May 01, YC121: A few days prior to joining Signal Cartel.
Void Raven glanced at the route navigation display in her Astero. She was in Naamo with only one jump remaining to her destination. Her heartbeat quickened with anticipation. She had finally found some time to make the trip to Saisio and visit the Katia Sae monument. When she had first learnt of Katia Sae’s remarkable achievement to visit every single system in known space and Anoikis and without losing a single ship, it had immediately and forever altered her world in a most fundamental and profound way. And shortly thereafter, when she had read about the monument newly anchored in Saisio by the Achura Stargazers Society in association with Signal Cartel, to commemorate this triumph of the human spirit, she instantly knew that she would have to visit it to pay her respects. Void had chosen to make the trip to Saisio in an Astero in homage to the same ship that Katia Sae had used in her endeavor. While enroute, she absently thought about how it might have been preferable to have not come across any photographs of the statue prior to her trip as she felt that it might lessen the impact of seeing it in person for the first time. But Void need not have been worried, as she was soon to discover.
The Astero exited its intra-system warp in Naamo and began slowing down as it approached the Saisio gate for the final jump. Void braced for the jump. Even though she was in her protective capsule filled with hydrostatic fluid – also known as “pod goo” – that served to significantly reduce, but not eliminate, the physical impact and stresses of space travel on the human body and she had made many gate jumps in the past, she still felt oppressively claustrophobic and anxious in the warp tunnel. Void was always queasy and disoriented with labored breathing for several seconds after completing inter-system jumps, which made the automatic gate cloak on the exit side of a jump all the more valuable to her. At last she was in Saisio. The monument was off the Abagawa gate and so she aligned to it and set warp to 50km.
Upon landing at the gate, she quickly and excitedly looked around to see where the statue was, somehow missing it the first time. But then she saw it. Her heart skipped a beat and were she not in a pod filled with “goo”, the sight would have taken her breath away and she would have instinctively raised a hand to cover a mouth open in awe. Burnished bronze in color, clearly huge in scale even from this distance and glowing with reflected light from the M0 Orange Radiant sun in Saisio, it was…in a word…resplendent. The translucent plinth on which it was raised incorporated banks of powerful spotlights around the outside perimeter that shone both upwards to illuminate the statue and downward to give the appearance that it was being supported on a beam of light from the depths. Void felt that the statue perfectly captured the vast scope of Katia Sae’s achievement and the dedication and perseverance that she and her fellow signaleers exhibited to see it through to successful conclusion. She now approached the statue very slowly, gingerly guiding her Astero closer to inspect the details.
“Careful now, Void.”, she thought, “The last thing you want to do is crash into the monument and leave a mark, or worse, break off an arm…that would be nothing short of devastating. You know how careless you are at times and how clumsy you can be at others.”, she cautioned herself as thoughts of her numerous tripping incidents on the old rug back in her apartment came to mind. Yes…she should get around to replacing that rug.
The pose and attire of Katia Sae were both elegant and sophisticated. One foot was placed at an angle in front of the other, the right arm hung loosely down the side of the body while the left was upraised and slightly bent at both elbow and wrist in a shape, from Void’s viewpoint, somewhat reminiscent of a sweeping ‘S’ with a long tail. The left hand, with upturned palm, was higher in elevation than the head. Floating above the palm was a beautiful blue-white star. As she cautiously maneuvered around the statue, between it and the sun, her Astero cast a shadow on it and as she kept moving, the shadow distorted and rippled in keeping with the curves of the statue and folds in the clothing. It was all rather surreal.
Void guided her Astero toward the head and palm to take a closer look. The star had three planets and a ghostly, ethereal apparition of Katia Sae’s Astero in orbit around it. While the planets were fixed in location, the Astero was not, and it ever so slowly moved purposefully in its orbit, solitary and forever. She considered the star. Although it was but a single star, it represented so much more in that it embodied all the suns in each of the 7,805 individual systems that Katia Sae had visited over a nine-year span.
“That’s a lot of significance for one small star to carry.”, Void thought in admiration. “And is the reason it shines so brightly.”
