– by Citizen Smif
Chapter 1: Mukiri’s Time
“The Gods of old are long dead and gone; they never answered our calls at our time of greatest need. We were a simple people, living on a world far from the constant wars that engulf the universe. When the first of us arrived here many years ago we renounced our technology and embraced the world around us; it contained everything we needed to survive from medicine to food to water. I remember when the first of the immortals came and it all changed… The destruction… The death… The unbearable screaming. It took them just a day to raze our cities to the ground and transform our green rolling hills and emerald lakes into a land of fire and ash. There was nothing we could do, the missiles they launched destroyed cities at a time, and they were the lucky ones. They sent down ships beyond human comprehension, the very sun itself could not compete with them and we were plunged into permanent darkness. On the second day temples of industry were raised in their name and the ground-rumbling noise began, those of us still alive were forced into a life of slavery, either we worked or we died. By the third day all resistance was crushed, we were all assimilated into the great machine of industry and what for? I still cannot comprehend what could possess the Demi- Gods in the skies to do this to us; we were a peace loving people. I swear on the lives of all those lost that we will have our retribution, our time will come and we will reclaim what is rightfully ours.”
– Chieftain Kin’Arkder Markyl of the Brutor Tribe exiles
1130th day of the capsuleer’s industrial colonisation – Mukiri’s first day of maintenance work- 22:00
I looked up and grimaced, 3 years had passed since the capsuleers had first invaded my home world yet still the great shadow remained suspended up in the sky, unmoving but watching us all. I always thought a man can get used to anything but the perpetual darkness still unnerved me. What was previously a land rich in nature was now a burnt-out wasteland, black and grey were the only colours visible as far as the eye could see. I coughed into my gloves and looked back at the task in front of me; I simply had to clean the ash off of the control tower’s air filters. The air filters were located high on each side of the tower, to access them I would have to enter the crawl space and physically repair the machinery at the end. “Usually this would be work for drones” I was told, luckily for me there was a shortage of them. The control tower was inactive today; the rain had made the ground too soft so none of the other machines could move, it didn’t really make much difference to me anyway. They were colossal structures, some as high as 200 meters and 300 meters across, as far as slavery went it was a well sought after job since the risk of immediate death was down to your ability to climb. However every job has its inherent problems, breathing in ash and vapours all day deteriorates your health much faster than expected, life as a slave was never meant to be easy I suppose… I’ve waited 3 years for this job and only yesterday I’ve finally managed to get it, the last guy tripped and fell onto a shard of glass apparently. Tragic.
I reached into my tool bag, pulled out a wrench and began to unbolt the grill preventing me from entering the crawl space. “If you do your job well we’ll reward you with a gas mask.” The slavers had told me, I had simply nodded back. I hated the Amarrian mercenaries with all my heart, but they were nothing compared to the demon in the sky. At least the slavers had some humanity, they loved, cried, even raised families, capsuleers did none of these things. Boosted by neural implants and plugged into a pod for most of their immortal lives they had learnt to discard emotion, their minds were focused on one thing and that was ‘ISK’. From my understanding all capsuleers were different, some were warriors of space, some were miners and others were businessmen and traders. There must be more to life than money and power, but every time I look out at what used to be my home world I’m no longer sure. If people can do this to each other then what is the value of living life as a good person? What is the value of honour, justice and kindness? I learnt young that in order to survive in an imperfect world you must be the one willing to do things that no one else would be willing to do. Morals are out of the question, friends cannot be trusted, I’ve even heard stories about families selling out their own if it benefits them. People are self centred in nature; to survive they will do anything.
I finally unbolted the grill and entered the metallic crawlspace; I was greeted with a high pitched whirring noise. My face contorted into something reminiscent of a grin and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. “3 years… 3 years… 3 years…” I mumbled to myself over and over, reminding myself how long I’d been waiting for this moment. I reached the end of the tunnel and stared at the machinery in front of me barely illuminated by a dim red light. I reached into my tool bag once again and pulled out the sum of my obsessions for the last 3 years. I studied it, feeling what must be joy spread to every ounce of my body. “How can something so small cause so much damage?” I asked myself out loud but I didn’t really know the answer and I didn’t really care. All I knew is that this was the only place that wasn’t protected by the Tower’s shield and armour. I placed the device next to the machinery and armed it. I took a moment to catch my breath, I could hear the distant rumbling of volcanoes in the distance, I could smell the sulphuric scent of volcanic ash in the air. Everything was so still, so perfect, I looked down at my device for a final time and placed my finger on the button. I closed my eyes.
