Stories by Lucius Vindictus
All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
- 1 Blog: YR 112, December 05
- 2 Blog: YR 112, December 15
- 3 Blog: YR 112, December 18
- 4 Story: YR 112, December 19
- 5 Blog: YR 113, January 02
- 6 Story: YR 113, January 03
- 7 Blog: YR 113, January 16
- 8 Blog: YR 113, January 27
- 9 Blog: YR 113, January 30
- 10 Blog: YR 113, February 05
- 11 Story: YR 113, February 14
- 12 Blog: YR 113, February 27
- 13 News: YR 113, March 13 (1)
- 14 News: YR 113, March 13 (2)
- 15 Blog: YR 113, March 21
- 16 Blog: YR 113, March 27
- 17 Blog: YR 113, July 05
- 18 Blog: YR 113, July 10
- 19 Blog: YR 113, July 18
- 20 News: YR 113, July 30
- 21 Blog: YR 113, August 19
- 22 Blog: YR 113, August 23
- 23 Blog: YR 113, November 20
- 24 News: YR 114, Jan 28
- 25 Blog: YR 114, February 05
- 26 Blog: YR 114, April 23
Blog: YR 112, December 05
Location: Royal Khanid Navy Assembly Plant station, orbiting Danera IV - moon 9.
Medium: Neo-com console in Lucius Vindictus office in EKT headquarters. Date: Dec-04-Yr 112.
Since today the banner of the Khanid Kingdom stands proudly next to that of the Amarr Empire in my new office in Danera.
Now that I am accepted into East Khanid Trading, I can get started with my operations in the Khanid Kingdom. The slaves have unloaded the last of the modules from my freighter, and after morning prayer I will be ready to start exploring the area.
My first priority will be to find planets worthy of colonization. Fortunately the local Holders have so far reacted positively to my arrival, and I do not expect them to oppose any of my planetary development projects. Still, I must improve my standing with the Royal Court further if I want to be successful here in the long run. I will also have to consider the lesser local nobility. And of course I'll have to make alliances with fellow capsuleers as well if I want to survive out here.
The general area is... rougher... than the Empire. Large areas are outside the reach of the Khanid Navy, and I have already noticed some pirate activity. Sooner or later I will have to defend myself against fellow capsuleers when we compete over the local resources. Fortunately I have a well established brotherhood in the form of the Khanid Trade Syndicate on my side who are already well established here.
My family is getting restless while they still remain in the Empire. Once I have found a suitable residence I will arrange for my wife to join me here in the Kingdom. I should ask one of my corporation members if they know of a nice estate that is available for sale. Perhaps on Khanid Prime?
Blog: YR 112, December 15
Location: Noctis-class industrial: "Dies Irea", in the Danera system.
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter. Date: Dec-14-Yr 112.
With the whole cluster cowering in fear in anticipation of the inevitable invasion of the Sansha hordes there is all the more room left for me to do what I do best. Let others worry about the bionic zombies. For me it's business as usual; there is ISK to be made!
Today I tried out the new O.R.E industrial ship. I took it to a field of wrecks that I had prepared following a succesful mission that I had run for the Royal Khanid Navy.
Outer Ring Excavations is without a doubt one of the most capable corporations to be spawned by the Gallente Federation. No one can deny the effectiveness of their highly specialized ships. Even a staunch supporter of Amarrian ships and engineering such as myself must grudgingly acknowledge their usefulness in their specific niches in the space industry.
The Noctis is already establishing itself as the new workhorse of the salvage industry. Every aspect of the ship is geared towards fast and efficient salvage. No longer will I force destroyers or battlecruisers into roles not intended for them. My crews rejoice as the dangerous work of salvaging starship components suddenly becomes much more streamlined at a fraction of the traditional price. It will take some training in the future, but at optimal skill levels I will be able to pull in wrecks from as far as 80km away from my ship.
Salvaging wrecks has become such a routine activity that I almost never stop to wonder at the enormous amount of work my crews and drones are doing on my behalf. After finishing rounding up the survivors from the wreck I decided to take a moment to observe the tiny dark shapes of the salvage drones as they zipped in and out of the broken remains of a once powerful warship. My analyzer modules systematically scanned the burnt-out decks in search of useful materials which they identified for the salvage drones to cut free and then haul away to my cargo hold. The logo of East Khanid Trading is emblazoned on each of the drones. Their sleekness and the dark hue of their metallic hulls betray traces of Khanid engineering.
I watched a couple of drones cut loose a few sections of tarnished but otherwise intact armor plating and smiled to myself. Those should fetch a few hundred thousand ISK per unit at least on the open market.
I won't allow anything to go to waste. After all, every little bit helps...
Blog: YR 112, December 18
Location: Planet I in the Khanid Prime system.
Medium: Portable Neocom. Date: Dec-18-Yr 112.
I've sent envoys to some of the Holders in the Khanid Prime area. I need their cooperation when I start constructing planetary facilities. Fortunately East Khanid Trading has a good reputation in the Kingdom. I have already bought a large number of slaves to work in the mines and other extraction facilities. I will start distributing them in the next few days when the facilities are deployed and my industrial chain is ready to start production.
I have also moved some of my space assets to the Kahah system. To show my good intentions to the Khanid people I will run errands for Khanid Transport and other agencies. For now this will be mostly good honest hauling work, and as my reputation with the Holders in the court of King Khanid rises they will hopefully allow me to do more important things. Who knows, maybe one day I'll get to do freelance work for House Khanid itself?
Story: YR 112, December 19
Location: Rhabeda planet III - Asteroid belt 1
Date: Dec-19-Yr 112.
Dagi Talawa holds his breath as the massive shape of the Orca-class capital industrial ship appears in front of him. He has been a crewmember for the same capsuleer for more than two years now, but the sight of an Orca remains awe-inspiring to him. It is said that the ship-class has been named after a legendary sea animal on ancient Earth.
"Navoker2 awaits the completion of our next mining cycle."
Dagi leans over his console as a cold feminine voice betrays the impatience of the Orca. He knows that the capsuleer in the massive ship before him is anxious to receive more ore. He wonders if the Orca's in Earth's oceans were greedy animals before they went extinct. Their capsuleer-flown namesakes certainly don't ever seem to satisfy their hunger for materials to fuel the eternal war machine. His own master is no exception. He can visualize Lucius Vindictus, submerged the amniotic fluids of his pod that is hidden from him somewhere deep in the tritanium bowels of the ship and hooked up to every vital system. In the two years on this ship he has never seen him in person. But he feels his presence every day in every electronic system of the Hulk-class Exhumer. He knows that his every move is being scrutinized, and he can feel the capsuleer as if he and the ship are as one giant living organism in which he is but one humble bacteria.
"The asteroid has been depleted."
The same feminine voice from before announces the demise of yet another asteroid in the monotone message that has become as a mantra to him over the years. The boulder crumbles ingloriously into a thousand pieces, now worthless after being deprived of their gleaming veins. The capsuleer is already targeting a new scordite rock that Gadi Talawa, mining foreman of the aft-section stripmining module has to excavate. There are two more such modules on top of the ship, and three others underneath. As Dagi manipulates the control console the mining laser groans back to life, making the ship's capacitor roar with the barely contained fury of a caged star. Little blips on his console confirm the order acknowledgments from his subordinates. They need to maintain the right temperature, look after the maintenance of the massive strip miner, and switch crystals between mining cycles.
"20 minutes to asteroid belt mineral exhaustion."
Foreman Talawa grins to himself. The mining op is ahead of schedule. He is no stranger to large scale mining operations. He had worked for the Poksu Mineral Group on a remote asteroid colony in the Caldari State. Yet nothing could have prepared him for the capsuleer space industry. In a matter of several hours entire asteroid belts vanish in front of his eyes. It is a strange life, and at times it feels thankless to work for such immortals. But the pay is second to no other in the industry, and many would kill for a crew position at East Khanid Trading.
An enormous and wicked looking drone with four sharp metal talons lunges past his window. His heart races for a moment. He knows it is just a mining drone that belongs to the capsuleer, but there is something spooky about the things that has prevented him from ever getting fully comfortable with them. They squirm and thrash with a life of their own, and their soulless eye-lenses suggest an imprisoned intelligence that is barely understood by their human creators. He could swear that the thing was looking at him directly through the window as it turned towards him and pinched it's claws at him as if threatening to attack! Then, as soon as it appeared it suddenly relaxed it's pincers and flew away to dance with more of it's kind around an ever crumbling asteroid that suffered under barrages of tiny laser bursts from more of these eerie and industrious automatons.
Dagi sighs of relief when the belt is cleared out and the ship is getting ready to start the voyage back home. To him it has been another day at the job. But a job working for a capsuleer is potentially deadlier than most.
Blog: YR 113, January 02
Location: Elite planetary command center on a Lava-class planet in East Khanid space.
Medium: Planetbased FTL broadcasting array. Date: Jan-02-Yr 113.
So far I hadn't taken the reports very seriously, but now I'm starting to see the problem. People are scared of the Sansha terror raids that are taking place across the cluster. My agents for Khanid Transport frequently ask me to transport large groups of refugees from one station to the next, only to find other refugees on the other end trying to go the opposite way. The commoners don't know where to hide anymore. Even high security space is no refuge from the marauding incursion fleets. People who are frightened are more likely to do foolish things. I don't like it at all...
I have told my family to stay put on Oris for the time being. They should be safe on one of the throne worlds, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable if they were here in Khanid Space where I can protect them. Not yet.
On a brighter note, I have colonized the last of the planets I had my sights on. It has been a while since I set foot on a planet, let alone one that is covered in burning lava. I have just completed my final inspection, and I'm ready to head back into orbit. As I speak the first production cycle for Transcranial Microcontrollers has started. There is always a healthy demand for slave control devices such as TCMC's in the Kingdom. And the workmanship of my own products is far superior to the bulk manufactured but ever cheap and popular slave implants produced by Ishukone. My product will need time to gain recognition among the local Holders. I am confident that the EKT brand, which already has a high awareness among the populace, will serve me well in that regard. That is simply one more benefit of working in a syndicate. I believe a demonstration of my new product is in order so that I may introduce it to my client base. I'll have to put my marketing department to work.
