EVE Fiction

 
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"Graduation" an EON fiction contest submission.

Author
Caldari State
#1 - 2012-10-30 02:00:47 UTC
Graduation

I watched Ai-Wei chew her lip idly in the seat before me. The holographic representations that hovered above each of our desks showed a great deal of detail. Thousands of lines of data scrolled across the screens showing engine outputs, trajectories, navigational aids, and other information.

It had been over a year since the two of us had our rather unfortunate encounter with a Succubus frigate. Salma was up to her word, and I guess she was impressed that a lowly propulsion engineer like Ai and a power engineer like myself could counter board a Sansha frigate while she, the capsuleer sat rather uselessly in her pod.

Of course, the two of us would soon be sitting in pods of our own. The Hedion University classroom that the two of us sat within had become quite a familiar place for the two of us since then. In a universe teaming with human life numbering in the trillions, a familiar face was a comforting thing.

"All this data is information that will be fed to you real time in your pod, the implants are designed to simplify the information and help translate it so that piloting your ship becomes as natural as walking out that door when this class is finished." The lecturer said. "Before any of that takes place we'll see if you can work out how to maneuver a vessel without the benefit of a capsule."

We'd been doing exercises of this sort since we arrived, and the benefits of being engineers proved readily apparent to the two of us. Ai-Wei had a better grip on thruster dynamics, usage, and navigation thanks to her years as a propulsion engineer. While I, a former power engineer had a better understanding of capacitor usage, power grid use, and the various other odds and ends that came from crawling around the engine housing of a ship for many years.

This exercise was a typical one, nothing more complex then docking with a station, and while I admit that, the first half a dozen times I'd managed to bounce off a space door or two I'd managed to get around that. Ai of course had aced those exercises. When I finished the exercise, the lecturer studied the results for a moment then nodded. "Ai-Wei Song and Akash Misra, please stay behind."

I frowned as the others shuffled out of the room and left the two of us alone out of a class of twenty. The lecturer stared at us after a moment and sighed. "I must say you two have impressed me with how fast you've picked up this, but then glancing at your records, I'm not surprised." He tapped the podium for a moment. "I'm testing you out of this course... the two of you have far too much experience with spacecraft operations to gather much more knowledge here."

"Out of the course?" Ai gaped at the instructor. "But... we? You think we can test out?"

"Of course you can. Your understanding of propulsion systems means that you've managed to reduce thrust use for these navigational tests to the point that you're coasting through them, and Akash is coasting through the capacitor testing simulations. While you abilities in cross specialization areas isn't nearly as good, it's still above minimum certification level." He smirked faintly. "Frankly I'm not sure why we do this sort of work if I'm honest... the implant system a capsuleer uses allows for the continuous processing of new information, allowing you to learn when you sleep, when you fight, when you fly..."

"Oh... I understand that, but that means all we have left is medical certification and..." She bit her lip. "Clone activation."

I swallowed. That was one bit the both of us were terrified of, the last step in becoming a capsuleer. The implants and clone activation, where they switched off the body we were born with and transferred our consciousness to a new body grown in a vat with the implants already housed and running down our spines. Many switched off and never woke up, others woke up changed, or half crazed. Some of the instructors seemed to think each of us were bound to end up as crazed killing machines once we woke up in a clone body, despite how much they seemed to like us.

"It's quite painless... but I can understand your disquiet at the thought of being euthanized as the final step in the process." The instructor sighed. "Refusing the test merely delays it, unless you're having second thoughts on the whole thing."

"No, no second thoughts." I said stiffly while Ai nodded. "Just... worries. I'd rather wake up myself then."

"Well, I'm going to give you the simulation then." He said with a shrug and the two holographic images crammed full of data appeared over each of their desks. "You have twenty minutes to plot a course through this asteroid field as fast as possible while maintaining a capacitor charge of twenty percent."

We quietly went to work and quickly figured out a course using the micro-warp drives mounted on the ships, and I was sure Ai had the quicker solution. When the instructor returned and examined the results, he merely shrugged. "You're certified, as for your medical certification the both of you are still fairly young and have had a physically demanding job before coming here so I expect you both to pass that easily."

