Of State & Revolution

(This Entry is Part II in a Series. For Part I, Click Here)

In A Smoke Filled Room, In the Belly of a Great Machine…

Who can say for certain how long the two talked, exchanging visages and waxing poetic over all matters of state and capital as their coals burnt down and their glasses ran dry. He was slow to respond initially, withdrawn and reserved. You had to be to be a man like Aksesu, a corporate existential crisis in the form of a grizzled visionary. A single slip up, a crack in his defense or loose lips over spilled drinks and the mere suggestion of workers organizing was enough to have his corporate citizenship revoked. He was right to be cautious, and he’d need that for what Niina had planned for him. Even if he didn’t know it yet he’d be the perfect monster to keep to keep the ojaabun, the ruling-class, awake at night.

The conversation was long and meandering at first, half answers and half-truths exchanged on both sides. Nothing more than any other casual dissenter might respectfully grumble over between shifts; the nature of the war, defense production quotas, the indifference they faced from the foreman over their ever increasing workload while still keeping policy or action at arms length. He was good at playing the game for a baseliner, just like his profile suggested. She’d singled him out for that reason, carefully selected after weeks of pouring over open source intelligence out of a pool of candidates like a mad god choosing their emissary. It was just a matter of wearing those defenses down to find the flag-waving radical underneath, twisting the knife to turn their quiet anger into revolutionary furor.

Markuu yn vaito. Call and answer. A duet between two actors, an art that’s been around since the Caldari first discovered honorifics. Niina swirled her drink, blowing a smoke ring up into the rafters. Enough foreplay. Time for the kick off.

“Well,” she exhaled solemnly, “There’s always Union Day.”

He recoiled. Pain. Anger. Drawn blood. An opening.

“Ah. Oh yeah. No, sorry I forgot. Our people still handle that a bit differently. Workers Union Day was always eroding within the state over the years. I remember before, growing up in Lonetrek all the festivals and parades we had for everyone. That… Kinda changed with Heth from what I can tell, and it hasn’t been the same since. Kills me seeing the ■■■■ the CEP puts out for it now, reducing a celebration of labor in the State to displays of corporate control. Trade agreements, military exercises, enforcing “service and sacrifice” to Mother Megacorp even in the face of their flagrant incompetence. ■■■■ how many titans did they pull in for their parades? For what? Photo ops? Merchandising? All that that military might, must not have been profitable for Mother Megacorp to actually put them to use, what do they care if a few border systems fall so long as the major trade routes stay open I guess. Not for us though, not for anyone below the corporate ladder. You, kirjuun, you get to die for the State under our dipshit officers. Or work until the State kills you so you can roll out another fancy parade fleet. It’s all horseshit.”

Silence. Anger. More cracks. More blood in the water.

"All that buildup, and where did it get us? How many guns rolled off the assembly line or out of the dockyards that you were told were to fight the war that were just turned planetside on your fellow workers for daring to, what, not be thankful for their suffering? How many sacrifices are we supposed to make? How much of ourselves are we supposed to give, how labor and life and capital bled out of us? I can remember the way they sold us on the state. Corporations weren’t… Vertical entities, they were organic communities, guilds, practically clans. Every work a member a key stakeholder, in their own way. Thats what the sold us. Then we ■■■■■■ it all up.

“See now, I thought about that a lot. For a while I was convinced that it was Heth, it had to be. Say what you will about the Provists, they understood the importance of mobilizing the people and popular will. Then Prime happened. We all woke up from the nightmare, stumbled out of bed, took a good look at our ■■■■■■ up face in the mirror and we overcorrected. The will of the people? Patriotism? Those were all Provist policies. We had to liberalize. The economy, our culture, our place in New Eden all needed to be modernized beyond even before our trist with fascism. Neoliberalism, new and improved!”

She shook her hands for dramatic effect, rolling her eyes in performance.

“See though. I think maybe I’ve figured it out. I had my suspicions before, but seeing what happened in Skarkon with the Republic Security Services and all the same parallels with the Provists now I’m certain. This is all cyclical. It’s happened before, and its happening now. Why do you think the megacorps are centralizing all that power and cracking down on dissent? Because this is all planned. The State and PKI see the curve of the universe and they’ve planned what happens next. Fascism has never been an answer to the failures of capitalism; it’s capitalism in decay.”

