– by Gnicklas
Nearly a year has passed since the CONCORD opened our skies with the promise of a newfound prosperity for all the Empire through a cooperation with the Capsuleers. How ironic then, that the very pilots who have saved us from the incursions of the Sani Sabik cultists would themselves become our oppressors.
When the first factories opened many answered the call with the promises of ISK and adventure. Training and an opportunity to see the stars, who knew what could lie in your future when dealing with Capsuleers?
The corporations operating the facilities near the city expanded their factories and with them their search for able and qualified workers. One of which was Shali Hanulan, my neightbor and only friend in the city since relocating to the capital for my work with the Ministry of Internal Order. I found her unit empty after returning from work one afternoon and a message on the house array saying she had moved to the new residential facility at the HINCO complex, one of the corporations that had scouted my offices a few weeks earlier.
Several days and then a week passed with no word from Shali so I decided to do some digging. Access to off-planet data services had been interrupted since shortly after the arrival of the capsuleers and had been accredited to damaged communication satellites in a recent well-documented Blood Raider attack. All information since had come from the Amarr Certified News and Ms. Meninri, though a beautiful and talented former Miss Amarria, did not run the most .. reputable news service.
I needed to get an outside source and luckily I had a friend in the Amarr Trade Registry…
An Interbus courier arrived shortly after I took my position at the MIO with a package marked as a general delivery without a return address. It contained a metallic disc with no distinct markings and after trying several scans with the diagnostic equipment available to me in the office it took up residence as a paperweight.
‘This is Mozat Kartan, please respond.’
My desk had spoken to me and began a mutually beneficial financial arrangement between me and the “Public Relations” official on the other end of the line. It felt like a story out of a holoreel! I provided information upon request on employees of the Imperium and she provided me with a beautiful view from the new apartment my meager salary wouldn’t afford me otherwise.
‘Mozat! This is Kerin Shappi, are you there?’ I asked the disc. I’d never tried talking to her so I wasn’t sure if it was able to tran–
‘Yes? What is it?’
After briefing her on my situation she seemed taken aback, ‘There’ve been no reports of Blood Raider activity or a communications outage in your system that I am aware of.’
She went further to say she had recently stopped receiving communications from several of her contacts in the more remote regions of the Empire and that she would look into it.
The next week the news service reported a terrorist attack in one of the outlying districts of the capital involving an unknown biological agent and a general quarantine was announced for all citizens not essential to the operation of the government. Though I consider my filing and sorting of reports on the activities of Imperial employees to be quite essential to my financial well-being, the Ministry saw it otherwise.
The quarantine restricted my access to the datanet to the ACN and MIO informational channels and stifled my culinary choices to brown paste or green paste from the severely outdated food synthesizer. At least the coffee wasn’t bad.
A new message arrived in my house array:
‘Notify. The Ministry of Internal Order quarantine remains in effect for all citizens. The unknown biological agent is under investigation and antiviral drugs distributed to the population. If you suspect yourself or others to be infected please contact the Ministry at once.Treatment squads are being dispatched to citizens in order of priority and severely affected citizens removed to treatment facilities donated by the visiting corporations. Please remain in your homes until further notice.’
Footsteps passed in the hall accompanied by a strange click of nails on the tiled flooring.
Mozat contacted me again with the results of her inquiries and she wasn’t most pleased with what she found, ‘It’s the capsuleers.’
‘There’ve been varying reports from planets around New Eden, some touting the capsuleers as Saviors and others, Tyrants.’
‘There were several large orders of antiviral drugs shipped to the Mishi IV – Ministry of Internal Order Logistic Support station a month before the attack on your planet occurred. This alone might mean anything, perhaps they had information beforehand and were preparing for any outcome. However I came across something.. unusual. The same corporation ordered a very large amount of Vitoc to be delivered to the same location.’
‘Vitoc? I don’t understand, we produce enough locally to meet all of our needs why would anyone need more? There’ve not been any large shipments of slaves lately and the capsuleers employ local citizens as part of the treaty negociated for us by the CONCORD assembly.’
‘Why purchase slaves, when a simple innoculation is all that’s required?’
The lights dimmed and my house array reported the connection to the planetary datanet had dropped, again. I waited in the dark for the screams, wondering if they wouldn’t be my own.