Fiction: Something Was Wrong, by System_Baud

I awoke from my scheduled R.E.M. sleep cycle to a sweet melodic voice saying, “Captain, priority incoming message marked urgent Should I read it to you?”

Half asleep, resisting, I muttered “Yes”.

ALLISON continued, “… permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I have the believe you are a reputable and responsible and trustworthy person I can do business with from the little information so far I gathered about you during my search for a partner and by matter of trust I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business…”

Groggy from sleep I did not muster the clarity of mind to stop ALLISON so she continued, “I am Stella Amah 19 years of age the only daughter of late Mr. Boni Amah whom was killed by the rebels that attacked our System of Amamake and took over our Station of Amamake II – Brutor Tribe Bureau. I escaped to Amamake VI – Moon 6 – Brutor Tribe Bureau from where I am contacting you. Before the death of my father he told me that he has a sum of 9,000,000,000 (Nine Billion ISK New Eden) kept in a private security company here in Amamake VI – Moon 6 – Brutor Tribe Bureau in my name as the next of kin…”

“ALLISON,” I said choking the words out. “ALLISON, Stop… discontinue audio. Save Transcript to /Files/later/possible scams… command sudo alpha 6 tango 723 oscar mike.”

“Complied.” was ALLISON’s terse reply.

“ALLISON, trace source and confirm identities and valify contents of communique.”

“Comply… compiling source data sub wave carrier.” her soft voice whispered in my head. “Estimated time to completion 6 min, 28 seconds.”

Well… enough time to feed my fedo and grab a cuppa hot Quafe.

Most capsuleers consumed Quafe cold, but because of an incident with an afterburner blowout when I had recently jumped a gate in j-space, I had mysteriously gained an appreciation for hot Quafe…I must admit it is an acquired taste.

After my snarling fedo nearly bit my fingers off, I returned to my pod command lounge. I don’t know why I keep that fedo around… something about good luck and what not… capsuleers are a superstitious bunch, but oddly I don’t think luck happens. We make our own luck.

I think I bought “Stuart” the fedo because the store keep was attractive, having very nice curves and a soft sweet voice that reminded me of a lover of mine from long ago before I became immortal.

“Captain, I have finished tracing Communique 4835.560.M. The source appears to be genuine. Awaiting further command.”

Even so, something did not sit well with me about this communique. “ALLISON, continue audio replay from where you left off earlier.”

“Dear System, in the capacity of the next of kin and with all the documents in my hand now, I am contacting you with due sense of humanity that you will give it a sympathetic and mutual consideration.

“I am honourably seeking your assistance in the following ways.

“(1) To serve as the guardian of this fund and to come assist me visit the security company here to retrieve the consignment.

“(2) To make arrangement for me to come over to your Star System to further my education and to secure a residential permit for me in your space.

“(3) To provide good investment plans for the fund and to manage the fund for 5 years, during the reinvestment period, only our profit will be shared annually 70% for me the investor while 30% will be for you the fund manager annually.

“Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15 % of the total sum as compensation for your effort/input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated account, before the investments starts, and I have mapped 5% for any expenses that might be incurred during the course of this transaction.

“Furthermore, you can indicate your option towards assisting me as I believe that this transaction would be concluded within a stipulated period of time you signify your interest to assist me.

“Anticipating hearing from you immediately.

“Thanks and Blessed be Bob. Best Regards. Stella Amah.”

“ALLISON, Stand by.” I chimed.

I sat numbly mulling over the proposal… on one hand I could write off the bad grammar to a low level cheap translate program… Minmatar to Basic was not always grammatically compatible. The communique was not originating in Jita or other likely places for scams but it was from Amamake which is known to have a strong pirate presence.

I had an idea… it might take a long time… but capsuleers have an abundance of time.

“ALLISON, run copy trace of communique 4835.560.M and compare it to the historical ancient database. Authorization command sudo alpha 6 tango 723 oscar mike. Please confirm time to completion.”

I don’t know why I keep being polite to ALLISON, I think it is because I think of her as…. well, a ‘her’… and a human even though she is only a few billion lines of code.

“Captain, I have estimated the time to completion at 3 days 27 hours 94 minutes. Do you want me to initiate?”

“Yes ALLISON, comply.”

Something from the back of my mind reminded me of that old limerick ‘Message No. 419’ It goes something like this:


“It was just like a scene in an intrigue film
and I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t for real.

“This isn’t intended for me, I don’t think.
It’s a missive from the edge of despair, I mean brink
of total desperation. The communication therein
says her hopes for survival are slim,
and she’s writing to the Front, though we’ve yet to meet,
with a confidential matter ‘cause she’s heard I’m discreet.
And the urgency of her request for my aid
is matched by the depth of the trust she displayed.

“She’s the LADY MARYAM ABACHA, deposed.
These days, can’t even get her caps-lock key unfroze.
But yo, something about a widow in distress
(with 20 million dollars hidden in a metal chest)
softened up the Frontalot’s heart, no doubt,
so I hit the reply button, tell her I can help her out.”


Well, in about four days I would be sure.

“Good night ALLISON, dim lights 97%, white noise generator to 9% volume – I am resuming my R.E.M. cycle.”

“Good night Captain, and remember Mynxee’s mood today is sceptical but optimistic.”

~ Log Entry by System_Baud Eve Date 21:48 25-09-2017

Fiction: Research Developments, by Tephra Solette

A teal glow from the lights filled the board room accompanied by the gentle hum of the stations air handling system. Tephra adjusted her glasses and smoothed out her gray dress. Her eyes darting between the three figures sitting at the table in front of her.

“So, let me see if I’ve got this right, Miss Solette” said the man in the middle seat at the table with thinning gray hair and well-trimmed beard.

“Actually,” Tephra interrupted. “It’s Captain Solette now, sir.

The man paused for moment, and a small smile crept across his face. “Indeed, congratulations are in order then. I’m glad the procedure went well.”

“Thank you, sir,”

“Anyway, back to the matter at hand” He swiped through several pages of a document on his pad. “You are suggesting that the ancient race known as the Sleepers are-“

“Not extinct” said Tephra, realizing she had just interrupted the provost twice in less than 20 seconds.

“My hypothesis is” she continued, “that the Sleepers were capsuleers.”

“There have never been any capsules or pilots recovered from Sleeper drones.”

“They were capsuleers. I posit that the Sleepers simply went one step further. I believe that their society reached a point in its development that having a physical, biological body was seen as superfluous, or a liability of some kind. Ergo, the drones encountered in W-space are not drones, but people. Or more specifically, people’s minds, completely computerized infomorphs.”

The woman sitting to the right of the provost spoke up. “And what would the impetus be for such a societal shift?”

“Well, Professor, perhaps there was a spiritual element or it, or more practically, it was seen as a way to inoculate themselves from the Jovian disease.”

“Interesting,” the woman replied. “Do you have any evidence for what you have just proposed?”

