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Tag: capsuleer

Hour of the Wolf

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere – Drahaana City
Eionell Esatate

A bead of sweat gathered on her forehead where it rested against the pillar, eventually seeping down into her eyebrow through stray hairs plastered to her skin. Then it slipped out, rolling past the corner of her eye and over her cheek like a tear.

The bead lingered near her jaw line, which began to itch as the droplet slowly evaporated into the still air and roused Sakaane from her musing. She sat up and wiped the droplet away. Her forehead burned where it had touched the pillar; even now, in the middle of the night, the smooth white stone still radiated heat soaked up from the sun’s red rays that day. The steps she sat on were similarly warm. It had been an unusually hot day despite autumn in the southern hemisphere being typically cool and dry.

A spot of light caught her eye, bobbing between the leaves of ferns growing just to her left. The firefly came closer, its luminescence weakening as it entered the meager pool of light filtering over Sakaane. A small lamp in the front hall was lit, its light barely reaching outside the house through the draped window beside the door. Other than that and the moons overhead, Sakaane was in the dark.

The bug settled on a flower an arm’s length from her. She sat still, watching it nuzzle the eventide blossom, its rump dimmed almost to nothing while it fed. After a few moments the firefly leapt back into the air, its light flaring bright, and disappeared into the night.


Resignation

Duripant VII – Moon 6 – Federal Navy Academy School

Sakaane sat on her favorite barstool in Deck 17 and scrolled through the Scope newsfeed in her datapad. A story caught her eye:

Recovering from the shock of defeat in Luminaire, sizeable sections of the Gallente populace have begun to call for integrity and accountability amongst Federation Navy leadership, a group they hold chiefly responsible for the disastrous military blunders of June 10.

Just one of many recent events representing a growing crisis of faith in their own security forces, yesterday’s “Citizen’s Emergency Summit” held in Villore saw more than a hundred prominent Federation luminaries unite in agreement about who was to be held ultimately accountable. Jointly hosted by some of the larger subsidiaries to the major Gallente corporations, the Summit was attended by various political officials, lobbyists and even cultural icons.

She chewed her dinner slowly and kept reading. A quote stood out:

“…We are undoubtedly dealing with entrenched, institutional corruption and incompetence, all of which has occurred under his watch. Our military leaders and their Chief of Command have failed us. We need to be sure now more than ever that this cannot happen again.”

“Entrenched, institutional corruption and incompetence,” Sakaane muttered, reading the article over again. “Sounds about right to me.”


Graduation

I graduated today.

I graduated today. I can now call myself a capsuleer.

Four years of study, of sweat and late nights, little sleep, of being hooked up to machines and suffering endless medical tests. Four years of struggling to maintain some sort of life outside the academy, of holding onto memories and motivations. Four years of being terrified I would fail, end up mindlocked or worse, that everything would turn out to be for nothing, that I would have to go back to Intaki to an empty house and a ruined life, and my mother, myself, and Intaki would be no better off than before.

All this so I can pilot a ship with my very thoughts. I will roam among the stars with the other so-called demigods, the rare humans who incite fear and awe among the regular population.

The ceremony was stiff, boring, and replete with words like “honor”, “duty”, and “glory for the Federation”. The navy focused more on itself rather than celebrating the achievements of our too-small class of graduates. I recalled Devan’s oft-repeated talks about how so many capsuleers leave the navy after graduation, and saw in the speeches today a note of desperation and desire to retain as many of us as possible within the navy’s ranks.

They gathered us together along a wide observation deck overlooking the academy’s private hangar bay, and one by one called us forward. A tired-looking general I’ve never heard of shook our hands and mumbled congratulations before bestowing upon each of us our first official capsule, a great oily-black egg that shone green in the hangar lights. Everyone connected up and monitored the balance of the ceremony from our pod feeds.

Representatives from Pend Insurance were in attendance too. They brought Velator-class frigates for each graduate. Apparently they hand these things out like candy. I plan not to use the ship at all. I’ve already injected the initial skills that will allow me to fly cruisers and can feel the data percolating in my mind even now. Devan generously gifted me some ISK as a graduation gift; in four days when the skills finish compiling I plan to buy myself a Vexor. It shall be called Happy Face of Death.

