Anamnesis

Editor’s Note: Continuing with our Eve Fiction Writing contest winners, here is our fourth installment.

Anamnesis

A short story by Signaleer Tolgaard Asanari

Forward

Tolgaard Asanari

I feel I must apologize for the flawed structure of the following story. Although it wasn’t written by me, I am aware the breaks and skips of the story make it seem much more an outline than a true telling. The Achuran who gave me this story, being something of an artist and political activist, insisted that the following statement be published in conjunction with the story. I am not sure I have the requisite sensibility to appreciate this statement, having perhaps to much common sense and a low tolerance of nonsense, but here it is:

“I wrote this story considering the rigid stratification of overall Caldari culture. As this story appears an outline, with parts missing between sections reducing the readability and overall impact of an engaging and meaningful story, so too does the inflexibility of Caldari society interfere with the continued growth and expansion of what should be a truly exceptional and influential culture extending and advancing the human condition.”

I know. I don’t really understand it either.

The following is a true story… Names and other personally identifying information have been obfuscated or removed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

The Beginning

The child tosses and turns, caught in the bonds of an unnatural sleep, fair hair plastered against a sweat-streaked brow. From time to time, Nurse gently bathes the child’s face with a cool, damp cloth, occasionally adjusting blankets and pillows in a forlorn attempt to ease the child’s discomfort. Nurse is a firm believer in a higher power, an over-arching deity who controls everything while cradling the fate of humanity in ever-loving hands. At times like these, however, that faith is sorely tested, for how could a loving God allow something like this to happen to a child? Especially this child? Tears glistening on wrinkled cheeks, Nurse renews the attempt to comfort the child’s condition, praying as always that the child will one day awaken, and that the sound of laughing and giggling and playing will echo through the mansion once more.

The Setting

Achura, known by some as Saisio III. A planet with a gravity slightly higher than the planet of human origin, covered in rich farmland, spectacular mountain ranges and possessing some of the best vacation and hunting resorts in Caldari space, Achura is the ancestral home of the Achuran race and a relatively recent addition to the Caldari State. Achura is notorious for attempting to go its own way in cultural affairs, but remains staunchly Caldari in governmental and business proceedings.

Sukuuvestaa corporation, one of the largest and most powerful business entities in Caldari space, maintains a large presence on Achura. Long known for their focus on agriculture, mining and real estate investment, Sukuuvestaa corporation has for some time been a favorite of the Achura, with a large percentage of the corporate upper echelon keeping offices and estates here.

One such estate is located just east of the large, sprawling SuVee headquarters complex, in an area graced by cool seasons, warm sunshine, gentle breezes and a fast 15 minute flight time to company offices.

The Problem

Late in YC107, Caldari medical services began to notice what appeared to be a new syndrome appearing in children of Achuran descent. Although rare, affecting just 1 in 10 million children, the condition was somewhat concerning. Symptoms included fever, extreme lethargy and an inability to concentrate, followed quickly by collapse into a semi-catatonic state. Patients affected by this condition usually remained in a semi-catatonic to comatose state, despite all treatment attempts. A noticeable deterioration of bodily function usually resulted in death within 2 years. The condition became known as Seylin-Formins Disorder, named after the facility in which it was first identified.

In YC112, researchers at the Achuran Institute of Medical Research and Development discovered a possible link between Jovian disease and Seylin-Formins Disorder through a cooperative endeavor with the Institute of Jovian Studies and, unofficially, with the Society of Conscious Thought. Recent advances in technology, primarily capsuleer-interface technologies, allowed the fairly rapid development of a possible remedy. Surgical installation of a sophisticated and invasive neural implant system, controlled remotely by an advanced AI, seemed to offer the best chance of repairing, or perhaps offsetting, the neurological damage caused by Seylin-Formins. Deployed in YC114, initial results were startlingly effective. 98.9% of cases were effectively treated leading to regression of symptoms, and while there was a relapse rate in the single digits, the remedy was hailed by everyone involved as a monumental success.

That is, unless your child happened to be among those in the single digits.

The Child

Lost in a fever dream. Swirling, sparkling, spiraling lights; explosions without end. Sense of vicarious movement, faster than light, stars blurring into solid streaks, rushing to possible doom/destruction/death (but not final, no; never final.) Overwhelming sense of OTHER, intuitive understanding of concepts far beyond a six year old. A sense of sight, enhanced beyond biological limit, colors and shapes, forms of ships, gates, stations, planets. And hearing, oh the sounds… the rush of missiles, sounds of beams discharging, buzzing sound of projectile systems engaging, low shield/armor/hull klaxons… (Dim perceptions of Nurse, and cool rags, and outside noises, but OHH so far away, and not really REAL.) Awesome victories, devastating defeats, riches beyond imaginings, losses beyond belief…

And the child continues to lie motionless, face composed. A discerning observer might distinguish the flush of fever spreading across tiny cheeks… or, perhaps, the flush of inescapable excitement.

The Executive

Tall, dark haired, handsome in a rugged sort of way, wearing an expensively tailored E-suit, the Executive strides into the building. Heading toward the Executives personal elevator (no security here; any unauthorized person wouldn’t have made it into the building), the Executive communes with an inbuilt personal AI, reviewing and amending the schedule for the day. Riding the elevator to the 140th floor is something of a meditative exercise; some Executives drop in to the helipad on top of the building, but this Executive appreciates the few seconds of quiet and isolation the elevator affords… and besides, having ones own private elevator is one of the established perks of the job, and should therefore be enjoyed to the fullest.

Exiting the elevator and emerging into the outer office, a few things register. All secretaries are in place, working their private communication suites and handling the more mundane affairs of office. None look up at the sound of elevator doors opening, as expected. The last secretary to look up and make eye contact with the boss was terminated immediately. They are here to do the work of the Corporation and, by extension, the Directorate, not engage in satisfying personal curiosity on Company time.

