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Tag: training

Visual Omens – The Third

Another photograph. The envelope for this one was taped to the door of the suite Bataav and I share on Astral V-5.

It’s a close-up, zoomed in again from the last photo. But this one is clear as crystal. It shows, in perfect, alarming detail…

There’s a date on the image, the kind automatically stamped on when the shot was taken. January 15, YC114. The day my mother died.

The evening, rather. The photo shows it was evening by the color of the waning daylight cast upon the deck. By the purple-blue hue of the sky, just visible in one corner. By the stray firefly, perhaps the first to come out for the night, hovering over the hanging flower basket in the background.

It was evening…because my mother was sitting on the deck at the back of my home on January 15, just like in this photo, to watch the fireflies come out. She had a blanket over her legs even though it was still summer and hot outside…she often had chills.

But I never imagined her face would look…like…that. An essay of terror.

Bataav took the photo away from me. His people found a thumb print on it, placed over my mother’s soundlessly screaming face. This is the sender’s calling card, his message to me.

Of course I know now who the sender must be but I was still sick when Bataav confirmed it. After months of searching databases, to have a record suddenly turn up for Darac Rin (and then quietly vanish some hours after the query was made) was deliberate; he’s playing games with me, telling us that soon he’ll be coming for me like he did for Mom…

Bataav has been very quiet and still, even more so than the way he was when Darac assaulted me at the holoreel convention. I slept for a while to calm my nerves and when I woke I thought he had gone, but he’d been sitting in the corner of our bedroom the entire time, watching over me. I didn’t notice him at all until he finally spoke and startled me nearly into my next incarnation.

All he said to me was, “It’s time to take the fight to him. I will train you.”


Finding One’s Way

Thanks to Mammal Tafren for his written contributions.
The original posts are here.

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere – River Ganga

The punt rocked gently as it travelled upriver, propelled against the mild current by strong thrusts of the fisherman’s pole against the shallow river bottom. All was quiet, save for the lapping of water against the hull and the distant cries of birds wheeling overhead.

A cloth canopy positioned ahead of the till provided shade and Sakaane lounged beneath it on the pillows the fisherman had set up for her. The boat was flat-bottomed and low-slung, its sides mere inches from the surface of the river. She pushed up her sleeve and laid the exposed forearm across the smooth rail so her fingers trailed through the water. It was pleasantly cool.

“Don’t scare the fish!”

She smiled, turning her gaze to the young fair-haired boy perched near the prow with his line trailing into the water. The fisherman’s son was no more than eight and he grinned back at her.

“You don’t think they’d come to nibble on my fingers?” she asked. “You could just scoop them up then.”

The boy laughed. “Maybe!” Then he pointed to the middle of the river where the water was dark and the current much stronger. “They’re all out there, in the deep part. But I still think I can catch some here.”


Hisec Wars

It’s been an interesting few weeks. Comic Mischief has declared several wars and we roam nearly every day. The activity level in preparation for a new war is pretty intense: mails with intel, lists of targets, their known ships and locations… These guys get excited.

They’re also… Well. Gabe wasn’t kidding when he told me Comic Mischief doesn’t put up with other capsuleers who talk smack or otherwise (in their opinion) disrespect their own.

Case in point: on September 21 we went out on a roam and caught some lone pilot off a gate in Gratesier. He wasn’t a war target but he aggressed our bait and we killed him. I got the final blow. After that I didn’t think much of it. Sure, Jestere had kill rights on me but CM stages out of Odotte, ten jumps away. Given he’d been a random target to start with it didn’t seem that likely we’d run into him again.

Three days ago, Gabe wanted some cap charges moved from Odotte to Cat. I had a Sigil handy to take them, so into the cargo hold they went. I undocked, and the next thing I knew my (unarmed, defenseless) ship had disintegrated into a ball of fire, leaving me sitting at the undock in nothing but my capsule with Jestere’s Hurricane staring me in the face.

Comic Mischief didn’t like that. I hesitate to say they were white-knighting for the only female in the entire alliance (despite their callsigns and channel avatars, none of them are actually women—why they bother to fake it when they make no other effort to hide their true gender I’ll never understand), but either way, within an hour they declared war on Silent Overwatch and off we went.

An exceptionally strong response for having one of their own (legally) hunted… Gabe sat nose to nose with Jestere for a good half hour after I was shot down, but it amounted to little more than a staring contest. Since then the targets have stayed docked up, which, in the long run, is probably for the best. Yet I still feel a little warm ‘n’ fuzzy anyway.

