A Noble Purpose

Ready to Strike

X-Frazel stood against the dining room wall holding a tray of beverages. His job was to wait until the primary wait staff would motion him to a guest that needed refilling. He did his best to feign the friendly personality that his implant had wiped from his mind, and would shoot a smile here and a nod there.

He had taken note of Father Drakon’s seat at a table, but had been assigned to a station across the room from him. He planned to move closer to the priest once Meara Natinde left the dining room to pilot the ship through the Ahbazon system, which should happen soon.

He gave a quick glance to a decorative display on the wall that showed the Eternal Wind’s current location, and was surprised when he saw they were in a system named Hati. He did not know all the details of their route, but he knew that they were not moving closer to Ahbazon.

X-Frazel found himself between a rock and a hard place. He faced physical pain if he deviated from his mission’s instructions by attempting the assassination anywhere but Ahbazon, but he faced death and his family’s torture if his mission failed. He had the ability to send a ping that would request new instructions, but he could only use it as a last resort. All he knew to do for now was to wait and watch and hope that the ship returned to its normal route soon.

“Maybe,” he thought, “there is an errand to be run or a side trip along the way.”

The display on the wall kept changing: Esescama, then Odin, then Ohide. Meara Natinde was still bouncing between tables welcoming everyone. It did not look to X-Frazel that she had any concern about the time at all, which could only mean that she did not intend to take control of the ship. Minutes passed and the display continued to change: Sasoutikh, then Gheth, and then Mehatoor.

“Mehatoor?” X-Frazel thought. He recognized that system name. It was the home of the headquarters of the Amarr Militia’s 24th Imperial Crusade, and nowhere near Ahbazon.

X-Frazel’s realization that he could neither follow his instructions nor fail his mission caused a reaction from the implant that governed his actions. His vision began to blur and he thought his head might split open.

The Eternal Wind was a Victorieux-class Luxury Yacht that had the comfort of its passengers as a priority. With Canaith’s recent modification, it was also immensely secure. The bridge of this vessel was more than a navigation center. It was also a central monitoring station for all the systems that worked to ensure the comfort and safety of its passengers.

Dhanaris was the Director of Security. Alajir was the Cruiser Director. These two took their jobs seriously, especially today. The satisfaction of their captain, Meara Natinde, was a product of their life’s work, and as children of Amarr, they knew it was their destiny.

A health alert notification was received by Director Alajir. This meant that the health monitoring scanners of the ship had detected a probable health emergency.

“We have a health alert,” she said to those on the bridge as she monitored her team’s response. “It appears to be one of the wait staff. A Discreet Rescue is being executed.”

A Discreet Rescue, or DR, was a protocol designed to create a minimal disturbance for guests during a health emergency.

“Frazel,” a calm and quiet voice said. X-Frazel could barely hear it. He looked up to see his supervisor and an undercover medical technician. Frazel had known the med tech fairly well, though X-Frazel was having a hard time remembering him.

A replacement waiter took away X-Frazel’s tray while the supervisor and med tech quietly began to escort him away. Each step brought him another wave of pain. In desperation, X-Frazel activated a ping from his implant that would inform his employer of the need for updated instructions.

“We have Frazel and are escorting him out of the Dining Room,” he heard the med-tech whisper, presumably to his communicator.

Director of Security Dhanaris received a notification that a signal had been transmitted from the ship on the same secure band used to transmit a signal to the ship earlier that day. Like the earlier signal, the data used the ship’s communications as a carrier signal. This was high tech and expensive.

Dhanaris engaged his monitoring system and saw that the data packet had originated from the Dining Room.

He used a series of monitors and cameras to view the dining room, though what he was looking for exactly he did not know. The schedule indicated that tonight’s program would start in about 15 minutes. He noticed that the Discreet Rescue had escorted a Minmatar waiter to a service entrance. Otherwise, every detail in the room was moving according to schedule.

Another notification alerted Dhanaris that the ship had received another strange data packet like the one received earlier today. He assigned one of his better officers to monitor the dining room while he ran diagnostics on the new signal. The packet had been picked up by an unregistered device somewhere on the ship.

That there were unauthorized communications happening in the communications network of his ship was disturbing, but he calmed himself with the thought that there was no proof that these communications were dangerous.

“The medical emergency is over,” he heard Director Alajir saying. “The patient has had a dramatic recovery. He is resting in the kitchen, and is insisting that he is ready to return to the party. I have told him he can stay right where he is.”

A few officers on the bridge chuckled.


Plan B

X-Frazel knew we had been seconds from death when his new instructions came. Relief had come with them as his implants had given him a reprieve. His new instructions were close to the older ones.

  1. He was to assassinate the target using the poison capsule embedded in one of his molars.
  2. His target was a priest named Drakon Aurelius, who would be speaking at tonight’s event.
  3. He was to make the attempt prior to Drakon’s presentation
  4. After the poison had been delivered into Drakon’s beverage, he was to extract himself from the Eternal Wind via an escape pod on the lower decks.

The med tech had been rather surprised by X-Frazel’s immediate recovery. “I suspected you were having a stroke,” she had said. Nevertheless, at his insistence, she had allowed him to stay in the kitchen, at least for now.

“When things slow down,” she had said, “come and see me at the infirmary. That is an order, you hear me?”

His nod and smile had satisfied her, and she had run off to assist a guest who had indigestion.

Now that he was free of his escorts, he knew his time was nearly up, so he stood and made a beeline toward the dining room.

Director of Security Dhanaris, annoyed that there had been no more clues regarding today’s strange communications, was monitoring the dining room. So far, there was no evidence of increased danger or sabotage. All of his security staff were on high alert and had found nothing.

Then he saw the same waiter who had been escorted out of the dining room reenter from the same door from which he had previously exited. He looked a mess, and his purpose for being in the room was unclear. Then Dhanaris noticed an intensity in the man’s gaze towards Father Drakon. The man moved towards the priest with the look of focused resolve.

He dispatched a message to Daltu Catuntius, one of his security staff who posed as an escort. He was seated at a table near the priest.

