The Floating Pilgrimage

Ask many Amarrians over the age of one hundred about the Floating Pilgrimage and you’re likely to get slight smiles, far away looks, and sighs of remembrance as answers. Ask anyone younger and they probably won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Such is the fate of trends in the Amarr Empire, clutched to by those who lived them and unknown by everyone else. During its heyday nearly ninety years ago, the Floating Pilgrimage was the place to be for young Amarrians with even the slightest hint of social consciousness.

Most people think the Pilgrimage started out as a tourist attraction, but it is truthfully hundreds of years older. The Pilgrimage itself is an old carrier, an ancestor of the modern Aeon, that found itself in the hands of an eccentric old billionaire named Eitris Manin. No one quite remembers how Eitris made his fortune, but plenty remember how he lost it. The Pilgrimage is just one of the many follies that sent Eitris into ruin.

Decommissioned by the Imperial Navy, the Floating Pilgrimage was being disassembled for scrap when Eitris offered to buy it for several billion ISK. The Navy balked at first, because the idea of a private individual owning a carrier was unheard of in those days, and the thing had been stripped of several important systems. Eitris just increased his offered to an amount the Navy would be crazy to turn down. Eitris did little of note with the Floating Pilgrimage, besides renaming it “Eitris’s House of Repentant Pleasure,” inviting much younger noblewomen onboard for a “tour”, and ordering it flown around the Sarum Prime system.

However, due to the stripping of components by the Navy, the Pilgrimage quickly broke down. After only a few years, the carrier’s engines blew out in spectacular fashion, taking a goodly portion of the rear of the ship with them. Thanks to several other costly purchases (such as a giant golden statue of himself in an asteroid belt in Myyhera that was stolen by pirates, and an addiction to furrier omelettes), Eitris didn’t have the money to tow the ship back to a starbase, much less repair it. Instead, he abandoned it as a derelict and tried to find a even more foolish billionaire to sell it to.

After much searching, Eitris finally found a buyer in Randor Cole, a Caldari businessman who had converted to the Amarr religion. Even though it sold for a fraction of the cost he paid for it, Eitris thought he had pulled one over on the Caldari, and immediately spent the sum financing parades for himself through the streets of several Amarr cities. Randor, however, was no fool and saw a business opportunity in the old shell of a ship.

Randor paid a hefty sum to renovate and repair the ship, restored its proper name of the Floating Pilgrimage, and opened the carrier as a theme park. Randor began an advertizing campaign in true Caldari fashion, pushing the benefits of his product (zero-gravity roller coasters, a petting zoo, Scripturally inspired mascots, and more) without mentioning any of the downsides (its remote location, inflated fees, and rather boring rides). Within the first year of operating it, Randor made back double what he put into the Pilgrimage. But as word spread about how unfun actually going to the Pilgrimage was, attendance dwindled. The only people that kept coming were young Amarrian nobles who wanted to get away from their parents and canoodle with each other in private.

Always ready for an opportunity, Randor closed down the amusement park attraction by attraction and replaced them with speakeasies, boutiques, stores, hotels, music houses, restaurants, and more. Anything that would appeal to a young Amarrian trying to have an evening of fun and mingle with other Amarrians was present. Within a few years, the Floating Pilgrimage became the chic place to visit if you were part of Amarrian high society. Billions of ISK flowed into the Floating Pilgrimage each year, the most profitable being the Drinker’s Cathedral, a speakeasy that catered to the most socially inclined in the Amarr Empire.

For decades, the Floating Pilgrimage was the most popular “resort” in the entire Amarr Empire. But as with all things, the regular patrons of the Pilgrimage began to grow old, have children of their own, and have increasing responsibilities with their families and work. The youngest generation of Amarrians considered the Pilgrimage a boring place their parents used to go to, while the older generation no longer had the time or desire to make the trip.

For the past fifty years, the Floating Pilgrimage has barely scraped by. The lines that once snaked down corridors to get into the Drinker’s Cathedral were reduced to a few dozen regulars who lived on nearby stations, the famed acts that performed in the music houses were replaced by amateur musicians and faded stars, and the stores that lined the decks closed up shop. It seemed as if the Pilgrimage was destined to return to its fate as a floating derelict.

Recently, however, the Pilgrimage has begun to regain some of its lost luster. While nowhere near as popular as it was in the past, the newest generation of Amarrians started using it the same way their grandparents did, as a place to escape the watchful eyes of their parents. Plus, with the increasing number of pod pilots, people from all over the galaxy are coming to the Pilgrimage. The Drinker’s Cathedral is once more a social hot spot, the restaurants are serving trendy cuisine, and just last year a popular Gallente musical group sold out three consecutive dates at the largest music house.

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