Drift - Part I

Kihtaled 0.9 < Nohshayess < Khanid
Kihtaled VIII - Royal Khanid Navy Assembly Plant
YC 117.3.19

"Ever been off-station, kid?"
"Yes sir. When I was--" Ariun began, nervously.
"Did you warp?" The speaker said, his disdain evident despite the distorted link.
"Have you been through a warp jump?"
"...No. Sir."
"Eh, you'll acclimate before you get to Kuomi.  Have you prepared a will?"
"Yes, sir."
"See you aboard the Kaiju, kid." The encrypted holofeed cut out before Ariun could reply, leaving his bare quarters darkened and silent but for the ever-present hum of the station. 
     He sat at his desk for a moment, quietly wrapping his mind around it, letting it really sink in.  Three days ago, he had graduated from the Royal Naval Academy's Cryptography & Electronic Warfare Program, and now he was the Comms officer onboard a capsuleer-piloted Strategic Cruiser.   He had already done some research before applying; Pyre Falcon Defense and Security had recently expanded its operations into the Bleak Lands in coordination with the Amarrian militias, having absorbed a portion of the abandoned Imperial Outlaws alliance, becoming one of the more ISK-efficient and notorious militias in the war.  There was little info available on the capsuleer, Akai Kvaesir, and what he could find was so heavily redacted he couldn't discern more than that the pilot was Khanid, and had about a dozen kills to his name.
     It didn't matter, this was his first posting, and would be his first real experience on a ship bigger than a shuttle.  So Ariun decided to do what every other newly commissioned officer did; he would get exceedingly drunk and have the time of his life.  Spooks like him didn't have friends as a professional requirement; he'd just spent the better part of a decade learning the finer points of crypto and hacking, which hadn't left much room for relationships in any case.  Opening up the desk's lone drawer, he pulled out a bottle of kvash an Uncle of his had given him years ago, popped off the waxed cork, and took a long draught as he hacked into the Academy's database.
    Pyre wasn't his first choice, but the private militia offered him twice the pay that the Navy had offered, plus hazard compensation; it was too much to turn down, even if it meant flying combat patrols against the immortal, sometimes immoral and usually psychopathic Empyreans in losec.  As the cost-benefit analysis Empyreans use to determine the outcomes of their battles never factors in the literally uncounted lives lost, casualty lists aren't even included in CONCORD's own kill-mails.  Really, the only way to tell a band of psychotic immortals apart from a disciplined and professional militia was to dig into those kill-mails, to watch grainy security feeds of capsuleers fighting as thousands died at their whim, or error.  In a way, it was comforting to see these gods among men err and falter, even if the fires of their failure claimed hundreds or thousands of lives; it was too easy to see Empyreans as infallible, to see them as true gods of war, and ignore the humanity they ascended from.  Ariun, however, still wasn't sure how he felt about capsuleers, yet here he was about to start a three year commission for one.  
     Before he knew it, the bottle was empty, his body felt warm, and he had enough energy to run a lap across the station.  Ariun sat there, torn between his drunken urge to socialize and his reclusive introverted nature.  His body decided for him, lunging itself up from his spartan bed and pointing itself towards the door, as the room spun about him.  Cold blue lights and gunmetal steel, all hard edges and sharp angles, awaited him outside in the wide, empty hallway.  This deep within the station, there was little traffic even when classes were in session; tonight, not a soul could be seen or heard.  He preferred it that way, and had always envied the silence of monasticism, but the stars called to him in a voice more poignant than God's own Word.  As he walked down the silent halls, Ariun tried to imagine his future amongst the cosmos; but try as he might, the pathways of his fate always seemed to lead down into darkness.  Voices drew him out of his grim ruminations and down toward the docks, voices and the hypnotic rhythms of a Khanid throatsong resonating across the barren passageway.  


Shadows & Blood (Part II)

"Can we get verification on those Oracles?"
"No, sir.  The warzone is--"
"I didn't think so.  Are our assets in place?"
"Tac teams are in position ready to move on your command, and the station is clear of witnesses. Sir."
"Lieutenant, get the Admiral on deck.  He'll want to watch this."
"Alrighty ladies and gents, this is your Commander speaking.  We all know what the stakes are today, but I know each and every one of you will do your duty today; for yourself, for the men and women next to you, and for your King above all.  Operation Iscariot is a go, I repeat, Operation Iscariot is a go.  Time to dustoff is twenty minutes and counting.  Let's grab us a podjockey, people!"
"Lieutenant, get me that feed back up, NOW."
"Sir, the neural strain on the subject is nearing critical levels as it is--"
"Do it. Now."



