– by Cewl
“Welcome to Gushkewau. Surface temperature is a balmy 35 celsius or 84 Fahrenheit with the winds from the south east and a chance of precipitation in late afternoon. Time is 0600.” The pilot’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker in the cabin of the Minmatar shuttle. The passengers were crammed into their seats. The shuttle was full. There were kids playing in the aisles, laughing and yelling. I could see a little girl asking the passengers in the aisle seats for their names. I prayed she would pass me by, but alas, she strolled up to my seat and asked the inevitable question, “What’s your name Mr.?” I paused for a second. I knew this was coming but did not know if I should go with the truth or a lie. Before I knew it, in a split second I heard myself say, “Mr. Seagle…Jim Seagle.” Her head spun back from looking in another direction; possibly at the two old maids fussing with their purses and bickering softly to one another. “What are you doing coming to Gushkewau?” “Well, I’m a journalist working for the government of the Minmatar Repulic.” She looked at me for a second and without any hesitation said, “It’s my home.” Then she ran off down the aisle to her brother a few seats ahead.
The pilot’s voice came back on, “We will be descending in a few minutes so all passengers please take your seats and turn off all communications devices, please and thank you.” The No Smoking and Fasten Seatbelts signs are lit with a “ding” from some unforeseen bell. “Good thing I never took mine off” I thought, feeling quite smug as I watched most of the other passengers fumble with the over the head harness which clipped in awkwardly right at the groin. The lights dimmed and the shuttle’s thrusters roared into life, with a rumble in the cabin and a few creaks and groans from the interior walls. From my seat which was four seats from the viewport, I could see a dark portal steadily becoming light as the ship descended through the planet’s atmosphere. Damn, I hate landings on solid ground; they are always so bumpy and there’s always a risk of crashing. Not like the space stations I have been living on for the past few years – towed in, towed out safe as shit.
The shuttle settled to a stop and the doors were now open. Passengers were fussing about. I grabbed my carry-on bag and shuffled into the line to exit the cattle car. I passed through the many security checks on the way to the Arrivals Lounge and came to the frosted doors knowing that on the other side would be the people waiting for their loved ones. I have always hated this part, passing through the doors and hearing the screams of delight greeting other passengers, but no loved-one waited for me. It always felt like a fashion show to me, walking through the doors to the waiting crowd. Their eyes would instantly dismiss me wondering how did I get through quicker than their loved ones? I swung through the final doors to see right ahead of me a sign with my name on it being held over a man’s head. I head towards him and say, “I’m Seagle”. He tells me to meet him at the exit.
Well, it’s not just one man who meets me, it’s several men; one very well dressed man surrounded by four not so well dressed men but all of them way better dressed than me. The man in the designer suit approached and had his hand out way before he got to me. “ Welcome to Gushkewau’. My name in Kris Todd. I am the Vice President of Operations for this the sector of the planet. I will be taking you to meet the person we have selected for you to interview”. He had gripped my hand and was wildly shaking it when he suddenly pulls me close with a jerk and whispers, “I hope you make this a favorable column…. you know what I mean”. I whisper back, “ my column will be true and to the point, if you get my drift.” Mr Todd gives me a stunned look, then smiles a toothy grin, “ Let’s head off then”. Todd places an arm around my back and ushers me along to a tinted transit vehicle waiting just outside the doors.
The lights were on in the car and the tint was so dark I could hardly see out. I managed to see that we were passing buildings, then fields, then a mine, followed by more buildings. The trip took only a few minutes and we passed polite pleasantries as we drove along.
Once we had stopped, the door was opened from the outside by a woman who greeted us with a friendly, “ Hello Mr Todd and welcome Mr Seagle. The room has been prepared and Mr Sims is waiting.” I asked Mr. Todd where we were and he replied, “you’re at the main Promethium refinery depot, Mr Seagle”. It was a huge building, at least 35 storeys high and taking up two city blocks. It was clean and well kept at the front with perfectly symmetrical landscaping on either side of the entrance, but I suspected it was dirty and untidy at the back. As we walked through the massive doors to the main auditorium I saw a well lit, well decorated room with fine art and stuffed animals indigenous to the area on display. Todd spoke up and asked, “ Mr Seagle, what is the purpose of your interview?” “Well Todd, it’s on the Tyrannis project that was installed a year ago. The Republic would like to know what affect it has had on the indigenous population” . “Oh, ok. Well you will find we have taken these savages and changed them for the better, you will see!!! Ya! You will see. By the way, Mr. Seagle, you’re not the first reporter to come here. There have been a few before you.” I noticed a real edge to his voice and studied him closely, wondering what happened to the “few before me”?
