9 - In Broad Strokes
(Hey, look, an identifiable plasma world! … with barely any plasma. Hmm.)
So, at this point, there are a few things we can say pretty much for certain about the Abyss.
It’s accessible, somehow, from K-space, using means accessible to baseline craft and not just by filament, and also not just by hypertech entities like Drifters or automated craft like Sleeper and rogue drones. This seems to be a somewhat closely guarded secret, since (not counting the drones) so far only three K-space entities seem to know the way in.
Sansha’s Nation seems to have found the way in early, and definitely scared the Collective half to death. If there’s anything the Collective seems to hate as much as “Ancient Enemy Azdaja” (Drifters), it’d be “hivelinking” corruption. Interestingly it doesn’t seem to be their first encounter with the technology (one of the first things they seem to do with visitors is check for it), but is their first encounter with Nation specifically, which implies something like Nation has happened before. Either way, Nation forces are now present in large numbers and getting caught up in the “proving” system, but we haven’t seen, like, “Corrupted Vedmaks,” so maybe the Collective’s worked out how to keep their ships and facilities from getting infested. Hopefully. That’s one entity we really don’t need taking over in the Abyss.
CONCORD has, I guess, probably just been making good use of that data we’ve been bringing back. I am not buying the reverse-psyops effort to make me feel okay about having to kill a bunch of Disparu Troop ships by slandering them as some kind of ruthless black ops division that’s only attacking me to eliminate witnesses. I’m quasi-immortal and have camera drones and a galnet link that’s active even from the Abyss; there’s no making me un-see you and you’re not going to persuade me you’re that thick. You’re probably here following up on all that data I’ve been delivering, and actually there’s no reason at all I should be unhappy to see you (it’s ENCOURAGING to see empire agents exploring the Abyss!), only now you’re in a trap, the weird spacetime bubble around my ship probably makes it impossible for me to take on passengers, and it’s you or me.
That’s it, that’s all. This scenario works as a tragedy. It does not work as a spy thriller/action holo. You’re not going to make me feel better about this by being all “Grr” at me when the explanation makes no sense. I’ll try to make it quick. Now I’m sorry, but please die.
The Angel Cartel … we haven’t been selling survey data to them, at least not directly, so unless they got lucky hacking a Nation data center or something their presence in the Abyss probably speaks to Dark Angel infiltration at CONCORD. Which should surprise nobody who’s been paying attention. (Breaking News: The Cartel’s Scary!)
Taken together, it looks like the Abyss is directly accessible from K-space without filaments and in force, but the means is a closely-guarded secret among those who have it and doing so means being subject not only to the weirdnesses of the Abyss but to whatever mechanism creates and seals off Abyssal chambers for use in filament provings. It’s nice that at least somebody from our side is getting a more or less Triglavian’s or at least a Drifter’s-eye view of the Abyss; I hope the intel’s worth it.
Meantime, the Drifters are keeping up their explorations here as well as in Pochven. It’s interesting that they continue sending forces in, including Scylla and Kharybdis units, even though the actual Drifters seem to be at a severe disadvantage in the Abyss and they’d be way better off focusing on the Pochven ring. It seems like the Triglavians and Drifters each recognize the other as an existential threat even though they’ve likely been completely apart for maybe even thousands of years. And I thought the grudge between the Caldari and Gallente was bad.
I wonder if maybe at some point we’ll start seeing Triglavian raids on the Drifter hive systems. With all those Drifters and their Sleeper allies wandering around the Abyss it seems like the Triglavians might want some payback, but then again the Hives are in Anoikis and I don’t think the Triglavians have really reached that far. Maybe it’s hard for them to get to, at least in the numbers they’d need to pose a substantial threat. There are some observatory systems in Pochven; maybe the Collective plans to use it for staging. I don’t think the same Drifter Hive “unidentified wormholes” have still been appearing there, though. They might need to access the Hives through what remains of gate-connected K-space. It’d be just our luck to be functionally caught on the battleground between the two powers.
The situation with the rogue drones is weird. The Navka seem to get along-- maybe-- with Veles Clade, but it’s not clear whether the Collective in general and Veles in particular draws a line between “playful communion” and enslavement.
Either way, it’s pretty clear not all rogue drones are on board with the whole arrangement. Not only are they shooting at the Collective in Pochven, they’re the only “entity” to have invested Pochven with supercapital assets.
Not sure what their goals there might be. Avenge their fellows in the Abyss? Dismantle the Collective before it can pose a threat to their K-space freedom? Hitch a ride into the Abyss proper? Hard to say.
As for the Triglavians’ motives for building Pochven in the first place, it’s looking increasingly like a resource grab. There are stars in the Abyss; there’s no doubt of that.
But, I think the star shown above might be the brightest I’ve seen. What if they’re not just distant, but perhaps faint? Like, from having stuff like this done to them for thousands of years?
We know the Triglavians are harvesting stellar material to make their singularity reactor cores. There’s got to be a lot of material there, but even a star’s power isn’t infinite.
Likewise, if that poor plasma world is any example, planetary resources might be running low, too.
Here’s another shot (and also why I’m sure it’s a plasma world).
See that mote of electric blue in the southern hemisphere? Yeah, that’s not a storm or anything. It’s too stable. Here’s another shot.
Lightning doesn’t stick around like that. It’s plasma. But there’s hardly any of it. Most of the planet’s just barren.
There are some resources the Abyss definitely has in abundance, products of the weird local physics. Crystaline isogen’s kind of all over the place, mostly growing on asteroids.
It seems to sometimes break off naturally, but overall it seems to hold up better than more prosaic stuff like rock, and considering you can often find it growing almost literally everywhere in surreal devil-palaces it doesn’t seem like something it might even be possible to run short of.
Probably the hard bit is mining it.
It’s less clear where the zero-point condensate is coming from, but it seems to be around in roughly even proportion to the isogen crystals so even if it’s artificial it can’t be all that hard to make.
So, those plus certain microorganisms (like, literal clouds of) seem to be what the Abyss is really rich in. Everything else? The stuff we’re used to finding all over? That might be running short.
Take that situation and a culture that entitles you to what you can take by right of (somewhat formalized) conquest, and once contact was made last year’s invasion was probably inevitable from the start.