X-Frazel passed a waiter and swiped a beverage from the tray he carried. When the waiter looked annoyed, X-Frazel made an apologetic gesture and pointed towards Drakon’s table, but he never slowed his approach. Once he had moved past the waiter, he reached into his mouth and pushed against his tooth, releasing a tiny capsule. He spit the capsule into the bubbly liquid and resumed his steady march towards Drakon.

As he neared the priest, Drakon saw him coming and smiled. X-Frazel smiled back and handed him the glass. Once the beverage left his hand, X-Frazel kept walking toward the main exit of the room.

After considering whether he should have a third drink, Father Drakon decided that he may as take advantage of the opportunity. As the glass approached his lips, a man placed a gentle hand on his arm, managing to pull the glass away.

“Try this instead, Father,” Daltu Catuntius said, handing Drakon a glass of what looked to be real milk. “We will be serving your favorite soon, and I promise this will pair better with your cookies.”

In an instant, the glass Drakon had been about to draw from was out of his hand. He had never had the chance to see where it had gone.

X-Frazel was moving quickly, following hallways with a familiarity he had not realized he had. He approached a hatch that he somehow knew led to lower decks. As he grasped the large handle to open the door, he felt a jolt of electricity and found he could not move. He lost consciousness before his implant could register what had happened.

“Status,” Security Director Dhanaris said to his entire security team.

“Subject is unconscious and in custody,” someone reported.

“Scan everything, and scan it immediately,” he barked. “I want to find the device he is using to intercept those signals.”

Meara Natinde’s voice, calm and cordial for the sake of appearances, came across her command channel. “Bridge, please send a message to the CONCORD Bureau Station in Hatakani and let them know we have a medical emergency. Make the message appear hurried, please, and do not encode it.”

Dhanaris smiled and was once again proud of his captain, who was buying them time by giving the appearance that the Minmatar’s mission had succeeded.

“Make Hatakani our destination,” she continued. “We still have our guests to worry about, and we are traveling through Minmatar space.”

“They are not happy we are here,” a bridge officer said.

“Just keep moving and we will be fine,” she encouraged.


Reporting In

Canaith, Meara, and Security Director Dhanaris were together in a virtual room used frequently by Canaith for group calls.

“There is a small implant in his brain,” Dhanaris said, “and some creative dental work. Normal scans would not have found either of them. Since we could not locate any other devices, we currently suspect that the implant is his communicator. Should we remove it?”

“No.” Canaith said, “Any tampering would give our hand away. Place that man exactly where he was when you disabled him, and leave him there. When he wakes his intentions will be made clear.”

“Alone?” Dhanaris asked. “Let him go? Why?”

“Monitor his movements when he is conscious,” Canaith answered. “You say he was headed to a lower deck’s maintenance bay?”

“Yes,” Meara answered.

“His plan was to sabotage the ship or to escape,” Canaith said calmly. “If it is sabotage, you will stop him. If he escapes, you can track him.”

“Why?” Dhanaris asked.

“Because,” Meara said, her tone indicating she was not happy with Dhanaris, “if our enemies know he has failed, they may try again.”

“And If we do not find out who did this,” Canaith said. “It will just be blamed on the Minmatar, which I find too convenient of a cause.”

“We will see it done,” Dhanaris said, having rediscovered his submissive tone.

“Thank you, Dhanaris,” Meara said, which was a polite way of dismissing him.

When it was just the two of them, she said, “I should have been able to stop this. I noticed something was amiss about him today and did not follow through.”

“You are clever, charming, and dutiful, my Dearest Meara,” he said warmly, “but you are not able to read minds… unless, of course, it is mine.”

She smiled, and even felt a little better.

“I appreciate that Dhanaris was able to disable the assassin when he did,” he said. “It may have bought you some time.”

“The truth will get out soon enough,” Meara said.

“Keep your guests entertained and keep what has happened in a cloud. Fly quickly and fly safe, Meara. Get yourself home before our enemy knows they have failed.”


Father Drakon’s Audit

Drakon was experiencing an extraordinary sense of contentment. Not since the beginning of his lonely existence in the monastery had he been accorded such respect and attention. Before being summoned by Canaith, he had resigned himself to the prospect of fading away in obscurity. However, his recent interactions with Canaith’s staff had led him to rediscover his priestly calling. His insights were valued, his knowledge recognized as meaningful. He sensed his mind emerging from its isolated darkness, basking in the light of newfound social purpose. He also suspected that there was something in his drink that elicited a joyful mood. He would not find fault in it.

Amid the delightful and surprising distribution of cookies, Meara Natinde appeared out of nowhere and assumed a position at a podium on a raised dais. Despite her uniform, it had undergone modifications that asserted her distinctiveness. The style checked the boxes of conformity without really conforming at all. Drakon pondered the amusing notion of Meara Natinde attempting to conform to a crowd. The attempt, he suspected, would fail.

I hope you are finding our evening enjoyable," she elegantly expressed, adhering to the refined comportment typical of Amarrian events. "Yet, I must confess a growing eagerness to absorb the wisdom that Father Drakon Aurelius is about to bestow upon us.

Many among you have dedicated considerable time to Canaith Lydian’s noble pursuits, and have witnessed how in all of his endeavors a desire to strengthen Unity among the Amarr. He, along with all of us, embraces the idea that there is always room for improvement.

In that spirit, then, let none of you fear reprisal. Let us lay down any defenses, so that Canaith’s lifelong mentor might not find resistance from any of us.”

There were words of agreement, nods, and then applause from all in the room.

“Father, the podium is yours,” she said, bowing deeply and retreating from the platform.

As Drakon stood, so did everyone else. He made his way to the podium, still surrounded by his hooded escorts. Despite his bent frame and years lacking practice, he managed to look every bit the dignified priest. His presence, and whatever it was that was in everyone’s beverages, set a worshipful tone in the room. Something about the moment, even without his having spoken a word, was drawing everyone to a spirit of fellowship. He motioned for all to take their seats.