Shadows & Blood (Part I)

---SANCTUM ACCESS LOG#715397731339---


>>LOAD: SUBJECT ZERO//ID:0957313591


Ordion VII - Amarr Navy Testing Facilities
Ordion System
Kor-Azor Region
Finena Constellation
Security Level: 0.5

Akai adjusted the crimson kheffa draped over his shoulders for the thirteenth time since he walked into the corporate headquarters of the Khanid-Caldari Prosperity Cooperative Corporation. He never wore it any more, and the shawl scratched his shaved head. It had been almost a decade since he'd been back to Ordion, and it was here that Akai became a capsuleer; here, he had undergone the battery of tests both physical and mental, tests that had nearly broken him. Instead, they turned him into a spaceborne god, the technological apex of humanity. A Capsuleer.

Fresh from the prestigious Royal Khanid Military Academy, and a graduate of the first class of the Khanid Special Operations Program, Akai Kvaesir was a natural pilot and gifted strategist; but at Ordion VII, he was Subject #0957313591 and nothing more than just another hopeful candidate. After nearly six months of intensive conditioning and training, he was one of three to pass the first phase, out of a thousand; by the end of the program, Akai was the sole graduate, one in a million. His talent not only impressed the Navy, and his father, but also a small research corporation called the Khanid-Caldari Prosperity Cooperative Corporation based on-station in Ordion VII.

Shortly after graduating as a certified capsuleer, Akai was approached by a representative of the CEO of the KCPCC, known only as The Doctor, who talked him into signing a contract for his clone-production rights to be handled by KCPCC in exchange for a rather large yearly stipend. On the surface, the contract seemed harmless; somebody had to produce his clones anyways, so why not get paid for it? The fine print, however, came with a few details that were anything but harmless.

His neural socket suddenly throbbed in pain as Akai leaned back into the cloudcouch, filling his whole body with momentary static. For the space of ten heartbeats, his ears and eyes heard and saw pure white noise, every nerve firing in asynchronous agony, as if his brain had gone through a hard reboot. Every iota of his being was aflame in sensory chaos, his universe was become a maelstrom of pain and neural overload.

It took all of Akai's capsuleer training, and nearly a decade of immortality-backed experience of death, to simply maintain his composure. He almost succeeded.

His first clear thought was of his father; of the bitterly traditional old Admiral that he was, preaching on and on about the Word of the Clanfathers. The second thought was of his need to stop screaming, and breathe. As Akai's cyberneural network rebooted, awareness flooded back in; everything from market data in Jita and sovereignty changes from the warzone in the Bleak Lands to biometric data from his cybernetic implants instantly poured through his mind like the wind.

The receptionist, an expectedly attractive and painfully attendant Caldari in an immaculate uniform, had barely begun to look up, and a quick check of his uplink confirmed that a mere 373 milliseconds had based since (remote) disconnection. 'Another disconnect?' He thought, wondering briefly about the confusing (remote) entry. 'How is that even possible outside of a clone vat?' This wasn't a normal problem for a capsuleer to have, as the cyberneural network was necessarily independent from the neural socket, but it wasn't the first time it'd happened to him in public either. 'Time for another show, can’t let the mortals see you weak…'

"...Sorry, Ma'am, I guess I'd gotten too used to the goo," Akai said, waving his hand through the anti-grav field of the cloudcouch. "These cloud chairs take a bit of getting used to, eh?"
"Mr. Kvaesir, with all due respect, winking at me will not expedite your appointment with The Doctor."
"Agh! How you wound me!" Akai said, as he sprawled back onto the couch melodramatically. The frigid, stoically Caldari look she gave him could've guilted even Tibus Heth into order. He forced himself to smile and laugh, as his nerves finally began to stop burning.
"Tell me darling, do you Caldari all learn that icy death-stare in military school? Or is it just something you're all naturally amazing at? I only ask because there's this one guy I know, he's just the nicest guy you've ever met but--" "Please, with all due respect, shut the fuck up. Mister Kvaesir."
A tiny part of him still felt shame, a tiny diamond of self-identity faceted by tradition and honor that kept him sane amidst all the death in immortality; but it was a very tiny thing, sometimes so tiny as to be invisible, and it was easy to ignore.
"Now, that's just plain rude," Akai said, getting up from the too-comfortable couch. "You shouldn't be interrupting clients, especially wealthy capsuleer clients representing one of the most powerful militia alliances, now should you?"
"You aren’t a client, Mr. Kvaesir.” She said.
“Touche, Madam.” Akai strolled about the spartan waiting room, trying to loosen up his stiff muscles. Like most Caldari-inspired medical offices, it was full of sterile white ceramic and polished steel, all hard angles and riveted edges. Unlike any other Caldari office however, the KCPCC office was decorated with Khanid art and sculptures, full of vibrant colors and sweeping curves; a symbiosis of Caldari architecture and Khanid culture. “This sculpture, it isn’t an authentic Assimian piece, is it?” He asked. “No answer? Or are you just surprised a podjockey knows his Khanid history?”
“Neither. The Doctor will see you now, spaceboy.” She said with a wink and a devilish smirk.