In the Empire I suffered through many a debate, defending the merit of Vitoc and TCMC's against Liberal Holders who undoubtedly cuddle their slaves to sleep at night. The Khanid see slavery from a more practical perspective, and I'll have no such discussions here. And who can fault us? Does the spider get into debates about the moral implications of trapping and eating the fly? There is no use in questioning the natural order, or apologizing for your strengths. The Khanid understand this well, as they constantly strive to improve and innovate to stay ahead of the competition.
Which does God favor in the web... the spider, or the fly?
Story: YR 113, January 03
Location: A capsuleer-owned advanced factory on a lava-class planet.
Date: Jan-02-Yr 113.
As Eymir leaves the hut he immediately feels the warm beams of the Gehi sun. He smiles as he recognises the grassy smells of the nearby jungle and hears some of the native animals in the distance. He turns his head towards the sounds of jovial laughter and sees that his friends are coming back to camp after a successful fishing trip. His mouth waters in anticipation of tonight's feast. He already yearns for the fresh Thalys bass cooked over a campfire, while singing the traditional Sebiestor tribal songs of his home land. Eymir Makmah feels like he is in paradise. His friends carry three large fish and take them towards the large table where Eymir is sitting. His friends all take different positions, as if compelled by some mysterious imperative. His best friends Naraj and Orkar greet him warmly, and Naraj passes Eymir a healthy looking fish. Eymir gets ready to prepare the fish for tonight's meal together with his friends.
Eymir takes the fish from Naraj and puts it on the table. He cuts off it's head with one clean and efficient motion and then passes it to Orkar who proceeds to gut it and pass it to another at the table. He turns around, and takes another fish from Naraj...
Eymir takes the biocell from Naraj and puts it on the workbench. He cuts off it's isolation-strip with one clean and efficient motion and then passes it to Orkar who proceeds to unpack it and pass it to another along the assembly-line. He turns around, and takes another biocell from Naraj...
The heat inside the forge is tremendous. Yet the slaves seem oblivious as they toil in total harmony in a peculiar calm and with smiles on their faces. Two robed men look at the bustling activity in the forge from behind the safety of reinforced silicate glass in a comfortable climate controlled room.
"The slaves production rate has increased to an average of 118%. That is 2% higher than what Ishukone can offer. I had to see it with my own eyes, and I must say I'm impressed."
Lucius Vindictus nods. He holds out a datasheet so that the Khanid Holder next to him can read the information displayed for him.
"Right now they are in a different world where they are happy. And happy slaves are productive slaves. The microcontrollers do nothing for their physical health though. The mortality rate is still high."
The Holder leans over the datasheet and absorbs the data with a speed that only his cranial implants could allow.
"Yes yes... there are always losses in business before there can be profit. It's all about financial balance. The increased psychological health of the slaves will result in less suicides and other livestock related incidents. We can also cut back on security a lot."
The capsuleer nods, and waits for the Holder to finish reading the information to the point that he is ready to sign the contract.
"So I can count on you to forward the samples to your friends in the Royal Mercantile League?"
The Holder nods, and hands the signed document back to the capsuleer with a regal bow.
"Quite. I think I owe you at least that much. I'm sure you will be hearing from us soon. It has been a pleasure, Lord Vindictus."
After a short moment of further social pleasantries the two robed men leave the control room and the door closes behind them with a loud clang. Beyond the glass and inside the forge below Eymir is still smiling, forever joyous in his labor.
Blog: YR 113, January 16
Location: Chamemi System - Khanid Region.
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on the battlecruiser: "Khanid Victor". Date: Jan-15-Yr 113.
At long last I am reunited with my family. They are now secure inside the Trade Syndicate's sphere of influence. I was happy and proud to see several of my colleagues that are fast becoming my friends turn up to join the honor guard that escorted my family to safety.
Sure, I could have sneaked about like a thief in the night, smuggling my family into the Khanid Kingdom like so much contraband in a cloaked frigate. But where would be the honor in that? Where would have been my Amarrian pride and dignity?
Yes, today's display was far more fitting. Five golden Amarrian hulls flew through sovereign Khanid space to demonstrate their dominance in no uncertain terms. Slavekin and lesser beings must make way, and tremble in fear before the capsuleer. Chief of Security Star View led the fleet. I was also accompanied by Arch Killer and Sayyahdina, each flying a Harbringer like myself. Also flying with us was Sire Esan of House Vartesa, providing logistical support.
Now in the event of a Sansha attack I'll at least be in range to protect my family. But in the meantime I must also look to other threats. After the cargo was secure, we went on a short patrol during which we intercepted several petty Blood Raider pirates in their puny frigates and cruisers. It seems that Omir Sarikusa's blight is still endemic throughout the Kingdom, and his cultists can be found in many of the darker places where the strong arm of His Majesty's Royal Navy can't reach. I had heard of their presence in Khanid before, but I hadn't realised the extent of the problem before I moved here to see it with my own eyes.
We'll find them eventually... all of them. And then we'll hunt them down like any heretic filth. It is only a matter of time...
Today was a good exercise in fleet maneuvers. In the beginning I struggled to keep up and lagged behind so that Star View had to keep a close watch. But it didn't take long before we moved with military efficiency.
Now I'm on my way to return to my wife. The slaves must be almost ready unloading the baggage and I can't wait to see what excessively decadent nonsense she decided to bring along this time. After that I'll instruct my staff to locate a nice estate on Khanid Prime where she can settle down. It will be nice to be able to retreat there myself also from time to time. I still haven't found a property that meets my criteria.
All in all it has been a very blessed day. May God bless us with many more like this one.
Blog: YR 113, January 27
Location: Elite planetary command center on the capitol world of the Khanid Kingdom: Khanid Prime V.
Medium: Planetbased FTL broadcasting array. Date: Jan-27-Yr 113.
I've finally managed to find a compromise between profit and practicality. After my family moved to the Kingdom I abandoned my lowsec planetary ventures and relocated to Khanid Prime where I acquire a nice plot of land. My family now resides safely in the command compound there.
The recent law-changes affecting planetary industrialists had made my lowsec production chain unprofitable. I was unable to extract the same number of different resources from the same planets due to the new and now mandatory extraction control units. From now on planets need to be more specialized when it comes to extracting resources if they want to remain efficient. This is fine, because I tired of sneaking around low-sec for only marginally larger production figures anyway.
This time around I decided to keep producing TCMC's, but also to expand into high-end electronics as well. My factories are now churning out industrial-scale mainframes and computing modules that make the amount of effort I invest in these ventures far more profitable.
There is something soothing about watching my underlings scurry resources from one node to the next. So many of the mining and manufacturing processes are automated that I find myself considering getting rid of my slaves in favor of more high-tech approaches. Perhaps I can use their biomass in some of the production processes.
On a completely different note I was happy to learn that my old friends Math'Ra Hiede and Hitome Kei are now officially engaged. I had not spoken to either in a long time. Not since the dark days of the great decline of the Ordo Magna following the retirement of the founder. When the day comes I will be happy to see them joined in holy matrimony under the royal seal.
Blog: YR 113, January 30
Location: Elite planetary command center on the capitol world of the Khanid Kingdom: Khanid Prime V.
Medium: Planetbased FTL broadcasting array. Date: Jan-30-Yr 113.
I've spoken a lot with Caepio recently. He is a fellow Amarrian with a healthy business minded attitude. He is currently in a financial tight spot, and after talking to him about possible business ventures he seemed willing to gear his planetary production towards supplying me those items that are in short supply such as transmitters and the ever-scarce nanites. This will ensure that he has a passive and stable income while I can cope with the growing problem of a bottleneck in my main industrial complex.
Seeing the benefit in economic cooperation with other capsuleers, Caepio has realized the advantage to be had in joining a Trade Conglomerate such as ours. So it happened that yesterday he officially applied to join our alliance, and already had an interview with BoBxGIM. The final decision has to be made by the board of directors. I remain hopeful that he will be allowed into our ranks.
We have suffered a particularly pathetic wardec the past few days. This is the first time in my capsuleer career that I've actually not seen any sign of the enemy what so ever for the entire duration of the "conflict". Now that I think of it, the subroutines in my cranial implants haven't even bothered to store the name of their corporation in my memory banks for future reference.
Oh well... it is perhaps for the better. They say a year in the capsuleer industry is like a dog year.. equivalent to seven years in a regular person's life. Our expansion is unbridled and exponential. That leaves little times for such foolish distractions.
Blog: YR 113, February 05
Location: Col System - Khanid Region.Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on the battlecruiser: "KTS Retribution".
Date: Feb-02-Yr 113.
There is one defeat that will remain forever etched into the collective Amarrian racial memory. And that is the massacre at the hands of the Jovians during the Battle of Vak-Atioth. It was a single battle that became the turning point in our history.
While I grew up I was told the stories. Dark tales of woe to prepare me for a life in a hostile world full of unbelievers. As I listened I often wondered what it would have been like were I present during that single but oh so fateful fleet engagement.
Today I may have found out...
Hubris... that is the only word that describes it. The lessons of the Amarr-Jove war are quickly forgotten when pride and overconfidence cloud our judgment. I have just watched the battle recordings showing Dave's Drake exploding under merciless volleys of Sansha fire. I can still barely believe what happened...
Brother Dave Documus, a veteran of the battle of Algintal, tried to warn me that I should not underestimate this foe. But his words were lost on my ears. I am not used to serious resistance from lesser non-capsuleer captains. Those few ships that I lost to them were due to laziness, stupidity, or both. I general though, I have known them to do nothing but die under the burning fury of my lasers. They were as nothing to me...
Those not blessed with the advantages of a capsule were beneath my notice. I have destroyed so many of them during missions for the Kingdom and the Empire that I have long lost count. Battleships, cruisers, frigates, they are nothing but blips on a targeting display to be destroyed for their bounties and then stripped of their valuables in an industrial scaled harvesting operation.
Up till now the only serious threat against me had always been my fellow capsuleers. But that changed today when I joined an alliance fleet sent out by the board of directors, led by Dave Documus and accompanied by Head of Security Star View. I joined the fleet and traveled to Col where a decent sized KTS flotilla had been assembled. The Sansha had sent what CONCORD classifies as a "Vanguard" of Sansha fleet elements into the Kingdom. Of course it is our duty to protect our homeland. Our forces were already engaging the enemy when I arrived in system. Because there was much confusion I followed the Imperial battle doctrine taught to me at the academy: "when in doubt... advance!" I jumped right into the middle of the battle, convinced that I was ready for anything.