The office is large, furnished in a quiet, unpretentious but extremely expensive style that screams power and wealth, in an understated way, of course. An observer might be surprised to see no desk anywhere in the suite. Artificial creations of intimidation, power and place setting are not required by the occupant of this office; anyone who gets this far is beyond those necessities. The Executive sits in a personally tailored leather and titanium chair and picks up a folder full of various appropriation proposals. Although these could be reviewed electronically in an installed personal augmented virtual reality environment, sometimes having the physical papers to review can lend a certain je ne sais quoi to the experience. Besides, having the time to process information physically is another established perk of the job.

As the day progresses into the afternoon, a grimace crosses the Executives face, something the secretaries would all swear was impossible. The Executive is famous for a granite, unyielding expression. An internal alarm has reminded of an appointment outside the office, and it is time to leave. The Executive heads out the door, scanning the assembled personnel to verify all is as it should be, heads down and working, and crosses to the elevator, exercising the Executive privilege to come and go at will. This time, going up. The ‘Copter is required. Hopefully the appointment can be accomplished within a short time; there are still many things to be done here before the day is over.

The Meeting

“As you can see, following this chart, the present configuration of the Seylin-Formins implant is effectively suppressing the erratic processing of information taking place in the limbic system. Misfiring of neocortical neurons are being handled correctly by implant sub-processing. Paralimbic cortical regions have been …”

“Doctor, I’m not a medical man. I don’t actually care about limbic processing or the structure of the amygdala. What I do care about is what procedures will be necessary to restore proper functioning to the mind and body of my heir.”

“Director, we have been working virtually nonstop on the project ever since the relapse occurred. We have our best minds working on it. It is a difficult case, but we have hope that a res…”

“Doctor, I took time out of my busy schedule, which included deciding on the allocation of funding and grants to various institutions across Suukuvestaa’s areas of interest, to come here today. Please don’t tell me I wasted my time coming to your institution to hear another of your excuses. I came here solely because I was told there is a procedure that may repair the issue. Was I misinformed?”

“No, there is a… procedure. It is very tentative. A theory has been proposed that a slight ‘leak’ in the subspace processing linkage between the implant structure and the controlling AI is allowing outside information to be injected into the stream, causing destructive interference with the implant structure associated with processing within the Cerebrum. The process by which this may be occurring is not clear. A further…”

“Doctor, I must return to work. Will this process heal my heir, or do I need to fund another clinic to research the issue?

“Director, it is the considered opinion of this institute that, at the present time, this procedure offers the best chance of a recovery. Whether complete recovery or not, I can not say, as it is experimental in nature.”

“Very well, proceed, and notify me when you have something concrete to offer.”

“Director, one more thing… this procedure… well, it is experimental. There is a chance that reprogramming the substrate and realigning the various implantation nodes could render the subject into a permanent persistent vegetative state, with little to no hope of recovery.”

“Do it, and notify me when the procedure is complete.”

The Nurse

The young child, fair headed and light eyed, runs across the carefully manicured lawn, laughing and shouting. Catching sight of Nurse, the child alters course, gaining speed and catapulting into the waiting arms of Nurse, knocking both to the ground. Laughter and giggling continue as Nurse exacts revenge for being spilled onto the ground by the ruthless application of tickles. The child breaks free and speeds off, attention distracted once more, this time by a butterfly, enjoying a child’s golden afternoon in the sun…

With a start, Nurse awakens, sitting in a chair in an opulent waiting room. Gut wrenching, heart aching sensation as the memory of the dream passes across the tapestry of reality. Nurse remembers the child’s birth, the awe and delight as the realization of fair hair and light eyes registered with the doctors and nurses attending. A combination of fair hair and light eyes amongst the Achura is a rare thing, and supposedly signifies great luck, health and wealth for the possessor of such sublime features. Nurse fully believes this child will rise to greatness, all things considered. As the child grows, the superstition appears to have a factual basis. The child is healthy and intelligent, with an engaging personality, all flashing smiles and happy laughter.

Then, the downfall. Increasing lethargy, lack of smiles, lack of laughter, almost no energy followed by a total collapse. Nurse prays to an all compassionate God for intervention, and it seems to be a success. A grueling operation, a few days of recovery, and suddenly the child is back again, providing light and life to an otherwise dark and sterile existence. The child’s relapse almost destroys Nurse; only the fact that there isn’t anyone who, in Nurse’s opinion, can adequately care for the child enables Nurse to go on at all.

And now, this. A second operation, this one as experimental as the first, and potentially even more perilous. Nurse still can’t understand how the Director, even though stern and coldly inhuman in mannerism, can work while this operation is in progress. It is all Nurse can do to sit and remain quiet, as the urge to run down the hall to the operating room, beat on the door and demand an update is almost overwhelming.

One hour down. The doctors have said this operation could last upwards of eight hours. Nurse stares at the unmoving hands of an antique clock in the waiting room. Internal time checks reveal it is in working order, but time is at a standstill. All Nurse can do is wait.

The Commencement

A sterile operating theater, with doctors and nurses surrounding a small figure lying on a padded and cushioned table. Arms and legs strapped to avoid unnecessary movement, the child is covered with a synthetic coverlet, engineered to monitor the body’s vital signs and provide recommendations to attending physicians in the event of abnormality, as well as capable of extruding a nano-technology driven interface to take sudden corrective action if required.

To an observer unfamiliar with the proceedings, the equipment in the room would seem strange. A small half-bowl with a crystalline appearance is situated over the child’s head, although apparently making no direct contact with the child. A medium-sized white box is located on a smaller table, adjacent to the child. A thin cord extends from the box, passing through the crystalline bowl and appearing to plug directly into the Occipital region of the child’s cranium. A crash cart is parked against the far wall; no one thinks it will be of much use in this situation, but regulations are regulations. That is all; despite the complexity and ground-breaking nature of this endeavor, not much else is actually required. The doctors and nurses standing around are also somewhat superfluous; most of the operation is managed, regulated and performed by an advanced AI. However, it is technically an operation, and besides, it cannot hurt to have a few doctors and nurses on hand. In theory, there won’t be much of a person to save residing in that young cranium if the operation turns out badly, but theory is theory, and this is reality. If the child can be saved, these people are prepared to move heaven and earth to make it happen.

