YC113.10.24 // The Frontier

[date/YC113/8/27.return_log]

“Where do eggers come from, dad?” asked the little boy into the camera, static interfering with the audio and video.

“They come from the Empires, son.” replied the worn voice of his father. The video skipped, and I adjusted the playback settings. It continued.

“Mom says they’re bad, that they just ruin everything.”

“She’s right, son. Capsuleers don’t have any allegiance to the Empires, only to themselves. They don’t even trust each other, really.”

The video stopped again. I looked up as a corpse drifted in front of me, across the exposed and gaping hole in the structure. Asteroids spun and glinted in the distance as the sun rose over the nearby gas giant.

“Why don’t the empires just get rid of them, dad?”

“Capsuleers are powerful, son. You can’t just – ” sirens could be heard going off in the background of the video. The boys face went from curiosity to worry. A warning code came over the intercom system. “I’m sorry, kiddo, I have to go. There’s ‘rats inbound. Send my love to your mother.” The video stuck again.

I looked down at the screen. The boy’s face was frozen in distress. I looked back toward the sun.

“What do you think, sir?” asked Lieutenant Merromeau.

I tossed the data pad out into space, and watched it float of toward the asteroids. “I think we’d better leave before Nation comes back; there’s still plenty of corpses left, and you know how fickle he is with left overs, Lieutenant.”

“Aye, sir. Bringing the shuttle around, then.”

I scoured the deepness, trying to see something that wasn’t there. I knew Kuvakei was looking back, though – he was always watching us.

[date/YC113/8/27.end_log]

YC111.01.19 // The Faded Shadow

[date/YC111/01/19.return_log]

  • {call-in ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

“So tell me the end of the story!” She yelled over the channel as the afterburners burned loudly, swooping us into descent over the station. “What happens to Mithathrotes?”

I stand up, grabbing the handlebar for support, readying for deployment with my team.

“Mithathrotes defeats his brother in battle. Traditionally, the battle is said to have taken place at the foot of the Basileau mountains.”

“We’re coming in cold ma’am, ain’t nothin’ showin’ on scan.” said Hario as he maneuvered us toward the docking bay.

“How’d he do that?” she asked, standing up beside me.

“Erebo offered him the power to call up the dead, but he was arrogant. As he fought at the mountains with his brother, the battle wasn’t going in his favor. He realized how weak flesh and steel really were.”

Lights blinked in the bay as we slipped inside, our craft slowly nearing the loading platform.

“So his brother surrounded him and what men he had left, and just as they were about to descend upon him, Mithathrotes cries out to Erebo, asking for his gift. Erebo grants it, and the dead rose up from the ground and consumed Alakalios’ men, dragging them into Erebo’s domain.”

“Boardin’ on your signal, ma’am.”

“As Mithathrotes is about to slay his brother, his sister Agatheria comes to Mithathrotes on the battlefield, accompanied by Athero. They beg him to reconsider his actions, but Mithathrotes is completely taken by his lust for vengeance. He kills Alakalios, and as his brother’s body falls to the ground, a great howling is heard throughout the land, and Erebo comes up from below the earth.

“Erebo tells Mithathrotes that he has stolen the royal blood he promised to him and that his Halls will not be robbed so easily. He demands from Mithathrotes a soul, and in a rush to save his own he reaches to offer up his sister. As he’s about to take her, Athero raises her hand and a great light spills over the field. Erebo screams and writhes in pain, retreating back into the earth. Mithathrotes is blinded by the light, and falls to his knees.”

“Ma’am, we’re pickin’ up movement on scan. We need to get goin’.”

“What happens to Mithathrotes?” asked Caillamode, switching us over to a private channel.

“As Athero whisks his Agatheria away, to the Realm Above, his sister damns Mithathrotes to an eternity of blind wandering to atone for his sins, and with Athero’s blessing revokes his kingship. Mithathrotes can therefore not be consumed by Erebo, because he is not royal blood, and cannot enter into the Enduring Heavens because he is damned. Agatheria and Athero vanish, and the world falls into darkness. They say Mithathrotes still slinks around in the shadows, haunting the kingdom he never had.”

She was quiet for a moment. “That’s not a very encouraging story, is it?”

I chuckled. “No, I suppose not.” I looked at her, and smiled. She smiled back.

