It was hard growing up, and, in so many ways, still working on it. My family lived on Horutz, which the rest of New Eden calls Tabbetzur VI, but Horutz, in our clan’s traditional language, kind of means ‘waypoint’, a place to sit and ponder while you make your next move. It could be a desert oasis, it could be an old tree stump on a hill, a place to see the horizon and wonder what lies beyond it. Which is a bit silly, because the place is a dead end and the clan has called it home for many, many years. Who am I to argue with tradition? The place really is the arse-end of nowhere, so far on the fringes of the Republic that the news we think is fresh is being dug by archaeologists on Matar. On the whole the weather could be better, but on the bright side it makes a reasonable living from the local asteroid belt and visiting pirates. So I had few choices, join my father, who, as far as I remember, mostly constructed factories and warehouses, or work in the family bakery run by my mother. That was hot, fond memories of waking to the smell of baking bread and fighting my brother for the honour of scraping out the cake mixing bowls, but it didn’t drive me, didn’t give me the answers I wanted. I persevered at school and read, avidly at home, and dreamt of far off libraries. Under enormous peer pressure I took the Voluval ritual, although many of my age did not, but in some places a favoured mark can path the way to a dream. Unfortunately, and perhaps because I was known for asking questions that some did not have the answers to, my mark was deemed unfavourable. I took the easy way out, while such things can be circumvented these days, it was easier to say my farewells, take a few possessions and some credit and hit the road, in search of the future.
I wandered, which is I guess my heritage, through the Republic, slowly making my way out. Odd jobs here and there, which lead to nothing, they didn’t like drifters, or they question of my mark came up. So onward I travelled, and my credit dwindled, until I pulled out my credit chip and it whimpered in the way it does when its almost empty. It goes without saying I got lucky, a chance conversation with a stranger in a bar, and the very next day I got an invite to Pator Tech. Somehow something about me suggested I might fulfil the requirements for a capsuleer, and the rest is history. At length, as have so many others, I made my way, rather cautiously into space, and, truly, what a wonder to behold. I still often go out into space just to look at the stars. My first steps would definitely be considered faltering, but I made, as advised, the rounds of the local agents and immediately seized upon exploration. The actual first step was a doozy, down the first wormhole I came across, leapt on the nearest ancient site I could see and, promptly got annihilated by Sleepers, who strangely, woke up.
Back to the drawing board, I read up, hit the archives, researched everything I could, and went back. Its the only way, if the horse throws you off, get back on. It was fun, honestly it was. I had yet to master the complexities of cloaking technology, but I could keep my eyes open and I could damn well run. And run I did, bouncing around the system and feeling the currents of space beneath my controls. Its true, I lost some ships, but not many, and my credit chip began to purr instead of whimper. I could lose myself for hours, listening to the pleasant tone of the scanners as the probes revealed another wonder, each discovery yielding the greatest treasure of all; questions! Because that really is what exploration is about, questions, not answers. There is no profit in an answer, it’s a dead end; ‘Oh I see now, that’s it.’ But, a question is an entirely different kettle of Fedo bait, a question leads you further on the journey. Which is what life is, a journey, to be savoured and enjoyed, to meet friends along the way and improve your circumstances, and those of others.
I continued, I voyaged onwards, and began talking to Signal Cartel, a fine and honourable institution, whose purpose, like my own, is helping others. It seemed appropriate to join them, and pool our resources and many happy times were had. There is real satisfaction to be had in helping a fellow explorer out of a wormhole, lost, bereft of probes and even ship, their foreseeable future looking set in activating the self-destruct timer, the ultimate defeat. The alarm would sound, a ping in channel, and off I would go, long ago losing track of how many pilots I steered to home. Leaving them happy and smiling, and a smiling pilot is often a generous tipper.
The explorer community is very supportive. So many pilots, new to exploration enter, and the veterans are always ready to help; I’m happy to play an active part in it. Even many of the hunters have been known to offer advice and replace ships. The incoming pilots are so unaware of what is out there, its heartening to see them cheer when they return from their first successful trip. Its becoming more so as well, pilots sharing information, co-operating on ventures and helping to foster a true sense of community. Not just Signal Cartel but those around it, Eve Scout has grown well beyond the boundaries of the corp. That is something we can all aspire to, helping those around us builds a happier world.