“It is not often,” he started, “that a priest is called by a man seeking voluntary scrutiny.”

There were politely quiet chuckles from around the room.

“It is also rare to have the opportunity to serve such a dear friend.

I served in proximity to Canaith Lydian’s family as he grew up. Most children avoid priests, and who can blame them.” There were more chuckles. “Not Canaith. He wanted to know everything, and wanted, more than most of us, to know why I gave him the answers that I did.

He was a deep thinker, and sometimes too clever for his own good, but eventually I stopped scolding him for what some might consider its own kind of stubbornness, and helped him find satisfactory answers to the ‘why’ of everything. I gave him this liberty because as he heard my answers I could sense in him a growing faith that transcended mere conformity. He did not love Amarr because he was told to do so. His love came from a pursuit of something better than .

What I learned from our conversations changed my own course, which I know is a rare confession of a priest. Canaith’s genuine satisfaction with my answers strengthened my own faith in them.”

He paused, as if waiting to control his emotions.

“So, as we go through your procedures, your services, your ministries, will you commit with me to attempt to love Amarr because you wish to belong to Amarr?”

And with that, he presented the report of his findings. Meara was grateful in the artistry of Drakon’s interchange between encouragement and admonishment. He was fair, and from his lips came a blaze of heartfelt conviction. He did not accuse, shame, or threaten. His exhortations were hopeful and appeared to be heartfelt. Of course, she had been too busy to pay much attention to the details, so she could have been wrong.


The Assassin’s Escape

X-Frazel’s consciousness reignited from a well of numbness and pain. He was face first on the floor beside the maintenance hatch that, he supposed, had so mercilessly shocked him. As he tried to stand, a pressure from the bass of his neck to his temples left him dizzy. His vision was surrounded by a haze. The only thing he knew to do was to continue following his instructions, so he managed to lean against the door while turning the monstrous handle until he was able to pull the door open. As he crossed the doorway, he sagged to his knees and crawled along the passageway towards the personal escape pods. He did not know why he knew they were here, and at this point he did not care. So long as we obeyed his instructions, the pressure eased. Any delay just made the pain worse.

“One day,” he thought, “I am going to find the demon who put this thing in my head and squeeze the life out of him.”

Security Director Dhanaris was aboard the bridge of the Eternal Wind watching Frazel’s every move.

“His vital signs are a mess,” said the medical technician who had assisted the Minmatar earlier.

“You are sure he was not injured by us?” Dhanaris answered.

“No way, Sir. These readings are identical to the ones I took while executing the Discreet Rescue on this guy.”

“And he recovered?”

“Like magic, Sir. I thought we were losing him, but suddenly he was fine.”

Dhanaris watched the Minmatar’s steady crawl. “Where are you going?” he thought.

X-Frazel grunted and huffed as he fought his way past the pain and down the corridor until finally he found the escape pod. He pulled himself up and pressed the big red button that would open the pod while most likely signaling its use to someone on the ship, and then threw himself against the harness inside. The harness automatically tightened around him, allowing him to relax against it.

As the door of the pod closed, he felt a wash of relief: the pain in his head was gone. He gave himself a few short breaths to enjoy the absence of pain and then yanked on the manual pod release lever.

“There!” the technician cried. “It happened again. His vitals are all in the green.”

As Dhanaris watched the door of the escape pod close, he quickly checked to verify that there had been no new mysterious signals carried along the ship’s network. There was a mystery here, but he did not know how to solve it.

A red light bounced to life on multiple bridge displays indicating that an escape pod had been activated. Dhanaris flipped to an external view from the Eternal Wind to see the pod just drifting lazily away. To Dhanaris, it seemed the most awkward escape attempt possible, for the villain had just ejected from the ship into the interior of a space station. Where was it that he intended to go?

Meara’s voice came on the bridge’s communications channel, “Make our destination the Shuria system. We will drop off our guests as soon as we arrive.”


Father Drakon’s Counsel

When Meara let him know that she and the Eternal Wind were safe in Amarr, Canaith had run out of excuses for putting off his next session in the Pilgrimage. His reluctance was silly – this next session is why he had programmed the simulation in the first place– but he suspected that some part of himself was afraid of the truth. Canaith had revealed more of his weakness to Drakon-AI than he had ever confessed before, even to himself.

“I may as well see this done,” he grunted as he loaded up the simulation.

The session began with Drakon-AI and him standing on a hill outside of a large city, presumably on Amarr. Tall spires in the city center painted the sky with the fingerprints of Amarr architecture.

“The Capsuleer poses a theological dilemma,” Drakon-AI began. “While the Imperial declarations will reconcile our faith with the science of capsuleer technology, there exists many who echo sentiments similar to your father’s, and more than a few who have perspectives similar to yours.”

Canaith thought that what Drakon-AI said seemed obvious, but it was unusual to hear anyone say it out loud, especially a priest.

“And where do you stand, Drakon?” he asked, “Do you believe us alive or dead? Are we people or monsters?”

“If faith in Amarr is life,” Drakon-AI started, speaking slowly, “then each individual can be connected to that life in two ways. We can be connected spiritually, in our hearts, and we can be connected legally, through the Law. Within our society, connection through the Law is mandatory. It would be a beautiful thing, though, if we all shared a connection inwardly,” Drakon-AI continued, “from a sincere longing in our hearts. That would be…”

“… true Unity,” Canaith interrupted.

Drakon-AI nodded, “…the absence of Inner Dissonance…”

“…the end of hypocrisy,” Canaith mused.

“But from the beginning,” Drakon said, more soberly, “it has proven difficult to shepherd Amarr’s children into a spiritual connection, and you know the reason why.”

“Because,” Canaith said, seeing where Drakon was going, “each individual chooses who they are. Outward behavior can be mandated, but each person has his own mind.”

“Indeed,” Drakon acknowledged. “Thus, the Amarr have always relied upon the Law. It serves as the binding force that weaves our culture and people together, enabling the Priesthood to uphold our ideals, though it often results in a mere outward imitation of those ideals. Through repetition of the imitation, we hope to guide our people towards a genuine spiritual connection, or at the very least, toward valiant efforts in that direction.”