Nimloth Valinor continues to request comms more or less on a daily basis, and I continue to allow her to speak with me only to see what information I might glean about her intentions toward ILF. Besides, it gives me an excuse to keep in touch with them, which I’ve enjoyed. I send whatever intel I get to Mammal and Bataav. Actually, I spend a great deal of time talking with Bataav…

I’ve been told I’m missed. I’m not sure what I did in the short month I was home to make such an impression, but it both makes me glad (bigger warm ‘n’ fuzzy than having war declared on my behalf) and yet is hard to hear. Of course, as my luck would have it, right after letting Gabe talk me into joining Tantalus, ILF “woke up” and its activity levels returned to where they should be! So, because I was impatient I’m missing out on a bunch of stuff with them! Ah, consequences and life lessons. Still, I am learning a lot here and this will help me when I return. I’m not sure yet when that will be, but it will be soon.


Exercise ‘Brotherhood’

I’ve been in Metropolis now for about a week and will be here for the duration of Exercise ‘Brotherhood’. After this I expect I’ll be reassigned again.

So far the experience has been worthwhile. I’m learning a lot and it’s interesting to see all the different ships—Minmatar and Gallente alike—while having time to discuss tactics and form bonds with pilots outside the navy. A Brutor pilot, Darius Shakor, has been following my squad around the last few days, observing some of the “dry run” combat simulations we’ve been doing.

Darius is not entirely what I expected. Of course I met numerous Minmatar while at the academy, but they are all expats from the Republic and have integrated with Gallente society to varying degrees. Darius, by contrast, seems very much ‘original’ in the sense of having never been tainted by the Federation. Quiet and thoughtful but not shy, and definitely confident in his abilities and opinions. He sits out there cloaked up in a Rapier, watching each of us closely and listening to the comms exchanges we have with the Minmatar pilots we’re paired up with. When he first joined us he said little other than asking pointed, intelligent questions, after which he’d fall silent again to consider our answers, but after a while started to engage us more in general talk in the still moments between skirmishes. He certainly likes to debate!

I get the sense he’s…looking for something though and won’t stick around for the rest of the operation. He says the Republic Navy contracted him to observe us but doesn’t quite seem the type to be doing navy work. I can’t put my finger on why, which makes me wonder what he might really be doing here. There is more to him than he lets on and I can’t help but be curious.

A palpable nervous tension permeates the ranks on both sides. The Caldari and Amarr disapprove of this event and people here wonder if we’re going to find ourselves surprised by one or both navies even though we’re in Republic space. I don’t imagine they would actually dare to attack us given the political climate and general anxiety of the public. I can see how the timing is unfortunate considering what happened in Malkalen, but surely they didn’t expect the exercise to be cancelled? A joint effort between two navies is a complex affair requiring weeks, if not months, of planning and preparation to simply be cast aside. Despite the now unfortunate timing, the fact is that life goes on for the rest of us.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the exercise.


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.


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.


Attack on Reschard V

The attack on Reschard V is all over the news. Training today was suspended; we were quietly informed the Feds might actually send cadets down to support the officers if naval action is called for. The Caldari Navy have been mobilizing their ships along the Placid/Citadel border. Reporters say this is a rumor but we know better. So far though, mostly we’ve just sat around in the campus common areas watching the news for updates.

I don’t know anyone on Reschard V but even so I’m angry. No one has claimed responsibility thus far. Could the Serpentis have done this? Apparently CONCORD scanners picked up a capital-class ship in low orbit around the planet moments before the attack. Supposing the Serpentis had acquired such a vessel, why bring it against Reschard V? What was the point of this attack? I can fathom none except pure, senseless violence. The Intaki living there were mainly farmers; the colony had no military presence and certainly little, if any, tactical value. Whoever is responsible has just leapt over the line from acts of piracy to acts of terrorism…and if the attackers are never identified, they will get away with it too. All the more reason to rout out the scum in Placid!

The feeds say the level of destruction on the surface will result in nearly ninety percent loss of all life. Sisters of EVE are down there already but the aftermath of the explosion has created a planetary storm which is preventing anyone from doing much. No Federation officials have shown up yet, and as the hours drag by it seems the reporters are harping on this fact more and more and losing sight of this terrible incident. Sometimes I just don’t understand the Federation’s priorities.