I had loaded conflagration crystals and got ready to fire the first broadside. When it came, I was shocked by the lack of damage. Where I expected the cruiser to simply catch fire and explode I noticed that I had barely scratched it's shields. As soon as I opened fire the Sansha Cruiser and it's compatriots targeted me and unleashed their fury. Dave tried to tell me to withdraw, but I couldn't. It was all over in a matter of seconds. My harbringer was reduced to a tangle of burnt flesh and molten metal.
There were others too. Esan Vartesa took the analytical approach. Director Star View made his best effort to organize the counter attack. But it was all in vain. Today's attack was a failure. We probed the enemies capabilities, but we were only able to put a dent in their offensive. I heard later that the Sansha mothership had been destroyed after very heavy casualties among the capsuleer resisters. The Kingdom is safe, for now.
Tonight I will pray for insight. I try not to dwell on the fates of those crewmen unlucky enough to survive to be captured by the Sansha. I will avenge them when I get the chance.
Story: YR 113, February 14
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on the battleship: "KTS Devastator.
Date: Feb-13-Yr 113.
Today I ran a particularly long chain of assignments for Khanid Innovations. Apparently the Gallente Federation thought it could get away with building a small hidden base right in the Khanid Prime system. These decadent dogs are arrogant indeed if they think they can maintain a presence right under the nose his Majesty's elite forces for more than a few seconds.
Over the course of several battles I fought both the Gallente and Minmatar Navies. The Minmatar fleet turned out to hide several wanted "freedom fighters" among their number. There were also several dozen "freed" slaves, undoubtedly stolen from local slave owners among the wreckage.
I always keep a slaver on every ship that I fly, so that he may oversee the boarding teams when they reel in the doomed "passengers" on board enemy wrecks. The slaver tells me that these are Sebiestor tribesmen and that their tribal tattoo's indicate that they fought as crewmembers for the Tribal Liberation Force in Heimatar. How they ended up all the way out here in the Kingdom is a mystery to us. I do recognise the blue tattoo's from the time I still served the 24th Imperial Crusade, so I have no reason to doubt him.
Though the slaves hadn't gotten their pagan tattoo's burnt from their heathen faces yet, they do have hastily applied brands at the base of their necks. Since it seems they already had a former owner I can't just claim them for myself without consequence.
The brand looks unfamiliar to me. It must be that of a noble family that would no doubt like to see the slaves returned. I will show the brand to my friend Publius Valerius. His family has lived in Khanid for a long time. He must know the local Holders in the area. Perhaps he can tell me who these slaves might have been stolen from.
Date: EST Feb-19-113
The golden rays of the sun in the Khanid sytem shine down on the palace grounds. The garden is enormous in scale and surrounds the palace of House Valerius on Khanid Prime for several miles in all directions. Locally it is well known that the Valerian Tribute garden was a gift from a vassal of House Khanid to the Valerius family for loyal service to the Kingdom. Over the years Lord Publius Valerius has expanded it piecemeal until it became the marvelous place it is today. The garden in all it's decadent splendour stands testament to the unimaginable wealth of a capsuleer. There are layers upon layers of decorative plants and flowers in intricate paterns and colorful compositions.
Besides the highly organised and cultivated sections there are also rugged stretches of forests and waterfalls specially created to simulate the illusion of an unspoiled nature paradise on one of the most densely populated worlds in the Khanid Kingdom. This facade is only allowed to exist due to highly expensive terraforming equipment and would dry out under the fierce Khanid sun in a matter of days without such technology. In the forests and waters of the tribute garden are some of the most exotic animals known to man. Despite the mind-boggling investment required to maintain this place hardly anyone gets to see any of it's wonders because Lord Valerius only rarely grants an audience.
There are workers of various Minmatar bloodlines are working dilligently to maintain the garden by hand. Lucius Vindictus is dressed in his trademark dark robe that would feel uncomfortably hot in the suns merciless rays were it not for his cybernetic cooling enhancements hidden somewhere underneath his cloned flesh.
Publius Valerius, Khanid Holder, and capsuleer grins slyly. His ancient mind scrutinizes Lucius for a moment before he explains:
"They are 9th generation Minmatar that left the Empire after they were freed from righteous bondage by the glorious Empress herself. I took them in, so that they can continue their service as free men."
Lucius frowns and points as one of the Minmatar, a young Sebiestor man, wipes the sweat from his brow and rests against a tree after trimming a nearby brush.
"Their enlightenment is your chief concern, I'm sure... Yet you could have just used drones for this sort of maintenance work..."
The wizened Amarrian chuckles as his young clone body moves with a speed belying his old age. Lucius struggles to keep up.
"You amuse me, Lucius. You are always so interested in mundane things. Try to look at the big picture instead."
Publius pauzes to allow Lucius to catch with him while both capsuleers walk towards a modest looking statue that seems out of place in this wondrous garden.
"They are useful to me. For my work with East Khanid Trading I deal with a great many different people, who often visit my palace in person. The visiting Imperial hardliners are happy that I do my best to keep the freed slaves off the streets, and the Liberals and foreigners are happy to see an absence of whips and armed patrols when they come here to discuss trade. It is hard to get offended in this place."
Lucius nods carefully in the direction of Publius before looking towards the statue they are walking towards. Even at a distance the figure can be seen holding a flag with the unmistakable crest of the Kor-Azor family emblazoned on it. When compared to the much larger statues honoring King Khanid and the holders of his court and even the Valerian family itself it looks distinctly and deliberately less impressive than the others.
"I take it that this statue is a tribute to your former liege-Lords on Kor-Azor Prime?"
Lord Valerius nods at Lucius, then casts his eyes in the direction of the statue with a mischievous expression.
"This is a new addition to my garden. Now that our King is back on the privy council I thought it fitting to bury old grudges and make a gesture of reconciliation."
Imperial politics can be complicated, and even when Amarrians are trying to be political they will often try to take a stab at those they believe have wronged them in the past in subtle or even not-so subtle ways. The two capsuleers stop in front of the statue, both clad in their traditional robes. They are both outcasts among the Amarrian Imperial nobility not only for being cloned, but for Being of the untouchable capsuleer class that is anathema to the strict noble caste hierarchy in the Empire.
Yet the Khanid Kingdom has more open views that allow capsuleer nobles to mesh more easily with the rest of society. This is made easier by a king that is eager to attract such immortals to his cause through his secular policies and lavish rewards for service. While the Empire and Kingdom are on good terms the King knows their fickle nature and tries to reinforce his hold on the region by surrounding himself with powerful allies.
But the King is also deeply paranoid after having been betrayed before. Publius's wife did not come to meet Lucius today. She is not allowed to leave her luxurious captivity in the Khanid Court on punishment of death as an insurance policy should Publius ever turn against the Kingdom. Lucius and Publius are effectively neighbors, both living on the world of Khanid Prime where they have made their home among the Khanid people.
After a long pause Publius turns to Lucius again, holding a datasheet that displays an archaic symbol:
"I have looked at the slave brand you had sent me."
Lucius looks up, eagerly anticipating what comes next. Lord Valerius's exression turns dark as he continues:
"It is the mark of the Dabir family. And I'm not surprised that your records were unable to find any information regarding them as they had been stricken from the Royal archives decades ago."
Lucius narrows his eyes, then looks at the symbol on the datasheet.
"Were they excommunicated? Only a deep disgrace would warrant such a measure..."
Publius nods grimly.
"Yes, they were among those hunted down during the Arzanni inquisition. A Sani Sabik cult had taken hold in the system and managed to sway several wealthy noble families to their despicable cause. When they were finally exposed the following retribution was furious. Those were some very dark days..."
Publius seems to put more pressure on the datapad the longer he looks at the dread symbol until the plastics surrounding the delicate electronic start to groan in his cybernetically augmented hands.
Lucius looks a Publius, a slight grin forming and spreaks in a hushed voice:
"It seems this inquisition wasn't quite thorough enough. This heretic is obviously still among the living."
As he talks Lucius notices the pained expressions on Publius and pushes on:
"He was your friend, wasn't he? I wonder if you told the inquisitors..."
A look of dread fills Publius's eyes and he shoots Lucius a venomous glare as he cuts Lucius off mid-sentence:
"Silence! My loyalty is unquestionable. Don't presume to blackmail me, upstart. I could crush you and your whole family."
Lucius quickly loses the grin and points to the datasheet.
"I sympathize with you and understand your... oversight... at the time of the inquisition. No one wants to be associated with a heretic when vengeful inquisitors are out looking for blood. And it has been a long time ago... But you know the King... He jumps at shadows, seeing conspirators in every place he can't see with his own eyes. Think of your wife..."
Publius closes his eyes for a moment, and speaks in a soft voice masking what he really feels inside.
"It was only due to the unrelenting efforts of the Royal Inquisition that the purge was finally completed after the better part of a decade... you and I could take care of these final loose ends."
Lucius nods carefully and extends his hand to Publius.
"I will help you do this, if you help me secure a marriage with a highborn Khanid lady to complete my transition to a Holder in the Kingdom. I can't stay married to my current wife who is of such low birth if I want to rise above the lesser nobility."
Lord Valerius narrows his eyes, but nods in agreement and then accepts Lucius's hand after a short moment of hesitation.
"I should have known there would be a price. But very well. I am well connected in the Royal Court. Helping you to a more suitable wife in exchange for your discretion is a small price to pay."
Publius then speaks on, his tone turning much harsher now:
"It will be in everyone's best interest that this demon from the past will finally be exorcised. A political scandal could hurt the reputation of the Trade Syndicate among it's business partners in Khanid. We need to locate this fallen Lord, and after that we will muster a force to smite him down."
A mutual understanding reached, the two Lords seperate, and as Lucius starts to walk away From Lord Valerius he shouts after him.
"Send me the slaves you captured. I will interrogate them and use my contacts in the Royal Khanid Navy to track other surviving members of their crew. Once we've located their hiding place I'll contact you again."
Lucius simply nods. The last thing he sees as he leaves the palace garden is Publius finally crushing the datapad under the brutal strain of his hands to rid himself of the sight of the crest of the Dabir family. Lucius then leaves the Lord who seems lost in history in his vast garden, alone.