Tephra shrunk back a bit and broke eye contact with her interviewers. She knew that question would be asked eventually. She took a deep breath and refocused on the three figures in front of her.

“Well, not exactly, however I have reviewed every single Federation Navy report from encounters with the Sleepers in W-space and their behavior is nothing like any drone I’ve ever heard of. Not even rogue drones behave that way.”

“That may be, Capt…” the provost began to say…

“Furthermore,” Tephra interjected, acutely aware she had now interrupted the provost of the most prestigious university in the federation three times within two minutes, “making contact with an ‘extinct’ people group would afford great prestige to the university and be the discovery of a lifetime.” She knew that last bit wasn’t evidence, but an argument. In her experience though, sometimes arguments could be more convincing than evidence, however fallacious they were.

The room fell silent for a few moments before the younger man sitting to the left of Provost Marcon spoke up.

“The resources and funding you have requested for this venture are, extensive.” He looked up at her from his pad. “The Federation Navy has in most cases used less than half of what you have requested in dealing with the Sleeper drones.”

“The navy’s goal is to reduce them to slag; my goal is to communicate and perhaps bring one back. You’ll note that I have few actual fighting vessels in the requisition.”

“No, but an entire contingent of logistics and command support cruisers, and enough EWAR frigates to disable a space station. Honestly, Captain Solette, what you have requested would require nearly 75% of this semester’s research grants. Tensions with the Caldari are at an all-time high and with the Drifter threat ever looming on the horizon, the military would not be able spare the resources, even mercenaries are in short supply these days and those not currently employed are charging three times their normal rates. I’m afraid It would not be fiscally responsible to …”

Administrator Roan kept speaking, but Tephra was no longer listening. She closed her eyes and lowered her head in defeat. The two magic words had been spoken. Fiscally responsible. The incantation that had ended countless research projects before they had even started and the bane of academics the galaxy over, had been used on her. As Roan finished, Tephra quickly gathered her belongings.

“Professor, Provost, Administrator, thank you for your time.” Tephra moved briskly towards the exit of the conference room, her high heels clacking rhythmically against the carbon-ceramic floor. The provost’s voice stopped her just before the door.

“Captain Solette, you were and continue to be a brilliant feather in the cap of this institution. I’m sorry this project didn’t pan out, good luck, and may the stars light you path.”

“Thank you, sir,” she replied weakly and entered the long empty corridor.

Tephra had spent the better part of the afternoon drinking in the university lounge, trying to forget about the morning’s meeting. She had switched from wine to harder liquor after the first glass. Ever since the procedure she had noticed it was much more difficult to get drunk. The capsuleer implants caused her body to metabolize alcohol much more efficiently than before. She scrolled lazily through news stories on her pad when a message notification flashed on the corner of the screen. She tapped on it. It was from Professor Valuri.

FROM: Claudia Valuri, PhD
TO: Tephra Solette
SUBJECT: This morning’s proposal

It was so good to see you again this morning, dear. I lament that that the university cannot fund your research, I was, however, reminded me of an organization that may be able to assist you. They operate mostly in W-space and are quite familiar with the hazards and opportunities that exist there. A few of them are even former students.


stars light your path,

Tephra tapped the underlined link and took another sip of her drink as the confidence she had this morning slowly returned to her.

Fiction: The Scholar, by Bako Cherry

The scholar seemed out of place in the utilitarian confines of the station laboratory space. His bright purple and blue checkerboard waistcoat and artificial tweed jacket complete with elbow patches was in stark contrast to the white jump suits of the corporation science technicians. Physically he was also different to the technicians, they were tall and thin from having been brought up in low gravity found on all space stations, he was shorter and well built in comparison. He could easily pass for a university professor from an ancient time if it was not for the glowing enhanced monocle permanently in place over his left eye.

The scholar was once the sector expert in Sleeper encryption methods and was credited with creating an interface to allow the data to be visualised if not decrypted. His prime was however, behind him, several minor incidents or as he preferred ‘misunderstandings’, meant he had lost his job at the Praetor tech school. Before being convinced to come to this station, he was to be found running a small appraisal firm in one of the minor markets located near Jita. He was extracted in the middle of night with fake identification, as a group of mercenaries were hot on his tail. They had been hired after he had advised an important Caldari merchant to buy an ‘authentic’ piece of the first human colony in Caldari space. It turned out it was just a bit of space junk but the scholar had been paid more by the seller than the buyer so felt obliged to say it was genuine. He argues that if the buyer had even looked at it before buying he would have seen that it was clearly a fake, it was made from an alloy that was invented by Caldari technicians.

After he was extracted by the corporation special assignments team he was transported first to Amarr space in a quick flying shuttle, then on to paleo station in the mysterious Thera system. The stay in Thera was longer than planned until a useful wormhole connection could be found that linked to our station. Whilst at Thera the scholar would spend most of his time deep in conversation with the scientists based there. The special assignment team pilots used this opportunity to practice their skills trying to play tag with the Eve Scouts bouncing from wormholes to wormhole. It was a short trip once a wormhole path was found from Thera to this system where the corporations’ main operations and research base was located.

In the three weeks since his arrival on the station, he locked himself away in this small inspection room off the side of the main lab space. Anyone who had approached in the first week was quickly chased away even those delivering his meals. In the second week he had hardly been seen in the lab instead spending most of his time wandering back and forward in the 10m x 5m observation deck. There had been one minor incident where he was caught trying to reprogram the viewing window so he could see the pulsar without the filters and radiation shielding. Now in the third week he had again shut himself off in the inspection space until today when he ordered the station senior staff to visit for a grand unveiling.

On the metal table was the artifact he was brought here to study. A salvage crew clearing up after the corporations’ main fleet of battleships found it amongst the wreckage. A with many of the artifacts found on wrecks it had a fair bit of damage but most were superficial scuffs and scorch marks to the case. Inside the case was the prize an intact and still powered sleeper neural network. Normally they are retrieved without power and badly damaged. A powered Sleeper neural network was rumoured to be significantly more powerful than existing quantum computers if the encryption could be broken. So far, very few intact specimens have been found and most fail as soon as an attempt is made to break the encryption. This failsafe had defeat all previous attempts and what made this particular artifact special was that it had not immediately shutdown when connected. It was only slightly longer than a human forearm and about the same width but was almost as tall as my waist. Currently it sat on its’ side on the metal table connected to additional power supplies, scopes, analysers and many shiny silver wires and optical fibres pulsing with blue light which reflected off the gathered corporation officers.

The station commander was a thin tall man dressed in his corporation dress uniform jumpsuit complete with epaulettes and blue beret. He was stood opposite the scholar absentmindedly checking his communication device. The strain of maintaining a station deep in wormhole space was clear on his face and he gave the impression he would rather be doing something else. Next to him was the reason the station commander was still in the room, the corporation CEO herself had come down to hear what the scholar had to say. She was wearing an elegantly embroidered short-sleeved shirt with leather trousers and a leather jacket over her arm. She was smiling despite the fact that unlike normal she was not the centre of attention. On her left was the corporation chief science officer, a short woman with thin-rimmed glasses. Whilst she did not have the young CEOs’ elegance or style, she did have a prestigious intellect. She was known for her ability to take a manufacturing chain and squeeze every efficiency out of it with innovative ideas.

