate from the wreckage of some unfortunate down in Khanid (note to Mynxee: this was during my tenure with my previous outfit, so I wasn't subject to the credo back then).

I built the Bursts, sold most of them, but kept one just for the hell of it. I didn't do much with it except use it as a shuttle for transiting between our stations in the Khanid Lowsec Pipe. Most of the time I left it docked, because it's typical Minmatar dreck.

Over the last year or so, I read about the findings of capsuleers who had used an Entosis Link on an Observatory, most notably the IKAME survey and the attempts by others to correlate the downloaded data with historical events by delving into the news archives. A common theme in the downloaded results is that the Observatories appear to have a collective opinion, which sometimes manifests as condescending and judgemental. Typically Jovian. We know they are not crewed by a Jovian, so there must be either a networked AI based somewhere in Jove space that acts as a single entity controlling them all, or they each have their own AI that communicates with all the others and shares information, which is why you sometimes see the same result from multiple Observatories.

I decided to check out the Observatories for myself, so I equipped the Burst with an Entosis Link and tried it out a few times. Then I joined Signal Cartel and got heavily into my new job, so the Burst was sidelined again. Recently I've had more time on my hands, so I recommissioned the Burst and put into action an idea I'd been brewing for a while: to run an Entosis Link on the only Observatory that matters. The Jove Observatory in the New Eden system.

The Jove Observatory that observes the EVE Gate.

Is It The Face of God, Or The Embodiment of Pure Evil?

The New Eden system is not far from Zoohen, and I've done the 'climb' up through the lowsec pipe to the EVE constellation often enough to know it is mostly deserted.

As I get closer to the New Eden system, I always get a sense of foreboding and portent as I pass through this largely abandoned part of space that still contains relics of that optimistic pre-Dark Ages era: dead stargates, colony ship remnants, empty station hulks. The EVE constellation itself carries system names that were monuments to a golden age and now reek of pathos: Promised Land, Gateway, Central Point, New Eden etc.

While passing through (the) Promised Land, I took a side-trip over to the system's innermost planet to check out the persistent wormhole that is purported to be Sansha's Nation's first attempt at facilitating Incursions through wormhole generation.

Whatever parameters it was 'designed' with, this wormhole is extremely compact, and small enough to pass very close to the orbiting customs station without perturbing it. You can't get anywhere near it because of the hard radiation, and it never evaporates. Tremendous power, in entirely the wrong hands. What a bunch of scumbags.

Do not look into the eyes of the Demon

When I arrived in New Eden, I did the thing I always do first when I come here: I said hello to the EVE Gate. I feel like you have to acknowledge it and show it respect. It exerts a power over all of us, sitting all the way up there to the galactic north and at the 'end of the road'. Empress Jamyl was on record saying she used to view it through a telescope from Sarum Prime. Now I sat here, cocooned in my capsule and yet not feeling even remotely safe, looking at it through cam drones as it outshines the New Eden primary a hundredfold yet is still 3.3 light-years further away. In great contrast, the giant billboard by the system's stargate was displaying those new corporation recruitment adverts. One of them was highly apposite:

My Overview indicated a new presence in the system: [SFRIM]'s citadel. This was a welcome new development. Before this was built, New Eden's status as a cosmic backwater meant that it was devoid of all resources relevant to the capsuleer. No maintenance facilities, nowhere to dock, no safe havens, nothing. Your ship was statistically unlikely to come to any harm here, but if it did, you were finished. The most sensible course of action was to self-destruct and take the pod express.

Not any more.

'The Farthest Shore'

Mynxee had informed us through the corp channel that [SFRIM] were now 'blue' to Signal Cartel, so I had docking rights here. There was a good reason why I might have to make use of that, so I flew over to it to check it out. Imagine living here and waking up to that sight every morning. Would it be never-endingly awesome or would it drive you mad?

Then I headed over to the Jove Observatory and got to work. I was alone in the system so it was now or never.

The Jove Observatories have always played a significant part in my capsuleer career, only because I finished my initial capsuleer training at Hedion University at the end of YC116, around the time of the Caroline's Star event and shortly afterwards when the Observatories first started to reveal themselves through malfunction.

I remember the seismic shockwaves among the capsuleer community as people couldn't believe what they were seeing - the sheer size of them was mind-boggling. One of the first things I did when I got my new Impairor was check out the one in the Mora system right next door to Hedion University. I spent hours there just looking at it, listening to its emissions over the audio channel speaking of deep time.