Canaith looked confused. “How does this relate to capsuleers? You have managed to avoid the question, my friend.”

Drakon-AI’s gaze shifted to look at the city.

“What do you think would happen to Amarr,” he asked, “in the absence of the Law?”

This question surprised Canaith. There was no Amarr without the Law. Without the Law, there would be no Imperial Face, no protocol, no pretense at conformity, and nothing to constrain social conduct. Each person would be choosing their own way, not just in their thought life, but in the open. The idea was so absurd that it made Canaith want to laugh.

“It would be chaos,” Canaith finally replied.

“Yes,” Drakon agreed. “It most definitely would. The outward expression of Amarr would vanish.”

Canaith looked at Drakon, failing to see the connection.

“Canaith,” Drakon-AI said, “Capsuleers have experienced a kind of death, but not in the way that you perceive it. What you call the ‘call of the wraith’ has existed for all time in all people. Its source is Evil Incarnate, and evil was a plague to the hearts of people long before the existence of Capsuleers. The evil of a Capsuleer is arguably more dangerous, but evil is evil and sin is sin.”

Drakon-AI turned to look Canaith right in the eyes, and Canaith had to nod in agreement.

“Your father planted an idea into your young mind and your experience of evil merged with it and led you to an incorrect conclusion.”

“What are you saying, Drakon? Are Capsuleers alive or dead?”

“They are dead,” Drakon-AI said, still looking directly into Canaith’s eyes. “They are dead to the Law.” Drakon-AI’s mouth closed shut, and the look on his face suggested that what he had said was important.

Canaith tried to process the phrase “dead to the Law”. What did Drakon mean?

“Without the Law,” Canaith said, “there would be chaos.” He was merely echoing his answer to an earlier question. “Capsuleers are dead to the Law.”

“And so there is chaos among the Capsuleers,” whispered Drakon-AI.

A realization illuminated Canaith’s mind. With the establishment of CONCORD, Capsuleers functioned beyond the custodial grasp of every faction, including the Amarr. Although Canaith, Meara, and every Amarr pilot were initially citizens of Amarr, they became “dead to the Law” of Amarr upon transitioning, as the Law could no longer exert its full influence on them. While attempts to complain, hinder, or even cancel a Capsuleer were possible, the Law remained powerless to directly impact one. There were tiny, irrelevant penalties for some violations, certainly, but the majority of codes, creeds, and protocols that governed every aspect of an Amarr citizen’s life were unenforceable to Capsuleers, and thus held no real authority over them.

“We are born to Amarr,” Canaith said, “and then die our first death…”

“…and every subsequent clone that contains your consciousness is dead to the Law.” Drakon-AI interrupted.

“Which results in chaos…,” Canaith said.

“…due to a resulting sensitivity to what exactly?” Drakon-AI asked.

“The Call of the Wraith,” Canaith answered confidently.

“The malady you have witnessed is not a change in the fundamental essence of a Capsuleer, but simply a matter of legality and consequence. A Capsuleer’s obedience is voluntary…”

“…because there is no Law to mandate obedience,” Canaith said.

“And so the lure of evil beckons to all living souls, Canaith,” Drakon-AI said with certainty, “even a Capsuleer’s. In that way there is no difference between us.”

Canaith was a bit stunned. His long held beliefs were being reorganized around this new revelation, using the same terms with better definitions.

“Do not continue in the prejudice of your father,” Drakon-AI admonished. “He has a history of being wrong about a great many things, and this error is harming you.”

“You said there were others who shared his opinion,” Canaith argued. “How do you know they are wrong?

Drakon-AI shrugged.

“Although an exact understanding of the spiritual nature of a Capsuleer remains elusive,” he admitted, "there is no justification for assuming the worst. When speculation becomes inevitable, as it appears to be in this matter, let us do so with discernment.

Canaith Lydian, it is quite obvious that your affinity lies more with the living than the dead. It follows logically that you should embrace the opportunities available to the living."


Father Drakon and Meara

Drakon, his escorts ever with him, made his way to the exit bay of the Eternal Wind. The trip had been a grand experience, and his place in it of more importance than he had hoped to have in the remainder of his life. He found himself feeling quite grateful.

That was when the source of his gratitude, the charming Meara Natinde, intercepted him in the promenade. The look on her face, though beautiful, bore a hint of concern.

“Elder Drakon,” she said, giving him a slight bow. Drakon’s heart warmed at the indication that her respect for him had grown since their first meeting.

“Meara Natinde,” he said, blowing in return. “This has been such a privilege for me, and I thank you for giving an old man one final act of such significance.”

“Actually,” Meara said, “we were hoping that you might consider staying on with us a while longer.”

At first, Drakon’s hopes soared, but then he remembered an old promise made by a living devil.

“Father, are you alright?” she asked, her concern for him revealed on her face.

“My dear,” he said, “there are things about me that you do not know. I do not have many friends, and my enemies have long memories. I fear I have tugged against my destiny long enough and should probably retreat back into my hole.”

“I see,” Meara said, “It appears, Father, that you and I have much to discuss. It would please Canaith, and would most certainly please me, if you would allow me to give you a tour of the Bleak Lands. Publicly, we can call it the final stage of your audit. Privately, we have important things to discuss with you. There will be time afterward to retreat back into your hole, should you still wish it.” The smile on her face was kind.

At that moment, Drakon felt a bit of relief from a concern that had plagued him for many years, as Drakon realized that God had been very kind to Canaith through his connection to this woman.

“You honor me again,” he said.

“Good!” Meara said, excited. “Now, if you please, you and I need to go have a very long talk. It has been quite a day, and I would like to tell you about it.”


Old Wounds

Canaith finished re-reading a message he had received from his sister, Krysta.

My Dear Brother,

Our father wishes me to give him a report regarding you. He has not given me a request like this in quite some time. What are you up to, Brother? Is there anything you wish for me to say or anything you wish that I would not say to Sir?

