Oathbound

Clouds hovered over a small little town seemingly placed in the middle of nowhere. Amongst the infinite vastness of the universe little hamlets like this were often rendered insignificant. Untold billions lived and died every year, wars raged on a cosmic scale that made the plights of individual planets, nevermind those of small communities and families, seem nearly nonexistent. Granted this small town, like the numerous cities that spread across the expense of Solitude, held a vastly disproportionate influence on the rest of the empire. No one would think the voices of these people could have sway over countless lives. That was the terrible beauty of the Federation, the frightening majesty of Democracy at work.

On a glance was a stark contrast to the decadence and excess of Crystal Boulevard, yet the people who built both places were much the same. Warlike, sometimes more then a little paranoid. The people were nice much of the time, at the very least they put on polite smiles for the tourists. But as soon as they were out of sight, they would whisper to one another and look on with suspicion for a multitude of reasons.

The largest one, of course, being the xenophobia. Chet-Shi knew that all too well, it had been awhile since they last visited their hometown.

Blue light flickered off their glasses as their eyes took in the latest feed of information. One hand was resting on a copy of the Gallentean constitution, one of several different books they kept in their possession out in this remote part of the world. For all the remarks, for all the looks, for all the poking and prodding they never once told them what to do, or who to be. They implied, suggested, judged, but never forced. When outsiders tried? they fought to the death to stop it. A small smile graced their face as rain began to patter against the window. Becoming a Capsuleer apparently hadn’t robbed their enjoyment of that sound. They don’t know why they thought it would to begin with, perhaps the sadness at knowing they wouldn’t hear it for a long time after they left planetside.

They pushed aside some of the papers resting on their hard wood table, what did change was the bizarre mundanity of merely being in a house rather then the Minmatar station above world. To an extent the sensation of being out of pod in and of itself could sometimes be a bit disorienting, sometimes they identified more with the ship then their own body. Part of them wondered if perhaps that was a side effect of who, and for that matter what, they were? Having ones consciousness transferred from person to child over and over again for generations had to have some lingering effect on the Intaki psychology. Maybe it reacted to linking to a newborn ship much the same way.

Images of war flashed through their vision, spreading out like ripples through a pond.

Humanity keeps having to learn the same lessons over again. The more things change the more they stay the same. Their eyes flicker over reports, depopulated worlds, devoured suns, massacred soldiers, burning frigates, the folly of indecision and corruption. They could feel a part of her consciousness suddenly seizing control of their thought process. In all these endless wars across a billion worlds pain and suffering is a constant, love and healing an exception, teachers few and far between. Maybe the others had a good reason to be suspicious, considering what they were contemplating.

Their hand ran along the dark green cover, their gaze flickering back towards the window. Yet this was exactly what the Federation was about, the pillars it was built on, pillars that had in many ways been eroded and reinforced over the centuries. Like everything, like Ida, it was a cycle. A cycle that they were still proud to be part of despite everything.

In a way this was the truest thing to the Gallentean spirit. An individual chooses what to do, even if it doesn’t strictly align with the greater nations interests. They had gone through a dozen justifications in their mind for why they were doing it, what the purpose was: Maybe these people would change their minds? that if they got to see another day they may come around to their point of view especially after all the hardship they had gone through. Perhaps they might even come back and disrupt the status quo, flip everything on it’s head. In their most cynical moments they thought all they would do is make their life just a little more comfortable in the end and in the grand scheme of things they would reduce a little pain and nothing much would change.

Each excuse was taken, examined, and promptly discarded.

This was unorthodox, and they ought to own up to the simple fact that if half these people knew what was going on in this little home of theirs they would of been taken to the authorities, if not dragged into the street. But it was the right thing to do, and they knew it too. If they did this right no one would know it happened, who would even believe such a thing would be traced back to Solitude of all places? No one who had been there, that much was certain.

A notification caught their attention. They had to catch up with one of the many Ni-Kuuni who they had met in simpler times. The blue light flickered off and they moved to stand, taking the book in the crook of their arm as they made their way to leave.

They had a lot of work to do.

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Minmatar stations had a delightfully charming atmosphere to them, one that Chet-Shi never failed to appreciate.

To the untrained eye they seemed rustic and crude, devoid of any redeeming qualities and essentially a glorified scrapheap. But there was a primitive abstract beauty here, something primal and fierce that the Intaki coulsn’t help but smile that. The design was not, as one might think, a product of random chance and desperation. No, it was a mesh of innovation, a return to a more primal self, and an everpresent kinetic aesthetic. Everything seemed to be moving to it’s own rhythm, it’s own drumbeat, and if one was properly attuned it could send the heart wild.