Happy Face of Death

Happy Face of Death

I have five days to myself before I’m placed in active service. I plan to spend them with Devan down in Bereye.

And then the Serpentis will finally feel my wrath.


Cloning

In half a year I’m going to graduate and spend my time putting myself into situations where I could be blown to smithereens on a daily basis. I know I’m the one who chose this. The Serpentis are a blight and must be wiped out!

I remember when I had no idea what cloning was, who capsuleers were. The vocal chords I use today are my own, yet not. Alien to me, even if they are genetically identical. Maybe that’s why I can’t sing. They are simply not the ones I had, the ones I spent years practicing with to give life to the lyrics I wrote…

Seeing the news today about the Impro cloning scandal makes me suddenly anxious about the choice I made. The training I’ve undergone these last years has been, in part, to prepare me for the eventuality that I will be podded and wake up in yet another new body. This is not altogether different from what the Reborn experience… I’m rather fond of the body I have now, even though it, too, isn’t the original. Even if another new body is a clone of the old one, I’d still know it was different.

But this…increased of instances of mind-lock and corrupted neural transfers…is alarming. While some people see capsuleers and the Reborn as ‘cheating’ death, I still know one day this particular body will expire. Just…not like that. Not so I can’t go on. Not because of a software glitch! And Impro says their figures are ‘in line’ with other corporations, as if they are talking about stop-loss failures or production irregularities! These are people who trust them to ensure they still wake up when the other guy wins. It gives me chills.


Mementos of the Past

Devan was here earlier in the week to resupply on drones. I teased him about his occasional tendency to leave his drones behind—how many have gone rogue by now?! He laughed and was embarrassed. It’s cute how he tries to look after them and feels guilty when they’re lost, almost like pets.

We’ve been keeping in touch quite a lot the last two months but it doesn’t compare to seeing him in the flesh. I almost couldn’t get off campus at all. I thought capsuleer training was intense before! In the last few months things have ramped up so I have almost no time to myself, even to write up logs. Several of my squadmates have washed out of the program, just burnt right out. Some days I wonder if I am about to follow suit.

Devan makes the stress easier to manage. He still doesn’t like me being in the navy but he supports my desire to be a capsuleer and encourages me to push on. I really do spend almost all my time in my pod now, to the point even my own bed feels alien. This was worse in Devan’s quarters where I found it difficult to sleep at all but he was patient and understanding. Not that we really had sleeping on our minds anyway…

He brought his pride and joy with him this trip, the ship he built and promised to show me. It was easy to fawn over it this time; the Morkeleb is a Hyperion-class battleship and a rather fine-looking hull compared to the Dominix (though I think most everything is fine-looking compared to the Dominix!). I do like the look of the Megathron as well, but the Hyperion certainly has class. And he built this one from scratch, spent months mining the raw materials for it… It’s his personal flagship, and I can appreciate why.

Devan brought me a gift as well, an oboe. And not just any oboe…my oboe. It has the engraving on it from Mom and Dad. I don’t know how he managed to find it considering it was among the belongings I sold three years ago. I remember being reluctant to let the instrument go, yet relieved, too, in a way. I haven’t played since before the Serpentis attack, just like I haven’t sang. The wood feels cool and familiar in my hands, and as soon as I picked it up my fingers found the right position on the keys, but…

It was a tremendously thoughtful gift and I am grateful to him. I’m just not sure I can play anymore. There are memories tied to this instrument, things I haven’t thought about for a long time. I know his intent was not to remind me of that pain; Devan just knows I miss my music, and I think all he wants is to encourage me to find that part of myself again. I really want to, but more and more I wonder if that chapter of my life is simply over forever.


Capsuleer Independence

An article about capsuleer independence caught my eye in the newsfeeds today.

It contrasts sharply with, yet also flatters, the things Devan has often told me about being affiliated with the empires. He still holds a very strong opinion about the navy. The article points to so many capsuleers leaving their empire affiliations—and so, I must believe, some of them their ties to the respective naviesbehind to make their own way in this world. I can only imagine they do so because they somehow feel unsatisfied with their careers. And yet, the article claims the empires are all right with this. How can this be?

