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 on: October 09, 2016, 03:24:11 AM 
Started by NightCrawler 85 - Last post by NightCrawler 85
Who are we.

My name is Keena.
Nothing else about me is relevant. Not my last name, my interests, hobbies, or even my favorite book. Those things belong to a different time, a different life, one I will never have again.
I was told to sit down in this small room and write whatever I felt like. I guess its supposed to be "therapeutic" or something like that. Help us deal with what they did to us, a vague attempt at preventing us from loosing our minds and harming our selves or others. Not because they care about our health of course, or the health of our fellow inmates. But we are still free labor and from a business perspective it would be foolish to not at least attempt to preserve us for as long as possible.

I'm a masked prisoner.
I work and live in one of those plants that normal people dont, and can't, know about. If the general public knew what was going on they would cause an uproar. Not because they care. It's just political correctness. Sort of like how people will oppose of slavery and fight for human rights or preach about peace. Makes them feel good about them selves, like they are doing something "kind" and "unselfish".

I used to be one of those people once. I don't know how long ago, time moves.. differently here. I was young, and pretty stupid like most young girls are. And I loved dancing, something else most girls have in common.
One evening I went to my favorite night club and I ended up dancing with this... not really that attractive guy. But he bought me drinks, loads of them. And like most stupid young girls I got drunk, which was followed by more dancing, a quick cab ride to a very anonymous hotel. Now that I think about it there might have been some very uncharming puking involved there as well. But as I said, he wasent really that attractive so I guess he dident care. I don't remember the rest of the night, but what happened between us in that cheap hotel room is not really important anyway. However, the next morning is.
The sun wasent even up yet when armed soldiers kicked in the door. There was a lot of shouting, I remember that I screamed, and a very bright light. And then we were dragged away.
I never saw my "not really that attractive but generous companion" again.

I spent what felt like days in a small cell. Sometimes they would take me to another room and ask me questions, sometimes they taunted me, saying things that made me cry. Other times they would beat me. Never enough to  severely hurt me, but enough so that I understood the seriousness and knew they were willing to go a lot further if I dident corporate. The only problem was that I had no idea what they thought I had done, or what they wanted. I was terrified.

When a group of them came into my cell I knew something had changed. They told me that my "companion" had told them everything. That I had been doing something they called "datamining" whatever that is and I had been traced back to the hotel room. There was no need for a trial, I was sentenced guilty right then and there. While they would never believe it, I still think that the guy just told them I had done whatever it was to get out of trouble him self. I cant say for certain that I wouldent have done the same if our roles were reversed.

I was taken away, I don't know to where, but every inmate is Gallente like me, and the only men I ever see are the guards. Some of the prisoners are as young as 12 years old, some in their 50s, some might be even older. I guess permanently living under ground with no natural lights affects your skin or something. I adjusted quickly, something that surprised me. Maybe its just because of the routines. You get up at the same time,once the bell rings go to get your picture taken and then go to work at the same little work station, sewing buttons and fixing zippers, then you go back to your bunk and eat your food and sleep before you repeat it all day after day, week after week.
Nothing ever changes.

Of course I had noticed the masked prisoners. Now that I am one of them I feel ashamed over how I acted. At first I asked questions about them, feeling a mix of disgust and a morbid interest in what was actually under that thick layer of plaster that covered every inch of their face, except a thin strip for the mouth and eyes allowing them to see and eat. The latter with some difficulties I might add.
Every time I brought the subject up to the "normal" inmates I got hushed and quick scared glances were sent towards the guards followed by them turning the back on me pretending I hadent talked to them. I never considered going and asking one of the masked prisoners directly. To be honest they sort of terrified me, and I was convinced they were wearing the masks to hide some kind of exotic disease and if I got to close I would get infected. Eventually I ceased asking questions. Guess I just stopped caring.
Around the same time came acceptance, and the knowledge to not waste time on hoping that the mistake that lead to me being here would be discovered. I wonder if my companion still thinks about me, and if he feels remorse.

At the time I dident think twice about the pictures they would take of us. I figured it was just some kind of security, a way to make sure we were all there and still alive. In hindsight I feel a bit silly about this.
In the normal world you would hear about "face transplants". There had been some incident involving a.. I think it was a singer? Well anyway, the procedure hadent worked as planned and there was a lot of fuss about it, but that dident discourage people from being interested in it. In fact i think it more encouraged it and made more people try it for them selves. Well, the ones that could afford it that is. Ritch people like holders, royalty and of course, capsuleers.
The concept was easy enough to understand. If you have enough ISK at hand you could go and say "I want to change my face" and the company in charge would either somehow "alter" your own face giving you the features you had requested, or you could choose the face of an actual human being and your faces would simply be swapped. You would look like them, they would look like you. Not hard to understand and the possibilities are endless.
But, how can a company promise you that you can get practically any face you like and give that promise with nothing but a few hundred or maybe thousand people who are willing to have their face swapped out? They cant!
And thats where we come in. The prisoners hidden away deep underground on random planets scattered across the universe. No one knows we exist, and no one can defend us or our "rights". We lost those as soon as we got convicted. Thousands of people from all ages and bloodlines and races, everyone with their own unique face.Suddenly we are not just a cheap work force.

Its not all bad here.
As I mentioned earlier I suspect I was sent in here for therapeutic reasons. They want us healthy, both physically and mentally. Again not because they care, but we really do save them a lot of money. The guards occasionally get a bit rough with us. They have these rods they enjoy using a bit too much. It gives you a jolt of electricity, not enough to permanently harm you but enough to leave a mark and certainly enough to make sure you stay alert and in line. The food is.. ok. Bland, boring, but in general you feel like you have eaten, even if you will never feel full when you go to bed. But at least you don't go to bed feeling starved.
Its hard to eat with the mask. You sort of have to squish your food with your fingers and force it into the opening.
At first it really hurt, the mask. Its pain I cant describe, and I hope you will never have to experience it.

You do make friends in places like this. Its your only real comfort, something that helps make you feel human. The interaction with other people I mean. Having "friends" and joking around and laughing is a very normal thing, and I think we are all guilty at taking it for granted. If you end up with a mask you will miss those interactions. If it will be on the top of your list I don't know, but trust me, it will be on there no matter how self sufficient you are and how strong you feel.
In the long run you will realize that having nothing but your own company starts to suck after a while.

When they came to get me I dident think twice about it.
Occasionally your taken away from your work station for a short while to get some shots, take some more pictures, regular health checks and so on. Thus I was not alarmed when the guard tapped my shoulder and nodded towards the door.
Everything here is metal. Shiny, cold, impersonal. I cant see the difference from one hallway to the next, and only the walk to the room where our work stations are located can be memorized. They make it a point to always change the route and move the rooms where they take you for other things such as your medical examination. I guess its to discourage exploring, or attempts at escape. Because of this I blindly followed the guard as usual, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes going left and right, trough several doors, feeling like I was being led in a circle. Eventually we arrived at a door that looked just like any of the other doors, but when opened, which was done by the guard leaning in and getting his eyes scanned, it was a small metal room, maybe big enough for 4 people at most.
One prisoner and her 3 armed guards.

We entered and as soon as the door closed i felt a feeling I hadent felt in, who knows how many years at this point. We were in an elevator, and we were going up.

Can you imagine how it feels to see sunlight after having been trapped underground for years? Or feeling the wind against your skin? Or even the smell of rotting leaves and fresh rain? I fell to my knees and I cried, but they were tears of... Something stronger then joy, more then amazement. The kind of feeling where it feels like your heart is growing so big that it hurts in your chest.
I felt hope. The purest kind of hope that can possibly exist.
I thought they were releasing me. That I would see my family, my friends, my home...

The guard dragged me along the ground until I managed to stamper to my feet and half stumbled half ran after him trying to not fall over again, barely able to see trough my tears while thanking him, thanking whomever had come to get me out of there, thanking everyone for allowing me to leave this place. Sniffling and laughing and crying and half madly shouting is how I was when the guard lead me over to a close by building and threw me in before he followed. I looked around, still with a stupid grin on my face and instantly I felt my self go pale and backed up towards the door so quickly that I stumbled in my already unsteady feet, falling back against the door.
Everything was white, the walls, the floor, the roof, everything. And so were the lab-coats and their facial masks. I started to scream.

I think there are things that are just so traumatic that the brain cant actually deal with it. It chooses to forget whatever event that occurred to spare you. And I'm grateful for that. I just wish I could have forgotten leaving that elevator and how I felt being outside, that... intense sensation of relief.
I think thats the most cruel thing they could ever have done to me in this place... Making me believe again, just to take it away from me, as if they wanted to crush the last bit of hope there was left.
I wish I could hate them for it, but... they took my wish to care away from me in that room. And without being able to care you cant hate, you cant love, you cant fear.. you cant hope. You just... exist.