I swallowed nervously as I stood. "So, all that's left is... the implants."

He nodded before pulling a certification chip from the podium for each of us and handed them over. "Here's your certification, I suggest you head over to the medical section for examination."

Ai nodded as I took one of the chips and palmed it carefully. "So..."

"Yeah." Ai said quietly as she stared at the chip. "I guess it's real now."

"You could say that." I smiled faintly and led her toward the door. "Still, it can't be worse than fighting a crew of Sansha slaves."

Her lips twitched into a smile for a moment before she resumed her grave expression. "I didn't think we'd get this far."

I nodded before heading toward the door. "How long do you think the medical certification will take?"
Caldari State
#2 - 2012-10-30 02:02:18 UTC
"I don't know." She said quietly. "I... I'm getting that queasy feeling again." Her face grew pale as the two of us stepped out into the hall and walked to turbo-lift cluster. We stepped inside an empty one and hit the button taking us up to the medical ward.

We stepped out into a concourse marked with various rooms and a number of workers clad in the uniforms of doctors. As we walked over to a desk, the red haired woman beside it stared at us in a rather bored manner. "Let me guess, your medical certification?"

"Yes." Ai said before presenting her certification chip. "I... I'm a bit nervous about this whole thing."

"Understandable." The woman said flatly as she swiped the chip into a reader and nodded. "Examination room two-twenty, just down the hall."

"Do you know how... how long this will take?" She asked quietly.

"Not long at all." The receptionist said before swiping my card. "About thirty minutes to an hour."

"Thank you." Ai said before hurrying off.

I swallowed as the woman handed back my chip. "Room four-nineteen." She pointed to another hallway and I slowly made my way to the room. Stepping inside I felt a scanner slowly sweep over my body as I entered. Then a doctor stepped inside from the opposite end of the room. Holographic displays lit up around me as the room’s sensors made a complete scan.

The old and rather ragged looking man slowly walked around me, his lips pursed as he began to mutter to himself. "Subject Name: Akash Misra, Ethnicity: Intaki, Pressure: 94 mmHg, Weight..."

I just stood there as the doctor paced around me taking my stats as I watched I noticed a readout over the corner of one of the displays stating implant rejection probability. It said 73%.

I felt a chill run down my spine as I saw that and the doctor stopped. "Something wrong?"

"Sorry, just saw the implant rejection probability." I answered quietly.

The doctor glanced at it and smiled faintly. "Aww... it's nothing to worry about. I think the lowest I ever saw it measured was 69%." He stepped through one of the holographic images and pulled a small scalpel from his pocket. "Now... I just need a bit of your blood so the cloners can get to work."

The man had apparently practiced the action on thousands as the quick cut didn't even register until a small bandage was slipped across it, then he smiled faintly. "You're medically certified for implantation... now we'll just have to get you ready. The cloners should have a body ready for you in twenty minutes or so."

"So... the surgery."

"We can get started immediately." The doctor said. "Or would you rather wait?"

"No. No wait." I said and took a deep breath. "So... you'll."

I didn't even feel the pinprick of the needle filled with anesthetic. One moment I was awake, and upright, the next moment I wasn't. I guess they've gone ahead and made making capsuleers an industrial process of a sort.

I felt tinkles running under my skin and my eyes fluttered open. The worn looking doctor smiled faintly at me before leaning back and a robot arm descended down and shined a bright light in each eye.

"Dilation... good, seems everything is functioning. Akash, how do you feel?"

"Strange." I murmured and reached back to touch my head and felt a bald spot at the base of my skull along with a single metal jack, the implant, the first one at least. "It's like there's tingles up there."

"That would be the cybernetics linking up to your nervous system, totally normal." The doctor smiled faintly for a moment then stepped back. "Now... I'll run one last scan and we can take you to the last step."

I flinched, the final step in becoming a capsuleer... the clone activation. He tapped a display, the scanner swept over me once more, and the man chewed his lip for a moment. "No signs of rejection, just a bit of swelling... nothing to worry about."

