Tyrannis: The Fields

– by Sadic Anark

It was a perfect summer day, the sun was high in the sky, only surrounded by a few fluffy white clouds. The fields painted with an almost infinite variety of greens extended over the hills. His eyes were fixed in the blue sky as his memory traveled trough time and space to a far away world not so long ago, when his family and him were taken aboard huge ships, along thousands of people, and traveled several days to this place… this place that his father called “home”. He was only 4 years old, and he didn’t had much memories of his past life before the long travel. He remembered his mother kneeling every morning to pray to someone called “God”, as his father looked down to her with a extremely sad look on his face. He also remembered his parents fighting the first night they were on the huge space ship; his mother was on the floor, crying quietly, as his father talked about “being finally free”, “beginning a new life”, “going back home”, “being a proud member of the Minmatar Tribes”, an another things that he didn’t quite understand yet. The only words that came out of her mother lips that night were “God is going to punish all of us for this”.

How could this little boy know that his first memories where from one of the most significant events in all of New Eden in the past decades? How could he even start to understand that he was one of the last Starkmanir alive? That he and his family had such a huge signification in the political landscape of the entire galaxy? He had been told that they were now at home, that he was now free of chains… it was weird, he didn’t remember being chained before, what was all this people talking about? The only things he knew for a fact was that they were living in the countryside of a small city in this new planet, he remembered his father coming back from working on large fields like the one he was lying on now on the past… but now he came back home smiling, he couldn’t understand the difference between the old planet and this new one, except that the one with the sad look on her face was now his mother. He was thinking about this when his eyes started to close, and a peaceful and warm feeling invaded his little body bathed by the sun… just before falling sleep on the grass he thought he heard his father shout his name.

The serious Minmatar soldiers stood near the large vehicle, already filled to the top with the possessions of this last family on the area… waiting just another few minutes… it was sad, but they couldn’t wait more than that. The father moved desperately from one place to another, shouting at the top of his lungs his only child’s name, the mother remained quiet, his hand tied together in a silent prayer. The soldiers had already prevented the father from running down to the huge farming field several times, and despite the fact that they felt sorry for them, they knew that there wasn’t much time left… they were arriving at any moment now.

Finally the order was given, and the soldiers grabbed the couple and took them into the vehicle, despite the tears running without stop on their faces and the desperate, although futile, resistance of the father. The transport accelerated fast trough the road, leaving the farm and the fields behind. The broken family in the back kept crying without stop… some of the soldiers cried as well.

He was dreaming. He was hiding in his house, wile he heard the steps going up the stairs… he wanted to shout, but he was afraid of the person coming up. He remembered his mother words… “God is going to punish all of us”. But he didn’t understood why this God person was now coming after him, he always made some trouble in the house, but it wasn’t that bad was it? He heard the steps outside his bedroom door… the sound of the door handle made him shiver… he opened his eyes. At first he didn’t realize were he was… the sun was gone but he couldn’t see a single star in the sky. Suddenly a tremendous roar filled the air, silencing any other sound, he could feel the heat wave long before seeing the light above him, getting bigger and bigger every second… his heart started beating faster and faster as his worst nightmare became real: HE was here and there was no place to hide.

The last thought on his mind was a single word, a question asked billions of times along the history of mankind, and never answered properly… “Why me?”. Every single particle of his mind and body was obliterated, without any time for pain, as the ship’s afterburners slowly took the immense spacecraft to the now completely scorched fields that were once the new dream of a freed slaves family.

Fenrir-class Freighter, in orbit around Gelfiven V.

The channel opened with a small blink, the smiling face of a gallente woman appeared in front of him. “- Sir, everything ready in this system, the last Planetary Command Center is being deployed in Gelfiven V”. The minmatar in the capsule smiled to himself… “- Great job Lieutenant, told the guys to get ready to move to the next system, and leave a small fleet behind to roam the system in case someone has the stupid idea of come to OUR planets looking for trouble”, “Has you command, sir”.

The large fleet aligned to the stargate and warped, in his tireless march trough the region taking possession of the planetary resources, out of their reach until now. A perfect, massive, unstoppable and inevitable force, roaming the entire Galaxy in search of profit… and power.