They do more then ripping off your face and replacing it with the plaster that eventually hardens into the mask that will be your new permanent "face".They also remove your tongue. And why not? You don't need to be able to speak to preform your duties, and its a damn good way to make sure you cant tell people what happened to you. That way, just in case the wrong person gets in (or out) we cant "spill the secret". Most will just look at us, and like I did, assume the mask is covering up some bad birth defect or accident or disease. But as a bonus it also helps maintaining the mystery and fear that surrounds us, the masked prisoners.
I don't know why they want to make sure we cant communicate with the others, why they are encouraging the normal inmates to fear us. I can make an educated guess and say that its to ensure that they wont panic.
But I also like to think that if our fellow inmates knew what could possibly happen to them they might revolt more easily, or at least disfigure them selves enough so that they wouldent be "usable". I bet the upper management wouldent enjoy that very much at all, or, at least not their wallets.

A new bed was set up for me, all the way in the back hidden behind a curtain together with the rest of the masked women.There were only four of them, making me the fifth. I walked over to my bed, sat down and looked down on my hands, worried these women would remember how I had treated them, how I had avoided them in the hallways, the whispered questions I'm sure they had overheard. I wanted to apologize, but I dident know how, and I felt ashamed. Both because of what I had done, and because of how I looked.

One of the women came over and sat down next to me and took my hands in hers. I looked up and I saw tears flowing from her eyes, disappearing under the mask, and while sitting there looking me straight into my eyes she squeezed my hand and at that moment I knew it was safe, they were not going to hurt me.
They had been like me once, and they did not judge me for what I had done, or what I had become.
I started to cry, shaking uncontrollably, and as I did the three other women came over and hugged me tight and we all cried together.
We cried for our losses, for the shattered dreams, the pain and the emptiness we will never be able to leave behind.

We are the masked women.
We are the ones without hope.
We are no one.

 on: November 18, 2015, 03:29:48 AM 
Started by Callista Dalmore - Last post by Callista Dalmore

The Gate

by Callista Dalmore 

“Fire!” ordered Gate Commander Tol.

The brilliance of guns Five and Six washed everything on the command deck in a blazing halo of white light.

“Shields gone, armor breached”, buzzed gunnery control.

“Ok, Alpha,” said Tol as he swiped the group of four blue chevron shaped icons on the overhead to the center of the display, he continued, “switch to secondary.  Gunnery stay on primary until neutralized.  Primary is D, Secondary is Tornado E.  Where is Beta?” he asked impatiently as he scanned the holo-tac.

“Beta is still responding to the four-thirteen called in from the ice field, sir.” came the answer from dispatch.

“Why do we always...nevermind.” said Tol, clearly annoyed.
“Dispatch, order Beta to return as soon as they collar their thief.  Then send a system wide All Hands, we are going to need the backup.”  He swiped the view away from Alpha group back to where it had originally been: centered on a group of ten chevron shaped icons hanging sunwards from the gate.

The command deck flared again in the brilliance of the guns.  In the hologram, one of the red icons turned grey.

“Gunnery, please target E. Tactical, report.” ordered Tol.

Some forty kilometers away from where the Gate Commander stood, Osarii cleared her comms and her throat.  From her tiny frigate, she had an up-close-and-personal view of one of those red chevrons.  The hull of the Tornado-class battlecruiser careened by as she tweaked her speed to allow her orbit to settle just a little closer.  A quick glance through her canopy verified that the shimmering blur of her emanating from her ship’s entanglement generator still enveloped the battlecruiser’s stern.  It wasn’t going anywhere.  Looking out across the field she could see similar fields being applied to the rest of the attacking fleet.   

Activating her comm link she answered, “Perps E through N are cuffed and pinned, Sir.  We are also keeping an eye on the vic.  I’m afraid that, at this rate, he just ain’t going to make it.  I’ve run the outcome projections.  It’s just too fucking slow.”

Seemingly to underline Osarii’s statement, another massive volley of 1400mm caliber rounds lit up the thirty or so kilometers between battlecruisers and the colossal but essentially defenseless Obelisk-class freighter desperately trying to reach the stargate’s jump field.  Each impact sent great plumes of the freighter’s carapace hurling into space.  Geysers of various gasses and fluids were venting explosively from impact craters all over the hull.  Two of the freighter’s titanic cargo holds had been breached and storage containers could be seen spilling out onto approach lanes seven and eight.  Regular gate traffic was starting to back up.  To make matters worse, it seemed that several opportunistic scavengers were leaving the gate queues; some heading towards the freighter and others towards the rapidly cooling Tornado wrecks floating like blurry placeholders next to the remaining attacking force. 

But Osarii wasn’t wearing the white gloves today, traffic control was someone else’s problem. 
Back on the command deck Tol answered, “Excellent, tactical.  Apprise me of any…”

The brilliance of a giant ball of flame as the next battlecruiser exploded, momentarily cutting him off. In the same moment the battle group Beta came out of warp right in the middle of outgoing traffic lanes five and six scattering the ships there like leaves.

“Beta, about time.  Please lock and neutralize N, acknowledge,” barked Gate Command.

“Roger that Command,” answered Group B’s the communications officer, “Targeting systems still recovering from warp, we’ll have firing solutions in…”

But suddenly he was interrupted by an all channels system-wide broadcast originating from the freighter, “Anyone!  We are a humanitarian hauler ferrying medicine, food, shelter and medical teams to Mehatoor.  If you are a repair ship please we beg of you, your immediate assistance is needed. Need logistics support.  You will be compensated. Proof of corporate solvency encoded in this message.  We repeat, anyone!  We are a humanitarian..."

Surprisingly, from the lengthening gate lane queue, Osarii saw several ships break away from their positions and begin orbiting the freighter.

“Are you seeing what I am seeing, Tactical?” asked Gate command.

“Several repair ships have answered the freighter’s distress call,” said Osarii elated, “I am re-running projections based on standard configurations.  I am counting eight armor repair craft and two energy supply ships forming up and orbiting the freighter.  Calculations are done, according to projected figures and at this configuration…”

“Hold, Tactical,” interrupted the Tol.  “Ok, I’ve just gotten word from our sister gate that we have two squadrons of destroyer-sized ships inbound.  They are owned by an corporation affiliated with that of our current aggressors.  Jump control I need a count down.”

“Acknowledged Command, this is Jump Control.  All fourteen ships are currently in warp to our gate.  We are seeing gate reception cycle starting in four, three, two, one...activation!” 

With a series of flashes the gate captured the incoming ships. 

“Ok, where the fuck are they?” asked a pilot from Beta group. 

“It will take a few moments for the jump gate residue to dissipate from their hulls if they stay motionless.” answered Osarii, surprised that this had to be explained.  Too much time hunting easy targets in belts, she thought.

“Comms, can we get a feed of their communications?” asked Tol.

“Negative sir, they are on a priority paid private channel.”

Suddenly, the diminutive ships appeared simultaneously from everywhere around the gate.  Just as rapidly, they aligned towards the freighter, afterburners blazing.

“Catalysts!” exclaimed Osarii, unsurprised yet completely dismayed.  She had no doubt the freighter was in fact not their target.

“Permission to engage new targets, Command” asked Osarii.

“Denied, Tactial, stay on current targets.” came the answer just as quickly.

“But sir they are clearly heading towards the logistics ships!” said Osarii as she began adjusting her orbit to have a clean exit towards the freighter.

“Stand down Tactical! We have no legal reason to pursue or engage.  Continue with current targets!” ordered the Gate commander.

Suddenly Osarii’s tactical data on two of the Augorors changed to suspect for criminal activities.  In a blink of an eye, this information was transmitted to everyone in system. “What the hell…” she thought.

As if reading her mind, Tol broadcast, “This is Gate.  Kill rights have been purchased, verified and granted.  No one is to engage any ship engaging the suspects.  Understood?”
“What?” exclaimed Osarii before she could stop herself. “Permission to engage sir!”

“Are you not listening?  That’s a negative Tactical, continue with current targets.” came the reply.

Another Tornado exploded but Osarii’s eyes were fixed to what what happening around the freighter.  The two newly declared suspect Augorors were aligning to jump away from the gate when they realized what had happened.  One, more agile entered warp immediately but the other got caught in the drive destabilisation projector from a Caracal-class cruiser arising out of the gate traffic.  Its weapon systems came online and suddenly the space between it and the Augoror was filled with the contrails of its heavy assault missiles.  Before the initial volley had even hit the target another was launched and then another…

Meanwhile the catalysts had closed range and were bringing their offensive systems online.  Choosing the same target as the Caracal, they fired seemingly as one, obliterating what remained of the already damaged Augoror’s shields and armor.  But rather than finishing the job, they turned and formed up to charge the Caracal.  Taken completely off guard, the Caracal’s shields went down in the first two volleys, the ship exploded with the next.

Osarii’s tactical display changed once again highlighting the catalyst group as shoot to kill. On her comms she read the standard broadcast to the catalyst fleet, “This is DED Gate Control.  You have violated CONCORD law and committed a criminal act.  We are authorized and required to use lethal force against your ships.”

“Finally”, she thought to herself as she once again requested, “Gate, now permission to engage Catalyst group?”

“Negative Tactical, stay on current target”, came the reply.

Her face started to sweat.  Osarii knew she was angry when her face sweat.  And now it was sweating.  A bead rolled down the bridge of her nose down into her flight mask. They might as well just point the gate guns at the freighter.