I tapped the side of my helmet, and my visor descended, locking into place.

[date/YC111/01/19.end_log]

  • {call-out ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

YC113.08.27 // The Halls of Erebo

[date/YC113/08/27.return_log]

  • {call-in ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

A cool breeze wandered over the park, the grass swaying lazily under its influence. Insects began chirping as night fell on the station, the sun setting behind the horizon of the moon. The stars slowly shimmered into existence in the night sky.

Down at the bottom of the hill, crowds mingled and laughed around booths and stages. In the center, a well lit theater’s lights flashed slowly, signaling the start of the main show for the night. People took their seats and a hush fell over the crowd as a speaker took the stage, illuminated by a single light.

“Ladies and gentlemen, hello and welcome to the second night of the annual ViĆ© du Gallente Celebration!”

People clapped and whistled, and the speaker smiled and nodded.

“Tonight, we continue where we left off in our tale of the Trials of Mithathrotes, that ancient legend of the birth of our people. The Fallen Prince Mithathrotes has passed on to the Enduring Heavens, after being cast out and defeated in battle by his treacherous brother Alakalios, who has also imprisoned their fair sister Agatheria in the depths of the Citadel. Alakalios is now beyond the power of any mortal man or empire; his strength is final, his grip on the kingdom absolute.”

“Tonight, we will witness the fateful decisions that our Fallen Prince must make, and we will see how far he is willing to go so that justice may be done.”

The beam fades away as the speaker steps off, and the stage is pitch black for a few moments. In the darkness, a few small lights blink softly, mimicking the night sky. Mithathrotes wanders into the nightscape.

“I could travel these heavens for eternity, and still not arrive at the same place twice.” he says. “What purpose does this land serve but to fool a poor soul!”

Mithathrotes lifted his head and gazed toward the stars above him. “O! Enduring Heavens, grant me a boon! My legs are weary from my endless travels, and my eyes tired from your vastness! Grant me a boon, I cry!”

A flash of light, and there stood a beautiful woman clad in the finest linen dress, shining bright and fully.

“Come with me, Mithatrotes, and rest your feet and close your heavy eyes. I, Athero, will take you to the world above, where many souls are looking down upon you, full of pity. Come with me, Mithathrotes, and you shall reside with them.”

Mithathrotes became angered. “Why would I desire to rest my broken heart and soul in a place where the people think so little of me? I would not rest for a moment in such a shallow place.”

At this, a second being sprang forth from the darkness, a man of all black. “Come with me, my Fallen Prince, and I, Erebo, shall take you below to my Great Hall. Come with me, to where the denizens of my house look up to you.” The Black Man laid a hand upon the shoulder of Mithathrotes.

“I shall go with you, Erebo, for I am weary and your house desires my company; be gone with you and your sordid ways, Athero!” demanded Mithathrotes.

“You are a foolish lord, Mithathrotes. You know not what you want nor what dangers lie before you.” And with that, Athero vanished, her great light taken with her, and Erebo took Mithathrotes to his Great Hall.

The stage went dark once again, and after a few moments, low lights came on, and the sound of many people crying and wailing faintly filled my ears. The actors took the stage once more.

“Welcome to my Great Hall, my Fallen King. My people and I welcome you with open arms!” said Erebo, bowing lowly, his arms spread wide. “Sit at my table, and feast!”

A great onyx table rose from the black floor, and food of all varieties grew upon it. Mithathrotes sat and rested, regaining his strength. Erebo spoke.

“I know of your troubles and heavy weights, Mithathrotes. I know of the treachery committed by your own kin upon you.” Mithathrotes listened, gazing at him. “A grave injustice indeed.”

Mithathrotes nodded in agreement, consumed by the lavish meal before him.

“Let us right what has been wronged; let us set straight the course of balance.” said Erebo. “I will give you the power to take back from your brother what is rightfully yours – the throne, your people, the kingdom. In exchange, I ask for a measly penance.”

“What do you require, wise Erebo? Tell me, for I am curious.” asked Mithathrotes.

“All I require is a royal soul. Perhaps your brother’s, should it be a desirable exchange to you, O Fallen King.” Erebo bowed again. “A royal soul for all the world.”

“I cannot deny you; we must set right what has been wronged, mustn’t we? If the price for absolute power should be one’s soul, then let the grievances be great when it is lost.”

