Chronologically Prior: 7 Kilometers Out
The following story is an OOC recount of Emilia Dallocort’s acceptance into Sisters of Eve Rough Riders, and her first day after joining Electus Matari. It is based heavily on actual interactions and events. While I have added in a fair amount of descriptive detail and some embellishments, all of the conversations involving other characters actually happened IC. Thank you to Debes, Arsia, Cloak, Liara, and LaFond for taking the time to look over the sections involving your characters and helping me edit the interactions. Also, thank you to the many people on the Roleplay is Primary Discord who have answered my endless questions regarding EVE lore. All of you helped to indirectly write this story. I can’t name all of you but you know who you are.
For those that actually read this in its entirety, I appreciate you. I realize it is a rather long one. I did my best to be concise without sacrificing too much on visual detail and character portrayal. I think it turned out alright. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Emilia’s character and her first experiences with EM. I appreciate any and all feedback from those that wish to give it.
Welcome to the Show
The overhead lights of the habitation unit began to glow a soft orangish hue, slowly growing brighter in order to simulate a sunrise. A chirp of a single bird sounded, followed by another, and soon a conglomeration of avian calls were playing through the surrounding speakers. Emilia groaned, rolling over in the twin sized bed. She wiggled an arm out from under the plump blankets in order to cover her eyes.
Emilia wanted more sleep. Yesterday had been a long one. Over a dozen wormholes scanned down, manual piloting lessons, weapon and ship fitting statistics, crash course training on fleet tactics, and several jumps into abyssal rifts occupied by hostile Triglavians would wipe out pretty much any capsuleer… but she had signed up for this. Emilia was antsy to get out into Minmatar space and that was no secret. She had spent the last five years in capsuleer training, wasting time. Every day mattered. Every moment mattered. So when Emilia was transferred to London Elektricity after graduating from her Aliastra sponsored capsuleer program, she made certain she was on an accelerated course. Danki Kaang had taken the role of her mentor in this effort, and he was making sure she had a solid foundation to build off of, but building that foundation was no easy task. She was working her ass off, and it showed in the losses her sleep schedule had been taking. However, Emilia refused to have it any other way. The sooner she left for Molden Heath, the better. She didn’t have time to lounge around, which meant she needed to absorb as much as possible before she departed. Time was of the essence.
Groaning, knowing that the hab’s AI wouldn’t stop bothering her until it sensed she’d left the room, Emilia peeled back the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her bare feet brushed the carpet as she sat on the edge of the mattress, and Emilia pushed her tangled hair away from her face, tucking the strands behind her ears. After a moment, the capsuleer pushed herself up and stood. She walked out into the main room with tired eyes, hearing the sound of birds fade behind her.
“Good Morning!” a friendly AI voice chimed. A holographic smiley face lit up on the counter. Beside it, a coffee machine spurred into action.
“Morning,” Emilia responded half-heartedly, walking over to the kitchen corner of the main room. The coffee stopped pouring, leaving a full cup ready to be grabbed. Emilia took it, blowing the steam away from the top of the mug, and took a sip. It was already blended with cream and honey, exactly how she enjoyed it. The brunette drew in and released a deep breath. She leaned on the counter, looking over at the holographic emoji. “Any mail?”
“No new messages today, Emilia.”
She nodded, straightening up and walking over towards the window. Emilia folded one arm across her ribcage, propping her right elbow on her wrist. She took another sip from the warm coffee mug as she looked out across the scene before her. A dark orangish hue of nebula gasses dusted the black sky, thousands of stars poking through to shine from their remote corner of space. A grey, powdery moon loomed to her right, its surface wrought with craters from millions of years of asteroid impacts. The Kador Family Academy, in which she stood, orbited this moon, which in turn orbited Akhmoh VII. Emilia’s gaze shifted to look at the enormous gas giant. Its pale tan surface was streaked with dark greys and blacks as the turbulent winds churned. From where she stood at her hab window, she could see the planet’s umbra. The shadow cast from the system’s bright blue sun wrapped around the circumference of the enormous gas sphere, forever hugging Akhmoh VII as the planet slowly spun.
“Emilia, you have an incoming communication request.”