The catalysts now split into two groups and began engaging the remaining logistics ships.  But clearly the haphazard group of would be good Samaritans were over-matched by the well coordinated catalyst gang.  It also seemed that no others dared engage after having seen what happened to the caracal.  The catalysts adjusted bearing and engaged an exequror.  Struggling to repel the attack, it recalled its repair drones from the freighter and launched a set of combats.

But then, suddenly, born of chaos: a mistake.

The exequror, having survived the catalyst onslaught from the repair fields it was receiving two nearby augorors, must have reused the wrong target lock and ordered its combat drones to engage the freighter instead of the catalysts.

Almost instantaneously, the automated message was delivered to the exequror as well as the the two augorors, “This is DED Gate Control.  You have violated CONCORD law and committed a criminal act.  We are authorized and required to use lethal force against your ships.”

“What?” yelled Osarii watching as the catalysts continued to tear into the exequror.  “Are you out of your fucking…”

“Clear the comms, IMMEDIATELY Tactical, THAT IS AN ORDER!” bellowed Tol.

Sweat pouring down her face, Osarii tried to ignore the scene that was unfolding before her.  She tried to not see Beta Group being re-tasked to target the logistics ships.  She tried to block out the brilliant flashes coming from the gate, turning the exequror and the augorors into molten slag.  She tried to forget the weapons lock she had on the catalysts.  She especially tried to miss the moment when the remaining Tornado fired its last salvo into the freighter turning it into a great shuddering explosion.

She tried, but failed.

(Continued in part 2)

 on: November 18, 2015, 03:28:16 AM 
Started by Callista Dalmore - Last post by Callista Dalmore

The Gate, part 2
by Callista Dalmore

“If interstellar trade is New Eden’s life blood, then the arteries which allow it to flow are our stargates.  These fantastic feats of engineering connect each and every known system; from hub to rim and back again uniting all of them, all of us, to be greater than the sum of the parts.  But for this organism to live, blood must flow to all its organs, all its parts.  Not just in the core; in the brain and in the heart and lungs but also at the periphery as well!  Why?  Because each cell that is cut off, will starve and will sicken and die.  This necrotic cell then becomes the spawning ground, the ground zero, for disease and infection.  Disease and infection which then spreads back from that one single festering cell and threaten the whole being!  It is thus not only important, it is thus even beyond critical, it is fundamental, that our stargates be maintained, that they be protected, that they be armed to fend off any threat.  Be it threats of old or new ones: rogue drones or the Drifter menace.  And this must be done efficiently, professionally and above all, impartially…”

Kjersidur Elladall, excerpt from the published transcripts of his address to the CONCORD Inner Circle conference, Yulai VIII - Inner Circle Tribunal, YC117.

Osarii looked out along the 4 kilometer length of the stargate from the Commander’s office and observed the repair crews, salvage teams and ambulance ships mop up the remnants of this morning’s events.  She blinked as the gate fired.  Traffic continued, completely oblivious.

“So the cargo was, in fact, medical supplies?”  asked Gate Commander Tol, provokingly.

“That’s what it says in my report, sir.” answered Osarii, attempting to remain calm.

“But it could have been, well, anything, could it not?” said Tol, trying again to make his point. He turned from his desk and also looked out at the myriad of scintillating ships working around the mass of the Stargate’s stabilization turrets.  “And if it had been, let’s say, fifteen million units of anti-personnel mines destined to some oppressive regime or another, would you still be standing here in my office?”

They let the question hang there between them.  Another Obelisk-class freighter warped in and queued to jump.  They watched it lumber into lane 4, catch the authorization and with a flash, disappear.

“Osarii, you are a talented pilot and a decorated officer but dammit, you are police!  We do not interpret laws. We enforce them.  D. E. D. Directive ENFORCEMENT, Department.  Get it? CONCORD makes the laws, DED enforces the laws.  There is no good or bad, there is no morality.  So the freighter was carrying medical supplies?  Destined for which side?  Who’s side would we have been on?  Neither side, that’s which side we’re on.  Because it doesn’t matter if the ship is carrying heavy ordnance or puppies being hugged by school kids:  if you’re flagged, you’re flagged and we will take you down.”

Tol paused and asked, “Now, have I made myself clear, or are we going to continue having this problem every time the perp and the vic don’t sit right with you?”.

“Permission to speak frankly, sir,” asked Osarii.

“Don’t get all formal with me Osarii, now’s the time,” said Tol, knowing in his heart what was to come but still hoping somehow, it would not.

Osarii turned and looked at Tol,  “Well sir, you say we are police, but I haven’t felt it in a long time.  You talk of impartiality but day after day, perp after perp...targets are selected, laws enforced, but to what end?  Peace? Safety?  No, that’s all just bullshit.  It’s fucking propaganda.  Because, really, it’s all about power.  DED is one of the most powerful corporations in New Eden. Why?  Because it’s a fucking monopoly!  From jump gates to system policing in every one of the thousands of Empire space systems, it’s all controlled by one corporation: DED.  And to keep that monopoly and keep all the owners happy we have to make damn sure to display that power whenever we can so that the average extractor worker all the way up to the CEO elite of elites can be swamped in a continuous media campaign with but one single message, ‘You need us’.  Well guess what, entire systems have gone dark to Sansha incursions and are we there?  No.  We stay in our ivory stations while trillions are spent on mercenary capsuleers.  It’s not impartiality that keeps us out, it’s the bottom line.  Cheaper to hire temporary mercs than to actually deploy an increased presence there. Oh, and bonus, the podders are smart enough to not bite the hand that feeds them.  Win fucking win.”

Tol, resigned, just kept his eyes on hers.

“It’s not just that, how about security in New Eden?” She continued, “Are we spreading peace and stability to more and more systems?  No.  When’s the last time a system actually raised its security status?  I’ll tell you when: fucking never, that’s when. And why is that?  Because you can’t have flashy illicit drug busts or massive shoot outs in peaceful law-abiding systems because there aren’t any.  And, whoops! There goes all your press, all your media, all your advertising, all your recruiting.  So we come to this morning.  Perfect example.  Were there, in fact, any actual incentives for us to save that freighter?  Absolutely none.  Our fourteen-battlecruiser-kill-report goes back to Central, they can point to the numbers and say to everyone ‘Hey! look how much safer you all are, and, bonus: these bad guys we’re real tough ‘cause they had logistics support as well!’  Because you know and I know that no one actually reads our fucking reports.  And then the media is going to be all over the medical supplies and as usual Central will get their media relations charlatans in and tomorrow or the next day we’ll have a nice statement, something along the lines of ‘We neutralized the attackers but if we just had a little more budget we could have avoided this tragedy.  Queue the violins, cut to a child placing a wreath on a gravestone.’

Osarii paused, catching her breath.  Then, as Tol remained silent, asked, “Tell me I’m wrong!”

Tol had stopped listening a while back.  He’d heard it all before, hell, he’d even said some of those arguments himself.  But that was a long time ago.  He kept looking into Osarii’s eyes.

What he saw there, he’d seen in a thousand pairs of eyes and would see it in a thousand more:  the burning fury towards injustice.  The view that there was, in fact, right and wrong in the world.  The view that you could actually make a difference if you righted every wrong.  It was a view tolerated, at times even encouraged in the recruits.  It motivated so many of them.

But with time, one comes to the realization that in the universe,  there is no good, there is no evil, right or wrong.  There is just form and formlessness.  Order and chaos.   To Tol, DED was form was order.  In Osarii’s eyes all he saw was passion and chaos.

“You’re done.” he said.

“I haven’t even gotten started,” answered Osarii.

“It wasn’t a question, Osarii, you’re done,” said Tol. “This interview is over.  You’re out.  Guards.” 

“What?  That’s it?  After eight fucking years?  What, did I strike a chord, Tol?  Hmm?  Too fucking truthful for you?” cried Osarii as two heavily armed security personnel entered the office.

“Apprehend officer Laprairie and escort her to hangar 6.  Have her personal effects brought to her there.” ordered Tol.

As the guards seized Osarii’s arms and forced her towards the door, she cried over her shoulder, “We could have fucking saved them you asshole!  It’s on you, Tol, it’s on fucking, you!  You’re a fucking robot, Tol.  A fucking mindless drone. Fuck you!”

He let the door close behind them. The Gate Commander sat down slowly on his chair and swiveled it so he could look out at the orderly rows of traffic lining up to his gate.

“No, Osarii,” he thought, “I am simply at peace with myself.”

The gate flashed.


 on: December 03, 2014, 04:36:58 AM 
Started by Callista Dalmore - Last post by Callista Dalmore

The Tally

by Callista Dalmore

Pod and Planet Fiction Contest YC116 Entry
Category: Eight Thousand Suns in New Eden


“What?  Meteorite?”

“Yes, but with an ‘a’ as in ‘meat’.”


“Yeah, catchy, huh?”

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.  Ever.”

“Well ‘Meatsicle’ was my second choice.”

“Carl.  Shut the fuck up.”