Date: EST March-01-Yr. YC 113
READER ADVISORY: VIOLENCE, BLOOD AND GORE
Lord Arkah Dabir walks softly despite the sounds of battle that draw ever closer to his location in the bleeder pit which is one of the last contested parts of his suffering ship. Blood still drips from various Amarrian and Minmatar corpses of both sexes that hang from rough metal hooks and ropes all around him in various stages of ritual mutilation. His chosen acolytes surround him, all in the same crimson robes as their Lord.
One of the acolytes trembles slightly after an explosion in the distance is followed by the screams of the dying. He knows that his comrades are not faring well under the enemy assault. The Blood Raider's space forces had been easily swatted aside by the capsuleer invaders as if they were children. Their wrecks still smolder outside the stricken Blood Raider cruiser while the boarding parties of the infidels are spilling into the ship.
When the acolyte notices Arkah look in his general direction he seems immediately emboldened as a potent mixture of fear and admiration overrides his instinct for self-preservation. Lord Arkah Dabir has become adept at survival after being exiled for several decades but he is tired of being on the run. The Khanid Kingdom presumes him dead, and by now he is better known as a Blood Apostle of the Covenant.
The attackers were quickly identified as men-at-arms of House Valerius. When he heard the scout relay the first sighting he immediately realized what was happening and that today is his last day among the living. He is not disturbed by this because he has always known that the pages in the diary of a follower of the Sani Sabik are limited in number, and that it's passages are written in blood and tears.
Such is his devotion to the Faith that he has resolved to die in here, the most spiritual place in the ship. This is the place where captives are introduced to the principles of his religion. Pain cleanses the soul, and those that hang from the chains are indeed very clean to all who see as Arkah sees. Though the followers of the apostate King Khanid would never open their eyes to his truth, instead staying willfully blind. He doesn't hate them. He pities them...
A grenade explodes among the forward cultists, and one of them is blown to bloody pulp which adds to the already gruesome surroundings. The survivors cry for help, but are mowed down seconds later by disciplined troops who's livery gives them away as being of the private army of House Valerius.
The last three cultists draw their blades and run towards the troopers in a screaming wave of self destructive defiance. Wearing nothing more dangerous than their cloth robes and ritual blades, they are ingloriously executed with short but focused bursts of laser fire that leave them to die in the terrible death rattle of oxygen burning inside human lungs. They did not suffer for long, and their lifeless and burnt bodies slump to the ground. After the short and brutal firefight is concluded Blood Apostle Dabir looks glances at the corpses, and then towards the entrance of the chamber where the troopers are forming a quarantine attack pattern.
If the troopers were disturbed by the sights before them in the bleeder pit, they did not show it. With caution and military discipline they move into the room to form a circle around Arkah, who doesn't move an inch from his spot. When Lord Dabir is completely encircled the squad leader makes a hand motion that indicates that the ship is taken and the target secured.
Publius Valerius comes forward from behind his troops and sees eye-to-eye with his old friend Arkah Dabir for the first time in 32 years. Publius moves towards Arkah without saying a word until he is only several feet removed from him. The men-at-arms seem to feel tense to see their Lord so close to an enemy, but they are instructed only to intervene when there is danger. Arkah is the one to break the silence:
"Publius... it has been a long time."
Lord Valerius nods carefully, trying to mask the disdain he feels.
"You have fallen deep, Arkah... so deep that there is only one possible redemption left."
The Blood Apostle cackles tragically.
"If you expected me to beg for my life you have come a long way for nothing. Death holds no terror for me. You might as well have just blown my ship apart like the others."
Publius stares at the man in front of him who still looks frighteningly the same as he remembers him. Somehow he finds himself surprised that Arkah has retained his noble and cultured appearance rather than devolving into the typical wild and psychotic traits of a Blood Raider.
"Oh, I could show you terror, fallen one... I could introduce you to a world of pain that would make you sorry the Inquisition hadn't finished the job back in Arzanni."
Arkah snarls in anger and spits at Publius's feet. The guards tense at the sudden movement, and the two closest to him grab him by the arms and shoulders and force him onto his knees. He now looks upwards directly at Publius, obviously resenting being forced into a submissive posture.
"For a moment you gave me quite a scare. That is a feeling a capsuleer doesn't get to experience a lot. Did you know that, Arkah?"
Lord Dabir laughs and shakes his head from his bound position as he tries to reason with Publius:
"I think there are a lot of things you never fully experienced, my old friend..."
Publius remains silent. Arkah knows that his life hangs by an increasingly thin thread.
"Ik now you better than you think, Publius. Have you forgotten the great things we accomplished together? How many Holders can truthfully claim that they were involved in the foundation of the Kingdom? Who was there personally when we burned Drakos's rebel fleet to cinders?"
Arkah Dabir's voice sounds almost pleading now:
"There is no need to suppress and hide what is in your soul any longer. Especially not to me! No need to bow to the social constructs of weak and unimaginative simpletons designed to rule sheep. Let go of your inhibitions, Publius. Embrace the Sani Sabik, and I will help you explore the full spectrum of human existance in all it's raw potential. All it's heights and lows... You will sate your darkest appetites and satisfy your most perverse lusts and desires if you will simply give in to what comes natural. Don't you think it's wrong that your false clergy withholds you the true pleasures and wonders of this world while my faith encourages you to sample them in their full glory?"
Publius sais nothing, only his soft breath can be heard.
"Men aren't meant to suffer lives of forced ignorance, hiding their intelligence out of fear and in submission to a false God and a fool on a self-made throne in Khanid Prime. You and I, Publius... we are different from most people. If you join us, it could be as it was before... you and me! When was there ever a thing that we couldn't achieve together?!"
Publius doesn't respond other than sadly shaking his head. Then he forcefully grabs Arkah by his throat. The cybernetics in his arms and hands activate with soft whirs as the Blood Apostle gets lifted off the floor. He hisses to his troops:
"Leave us. Now!"
The troopers hurriedly break the cordon around their master holding the Sani Sabik Warlord and leave the bleeder pit while Publius continues to strangle Arkah. When they are alone he confides in the condemned man dying in his stranglehold:
"Don't think that this isn't hard for me, Arkah. But I have too much to lose here. I know you meant well. You always meant well... but you were also always the impatient one, the weak link in all of my designs."
Arkah desperately clasps at Publius's hands, trying in vain to release himself from the deadly embrace. Yet Publius increases the pressure yet more as his voice darkens:
"Just look at what you have become. A parasite feeding on excrement. Your arrogance has clouded your judgment, and you almost... so very nearly almost... dragged me down with you. And for this, I will never forgive you."
Lord Dabir's face turns blue as veins bulge on his oxygen starved head. He is unable to speak and every second is a battle to remain conscious.
"It is better that you die, little heretic. I simply can't risk anyone associating us by linking our pasts together, even after all these years. That is why I hope you don't mind I take something back that I gave to you a long time ago..."
With a painful mix of feelings including melancholy, betrayal and hatred, Publius literally crushes the life out of Arkah with a sickening crack of bones. The loud ripping of human muscles is followed by the hisses of relaxing cybernetics and an unceremonious thump of a lifeless body hitting the gruesome corpse-strewn floor of the Sani Sabik ritual chamber.
Publius bends over the corpse and takes it's right hand. This is what he came here to do, and sure enough, as he expected, the highly incriminating ring with the seal of House Valerius is still on his index finger. A ring given a long time ago as a symbol of trust and friendship. A symbol for a friendship that he had vowed under inquisitorial oath never existed. The fool! If it had been found by anyone other than him it would have raised questions with potentially catastrophic political consequences. His loyalty would have become questioned when Arkah would inevitably get himself killed and his body found by a hapless capsuleer or Khanid Navy officer.
A wave of relief washes over Pulius as he leaves the horrid surroundings back to his ship and pod. Outside Lucius was still waiting for his return. Perhaps the upstart Lord Vindictus will be a more worthy recipient of this ring? Still, he is but a petty low-level noble from the Empire. But who knows? He could prove useful over time. Once back in his pod he opens a comm-link to Lucius Vindictus who has stood guard over him during his vulnerable time away from his capsule.
"Vindictus... you may go now. The deed is done. Expect a package with a token of my appreciation soon."
The holographic image of a dark robed Lucius seems to be grinning at him.
"I appreciate that, but remember the bargain, Valerius... I strive for nothing less than Holder status in the Kingdom. For my continued silence on this matter, I want my lady."
Publius ponders for a moment. Should he give in and introduce Lucius to one of the ladies at the court to be done with it? Or should he send assassins after his loved ones for showing such impudence? Pulius smiles to himself. Friendship among the Amarrian nobility is such a wonderfully treacherous thing.
Uhria speaks with a pleasant yet unnaturally soft and feminine voice that suggests surgical and/or cybernetic enhancement:
Good day, citizens and guided servants of the Kingdom. I am Uhria Adan, honored to present you the afternoon domestic report. In capsuleer related news, a Blood Raider warlord long assumed dead has been found killed in the wreckage of his cruiser after an unknown number of capsuleers ambushed and annihilated his raiding fleet. Capsuleer bounty hunters that target pirates as privateers for the King are a common sight throughout Khanid. However, this execution in particular is expected to deeply hurt enemy morale.
Though most of the details remain classified commander Bahdidan Jaynerk of the Royal Khanid Navy did present a statement praising the involvement of capsuleers of East Khanid Trading in the execution.
Merchant ships and privateers of East Khanid Trading have become an increasingly common sight in the Khanid Kingdom the past years. This capsuleer corporation has greatly contributed to the economy as well as provided a capable paramilitary force to help the Navy keep the space lanes safe of pirate attacks.
In sports news, the Royal Gladiator League has announced the highly anticipated beginning of a new tournament sponsored by House Khanid. Holder families throughout the Kingdom are eager to present their slave champions to ... [the voice trails off as the permission to undock comes in and you turn off the Neocom.]
Blog: YR 113, February 27
Location: Khanid Prime System - Khanid Region.
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on the battleship: "KTS Invincible". Date: Feb-27-Yr 113.
I've reached a new milestone in my capsuleer career. The past days I had finally reached a comfortable level of skill mastery to fly a Marauder class battleship. Tonight I took the newly commissioned KTS Invincible on it's maiden voyage in the Khanid Prime system on security work for Khanid Innovations.
The Paladin is the dream of every mission runner and represents the final answer against everything from pirates to rogue drones encountered on assignments for empire agents. The ship embodies the will of Amarr in every way, and educates sinners and heretics alike in the folly of opposing the chosen people of God in battle.
