Burning Bridges

Points of cold wet assailed my senses. It was a feeling not unlike the pod induced sensation of taking auto-cannon fire. I focused on that similarity. Bullets ricocheting off of the armored skin of a ship was familiar. The feeling of rain, however, was profoundly alien. As were funerals.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

I bowed my head with the rest of the gathered, though I found it somewhat difficult to relate my father to ash or dust. His composition was of sterner things. Stone, metal, jagged obsidian.

“I hadn’t expected to see you again.” I recognized the voice. I put my hands into my cloak pockets.

“I hadn’t expected anyone to recognize me,” I replied turning to face my old theology teacher. “It’s good to see you Leto.”

He smiled. “Last I heard you were dead. Then there were rumors. Rumors that you were still alive. That you were flying for the Federation.” He spoke softly as we walked together out of the rain, into the shelter of the temple. “Your father insisted they were lies.”

“Better dead than a traitor,” I finished his thought. “I didn’t come here to be lectured on my choices.”

“Perhaps not,” he frowned. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small contingent of imperial marines begin to make their way toward us. “I am sorry child. We will all be judged for our transgressions.”

I slipped my right hand out of my cloak, drawing the worn golden knife. In my periphery the marines broke into a sprint. “I came to give this back,” I said calmly, dropping the weapon on the marble floor of the temple. “My conscience is clear, my friend. I have no fear of judgement.” My left thumb rubbed the raised button on my neocom. “Regardless, I have to die first.” I pressed the button.

Armored hands gripped my arms, threw me to the ground. My cheek impacted the smooth damp floor. A moment of pain, then the dampness intensified covering my body.

I sat up and rubbed my cheek instinctively but the pain was gone. I retrieved the wrist neocom from the nearby table and jacked in as I climbed out of the clone vat.

“Welcome back to Villore madame,” said the familiar voice. “I hope that your business planet side has gone well. Shall I have your hangar unsealed?”

“Yes Aura,” I replied. “It’s time to get back to work.”

War & Piracy

I docked my pod in Ladistier and had it immediately loaded into the unscratched hull of the Arbitrator I had stationed there. My thoughts lingered on the undock protocols momentarily. I forgot the undock, and moved the comms into attention.

“Did you manage to get out,” I asked over the fleet channel.

“Yeah, I’m fine, bouncing between safes.”

“Okay, I got a new ship, I’m in Lad. Going to power down for a bit till things cool off and then go have a look around.”

I moved the comm to the periphery, brought up the black box recording of the recent fight, and initiated playback.


I am in a Punisher, cutting a curved trajectory toward a caldari state cruiser at 2km per second. My fleet-mate trails behind in an Ishkur. We have joined up with an allied fleet of Federal Defense Union pilots in a Caldari stronghold. Things seem to be going well. I check the progress of the capture drones. 5 minutes on the clock.

A harbinger appears on scan, Aura identifies him as an outlaw. Beyond Divinity corporation. My alert systems come into the foreground. He is disrupting one of the allied pilots.

The Punisher turns on a dime, I set a straight approach vector at the battlecruiser, and leap the distance quickly. My pulse lasers begin to cycle, as does my warp scrambler. His armor is failing.

Alarm systems assault my attention buffer. One, three, four, more… the battlecruisers flood into the complex. System check reveals them all to be Beyond Divinity pilots. I clear my alert buffer and initiate warp… The harby was bait.

The ship jolts as my warp engines are disrupted. A quick systems check reveals I’ve also been webbed. I am flying through molasses, but still making over 700m/s. I think, “there is a chance, I can still get out of range”.

Shields fail, I overheat my microwarp drive, armor fails.


“I shouldn’t have pulled away so hard, my transversal must have dropped hard,” I said to no one in particular. I perused the rest of the kill report, my mind catching on one line.

The line read: Damage taken: 20

I brought the fleet comm back into attention, “So I just lost a trimarked, plated punisher to 20 damage. That was the biggest 20 damage I’ve ever taken,” I couldn’t hold back the laughter.