My name is Mukiri; I was just 13 years old when the space demon first came. It’s funny how everything you think you know about life can be obliterated in just a few days. I knew happiness and love before but after the great destruction I knew nothing but hate. I thought it might go away one day but I was wrong, this hatred grew in my heart like a black cancerous growth. My mother… My father… My people… Lost and nothing will ever bring them back. Even at the most crucial moment of my life I cannot remember the sound of their voices, the feeling of their arms around me or what they even looked like. The space demon and his horde of mercenaries took away everything from me, but oh I will have my vengeance. I will not live to see the effects of all actions but I do not care. Many will die, many will be my people but their deaths will not be in vain. 3 years of planning boils down to one single moment, the catalyst to signal the start of the ending. My name is Mukiri, son of Kin’Arkder, and retribution is at hand.
I pressed the button.
Chapter 2: The Catalyst
“How far must you go down this road of destruction and death? When will you learn that there can be no victory? Compared to the immortals we are all but specks of dust, we are nothing more than an inconvenience of something far greater than we can ever comprehend. Brothers and sisters lay down your weapons; do not fight that which cannot be killed! You have been spared for a reason, your purpose is unclear now but the role you play now will reverberate throughout space. We are all drops of rain on an already moving surface of water, the effect we have may be unclear and unnoticeable to the eye but rest assured each drop has an effect on the outcome of events. Look at the people all around you; are their lives really worth it? Must your final legacy in this universe be a failure of an uprising? Lay down your weapons and let the universe resound with peace! Join me brothers and sisters, you are His chosen and you will do His bidding.”
– High Priest Amenas of the Cult of the Capsuleer on the third day of the invasion
1130th day of the capsuleer’s industrial colonisation – The day of punishment for Adrald – 22:43
“Stop” I gasped, I couldn’t breathe, my lungs were burning. “Enough! Please…” The whip hit me quicker than a bolt of lightning and I collapsed to the ground feeling something wet trickling down my back. The whip slashed into my back again and again until my throat closed up from the screaming. I rolled over and looked up at the creature that was causing my suffering; his face was one of total satisfaction. His thin lips curled up at one side, his eyes were small and bloodshot, his hair was a greasy mop combed to one side. I loathed everything about him from his sneering face to his unusual golden armour. “Fuck you.” I murmured and weakly grinned straight back up at him. His eyes widened with rage and he raised the bladed whip once more.
The Amarrian scum was suddenly thrown forward towards me and a wave of blistering heat rolled over my skin. My eyes were blinded by a burst of white light, I could feel bits of rocks and ash fly past me and I was deafened by an earth shattering noise so powerful that the ground beneath me rumbled. I lay still, blind, deaf and stunned by the sudden explosion in the distance. I felt the Amarrian’s body on top of mine beginning to stir, I flailed my arms in desperation, grabbing what I thought were his shoulders and flipped him underneath me. I straddled his chest and my hands instinctively went to his throat. My vision was beginning to return, I could see the Amarrian weakly trying to pry my hands off his neck. I grinned at him again and murmured “Fuck you.” His beady little eyes stared into mine with desperation, but even he knew his time was over. I just pressed down until I slowly felt something crunch and the life leave his eyes.
With a long sigh I staggered to my feet and turned around. “Wow…” I said out loud. The whole valley was illuminated from the orange glow of the mushroom cloud, I fell back down to my knees and grabbed the blackened earth around me. We’re all dead… We’re all dead. Destruction on this scale will only warrant more destruction, who did this and why? I felt a tear roll down my face, this was the end, we had no chance against the technology arrayed against us. I stared out into the distance on my hands and knees until the mushroom cloud had turned into a shapeless mass of black and the light left the valley.
Fuck it. What’s done is done. The time for war was upon us now, the call to arms had been sent out, every last woman, child and man would have to fight for our very survival now. With a sharp intake of breath I grabbed a handful of the soil beneath me and pushed myself to my feet. I smelt the earth in my hands and rubbed it into my cheeks and bare chest. “I am one with the earth.” I spoke into the sky, my voice cracking. I turned around and tore one of the blades off of the Amarrian’s whip. “I am one with my people.” I put the blade to my forearm and pressed lightly down until blood began to trickle down my skin. “And I am willing to spill blood for our cause.” And with that I had become a warrior once again, I was poorly equipped, malnourished and weak but I’d be damned if I would betray my people.