She had the pitch memorize by this point.

“It’s all snake oil. Flim-flam men selling us a poison pill. Nationalism is the immune response of state corporatism, flaring up every so often to “purge” it of any threats until the fever to breaks, nationalism’s “defeated”, trade starts to flow, and the gears of Mother Megacorp continue to turn uncaring of the suffering before, during, or after. The Provists were propped up by the megacorporations against other workers movements, directed towards external enemies, outlived its purpose, and was promptly removed from power without any fundamental change or any meaningful justice. We once again face an age where ineffectual Caldari liberalism and the inefficiencies of capitalism threaten to spark a movement from the workers for real change, and if the PKN faction currently in power would have their way that movement would be steered to stoke the fires of nationalism. Someone needs to break the wheel. They’d have us believe our race trumps any class divide. The fact is, the working class and the ruling class have nothing in common.”

More silence. Good. That’s smart. Nothing incriminating. Time to close.

She passed him a datapad in a tritanium hardcase. Shipping manifests of weapons and military equipment accompanied a large appendix of other materials. Propaganda posters and pamphlets for distribution, basic small unit tactics, guides for building improvised weaponry, detailed instructions for disabling armored vehicles. Still more as he kept scrolling. Manifests for thousands of clone tubes, and diagrams for activating reanimation units. Photos of fleshy, cybernetic armor-clad marionnettes in glass tubes like toy soldiers at the ready. Not just that, but bank accounts filled with corporate script. Enough to finance the union for months. Gods, enough to export the moment to other megacorps, and then some.

"Y’know I ■■■■■■■ hated Heth. Ruined my life, indirectly, even if I wouldn’t be here without him in a messed up way. But one thing I’d never admit he got right? Warclones are dangerous. Like… Unreasonably dangerous. One got a bees dick away from killing him and the Provists had no idea it was coming. Capsuleers might command a starship at their fingertips but their power ends at the edge of space. You put a capsuleer on the ground they can’t do ■■■■, and they stick out like a sore thumb. The warclone that shot Heth though? From what he know, he was baselining. Would have no way of telling him apart from another State worker unless you cracked their head open. The don’t even need to be in a body that remotely resembles them. ■■■■, they could be a different gender even. They could be everyone, and anyone. Train operators, steel workers, industrial trainers. Understandable why he wanted them purged.

“Can you ■■■■■■■ believe that these things are all over Jita right now? Some sort of market boom caused it, I’ve heard some dumbasses sparked a speculative buying rush and now you have capsuleers and day traders stocking up on them and exchanging them like corporate stock. Used to be moving around even a bit of warclone equipment would raise eyebrows around here. Now you could move a few thousand warclone blanks across the State and no one would bat an eye. Could you imagine if a few thousand active clones got mixed in with all those dudes? Terrifying. I bet you wouldn’t even be able to pick 'em out going in and out of '4-4 mixed in here and there with other orders. Could end up in any anarchist’s hands, gods and spirits.

Niina got up from her seat, leaving her datapad with the man with an impish smirk.

“They speak Napanii down on the docks? It’s mostly a trade language for accountants or executives, can’t imagine its replaced regional Caldari down there with the shaatei. Funny thing Napanii kept from the Raata era, used a lot more in boardrooms and navy offices than break rooms and workshops. They had a word, vaajpa. It loosely translates to ‘chaos’ or ‘anarchy’ and disorder. Taken another way, it can also mean freedom. Plenty of linguists have tried to figure that one out, mostly some pseudo-intellectual take on placing the State above ourselves. I dunno though. It’s not necessarily a negative word. Maybe the Raata just understood the nature of revolution, even if they were on the wrong side of it. Think on that, Kitagawa-haan. Anyway, I better get going. Supposedly there’s some sort of Triglavian wormhole that just opened up in New Caldari, triangles have been leaking in. The Navy hasn’t done ■■■■ about it yet, of course, but I guess the CEP Headquarters has basically been blockaided. God forbid anything bad happens, the Big 8 would be in shambles.”

With that Niina closed her tab, leaving the man alone in the club in a cloud of smoke and disco music.


