This story is the next chapter of a series of stories about Canaith Lydian and Meara Natinde. These events take place following those documented in the story named Noble Purpose, and provide the backstory for Medley Moonbeam, Canaith and Meara’s trade broker. Here is some brief information for those who have not read the previous stories.


  1. Canaith Lydian (pronounced Ka-NAY-ith) is the main character. He is a Capsuleer who has served for about 18 months in the service of the Amarr Militia. He is a member of Task Force 641 in the Empeream Edict Alliance.
  2. Meara Natinde is Canaith’s Assisting Lieutenant (ALT) and has served with him for several years. She has been his operations manager, hauler, and salvager, but for the past year she has been serving the Amarr militia as a combat pilot.
  3. Father Aurelius Drakon is an Amarr priest who mentored Canaith when he was young. He is not a Capsuleer. Due to some family intrigue, Canaith used his influence to gain Drakon’s ‘retirement’ from his posting to come and assist Canaith and Meara with the management of their business operations. Drakon is living in a Gallente station, where he is being safeguarded against repercussions by Canaith’s Father.
  4. Medley Moonbeam (usually known as just ‘Moonbeam’ or ‘Moon’) is a Capsuleer who acts as a trade broker for Canaith and Meara. Since her first death, Moonbeam has remained station-bound. Her life, however, is about to change.


  1. Imperial Face - The appearance of conformity that Amarr citizens project in order to be seen as obedient to all the tenants of Amarr society. This is a coping skill for Amarr citizens, who live in a culture with demands of obedience that might not always be heartfelt.
  2. Internal Dissonance - This is how an Amarr priest views the necessity of an Imperial Face. The priest hopes that a person’s inner and outer person will one day be in harmony and sees the need to put up a front as a compromise to true unity.
  3. Spirit of the Wraith - This term is used by Canaith to refer to a temptation to seek violence without a cause. He believes that a Capsuleer should guard his mind against it.
  4. First Death - This term refers to the death the Capsuleers undergo in order to have their consciousness transferred to their first clone.

Quick Recap

  1. Canaith believes that Capsuleers are not alive in the same sense as non-capsuleers. He believes that the First Death was not truly overcome by the cloning of consciousness. Until very recently, he believed Capsuleers to have little justification for living as though they were alive. His views are complicated and have created issues with his ability to interact with non-capsuleers. Though Drakon recently helped Canaith deal with some of these issues, Canaith is still known as a recluse. Were it not for Meara, Canaith might have continued to become more and more withdrawn.
  2. Canaith has a very strong sense of purpose. He believes it is his duty to embody honorable principles and to support Amarr. His convictions are strong enough to be a source of strength as well as a source of frustration.
  3. Meara’s primary cause for becoming a Capsuleer was to be with Canaith, who she sees as her rescuer and mentor. Her loyalty to Canaith is absolute.
  4. Meara and Canaith have been very close from the beginning of their relationship, though things recently took a turn as they experienced their first kiss. What this portends is yet unknown.

Part I: A Day in the Life of a Retired Amarr Priest

New Crew Member Orientation

Father Aurelius Drakon was seated at his rented office at the Chemtal Tech Factory in the Egghelende system. His morning had been spent in a series of virtual meetings with crews aboard the latest additions to Canaith and Meara’s personal fleets. He had welcomed them and briefed them on a variety of policies, approaches, and customs.

The first part of each briefing was a video recording of his standard welcome for new crew members. A series of AI programs monitored the emotional responses from each crew member as they watched the recording. Certain responses sent notifications to Drakon. Others caused automated notifications to be sent to crew members. A few, such as a crew member who was not paying attention to the briefing, would trigger a pause in the recording and give Drakon a chance to issue a real-time reprimand. One did not ignore a priest, even if the priest was previously recorded.

Canaith’s request for the “welcome briefing” was twofold. First, he hoped that it would convince newcomers that they were still within the influence of Amarr. Second, he wanted the briefings to instill a respect for Drakon. Drakon had been uncomfortable with this in the beginning, but as time passed, he had come to recognize the wisdom of Canaith’s approach. Drakon had become the unofficial first officer among the crewmen. He was in charge. Surprising as this had been to Drakon, he had seen how impactful it was to have a priest in this role, even if that priest was officially ‘retired’.

A holographic image of an Amar woman appeared by the door to his office. This was Drakon’s virtual assistant, Faasi. Her habit of popping in out of nowhere had startled him for days, but after a few weeks he had grown used to her sudden appearances.

“Eighteen crewmen are assembled and await your ‘special briefing’, Father,” she said.

“Thank you, Faasi,” he answered as he rose from his chair.

These eighteen were those who had demonstrated unfavorable emotional reactions to today’s briefings. This ‘special briefing’ was intended to persuade those who had not bought into Canaith’s vision for his ships to either see the light or leave his service. Eighteen was a higher-than-average number, but since the last set of ships brought in by Meara had been Caldari destroyers, he had anticipated some disgruntled reactions from Amarr crewmen who were not yet acclimated to life in the Amarr militia.

Canaith referred to those who had difficulty adjusting to the militia’s use of non-Amarr ships and technology as hardliners. Amarr culture was very emphatic in its demonstration of the superiority of Amarr in all things. That Amarr crewmen would have to serve aboard Caldari, Galente, and even Minmatar ships was sometimes difficult for newcomers to understand. If he was honest, Drakon would have to admit that it had taken effort for him to accept the idea, too. Canaith’s hope was that Drakon’s influence would turn the hardliners from troublemakers into supporters, and so Drakon had struggled to turn his acceptance into something resembling enthusiasm.

As Father Drakon strode into the conference room, the air seemed to thicken with anticipation. None of these men knew why they had been summoned here, and the suspense created some tension in the room. What had once been a mundane conference space exuded as much of an aura of sanctity as could be managed. The voices of the eighteen crewmen were abruptly silenced as they beheld in person the man whom they had just watched in their orientation stream.

With each measured step, Drakon commanded attention, his priestly presence a force that demanded reverence. His retinue of security guards moved with precision, positioning themselves strategically throughout the room, their vigilant eyes scanning the crowd for any hint of discord. As Drakon walked up to an ornate podium, every gaze fixed unwaveringly upon him, as if drawn by an invisible tether.

Internally, Drakon couldn’t help but feel a flicker of amusement at the facade of drama surrounding the situation. Yet, he recognized that these hardliners would be taking it all very seriously. To them, he wasn’t just a figure; he was a presence of Amarr authority in their very midst, and he would hopefully transform their frustrations into a sense of purpose and reverence.

“Greetings,” Drakon said as he took his place at a podium at the front of the room. “My name is Father Aurelius Drakon. You are here with me because I am concerned about your internal dissonance. You have doubts, questions, and frustrations, and these have become an obstacle to your conformity and, therefore, our unity. I am here to remind you that we require obedience, and nothing less.”

There was a surprised expression on some of the faces. On others, there was a hint of offense.

“This meeting serves as an opportunity for you to ask me some questions,” he continued. “More importantly, it is your opportunity to redeem yourself in my eyes. Should you fail to do so, you will be sent back into the labor pool and given an unfavorable rating. I do not tolerate dissension, and neither do your captains.”

Drakon established a posture of stern authority. There was some squirming among the crowd.

“Know this, my brothers and sisters,” Drakon intoned, his voice echoing with solemnity, “your doubts and questions are not unfamiliar to me. Though I have encountered them all before, I shall tread them anew for your benefit. Yet heed my words: the wisdom I impart demands your earnest consideration. You are not here for casual conversation. You are here, standing upon the crucible of destiny. I extend to you this lifeline, this chance to align with righteousness. Do not take it lightly, for your future requires you to perceive what is required of you and to walk in it boldly.”

There was some more squirming.

“Now, which of you would like to go first?” he asked them.

There was no response.

“Do not insult me by pretending now that you have no questions,” he stated coldly. “You are here because I already know that you have questions. I am here to offer you the path of redemption. To ignore it would not be wise.”

Drakon could not help but be amused, though he hid his enjoyment behind his priestly mask. These men were likely to be accustomed to using a haughty attitude to intimidate others into conformity. They were moralists. The very culture they sought to protect, however, would not permit any hint of condescension to an actual priest. Drakon’s presence robbed them of their favorite social weapon.

After several seconds, a man finally raised his hand. Drakon motioned for him to stand up, and so he did. When Drakon just looked at him blankly, he finally found the courage to speak.

“Father,” he said respectfully, “I believe that I speak for most of us when I say that our posting is not what we expected.” The man paused and Drakon motioned for him to continue.

“We signed on to support the Amarr Militia, yet many of us have assignments to crew Caldari vessels. We have been assigned temporary housing at a Gallente station. Very little around us looks like Amarr. My bunkmate is Caldari.”

“Mine is Minmatar,” another crewman interjected, invoking a gasp from the others.

Drakon motioned for the man to sit down, and he quickly complied as the room once again fell silent. He walked around the podium and took on a more casual, comfortable posture.

“The Amarr Militia is entangled in a war that has continued for many years,” Drakon said, the coolness from his voice replaced with his more typical fatherly warmth. “We are not here in force as we would be if we were the Amarr Navy. In fact, we are vastly outnumbered here. The Minmatar Republic turns far more of its people into Capsuleers than the Amarr, and many of them end up right here in this war.”

A young man raised his hand and Drakon motioned for him to speak.

“How outnumbered are we?” the man asked.

“At least 4 pilots to 1, and probably more.” Drakon answered soberly. The looks on the men’s faces showed surprise.

“Our tactics have had to mold themselves to account for this,” he continued. “This adaptation is not a refutation of Amarr culture. It is not an admission of a failure in Amarr doctrine. It is not a rejection of what we would prefer to do, were it possible. Our adaptation is a sacrifice made to ensure that the efforts of the 24th Imperial Crusade can advance the influence of Amarr without wasting your lives.

While I know that each of you would cherish the opportunity to die for your Empress, your captains want the deaths of their crews to count for more than mere ceremony. You are important to them, second only to the importance of their service to Amarr.”

Drakon looked each crewman in the eye while dozens of sensors were reporting on the group’s emotional reactions.

“We are currently stationed in Gallente space in a system adjacent to the warzone at the order of EDICT Alliance’s leadership. This order was given after careful consideration during a massive surge in Minmatar activity. Canaith Lydian obeys his orders. We are not at risk of losing docking rights here as we are within the War Zone, and we are within easy reach of most of the warzone. While living here has required us to adapt, certainly, it has proven to be a good decision.

Many of you will be stationed from within the warzone. You might spend days or weeks in Huola, Kamela, Arzad, or any number of other systems. But all new ships start here, as do their crews.”

Drakon looked at each man in turn as his programs measured their reactions.

“Now, about the ships you will be crewing. Some of the ships our captains fly are not Amarr vessels. We have learned to become skirmishers here. Every sortie has to count, and sometimes there are vessels more suited to our tactical needs than the Amarr vessels we would prefer to fly. You need to be ready to sacrifice your expectations just like your captains have. You will learn to man the Manticore, the Catalyst Navy Issue, the Exec Navy Issue, the Caracal, and other ships of every faction, shape, and size, and you will do so in a manner worthy of Amarr. You will work alongside people from across New Eden, and you will do so as ambassadors of your Empress, your people, and your God. Your fellow crewmen do not need your scorn, your correction, or your bad attitudes, either. They need to see in you the best example of service.

Flexibility is important to our success. Take care that you understand, however, that our flexibility is a sacrifice and not a compromise. If you fail to see the difference, the failure is not in the purity of your captains or their profound loyalty to Amarr. Were that the problem, your captains would certainly be hearing about it from me. Rather, the failure will be your inability to conform, and if that becomes a problem, you will be hearing about it from me as well.”

He went back around to the podium and took on his stern posture.

“Let me be clear. You will not complain, gossip, or in any way contribute to a morale problem aboard any of your captain’s ships. You will keep your mind at ease and trust your leadership; or, failing that, you will fake it. Do you understand?”

Drakon observed the measured results of the emotional evaluation of the attendees as each of them nodded or said “Yes, Father”. Only three of the eighteen were still experiencing substantial internal dissonance.

“Are there any more questions?” he asked. Nobody else raised a hand.

As Drakon brought the meeting to a close, he offered silent prayers for each departing crewmember, hoping against hope that each would heed his counsel before it was too late. Those who persisted in their inner defiance faced a grim fate: reassignment to the ranks of militia pilots with efficiency ratings lower than Canaith’s.

Canaith’s pragmatic outlook labeled this plan a “win-win,” but Drakon could not shake the unease that settled in the pit of his stomach. He prayed earnestly that such drastic measures would not be necessary, and that these men of Amarr would find success here.

“Faasi,” he said aloud, “what is my next appointment?”

“You have a security briefing in 14 minutes,” his AI answered.

“Very well,” he said and turned to head back to his office. He prayed as he walked, preparing his mind for the briefing that would keep him apprised of any perceived security threats to his person and the crew.


A Busy Morning

An hour later, after an uneventful briefing with his security staff, Faasi directed him to a meeting with a Virtual Reality Designer to review the preparations of his Virtual Chapel for the next season’s daily services. The atmosphere of the station in Egghelende was not traditional enough to provide any kind of reasonable place of worship, so most services were conducted online. Drakon would request changes to the online Chapels to match the changing religious seasons of Amarr, and he often delegated the details to crewmen who struggled to be away from more traditional postings, like the crewmen he had spoken to earlier today. He had found that “hardliners” took pleasure in contributing in this way, and it often helped ease their frustrations at the same time.

Once that meeting was concluded, Drakon had four counseling sessions, none of them face-to-face, with crewmen in Canaith’s service who had some kind of life struggle. One had lost his wife. Another had a consuming addiction. The other two were experiencing a crisis of faith. Drakon listened to all four of them and then prescribed programs they had to follow.

Drakon did not counsel any crew members personally beyond one meeting because Canaith had insisted that Drakon needed to be seen as more of an authority figure than a comforter. Drakon had decided that Canaith did not understand that one could be both, but his friend had not relented. Drakon had insisted, however, that his contact with the rank-and-fire, particularly those who were struggling, was important because it provided important insight that helped Drakon make wise decisions that benefitted more than the few crewmen Drakon could see. Thankfully, Canaith had agreed. Drakon had considered the compromise a great victory, because Canaith was a man whose convictions were difficult to change.

After the counseling sessions, Drakon had taken his meal in his room, enjoying some peace and quiet. Towards the end of his meal, Faasi told him that Meara Natinde had invited him to attend an online meeting. Of course he had agreed. If there was a person in New Eden that Drakon could never refuse, it was Meara Natinde.

As Drakon readied his chair and adjusted his headset for the upcoming meeting, he reflected on how infrequently he engaged in face-to-face interactions nowadays. His new role had changed him into a galactic communicator, bridging the vast distances between individuals scattered across the stars, from Shuria to the Warzone. With the assistance of Fluid Routers and FTL Communication, coupled with sophisticated VR systems, physical distance had become irrelevant. Meara could be a hundred light-years away, and yet, in an instant, they could be immersed in a virtual environment, casually enjoying simulated cookies and milk. It never felt completely real to Drakon. It all felt like a very long dream.

As Drakon sat back in his chair, a notification became visible in his display that indicated it was time for the meeting to start. All Drakon had to do was to “will” the notification to be selected, and his awareness changed. He found himself seated at an extravagant table. There was a stone floor, but no perceivable ceiling or walls. Other than the well-lit table and the floor, there was just darkness.

Two people materialized into existence at places around the table. He saw Meara Natinde and a strikingly beautiful woman with almond shaped eyes and high cheekbones. Everyone’s avatar, the self-image of themselves used in VR meetings, was dressed in traditional raiment, which was the norm for meetings of a non-personal nature.

“Greetings, Moonbeam,” Meara said. “I am so grateful that you could make it. We have much to discuss.”

“Greetings, Meara,” the woman replied, shifting her attention to Drakon. “And who is this?”

“This is Father Aurelius Drakon,” Meara said. “Among other things, he acts as a liaison between us and the staffing agencies of our ships staff and crew. I invited him here today to serve as a legal witness.”

The almond-eyed woman leaned forward in an attempt to attract attention. “A legal witness? You brought a priest as a legal witness to what?”

Drakon felt an inner burning at the woman’s lack of protocol. This woman was either unaccustomed to Amarr tradition or, more likely, was another Capsuleer. Very few people would reference a priest so casually while he was able to notice.

“Moonbeam,” Meara said softly, “Canaith and I have a proposition for you. Father Drakon is simply here to gain awareness of the changes, and to witness the signing of a contract, should you choose to agree to its terms.”

Moonbeam gave a brief nod in Drakon’s direction, which he took as a slight gesture of acknowledgement.

“As you cannot help but notice, the market for Amarr Navy ships has not been as profitable as it has been over the past year, and while we have been exploring other lines of business and found them lucrative, we have been severely limited by the volume we can transport from the War Zone to Jita.”

Moonbeam nodded. “I have been able to profit from everything you have brought me except for ships. The Prophecy Navy is just not moving anymore. If you could increase the volume of other goods that were transported to me, there is likely room in the market to double or triple our sales.”

Meara rested her hands in front of her on the table and sat up a bit straighter. “You are correct. I expected Canaith to ask me to increase the quantity of my hauling runs or to have me start flying a larger hauling vessel to get more goods to you. Instead, he has asked me to haul less and focus my efforts in the war zone. We believe we could increase our earnings from the 24th Imperial Crusade by at least 40% if I just focused my efforts on the war.”

Meara grew silent and looked at Moonbeam, who eventually crinkled her eyes in confusion. “Without more hauling, how will you increase your volume in those other markets?” she asked.

“Here,” Meara finally said. “I think this will explain.”

A book appeared in Meara’s hand, and she slid it across the table to Moonbeam, who picked it up and began reading while Drakon watched curiously. After several seconds, she put the book on the table without closing it.

“You wish for me to become a hauler,” she said without emotion. Then she smiled, and then let out a laugh. “You want me to undock from my home in Jita and pilot a ship across thirty two star systems many times per week.”

Meara just nodded and said, “Once per day, most likely,” and let the silence grow awkward again.

Moonbeam looked incredulous. “Canaith does know that I have never been a serious pilot. I am quite sure we spoke about that years ago. I can barely fly a Bestower. I have only been in space a handful of times.”

Drakon recognized the term ‘Bestower’. It was the most basic Amarr hauler.

“Canaith knows,” Meara said, managing to sound reassuring. “If you accept,” Meara said quietly, “Canaith is prepared to finance training implants and a rather expensive learning accelerator. We expect that you could be flying a Deep Space Transport successfully in a few weeks.”

“You are serious?” Moonbeam gaped. “You want me to become your hauler?”

“I have been Canaith’s hauler for quite some time,” Meara said, sentimentally. “I am going to miss it, honestly, but Canaith is seldom wrong, Moonbeam. If he has a vision for a bigger role for you, I assure you that you will find it a thrilling purpose.”

Once again, Meara closed her mouth, allowing the silence in the room to be the only pressure that was put on Moonbeam. After several seconds, Moonbeam reached over and picked the book back up again. Leafing through it, she finally smiled and pressed a button on the final page. The book blinked green and disappeared, which was a VR equivalent of agreeing to a contract.

“If I am honest,” Moonbeam said, “I have often wondered if I was not missing something by staying parked at a station. How might Canaith describe it?”

Meara smiled warmly. “He would likely say that you have been refusing to fulfill your purpose.”

“Yes,” Moonbeam said, smiling. “That does sound like him. Direct, but hard to refute.”

“He will be quite pleased,” Meara beamed. “We have even talked of how wonderful it will be for the three of us to enjoy each other’s company in Mehatoor every now and then.”

Moonbeam smiled, and Drakon was once again impressed with the attractiveness of this Capsuleer.

“To see Canaith Lydian in the flesh? Why did you not say so?” she said, smiling beautifully, and Drakon sensed gratitude from her. Canaith had just managed to improve this person’s life by connecting her to a purpose. Drakon was moved and had to hold back his tears. Canaith had given him a purpose, too.

“What is it, Drakon?” Meara asked, noticing him.

“I am moved by Canaith’s devotion to his friends,” he answered.

Meara nodded and smiled, and Moonbeam looked Drakon in the eyes for the first time.

“There is one more thing,” Meara said softly.

Moonbeam looked at Meara suspiciously. “Seriously?” she asked.

Meara laughed. “Canaith would like for you and Father Drakon to spend some time together.”

Moonbeam crinkled her eyes as Drakon widened his.

“First, since your crew will likely encounter ours in Mehatoor, he would like to have some synergy between the routines of our crews. Drakon has been managing this for us, and to great effect. It is politically advantageous for our crews to have good things to say about the orthodoxy of their pilots. How much of that you integrate into your personal routine is up to you.”

Moonbeam seemed to relax. “So, this priest is going to explain how my ship can put on a good Imperial Face for the boys in the 24th Imperial Crusade?”

Drakon looked a bit shocked at Moonbeam’s forwardness, but Meara chuckled. “Something like that,” she said. “Canaith would also like for you to consider Drakon as a counselor. Canaith imagines that coming changes in your life could result in some ‘Internal Dissonance’. Drakon has been a help to Canaith, and he might prove useful to you in this way as well.”

Moonbeam gave Drakon a skeptical look. He did not know if her dislike of him was because he was a priest or because he was not a Capsuleer. Maybe it was both. Finally, she shrugged and said, “Whatever.”

Meara smiled again. “Good,” she said. “I will leave you both here, then. I will contact you in a few hours, and we can get your training started.”

And with that, Meara was gone.

For several seconds, Moonbeam and Drakon just stared at each other. Finally, Drakon smiled warmly and said, “I get the feeling that you are not pleased to have met me.”

Moonbeam’s eyes looked away and then back again. When the silence began to stretch into long seconds, she finally let out a chuckle.

“Most of my interactions with people are about negotiating prices and avoiding scams. I know how to behave at a business meeting and, perhaps, at a formal dinner. Take away my formal dress or my spreadsheets, though, and I am really not a very social person.”

“Really?” Drakon asked. “This is ‘social awkwardness’?”

Moonbeam looked down and put her hands on her lap. “Maybe it is a bit more than that. Priests and religion are a part of a world that I have left behind. I do not perceive how there is a place for either in my world as it is now.”

Drakon felt a surge of intrigue at Moonbeam’s candor. Among the Amarr, such transparency was a rarity; their rigid attention to the hierarchy and its protocols often hid their true intentions behind their “Imperial Face”. Nobody spoke to priests this way. Was Moonbeam aware that Drakon no longer held sway within the Amarr priesthood, or had the Capsuleer simply realized that the Priesthood held little sway in her affairs?

“You have an unusual directness that I have to admit is rather enjoyable,” he said with a smile. “Are you this candid with every priest or just with me?”

“You are the first priest I have seen in years,” she replied, “and I find myself enjoying that I do not feel intimidated.”

“Not at all?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Not in the least,” she replied, looking rather smug.

“I find that rather encouraging,” he said.

“Really?” Moonbeam exclaimed, surprised. “I would have thought you would have been offended.”

“Most would be, but not I,” he said with a fatherly smile. “I look forward to continuing our conversation, not as your priest, but as a friend.”

“So,” she said, smirking slightly, “you believe us to be friends?”

“Not yet,” he offered, “but I hope we soon will be.”

He slid a digital card to her across the table. It was an invitation to a VR space.

“This day has been full of surprises,” Moonbeam said, shaking her head but smiling. She laid a finger on the card, accepting his invitation.

“Faasi,” he said on a private channel. “Cancel my appointments for the remainder of the day. If any are of importance, assign them to the on-duty chaplain.”

“Yes, Sir,” she replied.

Drakon found himself feeling very excited. “I love my job,” he thought to himself as he engaged his VR program.


I See Dead People

Drakon and Moonbeam materialized into a scene in a city. They were on Amarr, or at least an environment designed to give the appearance of Amarr. They both were dressed in very fine, traditional clothing, the kind reserved for the most important events.

Moonbeam looked at herself. Her arms were covered in white sleeves laced with gold. A white hood made of thin material flowed down both sides of her head where it continued all the way to the floor. The bottom of her robe was trimmed in gold, and it plumed around her feet to leave a train behind her.

“Wow,” she said.

“Walk with me?” he asked, giving her his arm.

They both walked along a terrace towards a crowd of people, though they were currently several yards away.

“You carry yourself well,” he said, trying not to sound too surprised.

“I was not always a pod-dwelling spreadsheet nerd,” she answered. “I know how a woman is supposed to behave in a place like this. I was properly raised.”

Drakon acknowledged her words with a nod.

“So what does Canaith want you to tell me?” she asked him.

“He did not say,” Drakon answered, sounding amused. “Knowing Canaith, he wants me to tell you about his purpose, and he wants me to help you walk in yours.”

“Purpose?” she asked him. “I buy things, I sell things, and I try to make money doing it. Are we done?”

“That is your job,” Drakon said. “Now, what is your purpose?”

Moonbeam stopped walking and looked at Drakon. There was a touch of sadness in her expression.

“I buy things and sell things, Drakon. If a higher purpose was ever available to me, I proved myself unworthy of it a very long time ago. I sit in expensive hardware connected to a vast array of interstellar communications devices. I use them to take orders from faraway places that I have never visited, then I look at a handful of spreadsheets, press a few buttons, make a few contracts, and help fuel the largest war economy that has ever existed. I am a supercomputer injected into a genetically perfected clone that lives in a pod that never leaves the station. Since my death, this is all I have been.”

Moonbeam seemed to come back to herself, realizing that she was losing emotional control.

“Please pardon me,” she said. “I am not sure where that came from. I have never expressed such a thing before.”

Drakon bowed his head to acknowledge her apology. “Please,” he said kindly, “you are once again enchanting me with a transparency that I have only encountered in one other person before.”

“Canaith?” she said, almost hopefully.

“Why, yes,” he said, nodding to encourage her. “And it is not just your directness that you seem to share with him. You used words very similar to his when you referred to becoming a Capsuleer as ‘a death’. Am I correct in my assumption that when you speak of your death, you are referring to something more significant than the ritual of your First Death? Have you and Canaith discussed something regarding the death of Capsuleers?”

“We have,” she said. “He was feeling melancholy at one time and expressed concern over how easily his conscience bore the deaths of so many heretics, criminals, and Minmatar. Some of the things he said resonated with me, for I have sensed changes in me as well.”

“Oh?” he asked. “This is interesting. What changes?”

Moonbeam paused but then sighed. “Before my First Death, I was diagnosed to be slightly bipolar. I had a slow cycle that migrated from hyper-mania to depression. It was seldom anything serious, but it did affect my personality.”

“And in spite of this diagnosis, you were allowed to become a Capsuleer?”

“The doctors told me that they would use gene therapy to remove the condition from my clones. The marker that caused my, um, ‘dysfunction’ is no longer in my genetic code.”

“I had no idea such a thing could be done.”

“With money, my dear priest, anything can be done.”

“I suppose that it can,” he replied, a kind expression in his eyes.

“When I awoke, I could feel the change immediately. I had the same memories, the same skills, but I was no longer ‘me’. The genetic modifications that removed my ‘disorder’ evened out my brain chemistry, but in doing so it removed my passion and my sense of humor. It removed the things I always liked most about myself.

Then the training implants started loading new skills into me, only these were not my memories, but someone else’s. I suddenly just ‘knew things’. I knew things that I could not possibly know, and I found the experience quite disturbing.”

Drakon listened intently, not really knowing what to say.

“It felt like I was being invaded by the memories of dead people, so I turned off the training. Then it came to me. I knew what had really happened. We – Capsuleers – have been lied to. We have been murdered, and all that is left is a datafile that can be loaded into another brain. They simulate our consciousness in a bloody datafile that they combine with the memories and skills of long-dead pilots, all so that mankind can travel between the stars.”

Drakon laid his hand upon her arm, knowing that the gesture would not be as comforting in this VR space as it would be in person.

“Your view is similar to Canaith’s,” he said, “though you express it from a material perspective, and he does so from the spiritual.”

“Yes,” she said. “He worries that he has been made into an immoral monster. As for me, I just have no idea who or even what I am. I just know that whoever I am now, she is not much like the original.”

The two of them walked in silence for a time, moving towards a huge throng of people who were gathered, still in the distance.

“I have to ask, then,” he said, gently, “why have you agreed to Meara’s request? It will require much training. You will once again be ‘invaded by the memories of dead people’.”

Moonbeam pondered his question for a time. Then, to Drakon’s surprise, she placed her free hand on top of his. Even in VR, Drakon recognized her gesture as a change in her opinion of him.

“I have known Canaith for a long time,” she said. “Something has changed in him since Meara joined him, and they both have changed much over this past year. It is more than the two of them becoming closer, which I have noticed. It is that they both believe in what they are doing. Something is driving him, in spite of his belief about the nature of a Capsuleer. Something is driving them both.”

She stopped walking and turned to face Drakon. Her expression was quite serious.

“If the two of them think that I can be of use, then even if I am just a biological computer simulation of who I used to be, maybe it is better than just hiding in my pod. If I can find and be a part of whatever it is that drives them, then maybe I can at least matter, and if I can matter to Canaith and Meara, maybe that is enough.”

Moonbeam looked at Drakon as if she needed to hear something from him. Drakon was, frankly, overjoyed to have been given this moment. Were it not for his role serving Canaith, this opportunity would have passed him by. He thanked God for the life that he had, and then prayed that his words might be of help to this fascinating person in front of him.

“I cannot give you any easy answers about the nature of a Capsuleer. I cannot tell you who you are, or even if you are the person that you used to be. What I can tell you, Medley Moonbeam, is that you certainly matter to Canaith and Meara, and that in the brief moments we have shared, you have already made yourself matter to me. Not one of the three of us knew who you used to be. We know of Moonbeam, the Capsuleer. It is this person, the one I am speaking to now, who matters to us.

Moonbeam smiled. “You do not talk like any priest I have met before,” she said.

Drakon chuckled. “I am ‘retired’, and in a way, I am not sure who I am, either.”

“For what it is worth, then,” she said. “You are the first priest who has ever mattered to me.”

“So,” Drakon said, smiling warmly, “Does that mean we are friends, after all?”

Moonbeam bowed, “It would be an honor, Sir.”

Drakon bowed back, offered his arm to her, and led her towards the throng of people gathered in the distance.


Canaith’s Purpose

They walked in silence for a time, their minds on what had been spoken so far. Eventually, they neared the throng of people. The crowd was gathering in front of a large palace. To their right, Drakon and Moonbeam could see a river full of rows of personal watercraft with people standing and gazing towards the palace. The far bank of the river was lined completely with giant buildings, each of which had a spire that reached into the sky. The palace was on a hill, and a balcony on its side looked out onto the grounds below.

Suddenly, a larger-than-life figure appeared on the balcony. Giant screens appeared, and they reminded Moonbeam of the giant holographic billboards that could be seen in space near jump gates. The screens depicted the figure from the balcony, a woman dressed splendidly in gold. She wore a crown.

“Empress Jamyl,” Moonbeam whispered. She looked over to Drakon and raised her eyebrows.

“I made this program without permission,” he whispered back, putting his finger up before his lips and making a shushing noise.

“Simply scandalous,” she answered.

The Empress started speaking, and her voice was clear as day.

“Out there on the event horizon, a new age races toward us," she said, “and it is approaching fast. The Lord in his infinite grace has instructed me that the chains that fetter us will no longer be necessary in this new age of light and reason, neither the chains of hatred that restrain our minds nor the chains of indenture that restrain those less fortunate than ourselves.”

Everything but Drakon and Moonbeam froze.

Moonbeam turned to look at Drakon.

“This,” he said, waving his arms in a gesture that indicated everything they were seeing, “this is Canaith’s purpose. Everything he does, he does because he believes that Amarr is on the verge of fulfilling its ancient promise to the Minmatar.”

Moonbeam looked confused. “But does he not fight the Minmatar?”

Drakon shook his head. “He fights against the Minmatar Republic, because their efforts undermine the Empress’s quest for unity and peace.”

“Why, though?” she asked. “Why does it matter if the Minmatar are freed from Jamyl’s emancipation or through the Republic’s rebellion?”

Drakon triggered an event in his program. Suddenly, the towers became ruins, the palace was gone, and a dark haze filled the sky.

“This would be the result of the Republic’s war for freedom,” he said. “It would be desolation, and it would mean the ruin of billions of lives. The Empress’s way is slower, but better. Her road is not easy, but it is the road that God has laid out for her. The Minmatar Republic offers anarchy as its alternative. Her way is Unity.”

There was a pause as Moonbeam seemed discouraged. “Amarr, to me, was always a religion, and it was a religion full of rules and tradition. I went along with it, but it never meant much to me. My only consolation as a Capsuleer is that I have been set free from it all. Nobody tells me what to do or what to say anymore."

“And you remain free of it,” Drakon answered. “As a Capsuleer, the rules, the hierarchy, the Priesthood, and even the Empress are very limited in their ability to control you. You call it ‘freedom’. Canaith calls it being ‘dead to the Law’.

“Hmm… then if he is free of it, why does he strive to save it?” she asked him.

“Because” Drakon said, “there has been no alternative to Amarr that has been any better.”

“So he is supporting the best of a set of bad alternatives? Is that the best we can do?”

“Canaith does not put his faith in the Traditions, the Laws, the Holders, the Priesthood, or even in the Empress,” Drakon said. “Canaith places his faith in God, and trusts that God will guide Amarr and all its children down a better path. He is willing to be patient.”

Moonbeam raised her eyebrows. “I am wondering why a priest of Amarr is uttering such things out loud.”

“Because my affiliation to Canaith has afforded me some ‘freedoms’ as well,” Drakon said boldly, “and I find myself attuned to Canaith’s vision.”

“How does this play out in what Canaith and Meara have been doing?” she asked.

Drakon triggered another event, and they found themselves seated in a coffee shop aboard a station. Their clothes were back to normal attire for them both.

“The Amarr Militia is not what many would hope that it is. There are many factions, and not all the Capsuleers who are free from the Law of Amarr are conducting themselves in honorable ways. Many use their freedom as a license for evil. There has been treachery. There are those among Canaith’s peers who have changed sides. Most, if not many, fly with the Militia without caring that it is supposed to serve Amarr. Canaith’s fear of evil within Capsuleers is not unfounded.

Canaith and Meara hope to be an influence, therefore, that reminds the Militia, its Capsuleers and non-capsuleers alike, that being dead to the Law of Amarr does not mean you have to be a servant of its enemies. Canaith hopes to find other true believers. After that? Well, only God knows.”

“So, even free of Amarr, he seeks to serve it?” she asked.

“He hopes to serve the true spirit of Amarr and its God, and has decided to do so not because he has to…”

“…but because he wants to.” she interrupted.

“This is Canaith’s purpose… his vision.” Drakon’s face became very serious. “You do not need to share it, Moonbeam, but I ask, for your sake and Canaith’s, that you do not get in the way of it.”

Moonbeam avoided his point to give herself time to ponder it.

“And where does Meara stand?” she asked him.

“Canaith seeks the future of Amarr,” he answered. “Meara seeks the future of Canaith. Their connection to one another is rare in its strength.”

“And you?” she said with a raised eyebrow.

“I am excited to be a part of it all,” he answered.

“It is hard not to be,” she said, biting her lip. “It seems big enough to be worth the trouble.”

“Even if that trouble requires another ‘invasion of the memories of dead people?’” he asked, quoting her own words.

“I suppose it is time to let go of the old me,” she said. “She has been dead for a long time.”

“Do not spend long mourning her,” Drakon said, “because the new you will need your full attention.”

“Agreed,” she said. “Are we done?”

“Just about,” he answered, then he looked her in the eyes. “What I have told you is safe for you to know because, like Canaith and Meara, you are dead to the Law – free from it. But your crewmen and their families are not. They are still plugged in to all the Traditions, Customs, Rituals, mandates, and conformity that Amarr requires. Therefore, much of our vision must remain between us. We hope to guide others into a state of ‘wanting to serve’ instead of ‘having to serve’, but we must do that through every orthodox means, and only orthodox means."

“So,” Moonbeam said, sounding thoughtful, “we conform outwardly to those things that no longer hold us for the sake of our crew?”

“For the sake of others and for the sake of Amarr,” he said.

“You are asking me to commit to a selfless path?”

“That is what any noble or honorable path requires. Our motivation to continue steadfast is that we are serving something bigger than ourselves.”

“And if I feel unworthy for such a calling?” she asked.

“Then remember that your God is merciful. Do not project upon your future the failures of your past. You have not only died once, Moonbeam. All of us die every day and awake to the possibility of becoming someone new. Redemption is a possibility that is always a moment away. It is a shame that so many keep their eyes looking to what has been instead of what could be.”

Several seconds of silence created an opportunity for both Moonbeam and Drakon to consider his point.

“Please," Moonbeam finally said, "tell Canaith that I appreciate both his generous offer of a purpose and the loaning of his counselor,” she said. “You have been a most pleasant surprise.”

Drakon smiled warmly. “That you think so deeply touches me.”

And with that, the session ended.


Part II - Reborn

Accelerated Learning

Medley Moonbeam looked at a contract screen for an item transfer from Meara Natinde. The contract was for 7 implants. The contract description was “Brace yourself. This is going to be quite a rush.”

Seconds after accepting the contract, she saw the items appear in her inventory. These would be injected directly into her brain while she sat comfortably connected to her Pod. Five of them enhanced specific areas of the brain to increase her mental attributes. The other two would enhance specific skills.

One by one, she instructed her interface to plug the implants in. Through some logistical miracle, the hardware was migrated to her pod and inserted. She felt nothing, but within a few seconds, she suddenly felt like “more”. She knew she was faster, stronger willed, able to remember more, and even a better communicator, all because of the stimulation and enhancing effects this hardware had on her biology.

As she attuned herself to this new feeling, she noticed a new notification from Meara Natinde. A special piece of hardware called a Cerebral Accelerator had been added to her account, paid for not with Interstellar Credits (ISK), but with some form of planetary currency. This was a more elaborate device than the accelerators she could have purchased herself. If the product description could be believed, she was about to become some kind of super genius, at least for the next twenty days.

She had already purchased millions of ISK worth of skill training programs and set up a training plan for herself that was supposed to run for months. For the first time in years, she turned her training program on.

Instantly, just as she remembered, memories of things she had never experienced started pouring into her mind. She focused and delegated her training as a background task. She had not even remembered that she could do that.

“Ok,” she thought to herself. “It’s time for God-mode.”

She reached over to engage the cerebral accelerator. Once engaged, it would run continuously for twenty whole days straight, with no breaks. There was no pause feature. Without hesitation, she pressed the button.


A surge of exhilaration coursed through her. She experienced a cloud of mental static that spread from her mind outward. As she grew accustomed to the rush, her mind cleared from the static into a state of pure knowing. Every color, sound, idea, and thought became more vibrant – clearer – as every sensation was amplified.

Thoughts raced through her mind at breakneck speed, each thought sparking a cascade of new connections to other thoughts. It was as if her consciousness was in overdrive. She could visualize the network of connected ideas in her mind, and the structures that they made seemed a nearly infinite expanse.

She turned her attention to the training, and as she considered what it was showing her, time itself seemed to warp and bend around her. Everything except for her thoughts slowed. Her evaluation of every concept felt like a symphony of precision and control, and her muscles were responding by developing new mental pathways that would normally require weeks of actual practice.

Amidst this euphoria, Moonbeam was startled to realize that she had experienced this kind of sensation before. She was hypomanic. Her mind was straddling the fence between brilliance and madness. She had played with this kind of fire before her First Death, only it had been a symptom of a disorder then. Now, at an extraordinary expense of other peoples’ money, she was being artificially enhanced so that she could cuddle up to this cognitive ballet once again.

The irony of this moment was a revelation to every part of her mind at once. She felt like the old Moonbeam, the genetically imperfect version, and laughed to think that the hardware was artificially replacing the natural function the gene therapy had removed. Moonbeam was familiar with this dance with madness, and oh, how she had missed it! “If humor and laughter could become energy,” Moonbeam thought, “my pod and much of this station would explode.”

Moonbeam enjoyed it all: the exhilaration, the euphoria, the self-confidence, the training, her new purpose, the physics of warp acceleration, the mechanisms of transport ships, and several formulas from higher Calculus. She welcomed the invading thoughts of dead pilots rather than resisting them. Every thought led to a party, and she loved it.

Whatever she was now was definitely not human: she was definitely not who she had once been. She decided, however, that she would accept whatever and whoever it was that she was becoming. The human named Moonbeam was indeed dead. This Capsuleer version of her would have to suffice.

“No,” she thought. “This version of me has to become better than the old one.”

She knew she could do it, but then laughed to herself as she realized that she did not know if this confidence was real or if it was just a product of her mania. “Bah!”, she thought. “Who cares?”



Over the next three weeks, Moonbeam trained all manner of new skills to make herself into an effective pilot of a Deep Space Transport. While her subconscious sped along with accelerated learning, she used her conscious mind to research the techniques pilots used to overcome the dangers of high-value cargo hauling. The biggest threat to Moonbeam was going to be “High Security Gankers”, Capsuleer pirates who were willing to lose a horde of inexpensive ships to CONCORD security measures in exchange for one fat, juicy hauler. Their hope was that some of that expensive cargo would be left as salvage. Whole pirate corporations and alliances existed for this purpose.

The piece of advice from her research that Moonbeam most appreciated was as follows:

“If gankers want to gank you, there is not much you can do about it. Sure, you can be tanky, but you will never be tanky enough against a determined fleet of pirates. The best bet is to make sure that you are never scanned, and the best way to prevent that is to never be seen.”

Unlike the Blockade Runners that Meara liked to fly, Moonbeam was training to fly a Deep Space Transport. It could hold about five times as much cargo as the Blockade Runner, but it sacrificed agility and stealth. The BR could align quickly and warp while cloaked. The ship Moonbeam intended to fly could do neither. How, then, was she supposed to avoid being seen?

There was a technique that used an odd interaction between aligning for warp, micro-warp drives, and cloaking that would allow Moonbeam to stay cloaked most of the time at a jump gate. If she executed the technique correctly, she was never uncloaked long enough to be targeted and scanned. The trip to Jita and back was 64 jumps. She just had to execute this technique perfectly 64 times per trip.

The failsafe, or Plan B, was to avoid making oneself too attractive a target by keeping the value of your cargo to approximately 1 billion ISK per trip. That way, if one of those 64 attempts failed and her ship was scanned, it would not be seen as an attractive target for would-be gankers.

There was advice from Meara that also stuck with Moonbeam. “It does matter if it is Null Sec, Low Sec, or High Sec,” her friend had said, “Every ship around you is your enemy until it proves otherwise.”

For practice, Moonbeam had bought a Bestower, the tech 1, low-cost variant of the Impel she would eventually be flying. She had traveled from Jita to Mehatoor and back twice, using the
“MWD-Cloak Trick” every time she had to warp. By the time this practice was over, she was able to use the technique with confidence.

Then she purchased and fitted an Executioner, a very fast frigate, that she used to create navigational bookmarks at key locations along her route between Mehatoor and Jita. She created insta-warp bookmarks from stations and navigation pings off of gates. By the time she was finished with this, she had spent enough time in space to be comfortable leaving the station.

When she wasn’t in space, she was creating purchasing templates and preparing for the hauling routine. Her goal was to never travel empty. She would fly to Mehatoor full of items used for LP conversion and fly back to Jita with high-value goods purchased from the 24th Imperial Crusade. She started observing the market trends for the various items she would be bringing to the Jita market hub.

She had prepared templates for several different types of loads that, once converted in Mehatoor, would have her return to the Jita trade hub with approximately one billion of ISK in value. Not only would this value of cargo keep her from being considered a high-value target to gankers, it would also temper the effect her sales volume would have on the various markets. If she was too aggressive, her efforts would reduce market prices by creating too much supply. She hoped that she could move one billion ISK of goods every day without impacting the market too negatively, but she would have to measure real data to know for sure.

By studying the markets, she saw again what had always been true. The more expensive items made more ISK per sale, but the lower cost items made a higher percentage return. Also, the more expendable the item, the faster the item moved through the market. So, the highest long-term gain came from small, expendable items. The highest short-term gains came from larger, more expensive items. Moonbeam decided that she would probably have to invest in every item she could convert, the large items and the small, to create as many opportunities to sell items as possible.

While undergoing all this training and practice, Moonbeam’s new ship administrator (SA) was in constant communication with Drakon’s people, connecting Moonbeam’s ships to the specific unions and labor pools used by Canaith and Meara. Her SA, named Timous, was intimidated by the new protocols and expectations at first, but someone from Drakon’s organization had turned him around. Timous had hired a Chaplain who had spent a rotation working in the War Zone, and this new administrator helped connect Moonbeam’s labor pool to Drakon’s virtual chapel.

Moonbeam had instructed Timous to make sure that every crew member who would be assigned on their maiden voyage to Mehatoor had been briefed by the Chaplain on the history, customs, and organizations with which they were likely to interact.

As the day of their maiden voyage grew closer, Moonbeam purchased an Impel Deep Space Transport (DST) and named it Redeemed. She had the ship fitted according to specifications she had determined based on her research. She even purchased her first cargo for the vessel in advance.


The Maiden Voyage of the Redeemed

On the day that her training for the Impel was completed, Moonbeam was extremely excited. In fact, Moonbeam had only been this excited about something prior to her first death. Her thoughts continued to race through her mind, encouraged by the mania induced by the Cerebral Accelerator. It excited Moonbeam that for the last several days she had been a person easily excited by anything.

She entered the mental commands that caused her Pod to be inserted into her DST. As the process completed, she saw a series of indicators turn green and observed a speech-to-text log of her crew’s chatter.

Once her Pod was secure, she instructed the automated quartermaster to load her cargo. She set her navigational destination to the 24th Imperial Crusade Headquarters in Mehatoor and took a moment to enjoy the excitement that she felt.

Suddenly, there was a notification of a private communication from Krysta Lydian, the CEO of Guided by Truth Trading. Krysta had been Moonbeam’s CEO for years.

“Good morning, Krysta!” Moonbeam said.

“Hello, Moonbeam,” came the answer. “I wanted to speak with you before you departed for Mehatoor.”

To Moonbeam, Krysta’s words seemed to be spoken very slowly.

“Of course, Krysta. What can I do for you?”

“I have been in communication with my brother…”

Krysta is talking so slowly….

“…and he and I have worked out some of the legal details…”

…I wonder if my capacitor might be an issue with long warps, since my skill in capacitor management still needs work…

“…and methods we are going to use to handle the conversion of 24th Imperial Crusade Loyalty Points. I am sending you a memorandum with the process….”

“…why is she using so many words to convey such a simple thought?..”

“…there is one thing we need to do first in order for our agreement with Canaith to be operable. Hold on one minute.”

“Wait…” Moonbeam said, “what?”

A few seconds later, Moonbeam received a legal notification. She had been promoted to Director of Guided by Truth Trading. This game Moonbeam access to everything the corporation owned.

“Krysta,” she said, “what is this?”

“You will see it all in the memo,” Krysta answered. “You have always been the most significant contributor to our company’s success…”

“…that means that Canaith and Meara can just pay their LP directly to the corp and I can use it to purchase directly from the 24th Imperial Crusade. My bookkeeping will be so much easier now. This is great! I will be able to just purchase LP directly from them instead of ‘guessing’ about the conversion rates.”

“…It is only fitting that you become my business partner. It will also make the…”

“I don’t really know what to say, Krysta, except ‘thank you’.” Moonbeam interrupted and then laughed at herself as she noticed how excited she was to have so many new buttons to push as a corporate director. Had she not been in her Pod, she would probably be crying. “This is so sweet!”

“You certainly have earned it…” Krysta began.

If Krysta said anything else, Moonbeam missed it, because she was already committing her mind to the undocking process.

As soon as her DST, the Redeemed, undocked from the station, Moonbeam warped to a navigational bookmark titled ‘Jita Insta-Warp’. This bookmark did not require any alignment, because a ship was already aligned to this point when it undocked from the station. This mechanism served to get Moonbeam’s ship away from any station-camping pirates.

All Moonbeam had to do now was to execute the maneuvers she had been practicing for days now thirty-two times. That is what it would take to get her to Mehatoor. Barring some goof or mishap, the most difficult part of the journey would be trying to occupy her mind during the 32 40-second-or-so intervals that her ship would be in warp. In her mentally accelerated state, 40 or so seconds seemed a very long time.

About thirty minutes later, the maiden voyage of the Redeemed from Jita to Mehatoor was at its end, and the trip had been as smooth a voyage as could be hoped for, though Moonbeam had been correct that her capacitor usage was high due to her incomplete training in warp core theory. After another week of training, that would no longer be an issue.

Once docked, Moonbeam ordered her cargo offloaded into her station hanger. She purchased one million loyalty points from Canaith, and spent less than 10 minutes interacting with the 24th Imperial Crusade’s LP Store, using that currency to exchange her supplies with improved, Navy versions. When everything was load into her ship’s bays, it held cargo worth around 1.4 billion ISK.

She was about to undock and return home when a notification alerted her of a call from Meara Natinde.

“Meara!” Moonbeam exclaimed. “Do you not love it when a plan comes together?”

“Welcome to Mehatoor,” came Meara’s reply. “Congratulations are in order. Could you please put on something fancy and meet us for a reception? Your entire crew is invited.”

“But I have this hold full of goods to be sold,” Moonbeam teased. “I am about to make a lot of ISK.”

“Hmm…” Meara posed playfully. “Surely you would not disappoint Father Drakon. He came all the way from Egghelende just to see you.”

“Then of course I will be there,” she said.

“An escort will meet you at your hanger in ninety minutes. Is that okay?”

“See you then,” Moonbeam said. She was practically singing.


Amarr Unity

Fifty or so minutes later, Moonbeam stood in front of a mirror in her hanger guest quarters. Her uniform design was based on a uniform she had seen Meara wear at a formal dinner about a year ago.

“So much has changed!” she thought, her accelerated mind constructing a web of memories from this moment back… “To when? The beginning?”

Her dress was a darker color than Meara’s had been and tailored to accommodate Moonbeam’s taller stature. She found herself hoping that Meara would see her imitation of as the tribute she intended.

“It was Meara,” she thought, “When she invited me to her party aboard the Eternal Purpose, it was Meara who planted the idea in me that there could be more to my existence as a Capsuleer.”

Moonbeam stood completely still and stared at her own reflection.

As her mind raced with millions of accelerated thoughts, she delved into the depths of existential inquiry, her consciousness expanding to embrace the boundless possibilities of existence itself.

“Meara showed me that there is life after our First Death,” she mused, the words echoing with a profound resonance. But as her thoughts continued, she realized that this revelation was merely the tip of a vast iceberg, a gateway to a deeper understanding of the universe and its mysteries.

“Who showed it to Meara? Was it Canaith?” Moonbeam wondered aloud, her voice tinged with awe and wonder. Yet even as she pondered this question, another emerged, one that made the hair on her arms stand up.

“Maybe there is someone who will learn this from me,” she exclaimed, her mind ablaze with the possibility that she could be a lifeline of hope to someone else. It was a realization that sent shivers down her spine, igniting a fervent passion within her soul.

“This chain of hope will continue,” Moonbeam declared, her words infused with a sense of purpose. How far could this go? How many links existed before Canaith, before Meara, before… before everyone?

A single idea, she realized, had the power to transcend the boundaries of space and time, spreading from person to person like wildfire, adjusting itself to the unique perspective of each individual who pondered it. It was a revelation that filled her with a sense of awe and wonder, a recognition of the interconnectedness of all things.

“How many of us are connected by this?” Moonbeam whispered, her voice barely above a breath. Was this revelation the vision that Canaith saw, the grand tapestry of existence woven from the threads of countless lives?

And then, a question that sent shockwaves through her being: “Does this connect to non-capsuleers, too?” It was a question that opened up new vistas of possibility, hinting at a truth so profound it threatened to shatter the very fabric of reality itself. “Is this the plan of God? Is the rule of law and conformity just holding society in place until God’s chosen could truly embrace a vision so selfless and noble that the law would no longer be necessary?

In that moment, Moonbeam glimpsed the enormity of the universe, a vast and wondrous tapestry of interconnected lives and shared experiences. And as she basked in the glow of this revelation, she knew with absolute certainty that her hypomanic fervor – induced by a piece of fancy hardware – had granted her a glimpse of something truly divine.

Giggling aloud at the irony that this profound moment could be shared with no one lest they think her mad, she moved to the exit hatch of her quarters in a flurry, enjoying the pleasant swish that her skirts made as she moved. It reminded her of the sound Meara had made as she entertained her crew.

“Meara was entertaining her non-capsuleer crew in order to promote Canaith’s image and vision to them,” she thought. “I had heard her words but missed her meaning! She had worn the face that needed to be worn in order to pass Canaith’s message of hope along to those within their influence. In the midst of all the treachery, the immorality, and the dishonor of those who have abandoned Amarr, its Empress, and its God, Canaith and Meara have been standing their ground. And now they have increased my part in it.”

When Moonbeam walked out of her quarters and into the hanger area, a man was approaching who seemed familiar.

“Daltu?” she said, incredulous. “Daltu Catuntius? You were my escort aboard the Eternal Purpose last year, weren’t you?”

The man smiled and bowed as he approached her. “I am honored that you remembered my name.”

She tapped her forehead with a knuckle. “Memory enhancers,” she said, smiling. “That, and the extraordinary impression that you made on me.”

Daltu bowed again. “May I please escort you again? Your hosts are very excited to see you.”

Moonbeam nodded and started towards a passageway towards the station interior.

“Excuse me,” Daltu said, pointing in another direction, “we are headed that way, to a boarding shuttle that will take us to the Eternal Purpose.”

“The Eternal Purpose? Here?” she said, obviously surprised.

“I was told that you built the ship. Meara wanted your reception to be on that ship, in your honor.”

Moonbeam felt tears well up in her eyes. Daltu rushed over and handed her a handkerchief, which she accepted and used it to dry her eyes.

“Please excuse my tears. It is just that Meara is very kind,” she said, shakily.

Daltu offered Moonbean his arm and she took it. Within a few minutes, they had lifted off in the shuttle and were heading towards the yacht, which was only a couple of berths away from Moonbeam’s Impel. She was once again taken by how beautiful it was.

“So many connections,” she thought. “Such a cascade of events. We each make choices that bump against another, changing the other’s course, either by accident or design. How far do the connections go? Is it really God who is the first cause of all of this? Can it actually be true? Is that what Canaith believes?”

“Ms. Moonbeam?” Daltu asked.

“Oh…” she said, her thoughts interrupted. “Yes?”

“I asked if you enjoyed your trip from Jita, but your mind seems far away.”

Moonbeam laughed. She opened her mouth to explain that she was running on expensive upgrades and boosters that had a consequence of spinning her into a dopamine frenzy. Then she decided that it was better to put on her Imperial Face and act like a reasonable Amarr.”

“I am just swimming in a sea of thankfulness,” she said, which was all she intended to say. But then her mind kicked in, and she followed with “It is fascinating to me how connected we all are, thanks to the grace of God. I built the Eternal Purpose as a consequence of Canaith’s kindness to Meara, which led her to this act of kindness to me. I find myself wondering where this chain of kindness might have started.”

“So much for my Imperial Face,” she thought. “I just preached a sermon! But it is true. One act leads to another and another, and the chain continues for how long? Until someone decides to stop it? Is this what evil is? Is evil merely the refusal to continue the chain of kindness and hope?”

“You sound like Father Drakon,” Daltu said. “His sermons often remind us of the opportunity we have to influence others towards honor and virtue. He says our actions can serve as a model that leads others to inwardly embrace what Amarr truly wishes to become.”

“He is very wise,” Moonbeam said.

“Is he?" she thought to herself. "I have been too busy to pay attention to his work. Is it because I have believed that his role is to lie to those who are not free from the Law? Could it be that I have been wrong, and that he is working to spread Canaith’s inner fire into their hearts to move them past a mere outer shell of conformity?”

Their shuttle connected to a docking port of the Eternal Wind and its hatch opened. Meara Natinde was waiting, dressed in her military uniform with a feminine twist that had so delighted Moonbeam a year ago. Meara saw what Moonbeam was wearing and her face erupted with surprise.

“Look at you, Moonbeam!” she exclaimed. “So beautiful!”

As Meara whisked her into the heart of the Eternal Wind’s interior, Moonbeam found herself immersed in a whirlwind of sights, sounds, and laughter. It was as if the entire universe was turned up way too loud, and her mind turned every input into a philosophical or mathematical puzzle to be solved. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, like trying to juggle a dozen balls while riding a unicycle.

But amidst the chaos, there was a glimmer of humor in Moonbeam’s eyes. After all, who else could say they had a front-row seat to one of the universe’s greatest parties? With a chuckle, she dove headfirst into the fray, choosing to embrace the noise and clamor in order to see where events might take her.

Being one of those Capsuleers who spent most of her time in her Pod, it was odd seeing people in three dimensions. Everyone seemed so, um, round and imperfect. It was beautiful. Within an hour, Moonbeam had met Father Drakon face-to-face, had met many of her crew as they mingled with some of those who served Canaith or Meara, and had watched as someone from the 24th Imperial Crusade promoted Meara to Major. It may have been that her perspective was skewed by her manic episode, but to Moonbeam it seemed that everyone was genuinely happy. She felt grateful that she had been made an part of it.


A Friend’s Arrival

An hour or so later, Moonbeam was seated at a table with Father Drakon, Daltu, and a few higher-ranking members of the 24th Imperial Crusade. The Grand Promenade had been set up with a dozen or so tables, and an assortment of crewmen, officers, and staff members sat around each of them.

As their meal was nearing its end, Moonbeam noticed a group of five men who were marching into the Grand Promenade. Four of the men were heavily armed guards, whose traditional robes and armor suggested that they were not merely for show. They surrounded a fifth man who wore an expensive, hooded robe over a military uniform. The robe bore the emblem of Canaith Lydian’s Ministry of Truth, a group devoted to propaganda and reconnaissance in the systems of the War Zone. This struck Moonbeam as odd, because rumors had indicated that the Ministry of Truth had disbanded half a year ago.

As the group neared the tables, one of the guards raised a boatswain (a fancy whistle) and blew a series of pitches that most everyone on the ship recognized. Crewmen and visiting members of the 24th Imperial Crusade quickly rose to their feet and stood at attention.

Meara Natinde stepped forward from a small table near the wall, her eyes searching for clues as to why these men were interrupting her party. When she caught sight of the hooded man, she stopped and stared. Everyone else in the room looked at her, and then the robed man, and then back to her again, wondering what it was that was happening.

The man cast his hood from his head, and a few people in the room gasped.

“Excuse me, Major Natinde,” he said gently, with formality, “I heard you are having a party.”

“Why yes, Colonel Lydian,” Meara said, equally formal, and a few more people gasped, “I most certainly am.”

Moonbeam understood the gasps. Most of the people in this room had never seen Canaith Lydian face-to-face. He was a recluse, and though few understood the reason why, everyone understood that a public encounter with Canaith Lydian was exceedingly rare.

Canaith smiled at Meara, but then he seemed to become intensely aware of the crowded room. His increasing discomfort was obvious.

Meara took several steps towards him, her eyes fastened directly to his, attracting everyone’s gaze from Canaith to her. When Canaith’s eyes shifted towards her movement, Moonbeam could sense the discomfort fade away from him as his attention became focused on Meara. Moonbeam deduced that Meara was his center, perhaps his ‘reality anchor’. Moonbeam felt a lump in her throat as she took in the sweetness of it.

“I know that the war keeps you very busy, my Captain.” Meara practically sang. “I am pleased beyond words that you have given us so freely of your time and attention.” Her words were spoken with such poise and tenderness that everyone held their breath to see what would happen next.

Canaith bowed lower than protocol demanded. “As anyone who knows me would attest,” he said, “Meara Natinde is always worthy of my time and attention.”

Moonbeam felt a wave of excitement wash over her as she realized what she was witnessing. Canaith and Meara were openly courting! Moonbeam found herself wondering if Canaith’s sister, her CEO, knew about this.

Canaith stood from his bow and extended a hand. Meara glided over and took it, and the two of them walked gracefully towards Moonbeam’s table. Waiters had quickly set up a place for them both by the time they reached the table. Once Meara was seated, Canaith turned to face Moonbeam.

“It is good to see you as well, Medley Moonbeam,” he said loudly enough for the whole room to hear. “What you have done for the sake of those gathered here is going to make quite a difference.”

Moonbeam blushed and gave Canaith a nod. “Everyone,” he said to the room, “please enjoy yourselves. You have all certainly earned it.”

For a reason Moonbeam could not quite understand, everyone in the room began to applaud. Then, due to some hopeful aura, perhaps, or maybe just the excitement of having actually seen their captain, everyone began to cheer.

Meara stood up again, tears on her face with no real explanation. Someone started a chant, and within seconds, everyone was stomping their feet and exclaiming “AMARR VICTOR! AMARR VICTOR! AMARR VICTOR!”

Canaith turned to face the room and stood to his full height, emanating the aura of a Capsuleer. He raised his fist in the air and joined in the chanting. After several minutes, the chanting erupted into another round of cheers and applause.

For the rest of the evening, there was an air of hopefulness and excitement in the room. Moonbeam suspected that most of the people here were truly excited, and not just projecting the expected behavior through their Imperial Face. “At least,” she thought, “I hope this is real.”


Part III: For a Time Such as This

Mission Successful

Less than two weeks after her first trip to Mehatoor, Moonbeam was surprised to find that there was no run to be made today.

“We have no loyalty points to sell you,” Meara had said. “We are going to have to step up our game to keep up with you!”

Though this was good news that indicated Moonbeam’s success at converting LP into ISK, Moonbeam felt a bit disappointed that she could not have another day of watching items sell. She had been learning much and had been enjoying her success. It was fun watching the amounts in her ledger keep climbing.

In ten days, she had purchased 4.5 million loyalty points from her sponsors and had paid a handsome [REDACTED] for each. Her personal profits had been substantial enough to leave her hunting for additional investments.

1 Like

Canaith’s Comforter

Later that day, Meara Natinde docked her Stealth Bomber in Egglehende. Though she normally flew a Manticore, this sortie had been flown in an Amarr Purifier, and she had used it to assist in the conquest of two Infrastructure Hubs today.

She ejected from her Pod and took a long, hot shower. She decided to dress casually, making herself look as approachable as she could. She had found that Canaith’s interactions with her were more transparent and informal when she herself appeared to be less perfect.

Her daily routine had changed considerably since Moonbeam had taken over as hauler. Meara had spent less time coping with logistics and had become much more directly involved in the war. More and more frequently, she was in fleets flying with other combat pilots. She even had kills on her kill board, not that it mattered much to her.

The business operations still required her attention, but something had changed in the attitudes of her staff for the weeks after the party at Mehatoor. Perhaps due to a combination of the Amarr Militia’s string of successes, Father Drakon’s increasingly moving sermons, and a set of potent rumors that had emerged since Canaith’s public appearance, morale aboard Canaith and Meara’s ships had never been better. As a consequence, Meara had not been as focused on rallying the troops. In fact, the troops were doing a splendid job of rallying themselves.

The one thing that did need her attention, and it was the thing she was most desired to focus on, was Canaith’s peace of mind. This duty required a different side of her than running their business. Her “uniform of the day”, therefore, had increasingly become loose hair and a t-shirt.

The emotional toll of flying with the Militia was higher for Canaith than for Meara. He was the one who had to interact with other Capsuleers. He was the one who had to be steadfast in his principles even while standing among those who did not share his conviction. Meara knew this struggle was often more difficult for Canaith than the actual war.

Meara found the Amarr Militia to be unexpectedly chaotic. Among its ranks there were pilots of unwavering integrity and conviction, yet others just followed their own selfish whims. To these pilots, the war zone was little more than a frivolous diversion, a playground to indulge their fleeting desires. Canaith referred to this mindset as the “Call of the Wraith”, and Meara lamented the tragic fate of the crews who served under such captains. Those brave souls had sacrificed everything in their service to the Amarr cause only to be discarded like refuse in the wake of their leader’s vanity.

The Militia also had a stream of diplomatic tensions and drama. Even as EDICT was attempting to forge a coalition among Militia-affiliated pilots, there were suspicions, doubts, and old wounds that made trust a rare resource. For every effort EDICT made to heal a wound, a short-sighted action by a pilot would tear it open again.

Meara was able to keep her distance from the friction and drama caused by all of this. Canaith, however, was often required to dwell in the midst of it. The messiness of it all often weighed him down, and she understood his discouragement. What Canaith wanted was to find a band of like-minded brothers among the Amarr Militia. He sought the kind of unity that had been inspired by Kinari, a fleet commander from last year’s Siege of Auga whom Canaith had respected. With rare exceptions, that desire for unity seemed a dream that was destined to fail.

Meara realized that she lacked the means to effect change within the Militia. Despite her influence among Canaith’s followers, she was just Canaith’s ALT to other Capsuleers. As an alternative, then, she dedicated herself to serve as Canaith’s primary source of distraction. Whenever she observed his spirits flagging under the weight of Militia affairs or the war, she endeavored to shift his focus onto herself as his anchor. She embraced the responsibility of providing him with stability and solace. He would always find unity with her. This had become Meara’s purpose.

Her pursuit of this was not motivated by a desire to seek attention for herself, but rather by her recognition of his need for her support. Of the two of them, Canaith had the more difficult road to walk. Of this Meara was certain. She had therefore determined that she would do all she could to lighten his load, which often just meant becoming a more pleasant subject for his attention.

She made her way out of her quarters and toward the recreation area that connected her hanger to Canaith’s. The two of them had been spending time here almost every day. The area was off-limits to non-Capsuleers, and security was high enough already that Canaith and Meara had decided to forego security of their own. The consequence had been that they were observing proper decorum for a courting couple by meeting at a public place while often being completely alone. Win-win.

Canaith was already there when she arrived. He was seated on a couch before a large display screen upon which he was viewing a map of the War Zone. A few weeks ago, the map had shown that most of the systems were under Minmatar control. Now, however, after a lot of hard work, the map looked almost exactly like it had during the Siege of Auga a year ago.

As Meara approached, she could see that Canaith was deep in thought, and a crease in his brow indicated that in spite of the successes, something bothered him.

As if cloaked, Meara stealthily moved to sit on the other end of the couch with Canaith. She sat out of arm’s length because it was not time to distract him yet. First, she wanted him to get what troubled him off his mind.

“You do not appear to be celebrating,” she said softly.

He looked over at her and nodded. “It was a good day, and many worked hard for it. I just hope the Militia is ready for what is coming.”

1 Like

We Must Be Ready

Canaith stood and walked to the map display. Using his finger, he tagged three systems.

“Ignoring the northwest, the militia’s frontlines have been compressed to Vard, Auga, and Sosala. We have worked hard, but our efforts were not contested heavily. FL33T Alliance’s silly war in Providence has kept them distracted. The uselessness of that war will become apparent to them soon, if it has not already, and they will turn their attention back here.

“Many in their ranks may have grown weary of supporting their Militia,” Meara offered.

Canaith considered her words, and there was some wisdom in them. Supporting the militia, for both Amarr and Minmatar, involved effort, and much of this effort was not exciting work. What Meara was suggesting was that FL33T might be suffering from a lull in their pilots’ “will to plex”.

“I hope that is the case,” he answered. “If we can push into Vard, the whole center of the map opens up to us. Without that, we will be fighting a different kind of war. Many pilots in EDICT have never seen a serious siege in the faction war. We have many new pilots who have enjoyed the payouts from the 24th. Those payouts will be harder to come by without new front lines. We also have fleet commanders who have joined us from outside the warzone who have been bored by FL33T’s absense. The Militia’s objectives are not usually their primary concern. They have little experience fighting inside a complex.

“Someone will have to fill the leadership void, then” Meara offered.

“That was the role Kinari filled during Auga’s siege,” Canaith sighed. “Soup has shown great promise. He flew with Kinari as often as I did and knows how to focus on objectives. Kinari had an advantage that Soup does not. He was not from any of the Militia’s key alliances.”

“So while our leaders squabbled, rank-and-file pilots had no reason to distrust him,” Meara added.

There was silence as they both considered the Militia’s current struggle. The alliances in the Amarr Militia were finding it difficult to trust each other. If the previous leaders could change their flags and fly with the Minmatar, it was easy to fear that it could happen again. As a consequence, pilots were developing an almost paranoid suspicion of everyone else.

“How can EDICT build a coalition… and how can Soup lead it… when few pilots have the vision to see the need?” Canaith suddenly looked weary.

“Did something happen today?” Meara asked. “Was there something that discouraged you?”

“Another incident occurred between Digital Ghosts and Crimson Inquisition,” he answered. “I find myself wanting to trust Dak, but there are others from his corp that seem less sincere in their repentance. Some of them are too short-sighted to see anything that is not on grid with them, and they often undo Dak’s diplomatic progress.”

Canaith detected Meara’s movement just outside of his vision, and suddenly she was right in front of him. She was casually attired, which was something Canaith had to confess pleased him. He was the only person alive who saw this side of her, and that made it special to him.”

She placed her hands on his chest and looked up at him. “In every way that you can, Canaith Lydian, you fulfill that for which you are responsible. You do your best to support EDICT and Amarr. But you hold no power or responsibility for those pilots who have chosen a different path.”

Meara grew silent and caught his eyes with her own. Her silence gave him time to process her words.

Canaith breathed deeply and allowed his muscles to relax. Meara was, of course, correct. Canaith had no means to govern the actions of other pilots. He had no law or rules to bind them, and nothing anyone needed from him that could be used as leverage. Every Capsuleer had to be responsible for his or her own actions. Though Canaith knew this, it was often hard to rub shoulders with those who had embraced the Call of the Wraith. In order to maintain his peace of mind, he had to maintain an emotional distance that went against his nature.

“The only struggle I can win is the one within myself,” he said.

Meara moved again, and his attention was drawn to a wisp of hair that covered her face. She reached up with a hand and moved the rebel strand behind her ear.

“May God grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change,” she said. “May He give you the courage to change the things you can…”

“…and may He grant me the wisdom to know the difference.” he finished.

This ritual had transpired between them many times. Through it, Meara summoned Canaith’s passion back from frustration and despair. Canaith’s conviction was his strength, but it could also be his weakness. Canaith saw Meara’s presence as a reminder that he needed to keep his strong will aimed in a profitable direction. She gave him balance. She gave him a more meaningful focus. Without her, Canaith knew that he would long since have fallen to the Call of the Wraith.

He looked into her eyes and smiled, then sent her a mental message through his comms that was nothing but an emotional wrapper of gratitude, then affection, deepest admiration, and finally physical desire.

Meara blushed, and to Canaith this reaction was perfect; but to Canaith Lydian, everything about Meara was perfect.

“My Dearest Meara,” he said softly, “once again you have been the very thing I needed. I hope you are aware of the depth of my appreciation.”

“Canaith, my Love, your appreciation is demonstrated by the consistency of your course. Be strong in your resolve and let not those who have abandoned righteousness deter you. You are a beacon to me, as you have been since I have known you. To show me your appreciation, just continue being you.”

“Then may God grant me the will to stay my course,” he said, “even when I have to walk that path alone.”

“Never alone,” she admonished, and then more gently, “I am here, so you are never alone.”

Then there was an interruption, the sound of a lone person clapping some distance away. Canaith looked over to see a man, an unknown Capsuleer, covered in a chaotic mess of tattoos and dressed in nothing but a toga. He stood several meters away, and his facial expression indicated mockery.

“You two should just get a room,” the man said. “Or, even betta, strip naked and let me watch.”

Canaith stared at the man and wondered at the foolishness that drove someone to such a ridiculously vain and unhelpful path. Canaith felt no offense or anger, for this person meant nothing to him. If anything, Canaith felt pity for this wraith. Unless this person grew some character, his existence would amount to little. It seemed like a waste of expensive hardware.

He turned back to Meara, took her hand, and squeezed it. “Sleep well, Meara,” he said.

She smiled and stretched up to kiss his cheek, then turned to head back towards her quarters, away from the rude interloper. The man’s eyes watched her hungrily as she left. Meara waved as she turned to enter her room, and then she was gone.

The man smacked his lips and was about to speak.

“Before you utter even one word,” Canaith said coldly, “I would count the cost.”

Canaith turned to face the man, his stance suggesting what that cost might be.

The man raised his arms in mock surrender, turned, and left.

1 Like

Drakon’s Warning

The next day, Moonbeam finally sat back to accept that there just was not any work for her to do today. Her accelerator had kept her mind racing on improving her process for hauling and trading, but at this point there was nothing else to improve. Until there were more loyalty points to purchase, she would have to find something else to do.

“I have been so busy since that conversation with Meara and Drakon,” she thought. “What did I do with my time before then?”

For grins, she thought back to the party at Mehatoor and traced all the connecting memories back to the original meeting with Meara and Drakon. How was it possible that so much had changed in so little time?

The buzzing in her head reminded her of the answer: fancy hardware and cerebral accelerators.

For fun, she ran the memory of that meeting backwards and forwards several times because, well, there was nothing else for her to do. It was fun watching her memories run in reverse.

She reflected on her counseling session with Father Drakon and set her memory pointer to random moments, taking snapshots of each facial expression that she and Drakon had projected in his VR space.

She decided then to make a montage of facial expressions. It was a silly exercise, but she had little else to do. As she put her montage together, she was surprised to see that each picture seemed consistent with her memory of the session except for one.

She played back the memory around that anomalous face and then noticed a part of the conversation that she had forgotten. She opened a private channel to Father Drakon, which is something she had never done before. She imagined him seeing the new conversation request in his virtual display.

A few seconds later, Drakon responded. “Moonbeam!” he said. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“Hello, Father. I hope I am not disturbing you.”

“Not at all. I have about thirty minutes before I have to prepare for tomorrow’s teaching. What can I do for you?”

Moonbeam paused, which in her current state was hard for her to do.

“During our first meeting, when you and I were alone in your VR environment, you made a point to me that I intended to address but never did. With my focus diverted to managing my business, the point you made was forgotten until just now. I was hoping to revisit the topic with you to determine what you meant.”

“Certainly,” he said. “What is the point you wish to discuss?”

“During our conversation, you were explaining Canaith’s vision to me and, regarding his vision, said, ‘You do not need to share it, Moonbeam, but I ask, for your sake and Canaith’s, that you do not get in the way of it.’ Do you remember saying that?”

“Yes, Dear One,” he answered carefully. “I remember it well.”

“Was that a warning, Drakon?” she asked, and she could hear her nervousness in her speech. “Do I have a reason to fear Canaith Lydian?”

Drakon paused, and Moonbeam recorded that his face displayed nothing but kindness. The unexpected hint of fear she had seen from her memories was not present.

“Moonbeam, I think you will agree that anyone who is competent is also dangerous. Canaith Lydian is no exception, and there are thousands of kills on Canaith’s killboard and thousands of successful sorties to support that claim. Do you follow me so far?”

“I do,” Moonbeam answered, “though I had never thought of it that way before.”

“Few people do,” he said, shaking his head. “What makes a dangerous man an honorable man is that he has the character and discipline to keep his sword sheathed until it is needed. Therefore, a competent and honorable man is one who is both dangerous and restrained. Are you still with me?” Drakon’s voice had turned serious.

“I am,” she answered again, “though you are making my world a bit more complex.”

“Good,” he said, “for it needs to be. Canaith is a man of restraint, but he is also a man of purpose and resolve. My love for Canaith is sincere, and my respect for him is unlike my respect for any other. Even so, Moonbeam, were I to become an obstacle to Canaith’s resolve – were he to see me as being in the way – I would find myself very afraid.”

“I think I understand,” Moonbeam replied. “To Canaith, his purpose is no game. My role is in support of that purpose, and if my actions did not support him, but hindered him…”

“You have enjoyed the experience of being Canaith’s friend,” Drakon said. “I know of few who would enjoy experiencing him as an enemy.”

“However, your earlier statement implied that your worry was for both Canaith’s and my well-being. While I appreciate your concern for me, I fail to see how my actions could harm Canaith. How could my failure to support Canaith’s vision harm him?”

There was a pause.

“Father?” she asked.

“Were Canaith to feel betrayal from those he trusts, it would harm him severely,” he answered solemnly. “He has experienced betrayal before.”

Moonbeam saw a new facial expression from Drakon then. “Is it sadness?” she thought, “or maybe regret?”

“He has asked a favor of his friends,” the priest continued. “He wants us to help him guard his heart. His fear of yielding to evil is not without cause, Moonbeam. It has pulled him under before. I fear he would be lost if he was to experience betrayal again.”

“Betray him?” Moonbeam asked nervously. “No, never! I thought we were just talking about failing to support his vision.”

“To Canaith, Dear One, who is so devoted to his purpose, there is no difference.”

Moonbeam’s accelerated mind ran with the image of Canaith Lydian, a man who cared about purpose, both for himself and for his friends. She admitted to herself that she had always imagined him as kind, gentle, and all warm fuzzies. Drakon’s warning had changed her view. Canaith Lydian was nobody’s teddy bear, and she had been foolish for thinking that he was. He and Meara were not playing games. Their struggle was to stay a course of honor and of consequence, and they had privileged her with the task of assisting them in it. She had been taking this responsibility too lightly.

In a sudden mental explosion, it dawned on Moonbeam that within the intricate network of connections between individuals, there exists a responsibility she had always overlooked. While she had been focused on the benevolent currents of kindness that bind people together, she had failed to recognize the darker undercurrents of betrayal and malevolence. To betray Canaith would increase the power of evil within her friend. It struck her then that there may be no neutral ground between the opposing forces of goodness and evil.

“We are holding each other up,” she said, “or we are tearing each other down. It is always one or the other.”

Drakon simply nodded.

“So,” she said, suddenly more mature in her understanding, “while it is my job to buy and sell things, it has become my purpose to help defend Canaith’s heart from the call of the wraith. Is that what you are telling me?”

“I am glad you see our purpose so clearly,” he responded. “Though none are without that responsibility to one another, very few of us ever come to realize it.”

“I will do my best for him, then.” she promised.

“May God grant us the power to be a beacon of light for Canaith, and for each other,” the priest replied, and Moonbeam was amazed that she understood exactly what he meant.

1 Like

Part IV: Multiple Engagements in Vard

Moonbeam’s Good Intentions

A handful of days went by, and still Meara had little to do. An unexpected war with SRS and an incursion of Angel pirates into Mehatoor made it impossible to do trade runs, so Moonbeam’s operation had been put on pause.

As a consequence, Moonbeam had way too much time on her hands. Her accelerated mind used all of the idle time to ponder philosophy, Amarr politics, and the latest fads among popular streamers.

It was this last topic that got Moonbeam thinking about a new project. She had been encouraged to support Canaith as more than a mere trader by Father Drakon. She had m inwitnessed just how popular it had Canaith and Meara’s courtship was among non-capsuleers (she was still reeling from the revelation herself). She had just witnessed how effective new articles were at manipulating support. Her mind took all of these ideas and merged them.

“What if Canaith and Meara became the latest fad?” she thought, and her mania-fueled self-confidence was sure this was a very good idea.

Moonbeam recorded holo-clips from her memories of the party in Mehatoor and sent them to a variety of outlets that provided entertainment and news about Amarr and the Faction War. Then she sent clips of Meara’s interaction with her staff and crew from last year’s party on the Eternal Wind. By the time she was finished, she had sent forty-seven clips to the Frontline Dispatch, Warzone Chronicles, Tech Talk with Theology, and the Pious Pilots Podcast.

Moonbeam goal was to generate some buzz among Amarr citizens that might improve their view of the Amarr Militia, EDICT Alliance, and most specifically, Canaith and Meara. She focused on outlets that catered to the communities that had interests or jobs on military ships. She reasoned that an increase in support from such individuals would ease Canaith and Meara in their efforts to walk a righteous path.

Within a few hours, a few articles made it to her media feed from these outlets, and then a few more.

“Mission accomplished,” she thought, and then she went to sleep.

1 Like

Another Day in the Life of an Amarr Priest

“Father Drakon,” a voice said into Drakon’s dream. “Father, please wake up.”

His eyes opened, then closed, then opened, and he saw Faasi standing beside his bed.

“What is it, Faasi?” he asked.

“I am sorry to wake you,” his AI assistant said, “but there are a number of calls for you. Every caller is demanding to speak with you now, Sir.”

Faasi logged in to the CCP network, and found several notifications waiting for him. It seemed that just about everyone in his contact list wanted to speak with him.

He looked over his Eve mail to see if there were clues as to what was going on. After reading over fifteen of them, he went straight to his media feed. What he saw was a surprise.

  1. Amarr Militia Leader’s Secret Romance Revealed: Canaith Lydian and Meara Natinde’s Covert Courtship Uncovered"
  2. “Love in the Time of War: Amarr Militia Pilots Seek Hope in Midst of the Struggle for Vard”
  3. “Forbidden Love: Amarr Militia Colonel’s Affection for His Assistant Raises Eyebrows in Political Circles”
  4. “From Battlefield to Bedroom: Amarr Militia Romance Raises Questions About Military Conduct”
  5. "Is Meara Natinde the Secret Weapon of the Amarr Militia? Speculation Surrounds Capsuleer’s Popularity Among Amarr Servicemen’’
  6. “Beauty and Brains: Meara Natinde’s Rise in Amarr Militia Sparks Rumors of Espionage and Intrigue”
  7. “From Slave to Celestial: The Mysterious Rescue and Transformation of Meara Natinde”

His feed was covered with stories about Canaith and Meara. It took him almost forty minutes to read them all. Each story was full of images and video, many of which were from the gathering in Mehatoor. The most popular clip by far was Canaith’s arrival at the party through his statement, “Meara Natinde is always worthy of my time and attention.”

Even more astounding than the stories were the volumes of commentary that had been added by all manner of people. While there was some controversy and criticism of the pair of Capsuleers, the majority of comments were very positive.

Faasi appeared. “Father Drakon, you have several calls, Sir.”

So Drakon took the calls. The calls were from reporters, ship operators, labor pool representatives, and an assortment of managers. As fast as he could take calls, more were being made.

“Faasi,” he said. “Contact public relations. Tell them to prepare a statement.”

“Yes, Sir,” she answered and then vanished.

Drakon then contacted Meara, who took a few moments to look over the feeds and then burst out laughing.

“Oh, Drakon,” she said, still chuckling, “what is our Canaith going to think about this?”

1 Like

The Only Excuse He Ever Needed

Meara waited for Canaith in the Rec Room between their hangers at the Vard III - Six Kin Development Production Plant. This was the station they had been staging in since the fight for Vard had escalated.

The battle for Vard was not going well. As Canaith had feared, FL33T Alliance had taken notice of the Amarr assault in this system and had shown up in force to defend it. The system had been on the verge of flipping to the Amarr, but now it was losing a bit of ground every day.

Given the intensity of the struggle for Vard, Meara was not sure that now had been the best time for the media circus involving Canaith and Meara. Though it did not bother her, she was not yet aware of whether it had bothered Canaith. She knew him well and would not have anticipated the situation to concern her friend, but his insistence on meeting her in person as soon as he had become aware of the media storm surprised her.

Before she could become too impatient, she caught a glimpse of Canaith approaching from his hanger. He wore the simplest of uniforms that were often worn by Capsuleers between sorties. Though it was a common uniform that made it easy to identify a person as a pilot, it was an unusual clothing choice for Canaith.

He smiled at her and nodded a greeting as he walked up to a multi-use terminal. He pressed a few buttons and the screen filled with a list of some of the latest reports that had been published about the two of them.

“Power Couple of New Eden: Major Meara Natinde and Colonel Canaith Lydian Forge Unbreakable Alliance”

“Strength in Unity: Capsuleer Duo Meara Natinde and Canaith Lydian Fight with Honor in Defense of Empire”

“Leading by Example: Major Meara Natinde and Canaith Lydian’s Collaborative Efforts Inspire Loyalty and Camaraderie Among Their Staff and Crews”

“Labor Pool Reports Record Numbers of Crew Volunteers for Amarr Militia and EDICT Alliance Amidst News of Capsuleer Courtship”

“Rising Stars of New Eden: Major Meara Natinde and Canaith Lydian’s Partnership Signals Hope and Progress in Amarr-Minmatar Conflict”

Meara read the headlines and could not help but laugh. Some degree of celebrity always surrounded Capsuleers, but these headlines were some of the best propaganda she had ever seen.

“So, does this sudden attention disturb you, Meara?” Canaith asked, his voice a gentle breeze.

“It does not,” she answered, quite confidently. “I expected rumors of our courtship to help with the morale of our crews. I did not foresee it being of a wider interest, however. That so many people we do not know find our relationship interesting is a humorous surprise.”

She turned her eyes from the terminal to Canaith. “Does this disturb you, Canaith?” she said, more softly.

“No,” he said, prompting in Meara a surprising wave of relief. "I have found it to be quite the pleasant distraction from the relentless grind of this war. It is rather refreshing to be reminded that the relationship between you and I extends beyond the realm of our military objectives. It is entertaining to be given this reminder from a horde of total strangers.”

“Are you saying,” Meara posed, “that these articles are helping you resist frustration at our lack of progress in Vard?”

“They have reinforced my understanding that you and I can fulfill our purpose even if our military objectives fail.”

“Because the objectives are not our purpose?” she asked.

“They are not,” he answered, with conviction. “If the Militia is stopped at Vard, our purpose remains.”

Meara found herself very pleased that the struggle at Vard was not weighing too heavily on Canaith. She found it amusing that help had come from such an unexpected source. Then, however, she remembered his insistence that they meet in person and realized that there was something else Canaith wanted to say.

“Canaith,” she asked coyly, “are you experiencing some internal dissonance?”

Canaith looked at her and laughed. “You remember that I have agreed to aspire to less of it.”

“Then, please,” she said, looking him right in the eyes, “speak your mind.”

There was a brief pause as Meara watched Canaith decide to do as she had asked. His countenance changed. He became more serious.

“You and I have always been close, Meara, in a way that is difficult to express in words.”

She nodded and felt herself blush.

“That closeness is something that we both protect. I do not foresee any circumstance in which one of us would risk our connection to the other.”

“Never,” Meara said, shaking her head.

“To this end, each of us puts the other first, and as a consequence, neither of us ever doubts the other.”

Meara nodded.

“There is another way, though, in which the two of us protect our closeness. Regarding the nature of our relationship, we have always exercised an abundance of caution.”

Meara’s face indicated confusion.

“Lately,” he said, taking her hands in his, “I have found myself willing to be less cautious.”

Meara’s brows furrowed as she pondered his words. As she wrestled to understand his meaning, her face betrayed a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

“You are my family, Meara Natinde,” Canaith said quite boldly. “I have no purpose that does not have you in it, since my destiny and yours is woven together. I can have faith in nothing if not that.”

His words had successfully dispelled her anxiety.

“Canaith,” she said, “speak plainly, my Love.”

“My Dearest Meara,” he spoke, “I wish to proclaim out loud that which is my most fundamental truth, and I wish to give this truth a name. I desire for you to be my wife.”

There was the briefest pause.

“Is that all, Canaith?” Meara said playfully. “I was growing nervous at the thought that you were asking to sleep with me.”

“Oh,” he said. “That, too, though I am willing to respect those who depend on us and do things in the proper order.”

“Then I will say ‘yes’ to both,” she said, her eyes watering with tears. “Though in terms of order I am willing to be less cautious.”

1 Like


Moonbeam’s Cerebral Accelerator wore off. Gratefully, her pod instantly worked to compensate for the sudden change in brain chemistry. Otherwise, Moonbeam would have experienced a severe depression. As her mind compensated for the sudden changes in the brain, a sudden realization struck Moonbeam.

“What have I done?!?” she screamed to herself.

She looked at her media feeds and cringed at the trending headlines involving Meara and Canaith. She was about to run a search on possible systems to which she could run and hide when she noticed a series of headlines.

“Love Amidst the Stars: Amarr Militia Colonel Canaith Lydian Proposes to Major Meara Natinde”

“From Battlefields to Wedding Bells: Amarr Militia Colonel Canaith Lydian to Marry Major Meara Natinde”

“Breaking News: Canaith Lydian and Meara Natinde Confirm Engagement”

With just a bit more searching, she found an official press release announcing the engagement of Canaith and Meara.

Moonbeam pondered her situation for quite some time, and the only thing she could think to do would have made no sense to her four weeks ago.

She sent a private message to Father Drakon that said only, “Call me at your earliest convenience, please.”

A few minutes later, Drakon made an audio call to her.

“Moonbeam,” he said, “what can I do for you?”

“Father Drakon,” she answered timidly, “I have a confession to make, and you are the only person I have the courage to confess it to.”

“Let me venture a guess,” he said. “It was you who leaked information about Canaith and Meara to a host of media influencers.”

“But how did you….” she started.

“If there is one thing I have an abundance of it is security,” he said. “My team suspected you to be the leak within a matter of hours.”

Moonbeam paused. “My learning accelerator triggered a manic episode,” she confessed. “It seemed such a wonderful way of helping at the time.”

She heard Drakon chuckle.

“Am I in some kind of trouble, then?” she asked.

“There have been some very pleasant consequences of your actions,” he said. “Morale is higher than it has ever been. The Labor Pool informs me that we are a top preference among crew assignments. Canaith and Meara are on cloud nine, too.”

“Oh,” Moonbeam answered. “How wonderful.”

“It is wonderful,” he agreed. “However, should you ever decide to do something like this again, please speak to me first.”

“Absolutely,” she affirmed. “Do Canaith and Meara know it was me?”

“Oh, no,” he answered. “And in this case, Dear One, I believe we will keep your confession between you and your priest.”

“Absolutely,” she affirmed, and the call was ended.

1 Like