At that moment, a slim, well dressed woman, holding a few papers in her hand, walked out from a door that was just behind the front desk . “Hello, Mr. Seagle. Would you kindly follow me”. Mr Todd turned and held out his hand as if to say good bye, “Well, it was a pleasure, Mr. Seagle.” “Same to you, Mr. Todd.” I replied.
After passing through the doors behind the front desk, the opulence disappeared. I followed her down a long corridor lined with pictures of the mine and the surrounding site at different stages of development. The photos told me that it only took a year to take a beautiful valley and turn it into a dark, desolate pit. “Well, here we are Mr. Seagle.” The woman turned to me, holding open a door leading into a brightly lit room with no windows, just white walls, a small desk and two wooden chairs. A second door was on the opposite wall. I thanked her and sat down to wait.
The second door is thrown open and a very large, muscular man enters. A dirty, tank of a man with an angry expression on his face. I stared up at his huge height and immense size and felt a thrill of trepidation. Clearly he did not want to be here in this room with me. “Well, what am I doing here? and who the fuck are you?” “I’m Jim Seagle, just call me Jim. I am a journalist commissioned by the Republic to interview you about your new life, I guess. I have to tell you that this session will be hologram recorded as a personal record of our meeting.” “Fine” the huge man snaps back.
“Please take your seat and tell me your name”. “Sims… Henry Sims.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr Sims. I have a few questions to ask you and I am going to start recording now if you don’t mind.” As I placed the recorder on the table, Henry’s hand reached over and covered mine. His hand dwarfed the size of mine. Henry leaned towards me and said in a gruff tone, “Are you here to do a “fluff” piece or the true story? My answers to the questions you ask will change, if you get my drift. You’re not the first interview I have done, you know.” I responded that I am not a “fluffy” journalist. I just tell the truth and I will write it that way. He would see. “Then let’s proceed, Mr. Seagle.”
I started the recorder. “Hello, my name is Jim Seagle and with me is Henry Sims.
Mr Sims, can you tell me about you background please!”
“I was born on an Amarr slave planet, deep in Amarr controlled space. I worked the fields till about two years ago when, as an act of god, the elders staged our rescue. I was one of many and only a few were rescued. There were lots of my people left on that planet and I felt great pity for them. To be a slave is no life at all. It’s just an existence.
On the day I was liberated, I was in the field when the sky lit up full of light and dark, as if the gods were fighting. As I watched in panic, out of the bruised heavens I started to make out the dark strange forms of some kind of foreign spacecraft. The huge armada roared over me on its way to attack the city. The ships seemed to be dancing as they tried to avoid the violent responses from the planetary defenses both on the ground and in the air. I have never seen war. It is a terrible thing to behold. I thought my prayers had been answered, that my god had come to smite my foes and free my family and friends. When I first got a glimpse of the face of the soldier that was in the field with me, I must have looked as if I was seeing a ghost. The face looking back at me was my own, smaller in stature but of my own people, yet speaking in a foreign tongue.
My family and I were transported to a battleship named the Defiant, a typhoon class ship. The Amarr ships attacked and destroyed most of the elders forces who were obliged to retreat back to Republic controlled systems. They took me and my family and the other liberated slaves and scattered us all over many worlds. I ended up here.”
I then asked him how he felt about the Tyrannis Project.
He slowly replied, “Well, Mr Seagle, let me tell you this. To allow some silver spooned capsular the right to buy portions of planets is fucked, excuse my language. The capsular is a rich kid who went to the right military school, graduated in the top twenty percent of the class, spent three years in the Republic or what ever military they were assigned to, and if they did well they were accepted to the Republic Capsular Program where they spend three more years in service. But, and that’s a big But, at the end of that time they are given a small ship and the right to make, or, destroy whatever or whomever they like within concord regulations, and time and death are their allies . This means that if they so choose, they have been given the right to take my home and turn it into a hole, a deep hole .” I could hear the anger and frustration in his voice.
“Tell me, how do you feel about your new overlords?” I pressed him.
“When that first ship landed here, some had forgotten what ships looked like. We were put here by the Minmatar Elders after our rescue so when that ship landed I was expecting a survey team, but alas it was them – the puppets of our silver-spooned capsular. They walked around, took samples of the land, and promised us that nothing would happen to our homes. After that the military ships landed and the soldiers rounded us up. They told us that our land, the property that the Elders had given to us, had been sold to their employer, the capsular ! Imagine some silver- spooned Fuck had bought our land for the mere sum of 15 million. The puppets started telling me and my people that our land was now his. All our hard work trying to achieve a better life for ourselves and our families, masters of our own destiny, was gone on a whim of some rich kid.