With Adoration,

Krysta Lydian

He had not paid much attention to the message when he had received it, dismissing it as another bit of family drama. Yet, with the news from Drakon and the attempt on Drakon’s life, it made him wonder, “would his father go this far?”

“Does Drakon believe Sir would have ordered this?” he asked Meara, who had just given him a report on what she had learned.

“He was very vague on the matter,” she answered, “but admitted that he was warned to stay away years ago, and that much transpired in his life to demonstrate that the warning should be heeded. When he learned of the attempt on his life, he became concerned that he might have put others in danger, and insisted that we send him home. I was afraid I would not be able to change his mind.”

“I am glad that you did,” Canaith said. “I will come meet you in Egghelende. That is probably the safest place for Drakon until we can work out this mess. The Gallente hate me, but I am sure they love the Ministry of Internal Order even less.

“Very well, Canaith,” she said. “Drakon is uneasy about seeing you. I suspect he fears that you will want him to tell you things he would rather keep to himself.”

“I see,” he answered. “Well, I have another avenue that I shall explore then, and meet you afterward.”

When Meara closed the connection, Canaith readied himself for one final visit to his Pilgrimage.

The session started where the last had ended, on a hill overlooking a city on Amarr.

“Well,” Drakon-AI asked, “you have more questions?”

“I do,” Canaith answered, “though this question has more to do with you, I think, than me.”

“Really?” Drakon-AI asked, looking surprised.

“I would like to understand your history with my father, Sir Lydian.”

There was an odd pause that made Canaith wonder if there was not some kind of network lag.

“I am finding myself reluctant to access those memories,” he finally said.

“I hope that you know that my respect for you and your privacy is great,” Canaith said, bowing, “and that I would not press you on this were it not of real importance. I assure you this is not merely to satisfy my curiosity.”

“Then first,” Drakon-AI said, “you should know that your question’s answer has more to do with you than you might think.”

The scene changed, and Canaith recognized his family home. Drakon and Sir were in a discussion in a room with a very young Canaith. At the end of the meeting, Sir and Drakon shook hands.

Then memory after memory played, only the memories were Drakon’s and not Canaith’s. The pattern of each memory was the same:

  1. Canaith and his father would come to Drakon’s office
  2. Sir would send a file to Drakon that contained a list of topics and viewpoints
  3. Drakon and Canaith would discuss those topics.

As the memories progressed, they portrayed a story of two powerful mens’ efforts to manipulate young Canaith Lydian so that he would grow up in his father’s image.

“Sir wanted your mindset changed,” Drakon said. “He wanted you shaken from your naive views and wanted you to develop an independent mind. So I allowed your questions some latitude, gave you answers that drifted into speculative realms, and followed your father’s scripts… for years.”

“Why?” Canaith asked, obviously reeling with this revelation.

“Money, mostly” Drakon admitted, “and the promise of favors owed by a powerful influence.”

“How?” Canaith asked.

“Our conversations were not recorded,” Drakon said. “Or at least that is what I had been told. My superiors never knew it was happening.”

“But then,” Drakon said, “during your teen years, your Father’s scripts took a darker tone. It was clear that he wanted my assistance in searing your conscience. He wanted you made ready for the compromises he considers necessary in the service of the Ministry.”

Canaith was silent as a stone.

“I told him I was done,” Drakon-AI continued. “I told him I would follow his bidding no longer.”

“What did he do?” Canaith whispered.

“He gave me an ultimatum.” Drakon-AI said. “He told me to shut up and do what I was told. I refused.

The following day, I was reassigned to some back-water chapel without warning. Every attempt I made to appeal was ignored. Finally, your father told me that unless I stayed content in my station he would reveal my attempts to subvert his son. He had somehow recorded everything and has evidence that made it look like it had been my idea all along.”

There was a long pause.

“You are right, Drakon,” Canaith said quietly.

“About what, Canaith?”

“The call of the wraith is not just experienced by a Capsuleer.”

Drakon-AI nodded, his eyes heavy with sorrow. “I can assure you that regret echoes loudly from the corridors of my memory. Had Sir’s true intentions been known, ‘no’ would have been my answer from the beginning. My memories are painted with an extraordinary fondness for a curious boy named ‘Canaith’, and the ache of missing him has grown heavier with each passing year. One of my most recent memories is of the joy I felt when I learned I would see Canaith again, and the hope of learning that my betrayal of a boy’s trust had done no lingering harm to him.”

Canaith knew guilt. His hands certainly were not clean. He decided at that moment that he would forgive Drakon, because all humans, non-capsuleer and Capsuleer, had flawed natures that were susceptible to the call of the wraith. All needed redemption.

“I will tell Drakon that my love for him still lives.” Canaith said.

“Then I expect,” said Drakon-AI, “that you will be setting an old man’s heart free from a lifetime of remorse.”

And with that, the session ended and Canaith’s Pilgrimage was concluded


The Cost of Failure

Sir was participating in yet another boring briefing about the findings in the investigation of the recent movements of the Angel Cartel. The news was horrifying, but nothing new to Sir. This was the post-meeting meeting in which various bureaucrats were preparing statements to be made to other bureaucrats in preparation for subsequent post-meeting meetings. Sir was there to demonstrate an appropriate level of emotional drama as evidence that the Ministry of Internal Order was truly concerned about the coming threat.

“You are telling me that appeals are being made to Capsuleers to serve the Angel Cartel?” someone said. The question had been posed before, but this bureaucrat had not gotten to ask it, so he had to ask it again in order to demonstrate his dramatically enacted concern.

“Yes!” said someone else, showing the appropriate level of drama to demonstrate another agency’s high degree of concern, “and worse. We have evidence that Capsuleers are taking them up on the offer.”

The conversation had gone on and on and round and round like this for quite some time, with each department and agency taking turns demonstrating how concerned they were by reiterating the same points over and over.

Then there was a notification from a very secret channel.

“Good,” Sir thought. “Finally something interesting.”