Each day I explored, found sights and mysteries that were, at least to me, new, and prompted me to dig into the archives and histories. Where did these things come from? What manner of beings built and lived in these ancient structures, and perhaps still did? If not, where did they go? In time I ventured to the New Eden system, to see the great gate I had heard others tell of. Was this where we came from, our point of origin? A question, as yet, unanswered. I read, I fell into long discussions with others, and shared my knowledge as I could. At length I was introduced to the Arataka Research Consortium, a fortuitous meeting, which led to joining in their struggle against the emergent Drifter menace.
Those were exciting days, an emergency shout out that a Drifter fleet was suspected in New Eden and a frantic search took place. All the explorer community rallied to find it and then a muster point broadcast. I fondly remember racing to the system and sitting at the gate in awe at the Drifter fleet sitting there, then off to the station and waiting for ships to arrive. The excitement as we threw our first wave of Coercers against them. Dark, mysterious forces, arrayed on the gate. The inevitable, and expected, destruction of the ship, and another frantic race back to station for a replacement. Really got the blood going. Then slowly they would begin to die, one by one, for some reason their command breaking and the ships would sit motionless in space. Until, at last, they were gone, wrecks drifting in space, leaving behind the enigmatic Trinary Data Vaults. Which only led to more excitement as their contents were revealed; strange triangular writings and scratchy snippets of video that appeared to show unknown space and even more unknown vessels and weaponry. Questions galore. The Drifters were enigmatic enough, but these new sights we were seeing were something else. It provoked all sorts of discussion and speculation within ARC and still does. The decoding process took a while and began long before my involvement, although I spent many hours in my room mulling over the information revealed.
At long last we appeared to have an answer, when Oveg Durst, the same who unfortunately lost his ship at Kahah just recently, appeared in Yulai in a captured cruiser. A ship we now know as the Vedmak. I spent a couple of days over there examining the ship as best I could, although CONCORD had it well guarded. Following the press release they issued and the appearance of the first filaments it was action stations again. Those again were crazy days, frantic activity helping to co-ordinate a huge operation with Signal Cartel, ARC and the wider explorer community, disseminating information and ferrying filaments to site runners. Scraping Isogen-10 and ZPC from the trade hubs as we fought to build the new ships. These days the Abyss is almost routine, although we delve ever deeper and discover more about these Triglavians, it still poses a lot of questions, and those I love. It sends me back poring over the archives or examining Sleeper sites in more detail than before. Who are they, and where do they live? Seemingly not within New Eden, although I have some suspicions. The whole Sleeper, Drifter, Triglavian triad is a complex puzzle and one I can see myself spending many years unravelling. It spurs me on, sends me to the very ends of New Eden in search of clues. One day I hope to meet a Triglavian, maybe even converse with them, I have tried to make contact, but to no avail. Perhaps even find their homelands, deep in some forgotten part of cluster. Who knows? It is a dream to persue.
That is only part of my journey, my exploration of the cluster, a huge place and a very different world to the one I was brought up in. We did not see the big picture, the larger universe outside the confines of our settlement. Working, playing and studying within the confines of our small, if not tiny, community. The wider concerns of the cluster were not ours. Now it is all changed, I have friends across the cluster and often find myself, not embroiled, but certainly involved, if only as a spectator, in much larger events. Makes me wonder about what direction the cluster is heading in, will there be more wars, or will events lead us into a new era of peace? New technologies, what will they bring and what changes will they make to our way of life? All good, all questions to be answered. I do what I can, I improve my skills and keep studying and keep myself flexible enough to readily adapt to changes as they happen. It’s all any of us can do, but I still remember my beginnings, the tiny people on planets that keep the engines going. To me those are the people we need to safeguard, improve their lives, regardless of the movements of giants.
For my part I now have my own tiny corporation to look after, a few close friends, working to make a living and helping me in my investigations. A small private detective’s office in a quiet station, somewhere to collate my findings and explore the cluster’s past is all I need. I still look at the pictures, big, and small, at where things may be leading, and also my journey. At the moment I am comfortable in what I am doing and still striving to help others, but for the future, well that is another big question indeed…