A mental signal is sent, a command is acknowledged, and the AI begins the procedure.

The Procedure

Increasing coherence of thought, alterations of mind increasing reception of aberrant signals, deepening understanding of concepts once foreign, and what once were flashes of external stimuli flowing inward have become cohesive, episodic incidents of vicarious experience…

Floating through space, and all’s quiet in the area. Bouncing from planet to planet, the child hits the target location on the third try. Coasting to a stop, the child examines the cache, finds the contents satisfactory, and heads off into the void, reminding Allison to update the markers. A wormhole appears ahead, an anomaly the child has already located and marked, and preparations are made to make transit. Maintaining caches might not always be the most exciting endeavor, but it can be among the most satisfying. The child enters the wormhole, and…

Cloaked in space, bombs and torpedoes ready to go. Tension rising as the child approaches the target. The cruiser is apparently oblivious to the child’s existence, and proceeds about its current activities. Closer, closer, ON TARGET! The cloak drops, the bombs and torpedoes fly, and a massive wave of exaltation passes through the child as his target explodes in a cartwheeling, pinwheeling blaze of light and fire, pieces of matter blazing outward from the center, temporarily lighting the darkness. The child turns and heads for the nearest high-sec wormhole, mission accomplished…

Brief sense of darkness, flickering sense of reality…

Cargo hold half full, continually orbiting a large, ore packed asteroid, maintaining a watchful eye on sensors as the child’s mining equipment cuts into the massive rock below. The child returns attention to the TRI-D entertainment module interface accessible from the pod, and continues watching The Adventures of a Space Age Por…

Wavering, space begins to flicker in and out… sounds become distorted, vision elongated, feelings compressed. The child is happy/angry and sad/exuberant. Something is wrong, but the child’s will is strong, and very quickly…

Shields gone, armor gone, hull at barely 5 percent, the child makes preparations to warp off in the pod. Initiating the align instruction, the child begins spamming the warp instruction. A sudden explosion, fire and light surrounding the child, a sense of motion, and… the pod speeds outward! Heading away from the explosion, heading toward safety and a station with implants intact. You can’t win them all, but you can surely try!…

Blackness engulfs the child, oppressive quiet, numb feelings. The child floats in an endless abyss. A light appears in the distance, slowly growing in size. A voice sounds in the silence, not actually heard but experienced…

“Child, you are lost… come this way.”

Sudden irrational fear breaks through into the child’s consciousness. No… No… NO! With a supreme effort of will, the child breaks free, and…

Recovering from the gate jump, the child groans aloud. Gatecamp! Bubbles covering the immediate vicinity, ships in the immediate area trying to decloak, lock and destroy! But the child is clever. Fitted with a covert cloak, the child selects a random direction and begins to move. Internal tension flares as a ship passes oh so close, but still too far away to strip the cloak protection from the vessel. Slowly, the vessel creeps forward, closer and closer to the bubbles edge, and then… FREE! Cloak still engaged, the child warps off to the predetermined safe, whooping with joy and excitement…

Again, blackness. Again, quiet and numbness. This time, however, there is no voice, no sound… simply 3-D holovid crystals, spinning resolutely through space, passing before the child. Small children, running and playing on green, green grass, chasing one another as the child looks on, smiling… (feeling of numbness lessening, quiet somehow less oppressive) Nurse, clapping and singing with a small child… Nurse, bestowing the tickle punishment for a supposed minor infraction…

Numbness is all gone now, replaced by a quiet warmth… sounds of laughter and singing are slowly replacing the quiet as a sensation blossoms in the child… a long forgotten sense of love and life and feeling. The child wants to… do whatever is necessary, but some last darkness remains, blocking the way.

Blackness fades to light, and all around the child a room appears. Tall figure in a suit, standing, looking down on a small child. The figure reaches down and grabs the child, hugging the child tightly. Pulling away, the child is startled to see the look on the tall figures face… however briefly, a smile has appeared.

Last explosion of light and sound, unnatural darkness fading away forever, the child finally fades into a precious, peaceful abyss.

The Conclusion

Afternoon approaches. The Executive tries to focus on routing orders, appropriation allotments and other important issues, but it is growing harder to maintain concentration. For once, these subjects appear less than trivial. The Executive is not known for nervous mannerisms or pacing, and yet…

Abruptly, dropping paperwork onto a convenient table, the Executive leaves the suite and quickly walks toward the elevator, failing for once to look around the office. (Probably for the best, as the secretaries are so startled by the sudden, unprecedented appearance of the boss that a few actually look up. The boss has never left this early before without a scheduled appointment.)

Arriving at the institute, the Executive quickly walks toward the private suite reserved for the operation and recovery. Calling ahead would, perhaps, alleviate the anxiety suddenly making itself felt, but surely if a problem had occurred…

Up ahead, a cluster of people are arranged outside the main room of the suite. Doctors, Nurses, Technicians… all standing around the entrance to the room, looking inward… what has happened? For the first time in a decade, the Executive breaks into a run, heading for the door. Personnel fade out of the way, making room for the Executive to enter. It is only at this moment that the smiles on the faces of the people surrounding the door become evident, but the Executive is focused solely on the room ahead.

Nurse, standing by a bed, head down, tears sliding slowly onto old, cracked cheeks. Looking up, smiling, and stepping aside, revealing a small figure sitting on the bed. The child sees the Executive enter the room, and, fueled by the power of childhood, and love, and life, despite muscles atrophied by years of lying in bed, fairly catapults into the Executives arms. For the first time in a long time, the granite cracks, and a smile appears, banishing for all time the apathetic impassivity that was fed by rage, and loneliness, and fear.