I looked to the west at the ancient mountains that held the bones of the elders, that would be the place of gathering, I was sure of it. My skin was charred and my back bleeding but one foot after another I staggered toward my destination. I had never killed a man face to face before today and I guess I would have to kill several more too. Before the immortal came I was nothing more than a farmer, I always kept a simple rifle to defend my livestock but the use of weapons was never encouraged by the council and they were in low supply. I remember why we abandoned the Brutor Tribe in the first place those 30 years ago. All 400 of the first of us, the men and the women, were warriors for a time, collectively we piloted a Typhoon for war against the Ammatar traitors. I saw so many injustices during my time serving the Republic, we shot down civilian convoys and they shot down ours but after a while it became clear we weren’t so different at all. The Ammatar people were our brothers and sisters and we slaughtered them because they chose to put their faith into an Emperor rather than our council. After years of such injustices we mutinied and took some of the Ammatar sympathisers in the station we were docked up in with us, we took our ship to the furthest reach of space we could and coincidently we found paradise. Altogether there were around 1000 of us, we destroyed our ship and built a place for us to live out of it, it was scrappy and imperfect but it was our own. We lived for 27 years in peace and harmony away from the troubles of the Universe but at the back of all our minds we knew it was never going to last. In New Eden there can be no peace.
I trudged on for what seemed like hours, the wasteland never seemed to change aside from an occasional charred tree stump or pool of murky water. The mountains never seemed to get any closer no matter how long I walked for, they remained a barely visible shape in the distance; a test for my willpower. At the back of my mind I began to hear a familiar sound, like the sound of an engine. I looked around but saw nothing, it had to be my imagination, lack of water and food does that to a man. As I walked on and on the noise became more prominent until it was clearly not just a figment of my imagination, I dived to the ground, un-tucked my blade from my ripped overalls and faced upward toward my people’s great nemesis in the sky. With an explosion of blue light the engines of the colossal ship spurred into life, the ground visibly shook as the ship slowly pulled out of our atmosphere. Oh no… I jumped to my feet and began to ran as fast as I could toward my destination, I knew it was pointless but it was better than doing nothing. The land around me was finally illuminated again; I stopped running, (what was the point?), and basked in the glory of the pale aura, finally the land once again received the light of the midnight moon. Screw it. If I were to die today this would be the perfect place, I wouldn’t scurry away like some rat on the ground. Sure enough the ship was in space, but I could still see its shape blotting out the stars around it. Little flashes of light emanated from the ship and the lights were only getting closer. Here they come. The first missile hit somewhere beyond my line of sight in the north, but I could feel the suffering of the earth in its groaning. The next missile smashed into the mountains in front of me, the whole mountain was crushed, vast pieces of rock were thrown in every direction and the planet once again rumbled it’s grief. The missiles kept crashing into the earth around me, the ground shook with strength I’d never even imagined before and what was left of the mountains exploded in an array of ash and lava.
I looked up into the sky and screamed my anguish but it was futile, I was less than a speck of dust to the creature destroying my people. Suddenly the missiles stopped… Something was wrong with the sky, the stars suddenly started to disappear rapidly. My mouth fell open and I slowly whispered to myself “Specks of dust.”
Chapter 3: Specks of Dust
“Remember brothers, after this there is no going back. There can be no victory but we’ll make sure the Universe never forgets u. All of you must fight… Down to the very last man.”
– Mukiri Markyl to his fellow slaves three days before the bombing of the Control Tower.
1130th Day of the Capsuleers Industrialisation – The Resistance – 23:19
“Move! Move! Move!” I screamed at the top of my voice. I looked around, my men were getting slaughtered. Lasers flashed in every direction, burning holes into the planetary vehicle we were taking cover behind. I poked my head over the top. 3 Amarrians were directly in front of us crouching down, damn laser rifles. “For fucks sake! Tarak! Adil! Move…” An explosion to my far right knocked me over, I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my chest and my ears ringing. My face was sinking into the wet mud underneath us; I picked up my weapon and pushed myself back up to my knees. “Move! I’ll cover!” I screamed but I couldn’t hear my own voice, Adil looked at me blankly so I pushed him away. “Run!” Him and Tarak started to sprint toward another vehicle on the left. I took a deep breath and rose over the top of the vehicle firing heavily on the Amarrians. Most of the bullets just bounced off of their golden armour but one of them crumpled to the ground, I think I got him in the leg. I ducked back down, hearing the screams of the Amarrian in their foreign tongue. “Ok Tarak signal me when you’re ready!” I bellowed, he nodded at me. I looked at his hands… 3… 2… 1… I launched myself in his direction, sprinting as fast as I could. Something hit me in my right arm and I dived down behind Tarak’s vehicle.