They continued down the frozen passageway, their twin helmet-mounted light beams illuminating the way.  The corridor was in surprisingly good shape, all things considered.  After having squeezed and crawled and cut their way down into here, it was nice to have some room to move.  Behind them the corridor ended abruptly in a twisted mess of internal fibreboard and trit struts.  Ahead the corridor stretched out, nice and straight, as far as their lights reached into the pitch black of the derelict ship. 

As if no time had passed, Carl continued, “I mean, I’ve run the numbers, Paul.  I have.  This ship holds approximately one hundred thousand crew, completely decked.  Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re right and that some podder lying in his slime knocks off a zero, that’s still fifteen thousand people, Paul.  Fifteen thousand.  On just one ship.  And how many are there out here? Around fifty?  And that’s just the fucking citadels, then you have the carriers, the dreads…” he trailed off.

“Seventy four.”  said Paul.


“Seventy four was the final count of Titan-class ships.  Twelve  supercarriers, three hundred and fifty six Dreadnaught-class, one hundred and nine Carrier-class.  Battleship-class and down usually do not make the tally.  I know Carl, I know.” said Paul.

“But that’s just it, Paul, how is it you can rhyme off the numbers of lost ships by type?  I bet you also know the total isk lost as well, huh? Am I right?”

“Eleven trillion isk,” answered Paul, conceding the point.

“See?  What the fuck Paul. How is it that one hundred and fifty thousands bodies doesn’t make it into the news?  Huh?  Don’t death tolls matter?  Now, it’s all fucking assets and markets and cash flow…”

Suddenly, a deep rumble shook the corridor sending accumulated dust swirling into their lights.  There was no sound, of course, but the vibration rising up through their magboots was strong enough that both stopped until it subsided.

“Don’t worry, it’s normal,” said Paul.  “Gravity will be working on imploding this place for the next millennia, constantly shifting and reshifting as it accretes more mass from the other...”

“Meateorites?” interjected Carl.

“...wrecks.”  finished Paul. “And believe me, if you say ‘meatorites’ one more time, I will puncture your suit.  Now let’s keep going.”  They continued down the hall in silence, Carl taking the lead.

The hall was actually a wiremesh gangway just wide enough for them to walk in single file.  The gangway was surrounded on all sides by pipes and tubes and comm cable conduits forming a roughly cylindrical corridor.  Occasionally, the gangway would jut out perpendicularly to reach out to an airlock bulkhead protruding from the right or left. Each of these was painted in huge Amarrian numerals.  The numbers were decreasing.   

Carl raised his hand and motioned Paul to stop. “Hold up, how far do we need to go?”

“Hmm, not too far now, but...we may have a problem,” answered Paul.  “Here, look.”

Paul flicked his HUD to project and shone the schematics he’d been following onto bulkhead 314 so they both could see.  “We’re in this corridor here, joining ELS to AP-two.  From our survey scan, if we go to ‘density’ and overlay it, most of this,” he pointed to the dark blue globular zone which covered most of the upper half of the display, “is compacted to a degree where we’d need mining equipment to tunnel through.”

“Yeah, and I see it. This thing here, right?” said Carl pointing to a blob of dark blue which extended out from the main region and intersected their corridor and actually pushed right though. 

Paul nodded and answered, “yes, exactly.”

“Ok then, Mr. Professor.  How do we get through?” asked Carl.

“Well, we can’t, but we can probably go around.  Lemme just...” said Paul letting the sentence trail off as he began tapping the console sewn into his suit’s left wrist.  The projection started rotating downwards until the tunnel they were in had flattened from a line to a point.   He then started stepping the map forward, in slices of 5 meters seeing if a branch route could be found.  As he did so he thought to himself how, for all the righteous blathering he had to endure from the pirate, Carl sure had the right tools; the resolution and clarity of these images, obtained from Carl’s scanners just prior to their descent, were far beyond anything he’d seen from civilian scanners. 

“Skip ahead a little, old man,” said Carl. “The blockage was at least a good 400 meters ahead of us. And even if all that shaking is ‘normal’ and doesn’t bother you, I would rather we spend as little time as we can in this…”

“Don’t!” warned Paul in a half growl.

“” finished Carl.  “I’ve salvaged more space debris than I can remember but this is the first time I’ve had to walk around inside a wreck.  It’s giving me the creeps.  Big time.” He looked around, shining his beam back up the hallway they had just come from.  “I mean, yeah, it’s not like I haven’t seen a floater before, hell, I’ve seen plenty, right?  But always from afar and from inside my ship with some nice thick invulnerability field shimmering around me.  Hell, now with those gallente gizmos…”

“Salvage drones.” murmured Paul, not looking up from what he was doing.

“Yeah, and those Pull-y what-cha’ma-call-its…”

“Tractor units.” filled in Paul, automatically.

“Yeah, with one of those purring away sucking everything in, I barely have to even look at the wrecks anymore.  I mean, I gotta keep Nancy’s eyes open and all ‘cause Lord knows those Amarr-son’s-of-whores are always showing up, am I right?” he ended, rhetorically.

“Do you mean naming your Noctis ‘Nancy’, or the fact that Amarrian’s have mothers of questionable reputation?” murmured Paul, equally rhetorically.

Carl grunted.

“Ok, just gimme a minute, do you mind if I just...:” said Paul, pointing to his visor, “it’ll go faster if I do it on my own.” 

“Yeah, no problem.” said Carl as he unholstered his rail rifle.

With a flick, the projected image disappeared from the bulkhead.  As Paul worked, several more rumbles were felt.  Carl eyed the corridor, nervously.  “Ok, got it.” said Paul.  “There’s a way through by going through Propulsion level D6.  We keep going until we reach 256.” he said.

They continued down the hall, Carl in the lead.  The bulkheads were invariably closed.  When they reached number 256, however, to their surprise, they found it slightly ajar.  Carl edged up to it and tried to peek inside but there was no room to see.  With the tip of his rifle he nudged the door open.

“Oh, God.” gasped Carl.  “What a mess...” he said, his voice wavering.  Paul came up behind him and looked into the hellish hallucination.

It was a small damage control node.  During normal operation these were manned by a crews of two or three, double that number during combat.  Comprised of technical crew and communication officers, they would respond to any emergencies in their defined sector of the ship.  For those emergencies which could be done remotely (flushing airlocks, re-routing coolant) they would take care of from here but most of the time they were directing repair teams about the ship. 

Floating all about the room, like fish in a tank, was the shattered remains of the crew. It was at first difficult to even comprehend what one was looking at; like trying to watch single snowflake in a storm.  A stationary storm.  As Paul and Carl stared at the  macabre scene certain the began to recognize the objects: a helmet, a boot, a headset.  But then they started examining the less recognizable ones, a limbless torso, a curled finger, multitudes of shiny blue spheres. 

“You seeing this?” asked Carl.

“Yeah.” answered Paul.  Although he really wish he hadn’t.  His vision started to blur.  He concentrated on his breathing and closed his eyes. 

“How do you think this happened?” wondered Carl.

“Well, for the debris, “ began Paul, “these bodies have been subjected to hard vacuum for close to a year now and at planet eight’s distance from the sun, the temperature in here, even with the plasma fires of some of those other wrecks, would be at most a couple of degrees above absolute zero.  So combine that with the constant vibrations running through the structure, and you get fractures in the crystallized organic material.  Then possibly detach during especially violent tremors.” answered Paul.

“Ok, Ill buy that, but how is it all floating around in the middle of the room?” asked Carl,  “I mean As we know from the outside, this composite wreck’s rotational velocity has already been damped out in the gravitational field.  That and since we are now somewhat below its center of gravity, free floating bodies would have first fallen towards one another and then slowly settled planetside.

“Somebody’s been here recently,” Carl said.

Paul, somewhat disturbed that Carl pieced that together, confirmed, “Yes, because of the positions of the debris field.”

“No, because there are boot tracks leading from that panel there out the other hatch,”  said Carl pointing at the mess of crushed ice on the left side of the room and the recognizable tread of magboots leading out the back of the room.

Making their way over to get a closer look, Paul noted that the bottom panels had been removed and were floating over to the left. Crouching and shining his light inside he could see circuitry, mostly standard control boards. Calling up the schematics, he noted that the nanopaste dispenser control board was missing.  Standing back up he also noticed that the panel was on the planetside of the room; whoever had accessed it would have had to have done some digging.

This all must have been much less disturbing laying quietly piled up against the wall, thought Paul as he brushed aside a rather grotesque piece from which waved a perfect curl of flowing brown hair.  Well, perhaps not that much. “Let’s get out of here,” he said.

Carl, seemingly happy to have somewhere to go other than here, eagerly crossed the room sending debris, grotesque or otherwise, spinning off in all directions.  Paul followed in his wake.

Opening the door, they found the room beyond gratefully devoid of any remains, detached or otherwise.  The room adjacent to a damage control node generally was a muster and dispatch area for work crews and therefore tended to have lockers of specialized equipment depending on the nature of the emergency they were to face.  Nothing seemed to have been disturbed in this room and as if to confirm their observations, the rusty and fading tread marks clearly went straight through to the adjoining corridor.

“You know if they would stash weapons in a DC node, Carl?” asked Paul.