Epilogue

In YC117, researchers at the Achuran Institute of Medical Research and Development, in cooperation with scientists from the Institute of Jovian Studies, in a partnership with technical elements from the Society of Conscious Thought, finally derived a highly successful, multi-pronged approach to the treatment of Seylin-Formins disease. At the time of this writing, all known cases have been completely cured, and sudden onset cases are usually treated successfully within 48 hours. Rumors of a complementary derived treatment for some cases of Jovian disease have been reported, but no proof has been presented. The Society of Conscious Thought, when approached by this author, declined comment.

Dreams of My Father

Editor’s Note: Continuing with our Eve Fiction Writing contest winners, here is our third installment.

Dreams of My Father

A short story by Signaleer Soup Atross

Soup Atross

Her first wormhole opened like a wound in her brain. She hesitated outside its blooming mass. She couldn’t bear to dive in. But she couldn’t turn away. The ripe center was the color of blood, beating like a heart. Behind her cloak, she slipped through the event horizon and waited to come out the other side. Waited until it felt like the system’s star went out. Until her mother picked her up and took her away. Until the universe went to sleep and all the station lights went out and the clone of the last capsuleer rotted in its tube.

She told Claire he would come back. In her mother’s arms, she watched his ship go from the station, a semicircle with a line through it. The Nonni sun golden in her eyes. And when he didn’t come back that first year, her mother showed her his clone. No one’s ever really gone, she said. See? And she saw him behind the glass, like he was sleeping, his brow furrowed with the dreams of the void, the black beyond their small star, the clusters and jumps and systems she learned about in school, the way they came together after the first gate, the way New Eden stretched across the stars.

He’s not sleeping, she said, smoothing her curls. He’s not here. And the years passed. Her class in school went to the holoreels, the training simulator, the mission agents. But she just watched the great station window, watched the ships come and go, the long-barrelled freighters and the hooked jaws of the cruisers, and sometimes the big ships with all the supplies, ammunition, antidotes, ore. And sometimes a ship like her father’s would wink by, an explorer’s ship, with the telltale half-circle of blinking lights. And even as she became a young woman, she never was able to swallow the bright cold joy of what if. What if it was him, back from the beyond, with the pieces of the universe he promised to show her? What if it was him and his beard and his large hands, the way he held her at night, mother told her, and she tried to remember, rocking her to sleep while the noise of the station hangars breathed deep breaths in the background.

Fleet Commander Gaterau started to notice her. Watching the ships launch. Watching the pilots come and go. Walking past the clone bays. She knew Claire was the daughter of Graham Lennelluc, knew what it meant to wait for a ship to come back in from the stars. But her mother had warned the FC away. She thinks she remembers being whisked behind her mother’s legs in a station corridor when the FC tried to give her a model of father’s ship. I won’t let you take her away, her mother said. I won’t lose her too. And she remembers Gaterau’s face, the way her jaw set, the way her eyes cooled. Someday she will have the choice, Amanda. But she was too little to remember. Her mother told her this story, as a confidant, as if she agreed, as if they were both agreed. No other Lennelluc would be flying away to anywhere. Not ever again.

And the time passed. She’d stopped walking by his clone years ago, stopped trying to see his eyes behind his eyelids, stopped believing he was just asleep, even though mother had told her he wasn’t. But where did he go? I don’t know, she said, and she looked older now, the wrinkles and veins showing through as she put her face in her hands. I don’t know. And now she would have to be the grown up, and she would comfort her mother, and take her by the hand, and show her daddy’s clone, and tell her he would be back. He said he’d be back, she’d tell her mother. No one’s ever really gone. All the ISK in the family in that sleeping clone in Bay 38.

When mother was ready to die a citizen’s death, old age coming, no capsules, no implants, nothing funny, she said, because why do I need to live if your father is gone, Claire asked her again where daddy went. When she was a little girl in her mother’s arms, she would point out the station window and ask if daddy went that way, and her mother would nod. Yes, he went that way. But now she needed to know where. Claire squeezed her hand and tried to keep her voice strong and steady. Where did he go? Why can’t I follow him?

Her mother gestured for her keepsake container, the one she’d used for her jewelry and her favorite holoreels and her insignias and trinkets. And inside was daddy’s ship from the FC, still bright, still white and red like in the reels, the compartments and lights and antennae, the thrusters glowing. She knew the ship from her dreams. And she knew what she had to do. But she kept it to herself, even when mother’s body was at last biomassed and FC Gaterau gave Claire her first Corvette. Her first appointment with a mission agent. She was a natural scanner, said her FC. She had a knack, and even as she was learning how to quadrangulate the anomalies that appeared like ghosts in her probe view, she was scanning for him.

After that first wormhole, she knew where he must be. She knew enough about the universe to know he was in Anoikis, the empty place between places, unmapped and vast, except by the scouts and wormhole corporations, who could shed light on some places like a bulb swinging in the dark. In glimpses, the dark room would glow. A corner here, a corner there, and slowly, across her view, while she drank deeply from her ship’s dash, Anoikis became home. She took up with an exploring corp, ran a hundred thousand relic sites, put enough ISK away for a clone next to daddy, in Bay 38, Row 7, Seat 5. She was flying his ship, the one with the great crescent wings on each side and the long pointed nose. The one she remembered, in the golden light of her memory, warping out from the Caldari Navy Assembly Plant of Nonne. Warping away from home, while her mother held her and pointed off into the dark.