Sir Lydian> go ahead.

Mad Magister> Target is alive. Yes, alive. He was last seen in the scan report of the Eternal Wind departing from Shuria. Ship destination is unknown. Target location currently unknown.

Sir Lydian> That is unfortunate. And the asset?

Mad Magister> We barely acquired him from a CONCORD detention center in the Hatakani system. This was a very close call. The asset is being reprogrammed immediately to erase any trace memories.

Sir Lydian> Why not eliminate the asset?

Mad Magister> Because this has become too visible and the decision is out of my hands. Reprogramming is all we can safely manage.

Sir Lydian> Leak rumors to independent agencies that blame the Minmatar Republic for an incident aboard a civilian ship in Caldari space.

Mad Magister> Press manipulation has already started. I will handle it. This one was sloppy. Too rushed. Too expensive. Too personal.

Sir winced. His contact’s tone suggested that Sir’s favors were used up. Worse, his contact was correct. This one could have ended badly. Sir had underestimated the Eternal Wind. Sir’s standing among his fellows would take a hit on this one.

“Canaith,” Sir thought, “you run a tighter operation than I thought, Boy. You almost had me.”


Pirates and Traitors

The rumors had been true. The Angel Cartel, along with a variety of pirate factions across New Eden, had enlisted the aid of Capsuleers. CONCORD did not seem to care and refused to intervene. The consequence would be a new kind of chaos across New Eden, especially in Low Security space.

What was worse was that many Capsuleers heeded the call, many of whom were veteran leaders from the largest Militia Alliance, known as AMR. Twan, El Profi, and many others were suddenly running with pirates and rogues, shooting down the ships of the very pilots who had respected them and supported their fleets.

The betrayal sent a shockwave across all the Amarr Militia alliances. The FC’s from AMR, once the Militia’s most respected leaders, now spent their time station-camping haulers and destroying Amarr ships for profit. It made little sense to the rank-and-file, who only wanted to fly honorably and make a difference.

EDICT’s leadership was largely silent about the treachery, and Canaith suspected it was because of conflicting loyalties. Many of the defecting AMR leaders had been personal friends of EDICT’s leaders, and though Canaith felt sorry that his leaders had to endure being abandoned by their friends, Canaith felt no remnant of his friendship for them. They had chosen their path. They had succumbed to the call of the wraith. Until they repented, they were friends of his no longer.

The news of the betrayal had come to Canaith and Meara by way of the destruction of Meara’s Hauler, the Noble Purpose, as it undocked from its home station. Meara had wept over the loss of her crew who had served over a year aboard the ship that Canaith had given her as a gift. Meara was crushed by the betrayal, and could not fathom how people who had been leaders of men left their fellows so easily.

On the night following the day the Noble Purpose had been destroyed, Meara was still reeling under the weight of its loss. She simply did not know what to do with herself. She was also concerned that Canaith might be feeling the weight of the betrayal even more heavily than her, so she sent an empty message wrapped saddened… shocked… and concerned.

“Meara,” came the reply. “please come meet me in Aurcel.” There was no emotional wrapping at all.

A meeting in Aurcel was an odd request. It was the nearest high-security system to their new home, but it was in Gallente space, which would mean Canaith would spend all of his time there running from the Gallente navy. It was not all that dangerous. It just meant he could never sit still.

She boarded a corvette and made her way to the only station in Aurcel, her curiosity temporarily distracting her from her grief. When she docked, she saw that Canaith and her were the only two pilots at the station. By the time she exited her pod and left her ship, Canaith and his guards were waiting for her.

Canaith led her to a viewscreen by a digital console. He pressed a couple of buttons and the view changed to an external camera of the station’s taxiway and hangers. A Prorator was berthed in the station, and it bore the emblem of EDICT Alliance on its hull.

A trade window opened in Meara’s virtual UI, and she saw Canaith was trading this vessel to her. He had bought her another Prorator to replace the Noble Purpose. She accepted the trade and looked at its information in her inventory. The ship, fit exactly as the one she had lost, bore the name A More Noble Purpose.

“What does the name mean?” she asked, still not sure she was ready to stop mourning her loss.

“It means that I have come to realize the difference between a purpose and an objective,” he answered.

Meara said nothing, but the look on her face indicated her interest.

“Auga was not a purpose, but an objective, “he said. “This war against the Minmatar is not a purpose, either.”

“Is it, too, just an objective?” Meara asked.

“Winning it might be,” he answered, “though I have come to realize that this is not the kind of war that is won or lost. The front lines in this war constantly move back and forth. Systems have changed hands over and over again. By now, I doubt the civilians on worlds in the Bleak Lands even notice when their government changes hands.”

“I see,” Meara said, looking a bit melancholy. “Are we to find a different purpose, then?”

Canaith shook his head. “I told you that I have come to realize the difference between a purpose and an objective. From now on, my purpose remains the same.”

Meara tilted her head and looked into his eyes, apparently surprised that she had not known his mind.

“And what is that purpose?” she asked.

“To live honorably, to willingly serve to improve Amarr’s reputation, to support my leaders when their efforts support Amarr, and to seek friendships and unity among those who do the same.”

Meara’s expression communicated approval. “So, are we going to find a new objective? Are we leaving the Warzone?”

“No,” Canaith answered.

“But there is no vision here,” she said. “We have been abandoned, Canaith. EDICT cannot wage this war alone, and I am not sure that they would want to try. Are you not discouraged, Canaith? Do you not find our efforts here to be wasted?”

Canaith simply smiled, his aura one of power and peace.

“If other capsuleers do not choose honor, I cannot choose it for them. I will try to guard my heart so that my sense of peace does not require from others what I cannot control. Sometimes, one has to fly his own ship.”

“It seems, then, that your pilgrimage led you to some answers,” she said, smiling.

“It did,” he said, “but how are you?”

“Canaith, if you are fine, then I am fine.”

“You are by my side, Meara Natinde,” he affirmed, “and henceforth, even if the entire universe descends into chaos, so long as you remain with me, we will be okay.”