I calmed myself and set my arbitrator to undock and rendevous with my wing-mate.

We spent the rest of the evening in low sec, without seeing another soul, capturing complexes for the Federation.

Meanwhile, in Villore, a staff of techs looked over the black box recorders in the rest of my ships.

You can’t make an omelette…

I sent another scan ping out to the Old Man Star Gate, which confirmed my previous result. A lone punisher on gate, two Caldari war targets somewhere in system and several of my Gallente allies swarming around. Strategic points had been captured, or would be in a few minutes, there wasn’t much left to do but hunt.

It had been a good day thus far. The militia had captured every site it could in Heydelies, repelling Caldari and Pirate alike. I’d nearly lost a punisher to a rupture earlier in the day, but had managed to escape. No losses, but no kills. I now sat in my trusty vengeance, 100M kilometers off to the side of the gate, watching the lone punisher on scan.

“He’s probably baiting,” I said to myself, “what the hell.” I urged my ship into action and dropped out of warp 20km from the target. Seconds later his propulsion systems were locked down and my guns were biting hard into his thick armor. Meanwhile the superior resistances on my tech II hull were mitigating most of his damage. The fight was over, it was only a matter of time.

“Two targets on grid,” Aura’s voice drew my attention to the local scan as a brutix and a hurricane dropped out of warp on top of me. I checked my own systems. The punisher had me scrambled, there was no escape for me, but his armor was nearly gone.

“Aura overheat everything that does damage,” I shouted as I manually manipulated the power hungry armor repair unit but I found my capacitor reserves dropping much faster than I had expected. Neuts. This was going to go poorly.

I sighed and sat back in my command chair, let the guns run, maybe it’d be enough.

It wasn’t, and in moments I found myself in my pod, looking down at the explosion that was once my ship. I sat in space, hesitating, and one by one the Caldari pilots locked and fired upon my pod. I needed this, I thought to myself, let it go.

A moment of chill ran down my spine.

I gasped for air and sat up in the clone vat, as if awaking from a nightmare.

“Where am I?,” I asked. No one was in the room. I strapped a new neocom onto my wrist.

“Aura, where are we?”

“Mies, Madame. Pend Insurance wishes to inform you that they regret the loss of your ship, and have transferred the agreed upon…”

“Thank you Aura, is the Arbitrator assembled and ready?” I was already in elevator from the medical sector heading to the flight deck.

“Yes Madame.”

“Good, have it prepped for flight. I want to be in space in 5 minutes, and authorize another clone.”

I stood in the elevator in my white clone robe and fuzzy slippers as it silently moved through the station. I brought my left hand up and steadied it. I was shivering with adrenaline, sent coursing through my veins by my confused new body.

The fear was gone. I felt warm.

The First Jump…

“Your office is packed up Madame,” came the voice of the corporate hangar manager over my portable neocom, “good luck out there.”

And then the corporate feed went black. I was officially a freelance capsuleer now, for a few hours anyway, before I put in my application for the Federal Defense Union.

I considered logging into the Endland public channel, just to see if it was working, but then realized that I was stalling and disconnected the wrist-jack from my neocom, placed it in the crate containing my clothing and jewelry next to me, and then lay back in the glass tube that I was sitting in, feeling the clear viscous fluid cover my hair and the back of my head.

This had to be done, better get it over with.

“Okay, Aura… let’s get this over with,” the tube began to seal, I could feel the level of the cool fluid rising. Now touching the back of my neck, now the sides of my cheeks. “I’ll see you in a few minutes or so,” I said as the fluid reached my lips, began to flow into my nostrils.

The sudden fear of drowning.

I sat up in the glass tube, covered in clone fluid and coughed reflexively, but my lungs had been cleared of fluid milliseconds ago. I reached over for my neocom, but the crate was gone. The room was different. The bay window looking out of the station displayed a different sky.

