~a memoir of love, loss, and violence by Sothos R’Tha
“Sothos…hey…Sothos, 150 ISK to you”
“Sorry,” I mumbled as I set my cigar down “I’ll call.”
I thew my chips into the pot and sat back in the chair. I wasn’t sure why I’ve been
so distracted lately. Things at home have been better than ever, at least as good as they
could be. I forgot tomorrow is Sadie’s birthday, I don’t even know what to get her. What
do ten year olds want for their birthdays now, what a terrible mother I am..
“Itt’le been eight years tomorrow, ain’t that right..” Trent said from across the table.
Eight years ago Trent and I were flying escort duty on a fairly routine trade run
from Jita. The corporation I was flying for produced fuel for the outpost stations set up
on the fringe of civilized space, but this run was well inside Caldari space. Orders were
to escort the Astral Hauler from the trade hub to our production facilities, fifteen jumps
“You’re not going to let me get killed this time, are you sweetheart? Remember when
this tub pops, that’s it for me. No fancy pod to save my skin.” Lillo joked over the
“Not a chance, baby, you’ve got two of the best pilots watching your back, plus its a
straight shot through hi-sec” I replied back.
“After this assignment I was thinking I could take you and Sadie to Caille on Gallente
Prime. You know, for her birthday.”
“She’s only two, Lillo, she won’t even remember it.”
“It was just an idea, think about it. The first jump is coming up, prepare to jump to Perim-
iter” Lillo announced.
The dealer finished laying down the river, damn I thought as I threw my cards in.
“Did they e’re really figure out what happen’d with that gate? I tried askin’ ‘bout it but no-
body knew anythin’, it seem’d.” Trent asked as he stared blankly at his cards. “No,” I re-
plied “I submitted a formal request for a copy of the investigation when it was closed,
but apparently it has been marked as ‘Classified’.”
At first the jump through the stargate to the Perimeter system seemed like any
other jump. We requested alignment and jump codes from the control tower, they re-
sponded, and I felt the familiar sense of being stretched in all directions. In the instant
after everything went white, I expected to see the familiar Perimeter gate and be wel-
comed to the system over the comms. What I didn’t expect, however, was the nothing-
ness spread out ahead of me.
“What the hell is going on Sothos?” Lillo called from the Astral “Where the hell are we,
this isn’t Perimeter.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed. Trent, what do your instruments read, mine can’t be right.” My
heart dropped when my navigation computer put our location in the Rancer system.
“Uh boss, my NAVs put us in the middle of Rancer.” Trent’s voice sounded nervous. The
Rancer system was notorious for pirates who killed you for the sheer sport of it. I
weighed my options for a minute. CONCORD has no jurisdiction in this system, so if we
got in trouble we would be on our own. I brought up the NAV computer again and
charted the nearest route back to secure space.
I keyed the microphone “Here’s the plan, Isikesu is the closest haven for us, but
we need to pass through Miroitem first. Trent, you and me will go ahead and scout the
gate. Be ready to warp the Astral when I give the all clear Lillo.” To be honest, I was ter-
rified. Being in pirate space with a light escort and a freighter full of cargo was a bad
situation just waiting to get worse.
A pair of 5’s, maybe this hand will be better. I didn’t need the ISK, flying short
hops across the planet brought in plenty of money, but I just needed to feel lucky. Luck
was the only way Trent and I would be able to pull off tonight’s mission. His datapad
buzzed and he glanced down at it.
“The barges jus’ jumped inta’ the system Sothos. Our scout says they got heavy movers
an’ mining drills. You ‘ere right, they gonna’ tear our home up. Jus’ like they been doin’
all over the sector”
“Are you sure you want to come out of retirement? Once we do this…we can never
come back. They’ll be hunting us, but someone needs to make a stand. Someone
needs to show these corporations that this is our land, our homes, and that they can’t
just take them from us.”
“Aye, I flew suicide missions with ya’ before Sothos and we seem’da turn out alright,
I looked back down at the table. The flop was a King, Queen and Three of dia-
monds. No Joy, but its never over until the river, as Lillo used to say.