The new Gods were leaving behind they brand new temples of destruction.

Tyrannis: The Forgotten Souls

– 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

Tyrannis: Retribution

– 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.

Epilogue

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.

Tyrannis: Great Things

– by Sinclair Ferguson

It was only by great concentration that Orwell Fine repressed his glands’ inclination to call his bluff before the world by dotting his forehead with beads of sweat. The fluorescent, almost neon glow of the cameras’ supplemental light lent no heat to his place behind the senatorial podium. Perspiration would mean only one thing: his words were less than sincere. Still, Senator Fine had stood behind this same podium on a number of occasions, and his experience and practice had taught him to mask himself well.

“Like my father before me, I will persist with upholding the will of the people who’ve repeatedly promoted me to this post. We will continue to insist that our sovereignty be recognized, and that the people of Eruka V are not merely a workforce to be recruited, but a free people, destined to write its own future, not subject to the whims and fiscal quotas of mega-corporations who through their political wooing, can bend the ear of CONCORD. We will continue the fight. Thank you.”

Concluding his statements, he abruptly turned, his entourage following him. The cameras rotated from their focus on the podium to their respective commentators who began to offer narrative on the senator’s remarks. Senator Fine absently dragged his thumb across the left side of his forehead. It was still dry. His secretary leaned into him as he turned the hallway corner to the double doors of his office, and said, “You have a visitor.” “I’m sure,” he replied, as the double doors were parted for him by eager staff.

His office was plush. Kobalt blue carpet spread like the sea to the edges of the curved walls, lined with fine wood, dyed white. Behind the large desk at the end of the room stood a wide window, flanked by tall drapes, edged in gold lining, a breathtaking view of the senatorial lawn behind it. The view was occluded by the silhouette of a man, looking out the window. Orwell turned to the staffer who’d followed him in. The man immediately recognized this as an indication to leave the room and exited, closing the doors behind him. As the latch engaged on the door, the figure by the window turned. “That was quite a speech, Senator. You’re getting better at them, I think. I was almost sympathetic.” “Mr. Trinnix, it is customary to make appointments with with Senate. We are very busy these days,” Orwell remarked, stepping behind his desk, taking his place in his own ornate but comfortable chair. “Won’t you have a seat?”

“Thank you, Senator.” The man descended into one of the leather chairs opposite the official desk, and leaned back. “My corporation was expecting a more generous and expedient schedule. We’ve demonstrated the courtesy of working with you, showing good faith. CONCORD has given us a clearance that doesn’t exactly require such formalities. We would have thought you would have responded differently.” The Senator’s chair rotated back and forth slowly as he listened, his fingers pressed together before him. “Mr. Trinnix, I…” “Just Trinnix,” the guest interrupted with less than sympathetic correction. Orwell noted the posturing and continued. “Trinnix, it takes time to soften such an independent people. If they had any inkling you were even planetside, they’d dismember both our bodies on the capitol steps.” The guest’s eyes were steady. “I’ve been dismembered many times,” Trinnix replied, a grin playing upon his face. “Ah yes,” Orwell returned, “your immortality. A thousand rebirths amongst the stars. Your little 600,000 member oligarchy. And we all have to play the good and faithful subject, we poor mortals.” The Senator has frequently used sarcasm to mask fear or awkwardness. He was doing his best to project confidence, but he wanted little more than for this zombie to leave his office. “I’m trying to broker a situation that will guarantee your corporation’s initial unfettered access to Eruka’s resources and to its skilled labor. You know I have to continue to masquerade until I have courted the unions, put in place the propaganda that will convince the public that your molestation of their planet is in their best interests. Your insistence on a stepped up timeline is making this very difficult.”

“Senator Fine, we have no intention of delaying our plans, with or without your help. Do you think we’re ignorant to your other dealings, to your maneuvering to delay our progress? We know you’re in bed with Hyasyoda.” Trinnix was attempting to trump the Senator’s sarcasm, and by the look on his face, it was working. “They’ve been a major shadow contributor to your campaigns over the last 25 years, and in return you’ve given them mining contract after contract, unregulated and unmonitored. They’ve practically assassinated the reputation your opposition in elections going back a decade. Your love affair with the press, your influence amongst the member planets of the Eruka system, and your prominence in this constellation will come to ruin if you take one more step to suppress our right to immediately develop this planet any further.”