Claire knew there was a small chance he was really gone. There were tales of some deaths that you couldn’t come back from. The miniature moment between destruction and the neural scan, between brain death and the burst transmission to a clone. But Claire expected better of her father. Sometimes, when the probes wheeled across another system looking to tighten a signature, she could see his face in the lines, the face from her dreams, the face from the clone in Bay 87. Sometimes she saw his hand span a constellation behind another relic site whirring behind an obelisk. Sometimes she saw his heart beat in the center of a wormhole. He was waiting for her somewhere between the empty places. Somewhere in upside Anoikis, where even the Tripwire couldn’t follow. Somewhere he couldn’t come back. He could only wait.

My father told me she would come back. In his arms, I watched her ship go from the station, a circle with a line through it. The Nonni sun golden in my eyes. And when she didn’t come back that first year, father showed me her clone, next to granddad’s. No one’s ever really gone, he said. See? And I saw her and granddad behind the glass, like they were sleeping, their brows furrowed with the dreams of the void, the black beyond.

Signaleer Bob N’Weave

Editor’s Note: Taking a break from the winners of our Eve Fiction Writing Contest for another in our series of Signaleers. Enjoy!

Bob N’Weave

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

Bob N’Weave

I started playing EVE many years ago (2008.07.18) when my brother had been playing already for some time. I used to go to his house where our kids would play together and he would be heavily injected into the game and I would sit by and watch. He was part of a corp called NI4NI and they were a pirate corp out of Fade or Delve (upon further review, it looks like our HQ was in Curse)… I was fresh out of the box with no clue how to do anything and played a few days till I went out to meet him and basically just shadowed him and salvaged his wrecks for content. After a while, EVE became to expensive to sub so I let it go…this was right around when Goons were rising up against BoB….we were also against BoB, but not with goons exactly….anyhow, after many years off I decided to try the free version….and here we are now….

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?

This toon started as my Jita alt for when I was involved in Pandemic Horde (after our move to Geminate), I was an explorer there and found that also after the move. While we were still in Fade (on my main) I was a salvager, made tons of isk on Serpentice salvage, but upon arrival in Geminate it became a desolate wasteland of Guristas wrecks and I needed to make isk bad… lol… so I dared venture out into the great unknown as an alpha, in an astero…lol…it went exactly as it sounds like it would… I spent a great deal of isk learning this trade….haha

I have an alt (my main) in a PVP WH corp but that doesnt suit me or my play style…so for the time being this is it for me…i enjoy exploration and am happy just going thru wormholes tending/sowing and hopefully doing some SAR work.

During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?

I think the most surprising thing about New Eden and Anoikis is that you can never tell how someone is going to treat you being there… I have had people chase me for what felt like ever and I have had people save my hide when I bit off too much in a sleeper site (dood even lost a Gnosis). I do tend to take a look at the sights but for the most part I like to scan and hack and scan and hack… that keeps me occupied most of the time.

Most interesting fact: There is Never enough time in my life to play this game the way I want to… lol

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Don’t go out in an Astero till you can cloak. Don’t sit still scanning if you can’t cloak. Don’t hack in Null-Sec if there are unaccounted-for pilots in system with you (unless you’re prepared for a fight)… they are most definitely waiting to pod you and take your stuff. And lastly… learn from your mistakes and be happy about it… its only a game, dont let it affect you. It took me a long time in gaming to let go of the results and just enjoy it as much as I do now… I learned that here. 🙂

Do you have a favorite image from your explorations?

My favorite image has to be the one I shot of my (new at the time) Stratios (still flying it now) in the hand of your statue (Journey of Katia Sae Memorial).

The Atonement of Ravanna Zahelle, Solo Pirate

Editor’s Note: Continuing with our Eve Fiction Writing contest winners, here is our second installment. Some words edited for family friendly audience.

The Atonement of Ravanna Zahelle, Solo Pirate

A short story by Signaleer Void Raven

Void Raven

The frozen corpse of a woman, a baseliner, rotated slowly. The face displayed no physical trauma, in stark contrast to the obvious signs of extreme violence exhibited by the rest of her body, which was a mess of twisted and contorted limbs attached to a severely battered torso. Her face, however, did convey just how terrifying the moments immediately preceding her demise had been, when she saw her imminent death with inescapable certainty, as that terror was imprinted on it in frozen perpetuity by the near absolute zero temperature of space. A closer scrutiny of her face would have revealed that she had also experienced some form of sadness leading up to her death, for there were frozen teardrops attached to her eyelashes and stuck to her skin at the ends of tear streaks that ran down her cheeks. As she rotated, they glittered and sparkled like tiny diamonds in the light of the central star.

Pulling back from her shimmering face one would have seen that she was but one of many other corpses floating among the wreckage of a ship, destroyed earlier by a powerful explosion. These corpses had not too long ago been the ill-fated crew of that ship. Embroidered on their clothing was the name “Valhalla II”. The woman was not part of the crew; the shredded remains of her clothing was different from the others. They were baseliners, and as such they were not afforded the luxury of access to fresh clones with which to simply start a new chapter of their lives as capsuleers were. No, they were permanently dead; no more than the collateral damage of conflict wrought by capsuleers. Human detritus forever lost in the vast ocean of New Eden. Mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, children and siblings that would never come home again.

Several hours earlier

Deep in low security space, Ravanna Zahelle, a solo pirate, watched impassively as her prey floundered helplessly in the unrelenting grip of her ship. Ravanna had applied a warp scrambler and webifier to it, in addition to a neutralizer on its capacitor. Her ship’s weapons were trained on it, and a flight of her combat drones were swarming around, both groups of deadly weaponry ready for her command. The freighter was not going anywhere. It was hers to do with as she pleased. What a gloriously heady rush it was to have such absolute control over others. It was like a drug and she was addicted to it. But like all drugs it came with side effects, the most prevalent of which was that Ravanna hated herself for not being able to feel the slightest remorse for the ruin that followed in the wake of her attacks; the psychological trauma and scars and financial destitution that her victims had to cope with if they paid the ransom and were subsequently released; or the death and destruction, coldly delivered, when no ransom payment was forthcoming.