“All clear, warp to the gate Lillo.” I started the automated alignment program and
punched the gate code. I held my breath as I appeared on the other side, and let out a
sigh of relief when it was clear. I radioed back for Trent and Lillo to jump through. One
more jump and we were safe, one more jump and I could go home and see my daugh-
ter. I aligned to the Isikesu gate and punched my warp drive. I came out of warp 100kM
from the gate and looked at the sensors closely, strangely not a soul in sight. The calm
made me uneasy, This whole trip I noticed we havn’t seen a single soul, pirate or other-
wise. Something was wrong, something was very wrong.
“Go ahead and warp in, but be careful. Something doesn’t feel right here.” I dou-
ble checked the system scanners, and again they came up empty. As I saw Trent and
Lillo warp in next to me, I told Trent to jump through first, and then for Lillo to follow him.
Contact alarms sounded, my ship was locked and there was a missile warning
alarm screaming in my head. Instantly I punched my shield boosters and armed the
Bloodclaw’s. The Rifter Trent was flying detonated a mere fraction of a second before
he was able to jump through the gate, but I saw the green flash of his pod make it
“Lillo, get that damn thing through the gate, NOW!” I screamed as I turned to face
the newly uncloaked Manticore. Hoping to draw all his attention to me I lit the after-
burner and sent two missiles hurtling into space after him. Both Bloodclaws hit their
mark, but for all the damage it did I would have been better off throwing rocks. I couldn’t
do anything but look on in horror as the rocket motor trails reach out toward the Astral
who was still aligning to jump. When the slender fingers finally reached the freighter, it
exploded in a brilliantly blue fireball. Instinct took over and I raced toward the gate, feel-
ing my ship shudder from the missile impacts.
When I reached the other side I set a course for home, I was empty. Numb.
A King showed up in the Turn, and a second King in the River. Full house. Time to go.
“Did Elaine pick up Sadie like we arranged?” I asked.
“Yup, an’ she left us a whole box o’ stuff to kill them Corp pilots with too.” Trent replied
gleefully. He may not have been my most intelligent friend, but he was loyal to the end
and damn good at killing things. I would have wanted no one else flying on my wing for
“You fueled and pre-flighted the Rifters? Its been years since they saw the cold and
empty horizon of space, they need to be reliable.”
“I gotcha boss, don’t you worry. Those’ll do whatever you want ‘em to and them some.”
Flying these rust-heaps wasn’t my first idea, however one finds it is much harder
to obtain the machines for war when you’re planetside. While the Rifters and their auto-
cannons were not as graceful as my Kestral and her missiles were, they were more
than enough to get the job done. The foolish Corporation doesn’t expect any resistance
from the people it plans on exploiting. Trent and I left the bar and got into his small per-
sonal shuttle, the Rifters were hidden in a forest clearing, safe from the prying eyes of
Corp spies and thieves. After landing and loading the ammunition into the Rifters I took
a final glance into the sky above.
“It looks so big when you’re down here, yet we fight and kill over the same small sector
of space…the violence is senseless” I murmured as I settled myself into the cockpit.
It was a slaughter. The two small frigates providing security were vaporized be-
fore they could even react. I felt the rattling of the auto-cannons in the command con-
sole and watched as the rounds sliced through the hull of the transport ships and land-
ing crafts. Trent chased the pods, mercilessly destroying them before they could escape
and bring reinforcements. “Six! I popped Six so far!” He yelled over the comms in an
The killing was over as fast as it had begun. I throttled back the engines of the
Rifter and looked at the carnage around me. A man’s torso collided with my cockpit and
left a red smear as it glanced off, bits and pieces of the transport ships were vaguely
recognizable. An engine manifold here, a section of hull there. I felt numb again, it was
the first time since Lillo was killed that I didn’t hurt. I was numb. I opened a long range
channel to the Corp offices who these unfortunate souls were flying for and typed a brief
message before aligning to the gate and jumping out.
This is the Beginning of the End.