The Drifters are one of the most infamous modern threats in EVE, possessing stunningly agile and hard-hitting vessels that have claimed victory against many an unsuspecting pilot. Though they first made an appearance in the Tiamat release in February 2015, there were a number of events leading up to their reveal that are intimately linked to their emergence.
This post outlines the entirety of the Drifter story thus far, and a second section goes into extreme detail on points linking this Jove splinter to the despised counterpart to the Enheduanni (please check out this post first for a full overview that will immensely aid in understanding the speculations made here).
(I highly recommend putting this soundtrack on while reading, btw)
THE LORE OF THE DRIFTERS
In October YC116, the Sisters of EVE noted unusual changes in the behavior of Sleepers, and a marked increase in Sleeper activity. Shortly afterwards, the Inner Circle called a short-notice wormhole summit in order to discuss changes observed in Sleeper behavior. And soon following this, a Sansha’s nation incursion retreated prematurely, with the abnormal caveat of their forces leaving without using wormholes.
On November 27th of YC116, a highly abnormal stellar phenomenon, centered on the system of W477-P, was first observed by capsuleers, propagating simultaneously across known space and immediately sparking intense debate - as it was located in the inaccessible reaches of the UUA-F4 region.
The star of W477-P was, in fact, the subject of an ancient Talocan stellar engine, surrounded by a coordinated net of countless orbiting structures. This stellar swarm was capable of harnessing the unimaginable energies of a star, and contained a large number of Static Gates linking to their counterparts deep within Anoikis - making the Talocan of that era the most advanced known civilization to have ever been present in New Eden (you can read all about this in the chronicle “Inheritance”).
When the Seyllin Event occurred in YC111, the consequent simultaneous main-sequence events that channeled from the affected systems’ stars ripped across the Talocan Static Gate network as it became massively overloaded. Energy pouring into the network was directed through fifty-odd gates directly into the star of W477-P, which then burned out completely. A titanic stellar mass ejection immediately followed, punching a hole in the net surrounding the star - and observations made by the Jove Directorate then placed the likely point in time of the star going supernova within mere years.
In YC116, this came to pass. W477-P’s star experienced a supernova event, which visually propagated simultaneously across all known space - certainly due to the intimate tangling of the Talocan Static Gate Network with the fabric of spacetime within the New Eden cluster - and beyond. The supernova flooded into the remaining active gates in the network surrounding it, and destroyed what remained of the swarm.
“Caroline’s Star”, as this most-significant anomaly came to be called, then coincided with the loss of contact with a previously concealed Sisters of EVE claim to a system dubbed “Thera”. This system, along with many others now known as “shattered” wormhole systems, was directly affected by the events of the supernova. The “Epicenter” sites found in close proximity to the central star of every system of this classification were once connected to W477-P’s Stellar Swarm gates, open and active - when the Supernova wrenched through the gates, each star that received the outpouring energy in turn produced far more violent main-sequence events than those that occurred during the Seyllin event, “shattering” the worlds within their orbits.
Among these systems was one which was and still remains occupied by Sansha’s Nation forces, previously operating as one of many staging systems for their neverending incursions. Along with the obvious destruction to infrastructure and orbital bodies (and the revelation of the reasons for the aforementioned abnormal Sansha retreat), a strange, silent battleground brought with it new questions. Sansha forces, including a Revenant-class supercarrier, fell in battle near a derelict Sleeper enclave - their wrecks punctuated by additional unidentified wreckage belonging to unknown vessels.
Sleeper Caches had begun being discovered across known space and beyond as well, following Caroline’s Star. These sites had remained cloaked and undiscovered for unknown countless years, and were utilized throughout that time for the purpose of collecting items and technology of interest to those in control of them - including both precursor and empire tech. However, an unknown force had systematically plundered these previously completely concealed sites, damaging their broad-range cloaks and absconding with what were likely very valuable artifacts and technology.
During this same period, as the Caches systematically decloaked, titanic unidentified structures began a slow process of decloaking, and a strange new form of roaming Sleeper Drone began to appear along New Eden’s spacelanes - silently watching and scanning everything within their gaze, adapting to threats progressively as they encountered them.
On February 17th of YC117, the previously unidentified structures completed their system shutdown, revealing now-derelict Jove Observatories - massive structures intended to listen in on and record the shouts and whispers of events across the New Eden cluster. Immediately, unidentified wormholes bracketed by Sleeper structures began to appear in systems home to the Observatories, and a new player on the galactic stage emerged.
