I used to wonder if our constant plucking, pulling, and tearing of the fabric of spacetime with our warp engines and jump drives and stargates was having a negative effect on the topology of the greater universe. Now, it is no longer a question in my mind, for I have slipped into the crack that has opened up between this universe and the next. I have gazed into the abyss, and forever burned into my neurons will be the vivid, primal-fear-inducing images of what stared back. If there were a devil in opposition to an omni-predicated God, he would shudder at the mention of Abyssal Deadspace.
If we were standing planetside right now, I would conflate a trip into Abyssal Deadspace with the ground opening up beneath your feet into a chasm, one that descends into what is almost literally the biblical interpretation of Hell, with faceless creatures swarming to devour you, and the walls slowly closing in on either side. The only light you see is from far above, where you fell in, and this is the only beacon of hope to which you can cling, towards which you can claw and fight your way back to familiarity. Everything, including the space around you, is trying to kill you. I’m only slightly exaggerating, and that mental image is not at all far off from what Abyssal Deadspace actually feels like.
The journey into this forsaken dimension begins, as it usually does, with the “innocent” curiosity of an enterprising capsuleer. During a raid on a major pirate faction research facility, raiders came across a mysterious object. Study and observation of the blackbox-like instrument recovered concluded this was a “deadspace quantum filament,” its purpose being to interface with ship-based warp drives through a process called “entanglement.” Without going into too much technobabble, this veritable Pandora’s Box zaps your warp core, which then proceeds to, for lack of a better description, utterly lose its god-damned mind. Instrument readouts make no sense if they don’t short out completely, and the bulkheads can be heard creaking much louder than is comfortable in protest to the extreme forces the ship is suddenly being subjected to, as it is unceremoniously yanked out of our spacetime and into a hellish facsimile thereof.
These devices are now ubiquitous across the New Eden cluster, and there is no shortage of curious capsuleers.
Activating one is an interesting experience. The moment the energy transfer is initiated, the ship’s energy subsystems begin to behave erratically, making unnatural noises that cannot be described with words, only experienced. Space in and around the ship starts to “feel” weird. Following this short period of uncertainty and unsteadiness, events begin to unfold very quickly.
From the perspective of a pilot, the sensation can only be described as “falling down the rabbit hole.” Anyone who’s spent any appreciable amount of time in space will tell you that is an unsettling feeling to experience in an environment that is supposed to be zero-G, with “up” or “down” being subjective and relative. The presence of a strong gravitational pull on a space-faring vessel in any one direction usually means something has gone horribly wrong, and that whatever happens next is going to suck.
The process of moving along the abyssal filament is anything but a gentle one, and arrival at the other end is sudden and jarring on a level not experienced in any other mode of superluminal traversal, belying the nature of this intensely hostile region of spacetime.
The mere act of traversing the filament has been recorded on multiple occasions as having caused significant injury and crippling anxiety to ship-based maintenance crews and support staff, with mass hysteria and total breakdown of ship operations being the worst-case scenarios.
From the moment one lands in the pocket, the ship’s sensors (and by extension, the pilot’s biological senses) are flooded by near-incapacitating levels of interference, equal parts gravitational and electromagnetic in nature. An especially interesting phenomenon is what can only be described as a localized “pressure,” as though this were not the empty vacuum of space, but the bottom of an incredibly deep ocean or chasm with the weight of an entire universe pressing down upon it. Stabilization systems designed to negate these effects on the ship’s crew do little to help, if they’re effective at all.
The experience as a whole borders on claustrophobia-inducing compared with the relative freedom that open K-space provides. Whereas view distance in K-space is virtually limitless, no stars of any kind are visible from within the abyss, and the farthest distances ship sensors can reach measure out to a single AU at best. Scan probes survive for only moments after launch, unable to withstand even the relatively stable regions of the abyss. The only external light source comes not from any stellar-mass object, but the abyssal filament itself through which the invading pilot entered the region, and through which they have mere minutes to exit.
The stresses on the hull and defensive infrastructure are ceaseless and intense, so much so that all ships of New Eden design thus far able to enter this region of deadspace, regardless of how well-constructed they may be, invariably suffer catastrophic structural integrity failure due to critical warp field destabilization following a period of around 20 minutes of initial exposure. Without the protection of a hull, the remaining lifespan of the pod can be measured in seconds. The implosion often occurs so suddenly and with such force that the pod barely has time to complete a mind-scan. The sole means of avoiding this otherwise certain doom is to locate, gain access to, and traverse a series of “transfer conduits,” in the hopes that one will find the “origin conduit,” which is activated at the same time as the abyssal filament, and serves as a one-way egress back to K-space.
The manifold abyssal regions themselves seem to have been divided into pockets of three, and this is not by accident. As if the very space around you trying to crush you into oblivion wasn’t enough, the mind-boggling reality is that a humanoid species, possibly of Jovian ancestry, has established itself within this region, having not only somehow found the means to adapt their biology to the constantly shifting topology of Abyssal Deadspace, but also to exploit its fundamental nature for material and military gain. They greet trespassers with suspicion and aggressors with violent, disproportionate retribution, what they appropriately term “extirpation.”
Crystalline Isogen-10 is intimately interwoven with general structural design, and despite our poor understanding of how, Zero-Point Condensate has been shown to have many practical applications, in everything from generation of transfer conduits to use in weapon systems. Both compounds occur naturally only within the depths of Abyssal Deadspace, and it is only in such an environment that their true usefulness can be extracted.