“Hmm, probably not.  Grease monkeys carry their sidearms at all times and if boarding does occur, there are armory rally points separate from DC.  Besides, DC crew know fuck all about directing combat ops.  It’s just not their job, right?” said Carl and then asked, “You feeling a little defenseless?”

“Well, the thought had crossed my mind.” admitted Paul.

“Don’t worry, this baby, “ Carl said indicating his rifle, “is top of the line and I’ve been in my share of scraps.  Best thing you can do is keep your eyes sharp and your wits sharper.  Void combat isn’t like ship to ship.  It’s more like tag.  One touch, you’re out.” said Carl as he turned and headed out into the corridor beyond.

In the corridor beyond, next to a huge floor-to-ceiling “DC-256.07” painted on the wall, they saw a series of v-lifts.  These, of course, were to get the damage control teams as quickly as possible to any of the many floors under their care.  The lifts operated both actively or passively if ever power to the section had been rerouted or knocked out.  In passive mode the passenger had to supply their own minimal power to the superconductive induction rings.  Fortunately Carl had provided them both with Amarr EVA suits which had the required interfaces.  Another “plus one” for Carl, thought Paul.

“We take V2 down three levels.” said Paul to Carl’s unvoiced question.

“But the tracks lead off in this direction,” said Carl shining his lamps on the now almost completely faded tracks. 

“Well, we’re not hunters and those tracks could be months old,” said Paul as he continued towards the v-lifts.  With one last look down the hall, Carl turned and followed. 

(continued in part 2...)

 on: December 03, 2014, 04:36:10 AM 
Started by Callista Dalmore - Last post by Callista Dalmore
As they felt the slight tug upwards as the v-lift accelerated them downwards, Carl asked, “So what are you going to do with yours?”

After the episode in the DC node, Paul had momentarily forgotten what lay in Environment and Life Support bay 7 and why they had both broken about twelve CONCORD mandated directives regarding this ‘monument’. “That is none of your concern,” he answered, cryptically.

“Ok, ok, no problem.  Just asking, just asking.” said Carl.  “You wanna know what I am going to do with mine?” he asked, conspiratorially.

“I feel like you want to tell me, regardless of my opinion of the matter.” said Paul.

“Ha!  Spoken like a true professor.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” laughed Carl.  “I am going to bring that baby to a friend of mine who knows a guy who has trade permits all they way to the heart of gold, baby.  Jita.  And there I am going to sell it for as much as I can get and then, I’m gone.  Out.  Done.  I really thought when I left the DED and came out here, away from the politics and inner system B.S., that I’d find some peace.  But it’s all the same.  Frontiers, alliances, poverty and fear. And killing.  So much killing.  I am done, Paul.  I am going remove myself from their bloody balance sheet.  I have some sweet girlfriends in a bunch of systems.  Hell, might even buy a reproduction license or two.  Head down to a planet and breathe air.  You know what I mean.  Actual, atmosphere.  I’ve been a part of this,” indicating everything around them, “for too long.”said Carl wistfully.

“Breathing air sounds nice,” replied Paul, actually meaning it.  Too bad it wasn’t going to turn out that way for him.  At all.  “But you probably don’t have to haul it all the way to Jita.  You can get a good price in any of the local systems,” he offered.

“Hmm, yeah, maybe you’re right.  I mean, that shit is going to sell no matter where we are...yeah.  Gonna have to talk to my buddy when I get back.” mused Carl.

They arrived at the third level, slowed to a stop and stepped out into a corridor which looked identical to the one they had just left except the numbers painted on the wall were blue and said “DC-256.10”.  They turned and started walking down the corridor.  The numerals on the doors, also continually decreasing.   “Ok, so now we should be clear right into ELS.” said Paul.

They walked for several minutes in silence, passing numerous doors and v-lifts.  No bodies.  No body parts.  They finally arrived at the huge double airlock separating Auxiliary Power Two from Environment and Life Support.

The ELS of any ship was essentially a massive chemical treatment plant. At one end, storage tanks of used and fresh materials fed an incomprehensible array of hoppers, choppers, heaters, mixers and burners which, each one after the next, took those materials and produced essentially three things: air, water and heat.  These were then collected and transported throughout the ship.  This transport was, of course, through pipes.  Thousands upon thousands of pipes.  To the uninitiated, it made ELS a surreal maze of random ducts and tubes going off in all directions.   Paul went to the edge of the platform and shone his lights down upon the myriad of modules which stretched side to side and forward as far as the light reached.  As his gaze fell upon each, it lingered, recognizing the function of each by shape and layout.  He found the familiarity calming.

Until his light shone on the wall immediately to their right.  There piled carelessly as a child’s doll collection, were the remains of the hundreds of techs which had been working ELS.  As opposed to their experience in damage control, these bodies were relatively intact.  Although ELS supplied fresh cool water and warm breathable air to the rest of the ship, the environment in which they were produced contained often quite the opposite.  The bodies were therefore all wearing level three envirosuits.   Unfortunately, even level threes were not designed for hard vacuum. 

“So, when this collapses under the agglomerated mass of all the mess out there, what do you think will happen to them?  What about all the other piles, just like this one, on this ship.  On all the other ships?  Hmm?  Well I’ll tell you Paul, that someday, whatever you want to call it. Someday, this big ball of metal riddled with tiny pockets of organic material will fall from the sky onto that planet out there and it will rain blood.”

Ignoring Carl's melodrama, Paul said “see there, past the ionizing scrubbers,” pointing at a cluster of white drums some sixty meters away. We need to head to the control room at the base of that.  From there I should be able to figure out where they located the tanks.”

“Can we get there just on these walkways?” asked Carl, trying to trace a path from their current platform to the scaffolding which surrounded the scrubbing tower.

“Walk?” mocked Paul as he crouched and slowly launched himself towards the tower which lay some sixty or so meters away. “I never took you as a grounder, Carl.”

“Ha, ha” said Carl, humorlessly.  Stowing his weapon behind him, Carl jumped to follow Paul.

Gliding silently over the machinery, Paul went over his plan.  First, the tanks.  Second, the codes.  Third, the call. 

Almost done.

Bracing himself, Paul expertly caught the landing grip and maneuvered out of Carl’s way who landed moments later. “Nice jump, Mr. Professor,” congratulated Carl. “Didn’t know they taught zero-G maneuvers in nerd school.”

“I am happy to still be able to surprise you, Carl.” answered Paul, ignoring the dig. “There should be a v-lift somewhere on this,” he said walking around the tower on the narrow platform.  Carl unslung his rifle and followed Paul to where, indeed, a v-lift tube entrance protruded from the tower.  They descended. 

As they descended, Paul said, “We’re leaving the third level where most of the final processing takes place just before transport.  We’re headed to the first which is mostly dedicated to storage. You’ll notice a difference.”

Indeed, they both did, stepping out of the lift.  Instead of being greeted with a kaleidoscope of machinery and pipes, there was simply two rows of imaginably huge pressure silos leading off in both directions, as far as they could see.  “Each of those can hold upwards of two thousand cubic meters of material.” stated Paul.  “It’s this way.” he said, indicating to their left.

The first two pairs of tanks seemed intact but up ahead they spotted the eerie outline of a billowing white explosion shooting out of the right storage tank but completely frozen in place, just hanging in the middle of the passageway perched on the column of ice emerging from a fracture in the tank’s hull.  It was like looking at trid movie that had been paused.  As they approached it they saw that the cloud was made up of thousands of delicate shards of thin finger-like crystals.  Paul reached up and passed his hand right through it, tiny crystals flying in every direction.

“Helium.  Pretty.” he said and added  “I hope our tank hasn’t suffered the same fate.”

Ducking under the stationary explosion, they made their way down the row.  “Are we almost there?” asked Carl, adding, “My oh-two levels just hit sixty percent.”

“Yeah, it’s not this one, not the next, the one after that.  Number 513.” answered Paul.

Carl needn’t have asked.  Leading up to the front of the tank was a wide series of deep steps made of white polished stone.  These led to the dais upon which the tank rested.  The tank however was flanked by a double colonnade of equally white columns soared up from golden plinths upon which a vaulted structure emblazoned with frescos and scriptures to the Amarrian God. The rounded structure of the front of the tank had been covered with a wall which filled the entire space between the leading columns and the vaulted ceiling.  In the middle of that wall was a bulkhead door surrounded by its own frescoes and scriptures.  What had been a simple liquid oxygen storage tank was now a shrine.

“What the hell is that?” gaped Carl.

“That, is where gods reincarnate.” answered Paul as he walked past Carl heading towards it.

 “It was the Amarr who first decided to save space by housing their cloning units inside their ELS storage tanks.  It was simple really.  Jump clones in stasis vats need one thing beyond all things and that’s stability.  Just a slight input to the dormant unimprinted brain could cause unmonitored dendritic growth or worse, atrophy and bang.  Your neural mapping is filled with CRC errors.  Do you know what the CRC error threshold is for a “perfect” neural transferral Carl?  Less than a pico percent!”

“You lost me at dandorites and trophies.” admitted Carl. 

“Ok, well take it from me. You don’t want to disturb the clones.  So what do you do?  In the first designs, they needed a completely separate isobaric, isothermal compartment. More parts.  More points of failure.  But they already had those conditions, in multiple, redundant tanks right down here, in the bowels of ELS.  Yeah, seems obvious now, but back then, I…ah, I’m sure it was far from obvious“ finished Paul wincing.