“I fucking hate clone jumps,” I said to no one in particular as I climbed out of the vat, looking for a towel but finding only a white robe and some slippers.

I took the robe and began to towel the fluid off of my skin only to find that I was already dry. The door to the medical facility opened and a man in a lab coat entered as I continued to towel the non-existent clone fluid from my body.

“Been a long time since you were cloned huh? We’ve got nanites in the fluid, won’t let the fluid leave the tube. Saves on the cost of lost fluid and towels,” he said.

I looked up at him and nodded, “Hmm… that’s a good innovation. I won’t miss waking up covered in goo.”

He placed a small crate down on a table near the door and smiled, “here’s your new neocom. We took the liberty to just implant your current body with the requested implants while it was dormant. Welcome to Halle,” and he left without an odd glance.

I suppose when you work with clones all day you get used to seeing naked people, and as a capsuleer I was used to not caring.

I put on the slippers and robe, strapped the neocom around my wrist and jacked in. “Welcome back Madame,” came Aura’s familiar voice.

“Aura upload the station map to my memory implant, I need to find my quarters,” I said drawing a few strange looks from passersby in the medical wing.

“I’m sorry Madame,” came the reply, audible only to me, “Your current memory implant has insufficient buffer to upload the full schematics.”

I sighed, “Okay, just get me to some clothes and then to my pod, and check to make sure my expensive body is stored properly.”

An hour later I opened the door to the federation navy recruitment center, drawing wayward glances from the assembled Gallente enlisters in the waiting room.

I took my number, sat down, and collected my thoughts.

The Hang Over

I am currently sitting at my desk horribly hung over. I celebrated my 30th birthday on Friday and when setting out for the night it felt exactly like being 29. Today, however, I do feel as if I am a year closer to death. Thanks to everyone who came out and made my bar tab so small.

When I woke up I was still wearing a dress. I was, in fact, still wearing my boots. I surveyed the small but adequate corporate quarters that I had been assigned and the first thought that went through my mind was that the station had been attacked. Datasheets were scattered about the floor, mingled with a nearly empty bottle of spiced wine and, nearby, part of the contents of that bottle. I sat up, realized my mistake as the room began to spin and then put my head back down on the pillow. Good, I thought, I was just drunk. The station was fine… probably.

I rolled over, a datasheet crumpling under my body. Retrieving it, I opened my eyes for a moment, passing them over the digital ink quickly. It was recruitment adverisment for the Federal Defense Union. I remembered then. Arco had come to visit. I rolled over onto my other side, as the left side wasn’t helping settle my stomach, then rolled onto my back again. Finally I just said, “Piss it!,” to no one in particular, sat up, retrieved my wrist neocom from the floor and jacked in.

“Good morning madame,” Aura’s voice boomed into my mind, “it appears you are full of toxins. I will initiate a nanite cleansing procedure…”

“No, no,” I mumbled, “I paid a lot for those toxins, just let them run their course. Also, try and keep the volume down.”

“Yes madame, adjusting my auditory cortex inputs.”

I stood up, pulled my dress over my head and took a long hot shower, washing the scent of sweat and cigarettes from my body and the sticky residue of congealed Gallente wine from my neocom screen. An hour later I was in my pod, being loaded into my travel executioner.

“Aura chart me a course to Charmerout, we’re going to talk with some of the corporate brass,” I said as my external cameras came online. I surveyed the full personal hangar I had been allocated upon arival in Pimebeka. “Have the deck crews load my combat essentials into a Sigil for when I get back,” I thought for a moment, “and have them fit the Aby for travel, we might be moving back to Gallente space for a while.”

I watched the smooth curves of the Amarr station shrink to a vanishing point as my ship entered warp. My unusual therapist had been correct again. It had taken a trip home to The Empire for me to realize where I was meant to be.

I savored the irony as I made the long return trip to the edge of policed Federation space.