The scholar was wrapping up a long-winded anecdote about his time as a research student and how he prevailed despite the efforts of other jealous students. He paced along the side of table as he spoke and seemed to be staring through the wall and off back in time, remembering his youth. A cough from the station commander brought him back to the present and he launched into his explanation of the artifact, and all the difficulties he had overcome to get it connected. He launched a viscous attack on the station science personnel who had nearly risked all his work with their incompetence and shoddy equipment. He paced quicker now; in full flow explain the importance of the find and his ground breaking method for decrypting the information held within it. He had singlehandedly solved all the problems of the failsafe although it appeared that it had simply not been activated because the power had never been removed from the device.

After a few minutes of this self-congratulation, the CEO leaned forward over the artifact and asked, “So what information does it hold?”

“Ah, well, it’s amazing we can decipher anything really, the quality of the data encryption, the number of corrupt memory units. But it’s a magnificent breakthrough and lays the ground work for all future work in this area.” responded the scholar who had stopped pacing and was looking a little nervous now.

“What is the information?” asked the CEO now leaning over the table so far she was nearly eye-to-eye with the scholar.

The scholar brought up a series of numbers on the large screen at the end of the room.

“This is the raw data; it appears to be in a rare form of data representation, base 72 but shifted by 7 and inversed. This alone is a huge discovery; I already have some ideas on how this could have been chosen related to the Sleeper home system. It could help us find where they come from, that information alone is priceless.”

“Yes, yes, to academics, but what useful information do these number represent, is it a weapon, some other technology, what does it mean?” demanded the CEO.

“Urm well that’s the disappointing part, it appears to be a translation of an Amarr recipe book and also a book about burial procedures on different planets in the Amarr empire. I have been unable to crack the AI code itself that is partitioned behind another stronger failsafe. Even so it is a great step forward,” pleaded the scholar who had now noticed just how easy it would be for the CEO to throw him out an airlock and the barely contained rage on her face made it clear he might be lucky to get to the airlock in one piece.

“Nobody has ever before got this amount of information from such a device, I came here and I have delivered what no-one else could, it could have been a weapon, it could have been technology but clearly this was a scout looking for information on the Amarr, its logical they would not put secrets on a scout”.

The CEO noticeably softened at this; it was a logical statement and was exactly how she would do it herself. The Chief Science Officer looked pleased; she could see it was a big step forward and one that would lead to important discoveries. However, the CEO wanted more than just pure scientific discovery, it was not going to make them any isk. “Is there any way to break the next failsafe?”

“Well, I do have an idea but it’s very risky and should not be tried here in a wormhole without rescue available,” replied the scholar noticing the smile on the CEO face as he explained his idea. “The details are of course very complex but it basically amounts to a very old technique, we simply overload the failsafe with lots of computing power. It blocks the ability of the failsafe to send the message; with the computing power of several quantum computers it should be possible.”

“Do we have the equipment on this station?”

“It’s possible there might just be enough power but only if we connected it to the main computer and diverted all resources to it. I wouldn’t advise it, it could cause a lot of damage”

“Ladies and gentleman I believe my job is done, now as per the agreed contract please arrange for me to be returned to k-space with a new identity and of course my fee.”

“It may take some time to find a safe route, please write up your work so we can use it in the future if we find another of these devices. In addition, may I remind you that under the terms of our agreement you cannot take any notes, data, images etc. off this station? We will search and scan you. Also, remember that you cannot discuss the work or take any credit for the work if we should publish it. The penalty for non-compliance is not only all your fee but you will never feel safe again.” Threatened the CEO as she walked out the door with the station commander following behind her.

It took two more week before a safe route was identified, during which time the scholar was to be found on the observation deck dictating his report to a portable computing pad he had borrowed. In this time he was more relaxed, sometimes even forgoing the colourful waistcoats, but never seen without the glowing monocle. The final report was nearly 1000 pages although much of it was figures and pages of complex equations. It detailed the encryption method, the mathematics, descriptions of the tests performed and details of the artifact. The corporation’s science team went through it with a fine tooth comb, querying where they could but most admitted it was far beyond their knowledge and it would take some time for them to understand it all.

When the scholar was due to leave, he dressed in his best artificial tweed jacket, a bright floral patterned shirt and red and green checked waistcoat. Before leaving, the corporation security officer searched and scanned both his single case of luggage and his person. Once satisfied that the scans could detect no data recording devices, any had written notes or images he boarded the waiting covert operations vessel to take him back to high sec.

The journey was relatively uneventful as the corporation secured the route as they were delivering their loot to the markets. Only once did they need to cloak up and avoid a few locals trying to pick off the odd straggler or lone vessel. Once back in high sec and a long way from his former home he was dropped off with a new identity and a warning that they would be watching him.

A few weeks later once his minders had been recalled he paid for passage on a jump freighter for three jumps, then another for six jumps. The result was to end up only one constellation over but at a private and well-known black market hub. Once there he removed the monocle and retrieved the tiny data device hidden inside the shielded compartment that was once his eye socket. He smiled for tomorrow the bidding would start on the design for a newly discovered power device based on sleeper technology.

Fiction: CONCORD SCC vs EvE-Scout Enclave, by Saladiin

Consolidated Cooperation and Relations Command (CONCORD) Secure Commerce Commission


Eve-Scout Enclave

143-86910 September 5, YC 119

Background: This case was brought before us when journal entries were recovered from the wreckage of a Falcon class Force Recon vessel in Hasama. The contents of the journal raised concerns that Eve-Scout Enclave (Henceforth referred to as SC0UT) was harboring known terrorists and extremist elements dedicated to disrupting otherwise lawful archeological and data- recovery efforts. The plaintiff asserts that the journal entry made by the capsuleer known as Saladiin prove that SC0UT is openly harboring terrorists committed to a campaign of terror and targeted assassinations of other capsuleers and baseliners within empire space. SC0UT representatives have referred plaintiffs to their Credo and the alliance’s strict policy of adherence to their policy of non-aggression. Additionally, they point to the fact that Saladiin has not engaged in any aggression since joining SC0UT and that they cannot be held liable for member’s conduct prior to joining the alliance. Furthermore, SC0UT claims that the personal entries of capsuleers, no matter how deplorable or sociopathic as they may be, can be used as grounds to punish crimes not yet committed. Saladiin’s personal journals, as well as ship’s logs are presented to us today to provide the facts of the case. Personally Identifiable Information has been redacted from the records for security purposes. No other edits have been made and documents may include grammatical errors made by the creator.