“I am sorry to interrupt your lesson here, Paul, but really, my oh-two levels aren’t going up and those quakes seem to be coming more often.  What do you say we get what we came for?” asked Carl, impatiently.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Paul answered, “Yeah, good idea.”

The outer door was a simple mechanical hatch but once open and into the small anteroom beyond, they were greeted by a closed and heavily reinforced pressure door.  A panel to the side of it was lit.

“What the...I thought this place was completely dead?” said Carl. 

“The clone vat bay has it’s own completely shielded independent power supply for keeping the clones in stasis.  Of course, this place is hardlinked to main power as well, but that’s only for the actual transferral process.” said Paul.  “Here is where I am going to need your help.”

“Oh?  What’s that, Paul?” asked Carl.

“I need your DED authorization passcodes.” said Paul

“Paul, you know as well as I that my codes aren’t valid anymore.” said Carl.

“Yes they are.”

“Paul, I’ve been out of the DED for about two years now, I am pretty sure they are completely worthless.” argued Carl.

“No, not your old codes, I am talking about the new ones.  You know.  The ones you received before taking the job from Proteque and going undercover.” said Paul.

“Paul, Paul, Paul,” said Carl, levelling his rifle, “I should I say Dr. Paul Veschens, how’s your brother Yomir doing, by the way?  Oh, that’s right, strange encephalitis causing irreparable brain damage...sounds more like someone tried to run an analog scan without it being a burn scan.  Too much work for just the one of you, Paul?”

“Well, it seems as though you’ve unmasked me, Carl.  Can I keep calling you Carl?  But you see, I really need to get in that room and you are my key,” said Paul as he revealed a pistol shaped object in his left glove.  “Now, the codes.”

“Paul Veschens, I am placing you under arrest.” countered Carl.

“On what grounds?  I admit it. I tried to clone myself and it didn’t work.  So?”

“Vivisection, human trafficking, clone trafficking, booster trafficking...need I go on?” listed Carl.

“Remember when you said that space combat was a game of tag?” asked Paul.

“Huh? Yeah, and if you don’t start lowering whatever that is, you’re going to be ‘it’” answered Carl.

Paul kept raising his weapon.

“Don’t do it Paul, I am warning you. Don’t…”

Paul kept going.

“Paul, God dammit!”  Carl straightened his aim and pulled the trigger.


“I took the liberty of smearing some nanopaste over your weapon with the instructions that it was a broken fluid router. They should be almost completing their first cycle.” said Paul.

“So, let me think, were those bootprints in DC, yours?”  asked Carl, buying time.

“No, but we’d sent a survey team in.  They got all the way here but got stuck at the door.  That’s where you came in.  We knew you wouldn’t go for it unless something big was waved your way.  And that’s where I came in,” confirmed Paul.

Well I’m not going to give you the codes and if you kill me the codes are gone, so what’s your plan, professor?” taunted Carl.

“You know how, when someone says, “don’t think about a fedo” you can’t help but picture a fedo?  Well, don’t think about the codes, Carl.”
Paul fired his weapon.

The door to the clone vat bay slid open and Professor Veschens stepped into the completely intact space within.  Behind him Carl floated, still hooked into the analog burn scanner.  Paul flicked on his comms.

“This is Paul.  Yes, I’ve entered the bay and am staring at you now, sir.  Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem.  And I can have the other five including the implants and full genetic signatures?  Excellent.  Please send the extraction team, the beacon is transmitting.  Yes, I will see you shortly.”

He glanced over at Carl.  Meateorite.  He had to admit, it was catchy.

 on: November 30, 2014, 12:02:19 PM 
Started by Callista Dalmore - Last post by Callista Dalmore

The Many

by Callista Dalmore

Pod and Planet Fiction Contest YC116 Entry
Category: Other Things Just Make You Swear and Curse

“All rise.  The SCC court, Osmon chapter, is now in session.  Honourable Judge Mitthran Osbowe, presiding.” said the heavily armed bailiff.

The courtroom was full, to capacity.  Someone coughed.  Camera drones re-positioned themselves silently.  All waited.

“You may be seated.” said the judge.

Hushed swishing filled the room as the assembly took their seats.  Holograms of those wealthy and influential enough to afford them including most of CONCORD’s Inner Circle Members, did so as well.   

“I have asked that today’s proceedings be hypercast live as it seems as though most of New Eden will have an interest in what transpires here today,” he continued. A murmur and a collective nodding of heads spread through the crowd.

The courtroom was not CONCORD standard, hadn’t been since the early days of the trial.  Today the court had been moved to Auditorium 9 so as to accommodate the crowd as well as the defendant. Defendants.
“Case number YC116-0xFFA500, ‘The Citizends of New Eden vs. Gene Eric SB0001, Gene Eric SB0002, Gene Eric SB0003…”

“You may skip ahead, good man,” interrupted the judge.

“Ahem, yes, thank you your honor.  Gene Eric SB0001 through Gene Eric SB0035, sequentially, and Mr. Daryll I. Multi30X, the 3rd, Esquire.”

The crowd turned to look at the row upon row of identically dressed and identically groomed people sitting behind the defendant's desk.  At that desk sat two additional figures,  one dressed and groomed as the others, the other, not.

“It is my understanding that the jury has reached a decision?” said the judge turning now to the almost completely holographic jury.  A single member was physically present, albeit inside a polyphasic personal bubble shield.  She now stood, slowly and deliberately as if ready to duck at the merest disturbance.  Casting furtive glances at the assembled crowd but clearly avoiding the cool and steady gaze of the 36 pairs of eyes staring holes through her, she stammered, “Y-y-yeh, yes we h-have, your honor.”

Anxious anticipation filled the room.  The trial had been a long and exhausting affair.  Three judges had been replaced.  One, facing bribery charges, another disappeared (investigation ongoing) and the third had excused themselves for ‘conflict of interest’ (investigation also ongoing).  There had been an equally alarming turn over in jurors as each one leaving or excused had done so a midst a flurry of rumors regarding how they too had been compromised in one way or another.

The Scope had been having their best season, ever.

The prosecution had laid out their case admirably nonetheless.  After a series of “no-show” witnesses and experts, a few finally managed to make the stand and give their testimony.  Memorable characters such as the Gallentean clone expert (“It seems that the Gene Encapsulated Remote Quantum Entanglement System, when used with susceptible genomes, quantum coupling is enabled within the cerebral cortex at a massive level”) and the Minmatar civil rights professor, (“They are not merely slaves, they are completely and utterly controlled by THAT MAN!”) and the Thukker Tribe hauler captain (“yes, for the thousandth time, they launched their bombs at EXACTLY the same time”).

The defense team, on the other hand, seemed to be playing the game much more “off the field than on” as one reporter (still missing) had coined the term early in the proceedings.  It was clear, even early on, that isk was no object.  Air time was bought not by the minute or hour but by purchasing the news companies outright.  A full length feature holo had been made “Locutus against the Volorites” where the “brave and selfless Locutus team” linked up using a GERQES system to form a super entity to destroy “the enemy”.  There was also the “documentary” of how a local mining company, facing hard times due to unfair competitive advantages of the well connected mega corporations, had been able revitalized by using the GERQES system for ice mining.  And of course, there were the bribes, the disappearances, the beatings.

“And, what is your decision?” asked the judge.

“On the charges of ‘Unlawfully binding sentient being’s will to one’s own’ we find the defendant...guilty as charged.  We recommend that the GERQES system as all others producing similar results be forever banned.” stated the juror.

The color drained out of Daryll’s face and then fuming rage smoldered in his eyes.  Thirty five other pairs of eyes smoldered equally behind him.  Suddenly, as one, he and all the Gene Erics, jumped out of their seats exactly at the same time.  All turned, exactly at the same time. And rushed the jury box, screaming in unison, tears running down their cheeks, “you’ll pay for this you bitch, you and your whole family! You and all of fucking CONCORD!  I’ll fucking kill you all, just you wait! I pay my licenses, I pay my taxes, I make you money, I..”

He, they, only had time to take two steps when the security guard pushed a button and the 36  ceiling mounted stun turrets opened fire.

All exactly at the same time.

 on: July 07, 2014, 10:19:32 PM 
Started by NightCrawler 85 - Last post by Callista Dalmore
Starkmanir Prime – Hamri palace, holding cells

“It’s time,” said the gravelly voice from deep within his hooded robes.  His black robes were shot through with red calligraphy of an age gone by and stood in gory contrast to the blazing brightness of the hallway.  His retinue of four polyweave armored bodyguards was augmented by an equal contingent of Hamri House guards who looked nervously to Arkon Ardishapur for consent to execute the command.

Arkon looked through the holding cell’s monocrystal window at the naked figure lying upon the medical cot, still manacled at the ankles and wrists.  A single filament rose upwards from a small circular bandage on his right temple to where it disappeared into the ceiling. His eyes were open and stared upwards, unblinking and unmoving.  His face was relaxed and peaceful and his breathing was deep and regular.