Frigates are reduced into their atomic components in a single salvo of one of my Tachyon beam lasers. Cruisers disappear in puffs of ruined metal and mists of evaporated blood. Even mighty battleships are melted away in mere seconds under mighty barrages of sustained laser fire that can only be considered divine retribution against the unclean and craven unbelievers foolish enough to oppose the Khanid Kingdom.
Tech 2 ships are far superior to mundane ships, and can only be piloted by capsuleers. The Carthum Conglomerate has truly created a wonder of technology with sturdy armor and advanced weapon systems in the shape of the Paladin. Fortunately I was able to purchase a 'squire' cybernetic upgrade from Noble Appliances, or I would have been unable to meet the heavy power-grid requirements of my fully equipped and battle ready Paladin.
On a different topic, I haven't heard from Lord Valerius since I visited him on his estate. I hope he isn't going back on his word. By now I'm sure his interrogation of the prisoners must have revealed something. If Lord Dabir is still alive it will be in our best interest to find him as soon as possible. We'll have to move quickly. The next time he is on grid I'll have to contact him.
News: YR 113, March 13 (1)
There are reporters for other news agencies as well, and even a representative of ISD is present to take note of the event. Several camera drones hover around Uhria. Her voice is uniquely pleasant and sweet, yet unmistakably artificial sounding after several surgical and/or cybernetic upgrades:
Greetings, citizens and guided servants of the Khanid Kingdom. I am Uhria Adan, honored to report to you from the loyalist gathering hosted by Praetoria Imperialis Excubitoris and the Curatores Veritatis Alliance of capsuleers.
We just bore witness of the swearing in of executor Leo d'Green who is now accepting congratulations from loyalists that have come from all corners of the Empire, Kingdom, Mandate, and beyond. The full ceremony can be reviewed later today after the footage is certified by representatives of the CVA.
The camera drone shifts towards the reinforced glass windows besides the podium.
As you can see, the honor guard has formed a golden fleet outside of the station. Their hulls shine in the light of a star of the Amarr Empire in a show of support to the great events that took place here today.
Another drone zooms in on Leo d'Green on the podium for a moment, and then hovers around the auditorium to capture the images of various loyalists that are seated before the podium.
The Amarrian loyalist capsuleer community has suffered several setbacks and some division recently. Though none of these were visible today. This show of unity and solidarity is hoped to strengthen the ties between the various organisations for the benefit of all.
The camera drone zooms in on Uhria Adan once again, who takes a polite bow.
And with that I will conclude this short update. I will remain here throughout the day and present any further information as it comes available. For now, I thank you for watching. Please do stay tuned for the economic report and more capsuleer related news.
The bombastic chime of Dark Amarr News can be heard as the intergalactic business report starts. A voice starts announcing:
Is your Iteron too small? Vhiagran Shipyards offers cargo expanders to capsuleers at a discounted rate... [The voice trails off as you close the neocom].
News: YR 113, March 13 (2)
The soft feminine voice of Uhria Adan, as pleasant sounding as surgical modification can make it, can be heard as the popular Dark Amarr News anchor starts her outer regions report:
"Greetings, citizens and guided servants. I am Uhria Adan, honored to report the capsuleer news relating to the outer regions.
We regret to inform you that the "Khanid Coalition" outpost in A2-V27 was lost last night after a week of heavy fighting. Mercenary capsuleer alliance Pandemic Legion's assault was successful and they have gained control of the station. Reliable reports from the area are hard to come by given the security situation, but there appears to be a significant loss of life over the last week, with thousands of casualties in ship crews and frequent deployments of Pandemic Legion supercapital and Titan-class vessels. We have received reports that the majority of coalition assets have been evacuated from the station prior to the final assaults....
Unfortunately contact with capsuleer-aligned ground forces inside the station has been lost, and all defenders are assumed killed or captured, God have mercy on their souls.
Vanguard Imperium Fleet Commander Vitalia was contacted for comment and had this to say:"
Despite the best efforts of the news network technicians some interference can be heard throughout the FTL voice tansmission wherein the voice of Silas Vitalia can be heard:
"This loss is regrettable, for our work in converting A-2 into a proper logistics and transportation center for our spoils in Querious was just beginning. Transporting captured human and material assets out of deep 0.0 through conventional means will now prove quite difficult as A-2 is a logical bottle-neck entrance between the Kingdom and Querious. Lord willing we will regain control of this vital logistical hub as soon as possible."
The voice pauses for a moment, followed by a short burst of static before it continues:
"This loss is indeed a painful one for our coalition. But We -will- endure, for our work in service of our King will not be finished until the Reclaiming spreads far and wide, and all those who would oppose us are brought under the lash of the Amarr."
As the voice transmission stops Uhria speaks again. Her artificially enhanced voice changes to become softer, compassionate:
Many Khanid patriots have gathered in prayer groups around the Kingdom to show their solidarity with the Querious expedition. Dark Amarr News joins the prayers for their continued safety, and for the success of their mission.
After those final words Uhria bows reverently to the viewers before the whole news room goes slowly goes dark and the broadcast ends.
Blog: YR 113, March 21
Location: Planet Amarr Prime (Athra) - Amarr System
Medium: Portable luxury neocom Date: March-20-Yr 113.
Tonight I revisited the empire to attend a masquerade hosted by the Knighthood of the Merciful Crown. They celebrated that they are active for a whole year. It was good fun. Lately good decadent Amarrian parties have become all too scarce. Or maybe I don't notice them as much anymore.
The Knighthood saved no expense, and we ate some of the most luxurious foods that ISK can buy while enjoying a lavish celebration held in their keep on Atthra. I'm a little uncomfortable with their liberal stance surrounding slavery, but a low-born commoner wench serving me food in stead of a slave woman is just as good, I suppose. So long as they know their place.
I admit that I felt that it must have been much longer than a year. But maybe my grasp of the passage of time is fuddled by a stormy year. I have spent a short time in the ranks of the Knighthood myself, before moving to the Khanid Kingdom and joining the ranks of East Khanid Trading. My heart just wasn't in the crusade anymore. Already people associate me with EKT over anything else, and a young Khanid lady expressed interest in the corporation tonight. I think she might even apply to join.
I spoke to some of my old friends tonight, and I met a few new ones as well. I seem to be getting into the good graces of Lady Vitalia and her royalists in the Vanguard Imperium. Time will tell what will come of that.
Blog: YR 113, March 27
Location: Kadirhi village on planet Mabnen I - Mabnen System
Medium: Portable luxury neocom Date: March-27-Yr 113.
What can a man say when he is truly happy? My logs would probably be a lot more colorful if I were a deeply troubled man, beleaguered by enemies and crippled by setbacks. But such is not the case, and I'll happily settle for one more unspectacular log entry to mark another day in my life.
Facist Monk, after getting approval from the council of directors, has ensured my promotion to Head of Communications for the Khanid Trade Syndicate. I will also be trained into the role of a director over the next weeks. I am deeply honored and humbled by the trust shown in me. I must ensure that I won't disappoint. All in all I am very pleased with the rapid progress I have made in Khanid ever since I first came there.
Sadly I had to leave the Kingdom today to do a little excursion to the Empire. I visited planet Mabnen I for the first time in years to meet with someone. The desert sands of this Imperial backwater are as uncomfortable today as they were the first time I set foot on that useless ball of dirt. And the superstitious locals are still as backwards as I remember. Some things never change.
Under heavy guard I entered the village. The guards kept the lesser beings and slavekin there at a distance as I spoke to my informant in Kadirhi village. The village is mostly inhabited by Ni-Kunni craftsmen who desperately try to squeeze a pathetic living out of this miserable excuse for a world. Of course one of my high birth would never bother to set foot in such a place were it not for a very good reason. That reason is that Kadirhi has a particular landmark which interests me and which sets it apart from other villages of it's kind in the region.
Kadirhi has a recently constructed monastery. My informant had spoken to many villagers and even some of the lead monks, to find out as much as he could. But no... my hopes were again crushed. Morten Kystner, better known by his callsign Sepherim was nowhere in the monestary or in the village. Kadirhi was my last hope. And now that this final lead has led to nothing I may have to give up on finding my old mentor.
Still, my investigation did tell me something: he lied. But that shouldn't surprise me. In fact, I'd almost be disappointed if he had truly retired to some forgotten monastery at the edge of civilization. It was a cover so that he could move on to whatever destination he had in mind all along. He could be anywhere by now. I'll just give up for now. And unless a new lead presents itself I'll have to accept that I'm just not meant to know everything.
I am at peace with it now. I will consider that part of my history over, and move on to my new life in the Khanid Kingdom. And now that I am in training there will be enough to do already!
Blog: YR 113, July 05
Location: Opus Class Pleasure Cruiser: "Carnal Voyage" - Vilore system, Gallente Federation space.
Date: July-05-Yr 113.
Men and women in varying stages of undress are cavorting on the promenade of the luxurious pleasure cruiser. Some of the concubines look far too young to be there. To the Gallente such decadent voyages are common among the elite in their society. However, there are also Caldari, Minmatar, and yes... several Amarrians as well on board the ship.
Lucius Vindictus reclines in one of the most expensive private resorts inside the cruiser. Here he has remained in seclusion for several weeks. A young Gallentean woman is busy seeing to his every carnal desire as a sharp buzz interrupts them.
Lucius is heavily drugged with stimulants that enhance his emotions and the pleasure centers in his brain. This makes that the slight noises sound as if it were a storm to him. Every second the noise persists, the more agitated he becomes. When it becomes apparent that whoever is trying to hail him isn't going to stop trying he growls and slaps the girl off him. She shrieks and cowers away from him while he readies himself to accept the FTL transmission.
Slowly he moves out of the perfumed pleasure lounge and into a sparsely decorated and traditional Amarrian looking sanctum where his FTL (faster-than-light) transmitter is located. Meanwhile his cybernetic implants are struggling to pump nanites into his bloodstream to cancel out the effect of the erotic stimulants. Before he answers the angry sounding buzz Lucius takes his religious robe out of a clothing cabinet. As the robe covers the wounds and other evidence of his recent passions he looks at his reflection on the neocom console in front of him.
Yes, that will do nicely... just a final touch..
