– by Kreigen
**10 Days till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I
The day was hot, unusually hot considering the breeze off the oceans. There was a farming module out in the west field that needed a condenser unit replaced badly, and of course, father had me up at dawn to fix it. I sat kneeling in the soft earth of the field, sweat pouring over my forehead and dripping off my nose, trying to think if there was anything better I wanted to do with my life. There had been times I had dreamt of heading to the stars like so many others, but father was quick to end those thoughts.
“The universe outside our door is a loathsome and unforgiving place.” He would say “Clear your mind of the trivial dreams, and focus on the work you do with your own two hands”
He was so found of saying that…”with your own two hands”. Mother used to say it was his way of atonement, but was quick to silence when father would give her “The Look”. I laughed to myself, yeah, “The Look”. It was legendary in our home, it meant shut up or else.
I brushed the dirt off my hands and ran them through the soil. It always helped take some of the oils from the modules off, something about the sulfur content my father would say. I gazed upward and caught a glimpse of the Lai Dai station hovering in orbit. Sometimes, at night I would glance through the crude microscope my father had hidden away in the storage unit at that mighty mass of metal in the sky and wonder….. What did they do?
I had traveled with father many times to the planetary launch pad about 100km away. We would trade goods and pick up our orders from the cargo containers that came in once every six cycles. I would always listen to the pilots talk of the latest Capsuleer news. What systems were threatened, what horrible things had happened, and what Concord had planned for this system. Always that rumor. This system has always been just out of Concords reach, lawless and dangerous yet close enough to secured space that nothing terrible ever really happened.
Suddenly something didn’t feel right. I snapped back to reality and realized I was gazing off for more then an hour, lost in my own thoughts, father would have my head for that if he knew. I wondered if it was the fear of getting caught daydreaming that snapped me back, Yet that wasn’t it. I felt my skin crawl as what little breeze blew stopped. Then I heard it. The familiar boom of planetary entry. There wasn’t a scheduled resupply drop for another 3 cycles. I stood up quickly and scanned to the west, toward the planetary pad.
I knew I heard it. I scanned the horizon, flowing my eyes off the blue oceans to the south. That’s when I saw it… or should I say them. They started as small specks reflecting off the water. I thought I had heat stroke at first. But then I rubbed my eyes and looked again, they were there swarming around each other, just above the water. Then suddenly they stopped moving, and in a flash shot off in 5 different directions. One barreled, like some kind of winged demon, right toward me. It stopped, dead on the spot, just a few feet above my head.
It was silver in color, with a pulsing blue light from its core. It was pill shaped, but with large rotating fans that kept it in flight. Reminding me of the kites I flew as a child. Suddenly it lurched, and shot into the ground, inches from me. The concussion of the impact threw me to the ground, and the noise of it rang in my ears. I sat up, and noticed the module I spent all morning working on was torn clear in half. The object was now imbedded into the soil, making clicking and whirling sounds. Then suddenly, just as it had moments before, it lurched and shot again into the sky. This time not hovering, but a full thrust back into the clouds. I heard 5 distinctive pops as each object I had first witnessed ascended back into the black heavens.
I never heard father approach me, nor did I notice him inspecting the module and the hole in the ground that sat smoking from the heat of the thing. I gaze upward until I felt his hand on my shoulder….
He spoke softly, having never heard him speak this way I was startled..
“Son, come to the house. I need to speak to you and your sister…now”
**6 Days till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I Lai Dai Station, High Orbit
He sat watching the screen as it scanned, and rescanned every ship within 200km of the station. Things had gotten very busy, and ever since the fleet of scan ships hit the system, and descended on
Planet I, 4 days ago.
They had him on double duty. Caldari state ships were arriving in droves. But they weren’t the only ones. He had personally seen at least 6 Charon freighters enter the system and move to positions around the 3rd planet in the last 24 hours. The Capsuleers were chomping at the bit. 6 days to go, then everything would change….
**4 Days till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I
What father had told me was almost impossible to believe. Concord was lifting the ban on what he called “Planet Mining”. We always thought we were going to be safe from capsuleers here. I had heard him tell my mother of the “old days”, which he would look at me and warn me of the “Breed of dogs and demons that fly the dark heaven without a care to anyone but themselves, and their wallets”.