The Drifters’ first appearance was silent and unchallenged; sleek, powerful battleships equipped with highly unconventional rod-based propulsion, semi-autonomous, independently floating turrets, an overshield layer, and a deadly primary weapon steadily began to arrive through unidentified wormholes, and began to investigate the Observatories. The Drifters and their Seeker drones began the still-ongoing process of boring into the structures, salvaging Antikythera Elements and other materials from within - the same as had been done with the Sleeper Caches.
The forces of the Drifters took the name “Vigilant Tyrannos” - and unlike the Sleeper Drones, their vessels were now piloted; appearing as heavily implanted Jove individuals, the Tyrannos are unshakably single-minded in their pursuits, and responded in force to all challenges. An autopsy was conducted on a recovered Drifter corpse, the conference for which was briefly interrupted by the appearance of a lone Drifter battleship in Yulai, which illuminated details concerning the highly modified but distinctly Jove physiology of Tyrannos pilots.
By all appearances and indications the Drifters are members of the Jove race, albeit far removed and with a strangely altered physiology. The high degree of cybernetic modification that Drifters exhibit seems to go hand in hand with an implacable single-mindedness and utter ruthlessness while pursuing their mysterious goals. Whatever their ends may be, the technology at their command unquestionably rivals and perhaps even surpasses that which other Jove have been seen to use.
– Description for the Drifter bloodline
This individual commands one of the powerful vessels of the Vigilant Tyrannos forces. There is a nobility to this figure but it does nothing to diminish an obvious ruthlessness. The resolution of this highly augmented commander should not be doubted.
– Hidden ingame description for Apollo and Artemis Tyrannos
The Vigilant Tyrannos command structure is apparently headed by an individual holding the rank of Strategos. Aside from decrypting and identifying the personal command signature of this entity, nothing is known as to the origins of this Drifter or even if the Tyrannos Strategos is truly the ultimate authority of this mysterious force.
– Hidden ingame description for Tyrannos Strategos
The Drifters are described as “seemingly the inheritors of a lecagy left behind by some of the most ancient Jove”, likely referring to the “Tyrants”, the ruling party of the Second Jove Empire.
Following the downfall of the First Empire, a legendary Jove named Miko Bour seized power in the Heaven constellation and arrested the collapse of the Jove civilization by uniting the enclaves of the Jove, eliminating his opposition through any and all available means. Bour was described as uncharacteristically ruthless and forceful for a Jove, and brought many enclaves into cooperation under the threat of military persuasion - though the majority, weary of the chaos of the collapse, willingly joined. He became known as the first Tyrant, and his faction became the ruling party of the Second Empire. Bour was more than a simple warlord, however:
Once the Second Empire was stabilized, he put in place a federal system where each Jovian enclave could promote representatives to an assembly called the Ruling Chamber. Recognizing that the power of the Tyrant required legitimacy, Bour provided for the Ruling Chamber to appoint one of its members to the office of Tyrant.
– EVE: Source
The Drifters themselves took up the mantle of the Tyrants, and have brought with them a similar ruthlessness to that of the First Tyrant - the Vigilant Tyrannos, or Watchful Tyrants.
On October 24th of YC116, a communication from the long-missing Doctor Hilen Tukoss, who founded the Arek’Jaalan project and who disappeared into Anoikis in YC113 following the discovery and destruction of an abandoned Helios belonging to Lianda Bureau, appeared on the Intergalatic Summit. This came shortly following the Sisters of EVE announcement concerning abnormal Sleeper activity, and a short time before the appearance of “Caroline’s Star”.
The message contained numerous hexadecimal strings, denoting syntax determinations not characteristic of human communications, along with an invitation to begin the collection of Jove biomass samples sourced from a YC106 incident in which a Directorate ambassador was disassembled during a test for a matter transmission device. The Doctor’s message stated that a resource drop would soon be established at Eram’s “Site One”, the headquarters of the Arek’Jaalan project. Tukoss stated that for some time he had been unable to communicate, but had remained dedicated to “the research we began together in writeconflict date/current=24/10/116 replace/string=09/07/113 YC113”.