Orwell broke this gaze with Trinnix. His lips pursed, his nostils opened as he inhaled deeply. For years, he’d sat behind this desk while his father was in chambers, pretending the seat was his, pretending his power was limitless. His father, a highly successful and popular politician, practically secured Orwell’s ascension to the seat when he died 4 months after the beginning of his 3rd term. He was practically appointed to the office, and riding the wave of well-wishers and political capital, proceeded to secure seats on the most prominent of committees. He was the darling of the lobby circuit. In return for his support, he’d secured great wealth and influence. He could have spent that capital and influence in back-room opposition to CONCORDs treaty, to preserving Eruka V’s bounty for its inhabitants. He instead chose to peddle them to the highest bidder, to welcome in corporations with the intent of trading his planet for even greater power. Now, it appeared that he was losing his leverage, and for the first time in his political career, losing the ability to control the situation.

“You know, Trinnix. Eruka is not without it’s problems. CONCORD’s grasp here is not such that the safety of your operations here can be fully guaranteed. I want what’s best for my people.” He leaned forward on his desk, his gaze sympathetic. “And, I want what’s best for your corporation. We have a great opportunity to build something great, something in all our interests. I would hate it if this system’s underbelly did anything to jeopardize that.” He was playing his last card. It wasn’t exactly a bluff, but it was close. “Piracy has been a real problem in the lower security systems of The Forge for years. We’ve made great strides in securing safe commerce for our member planets and systems through negotiation, and yes, through a bit of racketeering. Unpleasant, I know. I want you to rest assured that I’m going to be working very hard in the coming weeks to secure agreements from the pirate entities here that nothing will happen to your dear freighter fleets. It will take some time, though, and not a little ISK. I know I have your support on this, yes?”

Trinnix’s shifted in his chair, pausing for several moments before speaking. “Senator Fine, space has taught me many things, the hardest of which has been patience. Please keep me apprised as to your progress. We’re looking forward to beginning operations here soon, Senator. Soon.” Orwell stood, his guest with him. He extended a hand to Trinnix, which was taken. “Soon enough, Mr. Trinnix. I think you and I can expect great things.”

Tyrannis: Chances

– by Derek Michael Barnes

“Hey, galtis!”

She heard the voice that was calling her, but didn’t answer. Kani and his lackeys put her through this every day, and reacting never ended well.

“Hey!” This time he was right in her ear. “Are you deaf, galtis? I’m talking to you!”

“Maybe she can’t hear you because she has a brain disease.”

She remained silent. Of course, she would rather not have had to deal with them at all; but there wasn’t really anywhere else to go on a moving tram, and they would just follow her anyway. She tried to focus on the workpad in front of her and drill into her head that the letters she was staring at were substitutes for numbers.

Then she realized the workpad was no longer there. She glanced up and saw Neima messing around with it.

“Basic algebra?” he said, tossing it back at her. “You really are stupid.”

She finally caved. “What do you want?”

“How about that seat you’re in?” answered Kani. “Those are for Caldari only.”

She did her best not to glare at him. “Fine. This is my stop anyway.”

“The juvatory is five stops from here, idiot.”

“I’m not going to the juve. I’m going to work.”

“You have a job?” Neima made a point of feigning disbelief. “Who the hell would hire you?”

“I hear prostitutes are in short supply,” said Kani.

“Shut up.”

“Oh, I’m sorry; did I hurt your feelings?” Kani was now grinning. “Not that I expect any different from someone without a spine.”

She didn’t respond. He had won and he knew it. She strapped her pack on, got out of her seat and made for the exit as the tram came to a halt.

“See you back home, galtis!”

“My name,” she muttered as she entered the station, “is Ranaan.”

