A Dead Man’s Oath

Somewhere between reality and a dream…

Angus walked through the field, his hands hovering just above the grain on the end of the stalks. Never, in all his days, had he knew such peace. Only as an immortal had he come here, to this place of calm and quiet.

Every capsuleer’s experience was different. Some had reported nightmares, terrified screaming in a hellish land of in-between that lasted only moments. Most just said it was a split-second shift as their consciousness transferred between clones.

Angus always went to the field. It never felt like it lasted very long, but even a little while was more than enough for him. Never had he known such beauty as this.

He looked around, disoriented, something overcoming his senses. He had no choice but to go to his knees while he tried to contain the explosion that was occurring in his psyche.

Screams of dying crewmembers over the comms, his ship splitting apart as it’s hull gave way under the onslaught of enemy fire. He felt the liquid shifting in and out of his lungs. Panic rose in him. Searing pain ripped through him as his pod came apart at the seams.

Angus screamed. He did not hear it, however, as the liquid in his lungs would not allow it.

He opened his eyes again, but the surroundings had changed. He was in the liquid goo of a clone vat.

The decanting process initiated. The liquid drained from the tube as the cover retracted. Angus fell to the floor, gagging from the fluid in his lungs expelling itself.

He tried to stand, but the world felt impossibly heavy.

The last thing he remembered was his head bouncing off the floor.

Later…

Angus stared out of the viewport in the small room he was locked into. Since waking, he found that he was a prisoner of some unknown agent with a hidden agenda. Everything else was a bit foggy.

Someone cleared their throat behind him. “Excuse me, Mr. Thermopollye.”

He turned. The newcomer was squat, cumbersome-looking, and, based on the creases in his forehead, was a perpetually unhappy man. He wore an elegant suit, the likes of which he’d only seen executives wear.

“I can see you’re out of sorts,” said the man. “That’s to be expected. Your consciousness has been stored in a buffering status for the past 4 years.”

“Excuse me, but who the hell are you? Why am I here? And what do you mean I’ve been in a buffering status for 4 years?” Angus was not sure exactly what happened, but he was positive he didn’t like it.

“Of course, Mr. Thermopollye,” said the man. “You desire an answer to your current predicament. Do you remember how you died, Mr. Thermopollye?”

His mind raced with the images of destruction that had played out a moment before his clone had been decanted. He couldn’t recall anything other than those images. They had no context.

The man nodded, acknowledging the look of bewilderment on his face. “Someone not only killed all your clones but they also erased you from the transneural scanning firewall and data stream. Your consciousness would have completely dissipated into the ether. You would have lost both your body and spirit, Mr. Thermopollye.”

“How did I survive then?”

“Sheer luck,” said the man. “An SoE research vessel near your location was testing some alpha phase cloning technology for the deployment of ground operatives when your consciousness was caught in their local buffer stream. Not having a body grown to place you in, nor having any knowledge of who you really were, we had to determine our path forward.”

Angus narrowed his eyes. “But, out of the kindness of your own hearts, you saved me and I’m free to go, yeah?”

The man smiled. “Not exactly.”

“Figures. Where am I?” asked Angus, his voice cold now, his tone was measured.

“You are on The Sanctuary Institute of Paleocybernetics at Thera XII.”

“What the hell am I doing on an SoE station in a ■■■■■■■ wormhole?”

“In short, we need you for the very skillset for which we believe you were killed,” said the man. “It turns out that with all of your experience, you will make a prime candidate to serve as a diplomatic envoy for the SoE.”

Angus laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Not at all,” said the man. “Of course, you’ll have no official connections to the SoE nor will you ever mention it to anyone.”

“So,” said Angus. “I’m your spy.”

“That is an indelicate term to identify what you will be doing for us,” said the man. “Yes, you will be our eyes and ears, but you will also be our agent of intent on the ground. You will be our hand as well, to correct the path as we see fit.”

Angus shook his head. “I don’t get it. Why pick me?”

“Make no mistake, Mr. Thermopollye,” said the man. “You are not a special instance, nor are you a “chosen one.” You are one of many agents we employ for various reasons. We like to keep tabs on the inner workings of the Empires.”

“Great,” said Angus. “So, you have a lot of immortals on your payroll?”

