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Elite: Dangerous seeded a mystery years ago, and the finale is this weekend

Inside the three-year expedition into the Formidine Rift

Frontier Developments
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Before the release of Elite: Dangerous, the team at Frontier Developments got together with science fiction author Drew Wagar to create Elite: Reclamation, an officially licensed novel. Inside, Wagar planted the seeds of a mystery, a mystery that was finally solved by players in-game just last week.

But the tale doesn’t end there. This weekend Frontier is hosting a combat-themed in-game event, and Wagar’s next novel will be written, in part, by how this in-game interstellar brawl plays out.

Riddle me this

Last week, while I was grinding faction credit with the Federation around Ross 263 — my favorite little backwater in the Elite universe — I noticed something strange on the Galnet feed. Galnet is Elite’s in-game newspaper, available at every port of call in the game’s vast recreation of the Milky Way galaxy. The April 17 issue contained a riddle.

Frontier is famous for putting little treasures inside Elite. Recently, they let loose a mysterious alien race for lucky pilots to experience on the edge of inhabited space. But I had a feeling this was something different. For the players in the in-game faction called the Children of Raxxla, it was a call to action. They solved the riddle, only to uncover another.

The answer to the riddle was a string of mythological characters. Using the first letters of those names, they uncovered a name: Rebecca.

Rebecca was the name of a mysterious old woman from Wagar’s novel, and mixed in with her name were the coordinates of a system far out on the southern edge of the galaxy. Members of the Children of Raxxla tell Eurogamer that once they solved the riddle, they all pretty much did a U-turn and made the best possible speed toward Syreadiae JX-F c0.

Once there they found a megaship, only the ninth one found in the galaxy since the most recent update. It was abandoned, but when they scanned it the Children of Raxxla found something remarkable: A series of fully voice-acted audio logs, including the voice of Rebecca herself.

The plot thickens

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Behind the veneer of the actual spacefaring game that those in Elite: Dangerous play is a political struggle, a vast conspiracy that will only be told in Wagar’s next novel, Elite: Premonition.

Rebecca, the mysterious megaship, the race of precursor aliens and perhaps even the extraterrestrial invaders discovered in January of this year could all be involved. Someone knows where these secrets are buried, and it’s possible that the biggest in-game factions want them dead.

From Wagar’s blog post:

Mission Directive

CMDR Salomé, formerly the disgraced Senator Kahina Tijani Loren, is wanted by the Empire.

She is accused of terrorism and is a convicted criminal, found guilty of the attempted assassination of Fleet Admiral Denton Patreus.

Her co-conspirators; CMDRs Raan Corsen, Tsu Singh and Yuri Nakamura are also wanted for aiding and abetting her in her plans to destabilise the galaxy.

So far they have evaded justice and remain at large. Intelligence reports indicate that they will be attempting to reach an unconfirmed destination in the heart of the core worlds (the bubble) for reasons unknown aided by disaffected factions and other malcontents.

A bounty of 5 Million credits is offered for Salomé’s death. 2 Million credits is offered, apiece, on receipt of similar proof of her conspirators’ demise.

Consider all of them armed and extremely dangerous.

They, and those helping them, have been sighted in and around the Col 70 Sector, in the vicinity of the 46 Eridani system.

Do not engage in communications. Show no mercy. Kill them all on sight.

The battle kicks off April 29 at 3:00 PM ET. Players get to pick their side, and can either fight to defend Salomé or blow her and her conspirators out of the sky. What happens will determine the outcome of Wagar’s novel and, potentially, the next phase of the story being told in-game.

“The player-base decides the outcome,” Wagar wrote. “Our view is that in open mode everyone is ‘role-playing’ even if they’re not consciously doing so. From a story perspective there are some contingency plans for continuity if this occurs. ... You don’t need to do anything. If you feel you wish to do something, do what you must and what you think is best.”

The action will be broadcast live, right from the cockpit of a handful of high-level players.