She lived by what to her was a simple rule of the universe.“The strong prey on the weak. Big galaxies eat the little ones. I take from those weaker than myself. It’s a simple rule to live by…no, the only rule to survive by, in New Eden.” she mused. By the Sisters of Eve, she despised New Eden and her place in it.

“I’m so f’ing messed up.” thought Ravanna. “Just another wretched, flawed soul adding to the abundant misery in this grim, harsh universe. How the hell did I get to this point?” she asked herself, rhetorically.

The internal conflict always kept her company, sometimes buried deeper down and easier to ignore, while at other times, like now, it was closer to the surface and more demanding of reflection and resolution. Morality…could morality exist in an ostensibly uncaring, indifferent universe? If the whole; if the sum of the parts, was uncaring could any of the constituent parts, like herself, be caring? By the Sisters, her head hurt. She was a damn pirate, not a philosopher. She would never find an answer to her inner turmoil; after years and years of trying, she was no closer to a resolution. Her addiction, the thrill from doing what she did best had, up to now at least, always won out over the self-loathing that came from seeking it.

“What would happen if one day the reverse was ever true?” she wondered absent-mindedly.

Ravanna’s thoughts returned to the task at hand. She waited for the trapped pilot’s response to her demand for ransom; somewhat patiently at first, but quickly less so. Every additional minute she delayed, increased her own personal risk in the endeavor. The victim could be requesting backup assistance. Stronger pirates could attack her. A bounty hunter could surprise her. Her main concern was not dying, since she was a capsuleer, but rather losing her ship, since every ship lost was an increase in the direct cost of her “business”. Plus, there was the cost in lost time to obtain a replacement ship. Clear, cold calculation…she liked that.

Ravanna opened the communications channel to her victim again. “Valhalla II, what is your decision? My demand is not negotiable. If you do not transfer the requested funds immediately, I will destroy your ship and take whatever remains of value.”

“Please! Please! Don’t do this!” came the response from the freighter captain. “I don’t have that amount of money; all my funds are tied up in the collateral for this courier contract. If you were to release me, once I get paid, I’ll transfer the ransom you asked for. You have my word.”

“Yup.” thought Ravanna. “That’s exactly what you’ll do. In a few hours when you reach your destination, you’ll just happily pay me. No, you’ll file a piracy report, my security standing will decrease further and I’ll be even more ‘Wanted’.”

The captain continued, “I truly cannot pay you right now. I also have a family onboard that will pay me for passage at the destination, so I will pay you more than you ask. They have a baby daughter. You don’t have to do this. It is a choice you make. Please release me so I can continue and you can get your money.”

Ravanna felt her ire increase. Always the same stupid excuse: “I don’t have the money.” Or attempts to play on her feelings of guilt: “You can choose to let me go instead of destroying me. Please won’t you make the right choice this time?” The one about the family onboard, with a baby no less; that was new. She had never heard that one used before. Of course, it was a blatant lie, just like the lack of money. Families with new-born children never travelled across lowsec in a freighter. Never.

Appeals for her to make the “right” choice were dead on arrival. Yes, it was her choice to decide what to do. But what her victims never realized, until it was too late, was that she always chose to follow through with her threat to destroy their ship and loot whatever she could if she didn’t receive the ransom. For the love of the Sisters, she was a hardened pirate and she accepted ransom or dealt destruction without prejudice. Her life was very binary in that regard. She always honored a ransom payment and released the victim; but in return for that concession to the universe, she also honored the consequence of no payment.

“No negotiations. The only thing, the only thing that will help you in your current situation is payment of the money. Oh…and don’t give me some ridiculous crap about having a family onboard. Just give me the money and you can leave, or prepare to lose your damn ship, OK?.” Ravanna replied, her voice even in tone and volume, yet nonetheless threatening. “There will be no further communication from me. You have one minute.” she warned ominously.

“No! Wait, please. I’m not ly…” The victim was cut-off mid-sentence as Ravanna closed the comms channel. A minute or so later, she viewed her account one more time to verify whether the ransom had been transferred to her. It had not.

“So. It has come down to this again.” she thought blankly.

It had been a while since she had been required to destroy a ship; it almost felt like she had been on vacation. The real world was suddenly back. She became aware of a growing headache. They always came before she dispensed her wrath. Why did some people think they could outplay her? Why did they force her hand? No matter…the time had come.

“I’ve been here before; I’ll be here again.” she thought without emotion and followed with “This is on you.” as she looked at the Valhalla II and thought of the captain, and also as justification to herself. Without a qualm, she gave her drones the command to attack and her guns opened fire.

A short time later, after the final explosion died down, all that remained was a field of wreckage. With the clinical efficiency gained from years of cold-hearted experience, Ravanna quickly recalled her combat drones, launched salvage drones and began looting operations. While sifting through the remains of the freighter, the ship’s sensors picked up an SOS signal from a small emergency crew escape pod floating away from the scene. In all her time, she had never before found an intact escape pod among the wreckage.

“Well now.” thought Ravanna. “An emergency escape pod. Let’s see who might be inside; could be it’s the captain.”

She would welcome him aboard her ship and then let him know that she was holding him ransom. Again. But this time she would be delivering the message in person; a new experience for her. Exhilaration suddenly came on strong.

She activated a tractor beam that pulled the crew escape pod into one of the loading bays on her ship. Once it was inside, and the looting operations had been completed, she set a course for a safe location in the system to have a little conversation with her victim. At the safe, Ravanna exited her capsuleer pod and made her way to the loading bay. Upon arriving there, she cautiously approached the escape pod with her handgun drawn. She needed to be cautious. She was a capsuleer, yes, but she was only “immortal” when she was in a capsuleer pod or otherwise connected to the technology that enabled clone retransplantation. While on her ship, but outside her capsuleer pod, she felt naked because she was then as vulnerable to permanent death as any common baseliner. If a person inside the escape pod was to fire a killing shot at her she would die once and for all. She often hated herself, but that didn’t necessarily translate into a deathwish. She pressed the button to open the hatch, standing well-off to one side, gun pointing steadily at the opening.

