PATOR IV, HEIMATAR REGION
Shakor stood facing his favourite window, feeling the gentle breeze of the city below against his face. On his desk behind him, his computer beeped patiently waiting for the verbal confirmation code to send the three awaiting outgoing messages.
He had never been a man to hesitate, but now he found himself second guessing his choices. What had caused his trepidation? When had he become this man afraid of consequences? The resounding answer caused his heart to sink; it was when he had first met Roc Wieler.
The Matar Colonel had shown such promise early on, but as time progressed, Roc was consistently the focal point in multiple storms of contention and controversy. Shakor’s friendship with the Brutor had become well known, and he had found his office more often than not busy with the task of damage control regarding the pilot.
Now Roc sat in a mental treatment facility, his fate in the hands of doctors that couldn’t possibly understand the complexities of capsuleer life regardless of their collective training. It was a dire situation for Roc, but one of his own doing, at least indirectly.
What had surprised Shakor more was the visit by Garlon Das, and the attached offer to Roc. To his credit, Roc had rejected the offer of political leveraging, being too keen to not suspect Garlon’s underlying motives to usurp control of the Republic.
Surprisingly, Roc had applied for the Council of Stellar Management, a political body even outside the Sanmatar’s juristication. Their goal was the improvement to the quality of life for every citizen of New Eden, though they tended to slant their focus towards the wants of the pod pilots.
After his initial shock, Shakor could see why Roc had chosen that path for his first attempt at entering the political foray. Just the same, it could not be allowed. He was still too naive to the way things really worked, too idealistic.
There came a time when duty even overrode friendship. Shakor sighed and gave the command.
The computer happily chirped and sent its three awaiting messages.
“Are you certain? I really can’t believe it.”
“We’ve confirmed the report. It’s accurate.”
“Collateral targets acquired. Initiating termination protocol.”
PIAK II, MOON 4, LONETREK REGION
HOUSE OF RECORDS INFORMATION CENTER
Piktun sat inside of her first Charon class freighter. It was brand new off of the assembly line, and she was only two days from being able to pilot it herself. She had focused her capsuleer abilities towards commerce these last few years, yielding billions in profit from the elite market of the pod pilots for herself and her clients. War was profitable, what else could be said?
She floated in the unfamiliar warmth of pod goo, still acclimating herself to the foreign sensations of expanded awareness and intrusion. Her thoughts strayed to one of her most prolific clients, Matar Colonel Roc Wieler, though she wasn’t certain he still held that rank given his latest set of obstacles. Still, the man had made her rich beyond her wildest dreams, not that he hadn’t profited a few billion isk himself in the process.
Most recently, she had been approached by representatives of Concord, whom requested a full audit on the accounts of Roc Wieler. They had provided proper credentials, and even informed her of his application to the CSM, and she had excitedly complied. Everything she had done on his behalf had been completely above board.
She gave the mental command to her Aura link, pulling up his accounts. It always made her smile to see the historical rise of profit margins.
“Aura, show me the latest trends for this region.” Piktun said, slowly becoming more familiar with her womb like surroundings.
There was no response.
She focused her will, mentally giving the command again. No response.
Her heart rate accelerated slightly, but she took a deep breath and focused once more.
The status indicator for Roc’s profits starting blinking red, and a small alarm sounded in her mind. In horror, Piktun watched as hundreds of millions of isk began dropping from his account.
“Aura, what is going on with account 661699191?”
Piktun felt panic rising in her throat. She wanted to be out of this pod now. She wasn’t ready. She began hyperventilating, her blood pressure rising.
“Aura, what is going on? Why aren’t you responding?”
Piktun was almost crying. Then there was a stab of sharp pain in the base of her skull, through her connection to her ship. A million volts of electricity surged through her body, liquefying her organs from the inside.
She gurgled briefly, then was dead, floating in the goo of her pod. There was no transfer to a new clone.
Pod goo swirled slowly, changing colour to a mix of crimson.
“Initial target confirmed terminated. Proceeding to next target.”
“And we’re 100% certain of the accusations?”
“If you have a problem with your orders, Fallout, feel free to take them up with our superiors.”
ORIS, MOON 4, DOMAIN REGION
EXPERT DISTRIBUTION RETAIL CENTER
Phillip Wessam was glad to be back in his pod as a combat pilot. He had spent far too long working as a “legitimate businessman” for the Empire. Truth be told, there was a part of him that missed the slave trade, but it was more hassle than it was worth in the end.