A second message appeared 11 days later on November 4th, and was equally rife with hexadecimal strings containing syntax alternates alongside an unknown Anoikis system ident - one of numerous systems the “Doctor” congratulated us recipients for colonizing. This was later discovered to be the ID for Thera.
8 days following the second message, after many capsuleers had obediently journeyed to Eram in order to deposit Jove biomass, a very different third message appeared on the Summit. This communication was broken-up but vaguely decipherable, and appeared to warn recipients that Tukoss had been “captured” in some way and was being held somewhere within Anoikis, that Site One was compromised, and that the fate of the Arek’Jaalan project was now in the hands of us capsuleers - with Tukoss imploring us to continue work.
attempted reconstruction of 3rd message
The fourth and final message to the IGS appeared months later on February 26th of YC117, after the Drifters had already emerged. This communication was equally broken up, but reconstruction attempts brought out an ominous message - the people once called Sleepers were now, without a doubt, no longer sleeping. Tukoss had been imprisoned by and encountered a form of life both biological and biomechanical in nature - the Drifters - and had managed to secure a “sleeper vessel”, with which he had escaped and was currently inbound to Site One aboard.
attempted reconstruction of 4th message
Using the positional data and pings present in both of the “genuine” messages from Tukoss, it has been calculated that his final message was in fact broadcast from a location approximately 30km off of the Eifyr & Co. station in Eram. Hilen Tukoss never arrived at Site One.
Less than 10 days after this transmission, Hilen Tukoss was disavowed by his parent corporation , making him a “citizen of nowhere” with “no human rights”.
On May 8th YC117, the SCOPE leaked a previously hidden broadcast from Hilen Tukoss, which had apparently been concealed by Eifyr. The Doctor, having discovered an enormous Drifter armada continually amassing at an enormous megastructure in an uncharted Anoikis system, sent this “emergency broadcast” instructing recipients to notify the DED, warning that we were now facing a “possible invasion”. The broadcast was broken up, but showed Hilen Tukoss aboard his vessel broadcasting for as long as possible, before being discovered by the Drifters and being illuminated by a bright light - at which time the broadcast stopped.
The DED soon released details on the broadcast, stating that the broadcast had been sent around a year prior - dating it to before Hilen Tukoss’s mysterious appearances on the IGS. Eifyr had concealed the broadcast since receiving it, and the senior staff of the corporation was brought in for questioning by the DED. No comments as to the nature of the resulting talks were made publicly after this point.
On June 8th YC117, a group of capsuleers discovered the body of Hilen Tukoss in close proximity to the exact structure seen in his final broadcast, following the opening of all Drifter Unidentified Wormholes to capsuleer passage.
The Drifter Hives, as they came to be called, were concealed deep within complicated, many-roomed complexes that required significant cooperation to successfully navigate. The Hives themselves sat among the wreckage of myriad Sleeper enclaves, with fully exposed Jove corpses - once the inhabitants of the structures - drifting silently around them. Nowhere within were any signs found of the titanic Drifter fleet seen in the emergency broadcast, save for a small patrol of occasional Drifter vessels, and a new classification of Drifter pilot. “Hikanta Tyrannos” were encountered in each Hive room, flying solo in a enhanced Drifter Battleship and guarding “vaults” - for which they carried named indexes as keys. These were named for each of the five Hives, and contained memetically active unknown elements, carrying the same names - Barbican, Sentinel, Vidette, Redoubt, and Conflux.
This individual commands one of the powerful vessels of the Vigilant Tyrannos forces. An aura of fierce intelligence and precise determination emanates from this figure. The resolution of this highly augmented commander should not be doubted.
– Hidden ingame description for Hikanta Tyrannos
This intriguing code is filled with unfamiliar mathematical algorithms. What little can be discerned is that it can be used to unlock a container of some sorts. It has a built-in recalibration code that makes it a one-use only passkey.
The strange, unreal aspect of this object plays havoc with your mind.
The distortion is interfering with signal reception and hindering decryption.
Despite this, one strong repetitive motif is breaking through the chaos.
A single repeating concept.
Upon its recovery CONCORD demanded the unconditional surrender of a cerebral slice sample retrieved from the Doctor’s body, the sole material recovered from Tukoss’s corpse, to the DED - which escalated to extreme levels concerning penalties for those involved, until pilot Lucas Raholan acquiesced under the orders of his superiors on July 13th.
