[YC 123 NEWCWC] 'There'

The Capsuleer’s eyes slowly open, and he struggles to focus on the display he’d stuck on the ceiling above his bed.
A fleet commander’s name, Muninns, and information for secure communications.
“I hate HACs”, he mumbles, before turning in his bed and forcing himself back to sleep.

Less than a minute later…ping

He remembers, half awake, that he flies those. Part of that recollection is that both alliance and corporation still owe him ISK for the last Ferox he flew, and lost, in battle.
While his mind was now fully awake, his body felt like it was lagging behind. Months of near constant combat sorties are taking their toll.
It’s a struggle to exit his quarters, as well as to maintain a decent enough pace toward capsule and ship.

As he takes the familiar route of lifts and transports within the massive interior of the keepstar, only one thought continuously distracts from the effort to move swiftly: hopefully, I’ll get podded again


In the quiet before shots are exchanged, his Ferox flying with a fleet of over a hundred other such ships, the Capsuleer recalls what brought him, here, in the heart of New Eden’s greatest conflict. His family had not been particularly rich, or influential, but they had enough resources and connections to get him and his siblings toward the path to immortality as capsuleers.
He wasn’t really drawn to what that life promised. He was adrift, having set no goals for himself.
Had his father, a holder in the Empire, had just designated him his heir, or left him a small inheritance, he’d have been content.
The patriarch was rather pragmatic, though, and knew that his meagre holdings would not have much chance of improving the lot of his heir and other children.

The process to become a capsuleer was difficult, but while his siblings did their best, excelling in training and the challenges set before them, the Capsuleer just did the bare minimum to get by.
He still remembers his apathy, that feeling of aimlessness…and the moment when inspiration, and, thus, change, came.

Just as his thoughts began to turn to that particular moment, the fleet commander’s voice came through. In a tense voice, the FC asked his fleet to prepare, as a fight was guaranteed.


The fleet had been in the area of operation for about an hour, alternating between warping from one point to another, and orbiting one of the stargates to and from the system.
It had been a dull affair, up until a couple of enemy fleets, made up of Eagle and Muninn heavy assault cruisers, arrived and initiated the fight. While a friendly HAC fleet was inbound, they were a few minutes away, and the enemy currently had local numerical superiority.

The Capsuleer’s role in the fight was brief: his Ferox, being among those in an orbital path closest the enemy fleets, was lost in the first few minutes. He barely had any time to acknowledge his ship’s destruction: the chaos of commands and manoeuvrer, a fleet’s worth of HACs locking onto his ship, and then perforating it with magnetically accelerated slugs.

In one second, he was asking for aid from his fleet’s logistics ships, while firing his doomed Ferox’s guns on designated targets, the next he was afloat in space in his pod.
“…and they haven’t even reimbursed the last one”, he thinks, as he takes a moment to watch his battlecruiser eject escape pods, hopefully saving most of his crew, and then explode.

He could warp off his pod to a nearby friendly structure; they had plenty in this system. The Capsuleer felt compelled to do otherwise. He had to know. With a thought, he has the capsule move toward the general direction of the engaged fleets.

A couple of minutes into his relatively slow flight, the Capsuleer watched as the remnant of the Ferox fleet he was in attempt to disengage. Several straggling ships were caught, and destroyed, by the hostile HACs, but it seemed that a third or so of the Feroxes were able to extract, and warp to a nearby Fortizar citadel.
As the enemy fleets moved to extract toward the nearby stargate, an interceptor from their screening element blasted the Capsuleer’s pod.


Pod death was nothing new. A capsule gets breached, a capsuleer dies, and then awakens in a clone. No memories or dreams at the point of death, until awakening.
At least, that’s how the Capsuleer thought it was supposed to be…and how it was.

Now? With each pod death, there’s a recurring, yet changing…dream? Impression? Vision?
Sitting alone on one of the benches inside the clone bay, the Capsuleer tries to focus on the latest anomaly he had…felt, and witnessed, or dreamed.