“Dammit!” I groaned, my arm was hit, I forced myself to look at it. I sighed in relief, it was just a graze but steam rose off it – A warning of what could have happened. I gritted my teeth and pushed myself to a crouch.
“You alright?” Tarak asked me, Adil leant round the corner of the vehicle and started firing.
“Yes. I’m fine, just a graze. Ok here’s the plan…” The vehicle we were previously at suddenly burst into flames, shooting bits of shrapnel everywhere. “Tarak I want you to focus fire on the one on the left, they have weaknesses in the armour somewhere around the legs! Adil do the same for the one on the right! There’s more of them about, I’ll cover your backs!” They both started firing upon the soldiers and I sprinted the opposite direction into a small crater behind us and dived into it. I turned around and lay still watching my comrades. I couldn’t see the Amarrians beyond the hover-craft but I could tell Adil and Tarak were having little success.
I suddenly looked up into the sky, something was wrong… The missiles had stopped and the rumbling of the earth beneath us was slowing down. I looked back down at Adil and Tarak, the hover-craft in front of them started smoking heavily. “Adil! Tarak! Fall back to me!” They both began to run in my direction, flashes of lasers zooming past them. “Get down!” I bellowed but it was too late, the vehicle suddenly exploded throwing them both forward in a spectrum of bright light. Silence. I couldn’t take the loss of two more good men lost due to the greed of capsuleers. I waited for the sound of anything… A whimper, a groan, anything. Nothing happened. Maybe the Amarrians were dead too…
I lay on my stomach perfectly still, counting the seconds go by. Nothing happened. I looked at the unmoving bodies of my friends, Adil was little more than a boy – He was only 15 years old. He honestly thought we had a chance, he was so enthusiastic… He was face down in the mud, I knew he was dead but I stared at him anyway hoping for some movement… Any movement. His brown dreads loosely shook in the wind revealing a gaping hole on the upper back of his head. I felt something die inside me, it was my fault. This was a bad idea, if only I had done something different… He was untrained, I should have never taken him with us. I clenched my jaw and looked over at Tarak, he was a grown man, like me he had fought before. Both of us were Capacitor Engineers onboard a Brutor Tribe tempest but we had received basic hand-to-hand combat training… Not a lot of use that came in. I knew he was dead too, better now than never we used to joke. Dammit, why am I thinking like this? Tarak had died a good death, an honourable death, he would have been happy with it.
I waited for a few more minutes, I felt empty… So empty. With half lidded eyes I got up and threw my weapon down. I took one step at a time towards my friends, feeling the light breeze through my hair. I didn’t care anymore. I heard something click to my left and I slowly turned in its direction. An Amarrian.
“Shoot me.” I said softly to him, raising my arms on each side of my body and closing my eyes. I was ready for it. Better now than never. “Shoot me.”
Click. Pain exploded in my chest and I was thrown onto my back into the mud. I coughed and wheezed but I was smiling. “Thank you.” I murmured before I looked up at the sky. “Wow…” I whispered, clusters of stars were blotted out by thousands of shapes in space. Thousands of strafing lights shot through the sky toward one shape. Our enemy. The ship exploded in space and something came zooming back down into our atmosphere. “Thank you.” I murmured again before everything went black.
1st day of the destruction of the Capsuleer’s ship – Adrald’s Mission – 03:43
I saw it fall out of the sky… I’m sure it was his pod. The ship exploded then it came shooting into our atmosphere, it crashed somewhere to the North and I’m going to find it. I’m going to make him pay for every single life lost… For every inch of land maimed… For everything. He’s not going to die and I’m not going to kill him. He’s too good for that. I will find him, he’ll be begging for death but I will never kill him. Never.
I pressed on, I would never give up. I’d been walking for hours, my throat had closed up and I’d lost feeling in my fingers and toes… The temperature had dropped to something far below 0, the mud beneath my bare feet was sharp and cutting deeply into them. I forced myself up and up the hill until my legs and lungs burnt. From the top I would get a clear view of the whole valley, and hopefully of the pod.
I climbed to the top and looked around, my heart dropped… There was nothing there. I was just about to turn around and give up when I saw it – a slight glimmer in the horizon. I grinned from ear to ear and staggered in it’s direction.
I’m coming for you, you bastard.