The brunette turned, walking towards the counter again. “Put him through,” she told the AI, not bothering to check the caller. She assumed it was Danki contacting her about today’s lessons, as he usually did around this hour. Approaching the counter she took another drink, and the holo-feed transformed into the face and upper shoulders of a woman. As the color faded in, Emilia’s eyebrows furrowed. The caller had dark black hair, light skin, golden brown eyes, and a scar on the left side of her face which traveled from the base of her nose up to the corner of her eye. Emilia didn’t recognize this person.
“Ms. Dallocort, good morning,” the stranger greeted, “I received the mail you sent me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have related to Sisters of Eve Rough Riders, or Electus Matari as a whole.”
Emilia’s eyebrows shot up. Crap, she thought, quickly swallowing the coffee and stepping forwards to set the mug on the counter. “Yes, thank you.” Emilia reached up, doing her best to quickly smooth back and tame her messy hair. The capsuleer was still in her pajamas, and certainly wasn’t ready for a meeting of this sort. She cleared her throat and spoke, “I was curious. I would like to join Electus Matari, and specifically the Rough Riders, but I am not Minmatar.” Emilia grabbed a nearby stool and pulled it close. “Does an applicant’s ethnicity get taken into consideration when reviewing applications?” she asked, sitting down and pushing her coffee mug further from the countertop edge.
A soft laugh followed. “Looking at me should answer that question,” the woman responded.
Emilia’s eyes flicked back to the hologram, taking a closer look, and her eyes widened. “Oh…” she muttered. Upon inspection, she realized the person she was talking to was Amarrian. She hadn’t even taken a moment to notice.
The dark haired woman continued smiling. “Yes, I get that a lot. I suppose my… features aren’t all that strong.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”
“It’s quite alright.”
Emilia nodded, returning a soft smile, but this faded as her brow constricted ever so slightly. She turned to her right and reached over to tap on a screen, quickly pulling up the woman’s information. Arsia Elkin she read, swiping through her basic information, a True Amarrian…
“To some degree all things are considered,” Arsia continued, “but people from all over the cluster are welcome given the right circumstances. There are quite a fair few Gallente in both the corporation and alliance.”
“That’s… good to know,” Emilia said, “I was worried EM might be more… restrictive.”
“While somebody is in Electus Matari, the expectation is that their loyalty be to the Republic. The alliance itself is commanded by Tribal people, but outsiders can and do join. Those like… me… are rare,” Emilia turned to Arsia’s hologram once again, “but Gallente applicants are fairly common.”
Emilia rubbed her palms across her knees, glancing away, this time towards the golden trim that adorned the counter and cabinets of the kitchen. She didn’t want to be rude, but she had to know. “Why… did you join?” The brunette questioned, meeting Arsia’s eyes quizzically, “If you don’t mind me asking, that is. It’s just, well, unexpected.”
Arsia nodded a few times, seemingly unfazed. “I used to be an Empire loyalist.” she explained, “That should be unsurprising. I grew up in the Empire and was raised to believe its ways were the Truth. As I became more and more involved in politics after gaining some prominence as a capsuleer, it quickly became apparent how corrupt many of those in power were… even to a devout believer. At every turn there was obvious corruption. Back then I wanted to heal the Empire. I figured it was new corruption…” Arsia paused, her tone becoming more grim. “It was not.” She took a deep breath and continued, “I began to interact more and more with foreign people in earnest conversation. With Gallente, with Caldari, and indeed with Minmatar. I talked with quite a number of people who held different views than what I had been taught to believe… and more importantly,” Arsia’s eyes met Emilia’s deliberately, “I listened. My heart led me to not only defect from the Empire but to stand against it and help those who I had unknowingly hurt the most.”
Emilia swallowed, leaning a little further back in her seat. She closed her eyes for a moment, silently scolding herself for making assumptions. Arsia had joined Electus for a reason. She wouldn’t be a member of the Rough Riders if she was just another self-absorbed Amarrian holder. “It’s… refreshing to see,” Emilia stated, opening her eyes. She turned her head, looking towards the door of her hab unit. She paused for a moment in thought, before looking back to Arsia. She spoke a little quieter but much more firmly. “What Amarr does needs to be stopped. It makes me sick that the Federation doesn’t do more to prevent their exploits. I want to do something about it. As much as I can, at least. That’s why I want to join. I can’t sit by and watch, not while Amarr and similar exploitative regimes support and fund the enslavement of people.”