This was one of a few such stations in Solitude. One might think the intolerance of the ethnic Gallente in the region might make other people hesitant to stay here, but a combination of circumstance, bustling tourism, and the simple fact that it was right in the middle of a cross section between the Dark Amarr, Aridia, and the Syndicate meant the place had become a melting pot. One that was enhanced by the influx of Minmatar migrants to the Federation. Installations like this were somewhat common, and more then once Chet had bought from the ‘Freedom Extension’ not so far away from here, a Minmatar company that had been setup not that long after the Republics founding and maintained close ties to the Gallente ever since.

This one in particular was owned by the Sisters of EVE. Chet thought that if anyone could understand what they wanted to do and would give their blessing, it would be the Sisters. Hopefully they would also give their discretion, but they understood that they were also in a region that had one of the largest Federation military presences for quite a ways. The last time the Amarr were foolish enough to invade they had a Titan dropped on them, so Chet-Shi could understand if the Sisters were just a little intimidated by such an overwhelming presence, they figured everyone but the Gallente themselves were to some degree.

In storage they had a vast treasure trove of resources. Acquiring them was pocket change to a Capsuleer bur the world to countless lives. Tons and tons of food had been taken here in the last few days, more then enough to feed a significant militant force. Then there were the antibotics and medical supplies, they winced as they remembered the price tag in Isk. Double that of the food, easily, and with good reason. Medicine was always in short supply on every world, and everyone wanted it. They had bought much of it from the Ni-Kunni in this very station who had joined up with the Gallente who composed the Sisterhood, the irony of the Amarr living in a Minmatar structure was not lost on them.

But that didn’t make them so uneasy as the second most expensive item they had purchased, and the one that was just arriving.

The Iteron Mark V was a massive bulky ship in it’s own right, and it had been able to ferry massive amounts of cargo for them. As it docked they could feel a pit in their stomach. Not because they were afraid of getting caught, but because merely being around the items made them a little nervous. The bay opened and within one could see the source of that anxiety: Guns, an enormous assembly of small arms. Handguns, shotguns, rifles, disposable rocket propelled grenades, an assortment of various melee weapons and more. Primitive, but effective if used en mass. To their knowledge the Triglavians weren’t immune to sheer volume of fire and the assorted projectile ammunition they had taken onboard should be enough for someone, or several someones, to holdout for a long time.

They weren’t a person of violence, not even in their past lives. Chet-Shi didn’t fit guns on many of their ships and often preferred to be in the back repairing things in their Navitas or dampening sensors in a Maulus. If they had to kill something, it was often through an impersonal swarm of drones. They just let things die, functionally it was a distinction without a difference, but in an emotional way it made them feel just a bit easier. When they became a Capsuleer ‘arms dealer’ wasn’t exactly on their list of things to become.

They knelt down by some of the items that had been taken along with the weapons. Holoreels, one thousand and five hundred of them to be exact. They contained a number of things, not the least of which was information on how to use these weapons properly for any aspiring guerila fighters. But many of these things were also just news reports from the outside world, things to be distributed so they knew they hadn’t been forgotten.

They assumed, that’s what someone would need more then anything in Triglavian space.

Chet-Shi could feel their heart pumping just a little stronger. They were really going to do this weren’t they? they had already sent an advertisement out awhile ago, one hopefully untraceable to them precisely, that they needed someone for a dangerous job. A job that would take them into Pochaven so that they could take these resources to planets in need. Two sets to Caldari Worlds, one set to Gallente ones, presumably so that when the Black Eagles inevitably dragged them away they could explain they were only two thirds a traitor.

But this was how they could help the Caldari without helping their government, primarily due to the fact that on the worlds they were sending these things to the Caldari government had essentially ceased to exist. Best of all, considering the the chaotic nature of the Triglavian territories they could do this with no one from either the Federation OR the State knowing, at least in theory.

But theories rarely survive reality.

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They found a collaborator.

Reports flickered in from a nearby news feed as Chet-Shi made their way around their quarters. They suspected they might be here for awhile so they went through the extra effort of making a few arrangements with the Sisters of EVE while they considered their next plan of attack. In typical Intaki fashion a number of abstract paintings hung from one of the nearby walls and a collection of poetry had been set along a glass table. Beside that was an unfinished book that had been written by one of the few Idama’s in New Eden. Chet-Shi had begun reading well before they had even gotten involved with this but nevertheless it might serve as a source of inspiration.

News flickered in front of a comfortable couch in the rooms center, the various events after the Youil festivities displayed upon the screen. Though for the most part they had not paid much attention to any of these things, consumed instead with finding contacts in the Federation navy who might be able to lend them funding. The pilot they had in mind had a price, they always did, but compared to some others it wasn’t much. Merely the expenses to pay for a ship and it’s equipment for the trials to come.

While something cheaper was an option they realized that Pochven was more then a little dangerous. No one knew that much about the Triglavians and the exact details of how people lived within their empire was a mystery in itself. They had an explorer in mind, for now on a mission of observance. They would go to these Caldari and Gallente worlds, examine each, determine who was in charge, what they were doing, and finally mapping out the space around them so they had an idea of what they would be doing for future expeditions as well.

