(Note: This is a story written in a traditional storytelling style, for submission as Prose for the YC 121 New Eden Capsuleer’s Writing Contest.)
This is going to be a long week.
The head of Tintoh Talk, a bi-weekly GalNet show, wanted to interview me for today’s show. They’ve been in business since before I took up residence at Tintoh VIII’s CalNav Testing Facilities. The show is straight, as far as I can tell, and since my arrival, they have been nothing but kind in regards to perception of me, except in a few embarrassing instances.
Anyone who knows me is very aware of my general aversion to public speaking, save for pre-recorded speech. This is mostly to avoid the habit of rambling, as I tend to speak from the heart while talking openly to an audience. While it is one of my strong suits, it’s not the most structured material to work off of, and is frankly not what I should be doing while addressing someone on matters of state, that is, my whereabouts and actions, as people seem to be so curious.
But there’s also my honesty. I find that I can’t directly obscure truth, but omission with a hint to it is the best I can do. I’m a terrible liar, and if someone pressed me for details, I speak. It’s one of the downsides to my upbringing, and the only exception to the rule is if the person asking me for information is someone I really, really dislike.
So naturally, the head of Tintoh Talk wanting to bring me on the show before I left for Black Rise made me a little… squeamish.
But they have been kind, far more than any other show I have heard mentioning me by name, and considering the support they’ve given me over the last two years, I felt I had to give something back.
Me and my bleeding heart…
The host wanted to bring me onto the stage, and sit me down. Normally she sits behind a desk, but as this would be my last public appearance in Tintoh for a long time, if ever again, she presented a =corner couche with a coffee table in the middle. Fairly standard, and comfortable looking.
I breathed deep, and were anyone to see it, my skin would have glowed for a moment.
The audience, which wasn’t present during their news sections, gave a round of applause as I stepped out from behind the backstage curtains, clad in the infamous Perun surival suit, my armband ribbon, and a somewhat matching set of orange Hephaestus pants and shoes, a tip I took from someone else who wore the suits on a daily basis, but didn’t suffer the effects I did, looking to find something that matched the top, since there didn’t seem to be any pants or shoes of Triglavian origin.
For this appearance, I kept the mask on, sealed to the cowl under the jacket’s hood. Most think that the hood and cowl are together, but really, the suit is the outer jacket with the hood, and the body suit under it which seals around my face where the mask connects, and my waist. But I could remove the mask and cowl at any time, and I’d be fine… mostly.
The applause died down as the host offered her hand and gestured for me to sit down. “It’s great to have you here, Mahazkei.”
I took her hand and shook it in a single stroke. “The pleasure is mine,” my voice came out with a slight buzz from the mask. We sat down and I held my hands in my lap.
“How is that suit treating you?”
I shrugged. “It keeps me clean, and it’s not too bad a wear, but it’s clingier than Mimic as a kitten.” There was some chuckling at that. I had brought Mimic, my cat, onto the show the only other time I’ve been on the show, as opposed to letting them do reports as they normally do. During that time, I was a little nervous, but less than Mimic. She was behaved around the audience, but she would not get off my lap. That was a long time ago…
“I can tell. It hasn’t changed at all?”
I shook my head. “No, it hasn’t. There have been a few new developments with the suit, but it’s all around how it affects me, not how it behaves.”
She tilted her head. “Is there a difference?”
“There is. the suit itself is made of two layers, not counting the jacket. The outer layer is a nanofiber weave with some plates, and some portions that can be taken off, like the arms and cowl. The second layer is some kind of bioadaptive layer, under the weave, between it and my skin. It does the cleaning for me, and at the very least means I won’t get an infection for as long as I need to wear this.”
She nodded, slightly intrigued and perturbed by the information. “What does it feel like?”
I sighed, rolling my shoulders forward. “It’s not slimy like you covered your skin in vaseline, and more… gel like. It’s wet, a little, but it has more in common in texture with cold rubber, like a water balloon. It is comfortable in some respects, but I can’t feel anything else since it cushions impact, even from the inside of the weave layer. I would not mind so much if it wasn’t so difficult to get behind it and scratch my back.”
The last part got a few laughs. I was happy that it was defusing some of the morbid tension. “You said you can remove parts of the suit?”
“I can. And what’s more is I can remove all but the center plate around my torso, and I should be fine.”