“Quite so,” Arsia replied, her expression serious. “At this point, the Empire needs to be either destroyed or beaten well enough that it no longer resembles its current self. It is a danger to the entire cluster.”
“Yeah…” Emilia breathed, her solemn eyes trailing off.
Silence befell the both of them for a moment. Emilia shifted, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, however this was not due to Arsia. Rather, Emilia’s discomfort stemmed from the fact that she was discussing this in an Amarrian station, located in Tash-Murkon. It felt hypocritical to talk against the Empire while simultaneously living under their roof, even though she hadn’t a choice on being here. She felt fake. Being in Empire space left a sour taste in her mouth, and this conversation only brought further attention to that.
“So, what do I need to do to join?” Emilia asked, moving the conversation along. “Is there an application process? Are there assessments? I’m a newly graduated capsuleer, but I can handle whatever it is I need to do. I’m willing to show that.”
“You already sent a mail to myself and Elsebeth. Else has been a bit tied up this week, but it shouldn’t be too much longer before she gets back to you.”
“Okay, I’ll wait and keep an eye out for her response. Thank you for taking the time to contact me, by the way.”
“No worries. I’m sure Else will get back to you soon,” Arsia assured, and Emilia nodded in response. “Till our paths cross again,” Arsia offered a departing, formal bow, and the hologram evaporated when the feed disconnected.
Emilia leaned forwards, resting her arms against the counter and pulling her mug of coffee close. She gazed into it it, watching the creamy brown liquid wobble as it settled. Things were moving along with Electus Matari faster than she’d expected it to, and she wasn’t sure how much more Danki had planned for her. She needed to tell him about her application to the Rough Riders. As soon as Elsebeth got back to her, she was leaving. There was nothing forcing her to stay here, other than the fact she had nowhere else to go. Danki was a good teacher, and the only problem she had with LOELK was that its headquarters sat in Amarrian space. However, this stage was never meant to be more than temporary. Emilia was only sticking around long enough to find an organization that could help her, and if Electus Matari was already reaching out, that meant she wouldn’t be in Akhmoh for long.
Emilia turned to look at the screen beside her. She’d just gotten a new message from Danki.
“Hope you’re about ready, got a lot planned for us today.”
Emilia’s eyes flicked to the time. “Crap!” she said out loud, taking a large gulp of coffee before jumping off of the barstool. Emilia dashed through her bedroom to hop into the shower. She had to get ready quickly and meet Danki outside of HQ. If she didn’t hurry, she was going to be late.
Hours later, the metal door to her temporary habitation unit opened, and Emilia stepped inside. Her black jacket slipped from her shoulders, and she tossed the synthetic leather into an empty chair while bee-lining it towards the couch. Emilia sat down, kicked off her boots, and laid back on the cushions with her feet propped on an armrest. Her right arm was draped over her eyes, the other resting on her abdomen. Emilia took a deep breath and let out a sigh. Finally some time to relax.
“You have a message waiting for you, Emilia,” The hab’s AI spoke.
“Read it,” she responded in an exasperated tone. There was no such thing as a break, it seemed.
“Mail to Emilia Dallocort, from Elsebeth Rhiannon.” The AI obliged, subsequently altering its audio to imitate the voice of the sender. “Captain Dallocort, I have sent you a corporation invitation. There will be a wall of text, please read it. Welcome to the show.”
Emilia abruptly sat up and snatched a nearby holo-tablet from the coffee table. She swiped to open the mail and read the message again with her own eyes. A smile slowly spread across her face. Pressure bubbled up in Emilia’s lungs and she grabbed a pillow, squeezed it against her chest, and let out a delighted scream. Her application had been accepted! She was going to be a Rough Rider and fly with Electus Matari!
Emilia let her head fall back against the couch cushions, staring up at the ceiling. She sat there for several seconds, just relishing in the buzz of dopamine that filled her brain, imagining what it would be like flying in a fleet with them. Her gray-blue eyes shifted back and forth, as if she could see herself there, disabling pirate cruisers and protecting merchant vessels from raids and blockades.