At first the new building was a few miles away from my village. It started where we are sitting now and my home was safe. Then the soldiers came, rounded us all up again and brought us here. We were put in a holding facility which over time turned into a slum with killings and rapes and starvation. Then the day came when the soldiers once again entered our lives and separated us into families who were assigned to work. My wife ended up in the textiles factory. I work the mine and my kids work in a sweat shop making clothes for the workers. For a home we were given a cell measuring 800 square foot for my family of six. I said “thank you”, it was better than the slum. We had jobs and a home. On my first day of work I was taken with all the other men and shuttled to a hole, a massive hole, located where our village once stood. My blood boils with rage and frustration every time I think about it. For the last few months I have worked hard to give my family a better life, a normal life, or at least as normal as I can make it, until they no longer need us, or we can no longer handle our tasks…used up…..tired.”
I then asked him, “Mr. Sims, if you could say anything to the capsulars who will never visit your planet, what would you like to say ?
He exploded into his reply. “To the capsulars I would say fuck you , you fucking fucks. We were fine before you got here and now you’re here were fucked . All I can think is that the Elders have sold our forgotten souls back into servitude under the rule of our own race not even some other race … it’s bull shit, you hear me?!” His hand slammed into the table with such force that the table jumped clear off the floor. His despair and frustration overflowing as he talked.
The door right behind me suddenly swung open and the four men who had met me earlier at the Arrivals Lounge burst in. They roughly grabbed me and lifted me clean out of my seat and straight to my feet! Henry Sims did not flinch at this happening, he just lowered his head, sunk into his chair and clamped his hands together on the table as it settled to the floor. I grabbed wildly for the holorecorder as it bounced across the table and put it into my pocket.
The sergeant said to me “ Mr Seagle, your interview is over and you must be on your way. There is a storm coming so you must leave right now to beat it.” Another piped in saying “It’s a brief window of opportunity, Sir. Now let’s go”. Before I could say another word to Mr. Sims, we were off down the hall, the door slamming behind us. I wanted to make a fuss about being marched out but the guards seemed to mean business and allowed no fussing. We strode down the hall. The four guards spaced themselves, two in front and two behind me, as if they thought I was going to run away. Back through the opulent main auditorium, out the main door and into the tinted transit vehicle. This time the trip was a blur of motion, definitely no dilly dallying . The four men joined me in the vehicle, no-one saying a word, no one looking at each other . The one sitting just in front and to the right of me had his suit jacket unbuttoned, the silver butt of a pistol showed in the light. I didn’t feel good about that.
This time I think you have gotten in over your head, Jim, I thought to myself. I just hope they are sending you home and not to a remote little hole in this foreign ground. I could feel the sweat starting to bead on my forehead. I did not look out the windows to see if I could make out any of the shadows that I might recognize .
“Please step out, Mr Seagle we’re here.” The four men set up the same formation around me as they had when they escorted me from the refinery, and this time we passed through security checks with the flash of a badge. We began our ascent to the shuttle boarding platform. The two men in front slowly slipped behind me. As we turned the last corner to the shuttle door I saw Mr Todd ,the Vice President of Operations, standing to the right of the door. As we approached he moved to the center, blocking the door. “Mr Seagle, please stand against the wall.” The four security guards drew their weapons , three of them placed their laser beads on my forehead, the fourth one jokingly placed his laser on my crotch and smiled. I said to myself, “well Jim, hope it was a joke!” I struggled not to show my fear.
\ Mr Todd began to talk in a stern and violent tone, “please turn over your holorecorder now” He held out his hand. I reached into my pocket looking for my data pad to call headquarters and noticed it was still turned off. Todd angrily shook his hand and repeated himself, “ Turn over your holorecorder now or you will not like the ultimatum” looking in the direction of the four men with guns. I reached into my other pocket. “Here. HERE have it.” “Thank you. We now have what we need on Mr. Sims. Have a safe trip” Mr Todd moved from the door, passed the four men and disappeared down the hall. The four men ushered me with their weapons to the door of the shuttle \
I was seated by the window this time, near the cockpit, and I was the only passenger on this flight. “What the hell just happened? Why am I the only one leaving this place?” The geeforce of the take off made my mind wander over what had just happened. Should I tell some one what I heard? Should I tell anyone? Is my life still in jeopardy? Wait! my data pad. I could call the office and get this sorted. I fumbled for my pad, waiting impatiently for the pilot to say I could use it, why is he taking so long? As soon as I could I turned it on. It buzzed immediately with a message from the head office, which read:
To: Mr Seagle
:You were never on planet Gushkewau .
:The man you met never existed.
:Your interview never took place.
:If you feel the need to tell someone, your friends/ family and yourself will be in jeopardy.
End of line.
The last accounts of the late Mr. Jim Seagle