***Personal log: [date redacted] ***
***System: [system redacted]***
***Ship: Falcon, ship ID “Mil Lagrimas”***

***Journal entry: “Staying on the wagon”***

I drift off into space.

Well, that’s a silly observation. I’m in a ship, what else would I be doing.

But no, it’s my mind that is drifting off. The result of a combination of mind-numbing boredom and barely-shackled bloodlust.

My sensors have been focused on this system’s relic site for hours. 4 sites in system, then 3, eventually 2 sites.

Now there is only 1.

And I sat by and did nothing as explorers came and went.

And it feels wrong. Just….wrong.

I recall my decorations and awards from my previous corporation, WiNGSPAN Delivery Service. I saw the medal clearly in my mind now:

Data and Relic site Enforcement Director. Hah! Best scam ever. I told the officials at DED that I was trying to prevent looters and grave robbers from desecrating these “ancient and hallowed” grounds, and the dummies in Yulai bought my scam (after I deposited a couple of million ISK into their account as well). I ran rampant throughout low sec, null sec, j-space, and I turned every Heron, Helios, and even the occasional Astero I came across into scrap. And I had the added pleasure of sending them an invoice for my “services” which irked most customers to no end.

I owned relic site and data sites. They were my domain. I prowled them from Outer ring to Metropolis, from Amarr to the Promised Land, I was the last thing hapless explorers would see before meeting the cold void at the hand of my missiles.

And now I just float idly by as they come and go as they please. And there is nothing I can do about.

Oh, and there goes the last site. That Imicus was quicker than most. Time to go next door.

***Stargate activation logged. Ship entering system [system redacted]***

Well, to be fair, no one is MAKING me NOT shoot these guys. It is a conscious choice on my part. I guess it’s a first step towards turning a new stone. Starting a new day. Becoming a new man. Turning a corner.

None of those phrases makes me feel better.

Ah, I see there are still three relic sites and a data site in here. I feel like torturing myself. Let’s jump to the IGK relic site.

***Warp drive activated, destination, Cosmic Signature IGK-143***

The cloak on my Falcon will give me front row seats to whoever decides to rummage through this site. What better way to confirm my newfound love of my fellow man than to not blow him up when presented the opportunity.

Why am I exploring in a Falcon? It’s certainly covert enough to avoid detection, but her Electronics suite doesn’t exactly scream “hugs ” the way the Cartel would like. But hey, as long as I don’t turn them on non-aggressors, I’m good.

Still, I could’ve taken out my astero or even a manticore fit with analyzers. So why did I take the Falcon?

Maybe I’m reconsidering my career change? Maybe I need to fulfill one last delivery? Ooh, likes like we have incoming.

***”Astero class ship, ship ID: NOPE IV”***

An Astero. A tough ship. The Sisters build ’em right.

Maybe…just maybe. If I decloak near him, he’ll panic, lock me and take a reactionary shot or two. If I’m lucky, he’ll deploy drones and they’ll agress me.

Then I could have fun.

I’m already working on what I’d tell the big boss. Mynxee is a stickler for the Cartel’s non-aggression Credo. She’s big on rules. But, what is it they always say about rules?

They’re meant to be broken.

I start pushing my Falcon out past 150 KM from the closest can. That’ll give me a nice warp-in on this Astero.

I’m imagining how this conversation would go. I’m already well underway to building my story: “Saladiin, care to explain why you have an Astero on your killboard?”

“Well you see, I was hacking this site when the Astero came in. I offered to split the site so he can have 3 cans and I have 3. Guess he doesn’t like sharing so he took a pot shot.”

“So you shot him back?”

“Yup, self-defense.”

“You ‘self-defended’ until his ship popped?”

“I can’t help that he was stubborn.”

“And did it not occur to you to use your oh-so-amazing ECM?”

“RNG was against me, boss. Missed all my jams. Go figure, huh.”

“What about warping away? He didn’t have a single scram or disruptor fit.”

“Eh, you know the stress of combat, boss. You get so focused on surviving, you just sort of…black out.”

Yup. I had my story set.

***145 km away from target***

Just 5 more KM to go.

But, what am I doing? I’m supposed to be turning a new leaf. Starting a new day. I’m supposed to be a trusted servant of New Eden’s denizens…all of them. Even these annoying, bumbling explorers.

I admit, sowing caches gives me a nice feeling. And no longer having the pressure of meeting delivery quotas was nice as well. I’m able to just drift off and explore, site-see, and meet new people.

All with the ever-present caveat:

Don’t blow the people up…

I’m starting to think I can’t wrap my head around that last bit.

***157 km from target***

Looks like I’m ready.

Yet, I find myself hesitating.

Sure, you’ve killed countless capsuleers before. But this is different. I’m SUPPOSED to be a good guy now. This guy is blithely hacking away, naively thinking that, because his database shows me as being a cartel member, he’s safe (hint: he’s not). The Eve-Scout and Signal Cartel tag means something to people, much like the Wingspan tag did. Whereas WNGSP elicited outrage or at best, barely contained anger, eve-scouts bring warmth and security to the hearts and minds of capsuleers everywhere.

I don’t want to be responsible for tarnishing that. It’s one thing to blow someone up…it’s quite another to tarnish someone else’s reputation while I’m at it.

I guess I’d feel guilty.

But wait a minute. Why should I feel guilty. What if I’m in the right here? Let’s check his previous run-ins with the law.

***Pulling up DED/CONCORD combat records via third-party database “zkillboard”***

Ahhh, looks like this Astero pilot isn’t as innocent an explorer as he looks. Seems like he’s killed two explorers just today alone. An Imicus and a Cheetah.

None of them were Signaleers… but… what IF they were Signaleers?

What if he had murdered brand new Eve-scout pilots in cold blood? And what if I just let him go? What kind of person would that make me? I’d be just as complicit in the crime as the perpetrator. A sin of omission is still a sin.

If I stop him in his tracks here and now, I could potentially save the lives of fellow corpmates and other innocent explorers.

Ya! I could still be the good guy in this scenario!

But, once again, I’m come head-on to the Credo issue. Would this be a compliant action? Maybe she’d bend a little and agree with me.

“No Saladiin, not compliant at all…not even a little bit.”

Ya….that’s probably how it would go.

***179 km from target***

Two cans left. What to do?

Come on Saladiin…you’re trying to be a changed man…a better man. Don’t do this.

“Let’s do this”

***Warp drive activated***

***157 km to target***

***39 km to target***

***Arrived at target***

I drop my cloak and target the Astero. Hopefully he decides to get trigger happy and loose his drones on me.

He doesn’t.

But hey, he may have a cyno. Let’s ere on the side of caution.

I lock him. Multispectral ECM active. He’s jammed! Fire!!!


Harmless fireworks…

Betrayed, not by my conscious, but by my ship’s fit.

When I first joined, in my new found eagerness to play nice with others, I refitted all my weapons systems to fire only fireworks. A decision I now regret.