The sound of a crying baby came from inside the pod. Peering in through the opening, she saw a baby girl about six months old cradled in the arms of a dead man, whom Ravanna presumed was the father. He had succumbed to his injuries from the attack after making it into the escape pod with his daughter. The captain of the Vahalla II had told the truth.

The foundation of Ravanna’s existence swayed and rocked. There was no one else in the pod, which most likely meant the child’s mother had perished aboard the freighter. Despite her rigid callousness, Ravanna couldn’t suppress the thoughts that suddenly flooded her mind about the terrifying chaos that must have erupted around this family when her drones and weapons started firing upon it. Thoughts that generated visions that evolved in painstaking slow-motion. She imagined the husband yelling at his wife to grab their baby, while he searched for and led the way to an escape pod. She thought about the mother frantically racing through flaming sections of the ship behind her husband, clutching her baby, lungs choking and eyes burning in the acrid smoke-filled corridors and ears ringing from the weapon and drone blasts raining down onto the ship, desperately hoping against all hope to get to the escape pod before it was too late. She saw the two parents acquire injuries along the way as the unrelenting impact of the drone and weapon strikes caused pieces of the disintegrating ship to batter and tear into them, yet somehow avoiding the baby. She envisaged the mother finally collapsing somewhere, her injuries too severe for her to continue any further, screaming out to her husband to turn around and take the child. There would have been little time for “Goodbye” or “I love you” between them, if any at all. She saw the mother crying in anguish as she watched her husband and daughter continue on towards the pod as she was left behind, never to know if they made it and never to see them again. She saw the father dying in the escape pod with his little baby in his arms. She shuddered involuntarily; nausea rising from the pit of her stomach, as her last vision, that of the mother’s corpse, her tears frozen on her face and sparkling like gems in the light of the distant star, slowly rotating and drifting off into space, faded to nothingness. She had murdered the parents of this baby. Ravanna’s self-loathing spiked to a new high. Normally, the human devastation she caused was kilometers away; beyond her sight; at a dispassionate distance where she could simply and easily ignore it. But this; this was right in front of her. For the first time ever, Ravanna had come face-to-face with the direct consequences of her chosen way of life.

“Who the f— travels through lowsec in a freighter with a f’ing baby onboard?” she screamed at the dead man, still not fully capable of accepting that this was actually all her doing, and searching for a way out of the hell that she suddenly found herself in.

Her headache flared in intensity and pounded inside her head like a large kinetic round impacting thick armor plate. For a few seconds all she saw was a searing white light. The outburst frightened the baby and intensified its crying. What to do now? Her first thought was to quickly eject the pod with father and baby back into space and move on as if nothing had happened. Yes, she could do that. Ravanna started to close the pod, but, for some reason, looked more closely at the baby. Instinctively, and against her heartless nature, Ravanna smiled at the baby, which was apparently enough of an interaction to cause her to abruptly stop crying and smile back. Taken by surprise and unsure how to react to that, Ravanna took a step back, and sat down on the floor of the loading bay in front of the pod, heart racing and breathing quickly. She massaged her temples. The baby was now gurgling and babbling, soothing sounds that Ravanna yielded to and that allowed her to think deeply. Some time later, she stood back up. She had finally arrived at a resolution to her internal conflict. She knew what she was going to do now. She wasn’t going to abandon the baby in space. Ravanna approached the pod, reached in and quickly searched through the father’s clothing, finding identity cards that she pocketed and then picked up the baby.

“We’re going back to the station. Take this child and find a suitable spot to stow her safely for the trip back. Disable the SOS signal on the pod and then jettison it back into space before we leave.” she barked to her crew. Ravanna closed the pod with a swift, firm kick to the hatch, turned around and left the loading bay, heading back to her capsuleer pod. She bookmarked the location where the escape pod had been jettisoned and then set a course for the station.

The following day

Early the next morning, well before the station became busy, Ravanna took the child to the local Sisters of Eve office. She placed the baby, together with an envelope addressed to the Sisters of Eve containing the identity cards and a brief handwritten letter, on the top step in front of the main door.

She looked at the girl and, calmly and softly, said “These are the Sisters of Eve. They will know what to do. They will make sure that you will be well cared for. It’s the best I can do now. It’s all I can do now.” Ravanna cupped her right hand around the left side of the girl’s face, stroked her chest lightly with the fingers of her other hand, looked her in the eyes and mouthed “I’m so sorry.” She had never before said those words to anyone. A single teardrop splashed off the girl’s cheek.

With that Ravanna left the baby on the steps and headed back to the docking bay, but not before making a detour to the clone bay to check on her medical clone. She was there a little longer than one might have expected of someone who was just confirming that everything was functioning correctly, but soon enough she was at the docking bay. Ravanna undocked alone in her pod, and headed to the location she had bookmarked the day before. She felt at ease as she calmly activated the pod’s self-destruct sequence and then waited. Back in the station, after the pod’s destruction, her medical clone remained quite still, displaying no signs of life. It had been disconnected from the life support and consciousness transfer systems.

Blackout

Editor’s Note: In true Signaleer fashion of being the content you wish to see, Quinn Valerii hosted an Eve Fiction Writing contest for the corp and I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges for it which also included Thrice Hapus and of course Quinn as well. This week and next week I’ll be posting up our top five winners. Personally I really enjoyed the contest, we’ve certainly got some talent in the corp and hope to see more in the future. Please enjoy our first installment.

Blackout

A short story by Signaleer Shiro Karagi

The following is based on a true story.