“Gold 3, tighten up formation. You’re straying.” the training commander barked.
Wessam focused his thoughts, bringing his Punisher back inline with the rest of his squad, then felt a surge of pain in the base of his skull.
The training commander watched as Gold 3, a new recuit in a Punisher, began to list offcourse.
“Gold 3, I’m not going to tell you again. Tighten it up and focus!” he bellowed into the squad comm channel. The Punisher continued offcourse, slowly spiralling towards a larger battleship in the fleet.
“Gold 3, this is your last chance! Alter course or you will be fired on!”
But it was too late. Phillip Wessam was already dead.
VILLORE VIII, MOON 7
FEDERAL INTELLIGENCE LOGISTIC SUPPORT
Minara Dawn knew her days were numbered ever since her betrayal and outright false testimony regarding Roc Wieler. As much as she had tried to put it from her mind, leave it in the past, her fear of eventual retribution had become an obsessive compulsion. She was completely paranoid.
She barely flew her ships anymore. Even more rarely did she leave her office or apartment.
When the day came for her to reconnect with Aura, a connection essential to all pod pilots, she did so with certain dread. She had her own technicians check and recheck the connections. Security was doubled in her hangar.
She was terrified to die.
When she was finally plugged in, finally feeling comfortable and somewhat whole again, she realized how foolish her terror had been.
It was her last thought as she felt a sudden jolt at the base of her spine.
“All secondary targets eliminated. Moving to primary.”
“Dammit Nova! At least let him explain himself.”
“Wouldn’t matter if he did. Orders are orders. And even if the proof has been falsified, it’s not my place to question it. Loki, you ready?”
PATOR IV, HEIMATAR REGION
Roc Wieler sat alone in his cell, just another day in solitude, left only with the constant questions in his mind. There was too much self-loathing, too much anger; he was slowly deteriorating, giving up the fight.
A low rumble shook the concrete foundation. He knew the tremor of an explosion when he felt it.
Alarms sounded throughout the facility. Roc had always known they would come.
For weeks, he had steeled his mind, preparing to fight against anything and anyone that would come for him, but the drugs, the mental probing, the interrogations; they had finally started to wear him down. He knew he would break soon, if he hadn’t already. He honestly couldn’t remember.
All he had ever wanted to do was make a difference in the universe.
A loud explosion this time, much closer, shaking dust loose from his very cell.
Still the mountainous Brutor didn’t move. He had accepted his fate. What other choice did he have in the end?
The wall across from his cell exploded inward, and he instinctively covered himself, dropping to the floor. When he arose, there was a single figure standing before him, covered in a sleek bodysuit, staring down at him.
“Roc Wieler, come with me. We don’t have much time.” she said.
An emotion Roc hadn’t felt in a long while began to rise within him, hope.
Slowly he stood and took his first step towards freedom. That is when his caution kicked in.
“Who are you?” he asked, realizing it had been the first time he had spoken in days.
“My name is Nzuri Sana, but that’s not important. What is important is who you are.”
Roc looked confused. He knew who he was. Didn’t he?
She picked up on his expression and spoke firmly, “You’re no longer Roc Wieler. From this point on, you’re nobody; just another pilot trying to make a living. Got it?”
She turned and started towards the hole in the wall before acknowledging Roc’s reply. He started after her.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
“Only place we can, flyboy; nullsec. You’re wanted by Concord. Only place you’re going to survive long enough to figure out what’s going on is where they aren’t.”
Roc nodded. He understood.
His life, as he knew it, had ended, and a new chapter begun.
“What’s so funny?” the woman asked.
“Oh, just been itching for a fight is all. Looks like I got my wish.” Roc replied, his boyish charm restored.
She looked at him sternly when she spoke. “This isn’t a fight you can win.”
Roc returned her stare with an intensity that shook her to the core of her being.
“Exactly how I like it.”
“Subject has eluded us. Orders?”
“There’s nowhere he can go. We’ll find him. Fraudulent ISK is a capital offence. Concord won’t take this lightly.”
Fallout smiled. “Well, if he makes it to nullsec, not much we can do at all.”
Nova and Loki both scowled. “No, there isn’t.”