“Quite a few, actually,” said the man. “Even your kind are susceptible to persuasion.”

“I kind of guessed that,” said Angus. “So, what happens if I don’t comply?”

“That would be… unfortunate,” said the man. “We would have to forcibly terminate your employment. You will recall that you had no clones as they were all wiped from the system. Your clone reservoir is now controlled by our technicians. If you die, it is only at our behest that you will be reborn. You would do well to remember that you have functionally been stripped of your immortality.”

“And here I thought the SoE was all about peace and goodwill,” said Angus.

“Peace and goodwill come at a cost, Mr. Thermopollye,” said the man. “Sometimes, to achieve the goal you desire, certain moral platitudes must be ignored.”

The man turned, waved his hand over the console, and the door slid open.

“You will be briefed at 0900 local tomorrow on your situation, cover, and other attributes of your assignment,” said the man. “Welcome to the fold, Mr. Thermopollye.”

8 Likes

“CEO Log, um, day whatever.”

Angus stood in his new office at what he was now referring to as the Trinity Station Complex over Cat III in the Essence Region. They were also placing command centers over the entire planet. The planetary governor was appreciative of the influx of jobs the stations had brought to their planet.

“The SoE was quite… generous,” he said. “They provided enough capital to fund this venture under the guise of our old corporation, Club Zer0. Nina was gracious enough to abdicate her role as CEO and place the corporation in my hands. I was able to send her home as our envoy to the Matari capsuleer organizations. I expect she will excel at the position of diplomat.”

He turned and picked up the globe on his desk of Caldari Prime and turned it in his hands.

“I also managed to contact Visian, who was more than happy to take a diplomatic position in Jita,” he continued. “He jumped at the chance to get knee deep in Caldarian whiskey and prostitutes. It’s the best place for him to be honest. Especially considering how likely the Caldari loyalists will view a Caldari-led corporation operating in the Gallente borders instead of joining the never ending and insipidly ignorant war effort. Vapor will excel at telling them to ■■■■ off.”

The booms of incoming ships indicated that market operations had begun on the other station. He nodded quietly in approval.

“I also managed to get in touch with Maverick,” he said. “He was living in some hell hole in Hek, snorting Frentix of all things. I got him cleaned up and back in a mining ship. I’ve yet to find his adopted brother Shuro, but I’m still looking.”

His datapad beeped several times. Incoming requests from the various construction sites that needed approval, no doubt.

“The biggest downside to this whole deal with the SoE isn’t the fact that I have to carry out their secret agenda or end up perma-dead,” he said. “It’s the fact that they saddled me with an Amarrian that is supposed to be my ‘in’ with the Empire. They have no idea I have my own contacts. They should have researched better.”

His door chimed. Kaylon, the aforementioned Amarrian, had arrived for their morning meeting. Prompt as usual. Angus felt a headache coming on.

“End recording,” he said.

“Begin CEO log,” said Angus. He was sitting in his office, enjoying a very smooth Pator gin that he’d picked up the other day from one of the merchants in the station. It was his first opportunity to relax in days.

“The Trinity Station Complex is, for all intents and purposes, complete,” he said. “The market, reprocessing, and industrial sections are all live and open to public use. The Pleasure Hub is stocked with, and I don’t say this lightly, some of the most beautiful male and female specimens that any race has to offer.”

He took a slow sip and smiled.

“I also ventured onto the IGS stream recently,” he started. “I see it as the best way to begin making contacts and carrying out my mission. With any luck, both the SoE and the capsuleer organizations won’t figure out what I’m up to until it’s too late.”

An alarm went up. He checked his datapad. There were more Guristas poking at their station defenses. It was best to leave them be. He sent out an order to his security team.

“The empires are crumbling,” he said. “Some faster than others. The Minmatar are essentially pets of the Gallente. The Amarr are insular and proud to the point that they would rather burn than accept help. My own people think of nothing but conquests and nationalism.”

He looked out once again across the space out his window. It had become a familiar sight. The beauty of the planet below them. The lives being led there.

“It’s all dying,” he said. “I can feel it. The incursions, the rot of politics. The empires will fall soon and it will be up to the capsuleers to pick up the pieces. I wonder if they’re ready? End recording.”