Now that was changing. They were coming here, to lay claim to land that we had already claimed. The scan probes that shot through the planet over the last few days were only beginning he told us. Soon we would have to be ready for much more, much bigger visitors. My sister sat weeping, unsure of our fate. My father was as stone faced as ever.
That evening I saw him standing outside talking to someone. The man was covered in a robe from head to toe and spoke with an accent I had never heard. When he reached out to shake my fathers hand I gasped at the sight. Mechanics of countless kinds ran through his arm. Metal plates bolted to his skin, which was as pale as our moon. My father took his hand, shook it, and spoke in a language I had never heard.
The next morning I questioned him about the man. I was swiftly given “The Look” and fell to silence. He instructed me to go that morning to the west field, the same field I had encountered that first scan probe, and retrieve every piece of equipment from it.
“That’s nearly 3 days work” I exclaimed.
My father looked at me, without flinching said “And you have one day to do it in”
**2 Days till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I Lai Dai Station
The last two days were spent gathering everything we had. Some of it my father sold to our neighbors for the cheapest bidder. I was angry at him, upset that we were abandoning our home at the first sign of the capsuleers. I bit my tongue, not wanting to anger father as I could tell he was already very much on edge.
He took me with him the previous night to a meeting with the locals and a Lai Dai company man. The man dressed head to toe in white lab gear. He spoke of the Caldari State’s reaction to recent concord decisions. He told us not to worry, that no great change would come to our planet or way of life. People were angry, screaming violent threats at him. Others were nodding their heads in agreement.
My fathers lips snarled, and he spat on the ground. “Fools..” he said under his breath. “Come, son, we are leaving…”
This day, no matter my anger, his mood seemed to have worsened. Twice more since I first saw that strange man he came back to speak with my father. Always at a distance in the shadows, and never for very long. I began to wonder why I had never seen him. A man like that would most surely be known to all in the area.
Father had just finished packing a cargo crate when the vid screen flashed. He had a call… he never had calls. Father gave me “The Look” and I quickly finished what I was doing and left the room. I heard him raise his voice, twice, then silence. It droned on for what felt like forever, ringing in my ears worse with each passing eternity of a second. Father opened the door and called me into the room.
I stood up, strangely, shaking. I had never seen him like this. There was something very different about him. He had always been stern, but fair and calm. Now he seemed a frenzy of emotion, dominating was anger.
I entered the room to find the locked trunk he kept under the floor boards pulled out and opened. Inside were all manner of mechanical instruments and gadgets. Father was opening a small steel container. Inside were small boxes with wires attached. He turned and stared at me dead in the eyes.
“Son, In my time I have seen great things, done greater things, but also horrible things.” His expression never faltered “I came here, with your mother and you to leave that behind me. But these things I have done will never leave. The universe sees to that. I have raised you to know hard work, to know that what you do with your hands results in reward. But that time has come to an end.”
I stared at him, my mind lost in a swirl of confusion “Father I….”
He cut me off “Do not speak. Listen.” I nodded.
“Tomorrow you will take your sister to the launch pad and meet with the Turista family. They will take her from you and you will return to me here.”
“I don’t unders…”
“I SAID LISTEN!” He screamed. He had never screamed at me. Between his demeanor and “The Look” it was enough to keep me in line. “..you will come back here. Do you understand?”
As I lay in bed that night my head swam with thoughts and worries. What was happening, why was father sending my sister away, and who was that man in the cloak? I heard him outside again talking with my father. I slid out of bed as silently as I could and slipped on my clothes. I crawled through the window and positioned myself in the bushes near them. They were finishing their conversation, ending in the handshake and language I knew nothing about. Father went back inside, and I followed the cloaked man at a distance. He proceeded down along the oceans bank to an isolated marsh section. He approached a point and stopped dead in his tracks. He stared up and did not move.