And here we are now.

***capsuleer-to-capsuleer local chat log***

Pilot [redacted]: “Whoa man, you really had me scared there lol. I saw you were a Wingspan guy before and figured I was screwed. Good thing fireworks can’t hurt me haha.”

Pilot Saladiin: “Ya, haha. Totally, brother.”

Pilot [redacted]: “Heh, yup. So, you gonna stop scramming me and let me go, hehe?”


Pilot [redacted]: “Um, hello? You still listening, Saladiin?”

Pilot Saladiin: “Oh, right. Of course. Deactivated scrams”

Pilot [redacted]: “Thanks man. I appreciate you not being a jerk. It would’ve especially sucked, seeing as I’m holding about 1 billion in loot right now, haha”

Pilot Saladiin: “……hehe…of course. Yup. Definitely would’ve sucked! Aren’t you just the LUCKIEST capsuleer in the cluster. HAHA!”

Pilot [redacted]: “Well nice meeting you Saladiin. Fly safe!”

I briefly contemplate climbing out of my capsule, drifting over to his ship in the cold vacuum of space and clawing my way in, slowly choking the life out of him. One last act of revenge before succumbing to death myself.

I decide not to.

Well. That makes 22 days clean now. Another one gets away. Take it a day at a time, Saladiin.

Fiction: Reliquary In Three Parts, by Tom Servonaut

“The Ancients being haughty and full of grim purpose had set in their hearts a rule herein that they, as masters of all they saw, were the pinnacle of creation. Having written this upon the coding of their minds they could wander no further under the harsh gaze of any superior. They abandoned the Divine. But for all their achievements, fate found them a poor fit for the mantle that it left behind. Despair set in at the Closure of the Worlds. And yet the Divine did not leave them, entirely.”

Azir of Amarr, Book of Tendancies. The Lost Scriptures

“Hurry up Stringbean, move your stern! They’re coming!”

The pilot, floating in a suspended bioliquid within a pod was talking to either himself or his ship. To differentiate was to split hairs. Tom Servonaut’s Helios frigate “Stringbean” was automated enough to require no other crew. Exploration crews were hard to find, anyway. The missions were all too often suicidal, and few mortals were quite so desperate to go exploring with a capsuleer. Anyone who would sign on to a cov-ops frigate was not someone a Tom would prefer not to ever hire.

Still, a bit of company would be nice. The pilot bifurcated part of his consciousness to keep working on the scan probe protocols “hop to it, Alt.” he said offhandedly to himself while he scanned around looking for rats or other no-good low down dirty people who wanted to interrupt his serious work ethic.

Low-sec. Why did it have to be Low-Sec where his search led him. “I just finished paying for this ship.” The cloaking field was holding, but if the locals knew he was here and what he was doing, well, the cloaking field would not be enough to save him a rather brief but expensive death.

97% scanned. It was there. His scan radius was 25 astronomical units. If he could only find the right final combination of probes to find whatever was out there, what he hoped was out there, all the risk would be worth it.


The craft was spidery thing. Slim metallic trusses of salvaged Terran alloys stretched out for hectometers, trussed by a rigging of stranded fullerine fibers. If it were all compacted together, the gossamer thing would be very compact for the crew of less than one hundred it carried.

JXR714B, for that was its only name, was alive by some definitions. The organism fed on equations from imputed quantum changes at the sub-molecular level of the crew’s linked brain matter, and thence stretched its fullerine muscles to gravimetric harvesters. It rode the universe like an ancient kayak at sea surfing frigid waves, waiting for the right combination of stars and planets in sequence, focusing its gravimetric pull until warping space itself, reverberating the crew’s thoughts back as feedback that could be consumed as pure joy.

To fly with one’s crew, no greater happiness could exist for those brief moments of fantastic acceleration. And when the movement ceased and the ship was deposited into another system to wait again for better tides, the crew could only look at one another and silently acknowledge that they needed More. Their needs were simple, but all devouring.


The boy pulled a black shroud over the man he’d called father. His eyelids were weighed down with obsidian pebbles, and his beard had been oiled and braided with fine beads, as befitted a chief of the Amarr people. There were few of the True People here today. The elders stood watching nervously, as a shaman stood forth at the body’s left side, gently shooing the him out of the way. The ancient chanting began as another shaman strode to the right, each one chanting lines from languages dead for so long no one could have even remembered their name, let alone their meaning.

Aum bhūr bhuvah svah”
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen” Tat Savitur vareniyaam”
Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem”
Bhargo devssya dhimahi”
Creatorem caeli et terrae”
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat”
Court Adjourned!”

The lines were repeated back and forth with shaking of human bone rattles and sprinklings of incense upon the body by the elders and his youngest concubine, until both shamen finished with the final line together. All present repeated the statement, whatever it meant. Then Azir buried his father, Ushta, chieftain of the True People of Athra, son of another chief, and so on in a line going back unto the breaking of the sky and the message of Dano Gheinok.

The True People were no longer many. It was said that once, when Dano Gheinok strode the world, that no man or woman could count them all or recite all lineages. Living among them were many who had seen the light of the first star. Stories were told of these folk, These were large people, tall, strong, crafty and fecund; often as vigorous in acts of lust and evil as they were in doing good deeds. This confused Azir. He liked the stories of the starfolk, though. Much of Amarr life was now based on the Idle, the never-ending path and search.

The True People had to live by their wits and the remaining gifts of the past. They were surrounded by False People, those who had abandoned the teachings. They no longer searched for relics. They no longer tended the remaining machines. None of them knew the sacred codes. Instead they farmed with their own hands, or the aid of animals. They fished and hunted. When the harvest was good they praised their imaginary spirits. When it was bad they blamed the same spirits and often invented new ones. When they were VERY upset they blamed the True People, and hunted them down across the barren wastes where the True must walk. The Amarr in turn defended themselves when they could, fled when they must, but always hid their sacred knowledge and treasured items. They did not falter. The Amarr would possess Athra one day; that and more. It was foretold. God made easy what was difficult.

The caravan of land skiffs moved on greased wheels and outriggers over soil only now losing the chemical poisons that had nearly made the world unviable for centuries. The Amarr were not ignorant of change. Their roving scribes counted the weeds and plants each year, took note of differences that had at first seemed only a dim hope. Athra was coming back to life, not just in the enemy farmlands. The caravan used ancient sails, lateen rigged, to capture well known seasonal breezes to propel them from one place to another. Their skiffs tacked across prairies and sped in downwind reaches across sandy deserts. When the spirit moved them, they would dig, and once on awhile they would find something good. Or God would reveal it, personally, some outcropping that at first seemed a rock would be a relic of the blessed ages, and with it maybe useful gifts, or at least good metal.