“I am glad, Canaith, that you have found peace, and I will seek to find it with you, but what are we to do in the war zone?”

“I suppose we will do whatever little bit that we can, but I do have a request to make of you.”

“Ask anything of me,” she said, “and it shall be granted.”

“Be watchful of me, my Dearest Meara, and remind me often that this war is not my purpose. To break the pattern that wears me thin, I must not become excessively entangled in what is merely an objective,” Canaith urged.

Meara moved a step closer, locking eyes with Canaith.

“It’s inherent in your nature to invest everything you have, Canaith Lydian. How can you expect to restrain what comes so naturally to you?”

“With your help,” he said, “I hope to find a better balance of my life.”

Meara blinked.

“Your ‘life’?” she asked, curious in his use of the term to describe himself. This had not been his practice since she had known him.

Canaith laughed. “I think I am ready to live again.”


Risen from the Dead

At the time that the insurgencies of the Angel Cartel started, most of the War Zone had fallen into Minmatar hands. All the major Amar alliances stumbled to determine how the Militia could maintain a presence in the war with so few leaders and so few remaining systems.

Then an odd thing happened. The Angel Cartel insurgencies struck in the rearguard of the Minmatar lines. As the Minmatar Militia adjusted to the new threat, Canaith, Meara, and dozens of the rank and file of the Amarr Militia pushed into system after system. They retook Raa, Sifilar, Oyeman, Tzvi, Lamaa, and Kourmonen in the east. They took back Tararan, Sosan, Halmah, Asghed, and Arayar in the west. In the north, the system of Aset was taken from the Minmatar for the first time in recent history. These systems fell in rapid succession before the Minmatar could even notice.

Canaith was in the warzone daily, and Meara noticed that he did so consistently but not obsessively. He befriended like-minded Amarr who shared a desire for Amarr victory from EDICT, LUMEN, CVA, AMR, along with many new pilots whose only desire was to fly for the Amarr Cause.

By the time the Amarr were ready to invade Arzad, the Minmatar were awake and ready. That system became the new frontline. Even when outnumbered and beaten, the leaderless rank and file, those whose hearts remained voluntarily aligned with Amarr, would not relent. After days of losses, finally the Amarr won the system.


Canaith and Meara

Meara was just finishing a hauler run from Jita when she received notification of a message from Canaith.

“Would you like to meet me at our usual place in Auga?” he said. “We have captured Kourmonen, so the authorities in Auga have again granted us docking rights.”

“Are there many war targets in the system?” she asked.

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “There is a whole swarm of them.”

“Then give me a minute to put on something cloaky,” she teased, “and I will be right there.”

“I will be waiting in the observation area,” he answered. “We will have a casual celebration of our recent victories.” His message was wrapped in anticipation.

“Then I will hurry!” she replied, wrapped in excitement.

As her stealth bomber was being prepared, Meara reflected on the change she had seen in Canaith over the last several days. He had been flying with anyone he could find who had not given up hope, and in spite of the odds, his demeanor had remained upbeat.

The trip to Auga was short, only two jumps from Egghelende, and soon her Manticore was docked at the station. She felt a bit of pride that the Amarr were allowed to dock in Auga again.

Meara got ready in a hurry, cleaning off the remaining fluids from the pod and dressing casually as quickly as she could. She kept her hair down so that her bangs drew a line around her face and enjoyed how “human” she looked as she sped past a mirror.

As Meara entered the observation area of Canaith’s hangar, she found him standing precisely where he had been during their last visit to this station. His casual attire was familiar, and Meara chuckled when she realized that he was wearing the same clothes he had worn last time. Crossing the room, the familiar sight of Canaith’s Manticore came into view, docked precisely where it had been on that memorable occasion, the time that Meara had actually hugged Canaith. Meara’s cheeks warmed as she recalled that moment, reflecting on the significant transformations that had unfolded as their rare face-to-face encounters had become more frequent.

Realizing Canaith’s intent to recreate the memory, she gracefully positioned herself beside him, occupying the very spot where she had stood on that significant day. Her movements were dramatic and intentional, as if she were acting in a play. The only discernible alterations in the scene were evident in the addition of their discreet bodyguards, who, maintaining a respectful distance, were the sole new elements in this nostalgic scene.

After a few silent moments, Meara looked over and smiled playfully.

“I am glad that you remembered,” he said to her. “The events of that day are one of my fondest memories.”

Meara blushed. “How could I forget?” she said shyly. “That moment sparked some changes, I believe. Since that day, you have even gotten out more.” She wrinkled her nose at him, playfully reinforcing her jest and prompting more laughter.

“Yes,” he said, “that was an important day, though things have really been changing ever since you suggested we fly with the Amarr militia.”

Meara appreciated his nod to her recommendation.

“Speaking of change,” he continued, “what I gleaned from my Pilgrimage has convinced me that I should aspire to less Internal Dissonance.”

“Internal Dissonance?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.

“It means I need to do a better job of expressing what is on my mind. The thoughts I have kept to myself have not served any good purpose for me… or for those I care about.” The expression on his face emphasized that he was alluding to her.

“Oh,” she said, the smile on her face fading as she seemed to contemplate some secret. “I think I need to become better at that as well.”

“Then we shall aspire to achieve less Internal Dissonance together,” he said, his smile causing her to smile again.

They stood in silence for a time, gathering their nerves as they looked out at their ships.

“Was there any specific internal dissonance you had in mind?” she finally asked, looking at him playfully.

“These last few days have taught me many things,” he began. “They have revealed to me long-standing weaknesses in my thinking, my attitude, and my focus. I want to let you know that I regret the impact my years of weakness have had on you.”

Meara shook her head in disbelief. "Weakness?” she asked, her fists clenched at her sides. “Canaith Lydian, I beg to differ. Since the day you deigned to rescue me—a girl without value to herself or her kin, with no prospects or future; tricked into a religious retreat, only to be lured into the clutches of slavers—I’ve never once glimpsed a weakness in you. If anyone dared to claim one, I’d vehemently reject it, for you are the one who breathed life into me.”

