A Case of Mistaken Infamy

24

Setting course to the 6th wormhole today, I was in my Helios so I didn’t feel much in the way of concern. I needed to find some answers; I was on a quest to find pilots who had left New Eden for elsewhere. I’m really glad they improved scanning probes to auto-return or I would have been lost a bundle, including a slightly painful self-destruction, being bereft of probes in w-space. I bought some RSS probes so my chances of success would be maximized.

I could do those things that arc in an epicurean way for the Brutors every 3 months to get the RSS probes, but I bought eight from the cheapest supplier. I had to sell my lounge; couch; TV; strange consoles and mirrors; gone. Lost in space, I felt. My name is Dr. Zacharia Smythe, and I am an anthropologist of New Eden’s human inhabitants. More precisely, my focus was on the clone population of New Eden; the ones—like myself who had become pseudo-immortal, until we died and had our consciousness zapped into a new container. Not perfect, but I enjoyed it over mortality.

My Helios had some scrapes and dents; it was at 64% structure but I had managed to tether to and repair the armor before my quest. Hedway was great, and the owner was especially nice. She actually knitted me a scarf! Gotta love those free repairs. Anyone who has flown a Helios knows the shield is basically a soap bubble, so I felt, er…safe, having my armor repaired. Cov-ops are paper spaceships really, but I’m on a budget.

They cut off my funding at the University of Caille. They…gave me a 60-day suspension with no appeal process of note. Me, a man of some repute in anthropological circles within my home constellation! Honey catches more flies than vinegar, so I’m going to bite my lip on this issue, and prepare an appeal that will make them reinstate my funding. That’s the plan, although as a pessimist I always expect the worst. At least when something good happens, it’s actually akin to an endorphin rush. Look at the positives or at least try, right?

I entered the wormhole not thinking much, just another K162. The moment I uncloaked, two ships appeared on my overview; I was scrammed and webbed and a warp disruption bubble came into existence. One ship was a Phobos, it just held me there in its bubble. Another was an Arazu, which had established the initial warp disruption at a 57 km orbit. I did a quick calculation and figured the Arazu must have close to 1000 scan resolution. I could have escaped…maybe. No use worrying about that now. The comms crackled, a stern and agitated sounding man spoke. “Why are you here? You realize I really feel like killing something now. Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you and be relatively quick.” So, this was going to be a game to torture me before I was killed.

“DO IT!, DO IT!, DO IT!” I thought. A transmission came from the Arazu. It was a youngish sounding women who was a tad over-excited. Basically a two person group toying with me before dispatching me to a generic clone facility where I could get a Velator, and start anew, albeit much worse off.

“I tried to protect people, you know. The purge came and I had to leave the home I knew; I had no choice. Why protect the people who misunderstood my intention! They were manipulated by those who now have them pay tribute to their survival?” His words got a little more heated as he went on, but he stopped talking and just took to an orbit of 7 km around my doomed Helios. “There will be a reckoning, this I know. Karma perhaps? The protector shall return as the conqueror.” “Enough with the prophetic crap, just slag him, boss. T2 wreck we can salvage. Scanned him, his fit is quite funny but worthless. Not even a Sisters launcher. An intact armor plate would be nice though. Don’t play with the food.” The woman was playing roulette with my life more than the man, it seemed. I wasn’t sure which would mash their trigger and put me out of my relative misery. Every emotion like that is slightly muted as a clone.

“Carry a message for me and you can continue existence in that clone.” Hope bloomed. “I loved New Eden but it was torn from me by people who specialized in streamlining a business model that made them 100’s of billions of isk. You have to remove threats as you might know.” Hope moderated. “You are no threat to me so you don’t have to be removed from my presence. That’s all there is to it.” Hope increased. What an anti-gravity roller coaster! “I will gladly do whatever you ask, kind sir. My name is Dr Zacharia Smythe with the University of Caille. I am an anthropologist of some repute; perhaps you’ve seen my work?” A study of human evolution and behavior gave you a basic understanding of psychology, sometimes. Maybe I could wow him with my intellectual prowess.

There was a loud yawn over the cockpit speaker. “You’re just gonna listen or I will make sure you die slowly.” This man was angry, but not at me. I would be gone at this point in 99% of scenarios, only an ambush where I could escape would help. Heavy interdictors are tough and that Arazu had a long point. I wouldn’t stay around to find out what happened. “I will return, I will bring order, and I will do it by myself.” He paused, and chuckled a bit. “NO, I will not fight the good fight and aggress all aggressors and protect! I’ll lay waste to anything in the way of MY progress. New Eden will thrive again. You need to fight evil with an evil, that evil itself fears. I will no longer be a shepherd to fools.” His voice sounded powerful, and I felt with his speech he had been wronged while was doing right. Was that a juxtaposition or a crime? What a crazy universe. He was not sane either apparently, but he did reason, so he wasn’t completely gone.

“So we’re letting the turd go, boss? Why? I’m getting kinda sick of this Robin Hood crap; we’re gonna frack up New Eden and take it back. That’s what you said. Don’t lie to me. Your feelings don’t matter anymore, you have none. He can tell them when he wakes up!” She had gotten quieter as her speech went on and wasn’t hyperactive anymore. Not a good sign, predators generally sneak up on their prey.

“I’ll let you vivisect the next one, Nay. I can use this one for a purpose. Leave now, Dr. Smythe, you’re in danger. But you will be my prophet. You will not answer to any university, your time is limited. Check your wallet as you leave.” Oh my gosh, he deposited ten figures into my wallet. I’d never seen this much ISK.

The Phobos just sat there. He did, however, keep his bubble raised on his warp disruption generator. I set course for the wormhole; it wasn’t the longest 7km of my life. When I felt the passage through the wormhole, I let out my breath of pod goo. I think I’d nearly suffocated. Inhaling the sweet oxygen rich slime was almost pleasant when attuned to body and not ship.

I got back to K-space and bought an apartment in one of the more prominent areas of Jita. It was rather luxurious, but I could easily afford it now. I went over to the Neocom to check my mails. There was one; it was relayed and the other end was encrypted beyond my ability to locate. Its content was much more of an issue.

I read the mail and felt a shiver. I couldn’t just take the ISK and run from this; I had signed on just by meeting this fellow. He wanted me to infiltrate a corporation, and he gave me some instructions on how to do so. I prided myself on manipulating others. I sent a message to their CEO, and awaited a response regarding my experience and willingness to join his team. It gave me time to ponder my experience. I met two obviously experienced space jockeys, with one wanting me to be a harbinger. It sounded like an interesting prospect, being a prophet of sorts. Was he a madman?