Her brow raised slightly. “Should be?”
I shook my head slightly. “It seems that there is a tradeoff to removing parts of the suit. The more I remove, the less I can regulate my own temperature past around my lungs and heart. The more I remove, the more the suit gives me the cold shoulder.” That got a few snorts.
“It’s not terribly cold, is it?” She was right to be concerned, I wouldn’t want to live as a mammalian reptile for the rest of my life, if I was her.
I pulled back the hood, and with one hand, unsealed he mask while pulling the cowl back around my neck with the other, revealing my face. It was a cool sensation, one I relished greatly, even if it did feel a little chilly. “I have a solution. There are thermal suits some use for diving into deep bodies of water, that circulate warm water, and thinner suits like them used in colder climates that circulate warm air around the extremities, to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. I just wear the limbs of that and connect the rest around my sides so the suit still has contact with my skin. I’ve taken to wearing it with the jacket around my shoulders when I’m relaxing.”
There were some oohs around the audience as I said that, since it’s known that most of the time I wear practical clothes only, and no one has ever heard of me taking an off-day for self purposes. Most believe all I do is work in shops making tools and flying ships for errands or jobs.
The host’s interest was piqued. “You? Relaxing?”
I snorted. “You say it like I live to work, and do nothing else besides that and sleep. I relax. Some of it is working on projects, tinkering around. I do sometimes make gadgets for gags, or some novel purpose. When I’m not doing that, I read, and play with Mimic. And as of late, I spend some time with Lauralite Anne Brezia.”
The room got quiet. The host leaned forward, with a mix of horror, and a touch of disgust. “You mean the Terror of Tintoh?”
Ah, and there it was. “Yes, although I have some doubts about her involvement in the… incidents regarding several persons who wish to remain unnamed, she has been very kind to me, and has helped me greatly with this condition. We met when she made a visit to replace my right arm, which, as most of you are aware, I do not replace unless damaged. It was during the examination and attachment that we conversed and ultimately spent the rest of the day in each other’s company, and she offered to provide emotional support for me.”
The room remained silent, and was enough of a cue to continue. “She was in the room where most of my examinations were done, around the time that I was still under constant medical observation, and could not leave the station for much more than a half hour at a time. I can say little on the exact nature of the room, but it is uncomfortable to say the least, and spending time with her during her visits during that time made the examinations more bearable.”
She nodded, and relaxed a little, the tension bleeding from the room. “I see. With that, let’s move onto your plans for Purosupekuta.”
I nodded, happy to move onto the next subject and draw some heat from Laura’s presence on the station. “Very well. Before you ask, I think I’ll preface it with this, I’m not going to be staying in Tintoh.” There were a few murmurs. “I have stated in the past that while Tintoh has been my home for a great period of time, it is not close enough to Placid to justify making the corporation headquarters here. Instead, we will be moving to Samanuni, in Black Rise.”
I unfolded my hands and held one open, palm up in her direction. “Why not? The proximity to Placid while remaining in Caldari space is something I wanted to make clear to the other member corps of the UNF, that although we intend to become a member corp, we must remain based in Caldari space in much the same way they are based in Gallente space, near Intaki and Dodixie. Purosupekuta, while young, has many of its members based in Caldari space, for their dedication to engineering and reverse engineering that makes up much of the corp’s activities. Many of them are like myself during my time on the “Nike” project, and I wish to give them the same opportunity to put their efforts towards safeguarding the lives of people after a battle, and ensuring everyone has the chance to go home to their friends and families.”
There was a small applause at this, and I was pleased that my intentions were not totally lost on them. The host spoke up. “When are you planning to move?”
“In a week or so. Dr. Zirud, heir to General Lee’s stature as a capsuleer, has already begun contacting UNF representatives on my behalf regarding transport of all our assets to Black Rise, and possibly loan of a citadel once we get situated. But know that for the moment, I am not going anywhere.”
She nodded once more, and stood up, with me following suit. She offered her hand and I took it. “Thanks for coming today.” The audience gave a louder applause, and I nodded back. “It was no trouble. Fly safe, Jin.”
“Fly safe, Sakabkei.”
With that, I left the stage, put the cowl and mask back on, and my skin glowed again, dimming quickly. I sighed, leaving the premisses of the set, and navigating back to the hallways to find my workshop, to distract myself with some new project. Maybe the line weapons.
A long week.