She turned to face the observation window, her voice becoming but a whisper that Canaith had to strain to hear.

“You have spoken of our deaths, Canaith, and your desire to save me from the call of the wraith. Well, though I have died, it was death from a life of bondage and shame. In this new life, the call of the wraith has no power over me, because now the only voice I can hear is yours."

A tear slipped from each of her eyes as she turned to gaze at Canaith. He could feel the intense longing she felt, her fervent hope that he would not only hear her words but also believe in them. He decided to trust her.

For an instant, Canaith’s bearing transformed. He stood taller, shoulders squared, and an unmistakable force emanated from his presence. This was the unmistakable aura of a Capsuleer. It was as if his very existence created a palpable wake. This was the formidable image that Meara perceived whenever she thought of Canaith Lydian.

But then he relaxed, and in a single moment he was again just a man. He reached over, and in perhaps the most informal gesture he had ever directed towards her, he mussed up her hair. She blinked in surprise and, without thinking, blew the hair out of her eyes with a giggle.

His expression intensified while hers conveyed a subtle coyness and a sense of expectation. They found themselves re-enacting the “washroom moment” from their cottage on Sabran II, yet this time, Canaith did not pull away. With patient gentleness, he cupped her face in one hand and drew her close. Their kiss was a tender caress, lingering for long moments as neither of them wanted to be the first to pull away. When they finally parted, Meara rested her head upon his chest.

“My Canaith,” she said sweetly.

“Finally, My Dearest Meara," he said quietly, "no internal dissonance remains.”



“Sir,” his digital assistant chimed. “There is a call for you.”

Sir looked up from his work, which was a report on the pattern of Angel Cartel insurgencies.

“Who is it now?” he asked.

“It is Canaith Lydian,” she said.

Sir looked up in surprise, and then engaged a set of security protocols that disabled the many monitors of his neurological hardware. For the next few minutes, he was free from prying eyes.

“Well,” he said. “Patch him through.”

Before him was the image of a man, and it surprised him to see how much Canaith had changed. He emanated strength to a degree that unnerved Sir.

“Father,” the man said.

“Canaith?” Sir replied. “Is that really you?”

“It is,” replied the man.

“It has been a while,” Sir said, trying to shake himself back into control. He reset his countenance and quieted his surprise. “This is certainly unexpected.”

“I am contacting you,” the strangely strong man said, “to let you know that Aurelius Drakon has officially retired. He has taken a position among my personal staff, has been given lavish medical upgrades, and will spend many years in a place of honor and purpose here with me.”

Sir blinked, but a visage of stone quickly reemerged. “And why do you think your personal arrangements need to be brought to my attention?”

“Because his station is a repayment of what I consider to be a family debt,” the man replied. “I also want to inform you that I have set up several network listeners that will alert me and several of my friends should information about Drakon appear in any intelligence or news reports.

It would pain me should his reputation see scandal, and I would in response send information I possess to some influential people in my contact list.

Put more plainly, forget about Drakon. To you, he no longer exists. Are we clear?”

Sir’s countenance darkened. Nobody spoke to him in this way. “Not that I care, Boy, but what makes you think a man like me would be worried about you? Do you think that your contacts and friends are beyond my reach? Do you think there is a program on any network that I could not see hacked? Have you forgotten who you are talking to, Boy?”

The man simply stared, but it was somehow a terrifying stare.

“If you leave Drakon alone,” the man continued, “then you have nothing to fear from me.”

“What kind of deal is this?” Sir asked this rock of a man. “There is nothing for me to gain in this. You are offering nothing of value.”

“There is no deal,” the man spoke. “There is no bargain. There is simply a truth you have not realized.”

“Really?” Sir spoke, his Imperial Face slipping to show some anger. “What truth have I not realized?”

The man’s gaze had been expressionless as stone, but now his look was fire.

“I am the monster you created,” the man said. “It would be in your best interest to avoid earning my attention. I promise that you risk far more than I. Were your assassins to find me, I would simply return the next day to repay the favor. Unlike you, death means little to me, for I have already died.”

Both of them stared in silence.

“Are we clear?” the unshakable, indomitable, formidable man who had once been his son, said.

“We are, indeed, clear,” Sir said, respectfully.


Finally! It’s done!!! If you have managed to hang in until the end, thank you so much. It makes this hobby seem less of a useless obsession when at least one other person reads the story.


Great work! Look forward to seeing more from you!


Isn’t this an epilogue? This is a question I’ve had since the Ministry thread, I’ve just never gotten a chance to ask yet.


You are right. Thanks! :slight_smile:

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I think it’s very funny that since I have been writing about these characters they have become real people to me. In game, I can no longer refer to Meara as “my alt”, because that seems so disrespectful to this person that only exists in my mind. Maybe I am the one who needs counseling. :slight_smile:

These characters are fun to write about because, unlike in our culture, there is a sense of formality in everything. Writing their dialogue is fun because they try to be serious and humorous at the same time. In the case of Canaith and Meara, everything they think and say is for the sake of the other person. I really wish there was more of than in the real world.

I’m not sure what to write about next. More events will unfold in the Faction War, I’m sure. It’s an interesting time to be an FW player. It would be fun to incorporate more characters from other Eve players, maybe even a series of dialogues between an Amarr and a Minmatar character.

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I’m not sure what to write about next

I’ve noticed that you tend to write long winded story arcs, which are great, but they obviously require a lot more thought/planning. I suggest you try also writing some one-shots or shorter stories. Those will probably come easier to you - talk about something unique that happened, like a ship loss. Maybe write something from the perspective of Canaith/Meara’s crew?
Also, if you haven’t, definitely join “The Summit” channel in-game. You’ll be able to chat with a lot of other roleplayers, it’s really fun.


Ha! Long Winded is my middle name.

Long winded! I couldn’t imagine you writing any other way Canaith :slight_smile: keep writing mate, I have enjoyed the story arc for sure.

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