She turned her Astero around to look at the face and brought it to a stop. Katia’s face, which seemed vaguely enigmatic to Void, was looking up at the star in the palm of her hand and also perhaps beyond it as if to convey that she might be thinking of what was to come next. But what could that be? What does someone do after they have been everywhere and seen everything? How does one resolve the tension that must exist when the lust to wander is still there, but the space in which to do so, is not? Nonetheless, there was a silent, unassuming confidence in that gaze toward the future, thought Void. She looked deep into the eyes and in her mind, Void stood to attention, saluted and thought “Katia, you justifiably stand tall among the giants in the history of New Eden.”
She remained there for a little while longer quietly absorbing the setting. It was moments like these that imparted much-needed, cathartic balance to an otherwise harsh, grim and dangerous New Eden.
“Someone ought to write a poem about this.”, she reflected.
With that, the solemn, respectful part of her visit came to an end and it was now time for the fun part. She was going to celebrate with, what else, but fireworks. After all, that’s how they did it in Signal Cartel so she should do the same, she reasoned. She was excited and eager to see the spectacle she was about to unleash. The festival launcher was loaded and ready and she gave the command to launch. Nothing. “What? Launch fireworks.” she gave the order again. Again nothing. “Are they duds, perhaps?” she wondered. And then a realization; “Oh…I see. Even though they are fireworks I still need to lock a target to be able to launch them. They are not like regular fireworks.” How in Anoikis had she missed that little nuance during capsuleer school? Likely it had been discussed at one of the several early morning classes at which she had arrived late as a consequence of partying a little bit too long the night before – she was Gallente after all, and Gallenteans were known for their partying, among other hedonistic interests. Looking around for objects to target she didn’t see that many – there was the statue, the stargate and the CONCORD ships patrolling in its vicinity. Even though she was only launching fireworks, the latter two, as targets, seemed to her no better than tempting fate. So that of course left the statue.
“I don’t know how appropriate it is to shoot fireworks at the statue as opposed to around it.” she pondered. But it was the only target available and she did want to launch some fireworks, so…”Be bold, Void.”, she thought.
Void locked the statue and launched her fireworks. The result was beautiful and wondrous; the fireworks were sweeping and flying through space all around her. A big smile came to her face. And then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived; her reverie ending as suddenly as it had begun. A sinking feeling crept through her body and settled in the pit of her stomach. She looked with dismay at the statue. There was a large, obvious black blemish where the fireworks had struck it. “No, no, no, no, no! What have I done?” she thought mortified. Now, Void had no problem with the color black. She liked black – it was her favorite color; technically it was an absence of light and color she knew, but nonetheless she thought of it as a color. Fashion-wise black went pretty much with anything, which made dressing in the morning easier. Her hair was jet-black. Her name, Void Raven, had connotations to black. Her mother’s name – Black Raven – even more so. That last thought though, about her mother, caused some inner demons to start roiling but she expertly shut them down. She didn’t have time for that right now. So, it wasn’t the color that caused her consternation, it was the fact that despite her best intentions she had still managed to vandalize the monument.
“Brilliant. Just brilliant.”, she reprimanded herself.
She looked away; she couldn’t look at the statue that she had just defaced. She had visions of having to contact Katia Sae, the Achura Stargazers Society, Signal Cartel and perhaps even CONCORD and explain what she had done, convey her sincere apologies and offer to pay restitution for the restoration of the statue. Would she even be able to afford that? This was analogous to that other time, when, in trying to dock her Imicus, she hadn’t been paying attention and had accidentally bumped into and scratched the new, shiny Proteus moving alongside her. She had immediately contacted the owner and offered to pay for repairs, but fortunately he had been very nice about the whole incident and had said not to worry.
“These new scratches – they look just like extra killmarks so I think I might leave them as is.”, he said with a wink and a smile. The current situation was of course much larger in scope and distress.
“What am I going to do? How am I going to recover from this one?”, she asked herself, a sense of helplessness pervading her mind.
As these thoughts were swirling around, Void found the fortitude to look at the statue again. She stared at it and then blinked a few times; her face painted with confusion…the black blemish was shrinking of its own accord! Somehow, the residue from the fireworks was dissipating off the surface of the statue. Deep feelings of relief and joy swept over her. She waited until the blemish had entirely disappeared, to satisfy herself that there was no lingering damage to the monument. Thus satisfied, she gleefully expended her entire remaining inventory of fireworks with the uninhibited, joyous abandon of a young child and it was a sight to behold. From somewhere, a thought that perhaps she should apply to join Signal Cartel found its way into Void’s mind.
Editor’s Note: Photo credits Void Raven unless otherwise noted.