Mithathrotes clapped the arm of Erebo, and the world fell dark once more.

[date/YC113/08/27.end_log]

  • {call-out ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

YC108.03.31 // The Enduring Heavens

[date/YC108/03/31.return_log]

  • {call-in ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

“Am I going to die?”

The stars shimmered. They seemed so distant, so far away. I shifted her weight in my arms. She was so small, still just a child.

I choked. My face flushed and a tear rolled down my cheek. I felt a small hand reach up and wipe it away. She patted my face, trying to get my attention. She had always done that with me.

My legs were sore from being bent so long. I could feel the tingling sensation of numbness in them, but I had no reason to stand. There was nowhere to go. The station had long since entered reinforced mode, and all non-essential and exterior corridors had been locked down in the ensuing Imperial attack. All I could do was sit there, wishing I had more time.

She patted my face again, and I looked down at her. She looked so much like her older sister, who had always held a contemptuous grudge against me for being gone so often after I had joined the Federation Navy. She had the same golden hair, although her eyes were softer, as was her demeanor.

“Yes.” I whispered.

A bright light shone from space, and I looked up to see an Imperial Armageddon-class battleship listing toward the station. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled herself close to me. I could feel her shaking, and tightened my hold on her, covering her head between my hand and chest. I closed my eyes and held my breath as the shutter of the impact rippled through the station. I heard the structure heave and the thick glass wall groan as it bent and flexed. The station settled uneasily.

“Tell me about Mithathrotes, Adainy.” she said, her voice quiet and muffled.

I was silent for a moment. The Trials of Mithathrotes was her favorite story.

“Mithathrotes was an ancient king. He lived thousands of years before people called themselves Gallente – before we knew of the god-kings of the Amarr or the tribes and rituals of the Minmatar. Before Gallente and Caldari called one another ‘brother’.

“He commanded a great army of warriors, and it’s said he once conquered all of the world. But before that, Mithathrotes was a prince. His family was great and powerful and loved by the people. The King had two sons, and one daughter. The daughter was good and faithful to the kingdom, and her name was Agatheria. The older brother was named Alakalios, and he was strong-willed and quick-tempered. The younger brother was Mithatrotes, and he was passionate for order and justice, but foolish and naive.”

I looked out the window once more. A wing of Republic Rifters engaged a lone Imperial Harbinger, their projectiles silently but quickly tearing through the Harbinger’s armor plating. The laser turrets of the Amarrian cruiser caught a pilot who had wandered too close to stasis webifier range. They blasted a clean hole through the frigate, which detonated a moment after in a brilliant flash.

I returned to my story as I watched the brawl unfold and grow in intensity outside as reinforcements of Imperial, Federation and Republic fleets warped in.

“When it came time for the king to die, he had not chosen a new ruler from among his children. The night before one was to be named and crowned, Alakalios snuck into the king’s chamber and convinced the king not to pass the crown onto Mithathrotes or Agatheria. He said to the King, ‘Father, what good is upholding peace or goodness in a kingdom if you cannot defend it?’. And so the next day at the crowning, the King named Alakalios his sole heir. Mithathrotes was unaware of his brother’s motives, although Agatheria was suspicious. She said to Mithathrotes, ‘Dearest brother, I would not trust Alakalios, for he is wicked and has swayed our father’s judgment.’ Mithathrotes disregarded her warning, saying to her, ‘He is our brother, dearest sister, and would not betray his family so,’ and pledged allegiance to his new king.

“When the old king finally passed away, Alakalios showed his true intentions. He locked his sister in the dungeon, far away from where she could speak the truth to others about him. Alakalios banished Mithathrotes from the kingdom to wander in exile, thinking he would die in the wilderness.

“Mithathrotes settled in a distant land, gathering a following of citizens who wanted to be free of Alakalios’ tyrannical ways. Even with all those people, Mithathrotes felt alone. He had been cast out from his home and denounced by his own brother who had imprisoned their only sister. Mithathrotes could not let such an injustice go unnoticed or unpunished.

“He became known as the Exiled Prince, and he rose up a rebellion within the people of Alakalios’ kingdom. He thought he was strong enough to end his reign. But when he tried to fight against Alakalios, Mithathrotes and his people were defeated by his brother’s soldiers, and all of them were killed – the Exiled Prince had died.”