The navies at least invest so much time and money into the capsuleers they train… How can they justify simply being content with having them walk away? Perhaps they are not worried about losing the ones they have because there is always a steady stream of applicants clamoring to replace them.

On the other hand, the article talks about capsuleers working for empire corporations, as Devan and his associates in Golden Phoenix do. I understand there are many corporations out there who employ capsuleers…but the navy itself also has agents. I am not sure I can yet reconcile how some of these capsuleers could resign their commissions only to turn around and run errands for the navy’s agents.

I am conflicted. Despite myself I feel some loyalty to this organization, for taking me in and training me, and only asking for my dedication in return. I haven’t forgotten my reasons for being here, not by a long shot. The Serpentis will feel my wrath. But that doesn’t mean I should simply abandon the navy at the first opportunity like these independent capsuleers have seemingly felt no compunction against doing…does it?


Personal Day

The squad was granted a personal day today so I spent the time with Devan. Mostly we walked around the station and talked, got to know each other better. He told me more about this private corporation he works for, Golden Phoenix Inc. They’re a small outfit, basically a group of friends just trying to make a living for themselves, but they have aspirations to grow the business mostly by taking on contract work. Through them he was even able to build his latest ship himself, though he won’t tell me what hull it is, saying he’d like to keep it as a surprise for the next time he’s in system.

He took me down to his bay anyway, to show me what he’s flying now: a Dominix-class battleship. It’s big and impressive in an ugly kind of way (but I didn’t tell him that). What boggled my mind more was that he has one of those and the ship he built plus numerous others. I’m still reeling from the wallet balance he showed me at dinner the other night.

I have to admit I’m curious… According to Devan a great deal of capsuleers leave their respective navies after training and go on to private work. Everyone he works with is a former cadet from somewhere. This was news to me. I asked around a bit but the Feds on campus were quick to change the subject. I’m not sure how these capsuleers get out of their enlistments and was honestly reluctant to ask Devan. Surely they’re not all deserters? I can’t see the navy simply letting them run free simply because they wanted to. But either way I need to stay the course and complete what I set out to do…

He had to head back to Ignebaener this evening to complete a job. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.


First Meeting

Thanks to Devan Corvel for participating.

Duripant VII – Moon 6 – Federal Navy Academy School

Deck 17 Bar ’n’ Grill had only a small crowd in it when Sakaane walked through the door. The chink of glass and dinnerware punctuated the quiet hum of conversation and a delicious aroma wafted out from the kitchen. Her stomach rumbled as she scanned the room for a likely-looking place to sit down. Having spent the last several weeks nourished only by her capsule, she was eager to treat her palate to some real food.

“My dear, my dear!” The bartender, Njal, waved her over. “It’s been some time, kainta. Where have you been keeping yourself?”

Namas, Njal.” Sakaane smiled and sat down on a stool opposite him. In his late fifties, Njal was originally from Intaki but had left Placid years ago to make his fortune. His travels led him to Duripant, where he’d opened Deck 17. This had proven a successful endeavor but he often joked his fortune was still waiting for him, even though Sakaane knew he felt tending his bar brought him a kind of richness ISK couldn’t provide. He was tall and lightly built, and like many Intaki men his age wore his grey hair long, but tied back at the nape of his neck with a leather thong.

Having been transferred to Duripant after completing a year’s worth of preliminary training in Scolluzer, Sakaane had become a regular at Deck 17, enjoying Njal’s easy camaraderie and the reminder of home he provided. Now, two years later, she considered him a good friend and knew he thought of her as the daughter he’d never had.


Time Marches On…But Dreams Are Realized

It’s been so long since I’ve logged anything. Honestly, there isn’t much to say… I’ve spent my days in classes, physical training, and testing. So many tests..! Each day gets easier, but the monotony of it sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m not in Scolluzer anymore either; they transferred me a while ago to Duripant. I’ll finish the rest of my training here. It’s a long way from home.