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In A Dive Bar At The Edge Of the World…

It was half past midnight, and Niina was feeling dangerous. She popped another nicotine pouch, doubling up one on each side of her mouth as she took another deep sip of her starski to wash down the edible. Turbo only. Thousand meters per second. No brakes on this. She needed every neuron unlocked on overdrive, impaired and exploding if she wanted to make an impression.

Someone told her once that she was a natural extrovert. She didn’t know about that. Sober she couldn’t muster the strength to make these plays but when everything hit and implants kicked in? She knew what it was like, getting her batteries charged floating from one pawn to the next while digital motor neurons she never really had lit up like pachinko lights in her parietal lobe. Words and intentions bounced off her and racked up points slamming into the cybernetic struts holding her facade together.

Pixy grinned, splitting the tritanium hinges that held his jaw in place matching her with another in its place. If Niina was a pachinko parlor, he was… ■■■■ what even was Pixy anymore? He tucked another cloth pouch under his tongue, his augmented mandibles drawing it in to squeeze the salts out of it and washing it down with a tug of gin. The paint under his eyes shifted and pulsed hypnotically with the music in the safehouse, though Niina could swear it was matching her heartbeat. Matted, curled auburn hair covered vacant mechanical eyes but the “war paint” framed them could display any emotion at will with the nanite veins that ran underneath. He was machine from the neck down, crimson red coated tritanium under his frayed flight jacket where his heart should be.

Unlike her though, none of that metal was for social calls. See, Niina needed her chrome and her drugs to bring her down here into the ■■■■. She could dance with the best with a bit of liquid luck, but Pixy? He lived down here. This was his own little biosphere, and he was an apex predator in ever since of the word. He drank like this because he liked the way it felt. When he laughed so charmingly before suggesting something absolutely psychopathic, it’s because he thought it excited him. When he asked an incredibly personal question, he did it because he wanted to crack you open and see what was inside.

“Arvuuma,” he whistled gently, “What’s the strangest thing you believe in y’think no one else does?”

“Hmm?” she found herself responding flatly, programming taking hold and matching his tone.

“Just a thing I picked up in the dirt. Hear a lot of stories on Skarkon, got a lot of people down there from different backgrounds. Try to ask it to everyone now. I kinda figured I never got the chance to ask you that one yet.”

Niina pulled her platform boots off the table, sitting up straight in her booth and looking across the room to Warden sashaying on stage in a bent cayuga hat while karaoke lyrics scrolled across the projector screen lit against grainy holoreel footage of old kaiju movies.

“I think you’d be good at singing.”

Pixy snorted, swapping the air in his plastic lungs for a pinch of Crash.

“Not my thing. Don’t know where he got that from. Maybe there’s a bit of someone else thrown in all that paste or whatever they make his bits out of. Make him do it, not me.”

“Same paste in you, 'innit?”

“Naw,” he shrugged, tapping the back of his neck where his implant would be, “Hes analog. This model’s all digital sweetheart. Pretty sure some extra goo’s in his head that I don’t have, some rendered down biomass ■■■■ from someone else’s head.”

Warden spun to flourish, the same face as Pixy’s looking back at them straining for breaths between verses. It was softer maybe, more–

She didn’t want to say more human. That was unfair for both of them.

“Still,” Pixy cooed, “Man’s got the moves, I’ll give 'em that. I see why you’re into me, doll. That? One me? On us? We could make that look good. Just eh, I’ll top this time huh? I’ve always been the better o–”

There was a quick involuntary snap, the sound of reinforced bone striking metal before Niina drew her hand back to shake it off while Pixy burst out laughing.

“You’re such an asshole when you’re like this!”

She cooled her hand on her can of Starski, condensation rolling off her fingers and pooling in a ring next to the other dozen empty cans and bottles that lined the table alongside ping pong balls and mirrored trays.

“It’s literally not a competition,” she breathed, composing herself, “Y’haven’t been taking your C3 have you?”

“Nope. Been off it since… Ehhhhh… When did the gates close? Everything’s a target rich environment now, can’t be locked in on one vector. Too many directions to go in.”

“Yeah I can tell. You were getting better. I get you’re going through it down there, but I need you to compress your ■■■■. Volumetrically compressed, freeze dried, ready for shipping. I need both of you on your best behavior for this deal. You see him losing his ■■■■?”