His body, however, told an altogether different story.  Massive lined welts rose criss-cross seemingly everywhere: his feet, legs, his arms and hands.  Large regions of skin on his upper thighs and chest had turned black and erupted in blisters some of which had given way and clear liquid either pooled or ran freely across the devastated skin.  A grotesque patchwork of blue and purple and yellow bruises covered the rest.  His knees were both swollen to such a size as to have deep divets at each kneecap.  Each joint in his arms, from should to elbow to each and every finger seemed to have suffered the same fate.

With some effort he unclenched his fists and then his jaw, and nodded.

Two of the house guards quickly stepped forward.  As one keyed in the appropriate sequence on the door’s number pad, the other took hold of the chromed handle and pulled.  A low hiss could be heard as the environment seal was ruptured and the thick door swung outwards. The remaining two guards stepped though and assumed positions on each side of the entrance, their weapons drawn but pointed to the floor.

“You know what must be done, Heir Arkon Ardishapur,” said the robed figure next to him.

Arkon, his face frozen in a mask of feigned composure, stared a little longer at his friend through the glass.

“Wake him,” said Arkon.

10 days earlier – Office of the Ministry of Internal Order, Bashakru

He sat at his desk and puzzled as the last of the trid message unspooled for the second time, “…and thus, I would sincerely hope that this message be submitted to his excellency at his earliest convenience,  yours with God, Arzad Hamri of Starkmanir.”  He leaned forward, laced his fingers and rested his head upon them.  Khanos Belaak had been and was still, surprised by the request.  Khanos didn’t like surprises.  They made him feel, unclean.

Apparently the Ardishapur’s had a holder who had taken it upon themselves to “educate” their slaves in the Amarrian way.  This was of little interest; it had been done countless times in countless ways for ages.  What was of interest was the fact that very same holder was now requesting a public correction.   Why?  Who would want to subject themselves to that ridiculous custom, on purpose?

The other piece of the puzzle was Starkmanir, he’d had to look it up, there were simply so many systems.  It was a fairly ordinary system and the habitable temperate planet seemed altogether mediocre in all respects.  The history even mentioned that the subjugation had been one of the shortest in known times.

Ardishapur must have something up his sleeve, which, truth be told was a ridiculously redundant thing to think, which Heir didn’t have something up their sleeve?  Their constant jostling for position continued to be the single most disruptive activity to his Ministry’s mission.  Couldn’t the Emperor simply do away with the whole Heir nonsense?  It would make keeping order that much simpler.  But those thoughts were also worthless and blasphemous and so he added five Our God-My God’s to his daily repentance.

Khanos had risen fairly quickly in the Ministry and in no small part due to his intuition for things that are amiss.  And his intuition certainly yelled that right now.  However the surveillance tech who had intercepted the transmission had told him that it had been destined for someone on the Theology Council.  Direct intervention would ruffle feathers over there, so that was out of the question.

The original recipient had been a fairly low-level priest, a certain Vanalan Cariif who was tenth or eleventh circle if he remembered correctly.  Requesting a public correction from the Theology Council but requesting it directly from a low level officer…who was, who exactly?  He brought up the Vanalan’s datafile and browsed through the priest’s background.  As expected, he’d served with Arkon on Starkmanir for his Becoming.  Ahh, fifteen. Such an impressionable age.  Yes, Khanos saw it now.  The Heir must have impressed the youth so much that now he felt he could possibly use some misplaced loyalties.  As for Vanalan, well getting a call from an Heir could do nothing but advance his career, if handled properly.

Khanos called up his contact list on the Theology Council.  He was about to make sure that it was handled improperly.  Very much so.

 on: April 25, 2014, 12:52:36 PM 
Started by NightCrawler 85 - Last post by NightCrawler 85
Part 9

"Stupid old fool!"
Errus could feel spittle hitting his face as Drupar kept yelling.
"So far our 'meetings' have been nothing but vague ideas! And lets not forget the countless hours filled with mindless chatter while a bunch of cowards sit twiddling their thumbs pretending they are doing something important!"
Drupar glared at Errus and mockingly said "You are the self proclaimed leader of these people, its about time you man up and act as one instead of wasting everyones time."
Errus took a deep breath and slowly counted to ten.
Drupar Maak.. A very important person in the Ardishapur family, mainly because of the fact that he worked side by side with the Emperor as his secretary. The information Drupar could provide was essential to the cause, and he knew that if they lost Drupar, they could just as well give up before they had even started. Still it was difficult to put up with his attitude, and while Drupar was a much needed asset to the cause, he was also a risk.
Publicly Drupar was known as being calm, level headed, and providing the Emperor with good constructive advice that had benefited both the Amarr and Minmatar alike. However, on a personal level he had bad a temper, no patience, and his fame had gone to his head making him very cocky and demanding. He almost always lost his cool whenever someone dared to question him or disagreed with his advice, something that often frustrated Errus to beyond belief.
How he managed to hide these traits around the emperor was beyond Errus, but it also helped prove just how good of an actor Drupar was, when needed.

Khaedra, who had been sitting at the table yawned and stretched, deliberately overdoing it, as to make it obvious how bored she was and how little Drupars outburst affected her.
Seven years had passed since Errus first proposed the idea that she should get closer with the heir, and while it had taken a lot of smooth talking and persuasion from his part, she had reluctantly agreed. The "friendship" between her and the heir had eventually lead him to Drupar, who had quickly agreed to join the cause. Of course things had been made even easier with Zoriac befriending the heir early on, so any information that the heir dident trust Khaedra with he would rely to Zoriac who in turn delivered the information to either him self or Khaedra.

Zoriac and Khaedra's relationship had grown increasingly complicated over the years.
It was obvious that they had feelings for each other, and Errus knew that while they werent officially in a relationship their flirting had increased over the years. But Zoriac also knew that Khaedra had to pretend to be in love with the heir, and emotionally it was rough on both of them. Which had become a lot more obvious with Khaedra the closer she got to her teenage years.
She had grown more distant and cold with him. She often participated in their meetings, and she often mocked the participants. Never something really obvious, just small things and comments with a sly smile. Enough to make even the emperors soldiers, hardened by years of mental and physical abuse, training and fighting blush while grinding their teeth's trying to control their anger.
Errus knew that part of it was because she was still angry at him, or at least wanted to be, giving her someone to blame for the things she has had to do. But he also suspected that some of it was her way of lashing out at the world for the unfair position she felt forced into, more by a sense of responsibility towards her fellow people then anything else. So he let her keep doing it, and he kept her in the meetings and involved in more or less everything that was going on, and gave her tasks he felt he could trust no one else with.

Errus looked Drupar straight in the eyes, but his tone was mild.
"I can understand your frustration, but if we make a move right now.. its simply to risky. We only have a couple of houndred people, and very few of them that are in positions where they can really do something that will make a difference. If we tried something it would only lead to a lot of meaningless deaths, and we would be made an example out of to ensure that no one else ever dared to try something similar."
Drupar grunted and looked away.
"The problem is that no matter how many people we get you will keep saying the same thing. Your right, few of them are in powerful positions. But you have people like me, im his secretary for crying out loud! I alone could cause havoc, and the captains could start giving out fake orders, causing a lot of "casualties" on what would appear as routine missions, efficiently cutting down his army and breaking their morale, which in turn would get us more recruits. Use the people we do have!"
"And you dont think half his army going missing on "routine missions" would make him suspicious? Or he would start to wonder if he found his secretary snooping around in his private chambers forging his signature? I know you want to see action, but we need to wait for the perfect opportunity before we strike. And before we can even do that we need a plan! Right now we have nothing."
Errus shock his head.
"Im sorry Drupar, but unless you had an epiphany while you where sleeping last night, all the ideas we have would be suicide for us, the cause, and a lot of innocent people that has done nothing wrong except being suspected of being related to those who supports us."
"So come up with something! Your supposed to be the brain behind all off this, but so far the only "clever" thing you did was asking that bitch of yours to fuck the Heirs brains out. Not that that has done us any good so far since i have ways of getting the exact same information, and I'm a more reliable source anyway."
Before Errus could respond Khaedra started to talk.
"Is that really what you think of me Drupar? A bitch.. Very interesting. I would think that you more then anyone would understand how difficult and frustrating it is to always have to pretend, to hide who you are, what you are. And that you would also be able to appreciate the fact that I, just like you, know that if my deceit is ever discovered I would not see another sunrise. Perhaps your jealousy has clouded your mind."
She looked at Drupar, a smile playing on the corners of her mouth, staring at him without blinking, piercing him with her eyes.
"I have seen you watching me and the heir. Watched him caress my body, watched me naked with him, pleasing him. You wish it was you don't you? That you got to touch me just like he does. And all you get to play with is a cheap whore once in a while when your "master" is done ordering you around for the night."
Drupar gave her a look of pure fury, and made a move towards her.
Errus quickly stepped in between them and Khaedra causally leaned back and just kept staring at Drupar with that small smile remaining on her lips.
"Maybe your right Drupar. Things have been moving to slowly, and who knows, maybe you are right and I am just an old fool. But at the same time you have to understand that we only have one chance at this. Never in our recorded history has something on this scale been done, and the small attempts that has occurred only lead to more pain and misery for our people."
Errus took a breath, then continued allowing both his desperation and passion to show in his voice.
"We share a common goal, ending it! And I know that with your help we can do it, we can give our people the freedom they deserve. A chance to be happy and not have to live in fear because we were born as the "wrong race", ashamed because we will never be accepted, never be as good as the Amarr. But, if we start to fight amongst our self we can just as well call it quits right now, and the sacrifices you, Khaedra, the guards, the advisors, I... all of us... have already done will be for nothing."
Drupar looked at Errus and snarled.
"So what do you propose we do? We cant waste more time on chatter, we have to start coming up with a concrete plan, get more of the higher ups involved, find his weaknesses."
"I don't know, but I want you to help me. I know that right now I'm considered the "leader" of this rebellion, but I think that its about time that changes."
Errus took a deep breath, knowing he was probably making one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
"I want you to become my right hand man. For the public you will be the one that leads the operation while I'm just your advisor. This will enable you to issue commands, get things done when needed, as well as make us look stronger for those that are still doubting us. Your rank within the Amarr will make people take us a lot more seriously, and sway them to join our cause."
Errus halted for a second, then quietly added.
"And, if we can pull this off, you will be forever remembered as a hero amongst the Minmatar people, our savior."