As she led him deeper into the office complex, Akai couldn’t help but notice the way she exaggeratingly swayed her (admittedly attractive) hips, and hated his capsuleer status even more. It was obvious she loathed him, yet nonetheless she was all but swooning over him; as always, it came back to the power and the money. Humanity both loved and feared capsuleers, and for good reason; but it made for a lonesome life outside of the pod.

The Doctor looked no different than he had the last time Akai had seen him, no doubt a product of extensive rejuvenation surgery and expensive organ cloning; while his face was still unlined, his hair had gone stark white and his skin had become almost translucent, clinging so tightly to his face that it looked as if he was nothing but a living skull. He had changed in small ways, noticeable only to capsuleer’s enhanced brain, but his eyes remained as cold and intensive as ever, a robot’s eyes. As Akai walked in, The Doctor locked eyes with him, and in that moment, recognition flooded through Akai; it wasn’t just him that had begun to have issues with his cyberneural network, it was affecting The Doctor too.

“You may leave us,” the Doctor said, flicking his eyes toward the door. The receptionist was out of the room before he had even finished the second word.
“Mr. Kvaesir. Or should I call you Commander, now?”
“It’s been...a long time. I had hoped it would’ve been longer, Doc.”
“--is a flat circle. Yes.”
“I see you have not forgotten much, but then, you wouldn’t be here if you had.”
“Let’s cut the philosophical shit Doc, why did you recall me?” Akai said, grabbing the pristine labcoat of The Doctor with his cybernetic arm, locking the grip in place. “I had to pull out of the warzone in the middle of an Op… Do you know how many ships we lost because ‘you urgently requested my presence’?”
“Commander, I advise you to remove your hand from my--”
“Doc, I advise you to tell me what the FUCK is so urgent you had me sacrifice a whole squadron of Oracles!” Akai screamed, hauling the Doctor up off the ground singlehandedly.
“The Sleepers are waking, Commander.”


To be Continued...


[OOC] I Have Returned...Again!

 Real Life(tm) has been hectic as all hell, but finally had to quit my shitty job, and got a much better, much LESS shitty job. So now, I'll be back on EVE blowing shit up and posting up short stories/FW op-eds/whatever I feel like once again.

 Fly dangerously!

(Also, be on the lookout for a new short story this weekend!  Not that you've been drooling like a meth-head at a Rainbow Family Gathering in suspense...)


Work Work Work..

I'd love to do more writing for this blog, and get some decent EVE time in to boot, but alas, WORK sucks the life from me and leaves me a husk of cellular tissue and liquid waste.  So, in the mean time, don't feel bad if you don't check my blog for updates.  You'll know it when I finally get the time to write more.


Food and War: Part II

     Dam-Torsad was a riot of color and sound; quite unlike any of the expectations he had, but it being the first city he had been to, those expectations were rather paltry compared to the reality, and enormity, of the Imperial capital.

     Still reeling from the orbital descent, he couldn't stop looking up.  As the last rays of the sun struck the golden-skinned towers and spires, the feeling of wonder and awe almost overwhelmed Akai.  The noise and stench of a billion people intermingled with the dusty smells of the desert, so new and so potent, nearly choked his nose and throat.  Used to stale air that had been recycled and reprocessed a few trillion times too many, his mind raced to catalog every new smell and taste, unable to keep pace with what lay in front of him.  His escort, a squad of Inquisition troopers armed and armored in gold and scarlet, had to keep prodding him forward about once a minute, as his body couldn't seem to process the new sights and sounds and smells while walking at the same time.  For his first planetfall, Akai expected little difference in walking through a metropolis compared to docking in high orbit.  Despite his capsuleer status, and his wealth, Akai's naivete was not very surprising to the guards politely shoving him forward.