After a simple tap with a finger on the console in front of him an artificial desert landscape starts appearing along the walls, giving the illusion of a planetary surrounding. Immediately after that his wife appears on the screen, visibly happy to see her husband after several weeks. Yet she tries to mask her emotions as is normal among the Amarr. She speaks softly:
"You look relaxed. Perhaps I was wrong to distrust your sudden spiritual insights. I trust that your religious studies have been insightful?"
Lucius nods slightly at his wife, straightening his robe.
"Yes, the sermons of Bishop Dakoth have been invigorating. This convention of the faithful was exactly what I needed..."
The Amarrian lady bows slightly.
"Then I take it that you will return to Khanid Prime soon?"
Lucius smiles back at his wife.
"Yes, the sober life at the monestary has been good for me, but now I am eager to leave this planet and to return to my duties."
Husband and wife say goodbye as the cruiser is making ready to dock at a Gallente station. After weeks of indulgence Lucius's senses are already feeling numb from lack of stimulation. Life outside the pod feels increasingly dull to his transhuman senses, and he yearns to return to his capsule where he can be as a God.
Blog: YR 113, July 10
Location: Khanid Prime System - Khanid Region.
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on Legion Class Cruiser: "KTS Reclaimer". Date: July-09-Yr 113.
[LOG ENTRY] For as long as they have existed I desired to own a T3 strategic cruiser. But I never had the skills nor the funds to pilot one properly. Today this changed when I flew my very own Legion out of the Jita system.
Assembling the ship was a little more complicated than usual. Strategic cruisers, as the name suggests, are very flexible. I purchased the subsystems I believed would give it the optimal amount of firepower I need to run combat errands.
Everything about the ship feels integrated and purpose-built, unlike traditional ships that are built for mortal crew and later customized to allow a capsuleer to interface with it. Even T2 ships aren't really designed with our purposes in mind.
Though they appear rather... awkward... even unnatural looking on the outside.. The Legion can be customized and fine tuned to truly make it an extension of my body. It is the first generation of what will be the future of the capsuleer industry. It is only a matter of time until we will see T3 frigates and even battleships in the space lanes of New Eden.
The technology to create T3 modules and ships comes from Wormhole space, and the strange and elusive "sleeper drones" that reside there. No one knows who built them, or even why they are there or what they are for. One thing is clear about them, and that is that they are very advanced and that they have deadly weaponry. We barely understand their capabilities, and what little technology we salvage is mostly damaged and flawed from their exploded wrecks. Rarely we get intact technology, and even when we do it is so far beyond our understanding that we can't replicate it ourselves. These samples are of course highly sought after and very expensive.
Over the years I've heard many people babble about these sleepers, and I've had to endure more than a few madmen with their strange theories ramble on and on about them. Until now I was never really interested in any of it. But recent developments have started to make me more and more willing to get involved in wormhole space.
It seems that a leading Caldari Scientist has turned coat and fled to the Minmatar Republic with his entire staff with the purpose of gathering intelligence and scientific data on the sleepers. Why he would need to defect for that seems rather strange, in fact the circumstances and his explanation all sound rather fishy to me. Why leave such an advanced society as the Caldari for such a comparatively primitive one such as the Minmatar when the reason is to conduct research? It makes no sense... Whatever his reason is.. I'm sure I'll find out soon what it is all about.
Blog: YR 113, July 18
Location: Khanid Prime System - Khanid Region.
Medium: Onboard FTL transmitter on Legion Class Cruiser: "KTS Reclaimer". Date: July-16-Yr 113.
Today I visited the halls of the Knighthood of the Merciful Crown. Liberals like these knights are useful allies, but unfortunately they make just as many enemies among Amarrian traditionalists as they do among the enemies of the Empire. I try to stay neutral in their disputes. So long as they purchase my weapons to blow each other apart I'm not going to complain. In the meantime I'll have to try to be careful in picking who I associate with whenever I visit, or I'll risk another scalding from Ambassador Vartesa.
I found my old friend Hitome Kei in poor health. She had suffered a traffic accident while traveling in a planetary vehicle recently. How many times do I need to explain that ladies aren't meant to do such things unsupervised? She is recovering slowly, but it sounded like the lasting damage was done to her soul rather than her body. Her fiance, Colonel Math'Ra Hiede, has ended their engagement and disappeared into lawless space. Good riddens... I never liked that lowborn self-righteous fop anyway.
I invited Hitome to spend some time in my palace on Khanid Prime to make her feel better. Maybe whenever her health allows it she can keep my wife distracted. She can be so meddlesome. Apparently some snitch of a slave has sown doubts in her mind as to where I have been the past few weeks. If I ever find out which of those vermin it was they'll be tossed before my slaverhounds.
News: YR 113, July 30
Uhria Adan: "Greetings, citizens and guided servants of the Khanid Kingdom and beyond. I am Uhria Adan, honored to lead todays discussion. For those who just joined us, we have been debating the current state of slavery in the Kingdom. Already with us was Lord Raban Ahrnar, vassal of House Ardishapur in the Amarr Empire. Before the break we had been listening to his views on slave education. We had also taken a virtual tour around his holdings to get a comparative feel for the House Ardishapur approach to slavery in the Empire. In the meantime we have also been joined by Lord Sharan Torash, proud royalist, and Holder in the Khanid Kingdom."
A second viewscreen pops up next to Uhria, revealing Lord Torash who broadcasts from his domain in the Khanid Kingdom. Lord Torash respectfully bows his head in acknowledgement to the image of Lord Ahrnar but not to Uhria who he considers a commoner.
Uhria Adan: "Lord Torash, could you tell us something about the Kingdom's approach to slavery?"
Lord Torash: "Our approach? Hmmpf.. you might as well have asked me what is the color of our clothing?... there is no simple nor uniform answer to such questions. We are divided on the topic of slavery because the bond between master and slave is sacred and personal. It is left up to the master how he educates the slave, based on the individual needs of both. This is not unlike how our peers in the Empire see it."
Lord Ahrnar nods in assent.
Uhria Adan: "Then I will be more specific. Lord Torash, could you please tell us something about your personal views?"
Lord Torash: "I am of the traditionalist Khanid school of thought. Much of it has remained unchanged since ourâ€¦ parting with our Imperial brethren." -Lord Ahrnar tenses slightly.
Uhria Adan: "I see. What would you say is different from slavery in the empire?"
Lord Torash: "Though I personally loathe them, Transcranial Micro Controllers and other technological slave control device are widely used in the Kingdom. Besides such controversial differences what becomes immediately apparent is the composition and origin of our slaves which is noticeably different. Since the founding of the Kingdom we have had to accept the reality that we no longer had access to the traditional Minmatar slave sources. We get slaves wherever we can find them and therefore the average Khanid slave owner tends to have a more diverse slave stable than Imperial Amarrians do." -A worried expression appears on the face of Lord Ahrnar.
Uhria Adan: "Lord Ahrnar, would you like to comment?"
Lord Ahrnar: "Getting slaves wherever?â€¦ I will remind Lord Torash that the Empire takes a dim view to indiscriminate slave raiding. The taking of slaves outside of the Empire is immoralâ€¦ made illegal even, by the Empress herself!" -Lord Torash scowls.
Lord Torash: "And I will remind youâ€¦ that Iâ€¦ am not a subject of the Empire. Do not make the mistake of applying your... Imperial edicts... unto a Royal citizen. Much less a Holder of the Khanid Kingdom. Don't forget who you are speaking to." -Lord Ahrnar tones down his voice and holds up his hands out in a calming gesture.
Lord Ahrnar: "Very well, let's not descend down that path today. All I wished to express is that slavery is a road to enlightenment to the lost. In it's purest form we cannot allow it to be corrupted by earthly needs."
Lord Torash: "Yet, society -does- have earthly needs.You Imperials may reap the benefits of a long and well established slave population. Surely you wouldn't deny us the right to establish our own?." -Lord Ahrnar shakes his head and sighs under his breath as he struggles to control his temper.
The editors of Dark Amarr News sense where the volatile discussion is heading and slightly muffle the audio on both Holders so Uhria can interject, while a soft musical chime starts to play in the background.
Uhria Adan: "And there we have itâ€¦ two kindred people, much alike, yet distinct in their own ways. We were honored today that no less than two Holders found time in their busy schedules to grant us this rare honour. With his Highness King Khanid II back on the privy council he sees eye to eye with the much revered Lord Yonis Ardishapur again. And today we found this same brotherhood between our peoples reaffirmed through Lord Raban Ahrnar and Lord Sharan Torash."-Uhria Adan bows deeply in submission to both Holders before the view screens with the images of both lords deactivate.
A video preview starts with imagery for the next continuation of the topic with Uhria's voice in the background.
Uhria Adan: "Please join us next time for the last part in our special exhibition on the state of slavery in the Khanid Kingdom. We will listen to doctor Urna Callam who is an expert on livestock quality management. He will detail his newest breeding regimen and prenatal evaluation and intervention routines. There will also be a debate wherein the doctor debates the merit of his work in front of a panel of traditionalist slave keepers.
This was Uhria Adan, wishing you a good night. Remember that God loves us all, and please stay tuned for our sports broadcast. Our correspondent will give you the latest developments in the ongoing tournament in the Royal Gladiator League after a few messages from our sponsors."
Blog: YR 113, August 19
Location: Khanid Prime V - House Vindictus Estate
Date: July-18-Yr 113
A burly guard takes a rather large bouquet of red flowers and disposes them inside a special stasis container that closes with a loud hiss. Lady Deliath Vindictus-Dakani observes his movements with visible disdain.
Guard captain: "My Lord said it's probably Minmatar terrorists. They get more creative every year. At least it wasn't a bomb threat this time."
Deliath's voice drips with sarcasm: "Really now? Terrorists sending flowers? That sounds like a radically new strategy."
Guard captain: "Ma'am.. you must understand that these dogs have no morals. By renouncing God they make themselves the tools of the Deceiver."
The captain points to the flowers.
"Capsuleers are hard to intimidate. If they can't destroy your husband with guns they will try more inspicious methods."
Deliath shakes her head:"You meant -insidious-? Working for my husband you should know that word."
The captain hesitates before continuing:"... As I was saying...they wouldn't flinch to hurt his family or anyone close to him. Those flowers could be poisoned... or hold nanobots programmed to sever your arteries in your sleep..."
Deliath Vindictus: "Have you ever met a Minmatar terrorist that calls himself BoBX?"
The captain sighs in frustration.. "I take it there was a note attached, then?.." -Deliath nods a little too gleefully for his taste.