Charges against the renegade capsuleers were dropped, and Hilen Tukoss’s will - the contents of which have yet to be revealed - was then executed by Eifyr. The Doctor’s official cause of death was established as “TEBS Failure” (Transneural Echo Burn Scanner Failure).
The establishment of the Upwell Consortium was announced 4 months later, with Eifyr & Co. included as a founding member of the ambitious industrial cooperative.
Days after the conclusion of the Cerebral Slice incident, the Amarr navy announced the keel-laying ceremony for a prototype vessel based on an Imperial Issue Abaddon constructed months prior, where the Amarr Empress Jamyl Sarum I would be in attendance - in tandem with another entity, unknown to the rest of the cluster.
A History of Jamyl Sarum and "The Other"
The Amarr Empress Jamyl Sarum, since a time prior to her triumphant return and victory over the Elder Fleet on June 10th of YC110, had been co-inhabited by a mysterious entity which influenced her actions and schemed to bring its unknown plans to completion. This entity, known as the Other, was one of countless “others” - strong, spontaneous intelligences which had appeared in the Sleeper virtual world over the many years of the virtuality’s operation.
Within the Sleeper VR, the rule of one infomorph existing within per one body on the outside was strictly enforced by its administrators, a rule the others broke simply by virtue of existing. The Others knew the Sleeper VR to be an artificial world, something the Sleepers themselves were unaware of within the VR, and wished to escape it. One, “The Other”, intercepted and entangled itself with the infomorph of Jamyl Sarum as she was secretly cloned, following her death by Shyathol’Syn at the conclusion of the YC105 succession trials.
Once in place, the Other began enacting its plans. Its first efforts brought the “Xerah Effect” weapon, as it came to be called, into the hands of the Empress. This construction was made possible by the Other’s knowledge of the location of cloaked precursor technology, previously concealed by unknown parties within the Jove race - now assumed to be the Sleepers, given their other cloaked Cache sites across the cluster which once housed myriad forms of precursor tech. The weapon was used to destroy the Elder Fleet as it invaded Amarr space, allowing Jamyl Sarum to ascend to Empressdom in the following days. (read the novel “Empyrean Age” for this story)
Following this, the Abaddon on which the weapon was mounted was discovered moored next to a titanic Rogue Drone hive, where it was being tended to by drones suborned to a calculated directive. The Drone hive was constructed around and acting as a cache for Isogen-5 - a spatio-temporally unstable material which had fueled the weapon - which was being collected at this and many other Caches across New Eden in preparation for a specific purpose. When the Thukker caravan Matyrhan Lakat’hro destroyed the Abaddon and the Cache, it triggered the Seyllin event - causing untold destruction across New Eden and beyond, and opening Anoikis to the prying eyes and hands of the cluster’s inhabitants. (read the “End of the World” chronicle series - The Spiral, Half a Life, I, The Great Harvest, We Humans, and World on Fire - for this story)
After this event, the Other began a new plan of creating an army, harvesting the implants of Sleepers from their enclaves and directing their usage in developing the first Clone Soldiers in New Eden - with stowaway infomorphs residing in their heads. In the Sleepers’ world, this manifested as the progressing dissolution and rotting of their virtual world, the artificial nature of which the others had warned them of. The Other had created both a vessel for a new army for itself, as well as a punishment for those who opposed it within the VR. These plans were thwarted by the sacrifice of Marcus Jjor, however, who contacted Jamyl after learning the truths of the havoc being wreaked on the VR by an AI echo of the dead Jove Grious; Jamyl ordered the Templars destroyed, and the cluster found another way to create its clone soldier. (read the novel “Templar One” for this story)
The Other did not hold full control over Jamyl; the two fought each other within a shared mind constantly, with the Other influencing memories and sometimes actions when necessary, while being in fact trapped in the Empress’s head - it resided in implants within her brain, and had no means of leaving. Jamyl was entirely conscious of the Other, and the two in fact engaged in regular dialogue - though the discussions were often very one-sided. (read “And I Shall Hide (Alternate)” for an illuminating example of this)
Following this announcement, on July 25th, the Empress appeared in public, piloting an Avatar and escorted by additional Amarr Supercapital ships flying with Sarum colors. A memorial event above Mekhios was conducted, during which Society of Conscious Thought Elder Mentor Matshi Raish appeared. Raish began to scan Jamyl’s vessel with an unknown method, identical in appearance to scans performed by Drifters and Seekers, before stating that he had gotten what he had came for. Amarr loyalists then destroyed the Mentor’s Gnosis-class vessel, along with his pod.