The first time it happened, during an exploratory incursion into Pochven, where death came at the hands of a Drifter battleship, the experience was at its…simplest: a feeling of both warmth and cold, and a visual impression of light and dark.
The Capsuleer, while both curious and worried, as the snapshot tech used to keep them ‘immortal’ isn’t perfect, tried to shrug it off. Maybe it’s a one time thing, he thought. Maybe it will go away.

The second time was during a particularly fierce battle over an Infrastructure Hub in the system of M2-XFE. The coalition of alliances, of which the Capsuleer was a member, had managed to trap a good portion of their enemies’ supercapital fleet in some strange, novel, space-time trap effected or magnified by warp disruption bubbles.
The enemy coalition then expended a massive amount of resources and effort to free their trapped titans and supercarriers.
Securing the I-Hub had become a major part of that effort, and pitched battles were fought to secure it.
The Capsuleer bitterly remembers that loss: it was a Rokh battleship, that, owing to the chaos of the battlespace, was lost as its warp drive flung it near the enemy. It was destroyed there, alone, as his fleet mates watched, tethered on a Fortizar, in the distance.
He tried to get to safety, using the Harpy assault frigate in his Rokh’s escape bay, but the interceptors that tackled the battleship pinned the Harpy down, too. Those same interceptors destroyed his capsule shortly after it had left the Harpy’s burning wreck.
The post-podding anomaly, initially, seemed the same: warmth and cold, light and dark.
But it wasn’t the same. It felt slightly more defined, and the images seemed more like…maybe, something was there.
The Capsuleer grew more concerned, and more curious.

A Harpy fleet was the third time. During one of the many, regular sovereignty contests in and around the Delve region, the Capsuleer found his ship on the receiving end of a Cerberus HAC fleet’s missile barrage. The interceptors and tactical destroyers, that was integral to the enemy HAC fleet, swiftly took care of the pod that emerged from the wrecked assault frigate.
With the third manifestation of the anomaly, whatever is happening, being felt, and seen gained slightly better definition. The sensation of warmth and cold felt closer and more real. Light and dark seemed less abstract. There were shapes, and flecks or minute and fleeting instances of colour: is that a bit of red? A hint of yellow where it’s light?

As the great war between coalitions progressed, more and more ships were tossed into the fray. More opportunities to die in battle.

Only in battle, under enemy fire.
Activating a pod’s self-destruct or ‘death cloning’ never lead to a recurrence of the anomaly.
For months, the Capsuleer wondered why the anomaly only happened as a result of death in battle. Were the snapshots of his brain being corrupted or changed, somehow, during the transmission process? If so, how? Weapons fire? Some mix of starship emissions?

Unable to figure out the cause of the anomaly, the Capsuleer focused, instead, on what the anomaly showed. With death brought on by battle, the vision, as he had come to think of the anomaly, grew clearer.
He was now certain that whatever the vision was trying to depict or convey, was the same thing since the first instance of the anomaly.


It was dark, and relatively quiet, in the clone bay; isolated from the keepstar’s ceaseless activities. The Capsuleer had briefly considered returning to his quarters, but decided against moving, and instead continued to set his mind to what the latest vision revealed.

The dark element or shape was the first to come into focus. He had suspected what it may be, a few pod deaths back, but now he was sure: three dark lines intersecting in space, with a red glow in the middle. It is exactly the same effect when a filament is activated, opening a way into the Triglavian space of Pochven.

The light, on the other hand, had given him more trouble. It was as if each pod death had chiselled away at a block of marble. Across eight pod deaths, the vision of light had coalesced into a vaguely human form.
It was the ninth, and most recent pod death, from which the Capsuleer had just awoken from, that removed any question of what, or who, that form was.
It had also brought to fore memories, and the reason, for why he was out here, so many light years away from home.


The Capsuleer didn’t really care for the training to become a so-called Empyrean. It was hard, with constant screening and testing of both my mind and body. Things weren’t made easy by those in the Empire who saw cloning, and the tech that gave capsuleers practical immortality, as an affront to God.

He didn’t care.