I had the idea that this one, here in New Eden, had a singular perspective on the cosmos because of its proximity to the EVE Gate. Jovians can't possibly have placed this Observatory here for any other reason than to observe it; so my theory was that it might have some extra, unique set of observations in it: something on the EVE Gate itself, something that I could report to the scientific community and cause total devastation, demolishing years of established doctrine etc. etc.

Of course the rational scientist in me knew this was virtually impossible; that nothing I was doing was new, and that there was no way somebody won't have had the same idea and done the same thing as me already. In fact if [SFRIM] has a permanent facility here then they should already know everything there is to know about this Observatory and be studying it continuously at the subatomic level.

Nevertheless I gave it a shot. I targeted the huge structure and activated the Entosis Link, at which point I became a sitting duck as the Entosis did its thing and locked out my ship's navigational capacity for the five-minute duration of its uninterruptible cycle.  

This is where the Sleeper presence became a problem.

Those Sleeper drone cruiser things are known for their willingness to defend a Jove Observatory. If a flight of them happens to be in the vicinity of one when you show up and get too close to it, they will turn on you.

There is a persistent Sleeper presence in the New Eden system because I've seen them before. They weren't here at the Observatory right now, but if they showed up I wouldn't be able to do anything about it because of the nav system lockout. I wouldn't even be able to warp out until the Entosis was done. This is why I'd fitted extra armour to the Burst and was relying on 'speed-tanking', but I doubt it would have made any difference even if making repairs at the citadel was now an option.

This five minutes wasn't good for my nerves at all. 

Now as it happened, for this first pass I had karma on my side and nobody bothered me, not even the other capsuleer who entered the system during the five-minute cycle and who would have found me easily with just a token amount of D-scanning.

When the cycle completed and the Entosis Link stopped interrogating the Observatory, I looked at my 'take':

Most of this stuff is old news. Some of it is ancient. The entry at the top of the list concerns the founding of the Gallente Federation.  The 'Azbel-Wuthrich experiment' refers to the invention of the fluid router. Look at the dates: all but one prior to the adoption of the 'YC' standard.

Nothing pertaining to the EVE Gate though. In fact nothing new at all because one look through the scientific literature indicates this download has been seen before. This Observatory then, is not unlike any of the others at all.

I thought I was on to something there...

Later on I docked the Burst in the citadel and jump-cloned out of the New Eden system with the intention of returning in a week or so to have one more pass at the Observatory.


Round Two

It ended up being more like three weeks before I jump-cloned back to the citadel, so if anyone in [SFRIM] wondered whose that Burst was that just sat there, it was mine. There were two reasons for the delay: Empress Catiz's coronation, which I just had to attend, and receiving a short comms from my parents relating to the same event, 'requiring' my presence for a gathering at the family compound in Estada Regio Sul on Eclipticum. My father was basically throwing a big party in honour of the new Empress. It seems that the power to cheat death, punch holes in spacetime and harness the power of stars is as nothing to the power of a parental summons. At this gathering, I think I finally convinced my mother that I am still her daughter despite no-longer inhabiting the same body she gave birth to, so that was a positive. Baseliners...

Anyway, three weeks later and I was back in New Eden at the [SFRIM] place.

Nothing had changed. I ran a second pass on the Observatory with the Burst, and this was the take:

This download was tantamount to Jovian poetry, and is the definitive example of condescending Observatory AI with its references to 'them' and 'they'. Noteworthy in this download are the inclusions of the date of Emperor Doriam II's assassination ('primary node'??) and the date of the Seyllin Incident, both summarized with one-line statements. 

Result: more questions than answers. Again.

After this, I left the system and returned to Zoohen, satisfied that the Jove Observatory in the New Eden system is the same as all the others. In the end I'm an artist, not a scientist. I could stick around and run a hundred Entosis passes over it to get 'sufficient data to form a reliable conclusion', but I'll let someone else do that. [SFRIM] have probably already done it. In fact while I was running this second pass I had a very pleasant conversation in the Local channel with [SFRIM] boss Lunarisse Aspenstar, so I could have asked her about it, but I forgot. Like I said, I'm an artist, not a scientist.

There is no doubt though, that the Observatories have not yielded all the information contained within them yet, so perhaps this Observatory here in the New Eden system really isn't the same at all and we just can't get to the kernel of it because we don't have the right tools.

Not yet.

Later on, back in my quarters in Zoohen, I was reviewing the copious literature on the use of Entosis Links on Jove Observatories and I remembered a piece of corporation propaganda I did when I was with [PHP1] down in Khanid. It was a reference to the boss's favourite post-mission indulgence. 

Those were the days: