“Freeze!” Geana barked, the muzzle of her high-tech blaster trained uncomfortably at her mid-mass. “Not one more step.”

Winter’s hands flew up immediately. She had hoped to have gotten further before being discovered. “Nice to see you too Geana. Miles is outside, would you welcome him similarly?” A step closer.

“Miles isn’t toxic like you cold-fish, stay right where you are.” The claustrophobic armoury was deserted. Drones offline or similarly hacked.

“Or else what, you’ll shoot me? You know that plasma pulse pistols store a precise image cone of the path of discharge don’t you? I could deduce what the victim ate for breakfast from that data. That would make hiding my murder somewhat problematic for you.” Another step forward.

“This blaster will die an unknown virgin, just like you if you take one, more, step.”

“Geana, if I wanted to harm you I would have done it a long time ago in a way that would never be traced back to me. It is the simplest thing to make a body turn upon itself.”

“I’m surprised it’s you not Sleet to be honest.”

“Sleet is drowning her sorrows in hedonism, I think you crushed her pride.” A shift of weight from the back foot forward.

“She’ll get over it, but you won’t.” The threatening muzzle dipped to indicate that she had noticed before re-centring on her torso. “What do you want Winter?”

“What you want Geana, out from under Snowflake’s thumb. I come baring gifts, Miles and the other tyros who tire of Sleet’s negligence.”

“I don’t give a ■■■■ about them, or you, or Snowflake for that matter. I don’t need the weight of you lot on my back. What’s in it for me? You can burn for all I care.” Uttered with the intensity of glowing embers.

Winter felt herself smile. “You, like me, do your best work under pressure. Together we have so much potential. Let them rot under water then and we’ll inflame a fortune from their demise.” She offered a hand for Geana to take.

She did.

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The open plaza was elegantly populated and lit with the light of a thousand camera drones dancing a courtly choreograph. The vast crystal vault spanned overhead clearly displaying the expanse beyond, more than accommodating the gardened green environs within.

It was an annual affair celebrating the best holoreel productions and producers of the period. Even more exclusive now that the SCOPE was under private ownership.

“Sleet, I want you to meet someone.” Dalla linked Sleet’s left arm in her right and pivoted them both toward her target.

“Ret, this is Sleet, she’s a monk! Isn’t she tone. I can’t believe you two are new to each another, Ret here has partied with the best of us.”

“Well Dalla it is my business to know everyone, but you are right I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure. Sleet is it?”

“Tem, Sleet Tem.” She said suffering the gentle cradling of her right hand in his.

“Ah, of self-actuating clone fame. The Everyshore newsroom did a piece on you that should have gone galactic. Are you not Snowflake?”

"Snowflake’s my aunt… It’s relative. She retracted her hand to waive the complications.

“I think there is more to this story than meets the eye.” A momentary pause. "Perhaps you’ll join us in the after-party party? Dalla nodded encouragement while she hesitated.

“Sure, sure, sure but you’re here now so I’ll just ask; Do you think there will be judicial review of President Aguard’s Intaki action?”

“There will be an inquiry, there always is. The Judge appointed will be mandated to a narrow field of investigation that will inevitably conclude the appropriateness of the action to bolster public confidence.” Ret’s eyes quizzically divert to Dalla while he goes on to say “Why do you ask?”

“Snowflake wants me to find out if the system of checks and balances are functioning properly. Scuttlebutt is it’s not.”

Rets smile was soft, almost apologetic. “You would have been better informed to be a little bit more patient.” He gestured to a pair of security drones and their liveried attendant calmly approached their position.

“Damnit, do you know how many events I’ve had to endure to get to this one?”

“An unsatisfactory end to a promising journalistic carrier.” Ret commented as the drones bracketed her and anti-sound was applied to Sleet’s vocal signature.

Dalla fumed as Sleet was discreetly escorted elsewhere by the attendant.

As she left Ret’s final words followed her. “Dear dear Dalla, you bring me the most unique individuals. I do hope she does not disappear entirely.”

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Speek Piece

Her hands were shaking. She had not been treating this body well.
Being unnoticed in a station was one thing, remaining completely off grid was another entirely. Still, she must risk it.

Hacking into a capsuleer’s captain’s quarter’s was the easy part, now she had a neocom to hack into in order to access her own relatively simply syndicated fluid feed.

The figure beside her appeared a little too wild eyed for her liking. A shame that the neutrality projection mask that had them silenced did not extend to those features.

There were not any direct private massages, but when dropping to a sub-layer there was one that appeared to been deleted as well as encrypted in a common intelligence encryption key. Gross. She restored and keyed-open aware that she was triggering an obvious trap.


Geana, I do not know when this communication will find you but there are things that must be said.

It has recently come to my attention that I do not truly understand the meaning of the word hate. This despite my extensive social studies, privileged library access and finely tuned language weighting algorithms.

I suspect this is a previously unrecognised artefact of my unique mitosis process.

I know that you did not take well to him but the man that physically built this Order as a shelter for my and River’s souls never spoke of the subject. I can not recall if he deliberately avoided it as this was at a time before my sensory enhancement and even the most basic of implants were available to me.

Lorddad was driven by determination to attain perfection through action, to up-build others selflessly through the practice of Ida while suffering the repeated destruction of his own accomplishments. He endured much with little complaint. He went on to achieve greater and greater feats of construction until the day he stilled.

Progenitor, I am telling you this because he was more than a mentor to me. His guidance and advice both protected and informed. Am I describing the role of a father?

With him gone, or at least inaccessible, I have no-one to turn to for advise but you.

I thought I understood your motivations, your anger maybe even your despair. You taught me fear even though I am well acquainted with horror. Yet it is clear to me now that I never really knew your hate.
I do not know that I wish to know it.

You have never spoken of your parents or of your life before becoming a capsuleer. I must admit that I am curious to hear it from you because Lirsuttron Six is not forthcoming with this information.
All I ask is that you give me a chance.

Yours dutifully,
a daughter of sorts,

Geana hissed through her teeth as she tripple erased the trace. The figure squirmed to see what she had huffed at but before they got a glance she spun them around and pushed them towards the exit.

“Shut up Winter, your going home.”

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Holding Pattern

“Sit down River, honestly your incessant pacing is incredibly annoying.” Snowflake scalded.

“What would you have me do Principle Overseer? I’m effectively under station arrest. I can’t continue my research, planet-side production is in disarray without full bore access to fluid comms, even the station’s recycling facilities staff have taken to avoiding me since I spend so much time commenting on the inefficiencies down there.”

“Can’t you tinker with your PP drones or something?”

“Here in the office?” Uttered in genuine puzzlement.

“Of course not, you are terribly distracting, take them onto your transport with you.”

“You jest. Do you have any idea how much power the swarm requires to operate? It needs station level capacity in continual supply.”

“I’m sure you will come up with something.” Snowflake dismissed.

“Something away from here so you can glare at the GalNet, sure. If I suffer, you suffer.”

“River, you have no concept of what is happening out there, I need to think!”

“I get the NENfeed.” She heard the defensiveness in her own voice. She stilled. “Does the Idama assassination trouble you that much?”

"No … yes, amongst other things, look, there are so many moving pieces. It is hard to track who is who and why on a good day without these immensely dangerous political currents.

River, darling, you tasked me with the welfare of Our Order. Please, let me do my job."

She exhaled in defeat. “Alright, I go see what is being recycled, again.”

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Royally Screwed

For ■■■■ sake Snowflake! Geana exploded on viewing the latest GalNet post.

“Trouble?” Winter surmised smugly.

“Yes.” Her brow creased in thought. “Right, well, your not going anywhere.”

“So I remain your prisoner?” she said raising her cable bound wrists.

“You remain under suspicion of treason to the Federation.”

“I’m no traitor.”

“No? Just to Snowflake then?”

“She is not the Federation and not nearly as pure as she would have you believe.”

“Really? How’s that?”

“I’ve seen her expend Order finances in some of the cluster’s most exclusive nightclubs. She does not merit the leadership position he holds.”

Laughter. “Is that all?” a heart-beats pause. “Merit eh? How Caldari of you.”

“Some of the clusters finest innovators. I would be proud to be listed amongst them.”

“You went against Snowflake’s wishes to affiliate with Biosecurity Responders when there are any number of respectable Federal institutions you could have applied to, even Serpentis would have been a better choice. Why?”

“I enjoy the use of their equipment.”

“Oh no, wait, your not even enlisted, you’re just a hollow suit, a pretender to stolen valor?”

“I would not say that.”

“What are you playing at Winter, this isn’t a game. Caldari targeted my clones for subversion. Snowflake and River have been under strict scrutiny and I am tarred with the same brush. Now this.” She said gesturing to the cloned portable neocom still displaying Snowflake’s GalNet post.

“What has she done?”

“Posted some nonsense about Gallente Royals, but there is real influence there that’s better left to lie.” Geana’s concern seemed genuine.

“■■■■-it there’s no way back, I’ll just have to press-on on my own.”

“You should have taken my hand in good faith, not anger. I can help you.”

“Well, I’ve not got much choice now have I. We’d be lucky if Null takes us after this.”

“So, I’m free?” Another futile lift of the wrists.

"I don’t know what I’m going to do with you you slippery ■■■■■. Keep an eye on you that’s for sure.



"You can’t keep me here! Do you hear me? I’ve got rights!

A peach and cream medi-drone floated down from the ceiling of the soothingly surfaced interrogation room.

“Please remain calm. Please remain calm. Please remain calm.”

“I am calm, I’ve done nothing wrong, why am I here?”

“You are currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation. Please remain calm and answer the following questions.”

“I’m not saying ■■■■ to you. Where’s the human staff? Who ordered my detention?”

“Privileges have been suspended on suspicion of capsualeer psychosis. Please remain calm.”

“I am ■■■■■■■ calm, let me out of here!”

“Section One, question one of twenty seven. Please state your name for the record.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Please state your name for the record.”

“okay-okay! Sleet Tem.”

Some time later.

"Section Two. Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms: Forgetfulness, confusion, frustration, anger, loss of appetite, anxiety, a propensity for poor hygiene and or self-harm.

“Oh my god we’ll be here all day.”


“Carry the salvage drone.” Geana ordered.

Winter did so with reluctance her wrists were no longer tied but still impressed by the crude plastic cable pulls that had bound them. “You know slavery is illegal.” She said as she lifted the boxy object similar to its space faring-cousin. Dysfunctional private drones were not a common sight, but neither were they uncommon due to the general expense of repair.

“The Hop’s not far.” Geana reassured. Hops are inter-station transports for individuals that can afford their privacy. At least they were not headed off station in a Jump, near-warp-capable none-capsualeer craft did not register on capsualeer overview which can make their tracking problematic. Skips were similar inter-system station transports incapable of gate activation.

“Where are you going?” She asked scanning the public concourse they traversed for a timepiece.

“Your new hold until I get something checked out.” The elevation tube they entered sported recently applied Intaki slogans, rushed yet artful.

“I can come with, you need my help.”

“Yeah-right.” Geana scoffed dismissively as they entered a dingy dock. Geana’s bio-metrics granted access to the singularly available Hop and they boarded. Geana wasted no time getting them into the air.

The drone set aside she watched Geana pilot very carefully. It was not long before Geana passed out. The craft remained in place a moment while she shifted Geana aside and took over the controls. A singular flash of the amber hazard warning lights and they were on they way again to a new destination.

Winter was pleased with the accuracy of her estimation as she checked the Hop’s chronometer. Diluting the potency of the porous secretions from the artificial glands placed between her fingers had been no mean feat even with bio-security tech-wear, but the induced narcolepsy had been timed quite well. It would take a number of days for her artificial glands to revert to neutrality without it after Gerana had her remove them and disposed of. She was going to have to find another source of synthesis to maintain Geana’s safe comatose state until things were organised for a revival.

Snowflake was right about one thing. There’s no control like self-control.


“Common man, in with the baseliners?” She said as she was shoved into the holding cell.
It was cramped, overly-illuminated and full of sour smells. “You tryin’ to kill me!” she yelled at the rapidly shrinking security portal.

Her attention was immediately arrested by the hulking figure occupying the far right end of the cell arc. The body was too large for the head, or the head - which featured cat ears a whiskered muzzle and tattooed stripes - was tiny in comparison the overly muscular body.

“Oh hello, what’s your name.” She asked reflexively of the victim of do-it-yourself body modification.

“Pssee.” Was the immediate reply.

“Psseee?” She echoed in her best imitation of his rattling baritone.

“Pussy.” Squeaked the small man with ocular overlays and rumpled lab coat from behind her while raising a nervous finger. “She gets upset when people get it wrong, that’s why she’s here. Why are you here capsualeer?”

“Criminal destruction of property.” She admitted. “Apparently I’m the first capsuleer to leap high enough to snag a psych-eval drone. You?”

“Unlicensed experimentation.” The jittery speech and neck twitch was not comforting to behold. “It’s a misunderstanding, soon to be corrected.” He nodded sagely and imperfectly.

“You together?” She pointed between twitch and the bodymodder.

“No no.” The nervous man shook his head while Pussy emitted a purring rumble that could conceivably be laughter.

The portal flared open. A tall familiar looking man stepped in without assistance. “Miles?” She asked surprised to see him here. He immediately signalled the combat code gesture for surrender which she took to mean a request for silence. He stepped passed and bent to quietly address a pair of self-contained figures whom she had not yet engaged in conversation.

“Alright listen up.” One of the two said while revealing Intaki features from below a loose cowl. Miles straightened and then stepped back as the speaker stood tall to address the room. "We’re taking this station. “Either join us now, or you pass on to the next life.”


“Snowflake stop! You are attempting the impossible. You can not measure something, you can’t even observe something, never-mind comment on that observation without interacting with and influencing that entity. The Gallente will not react favourably. You have put us in danger!”

"River, we are in danger. We always have been, but even more so with Amarr’s sensibilities. Do you comprehend their stance on cloning never-mind independently autonomous Jump Clones who do not understand their own origin? They will see our flesh bound to servitude at the best, or worse purge the existence of perceived demonic forces. I parlay with these people, I have to acknowledge their prejudices.

“Gallente law gave us our liberty. Discarding the shield that protects us is folly! Why Snowflake why?”

“Because that shield is hollow, founded on fraud and deception. If I can provoke authenticity The Federation might have a chance. It is a risk we need to take for our Order and us! This is my purpose, this is what you trained me to be. I have done what I must. Now we must remain dormant and minimise further exposure.”

“I am not The Federation. You are not The Federation. We are what we make and you, Snowflake, have created a rift between us.” She left without another word.

Her quarters were empty. Sterile. The ancient objects that brought her comfort in times such as these far beyond reach. She cried.


Disorientation. Panic. A darkness beyond the lack of light. A world cursed to confusion and disorder. Little equipment. No sense. The freedom above the labyrinth a barely discernible concept.

But she had been free! She had fled the underground, fought free of the soul sucking surface and cleaved to the sanity of the stars. A chance, a framework, a direction.

Now she’s back. Fighting like she had never caught a breath. Clawing at suffocating intangible barriers to no effect. Twisting, turning, lashing out at the unseen lurking at the edges.

No peace, no hope, no rest in the belly of The Curse. Where chaotic magnetic fields wrestle with minds as much as one another. Refusing to be tamed, denying sovereignty. Unpredictability being the only constant.

There’s a way out. There has to be a way out. I dreamt it before. I must dream it again.

Ghost of an old flame

She stared out of her self-imposed prison over the teaming concourses of the station. If there was one word to describe the common citizenry of the station she would have to choose ‘distracted’. They seemed to her to be atomised datasets repelling and attracting, lost in the narrow routines their ignorance constrained them to.

The billboard cycle started anew begining with a condensate decorated Quafe container. An appealingly constructed confection of questionable content and the home station’s own vibrant self-promotion.

Words she was not accustomed to seeing appeared on the advertising display: “Not what was agreed.” The typeset blended into the promotion style. She briefly constrained her enhanced vision to that of normalcy to confirm only individuals keyed to hyper-frequency like herself were being addressed.

“Yet exactly what you require.” she enunciated, aware that the crystalline construct she gazed through would hold the vibration of her voice and could be made to speak for her with the correct tools.

“Flame’s out over E1”. The display read over an appropriately damp seafood advertisement.

It seems that she had been heard and her ‘good’ deed was to be punished. “You will see results and reconsider.” Was her considered reply.

“Perhaps not.” Cool, brief, noncommittal.

“Maybe.” A pause to formulate her last words carefully. “Maybe we all lose, but should we not, you will want to remember this point as a victory.”

The likelihood of a third party intercepting this multi-protocol conversation was low but best truncated. “Take the opportunity, or don’t, my part in your family drama is done.” She turned from the broad portal and retreated into the heart of her sanctum.

For whom the Deltole

The frigate melted under the rain of cruiser fire, crumpled under lashings of plasma before igniting into a huge hairy fireball.

River never cursed, but the aching hollow at her gut echoed such sentiment in an internal scream. With precision she targeted the lead of the two criminal scout cruisers and unleashed her summoned set of lite combat drones. A moment later her own rack of gatling rails opened up irradiate ire in unison with the Hornet swarm. Her destroyer quickly overcame the lead craft and the secondary target, but it was too late, there was no victory here, only incalculable loss.

Her science vessel was in ruins and so were the artifacts she had painstakingly extracted from the ancient debris field. The first items dug from history with her own metaphorical fingers were denied to science by slithering sneak thieves.

Geana had brought her her first Yan Jung artifact to examine. Snowflake had suggested it to Geana as a means of delivering reconciliation after the long and thorough series of negotiations for truce. Its mysteries fascinated her and united them at a time when Tem of common understanding seemed most unlikely.

Geana found such items during her probings into Serpentise activity as was her duty to the Federal Navy that had brought her to the stars. That she knew little of their value was evident in the flippant way she handed them off to her when she acquired them.

The challenging fields of force some of the objects generated were the very stuff of her study and experimentation into plasma projection containment. These many years later she was considered among the clusters foremost experts on the subject of Yan Jung field theory. This was the majority of her contribution in relation to her Creodrone research partners.

Snowflake want’s to keep me small, ineffectual. I won’t be held back she promised herself. She had executed her plans to quit The Order’s Headquarters in Ethernity flawlessly. She re-established contact with her research partners and outfitted the exploration vessel from The Order’s Engendership Division’s Manufacturary in an effort to seek this muse for herself, by herself.

Failure stung, but she would not be stopped. She directed the destroyer into warp with what little could be salvaged and set herself to the task of mustering the equipment to do better.

Suspicious Minds

Meditation. Lots and lots of time to simply be, simply think, simply breathe without constant calls for governance from planetary installations. She had kept an eye on the Intergalactic Summit but little more of late.

The console chirped a chime and issued an insistent red notification disc indicating an incoming communication of unusual magnitude. This channel was intense, powerful, designed to overpower the energetic interference experienced of late.

The carrier header described the content as highly encrypted. The kind of nonsense someone would use to transmit construction plans if they were foolish enough to attempt to do such a thing though the fluid router system.

She hesitated before accepting the call. Only a audio feed came through: “Snow you’ve got to get me out of this. Geana’s not responding.”

“What is the problem Sleet?” The majority of the loaded signal was a maze of encryption dead ends designed to confound eavesdroppers.

“An Intaki Independence group militia is taking over the broadcast nodes of the Scope station I’m in.”

Leaning over the console head bowed to pick out the slightly static sounds she responded. “Station security will handle it, they are well drilled, just keep clear.”

“You don’t understand, they recruited me, busted us out of our holding cell.”

“A holding cell? What were you doing in a holding cell?”

“I kind of busted up a pych-eval-drone.”

“Sleet!” Snowflake grasped the console tightly. “Did you give them your registered capsualeer name?”

“What? Yes.”

“Oh Sleet, you know better than that, have you learned nothing from me?”

“You’re more worried about a bogus pych-eval than an uprising?”

“Station riots are crushed regularly Sleet, but you given consent to be held in arrest at a jurisdiction that would normally have no control over you. Spare me your idiocy.”

“It’s not a riot, this guy Devon is serious. The speech is pretty good actually. He’s broadcasting now, how do you think I’m getting this signal to you?”

“Listen to me Sleet. This is a trap and you’ve just caught me up in it. Surrender yourself and I’ll represent you personally.”

The feed crackled with a burst of interference before a visual component burst onto the feed downing out any response. The familiar silhouette and unmistakable verdigris eyes of Adventurine glittered in the light of a thin horizontal strip of amber illumination.

“Hello Snow. I told you I’m not through with you. Did you think I’d let you off the hook that easily?”


“Miles, what hare you doing here?” Snowflake asked as she looked up from her vast comm-console. The affection of surprise in her voice seemed genuine. She checked herself immediately, she knew that Miles knew that surprising her at the portal of her office threshold was impossible.

His bow was fluid and well practised, he had come a come long way from the stiff-necked assertiveness born of the circumstance behind cultural dissociation. It amused her to think of them as mannerisms.

He chose to answer carefully, tangentially. “Principle Overseer, I have been careful to hitch a circuitous route here to talk privately with you, to, " a prolonged pause” check, how we are doing."

Miles was no longer a baseliner nor could he be considered a true capsualeer, his search for truth had brought him into the murky world of warclone technology. She was almost certain that the “we” in question was the world of Kabar, particularly its regeneration facilities.

“As well as can be expected under the circumstances. Your project proceeds at pace does it not?”

“My project? Yes, of course, but there is discussion among Tyro of division between The Sistren. I did just as you directed. Is this your intent?”

“My intent as always is to protect and preserve the members of our Order. At this time it is useful to appear ineffectual when we both know that is far from the case. Nothing is as it seems Miles. The Federation imposes a united front while its foundations crumble. You ask me how we are doing, from that perspective I have to answer; not well. So I ask you Miles, how are you and your team doing? Are you prepared for the close work to come?”

Miles wry smile coloured the tone of his reply. “As well as can be expected Principle Overseer.”

She nodded and brought to life a holo-projection-map that accompanied a tracer agents report. “Good, then take a look at this and tell me what you think.”

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