"And you... took... the note, before I got here?"
Deliath nods again, grinning this time: "I can see why my husband trusts you to run his little errands. Your powers of deduction astound me!..."
The guard starts to look worried and extends his hand towards Deliath: "I am to bring my Lord any and all of the foreign items discovered on the premises. May I have--"
Deliath cuts him off: "I'm no fool. I've already been through hell and back in my short lifespan, captain. You can tell my husband that I want a word with him."
Guard captain: "This is highly irregular... My lady! ... Where are you headed? ..Please! My lady?!"
Blog: YR 113, August 23
Location: Amarr Prime I (Atthra) - City of Dam-Torsad
Date: July-19-Yr 113
Arman Callax stands on top of the roof of a luxury apartment in Dam-Torsad. Those fortunate enough to have been born into the ruling caste of society live comfortable lives here. Owning property on Athra, let alone in Dam Torsad, is highly prestigious and is thus considered a privilege that only the wealthiest in the Amarr Empire can afford. Everywhere around him in the distance he sees the famous golden shapes of Amarrian architecture in the skyline of this ancient megalopolis.
Arman looks around him. His disfigured skull is filled with cybernetic implants, and through them he observes his surroundings with more than mere human senses. His bionic eye replacements radiate a red light as raw data is being blasted into the neural circuitry that surrounds what is left of his human brain. Around his neck he wears a triangular shaped insignia made from precious metals that identifies him as a high ranking non-capsuleer employee of East Khanid Trading.
A clandestine meeting is taking place on the rooftop, with a chaotic assembly of different looking individuals of many races. Some cover their facial features with hoods or decorative jewelry. Others openly and flamboyantly display their identity. All try to get the measure of each other as they challenge each other in taunts and games of words ranging from gutter speak to cultured ancient Amarrian speech. The unruly bunch falls quiet when Arman holds up his right hand. His voice is heavy and inhuman sounding thanks to the fact that his vocal chords have long been replaced by artificial resonators.
Arman: "Ladiesâ€¦ gentlemenâ€¦ you know why we are here. My employer has a need for your talents, and I have handpicked you because I believe you meet the requirements of a contract that is now open to applications."
A robed Amarrian who is much taller than the rest speaks. "I have the impression that this contract doesn't concern the usual shaking up of a spoiled noble, nor a disgruntled ex employeeâ€¦ What are we going to deal with this time?"
Arman activates a holoprojector that is placed at his feet. A series of holograms pop up that show the rotating images of several capsuleers. "We refer to them as the BoBX commune. It is not uncommon for capsuleers to form a tight-knit group like this one. A capsuleer named BoBXGIM has founded it and seems to be at the core and has assumed the role of a pater familias of sorts. Every new member to this clan adopts the first four letters of the founder in their pilot call sign. Their financial and military power is significant, and they are protected by concord and their red tape stretching from here to Yulai. On top of even that, they enjoy the protection of the powerful Khanid Trade Syndicate."
Worried glances are shared among the crowd. A Ni-Kunni male starts laughing and shakes his head. "Eggers? Aww, frack that! I'm outta here."
Several men and women murmur amongst themselves, some of them leave the gathering to go their own ways. Others whisper to each other before Arman continues.
"I see I have your attention. This is not a job for the faint hearted. A capsuleer isâ€¦ difficult to touch. Even when they aren't piloting a heavily armed deathmachine they are generally surrounded by a swarm of employees and security guards. And CONCORD makes sure that even notorious eggers are untouchable by the law or anyone else for that matter. Wellâ€¦ almost anyone."
A Khanid female in an overly flamboyant silk outfit speaks. "Capsuleers are most often found in space, and quite dangerous there. Even novice capsuleers make a mockery of entire navy battalions. With respect, my dear.. I don't see anyone here who I'd trust to pilot a hover cart at a children's party." Laughter breaks out across rooftop. Arman would have smirked if there were enough natural muscles left in his face to do so.
"D'arlana... charming as always. I don't need space pilots, but men and women on the ground who know how to act independently. I was hoping to employ you and your creative talents in this matter. In fact, you are to lead this assignment. I know how you detest space travel, but it may be inevitable for you to reacquaint yourself with the great dark beyond again soon."
D'arlana gasps in mock horror. "Ah wellâ€¦ I was growing tired of chasing down runaway slaves and space sickness will feel like a blessing compared to the nausea associated with pandering to the local nobility. And you usually pay well enough, so how could I refuse? What do you have in mind, darling?"
Arman deactivates all of the holograms but one. The image of a single young female capsuleer remains and enlarges for all to see. "This is the newest addition to the commune. Her call sign is BoBXTrivialis and also responds to the name Mathilda. Though her patron is vigilant and wealthy, she has the dangerous habit of mingling with the slaves and ground crews of the stations she visits, to her own detriment. Thus an opportunity presents itself."
D'arlana grins. "East Khanid Trading is notoriously difficult to infiltrate, but a station's logistical crew is quite a different matter. So many come and go that it would be easy to blend in for a while. I'm sure that your.. employer.. could tell us where to look for her. And if we find her, then what?"
Arman's cold cybernetic eyes gaze at D'arlana. "Then you report to me for further instructions. Our agents report that she is the most exploitable weak link to the commune. Suffice to say that her surrogate father has deeply angered my employer to go to these lengths."
The Khanid woman nods to Arman, already starting to plan things in her mind. "Then you and I have much work to do. Let's go over the details before we prepare these fine men and women for their assignments. And of course we should negociate my payment. By now you know me better than to think I'd be satisfied with the intial offer." She winks at Arman.
"Fine, name your price. But I'll have you know we expect results soon." Arman is pleased, though his body is incapable of conveying such emotion. His bionic eyes light up for a moment as his cranial implants activate the communicator inside the portable projector that is still placed in front of him.
Light-years away his master receives a confirmation in his pod that everything goes according to plan.
Blog: YR 113, November 20
Location: The Tadaar Shopping Centre inside Khanid Transport station in orbit of Kahah I
Date: July-23-Yr 113
D'arlana shifts comfortably in her seat inside the luxury train as it rushes through the transit network of the station belonging to Khanid Transport. There is a lot of legwork ahead, and she enjoys the peace and quiet while she can. Her targets are in the highly secured VIP-carriage ahead of her. Though she is not allowed entry she can see them perfectly from where she is sitting.
The target capsuleer girl code named BoBXTrivialis stands up as soon as the train stops in front of the shopping centre. She is followed by a grumbling BoBXGim and passes by D'arlana who pretends to read something on her datapad.
As soon as they leave the train D'arlana follows them at a distance. Trivialis can be seen talking to BoBXGiM as they walk between the shops and boutiques. BoBxGiM lets out a small sigh as the Shopping Centre owned by the wealthy Torash family comes in view. He dislikes shopping like most that have a Y-chromosome in their genes.
But he enjoys spending time with Trivialis in the off-hours after working for East Khanid Trading. By normal standards their wealth is beyond fantastic, and they could probably buy the whole shopping complex if CONCORD and the SCC would let them. BoBX has assumed a sort of father-like role in Trivialis's life, and he smiles at her entheusiasm, but tries to shield her from the dangerous mix of near unlimited wealth and youthful naivity.
"Oh come on, dad. Don't frown. It will be fun. I promise!"
BoBX cracks a smile and winks back at Trivialis.
"I don't think you and I agree on the definition of fun... Mining is fun!"
Trivialis chuckles. "I know. I mine with you all the time, silly! " she sips from a can of Quafe- "And we have done so well that I think you deserve some well earned fun time... like shopping!"
Bob groans. "Lucky me!" He looks at some of the advertisements on the holo-boards and is pleased to see an animated recruitment video addressed to potential crew members for the Khanid Trade Syndicate. "If I wasn't already a capsuleer... I'd join up to do my part!"
Trivialis empties her soda and disposes of the can in one of the many bins, and curtsies to an approving Bob after she does so.
"Ooh! Here it is. Torash Family Trading! Paradise to every Khanid girl. I can't wait to try out some of the new outfits!"
Bob simply nods and follows trivialis. At the entrance to the highly luxurious store Bob is reminded of the strictly segragated nature of Khanid society. He feels sad when he passes a sign: "Slaves are not Welcome". He is then further dismayed when he finds out that there are in fact two entrances: men and women. The Torash family is not just known for their wealth, but also for being very strict traditionalists.
"I don't think I want to go inside here, Mathilda..."
Trivialis is stunned by amazement for a moment, but then starts to appeal to bob. "What?! ... Awww come on! I've been waiting for so long!"
Bob folds his arms and doesn't move one inch. "I thought we were going to spend time together... But we can't even go through the same entrance. I already don't like these people, let alone trust them with you!"
Trivialis now also folds her arms and frowns at Bob. "Oh stop it! I'm a big girl, dad. You trust me with a million tonnes of steel in space, but you can't let me try on a skirt by myself?"
Bob looks resolute.
"This whole station is among the most secured places in all of Khanid. There are motion detectors, bio scanners, security guards, sentry drones, and the station itself is surrounded by the elite of the Royal Khanid Navy. On top of all of that we have CONCORD protection. And even if I miraculously get hurt... I have a clone."
Bob first smiles at Trivialis and then bursts out laughing. "Are you always so convincing?... alright, be back here in two hours. I don't know how you stand this kind of people, so I'll just have something to drink."
Trivialis laughs as well and kisses Bob on the cheek before rushing inside. "I'll see you soon, dad!"
Bob chuckles to himself. He decided that he was going to sit down at one of the terraces in front of the store and order something. What can really happen, he thinks to himself.
Inside the store Trivialis marvels at all the stylish clothing. There are no changing booths like in the low-tech stores of the commoners and slaves. High society and the mega-rich simply point to the clothing item, and a holographic display pops up that shows how it will look on them.
After purchasing a collection of clothes worth the year salary of an average man several times over, she moves towards the jewelry section. There she finds all manner of trinkets and decorative items. The Khanid are also known for their excellent cybernetics, and she finds every body augmentation from artificial lungs and heart enhancing pumps for ancient Amarrians several hundred years old to ornate limb replacements for cyberknights.
She notices a new social enhancement circuit by Noble Appliances that is sure to raise her popularity among her friends. An eager looking vendor approaches her to talk about it.
D'arlana grins to herself. "Gotcha!..." and feels excitement wash over her after days of lurking and boring waits finally bear fruit.