Alone, in the dimly lit clone bay, he remembers the moment when he did begin to care; as if woken from a long, yet dreamless, sleep.
The Minmatar rebels’ so-called Elder Fleet had breached Empire space. The Capsuleer remembers the concern, the fear, he felt, from himself and emanating from his fellow capsuleers-in-training, as they watched the events unfold on vidscreens.
He remembers the brief crisis of faith, as he watched Imperial forces, engaging part of the Elder Fleet over Mekhios, begin retreating.
He remembers the stunned silence of his peers as they watched the arrival of thirteen Imperial ships: twelve Apocalypse battleships, with an Abaddon battleship taking lead.
He remembers, so very clearly, the joy, the cheers, as that Abaddon miraculously destroyed most of the rebels’ fleet. The Capsuleer had not truly cared for the politics, nor for the political figures, of the Empire, until that day.

Jamyl Sarum.

Just as clearly as the vid feed of the Battle of Mekhios, if not more so, he remembers the day of her coronation.
Her speech.
“What you give unto this Empire…”
The Capsuleer wanted to give, to serve, the Empire.

Less than a year after Jamyl the First’s ascension to the throne, the Capsuleer and his siblings had finished their training and trials. They were capsuleers.

The Capsuleer yearned to do something, anything, for the Empire. He fondly remembers flying his Punisher frigate, doing various tasks and missions for various Imperial entities, especially the Imperial Navy.
As he grew more proficient, he gradually increased his arsenal: a Coercer destroyer, a Maller cruiser next, then a Harbinger battlecruiser, and, finally a massive Apocalypse Navy Issue battleship.
The Empress’ words were proven true: As he gave to the Empire, so it gave back to him.

He was…content? Maybe even happy. He had found purpose.
And yet there was an ever pervasive thought, or feeling, that not only was he not doing enough, but that he was too isolated from the affairs of the capsuleers at large.

In between tasks and missions for the Amarrian institutions, while viewing news feeds while in warp, or idly sitting in stations, that feeling of missing out kept growing. Beyond the borders of the Empire, and the other lesser powers, capsuleers had forged their own petty kingdoms.
With time, those kingdoms either grew, or merged with others, and soon there were more and more tiny, yet ever growing, capsuleer empires.
And wars.
Unfettered from both the fear of death or the need to abide by the rules by the old powers, New Eden was ablaze in ceaseless conflict.

But he was never there. He kept missing out, never being witness nor party to the Empyreans’ massive battles that captured the attention and imagination of New Eden.
He had settled down to the routine of serving the Empire. While he knew, then, that it was a worthwhile cause, he also realized that that routine had weighed him down; had prevented him from moving beyond the Empire’s borders.
Two events would change that.

The dimly lit clone bay suddenly felt oppressively colder as he recalled that first event.
He had taken a trip to New Eden’s primary trade hub, Jita. The exact purpose of that trip is lost to him, now.
He still remembers the odour of the restaurant he was in, the taste of the noodles he was eating, and everyone in the restaurant turning their head toward the vidscreen as the words ‘Breaking News’ appeared.
She was dead.
The Empress of Holy Amarr had been slain by Drifters. He remembers the warm tears streaming down his face as the vidscreen displayed the sad wreckage of the ship she was travelling in, the once majestic TES Seraph.
The feeling of regret, sadness, and nausea at that moment always came back when the Capsuleer remembers that moment.
“I wasn’t there”, he had thought.
Not that, realistically, he could have done anything to have changed the outcome, but still…

Years later, came another crisis. The Triglavian Invasion.
Confusion was the only way to describe that whole period. Do I fight them? If so, who is leading the effort? Where? When?
His personal response was a hasty purchase and fitting of an Abaddon battleship. The Capsuleer noted, then, that he had become very, very, very risk-averse. He didn’t want to lose this or that, because of…sentimentality?
At least, he had thought, I have no attachment to this new battleship. “I will gladly throw this into whatever fight may come”.
But confusion reigned.
The Capsuleer hesitated. First at Raravoss, then at Niarja. He flew his Abaddon into those systems, but then…nothing. “Why did I hesitate? What was there to lose?”
As Niarja fell, he was, once again, filled with regret, and then, anger.

“I am never there”, he recalls thinking.
“…but I am here, now.”

He briefly recalls, just a few hours ago, as he undocked from the keepstar he was currently in, the now familiar sight of, perhaps, the most fortified space in all of New Eden. Five massive keepstars, and numerous other citadels, meticulously arranged.
Beautiful. Awesome.