They ran a hand through their hair as they breathed out a sigh and leaned back, eyes flickering over another one of the messages. The irony of all of this was that their service fighting the Caldari State might be a key resource in funding the trip into Pochven. Depending how everything went they might of even been willing to take supplies into space and drop them off on the worlds in question, but that entirely depended on how heavy the Triglavian’s patrols were in any one of these areas. Hopefully an Asteros and it’s cloaking technology would be more then enough to evade the opposition, but they had half a mind to buy a blockade runner and do it themselves at this point.

Their sense of unease was growing. For now the Triglavians and their Kyber subordinates had been relatively quiet, but the situation could rapidly deteriorate at any moment. They just hoped they could make sure people were braced for it on the ground. They sent out another email, with any luck they’d at least secure a sizable chunk of funds by the nights end. If not they might have to go out into void and see if they couldn’t procure more resources themselves, by force if necessary

But then again in the world of Eden, what else is new?.

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From the day we were born, we were heading down a track
Sometimes it’s made for good, sometimes for bad
But if we look behind us, there’s a wave coming down
Carry us forward to a new age

So why can’t we be still why can’t we love each other
Is kindness an ancient skill buried by our blindness
And if we look behind us there’s a wind blowing in
To create the age of reason

They could still see the lights flashing before their eyes, the moment of impact as shells collided into the hull and broke it into several thousand pieces. They had died before, but they had never seen a capsule crack from the outside. The body as it was ravaged by space, the way it distorted under the intense heat racing across the boiling metal, they weren’t sure why they stared at the body for so long. They had killed people before, yes, but they had never killed another Capsuleer.

They didn’t remember their own deaths either. Whether that be through the rebirthing process or through the cloning that was now so familiar to them. From what they understood that was very much by design, the entire process was supposed to brutalize your mind to the point you’re effectively a vegetable and dump your consciousness into a new body. Remembering the exact moment of death could be very traumatic. This was called immortality, but Chet-Shi had their doubts.

Something about it made their mind click. They had killed not only the Capsuleer, not only the fifty crew onboard, but had been killing hundreds of people this whole time. They knew this in a statistical sense of course, seeing the corpse in detail just put it all into such a visceral reality. The worst part was that this didn’t horrify them, even though they got the vague impression it should. No, they had killed before and they would kill again, that was true in the last life and it would be the next. They turned their camera drone to the void of space and brought their ship around, they should get home before either the Caldari or Amarrians came back with vengeance in their hearts. Chet-Shi couldn’t honestly say that they blamed them.

What about the world around us
How can we fail to see?
And now that our fathers have gone
And we’ve been left to carry on
What about the age of reason

Their quarters were dim, the items within were sparse and scattered. They had spent much of the last hour pacing ever since one of the Sisters knocked on their door and asked to speak with them. A Talos had docked in the station this morning and the Captain of the ship said they were looking for an Intaki that matched their description. They told the Sisters some of the basic details of why he wanted to speak with them, but was infuriatingly vague on the specifics. By the sound of things they could be considered a criminal, but it didn’t seem like he was here to make an arrest.

That was almost more concerning in and of itself. Earlier they had sent a message to their collaborator with some of the finer details of what they planned to do and laying out a more decisive plan of action. Getting in and out of Pochven was going to be difficult without certain tools, tools that Chet-Shi was currently in the process of acquiring. Could the Federation have been keeping an eye on what they had sent out this whole time? keeping tabs on their transactions even? Of course they could, even though they had tried to hide it the FIO was the most extensive intelligence network outside of the Jove Empire. Ruthless, efficient, unwavering in their goals. They should of known that they would of been targeted the moment they made that silly post on the Summit. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

If we consider carefully the options put before us
So much wisdom so much love so much waiting for us
And if we look ahead there’s the sun and the seasons
Another day, another age of reason

Gracelessly, they stumbled out of the office door. They were conscious of how awkward and uneasy they looked, how much weakness was on display to the smiling face behind them, and yet they couldn’t do anything about it. Their recent brush with mortality had struck a primal fear into them that they did not think would pass for a few days, or weeks, or months, if ever. They felt sick to their stomach and yet somehow they mustered a smile to return in kind, briefly glancing over their shoulder before the door shut tight behind them.

Somehow they weren’t dead, or in chains, or worse. They were the same as they were before, and yet that fact made them all the more concerned. As if their preserved immortality said something about their character, that for some reason they had even been allowed to continue with their work. What did that say about the work itself? what they were doing?

They needed to sit down and think.

Right now they just wanted to be anywhere but here. They licked their lips and made their way for the hall, silently hoping that they would bump into no one else on the way back. They would shut off their coms tonight, keep their eyes away from the news feed and just…process…everything. That’s all they could do at this point, all they could ever do.

They rubbed at the eagle pinned to their shirt. All they could do was process.

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