"May I help you, milady?" D'arlana, posing as a shop assistant bows to Trivialis. Trivialis smiles at her. "Oh, hi! Yes, you come right on time. I was wondering about this enhancement here. What level of cybernetics skill is required for it?"
D'arlana ponders for a moment. "For this enhancement you only need the most basic of skill, level 1 should suffice." She pauses for a moment. "I can tell you aren't just any ordinary girl. For someone of your skill level who wants to be liked by others, there is one of our newest items fresh from the Empire..."
Trivialis tilts her head. "New?! From the empire? Let me see it!"
D'arlana nods. "I wish I could, but... it's not officially out yet. We have it... But we need to put up the advertisements, and build the displays. That could take days." Trivalis pouts slightly and sighs. "By then I'll be back in space... and I have a party coming up."
D'arlana bows apologetically, and then ponders aloud. "Except... if I offer it to you early!... I'm sure the manager won't mind, for such a valued customer. A capsuleer no less!..."
Trivialis all but hugs D'arlana in elation. "You will show it to me?! That's awesome! Let's go!"
D'arlana makes a shushing gesture, and indicates to Trivialis that she needs to follow her. "Come.. I'll take you to storage. But we may not be seen!".
Both young women wait for a security drone to hover by and go down a staff entrance towards the storage area, but then descend down a maintenance duct that is off-limits even to the staff. D'arlana activates her illuminator ring and takes Trivialis deep into the increasingly darker bowels of the shopping center, far outside the view of others. Trivialis starts to get worried. "Are you sure it's here? Aren't we lost?"
D'arlana grins. "No, little one. We are almost there. See that box over there?... it holds a bracelet that contains cutting-edge technology."
Trivialis frowns. "How is that going to help me? I need an implant, not a bracelet. What does it do?"
D'arlana opens the delicate looking box and takes a golden bracelet out. It has a sinister Amarrian look over it, with golden serpentine shaped binds at the sides. She holds it out to Trivialis who seems reluctant. "It looks weird. I don't want it! Take me back..."
Trivialis didn't even see it happen. D'arlana had her pinned against the wall in seconds, and Trivialis her world was going black in the choke-hold. She feels the bracelet forced onto her right wrist and it tightens as if it has a life of it's own. She hears D'arlana laugh as her vision returns. "That wasn't so bad, was it? I think it looks really nice on you!"
Trivialis yells in defiance. "Get off me! What have you done to me?! What is this thing?"
D'arlana points to the device. "This is a particularly nasty and custom built device normally used to control slaves and prisoners. It is quite advanced! It weakens you, while it powers itself up using your body, like a parasite. Consider it your new pet. An artificial organism, with some pretty gruesome defense mechanisms... should you try to remove it."
Trivialis gasps. "But.. why? I'm not a slave. And I've never hurt anyone!" She feels a sharp and painful sting, immediatly followed by a burning feeling in her veins and a weird fuzzy feeling in her head. "Auch!..."
D'arlana frowns. "Not you, but your father. This device administers a genetically engineered virus that excretes a neurotoxin that upsets the chemical balance in your brain. That means that if you try to clone, or clone jump, the scanner will not be able to copy your brain image, and your clone will die or become a drooling imbecile... at least that's about as much as my contractor was willing to divulge about it. I'm sure it also has other surprises."
Trivialis starts to feel very scared and wimpers. "Why are you doing this to me?"
D'arlana feels a pang of regret while looking at the girl, but doesn't show it. "Look, sweety. A girl's gotta make a living. I don't make the rules... If you capsuleers distributed the wealth a little better there wouldn't be a need for people like me. I'm just doing this for the ISK. You need to ask your dad for answers. He made someone very angry. I was told to relay to you that Bob has exactly one week to negotiate. That is how long it takes before the bracelet is programmed to go into the second stage. You don't want to find out what that means... You have a long and wonderful life ahead of you, little one. Convince your dad. Tell him how much you want to live, and I'm sure he'll do anything he can to have this thing removed."
D'arlana kisses Trivialis on her forehead before running off into the dark. Before she is about to go out of view she turns around and hisses one last warning: "Oh... and I wasn't kidding. You really don't want to try to take it off! Or tamper with it in any way. You don't want to find out how it reacts to that..."
D'arlana turns around and escapes down the dark corridors. She leaves the illuminating ring with Trivialis, who tries desperately not to cry all the way back to the store. She doesn't dare tamper with the device or tell anyone but Bob. Her veins nearest to the device are dark, and green spots are forming along her limbs where her rapidly weaking immune system is already failing to repel the toxins. When she exits the store almost exactly two hours have passed, and she hears someone approaching from behind. Tears roll down her cheeks when she finally hears the familiar voice of her dad:
"Well, well, Mathilda... that thing looks like It's worth as much ISK as Star View has hairs on his head... I'd never have let you pick that. Aren't you glad I didn't come along?"
News: YR 114, Jan 28
Welcome citizens and guided servants of the the Khanid Kingdom and beyond. I am Uhria Adan, reporting for Dark Amarr News. I stand here in front of one of the former crew recruiting offices of the Khanid Provincial Vanguard, a capsuleer organisation that has been defunct for several months with only the founding capsuleer by the name of Silas Vitalia remaining as a confirmed member. The Vanguard, or often abbreviated as KPV had experienced a turbulent history of highs and lows throughout the years. It finally imploded after an incursion into the Querious region that, while yielding many slaves, was ultimately an unmitigated failure in the militarily sense.
The camera drone zooms in on Uhria, leaving the surrounding buildings mostly out of view before she continues:
Earlier today we received distressing reports about explosions at the estate belonging to the Vitalia family. A ball was held there, originally believed to be in celebration of the five year anniversary of the Khanid Provincial Vanguard. Disturbing witness accounts from capsuleer guests who visited the estate have been confirmed through various recordings showing that Silas Vitalia had instead used the occasion to publicly go traitor on a stage inside her mansion.
Uhria makes an intricate religious warding gesture with her soft and nimble hands before going on:
The details are best left unspoken, but the involvement of the notorious heretic: Revan Neferis indicates that she has joined forces with the Sani Sabik, our hated enemies. Silas Vitalia concluded her treachery in a dramatic fashion by having the entire estate demolished with explosives by unknown affiliates. Though the capsuleers have remained unharmed and are all accounted for, it is unclear at this moment what the casualties are among the House staff. Royal paladins have rushed to quarantine the site to anyone but rescue workers, and there are rumors of a specialist division affiliated with CONCORD currently searching the ruins. We hope to share more information soon as it becomes available.
The outro tune starts playing, slowly increasing in volume as Uhria prepares to end the transmission:
This was Uhria Adan. Remember that God loves us all, and please stay tuned for our reporter in the Royal quarter who will interview citizens in good standing about the rising resentment towards capsuleers and their eccentricities.
Blog: YR 114, February 05
Location: The EKT office on Danera V
Date: July-25-Yr 113
“Honestly sire… we’re baffled. Almost the entire warehouse is empty, but apparently someone booked every available space overnight. They won’t let us unload. We’re going to miss our deadline looking for an alternative storage area.”
Lucius groans.“This absurd... you are in as remote a location as can be found in all Khanid. Why in the name of Karsoth’s rusty exhaustport would someone book the entire storehouse?” Lucius shakes his head. “Never mind. We’ll have to take the loss. I’m getting another hail, Lucius out.”
“Lord Vindictus? … It’s me, Arman. We have lost another client. It’s Lord Citaz. He claims to have found a better price.”
Lucius frowns. “Hydrocompressors are a rather obscure product.. how many producers even exist on this side of the cluster?”
The subordinate bows his head apologetically.”Not many, I’ll agree. But Lord Citaz sure managed to find one. He was very adamant that he doesn’t want to renew our contract. I’m sorry, sire.”
Lucius shakes his head and gets ready to close the connection. “Fine. Thank you for informing me, Arman. I’ll stop production before I we end up with warehouses full of useless product.”
An angry blip sounds on his neocom console, announcing the arrival of a short anonymous message: “Are you having fun, Lucius?” Lucius jumps up from his desk and starts frantically pacing around his captains quarters for anything resembling listening devices even though he realizes the futility of this in the age of nano technology. Someone has been one step ahead of him in every business deal he has been trying to get, sometimes even willing to take a loss just to spite him. Then he realizes something someone told him recently and the puzzle pieces start to fall in place…
Lightyears away BoBXGim grins to himself as he speaks into a holoconsole. “Yes, Lord Citaz, I’m sure we will be good friends. The first shipment of hydrocompressors should arrive somewhere in the next two days. Do let me know if you need anything else. BoBX out.”
As soon as he closes the connection to the Lord Citaz he re-activates what he refers to as his crystal-ball program, with a few modifications hacked into it. After hearing a small blip a lifesized holographic version of Lucius Vindictus forms in front of him. One of his implants is compromised and acts as a tool for espionage. BoBXGim laughs. “Let’s see what you are up to today, Lord of many silly titles…”
Every action Lucius takes is recorded clearly and in detail. The projection of Lucius can be seen sitting back down at his desk, and though his eyes BoBX reads what Lucius is scribbling on a simple note with a regal Amarrian handwriting: “BoB, I'm ready to negotiate..”
Blog: YR 114, April 23
Location: Khanid Prime System
Date: April-22-Yr 114
Dozens of starships swarm around the vulcanic world of Khanid III at the centre of the Khanid Kingdom. One of them is a freighter that seems a little more agile than it should be, betraying that it is piloted by a capsuleer. All the freighter's corporation and alliance markings have recently been removed, giving it a somewhat desolate appearance.
Capsuleers are known for their nomadic ways. Their locations shift almost as fast as their allegiances. They can drain entire worlds of their natural resources, exhaust the surrounding moons and asteroid belts after which they disappear just as fast as they arrived.
After the slaves, workers and everything of value had been evacuated the capsuleer in orbit of the world deemed the starport and now defunct resource extractors ready for destruction. On the planet below a string of controlled demolitions end a year of industrial activity among raging lava rivers and smoking volcanoes.
This would be the last time that Lucius Vindictus flew through this solar as a pilot flying for the Khanid Trade Syndicate. Rumor had it that he would use the spoils he had gained in the Khanid Region to form his own corporation. Others whispered that he was going to retire from his life as a capsuleer and enjoy his amassed wealth... Only time will tell.