Emilia sat up, looking back down at the holo-tablet she held while continuing to hug the pillow with her body. She opened her neocomm, pulled up the corporation invite, and then just sat there for a moment while staring at it. It’s actually happening. She was graduated as a capsuleer as of last month, and now, finally, she was beginning to walk on her own two feet. After five long years, this was her first step towards, well… everything. Reaching up with one hand, she tapped the accept button without further hesitation. The invitation disappeared. The tablet chimed a ding as SoERR’s automated introduction mail arrived in her inbox, and Emilia set the tablet back onto the table. It was official. She was now a member of Electus Matari.
Over the next several hours, Emilia prepared. There was a lot for her to do. The Rough Riders had their headquarters stationed in Thera, a hub in wormhole space that the Sisters of Eve maintained and operated from. Their war staging HQ was in Pator, however, and the latter was where Emilia would be moving to. She had several frigates plus a load of random junk that needed to get there, which required preparation, and she had to let Danki know of these plans as well. She would be leaving tomorrow. Emilia had told him about the application during training today, but now that she was an official member, it was time to go. The departure was a little abrupt, and she felt bad about that, but this had been decided upon long beforehand. As soon as she was able, she would be off, and Danki was well aware of this fact.
The capsuleer put in several requests through the station systems, making sure she had a ship moved to the launch pad and ready to fly in the morning. She also contracted a hauler to transport the handful of other frigates she owned. They would be loaded up and moved in bulk by an independent corporation within a couple days. With her arrangements in order, Emilia gathered up the few things she had around her hab, a task which didn’t long as she’d had never fully unpacked, and stuffed her items into a pair of suitcases and a large bag. Once she was done, she took one final look around the quarters in which she’d been living for the past three weeks to be sure she wasn’t forgetting anything. The pilot didn’t feel sad or nostalgic. She was happy to be leaving. The only thing Emilia held regrets about were the handful of friends and acquaintances she had made. This wasn’t necessarily goodbye, but it was a departure. She reasoned there would be plenty of time to catch up in the future, though.
Turning, the capsuleer headed into the bedroom. She laid out a set of clothes for the morning and slipped under the covers, her lights turning off automatically. After a long period of lying awake, she eventually drifted off and slept dreamlessly until the morning birds awoke her again. Emilia got up, retrieved her coffee, and looked out of her hab’s window one last time. Returning to the bedroom several minutes later, the brunette showered, changed, and said a final goodbye to her hab’s AI before walking out with suitcases in tow.
Emilia made her way along the halls of the living quarters, taking several corners before arriving at an elevator that took her down 500 stories to the shuttle bay. Similar to the hyper rail stations one might find planet-side, the shuttle bay served as a quick method of transport for the many inhabitants of the city-sized station. The Kador Family Academy was huge. Standing at roughly 30 kilometers tall, 15 kilometers deep, and 5 kilometers wide, walking anywhere but the immediate habitation zones that residents lived was inconceivable. However, thanks to shuttle speeds, residents could traverse the entire 30 kilometer distance from top to bottom in less than 5 minutes.
Exiting the elevator, she walked with a small crowd towards the boarding zone, approaching a short cluster of people who were filtering through a set of optical turnstiles. Stations like these never slept. Space travel meant that every person had individual sleep cycles, so there was always a crowd at any hour. The line she waited in went quickly, and soon the older man in front of her was stiffly walking through the green-lit turnstile. As he passed and Emilia stepped forwards, the lights went red until the capsuleer held an identification card against the reader, turning the LEDs green once again. She took a few steps forward, heading towards a fork in the hallway, when something caught her eye. Standing along a wall was a line of five individuals with bowed heads, wearing plain, light grey clothing. Both males and females were dressed identically, each donning a loose short sleeve V-neck and long, pocket-less pants with plain white shoes. Their hands were clasped in front of them, backs parallel to but not resting against the wall.
“Captain Dallocort,” a voice startled her. She abruptly stopped, having almost run into the speaker. Dressed in bright white with gold adorning his station uniform, the man smiled in greeting, “Good morning.”