The mounting disappointment in his inaction had lead him, here, to the heart of New Eden’s greatest war.
But had he just exchanged one routine, for another? Loyal as he was to this so-called Imperium, his heart, and soul, still belong to Holy Amarr.
For what end is this war? For what purpose am I here?
The visions didn’t really help with those questions, if anything, they only raised new ones.


New questions. It brings his thoughts back to the present. To, what he assumes, is the complete image.
The figure of light in visions was, now clearly, to be that of the late Empress.
Why? Why her? Why now?
The vision is now clear: a filament-opened passageway into Pochven on one side, with a manifestation of St. Jamyl the First on the other. Unlike her massive monument above Mekhios, her arms are not opened up, as if welcoming. Her left arm is down, along her side, while her right is raised, her index finger pointing toward the passageway.
Her image, her…ghost, is staring, seemingly through the passageway and into Pochven.
Maybe it was his mind playing tricks on him, aware as he was of the malleability of memory, but the Capsuleer could almost swear that the Saint’s countenance had turned to him ever so slightly, and briefly.

His meditation, and the clone bay’s silence, is broken by another call to arms.
“Damn HACs again,” the Capsuleer thinks. He hates them, partly because he can’t fly them. He can fly the mighty battleships of the Caldari and the Amarrians, but not their silly HACs.

“What do I do?”
He’s confided about the earlier visions to his siblings, but he dare not tell those within his corporation. It wouldn’t help him any for them to think him mad, after all.
Anger replaces doubt. He would choose rash action, than inaction.

Standing up, he moves into one of the empty clone vats, and initiates the jump clone process.


Amarr may be in so-called ‘high security’ space, but as he was party to the ongoing war, CONCORD, or even the local Amarr security forces, would not intervene if the Capsuleer were to be attacked by enemies of his corporation, alliance and coalition.
It also annoyed him, slightly, that he had no ship in the station he had just jump cloned into. Amarr’s Emperor Family Academy was a bustling regional trade hub, and he could just buy a new ship and equipment, but he’d rather not.
He has bills to pay, especially with regard to his damn clone state.

Using a public communications console, he contacts his sister.
“I hope she hasn’t blow up my Apocalypse, yet…”
She hasn’t, but she says she’s currently ‘really, really, really busy’ using it. She, instead, lends the Capsuleer one of her ships in the station.

The Capsuleer can’t help but laugh when he sees the ship she lent: the sleek, dark shape of a Triglavian Collective Kikimora destroyer.


A couple of hours after first laying eyes on it, the Kikimora has flown the Capsuleer away from the Amarrian home worlds, and jumped a stargate into Sarum Prime.
Another quick warp later, and he’s at his first destination: Mekhios.

The grim remnants of the Elder Fleet don’t concern him. His eyes are fixed firmly upon the magnificent golden image of the Saint.
As his ship settles into orbit around the monument, he prays. He prays for answers, and hope.
“You did say, after all, that you were the Harbinger of Hope”, he mutters.

He doesn’t know how he truly feels, beyond the hint of regret and sorrow that’s remained throughout the years since news of her passing.
“I have something to look forward to, I guess. Whatever that may be. I guess that’s Hope.”

Breaking orbit, he activates the Kikimora’s microwarpdrive, setting course away from Mekhios, away from the Saint’s monument.
Several minutes, with the monument merely a distant dot of gold on his ships sensors, the Capsuleer activates one of the filaments he had purchased before undocking.

The appearance of the familiar Y-like shape, tinged with crimson, off the Kikimora’s bow, fills the Capsuleer with…doubt? Fear?
A swift glance at the rear-facing sensor arrays’ display, showing the distant gold monument, is enough to, at least momentarily, banish any hesitation.

As the Kikimora begins moving from known space into the region known as Pochven, the Capsuleer holds on that fleeting image of the Saint, in the vision, acknowledging him, even if it were a false memory.
“At least with that, I can have hope. It couldn’t hurt, I guess…” he thinks, as the Kikimora begins to emerge into Pochven. “…to hope to find something there. Something…here.”


Thank you!

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