Shiro Karagi

The frigate Persimmon had seen better days. Its hull pockmarked with shrapnel and covered in scorch marks from countless glancing laser shots, the Imicus-class craft slowly banked around the asteroid, the Pilot keenly aware that his pursuer was still out there. Trying to fight his way out of the system was a fool’s errand – the reavers who hunted him were patient and cunning, harrying him through the cluster for the better part of a week before cornering him in a dead-end system. With no other way out, he could be certain they’d be waiting for him at the system’s sole warp gate while the rest of their gang carried out a methodical search of the various asteroid belts and derelict military staging posts he’d flown through in a desperate attempt to lose them.

Persimmon drifted between the rocks in silence, the light from the nearby star glinting slightly off her dull green paint. The Pilot drew his ship to an abrupt halt – from the other end of the asteroid belt, his pursuer emerged. The Sabre-class destroyer lurched into view, unfettered by a need to hide from it’s prey. Scarring from Persimmon’s few lucky reciprocal shots was evident along the pirate vessel’s left flank, with smoke billowing from one of the more serious injuries towards the rear of the craft. The destroyer bore the callsign Barbarous Bitch – it had been painted with stripes of metallic gold and the darkest black, and was festooned with imagery depicting every manner of gruesome atrocity known to man. The Bitch moved apace between the asteroids like an Amarrian slaver hound honing in on the scent of some poor, helpless wretch.

The Pilot’s saving grace was the electromagnetic anomaly both he and his pursuers had warped through to get here. With their onboard directional scanners disrupted by the sudden surge of power, and CONCORD’s failure to maintain local communication networks in the region, both predator and prey were forced to rely on their sight alone to locate each other. With great care, the Pilot guided Persimmon around the rear of a large asteroid mere moments before the Bitch came into view. The reaver suddenly opened fire on a nearby asteroid, obliterating it in an instant.

Shards of debris bounced off Persimmon’s hull, yet she remained still. The Pilot knew he couldn’t fight his way out of this one, and the only chance he had was to remain invisible and hope his pursuers grew tired of the chase. The Bitch stalked menacingly past the Pilot’s shelter, occasionally unloading its gatling cannons on any asteroid large enough to potentially shelter its target. The Pilot breathed a sigh of relief as the smoke billowing from the reaver ship faded into the distant recesses of the asteroid belt. Suddenly, the Pilot’s directional scan flickered. He glanced at it apprehensively – it was only a matter of time before the Persimmon’s systems recovered from the electromagnetic disruption, and the reavers’ ships’ systems wouldn’t be far behind. Staying put had kept him alive this long, but it wouldn’t last. He had to find a way out. The Pilot cautiously guided Persimmon out from behind their shelter at a glacial pace. His pursuers were experienced cutthroats, accustomed to operating in all manner of conditions. A temporary loss of directional scanning equipment wouldn’t deter them, nor would it render him invisible from keen eyes.

The scanner suddenly flickered to life, and the Pilot’s stomach sank as he glanced at it. Almost two score hostile craft had spread throughout the system, twice as many as had chased him in, with a small band blockading the warp gate and preventing any escape. The Pilot had to think quickly. Launching scanner probes was risky, but he had no other option. He activated the launcher, dispatching his remaining eight probes. Working quickly, the Pilot maneuvered the probes’ scan across the system, desperately trying to find a wormhole, while behind him a thick pillar of black smoke crested the asteroid belt and began moving towards the Persimmon. The Pilot pored over the scan data. If he could find a wormhole – and if his pursuers hadn’t found it already – he’d have a slim chance of escaping with his life. After a few stressful minutes, the Pilot grinned wearily as his probes finally honed in on one, located at the farthest edge of the system. If he weren’t encased in a capsule filled with goo, he might’ve jumped for joy.

It took 8.34 standard seconds for the Persimmon to align to the wormhole in preparation to warp, but it only took 7.69 standard seconds for the Barbarous Bitch’s autocannons to roar to life, ripping a hole in the side of the frail craft. Slammed hard against the side of his capsule by the force of the impact, the Pilot frantically attempted to return fire, but to no avail. The Bitch was too far out, and a futile salvo from the Persimmon’s aft railguns sailed listlessly over the reaver’s ship. The Pilot panicked as the Bitch’s cannons tore into his ship again like a ravenous beast. As the Persimmon entered its final moments, he hastily executed the emergency protocol programmed into the ship’s communications, and the information his pursuers sought was erased from existence.

His capsule bursting forth from the wreckage, the Pilot quickly aligned with the wormhole’s location and engaged the warp drive. The Bitch locked onto him in seconds, but to no avail – he was already gone.

The Pilot cursed himself as he hurtled through space towards his only chance of survival. The encrypted communications data he erased were worth billions to the right people, a fact the reavers chasing him knew all too well. His capsule slowed as it neared the wormhole, before leaving warp drive and slowing to a halt. He was mercifully alone here, with only the cold expanse of space to keep him company, his pursuers nowhere in sight. Before him lay the wormhole – a horrific, gaping maw into the unknown, an uncharted, unexplored anomaly that scoffed at the laws of time and space. The Pilot took a deep breath as he moved towards it. It was now or never, a slim chance of escape or certain death in the cold reaches of a forgotten, dead-end system. This wormhole was uncharted, and he had no idea where it led, but it surely couldn’t be any worse than here.

Surely.

The Pilot entered the wormhole from which he would never return.

In the backwater system, the Barbarous Bitch warped into range of the wormhole, her bearings creaking and shuddering as she left the warp. In her wake flew a fleet of two dozen fellow miscreants, outcasts and other assorted vermin. Her pilot stared unblinking at the yawning maw in front of her viewscreen. A few seconds passed in silence as the reprobate armada waited eagerly on their leader to make the call.

“Go.”

The Bitch and her hangers-on fired up their afterburners and marched onwards through the gaping tear in space that lay in front of them. They’d lost their prize, but they’d have the Pilot. They’d make sure of that, even if it cost them everything.

They too, entered the wormhole, oblivious to what they’d find there. They too, would never return.