Emilia didn’t respond, only offering an unenthusiastic half smile and a curt nod. It was quite apparent that he had been waiting for her, likely notified by station security that she was on her way to the shuttle bay.
“You are taking a trip?” he asked, as if unaware.
The man glanced at her bags in tow. “Well in that case I must apologize, I would have expected your luggage to be taken care of and an escort arranged to bring you to the hangar. Let me fetch someone to carry your bags-”
“No.” Emilia stated firmly, stopping the man mid motion as he raised a hand to signal one of the individuals in grey. “I am perfectly capable of doing my own work, thank you.” Her tone was short and accusative.
The man paused, before giving a well rehearsed, genuine looking smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “So be it-”
“An escort won’t be needed either,” she asserted.
His smile unwavering, he gave a nod. “Capsuleers are an independent bunch, unpredictable in their desires. It seems our assumption you would require assistance was unfounded. Even so,” he continued coldly, “we will certainly keep an eye on you, to ensure your arrival at hangar 3A is completed safely, and without undue interruption.”
Silence befell them for a moment as she held eye contact, straightening her stance. By this point, the pair were beginning to draw attention from the throng of passerbys; more than a few stole glances at the capsuleer and station guard in tense conversation.
“I suppose I should be on my way then,” Emilia broke the silence. She turned and continued walking, not waiting for a response.
“A piece of advice, if I may Captain,” the man called from behind her. Emilia slowed, hesitating before looking back. “There is nothing more important than the company you keep. It defines you. You would do well to consider this when making future decisions regarding the individuals you confide in, and the organizations with which you associate. Once you begin painting your image, it becomes quite difficult to erase it.” The man made a point to hold eye contact for a brief moment. He then turned, placed his hands behind his back, and walked away.
Emilia faced forwards once again, doing her best to look unfazed by the Amarrian’s idle threats, despite her increased heartrate and churning thoughts. The capsuleer’s blue eyes swung to the right once again, resting on the five individuals with heads still bowed in respect. Her gaze steeled and her jaw tightened as the pilot regained confidence. The picture she was painting was exactly as it should be, Emilia was positive in that.
Suitcase wheels spun silently behind as Emilia exited the shuttle transport and made way towards the hangar. Overhead electronic signs led her through organized intersections of walkways until the wide doors of bay 15 revealed themselves. Entering, Emilia was met with a large space containing a dozen or so shuttles and frigates. Sitting near the left edge of the room was a blue Caldari frigate. Two tall vertical wings and a third horizontal wing all crossed through the center of the vessel, forming the iconic shape of a Heron. The Red Herring was a fast and versatile ship, fit primarily for exploration. The reliable vessel had already saved her from a few close calls in J-Space, so it seemed appropriate to her that she fly this to Pator.
Walking up a ramp and into the ship, she secured her bags in a corner of the cargo bay, and moved to the bridge where her hydrostatic capsule was waiting. Emilia tapped on a screen embedded in the wall, causing the egg shaped capsule behind her to split open on hydraulic hinges. Bending over, the capsuleer pulled her boots from her feet, placing them into a small sealable container sitting on a nearby bench. Her jacket, top, and bottoms were subsequently removed, revealing the black, skin-tight pod-suit she wore underneath. Specifically designed for use in a hydrostatic pod, the suit’s material was woven with sensors, used to monitor the capsuleer’s vital signs while under suspended animation. Much like the wetsuits worn by aquatic divers, the pod-suit was one single piece of material that covered her body, stopping only at her throat, wrists, and ankles. Aside from this, along the spine of the suit were five holes which exposed the capsuleer’s spinal ports. These connectors ran from the base of Emilia’s neck down to her upper back, the lowest of which rested between her shoulder blades. The ports allowed Emilia to directly jack into and interface with the pod beside her, thus allowing for piloting of the ship itself. The five cybernetic plugins present on Emilia were the one identifying feature that every capsuleer had, and the only way they were easily distinguishable from the common baseliner.