Suddenly the air around where he stood electrified and began to twist. Metal and lights came into view, then there was a ship. It was Black and red, with dim lighting all around it. Shaped in a crescent, it was bigger then anything I had ever seen. The cloaked man began to walk toward it, then stopped mid step. He turned only his head toward where I hid. How could have known I was here, I never made a sound. The cloak fell from around his head exposing a ghastly sight. Out of the back of his ran tubes and wires that disappeared down the back of his cloak. His head was bald, but patched with more metal plates. His mouth was covered by what looked like a deep breather we used when spraying out crops. As he gazed toward my location I noticed he was missing an eye, in its place was some kind of optic visor. I could not tell, but I swore I saw him smile before he stepped forward and boarded the ship.
It rose off the ground slightly hovering. It was silent. Its engines never made a sound. Then the electricity in the air started again, and it disappeared from view. I was left alone again in silence and darkness, unsure of what Id seen.
I made my way home and crawled back in through the window. Father was waiting for me in the darkness.
“Did you follow him?”
He let out a little laugh, something I hadn’t heard since mother had passed “Ever my son…. Go to sleep”
**23 hours till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I Lai Dai Station, High Orbit
He was amazed. This system sat virtually barren for years. Not since the Gallante war had he seen so many ships in the system. Yet, there they were. 12 Charon freighters, countless support craft, as well as numerous combat vessels. He even thought he saw a black ops vessel ping on his radar. He couldn’t scan it down again so it was probably nothing, a ghost in the machine.
They were coming alright. Most from the same capsuleer corporation that was scanning the planet over the last week. They were coming, and they were foaming at the mouth.
**13 hours till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I
He had done as he was told. His sister had boarded a shuttle with the Turista family, whom all looked petrified at the journey they were about to take. They shot off toward the stars, and the station, planning to return when the initial blitz on the planet by the capsuleers was over.
I returned home to find my father wearing a tight, black and deep blue uniform. His head was shaved, and for the first time ever I noticed numerous sockets and small metal plates around his head and neck. He was seated at the table with numerous devices laid out in front of him.
He pointed to the seat in front of him. “Sit down son.”
I did as I was told.
He looked down at the floor, then back at me. “Years before I knew your mother, before you were a twinkle in her eyes, I would fly that dark heaven. I was a great pilot; I fought in many wars, saw the end to many fellow pilots, and took all I could as my own.”
“You…you are a capsuleer?!” I exclaimed.
My father pardoned the interruption “Yes, was… and forever will be. I took everything I could, killed many innocent people, and was the leader of a small gang….. that man you’ve been seeing… he was my right hand. He took over the..” He gently cleared his throat “business when I left.”
I stared, lost.
“After the scan probes came that day I knew something was happening. I contacted him for information and found out much much more. We are leaving this place tomorrow. You will board a ship with me, we will leave this planet and start this game over again, together.”
I gasped “But I don’t want to start this over… I worked to long and hard here to start over somewhere else..”
He cut me off “You misunderstand me, we are not going to another planet to farm son. We are taking you to get fitted for a capsule. You are going to become what your father already is…”
I was lost, my head was swimming… I didn’t know what to say or do.
My father calmly waited for my to regain my composure. “Over the next few hours we will help me prepare to re-enter a capsule. You must learn as we go, and you pay close attention, it will make the process for you less… painful.”
Over the next few hours I helped him plug all manner of machine and booster into his neural slots. It was tiring and agonizingly tedious. When it was over, I gazed at my father not seeing the man I knew, but a thing closer to the man in the cloak.
**T Minus 15 minutes till Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I
All day Dai Lai had been sending message probes and drones down to the planet telling us how to behave, what to expect, and other general propaganda. I had spend hours moving everything worth while to one large secured container with father, who was now wearing the same kind of cloak the mysterious man was wearing before. He had also fit me with some basic boosters thru injections that would help with my first visit to space.
It was due to happen soon, the first wave of capuseers to swarm the planet. The timer display my father set up said 6 minutes, where the drones kept saying 15. I knew now it was best to just go along with father and not ask.
After we finished loading the container he called me over to the clearing in front of our home. As I walked toward him I noticed his timer had reached zero. He pointed to a section of the sky and told me to watch.
I stared at the blue sky for what seemed forever. Then a blink caught my eye. It raced across the sky then dipped toward us. It tore a hole in the clouds and it barreled faster then anything I had ever seen. I wanted to run, to get out of its impending impact but I looked at father, who did not move. I stood my ground wanting to at least make him proud in what I thought was our twilight.