The Triglavians, as they’re called, have mastered the use of these compounds in their appropriate applications, and of gravitational singularities (black holes) as a power source. Their monstrous-looking vessels sortie with their singularity cores on full display and seemingly only barely contained, with a profile reminiscent of the gaping maw of a demon ready to devour its prey whole and alive. A Triglavian Transfer Conduit, which falls into a category somewhere between a stargate and an acceleration gate in terms of design, is powered by three such singularities.
This architecture is what belies the precision and skill of Triglavian engineering; the ship and its singularity power core must always exist in perfect balance with one another. Should this ever not be the case, the singularity will either outgrow its containment, or evaporate mass and energy until the power output is too low to maintain containment, at which point the pendulum swings wildly in the other direction. In both cases, the ailing vessel spectacularly implodes, its bulk being devoured by its own unstable singularity, which then evaporates, regurgitating little more than electromagnetic radiation and twisted metal slivers.
The most intriguing of these technological advancements is the Entropic Disintegrator. Each of their ships are equipped with three such weapons, which in summary consist of an electromagnetic stabilizer, a plasma generator, and a sphere of hyper-dense matter.
Technical schematics note that the density of the sphere is on par with neutron star matter, only a scant few percentage points above the threshold beyond which matter collapses under its own gravity to form a singularity. The density is so high, and the gravitational compression so intense, that the average topological variation of the sphere’s surface is on the order of nanometers; in short, it is virtually a perfect sphere. This elegant intertwining of gravitational and entropic forces is what gives rise to the ingenious concept of Triglavian weapons technology.
The physical laws and engineering principles that enable instantaneous travel across the distances of light-years between New Eden stargates are the same laws and principles which allow the Entropic Disintegrator to work. In essence, a micro-scale, extreme-short-range superluminal jump conduit between the Triglavian vessel and its intended target is being established, with the gravity wells created by the Entropic Disintegrator and the target ship acting as gravitational anchors.
Specialized systems incorporated in Triglavian ship design counteract the extreme tidal forces generated by the hyper-dense sphere and the radiation generated by the plasma stream, and ensure that this conduit flows exclusively in one direction; how exactly this is accomplished is a matter of intense research and ongoing debate.
The plasma is first drawn up to the sphere from emitters in the weapon’s base, where it is concentrated and charged, and then drawn along the conduit at relativistic velocities. At those speeds, particles smaller than atoms carry enough energy individually to impact with the same amount of kinetic force as macroscopic matter, creating localized gravitational disturbances at the point of impact which positively feed back on themselves, drawing plasma inward at greater velocity, which then impacts with more intensity, which creates stronger localized disturbances. The loop feeds back on itself until the gravitational effects are uniformly present along the entire length of the conduit, and damage output stabilizes at around 250% of the weapon’s original rated intensity.
Past a critical calculated distance, the conduit destabilizes and the positive feedback loop breaks as a result, normalizing the effective damage output of the weapon. Notably, the effective range of the weapon can be extended by altering the particle composition of the plasma feed stock being channeled through it. Specific variations will bleed off energy as it moves through the conduit, providing the uniform application of energy necessary to stabilize the conduit at greater range, but resulting in less overall damage output, as the relative energy of the plasma at the point of impact is diminished.
As long as the beam remains unbroken, a given ship class can match and sometimes outpace the damage output of the next greater class of ship; a frigate would beat a cruiser, a cruiser would beat a battleship. A single Leshak-class battleship will make short work of anything less than a seasoned capital pilot.
Recent discoveries also show that this weapon design can be re-appropriated to function in a logistical capacity, allowing increasing amounts of armor nanites to be transferred along a gravitational conduit to an intended recipient. The nature of the singularity power core also lends increased efficacy to energy emissions systems, both in energy neutralization and area-of-effect counter-ordnance.
At least some of the Triglavian subclades have shown willingness (in spite of or perhaps due to opposition from other subclades) to either cooperate with or forcefully subjugate rogue drone swarms, with the former scenario carrying unsettling implications. The Jovian-descended Drifters and their Sleeper cousins have also made hostile incursions into Abyssal Deadspace, and the change of scenery has done nothing to improve relations. All three entities have proven more than capable of giving capsuleers a bad time.
Interestingly, not all Triglavians seem to regard capsuleers with open hostility. My experience took place in a pocket so thickly saturated with dark matter that its presence created visible local spatial disturbances. Three Damavik-class frigates approached from within the fog and then began orbiting my ship, and did not react further.
They paradoxically stood by and watched as I raided their supply stores. I made all manner of threatening postures to provoke them into firing the first shot, from sortieing drones to full-on weapons lock. Not once in 2 agonizingly-long minutes did I get a rise out of them. I can only explain this odd behavior as mutual curiosity. They wanted to see what would happen; how I would react. That prospect frightens me as much as it intrigues me. We have no idea who or what we’re dealing with, we are most certainly in the wrong neighborhood, and these beings are impossible to get a read on. All that aside, I fear I may have given these individuals the wrong impression of myself. For I, too, am curious…
If you’re lucky, you may live to talk about what you saw down there, and maybe even bring back a few souvenirs. If you’re unlucky, your clone will have to do the talking for you, if they remember anything of what they saw.
I think maybe CONCORD is right to fear them, even if it’s only in the interest of self-preservation.