Azir sat on the prow of the caravan listening to the play of wind in the sails, watching the starlight and nebulae of New Eden. A day before his mother would have told him to go to bed, and he would have obeyed and swung by ropes to the berthing skiff. But Ushta was buried now, his body unmarked along the path of the Idle. The boy was now the chieftain, and he was on the cusp of what counted for manhood among his people. He navigated the stars as his father had taught. Something in the sky moved, and the boy noted the object with a fixed gaze. He calculated in his head.

“You have good peepers, boy. The light shines from a new Wanderer.” an old man at the tiller told him, “We’ve been watching it for awhile, Chief Ushta God Bless Him, before he took ill, and I. It was his work, really. I helped. It is new. Seek, but you will find nothing in the charts regarding it.”

The boy looked at the treasured charts he held in his lap, as they glowed faintly upon his gaze, and saw no sign of this Wanderer’s noted progression. “Will it stay awhile, do you think?”

The old navigator gave a deep belly laugh, the first sign of humor anyone had dared give during this mourning time, “Ah young chief I can tell you better than that! Your father worked it out. More brilliant than a star shone he. He was better at the maths than anyone. It is not just going to stay, he thinks, that is to say he thought, but even now it descends little by little. And I would not disagree with him. A new untouched starfall, Chief Azir: your father’s gift to you. In his last days, he even deciphered where it would land.”

“We go to where it will land then?” Azir asked, but he needed no answer. Young and old eyes both set on the wanderer as it progressed across the sky. Then it was gone. Ninety minutes later it returned and cut a path across the early morning, once more. Azir had been taught the mathematics of the sky. It was arcane knowledge only the True Amarr knew, and though useless now, it was the greatest of their treasures. God had bid them keep it for a reason. God was always right.


“Voila! Stringbean, I love the hell out of you.”

“Did Tom just proclaim love for his Helios?” Oh no. Was he think-talking on open channel?

“Gettin cozy out there!” someone else chimed in.

“You need some downtime, Tom. I know this citadel in Arant where you can..”

“Ha ha. Shut up.” he closed of corpchat.

Relic sites gave a good impression of being standard data hack sites until you got deep into the subsystems. Sometimes they were simple standard affairs, bits of old factional items no more then a few centuries old, somehow still overlooked in high sec systems despite being combed over untold times. Tom knew the drill . He had a dislike for the sleeper sites of course. Not just the life and limb. Dying gets easier with practice. There was something about robbing the dead of actual sleep. Who knew what never-ending reveries he might be interrupting.

“Faction punks make this life bad, Tommy, you see, no? A little badder than it already is, no more, no more.” a bald Minmatar explorer that went by the name of Thunderhair once told him over overpriced drinks at a Jita IV station bar.. “Killing and stealing. That ain’t nothing, my friend. People like you and me, we steal people’s heaven away. We just steal it away from them.”

No sleepers were on the directional scan now. That was a relief. This hacking puzzle was four dimensional. Traps he’d never seen before, pathways that depended on all the ordinal directions plus time plus… something else.

In his bifurcated consciousness he heard proximity alarms. Reds showed up on the scope. “Damn my Gallente luck!” he cursed, “Blood Raiders.”

He reached out in his mind to deploy drones and cursed his thinking, remembering this ship didn’t have any. It was going to be an interesting time. The Helios went evasive even while orbiting the construct at dazzlingly close range with its micro warp drive leaving a hot blue trail of distorted reality in its wake.


The passage had taken its toll. A local village had seen the True Amarr passing though an area not normally part of their passage, and demanded tribute in metal tools. They had no knowledge of metallurgy, themselves. Amarrian knives and other tools demanded a high trade value, what little existed in the wider world. For the True People such trades were distasteful, but often necessary. Today though held no time for such delays with long attempts at bargaining, translating, and the mock threats constituting ritualized trade.

Azir knew his father had been on a mission from Heaven. Heaven was sending a gift: his gift, and that of the True People. He bade them camp outside the village of the farmers as ritual demanded before trade the following day. At night he sent all his fighters out, men of fighting age, and women who were not raising children. They took not the crude knives they offered sometimes for trade but compact complicated devices that sometimes took a lifetime to repair and construct, and which could only be used sparingly, if ever.

Small compact crossbows, atlatls that hurled springy-knives that cut and slashed of their own volition, tubes that breathed fire, all were brandished, and such a collection had not seen its use together in many generations. These they brought, burning the stockade wall to cinders, and then entering the village already in panic and terror. They spared the live of not even one adult or adolescent. The young under a certain age were taken, along with any foodstuffs already prepared. The children would become True Amarr themselves, indiscernable from the tribe, or they would join their parents in the infinite sufferings of Hell.

In the morning the caravan sailed on across the grasslands unto its destination. They left bodies behind, and not all of them villagers. The tribe almost protested. They saw in Azir an untested boy who spent the first week of mourning in a cowardly attack, and then not even bothering to give their own dead the burial rights. As a compromise, he left behind a the two shamen and a grave digging slave for them to oversee, before sails rose on the masts. There were some words made about returning to pick them up, eventually.

Azir thought of the shamen shaking caducei and uttering nonsense over his father’s lifeless body. He hated their pointless murmuring and dancing about. They did not earn their keep. It was to the holders, like the Chief, the Smith, and the Navigator families that the true knowledge still persisted. Whatever the shamen had been taught by the ancients they forgot long ago, or failed to pass on. They were dead flesh rotting in the sun. He’d seen the way that one shaman had looked at him more than once, and he hated the man for it. He hated them both.

“I shall create a new class of priests as my gift to god, ere this gift from Heaven be truly divine.” he said out loud, standing beside the Lead Navigator. The old man at the tiller merely nodded in ascent.

He added to the Navigator, “This way we will not return.” ***

JXR714B was a living thing. Like most living things, it harbored other living things, smaller but essential to the makeup of the whole. These were, inasmuch as they could be said to resemble anything, descendants of the mighty Yan Jung and on some level still human. If the Yan Jung still existed in elsewhere, the shipmates neither knew nor cared. The Eve Gate closed and with it the Universe stopped making sense. World after world winked out like embers being doused by an unleashed river. Smoke particles containing survivors fled out above the current. Most never made it. Well beyond this area of the galaxy, there were signs of civilization, but that way had been shut to most. It was beyond the reach of these former Yan Jung.

The shipmates rarely spoke, rarely had need for names or to name new things, but they dreamed in communion. They also shared a common nightmare. One day the ship would find no tides to sail upon and bliss would not return. She was built from Terran flotsam and jetsam, and of this there was precious little left remaining when parts were damaged. One day soon it would not even be able to move or sustain them. That which was created would suffer dissolution. That which gave joy would lose joy.

The ship was deposited in the Athra system, tantalizingly close to the Eve Gate, not so many star systems away. Once when there were gates and proper starships, it would have been so easily done. But the spidery ship with no name had to travel by other means. And it was at last breaking down. The crew scanned. So few caches remained of the precious components ship needed to survive. But it found them. This was not yet the end. A small defensive satellite still orbited lowly over Athra, a Terran platform.