The object flew fast and hard toward us, then at the last second, came to a stop right above us. It was a ship, of a make and model I had never seen in any video feed. It was huge, a massive beast that blocked out the sun for what seemed miles. My father was smiling, grinning like a baby with a new toy. The ship slowly came to rest on the ground not far from the house. Its engines shut down and a figure exited the ship.
The cargo bay to the ship opened and began dropping a much smaller shuttle on the ground next to it. The figure walked closer, and I could see it was the same man who had come so many times in the night. He took my fathers hand and moved into a small embrace with him, patting his back firmly.
“Itsss good to sssee you in true form, brotha” he said, with his breathing device hissing as he did.
The figure glanced at me then back at father “Taking the nexxxt generation with you are you?”
Father spoke sternly and strongly “He is my legacy, and he will make his own soon enough”
The man laughed “Alwaysss the poet… the poet whos sword was alwaysss mighter then his pen”
He took my fathers hand, spoke his foreign farewell and headed toward the small shuttle. Stopping, he cocked his head slightly to the side and yelled out “Better hurry, Im ssssure the Lai Dai are wondering why a Machariel Battleship just broke planetary orbit” cackling he boarded the shuttle and torn off into the sky.
Father laughed to himself “A gnat on the radar it is not….” He turned quickly to me “As I instructed son, load the gear and get ready to go.”
I moved quickly to load the gear into place. I saw father enter the ship, the suddenly tiny probes launched everywhere around the ship. I heard his voice boom out of unseen speakers..
“Its time son…”
**Zero Hour- Concord Releases Planetary Ban**
Location: Horkissen I
The sound of numerous planetary entries shock the ground. I was thrown to the ground, and quickly stood back up. I watched as giant pillars stretching miles into the sky dropped onto the planets surface as armies of drones began to peel away the metal skin and expose pipes, refineries, and other large factory like equipment.
I screamed at the ship “Father, what are these things.”
The speakers cracked on “They are the machines that will change the face of this planet and a million others like it. They are the instruments of the greedy, and the conduit of a new era.”
I stared back at them, the drones had already half assembled one and it groaned to life. I saw smoke pour into the air and it began its work.
Fathers voice rang in my ears “Board now son, we are leaving…”
I tore off running toward the boarding ramp, but was stopped suddenly by the biggest explosive sound I had ever heard. I walked slowly back to where I could see the factory. Nothing seemed to be wrong with it, it was working I assumed, as intended.
“Up” fathers voice boomed again “Look up and see what one action begets”
I looked up and saw what I knew to be a Charon Freighter entering the atmosphere. That was impossible I though, they were far to big to enter planets. Then I saw it.
The bow of the ship dipped below the clouds, followed by the middle section. The rear of the ship was no where to be seen… and the middle was a horrific picture of hell. Flames shot out of every section, smaller explosions ripped through the remainder of the ship.
“Get on board son, we are leaving now” fathers voice said
I boarded and positioned myself next to a vid screen. The camera probes father had launched were fixed on the falling freighter. I watched, part in awe part in horror, as it touched the planets surface. The flash of light blinded the camera drones. Then as the picture came back I saw a pillar of fire rising to the sky unlike anything I had ever seen before. I felt the ship jerk as we lifted off the ground and punched toward the sky.
The shock was from the crashing freighter propelled us into the heavens. I glanced at the vid screen and noticed father had kept one on the planets surface. We watched as the shockwave tore everything to dust. Our home was gone, our life on that planet over.
“Camera six” father said.
I looked at the vid screen and increased the size. I saw another Charon being attacked by numerous ships of various sizes. I watched as it to exploded into debris.
“Pirates?!” I screamed above the engines
I heard fathers laugh reverberate through the whole ship. “No son, Capsuleers.”
I stared back at the screen and watched the planet grow smaller and smaller. I could see monstrous ships of countless model traveling toward it. I felt sick and sad.
“Our home….” I whispered under my breath
Fathers voice answered me “Your in it son, this is the Black Horizon, Welcome Home.”