When Technology Fails


I’ve been part of DV501 for nearly three years now. It’s a well paying gig, and the work isn’t that bad. The guys enjoy ribbing me, as I am still the new guy, but all in all, they’re pretty solid; there when you need them most.

The job itself is interesting. I work with clones, or more specifically, the clones of the empyreans. Capsuleers are well aware of the science behind their immortality, knowing when they expire within their piloting pod that through the miracle of Jovian science, they will be “reborn” instantly across the galaxy to a new clone, their memory intact, provided they’ve kept their medical fees paid.

There have been occasions where a pod pilot has let their payments lapse, and been quite vehement as to how unfair it is that when comparing their neural logs to the current log can see they’ve lost some skills. Not my problem. I’m not the one that cheaped out on the clone upgrade. You would figure with the astronomical amounts of isk eggers can potentially earn, they would never let their insurance default. Yet they do.

Thankfully, that’s not my department within the Zainou Corporation, the second largest clone manufacturer in New Eden.

My job specifically is garbage collection. Yeah, sounds glorious, I know. Someone has to do it, and honestly, like I said, the pay is probably better than anything I could earn planet side, and my family needs the boost in social standing. We’re of lower middle class caste, but hopefully with my work, my children will live a better life. Isn’t that the hope of every parent?

I suppose beyond that, every father can only hope to imbue a sense of right and wrong, an ethical code of morality into his children as well, and that brings me to the point of this personal log.

The call came in three hours ago. I’d like to say I was the first one called, but that was never the case. Seniority had its privileges, and I often got the crap assignments. This time, however, the first collection team had been engaged and destroyed upon entering the Amamake system, an act strictly forbidden by the Concord mandate. A retaliatory fleet arrived within moments, eradicating the offenders, Concord leaving as quickly as they had arrived.

A lot of good friends were on that ship. I’ll miss them when the job is done.

Once the area was cleared, I was sent out with the newest hires. I was the commander of a second string unit now, not exactly how I wanted to receive my promotion.

Let me dig in to the specifics of my role for a moment. You see, the Jovians left us many incredible pieces of scientific wonder, most of which are still vastly unknown to us. We know how to operate them, and even a few, how to repair, but for the most part we just sit and watch the machinations of a greater race at work. Specifically, as I said, I deal with clones. More specifically, I deal with the moment of death. When all goes well, and a pod pilot is connected to the Aura network through their pod’s neural interface, the entirety of their memory is uploaded to a fresh clone body. They are briefly examined, given a bill of clean health and motor function, then released to return to their duties. That job is an entire two clearance levels above mine, and it took a lot for me to pass all the screenings just to get this job.

As I’ve eluded to, occasionally things go wrong. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we need to be there, like we are today. Occasionally, the neural transmission fires as it should at the moment of death, but the body revives. I’ve seen it, and not just in capsuleers. There are thousands of cases across the universe where a loved one expires, only to be resuscitated, or to regain consciousness on their own, even though their heart and brain activity has ceased. Sometimes this results in permanent damage, neurological and physical, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The risk with an immortal pilot of course is the sheer power at their command. Should one’s mental condition be degraded, they could easily turn on the galaxy, reaping untold destruction upon millions of innocents.

My job, in a nutshell, is to kill capsuleers. Well, that’s not accurate. My job is to make sure they’re actually dead when the cloning system detects anomalies. We have complete immunity to our actions, and in fact, enjoy the full protection offered by Concord.

Most of the time it’s just a bug in the system we don’t understand, or at least we think it’s a bug. Sometimes, we find a pilot still alive in their pod. We quickly check the records to make sure the active clone is indeed alive and has passed a clean bill of health, then we destroy the pod.

I am not a murderer. Technically, that clone was supposed to already be dead. We’re just keeping the natural order of things.

I’ll admit, the first few times were hard, but thankfully we’re great at rationalizing our actions, desensitizing ourselves to the abnormal and making it every day.

I’m really just spewing thoughts now, which is unlike me. If you asked the guys, well, when they were alive, they’d tell you I’m not one for words. It’s not that I’m shy; I just don’t have much to say. Funny how my voice has found strength in writing.

Right now I’m sitting onboard the Onslaught, a Sleipnir class Command ship, piloted by retired Colonel Roc Wieler. I’d never heard of the man before today to be honest. I will never forget him after this.

When we arrived at the scene of the battle, the carnage was everywhere. Already, the scavengers were picking apart the wrecks, trying to claim what valuables they could, and we left them alone. I doubt they even knew we were there.

We had entered the system silently, and quickly found the pod of Col. Wieler, right where his death was recorded. Unfortunately, due to the demise of the first response crew, we weren’t the only ones there. As I’ve come to learn, the Colonel himself is quite sentimental about a ring he wears, and makes a point of recovering it every time he dies. His salvage team had already recovered his corpse by the time we had arrived.

The problem, if it isn’t evident by now, is that he wasn’t dead.

We broke silence, an imperative rarely executed, and informed the good Colonel that he would relinquish the corpse, and the pod, immediately to Zainou, and cited him the appropriate Concord declaration and bylaw by which he must abide.

He promptly told me to go to hell.

I repeated the warning, letting him know that failure to comply would result in the arrival of a Concord enforcement fleet, and that he and his crew would be destroyed without mercy.

That resulted in the electronic systems of my ship being scrambled, and the ship’s crew, along with myself, being taken captive aboard his ship.

Fortunately, I knew the situation would resolve quickly. We had strict protocols, and if I wasn’t heard from within the next fifteen minutes, the enforcement fleet would be deployed to whatever location the Colonel was currently at, provided he was still in Empire space.

I sit alone right now, outside of the infirmary, waiting for any of the inevitable conclusions to this tale. Either I will be killed, and the Colonel will be killed in kind, or we will be released, at which point I will give the order to have the Colonel destroyed.

Two clones of the same pilot simply cannot be allowed to exist. That is ingrained into our heads every single moment of our training.

The infirmary doors hiss open, and the Colonel invites me in. He has a sadness to him.

I see his clone, laying on an examination table, motionless.

“Verify his death.” The Colonel says without emotion.

Using my own portable equipment, I do so. The clone is indeed expired. I notice the ring missing from the corpse’s hand. I stare wide-eyed at the man before me, his arms crossed, watching me do my examination. What kind of man is capable of such an act? Is it strength? Ruthlessness? What kind of morality would allow a man to kill himself? What rationalization, what burden must he bear?

I open my mouth to ask, then think better of it. There are some things better left unknown I decide.

He nods once at me, then begins to leave. “You’ve nothing to report here.” he says gruffly, but his voice wavers at the end. I notice the ring on his finger, but do not ask.

I remain silent, returning to my ship with my crew.



As of 13:02 hours, clone Tau of pilot Roc Wieler has been destroyed without incident.


3 responses to “When Technology Fails

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