She motioned to Warden, still shaking his ass of as he rounded the breakdown.

Just because I’m in the Navy

Don’t Make Me a Navy Guy

I’ll milk this Empire

I’ll sit back and watch it die

I’ll watch it wash up on the shoreline

I’ll poke at its body

While She smokes cloves under the docks

And he’s skipping social studies

And if I don’t have acid reflux

Just to protect the status quo

How much am I to give up

For this face you’ve grown to know?

I shot the sheriff and his children

I paid off the deputy

I ■■■■■■ his wife while he was dying

Well it’s better him than me

Just as he was rounding the next verse an explosion rocked the building, knocking the mic stand over and sending the union workers around them diving for cover to reach for their rifles. Pixy, for his part, clasped his hands together triumphantly before slipping his helmet back on and loading his dropsuit’s chest plate while Warden frustratedly set the hat he stole from the host back on the bar.

Torinos V was a colony under siege, cast to the far end of Lonetrek branching out from a chain of systems extending the skeletal hand of the Caldari State into Pure Blind reaching outward toward The North. The bones of the State piled high here, were cost-leading backwater corporate outposts continued to valiantly soldier on through one endless “slow day today” for no other reason than to deny their market share to the enemy. At least, that was the official reason for their continued presence.

In truth, it was an open secret that Torinos was the last stop on the ratways that ran from the heart of the State into lawless country. The same lines that carried Muriya Mordu and the Sisters of EVE north were where the last hold out vestiges of Heth’s Provist regime were ripped apart and cast to the winds for their shredded remnants to scatter and find root. Dragonaur splinters flourished here, with dozens of factions pushing and pulling the balance of power at great benefit to megacorp fixers. Whether it was laundering script through Provist shell companies, funneling illicit cargo from Guristas and other northern pirates, reforming Templis brigades into vicious mercenary armies, or trading black market goods and weaponry to extremists Torinos was worth so much more than its industrial capacity.

Grinning with anticipation, Niina had to wonder if corporate wolves that were happy to get fat picking the bones of Torinos ever anticipated the heel turn they were able to pull off. It had been a rough two months for the State, with a minor rebellion had now grown into a building insurgency. Crackdowns on “subversive” elements, mass arrests, abductions, and the Navy’s inability to thoroughly combat Triglavian incursion paired with their apparent enthusiasm to instead turn their guns on the working-class of the state was the powderkeg. Add in a few thousand poorly-tracked clone blanks to the mix and baselining warclone trainers and Niina and her inner circle of revolutionaries was ready. She felt it in the air swelling in the lungs of the workers around her.


What they learned on Skarkon, they’d perfect here. Establishing a small commune to launch their operations was easier than expected, albeit with substantially less fanfare due in no small part to the extensive media blackout that CBD and Lai Dai had enforced on the system. While the factory continued to operate nominally under the corporations, they’d succeeded in preventing management and enforcers from entering the facility until their demands were met; full democratization of the workspace and ownership over the means of production. With memories of Heth’s national syndicalism fresh here and light years away from the Federation, it was easy to convince them to take a stand for themselves if that meant a return to a strong Caldari working-class and an abandonment of neoliberal austerity. While many here, Warden and Pixy included, could remember the wars waged over Prime that now seemed like a distant goal compared to their immediate material conditions.

Their Templis contacts were onboard and were ready for a fight to prove it. For a while Niina was worried she would have to start going out looking for one before everyone got antsy. As another Caldari Navy shell rocked the colony, it seemed like the fight had finally come to them.

A wave of hot, high pressure gas burst her ears and knocked her to the floor while Pixy laughed as he found his footing and dove for the lead case he had been guarding since their arrival. He checked the contents to verify its integrity and that the pressure wave hadn’t burst the seal. Inside, a clear cylinder laid primed swirling with red mutagenic nanites. Svarog hadn’t exactly left any instructions for it, but it seemed simple enough and would be a damn sight more effective that a tactical warhead.

The attempted bombing of the space elevator wasn’t enough to rock the State hard enough to wake it up, and the revolution here wasn’t loud enough for the cluster to take notice. It was time to send a message the world couldn’t ignore.

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