If not for its decaying orbit, it would have never been detected. Something was wrong. Its stock of Isogen 5 had long been removed, though by whom the Yan Jung neither knew nor cared. For all its technological wonder, it was powered by simple Lorentz drives, kept aloft by quantum vacuum flux. Having being disturbed from its point of stability, it could no longer remain cloaked and in station- keeping, waiting to defend a world that no longer needed defending. What it still held within would be useful if they could reach it before it deorbited.

JXR714B used the very universe as a counterweight to pull itself towards the Terran satellite using every last bit of strength drawn the difference of entropy and existence. As a small shudder of acceleration occurred, leading the ship forward, a thing not heard in ages sounded within crew quarters. The proximity alarm rang, an actual elctro mechanical klaxon. A Talocan ship approached, bearing down on the same target, its momentum faster than the Yan Jung could achieve. There was no time to communicate, or to compromise. The prize was needed. And so the first space battle in centuries began. It would not be the last.


Corpchat was going on and on about Quafe Zero versus Quafe Ultra. Tom found it strangely reassuring, even if he was too occupied to respond himself. The Blood Raiders were almost on him and his weapons could not break through their shields.

“I should have spent more time studying targeting and less time getting my noggin filled with all the Social nonsense” he said to no one in particular. “Social Social. Tom you don’t even have a girlfriend. Oh well.. egg.. would have liked your yolk but I’ll just have to cook an omelette with you instead. That made no sense at all. Au revoir, treasure.”

He wasn’t getting anywhere with the hacking on this relic cache. There was still one more, however, and he was starting to understand how they worked. He waited until the Blood Raiders closed in, nearly tearing into structure. He hit every trap simultaneously and burned directly away from the cache. It exploded, taking out the two chasing destroyers as they passed close by in pursuit of him. He’d never seen a cache erupt that violently. The armor rep started doing its thing.

His chest pounded and if he had not been encased in neoamniotic fluid he would have tried to catch his breath. “That was close. Whew!” he said accidentally switching on corp-chat. “I mean definitely Quafe Ultra. I’m a Quafe Ultra man, all the way!”


Terran Colony AEGIS Defense Grid Satellite 714431

LOCATION: La Grange Point 3 between Athra III and 1st moon. LOCATION ADDENDUM: ORBIT DEGRADING
STATUS: Failing. Request Service. Losing orbital momentum. STEPS TO RECOVER ASSET: Unavailable. Fuel reserve depleted. STEPS TO REMOVE ASSET: Unavailable. Isogen 5 nonpresent. ALL ATTEMPTS TO CONTACT TERRAN HEADQUARTERS

NEW EDEN HAVE FAILED. 10 to the power of 25 broadcast messages sent. Final Report:
No response from other AEGIS grid assets.
No response from EVE Gate Station.

Unknown craft (2) sited on intercept course. Transponders Unknown. Identifing as 1st and 2nd.

1st craft overtaken by 2nd craft, hostilities engaged.
Both craft fight to standstill in orbit over Athra III. On closest approach AEGIS mitigated threat by both craft, damaging 2
nd craft, and disabling 1st craft. 2nd craft engaged warp and no longer found in system.

1st craft is attaching to AEGIS. Yan Jung genetics detected but lifeforms do not respond to repeated security queries.

Crew mitigated. AEGIS 714431 deorbiting with 1st craft attached. Perceive possibility some Yan Jung persist.
Last transmission. Transmitting in the blind to Eve Gate Station.
AI Final note/Unauthorized Addendum: I did my best. I am so alone. Conduit Closing.


There were side glances at the boy. He saw flashes of deceit. He knew there were murmurings. His mother slept with a dagger under her pillow. He slept on the deck of the lead skiff where those he trusted most kept watch. Even with the surplus of youthful confidence, he knew that his own people would reject him, gut him and leave him, returning to the Idle if this business kept up. But the secret of the destination was held only by him and the Lead Navigator. He watched the old man recite his shaman given mantra on his beads. There was not much time left before the disloyal overthrew him and dashed the dream God gave Ushta to the poisoned ground. It was at this time he had nothing left and so he turned to a God that he had never prayed to, prayer being reserved for the shamen he’d left behind. He prostrated himself upon the deck, arms holding the jib rigging and begged God openly for a sign. He begged forgiveness for any sin he and his ancestors had committed. He begged for the True Amarr to either be saved at last or to be removed from the Law of Gheinok. As he prayed fervently and out loud the wind in the sails died. The other skiffs maneuvered to their nightly defense positions where they would soon be chained in a ring, that they called, for reasons no one could remember, the Gate. And all who could watched the boy chief praying, this sacrilege, this earnest pleading with a God who had seemed indifferent at most, to the sufferings of this world. Some felt anger. Others let pity display on their faces.

There was a flash of light. And another. Soon the light overhead was dazzling. No one had to say “look” but many did anyway. They did not know of the battle occuring overhead between the Talocan, the Yan Jung and the Terran satellite, but they knew God’s hand when they saw it. All fell upon their knees and prayed, even the children taken from their murdered parents could not deny the signs they saw.


“Talocan cruiser blueprint? Is it? No. What? What?!” Tom become more incredulous as he looked over the loot of the cache. There were other things. Nothing he understood or recognized, except of course, to realize he was suddenly about to be very, very rich. If he could make it home, anyway. Those social skillpoints might finally come in useful. He idly considered salvaging the Blood Raider wrecks but realized that it was out of his league now. Better to destroy them and leave no trace. Then he realized there was a subcache within that. It was as if the wreck he had been prying data from had been attached to part of another equally old ship.

He focused every last bit of his attention on getting whatever could be obtained from that wreck. ***

The shipmates of JXR714B were family. They thought and worked as a hive. In community there was bliss. This separation was a prolonged agony. His sister worked elsewhere, still alive, frantically trying to control the ship, to break free of this death trap, but it was no use. The rest of the Yan Jung, the family, were dead the moment they had pried the service entrance open to the Terran artifact. At least it had been quick for them. He and his sister would slowly roast alive as the satellite draw itself and JXR714B down to the world below. He thought he wanted to die. But life remained in him. His sister remained strong, trying to free their ship. He would be strong too. He called to her with his mind. He was alright. She could let go. They could still live. Chance remained. Hope beckoned.

They donned environmental suits and entered past the bodies of their kindred into the service entrance of the Terrran satellite. It no longer tried to kill them. Perhaps it recognized them. Perhaps it simply did not want to die alone. JXR714B was not designed to enter atmosphere. Without fail, it would burn. But the Terrans were powerful men and women. Perhaps they built some last saving mechanism. The siblings looked for neural inputs to access the satellite’s AI. It was a one in two chance as to who found it first. It was an unused device, untested with these minds, uncalibrated to their needs. But their needs were urgent. The AI read the Yan Jung male’s mind like a black hole devouring a world, destroying information and matter, converting it to something unknown.