After folding and placing her clothes beside her shoes, Emilia sealed the container and pushed it into a slot in the wall. She approached the open pod, swung her leg over the edge, and lowered herself to lay back against the comfortable gel padding. She reached out to unhook a mask, strapping it over her nose and mouth. A hiss sounded as it sealed against her skin. The breathing tube attached to the mask’s front trailed to the pod’s shell off to her right, allowing for a supply of air to reach her lungs.
Tapping an interior control panel, Emilia initiated the interfacing procedure. The pod’s clear door closed, sealing the woman inside, and a gelatinous, chemical cocktail began to fill the chamber. The capsuleer’s blue eyes closed as the surface of the thick liquid rose around her. It poured over her arms and legs, wet her hair, and soon fully submersed the pilot. Emilia felt her body begin to rise from buoyancy. By the time the surface of the translucent green liquid touched the top of the chamber, Emilia was floating weightless. Cords snaked their way through the fluid, locating Emilia’s spinal ports and attaching to them. She felt a spark as they clicked into place, and she sucked in a deep breath as synthetic sensory inputs flooded her. Her body and senses melted away as Emilia’s mind merged with the ship. For a moment she could feel the thrusters, the shield arrays, the capacitor systems, the computer circuitry…
A scene materialized around her. She was sitting in a chair, with a flight stick between her legs and a throttle to her right. Informational displays were mounted around her, with panels of buttons, switches, and dials at her disposal. Pod-ship interfacing could take many forms, and often varied between capsuleers depending on what worked best for them. For Emilia, it was sitting in front of the controls inside of a simulated cockpit. This was easier on her mind, allowing the pilot to focus on one or a few tasks at a time. Other capsuleers preferred a direct interface, where all of the ship’s diagnostic streams were linked to their consciousness. The latter was, arguably, the more efficient method of pod piloting, as the ship became a literal extension of the capsuleer. However, during Emilia’s training it had quickly become evident that this was too large of a stress for her psychologically. The simulation acted as mediator in this respect, taking the bulk of the mental weight. The physical representation of the ship’s environment allowed Emilia to subconsciously enable and disable data streams by simply looking around, or control the ship with muscle movements instead of mental commands.
“Initiating bootup procedure,” the voice of Aura, her ship AI assistant, spoke through the headrest speakers. She felt the Heron rumble as the thrusters powered up. Lights blinked on around her, their green color indicating that everything was properly functioning. “Bootup procedure completed, all systems operational.”
“Thank you Aura,” Emilia responded, reaching up and flicking a switch to enable her comms channel. “Red Herring to Station Control, seeking clearance to launch from hanger 3A, bay 15.”
“Red Herring this is Station Control receiving your request. Undock has been cleared. Ship is unlocking, please confirm.”
Emilia felt several deep vibrations as the large metal arms which held the ship in place were released. A mechanical whine followed as they retracted into the floor and ceiling. The pilot checked a screen displaying her mount points, making sure all were detached. “Confirmed,” she responded, “Mounts have been unlatched.”
“Confirming hanger zone is clear… Clear. Red Herring, you are green for launch.”
Emilia pressed a button. She felt her ship begin to rise as thrusters below lifted the heavy frigate into the air. A string of lights outlined her path, serving as a visual indicator for her direction of travel. The lights blinked on and off in succession, beginning behind her and traveling out in front. Her eyes followed the movement as the indicators flashed forwards along the hangar’s floor. They traveled through a large translucent barrier at the edge of the hangar and out into the empty void of space.
Now floating above the ground, Emilia engaged her forward propulsion. The Red Herring rumbled as the loud sound of her rocket engines penetrated the ship’s hull and Emilia’s pod. The frigate began moving forward, increasing speed, and following the lights that guided her. As she reached the runway’s edge, her ship’s shields touched the translucent barrier and the two fields merged, allowing for a seamless exit between the pressurized hanger and the infinite vacuum of space.
The moment she left the station’s atmosphere, all exterior sound vanished. A quiet, distant version of her thrusters replaced it as the ship’s audio synthesizers kicked in. Emilia looked behind her, the cockpit’s walls fading into complete transparency as she gazed back at the Amarrian station she was departing. Emilia smiled, and spun her ship around to align with the system’s only stargate. She was on her way to Pator, and the capsuleer was eager to arrive.