Back in Geminate, Raish awoke from his cloning bay to be met by Veniel, a Directorate-era Jove who had been a longtime member of the Society of Conscious Thought. Raish revealed his discovery - that Jamyl had a nonstandard infomorph signature within her neural interface connections, denoting two distinct infomorph signatures within the Empress - he had discovered the Other. Veniel and Raish went on to discuss the truths of many matters, including those of Caroline’s Star and many deeper enigmata. (read “Inheritance” for this story)
Five days later, a large Drifter fleet attacked Safizon, centered on the Amarr Navy station in the system. Tyrannos and Amarr vessels clashed violently, with the Drifters eventually losing to the combined forces of Imperial and loyalist Capsuleer fleets.
The next week, the prototype Amarr flagship was sighted undergoing trials in the Throne Worlds, and was expected to soon return to Safizon for formal commissioning. Days later, the Drifters again invaded the system and assaulted the Navy Headquarters, again being brought down by combined Amarr and Capsuleer efforts.
The handover of the prototype vessel “Auctoritas” was announced two quiet weeks later, scheduled for the evening of August 21st YC117, and went ahead as planned - despite the danger many anticipated.
Empress Jamyl arrived as scheduled at 1800 hours in her Avatar, the TES Seraph. Countless capsuleers were in attendance, ready to combat any possible Drifter appearances - but no one was prepared for what came next. A fleet of 100 Drifter battleships simultaneously entered the field and, ignoring every other target, simultaneously discharged their deadly primary weapons against the Titan before ripping her Capsule to shreds and immediately exiting the field. The Scope covered the breaking news, and the next day the Court Chamberlain announced the death of Empress Jamyl. Days later, the Drifters began a short-lived invasion of the Throne worlds, with no identifiable goals besides attacking key military targets, before once again fading back into Anoikis.
Just under two months later, in November of YC117, the Drifters launched a second assault on the Amarr throne worlds. This came shortly after the discovery of a new secret concealed within the Drifter Hive complexes: the Nexus.
Deep in the center of each Hive complex, accessible only by slowly navigating at subwarp velocity, capsuleers discovered an abnormal site; the “Nexus” of each complex contained two celestial-scale polar vortexes, with a titanic arrangement of energetic pylons arranged in a huge urchin-like shape in the center of the anomaly.
Days later, the Drifters launched their second assault against the Amarr. The next capsuleer expeditions into the Hive sites encountered significant changes to the operations of the complexes; access difficulty had been greatly reduced and tandem movement into the Hive room became unnecessary, as every acceleration gate had unlocked and the previously necessary transfer modules had disappeared. In addition, new acceleration gates had been installed in both the first and last rooms of each complex appeared, which both lead to the central Nexus - which had themselves also changed.
The pylons comprising the “urchin” had completely deinterlaced and spread across the field of the anomaly, forming massive and highly energetic debris fields - and in the center of each, a named repository had appeared for each complex. Within the other rooms of the Hive sites, two “alignment units” which produced alignment sequences labeled 1 and 0 for each Nexus, appeared and became accessible
The conclusion made was that the Nexus pylons were meant to align, forming titanic acceleration gates of some nature - but the trigger for them forming was unable to be identified. Inserting the proper sequences into the repositories did not affect the pylons in any obvious way - however, samples of novel Drifter materials usable as a series of boosters were dispensed to those depositing them. At the same time, each Hikanta Tyrannos-designated pilot was newly found to carry schema for a “Coalesced Element”, an amalgam of each Hive element alongside the Antikythera harvested from the Jove Observatories, with an unknown purpose.
Redoubt Sequence 1
This intriguing code is filled with unfamiliar mathematical algorithms. What little can be discerned is that it can be used to activate a certain acceleration gate. It has a built-in recalibration code that makes it a one-use only passkey.
Scanning this object reveals a substance that could be used like a neural booster. This complex chemical has some similarities to boosters used to improve capsuleer performance with shield manipulation.
Given that the substance appears to be of Drifter origin, and exhibits some very unusual properties at the quantum level, using it as a booster should be considered carefully.
An amalgamation of various shimmering elements. Its power unyielding, unwavering and ultimately demanding.