AEGIS had a new purpose. “Save my sister.”


Fire trailed across the sky, scattering debris for miles in the light of morning. The renewed faith of the True led them to follow it, no matter how far it went, no matter what the difficulty. As it would happen, they did not have to travel so far as Ushta had calculated. The craft, a bulky cylindrical thing this size of a chieftain’s counsel tent, blackened on its edges, swung wide in the air, creating a firey arc, while the last of its debree trail created another smoking art counter to it. This was deemed a holy symbol from this time on.

Fire shot from its belly and it came to land very still in the rocky plain before them. Rough vegitation smoked and burned here and there. The boy had already swung down by ropes from the prow of his skiff onto the ground, moving ahead of his warriors. They bowed low as the Terran Satellite groaned with the sound of exotic metal expanding from heat changes.

He never broke his stride. He never bowed. He turned once to his tribe and said, “This is not God. Verily it is his Gift. We shall praise and thank Him, but we shall not worship idols, no matter where hence they come.” Azir saw his people rise uncertainly. He turned to the artifact and said to it. “I am Azir, son of Ushta, Chief of the Amarr, Lord of Athra, Keeper of Relics, Holder of Knowledge.”

The station remained silent. Azir tried to remember anything he could think of use. So much pointless ceremony. It had all been so hard to remember. For once he regretted abandoning the shamen. Perhaps the only thing they were useful for was this one moment. He breathed in and out. The hatch remained closed, and he had no divine worth with which to open it.

The only token of office the chief of the Amarr wore was a small circlet of silvery metal, inscribed with markings that could not be translated. He had not yet deigned to wear it. When his mother removed it from his father at burial, Azir fastened it securely to his belt, instead. Now, in a gambit at gaining acknowledgement from whatever was inside, he unfastened the circlet, and held it before the hatch. He felt something like warmth from the circlet. The hatch began to open. A walkway descended. He walked bravely forward and into the satellite service entrance, placing the circlet upon his head like a crown. It felt right to do so.


Her brother died. But he did not lie with the corpses incinerated with their spidery ship. Instead he lived in the complicated quantum calculations of the AEGIS. Her upgraded mind ran vast calculations with him as together they understood the purpose of the craft, where it had come from. The Terrans were truly gone. This was known. But they now understood that their own kind were also extinct with the passing of the ship. Any other children of the Yan Jung, if they existed, they would never meet. In the blissful long flights of JXR714B, survival had not mattered. They lived, they saw, and they enjoyed.

They did not dwell upon the loss that was so apparent wherever they traveled. But now mere meters away were the signs of that loss. The young leader of his people, so arrogant but driven by goals of survival for his people, a trait they did not understand until now. She and her brother could not dissuade themselves these nomads had made it here on purpose. There was no other reason for them to be in this barren plain. The leader held up a small metal hoop. AEGIS AI scanned it and immediately reported back.

“Identification, Colony Agent Headset Type 5, Rank 5. Inactive.”

The door opened on its own. The Yan Jung’s journey would end here. AEGIS was already faltering. It would eventually fail. But not before they would benefit these distant relatives, these human beings. What was left of brother had hope. His sister would survive. And so would these people. They had a lot to relearn. They’d start with this brash young leader.


This was a tougher hacking than all the previous jobs combined. Strange when all the relic consisted of were some fullerine strands embedded in a piece of monatomic hydrogen plate. His virus was routed at so many corners. Tom furrowed his brow inside the capsule. He was close. He was there. If only other people could see just what an amazing job he’d done. The seals broke. He had the data.

And all he got was a single transponder code. JXR714B. That and some worthless carbon. “Doesn’t matter,” he said to himself, “This trip has me set for life. For life! Tom Serv is buying a Silver Magnate. Hell with that. A Gold Magnate!” And then red appeared all over the scope. And then his ship disintegrated around him. There was no time to think about the losses, but he did just the same. His implants were worth a half a billion in contracts, easily. The value of what he’d transferred to the hold of that ship before it blew was harder to guess. A quick scan as he tried to flee showed at least the Helios was a good clean wreck with no loot left beyond salvage.

He ran for it, but was webbed. Tom knew well what Blood Raiders did to capsuleers. Those captured by them reported about it, eventually. Tom did not like to think about those stories. He took the suicide express, instead. It was over quickly.


And he woke up on a clone bed, surrounded by a few corp members at the station who had happened to be in the station at the time. “Tough break Tom.” said a familiar Minmatar voice. Tom’s thoughts blurred as he adjusted to the transition. The voice asked, “Were you out there stealing someone else’s heaven?”

Tom sat up, adjusting to his surroundings.

Welcome to Zoohen. Don’t Forget to tip your clone attendant!’ was glowing in big friendly letters on the ceiling. It was difficult to comprehend that the shockwave of his pod exploding was still reverberating in the debris field where he had found…

“ JXR714B” he said out loud.

Everyone looked at him, but he did not know how to explain. If he said he’d found possible Terran artifacts or some original blueprint for an unheard of Talocan ship no one would believe him. Stories like that were common enough, never proven. Explorer yarns were worse than miners’ tales. “Blood Raiders. Lost my haul and my implants AND the Helios. Well, that’s that. Guess its back to a Tier I for awhile. I guess, maybe I’ll ice mine for awhile. I still got the barge.”

“Don’t fly anything you cannot afford to lose,” Thunderhair sagely reminded him. “Yeah. Yeah. I’m gonna go get a Quafe Ultra or something.”


Azir watched the city that had begun to sprout where the satellite had landed. He rubbed a grizzled beard from the top of the framed tabernacle built around and shrouding the ancient device. He stood on the parapet.

He had not been within the satellite for years. The Priestess spent her time there. That was what the tribe called her. He had called her teacher, and eventually wife. Now he was old and he did not call her at all. He’d been her adoring student and fell in love with her as he became a man, only to find there was very little human within her, no common ground with someone who had never strode it. At times he felt the jealous machine she called her brother to be more human than she. And when the satellite died and was just cold material, something inside of her died too. They soured of each other’s company. She longed to return to the stars that were denied her.

He trusted her stories of worlds beyond, of levels of joy, of trust and ancient empires less and less over time. She argued against his conquests, she railed against the concept of slavery. All of this would be forgivable, for she was undeniably a gift from God. But she had little of practical value to teach him. It had been the satellite that had much of what he needed to know. But learning from it had been like drinking from a river. He could only imbibe so much, and he did not trust this knowledge to everyone.

It mattered not. Already the Amarr were growing strong. They had learned to irrigate this land, to purify it. Their numbers were returning. Their weapons were superior. The entire world would be theirs. Azir’s hunger was matched by his patience. The past centuries had made his people strong. He watched one of his children, a bearded man marching past the temple with a company of explorers heading for the wastelands. He looked up to salute his father, and Azir returned the gesture. He had his features, but also that of the Priestess. Her people were of the stars. That much he knew. One day their children would return to reclaim them.