She shifted herself in my arms, reaching down to my side. She picked up my helmet and looked into the visor. Large explosions began to rock the station, and it growled in defiance, trying to hold itself together.

“Where did Mithathrotes go?” she asked, raising her voice above the rumblings. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as rounds of ammunition streaked through the sky and beams of light pierced the unending darkness behind her.

“He went to the Enduring Heavens.” I said loudly, my eyes red but empty, my voice straining over the noise of the station as it roiled. She lifted her head.

“Why?” she yelled back as she stared intently at me, her small hands gripping the helmet tight.

I couldn’t look away from her eyes. “To try to start again.” I leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “I’m sorry, Abha. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better brother.”

She placed the helmet on my head. It consolidated itself with the rest of my armor, and I saw her through my visor. She was holding onto my suit. The station shook violently and a large crack shot across the glass pane.

“Adainy, don’t let go of me.” she yelled.

I pulled her close and held her head against my chest again. I could almost feel her hair through the material of my glove, and for a moment it was silent. I could feel her last breath, and I stared out the window.

“I won’t let go, Abha. I won’t let go.”

There was a loud shriek, and with a tremendous crack the station broke. The stars shimmered in the night.

[date/YC108/03/31.end_log]

  • {call-out ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

YC110.07.07 // The Trials of Mithathrotes

[date/YC110/07/07.return_log]

I awoke in a haze. My mouth was dry and tasted like iron; my head swam as I rolled to sit up against the cold metal of the craft I was on. My hands were bound behind my back. Every breath was a shot of pain in my lungs.

I looked around. I could hear the thrum of an engine cooling down from exiting warp. The craft rocked as it came to sub-light speed, and I heard a second, softer engine engaging.

I glanced around the interior – soft, curved designs with a tinge of rust and danger in them – Guardian Angel. There was no mistaking it.

Orange lights glowed on the ceiling and there were crates of supplies stacked against the walls, latched with cabling to hold them securely in place. A large steel door stood across from me. It slid open, and a flood of bright light washed into the room. A figure loomed in the entry way.

“So, you’re not dead then.” the man said, his voice rasping and heavy.

“No, I’m not.” I said, wincing as the words came out. “Sorry if I ruined any plans you had that required me to be.” I cracked a dry, painful smile.

The figure walked over and bent down, looking me in the eye. His face was a sickly yellow in the lighting, with scars marking him.

He chuckled, and grabbed me by the throat, his hand crushing my neck. I tried to wriggle my neck out of his hand, but he seemed to have an inhuman amount of strength. He lifted me up, my feet dangling in the air.

“You’ve got a smart mouth, boy. I’d kill you for it, but you’re worth more to me alive than dead.”

In one quick movement, he slammed me into the metal floor, bearing the full meteoric force of the act into my the side of my skull. Stars burst from the edges of my vision and my head rang. The lights stuttered and darkness swept over my eyes.

[date/YC110/07/07.end_log]

YC112.02.23 // Conditioning

[date/YC112/02/23_return.log]

“You are no longer men. You are no longer bound by death. You are now Capsuleers, born to fly as gods among the stars.

“You are stronger than any Imperial force, more calculating than any Federation construct. Your willpower shadows that of the Republic, and your unity will make your kind more powerful than the State could ever dream to be.

“You are Capsuleers, subject only to your own thoughts and ideals. No longer will the plight of man trouble you or dismay you; for you command forces and powers that shake worlds and burn down empires.

“You are no longer men; you are Capsuleers. You are gods, and men will bow – and break – before you.”

[date/YC112/02/23_end.log]

YC113.01.05 // Knowing

[date/YC113/01/05_return.log]

It had been almost a year since I had graduated from the Federation Navy Academy. I had learned more in this year than I had in the months leading up to my graduation. I felt stronger – stronger than I had ever been – but I was weary.

The black hole pulsated, sucking breath from the light around it. I had hid in a safespot, far from any celestial. I was cloaked, my covert ops frigate idling slowly toward the distant sun. My Helios class ship, the Traveler, was almost completely undetectable.

I pinged my directional scan, keeping a wary eye out for anyone hunting a lone pilot.

Nothing.

I was alone, for the time being.