Today is a special occasion though: I was issued my first capsule! It’s just a training capsule, but nevertheless I can hardly believe it… I made it, I didn’t wash out of the program. There’s a whole new level of training to undergo now, the very hardest tasks: learning to control an entire ship with just my mind. I can’t wait to get started!

The capsule fluid is a bit like watery gelatin, not exactly what I expected. I had a brief, frightening moment when I was submerged for the first time—felt as if I was being suffocated. It’ll take some time to get used to being hooked up to all that equipment. The implants in my back are a little sore, having just now been used for the first time.

The goo doesn’t smell like much of anything and I’m fairly certain it’s not going to get along with my hair—but at least there are decent showers on campus. The capsule itself looks like a giant black egg, with a greenish tinge to it. When I saw it for the first time I had a hard time accepting this thing would keep me safe out there—I mean, sure, it’s huge compared to me, but it still somehow looks…fragile.

I need to write to Mom. Maybe she’ll be pleased. That’d be nice.


Calling Home

I called home after hearing about the SCC diplomats who were slain in Vey today. They were en route to a meeting in Intaki with Intaki Syndicate representatives to create new trade deals. Of course it’s all very political, as it reflects on Eman Autrech’s presidential campaign. I hadn’t previously decided yet who I was going to vote for in the election, but was starting to warm up to Autrech due to his attention to the Intaki people. As usual the pirate scum living in Placid couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make their presence felt. How they learned of the mission is still unknown. Given the breach of information I imagine the talks will be called off completely, and I can’t see Autrech winning the election now.

These deaths are high-profile though, so the attack has drawn some attention to the low security rating of Intaki and the surrounding systems. It surprises me still that Placid has such troubles despite the Intaki being the largest ethnic minority within the Federation. Is it just that our people have become too absorbed into modern Gallente culture to care about what happens at home? But then, I suppose the vast majority of Intaki people born today never actually see our homeland… Maybe the media coverage will make the Federation pay more attention.

I felt compelled to talk to Mom. I rarely call home on voice, as she always refused to speak to me and most of the time she doesn’t come away from the window to the monitor, so it’s difficult to know if she’s even paying attention to what I say. I wish I knew why she treats me like this. I’d like to believe it’s not because she’s lost all regard for me somehow… At least when I write I can assume she reads the letters, perhaps in the evenings before bed, when it is too dark to see outside. But this time was different…

Aranza happened to be there when I called, and after some coaxing managed to convince Mom to come to the display so I could see her properly. She’s thinner than I remember, and still looks haggard like always, but no worse for wear than the last time I saw her. Aranza says her health is all right and does take good care of her as much as Mom allows, so at least I know my meager earnings as a cadet aren’t being wasted.

Mostly I just wanted to talk, to tell her how things are going for me. I suppose in the back of my mind the deaths of the SCC diplomats reminds me too much of what happened to us, and I think she felt the same way.

It wasn’t until I started talking about how I’m due to get my training capsule in a few months and how it’s a small milestone along the road to graduation that she spoke. She actually spoke! I saw her open her mouth as I rambled on about getting closer to being a capsuleer, and quite unexpectedly, she wheezed out, “No.”

I stopped, dead, in the middle of the sentence. I don’t even remember now what else I was going to say. It’s the first word she’s spoken since the attack, to anyone! I hardly recognized her voice it was so raspy from disuse. She started crying after that, and I think she wanted to say more…she looked like she was struggling. Aranza interrupted just then, trying to smooth over the fact she was crying and upset by giving her encouragement about having spoken.

I can’t stop thinking about this. I don’t understand why Mom would say no like that. She almost seemed to be pleading with me. No don’t talk to her? No don’t tell her about my training? No don’t become a capsuleer? Maybe she is afraid I will be killed too. But I’ve told her capsuleers are essentially immortal. I’m so confused.

A small voice in the back of my mind whispers whether it has anything to do with why Dad tried so hard to isolate us from everything that happens beyond the homeworld. I wish I knew more about why it was so important to him. Mom is the only one I can ask but beyond that one word, I doubt she would ever tell.