"So... I'm." I swallowed. "Prepped then?"

"Yes, that's a good description of it." He tapped the display once again. "Clone activation chamber number seven is ready for you... now run along. I believe I have another prospective capsuleer waiting."

He hurried me out the door clad in a hospital gown and I glanced around the hall. A holographic sign gestured to the clone bay and I took a deep breath before padding along the hall. I stepped out into circular room lined with hatches. As I glanced at the signs, I saw a hatch open and a gurney rolled out, topped with a body bag. Before the door cut shut, I heard the words reprocessing tanks from inside.

I swallowed as the cart rolled past and glanced at the number seven hatch and stepped inside.

A woman glanced up from a control console to the left and sighed. "Subject: Akash Misra... you understand the Hedion Academy has no legal responsibility for the failure of the implants or cloning process, that you are undergoing the procedure with full knowledge of those risks, and that litigation of the failure of these implants is explicitly outlawed by CONCORD."

"Yes." I said before swallowing the lump that had risen in my throat.

The woman shook her head. "No one ever walks away now..." She sighed and gestured to a chair. "Please sit down."

As I sat, a cloning cylinder was slowly lowered into the room and I stared at the complete clone sitting idly within. It was strange seeing my own sleeping form sitting in the tank, his hair floating around his... err... my face. I felt the woman's cold hands at the back of my neck and braced myself as a piece of cold metal slid over my skin.

I felt the connector lock in place and swallowed. "Close your eyes please."

I closed my eyes and felt a jolt run through my nervous. My hands clutched the armrests and I gasped.

"Consciousness transfer in progress." I heard a female voice whisper in my ear then gasped as images assaulted my brain. My eyes snapped open and I stared.
Caldari State
#3 - 2012-10-30 02:03:08 UTC
I saw myself sitting in the chair, my eyes closed. The whole room had a strange off blue tint. Then my body toppled forward lifelessly and slumped to the ground.

"Consciousness transfer complete." The voice spoke in my mind and with a gurgle the liquid holding my fresh unmarred clone form flushed away. I choked on the fluid in my mouth just as the clear plastic door hissed open and I stumbled onto my knees. I wretched and fluid splattered against the grating.

The woman bent forward and lifted a light up to both my eyes. I blinked it away as she studied my face for a moment. "What's your name?"

"Name... Akash, Akash Misra." I coughed afterwards and gasped for breath. "Damn... what a rush."

She stared at me for a moment then nodded. "In a few moments I'll let you go... capsuleer."

I blinked those words rattling around my brain case for a moment before registering. I stood and she handed me a towel. "It's good to be back."

"Cleanup team, clone activation room seven." The woman said before tapping the controls. "Clone room. Prep an alpha clone for Akash Mira."

"Acknowledged."

I wrapped a towel around my middle and stared at my limp form. "Um... clothes?"

"Oh, sorry... um, do you want those on... well, you?" She asked.

I stared at the limp form for a long moment and shook my head. "That... just seems a bit morbid, don't you think."

"Noble Exchange offers a starter set for capsuleers, I'll get one out for you." She said before tapping the keys and a case slid out from the wall. "Go ahead."

I walked over to the case, extracted a set of clothes similar to my old ones, and pulled them on carefully. "Could you check on one of my fellow umm... capsuleer candidates?"

"Of course..."

"Ai-Wei Song, she's a friend of mine." I said quietly and for a moment considered switching to the Amarrian faith to pray for her, at least until I remembered that I was officially damned for being a clone.

"Checking... she just finished clone activation as well, congratulations." She smiled faintly. "Just your graduation exercise left... I believe they're breaking out a Velator now for you."

"Thank you." I shook my head. "As for the graduation exercise... please I'm alive, that's a good step forward for me."

"Good luck out there and..." the woman smiled faintly, "...clear skies."
#4 - 2012-11-01 19:02:34 UTC
Excellent work. One of the best I have read for a long while! Cool
My missus thinks of EvE as 'the other woman'. :)
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