I could see the black hole pulsate once more. Light streamed into the event horizon, and a rare thought crossed my mind.

Were it not for the slight, bending swirls, it would’ve been completely undetectable to the naked eye – it was seen, but only through the most careful of observations. It destroyed mercilessly, and quickly. It bent the very laws of nature to its will. There were hundreds upon thousands of them, lurking out in the shadows or hunting in plain sight such as this one. A black hole judged all before it equally; to them, life was nothing but another force to be crushed under their massive power. One could almost worship them as gods.

In a way, their kind and mine are not so different.

[date/YC113/01/05.end_log.]

YC109.09.23 // The Hard Way

[date/YC109/09/23_return.log]

“The capsuleer program is not an easy road, Adainy. Many attempt and very few actually ever succeed.”

I nodded.

“And you know that once one becomes a capsuleer…” he hesitated. I met his gaze. “Adainy, there’s no going back.”

Another nod. “I know.”

It was quiet for a moment. The ventilation in the room kicked on, letting out a slight creak. I rubbed the scar by my right eye. The slight paralysis that affected the muscles near my temple was acting up again.

“How are your piloting skills?” he asked, breaking the silence.

It was a loaded question. None of the empires would let any regular soldier join, let alone one whose piloting was limited to shuttles and civilian craft. I didn’t respond. There was no need to.

“You could complete the Federation Navy Reconnaissance program. Extremely dangerous, but they teach basic frigate skills, along with tactical fighter piloting with carriers.”

It was an option. I was hardly the most competent and skilled soldier, but I had shown an innate ability to not die. I thoroughly surprised those higher in the chain of command after being sucked into the vacuum of space following a debilitating attack by Amarr extremists on the Minmatar tower where I had been stationed.

“Would you write me a letter of recommendation, Barle?” I asked.

“For the FNR?” He looked puzzled.

“No, for an application to the Federal Navy Academy,” I corrected him. “For capsuleer training.”

He raised his eyebrows, and let out a huff. “Provided you complete the Federation Navy Reconnaissance program – and live trough any subsequent missions or sorties – yes.”

A terse response. He furrowed his brow, shifting some papers on his desk, then looked up at me.

“Adainy, if you do complete the program,” he paused, mulling his thoughts around, ” – well, I can’t make any promises, but I’m sure we could find a way to declare the recommendation to be from the whole of the Servant Sisters of EVE, not just one of their contracted agents.”

I smiled a short smile. That was enough for me. “And my debt with the Servant Sisters?”

“You know there was never a debt to begin with, Adainy.”

I sighed. Barle lifted a glass off his desk and stood up, gazing out his window at the planet below. He took a sip of his drink.

“Moral obligations – there’s something you won’t have to deal with when you’re a capsuleer.”

[date/YC109/09/23_end.log]

YC110.03.14 // Roanoke

[date/YC110/03/14_return.log]

“There’s no one here.”

The wind blew through the city streets, howling as it wound its way between buildings and rushed against their steel faces.

“It’s like everyone just disappeared; vanished.” her voice cackled over the radio.

A storm roiled in the distance, tumbling above the mountains that climbed in the distance. The open window in the room of the apartment complex gave a perfect view of where the farmers would work and toil, their machines now sitting idly in half-plowed plots of land.

I lifted a frame off the table. It was odd to find photographs that were still printed rather than projected. There was a girl in the picture, standing with a boy who had his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He was dressed in the Gallente Federation colors, carrying a backpack that contained personal affects.

She was only a year younger than him, and their posture and smiles gave them away as being close siblings, an obvious fondness between them. They both shared the auburn hair they inherited from their mother, but she had the sharp eyes of their father.

“Adainy, have you found anything? I haven’t had a single hit.” came the voice over the radio again.

I hesitated for a moment. “No. Nothing.”

I turned the frame around and unlatched the back cover. I bent back the short wires holding the photograph against the glass and peeled it away. I folded it, and tucked it into my breast pocket.

I tried to make myself forget those faces. It had seemed they had all but disappeared.

I looked out the window one last time. I watched the fields sway, and the storm roll slowly over the city. The wind rushed through the window, scattering loose papers in the room.

“Rendezvous at the western checkpoint in five; we’re heading back.”

[date/YC110/03/14_end.log]