Drupar appeared to take a moment to consider, but Errus knew that the mans greed for attention and fame had already decided for him. He just hoped that he would be able to control him, and prevent Drupar from doing something that they all would regret.

 on: April 05, 2014, 01:41:42 AM 
Started by NightCrawler 85 - Last post by Callista Dalmore
Part 8

Starkmanir Prime – Hamri palace, audience chamber

“The reports, Holder Hamri, are at the least, how shall I say? Troubling?” stated the holographic figure dressed in Amarr diplomatic uniform.  He continued, “You are treading a very fine line, my friend, if there is truth to them”.

Arzad Hamri clasped his hands together and replied confidently, “It is the will of God, my good Arkon.We bring them the holy light of truth in scripture.If good Amarrians also learn trade and crafts from them, what can be the harm? Truly it is a situation where everyone benefits.”He’d been preparing for this ever since he’d had the dream. He knew it would bring change and if there was anything The Council was against, it was change.

“They do not think so,” rebuked Arkon Ardishapur.

Trying not to let his exasperation show Arzad answers, “They would cry blasphemy and anathema to whatever I would propose, you know that! The inertia of their past successes has blinded them to the possibility of integration! Think of the souls we could save if I were successful! Rather than sending them back to be reborn, we could save them now, in this incarnation.  Wouldn’t you say that is worth at least consideration?”

“It is not the souls you are saving, Arzad, it is those which are at risk of being lost.  As it is written:  “Be Careful. Pure Thought is the Instigator of Sin.  Be Watchful. Free thought is the Begetter of Disorder…” started Arkon.

“Don’t quote scriptures to me!” cried out Arzad. “Do you not think I am a good Amarrian?  That I do not deserve to be Holder, that I do not give my all to our Emperor?  Every day I wake and do God’s work, from sun rise to sunset on seven different worlds now. And everywhere I have been, I see souls lost to hate, to pain to revenge.  Those that are put down come back and the echoes of their sins back with them and around and around we go.  Since you allowed yourself to quote to me, let me return the favour:

So the Lord sent forth the Chosen,
to bring forth the light of faith
And those who embrace his love
Shall be saved by his grace
For we are his shepherds in the darkness
His Angels of Mercy.

“I tell you now, Arkon, I bring forth the light of faith to the heathen of this world.  These Starkmanir learn so quickly and so well, it is as if they had already been shown the way.  Perhaps our own fallen have been brought back as some of them?”

Startled, Arkon drew a quick breath and began to cough chokingly. When his spasms subsided, he managed, weakly, “It is of incredible luck that the only direct link to you is this encrypted line! Inquisitors have been dispatched for less, Arzad! Are you insane? How could you ever say such a thing? They are Minmatar! Spiritually they are hardly above breeding stock! You have already earned the wrath of several members of The Families, and if you do not wish to lose any more you will seek penance for these thoughts!”

He’d gone too far, too fast, thought Arzad. He’d not laid out his arguments, he’d rushed to the conclusions, no matter how breathtakingly beautiful they were, and was near breaking his friend. Tact. Patience. Why were they always so elusive to him? The tone Arkon had taken was unmistakable; he would have to make amends.

“You are right Arkon, I have let my mind run wild with the joy I have had at the successes here on Starkmanir. They have clouded my judgement and will do penance. You may request a Flagellant to oversee my penance,” said Arzad.

Arkon considered the request even as his blood ran cold. The ritual expunging of sin through an ordeal of the flesh had once been common but hadn’t been in seen in many years. However, the suggestion had many merits, especially in light of the reports.
Sighing heavily, he addressed Arzad. “Yes my friend, that would in fact go a long way to repairing the damage you have made to your relationship with The Council. Have it done publicly so that all may know of your straying from the path of righteousness and learn from it. I will make the necessary arrangements.”

The hologram vanished.

Arzad looked about his audience chamber, at the emptiness of it. The knock at his door startled him.

“Yes, come in?” he beckoned.

The Heir, Idonis Ardishapur, walked into the room and bowed properly.He then asked, “You asked me to see you Holder Hamri?”

“Ah, Idonis,” said Arzad as he rose from his throne, “yes, I did ask.I am so pleased you were able to take time away from your studies to visit me. Come in, come in and have a seat. Are you hungry, thirsty?”

“No, Sir, Thank you for offering,” replied Idonis.

“I was just speaking to your father, he is very proud of you and of your progress at the education center,” said Arzad.

“I try to please him, and God, sir,” answered Idonis.

“Spoken like a true Heir!” exclaimed Arzad, “Excellent. Excellent.”

Arzad considered his next move carefully. After a moment, he said, “I understand you have taken a liking to a certain girl in your class?”

The Heir’s deep blush was all Arzad needed to see.

 on: March 31, 2014, 02:38:05 AM 
Started by NightCrawler 85 - Last post by NightCrawler 85
Part 7

Errus was sitting outside the hut, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his skin, now whole with no other indications of what he had gone trough but faint scars around his wrists where the constraints had been.
It had been a long day. He had become sort of a hero among the Minmatar slaves living on the planet, and while many very still reluctant to come and meet him in person, more came to see him every day.
Some of them just wanted to greet him, a bit of polite courtesy talk, dropping off some small gift then leave. Others wanted to ask him questions about his previous life, how it felt to have been a slave for so long and now be free. Well as free as you could feel while you were a fugitive at least.
But some of them wanted more. While never saying it directly he could feel their hate towards their masters, towards their own life for accepting having to serve someone else for generation after generation.
He never knew what to tell these people. He knew what they wanted, his blessing to kill their masters. Some indication or word that would make them feel it was "ok" to take the life of someone you have feared and bowed down to your whole life. The people you have come to depend on because you dont know how to function without someone ordering you around.
So far he has been content with just listening to them, careful to not encourage their ideas and wishes, but still avoiding crushing them, while pondering how he can use the situation to his advantage.

The sound of breaking branches and laughter caught his attention, and shortly after he could see the perpetrators who had disturbed his solace this quiet afternoon.
"Can you two kids be more noisy?" he growled as they got closer, not really angry, but wanting to get some of his frustration out of his system.
Khaedra and Zoriac halted, keeping their distance until Errus gave them a motion to come closer and sit down on the wooden log that worked as a bench across from him.
"So how are you two kids doing this fine day. Anything new and interesting happening?"
Khaedra shrugged indifferently, leaving it to Zoriac to answer him. "A new kid started at school today,he seems ok." Zoriac looked thoughtful for a moment then added with a grin "He has an eye for Khaedra tho."
"Does he now? And im assuming that Khaedra is not to pleased with the attention considering the scowl on her face." Errus responded grinning back at Zoriac.
While Zoriac was Amarr, he was also Khaedras best friend, and she had told him about Errus the day after Errus had ended up on the planet. As time moved on she had come to understand how much danger she had potentially put Errus in, but Zoriac had never told anyone about him.
Because of this Errus had come to trust and enjoy the company of the boy.
"Why would i take it as a compliment that a spoiled little brat like that kid looks at me? I bet he stares at any girl the same way, and expect all of them to faint as soon as they see him just because he is the heir!" she hissed while staring at them, giving them a glimpse of the angry look on her face, before she went back to studying her feets.
Zoriac shrank next to her, but Errus leaned forward and looked studied Khaedra closely.
"This boy is the heir? And am i correct in assuming that if he was not an heir you would not mind the fact that he has taken a liking to you? Most girls would be flattered to be in your position Khaedra."
"Well maybe im not like any girl then." she said, still looking down into the ground.
Errus looked at Zoriac, and without speaking they decided to not push the subject any further.
However, while he kept the conversation neural and careful for the next hour, talking to them about school, his new life on the planet, his mind was starting to form ideas and plans.

Now the only question was, if he could make his plan work, if he could use this to his advantage, would it be right to abuse the innocent girl, who's only mistake was to save the life of a traitor?

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