-*-

She worked as a junior-grade inspector in the city’s main factory, examining machines for signs of wear or damage, then reporting what she found. In other words, she basically stayed out of the way. It was always too hot in the factory, and it reeked of sweat and synth oil. Still, for a girl age thirteen it wasn’t a bad job, and certainly better than having to endure the incessant taunting of her peers.

She made her way across the metal catwalks, doing one routine check after another. Quickly yet carefully she looked over the equipment, taking notes as she went along. It was like any other day at the factory, except for one thing: the operators, who normally kept to themselves, were freely conversing with one another over the din of the machines.

“I guarantee you, Infinity Systems is getting the contract,” one was saying. “They’ll start construction in a matter of weeks, if not sooner.”

“Other corporations have prospects here, too,” said another. “Any one of them could get the deal.”

“Infinity has twice the investments of anyone else in the sector. Not to mention they’ll be backed by Lai Dai, politically and financially. No other pilot corp can compete with that.”

“What does it matter which corp gets the contract?” said a third operator, clearly exasperated by the whole thing. “For us it ends the same way: all the jobs go somewhere else. We’ll be lucky if this factory is still running by the end of the year.”

Her curiosity broke her silence. “What the hell are you all talking about?!”

“You didn’t hear, kid?” answered the first. “Concord is lifting its ban on planetary industry. Soon capsule pilots all over New Eden will be opening production lines on every planet they can get their hands on, including ours.”

“And raiding our incomes in the process,” added the third.

“You don’t know that-”

“Don’t I? Mark my words, if they don’t run us out of business, they’ll buy us out. You think this city is bad now? Wait until unemployment starts skyrocketing-”

“Pipe down, guys,” said the second. “The supervisor’s coming our way…and there’s someone in an Infinity shirt with her.”

That was interesting. Ranaan finished her inspection, then moved to the next machine to better listen to what was happening.

“…Lai Dai’s standard of quality is the model for our business,” the supervisor was saying. “Our equipment may not be top of the line, but we keep it well maintained to ensure our products are of the highest caliber. Our mechanics keep everything operating to par, and our inspectors make sure it stays that way…Inodi!”

Ranaan looked up. The supervisor always called her on a last-name basis.

“Any problems?” The question may as well have been read from a script.

“Not so far,” she replied. “Some low-priority maintenance, but nothing serious.”

“Deputy, this is Ranaan Inodi, one of our junior inspectors. Inodi, this is Jasen Soita, deputy director of human resources for Infinity Systems.”

“It’s good to know you, sir.”

“Suuda,” the deputy replied. “How long have you been working here?”

“Seven months. I got the job by chance.”

“And do you still go to school?”

“Yes, sir. I’m studying to be an engineer.”

He pressed further. “Is it difficult balancing work and studies?”

“It’s…challenging.” She kept working at a steady pace, making sure not to look away completely. “But being in the workforce has actually helped me do better in school; it gives me something to look forward to.”

He was about to say something else, but was cut short by a sudden bang. A pipe had burst overhead, and vaporized coolant was jetting out of the fissure.

“Vaisska! Excuse me…”

She ran up the nearest ladder, hit the emergency shutoff valve, then scrambled across the ceiling beams supporting the various pipes and cables. She assessed the damage; it was the same worn-out pipe she had found several weeks beforehand.

She sighed in frustration as she began removing the ruptured piece. “I told maintenance to replace this pipe; ‘the pipes are showing their age,’ I said, ‘they need attention.’ Did they listen? No…”

Soita was still watching from below. “A little hot-headed, isn’t she?” he asked.

“More than a little.” The supervisor smiled mirthfully. “I like to think she gets it from me.”

He continued to stare up at her. “…I couldn’t help but notice her hair.”

“She’s half Gallentean by blood. Gets a lot of flak for it, even more so since the war started…but I think that’s what drives her to do well.”

“Interesting…” As he and the supervisor moved on down the factory floor, he typed a quick message on his workpad.

Contact me when you get this. We may want to consider a new approach.

-*-

The next morning Ranaan was roused awake to be told that someone from Infinity Systems was waiting outside for her. Having no idea what was going on, she obliged and prepared herself to leave. On her way out Kani got an early start and accused her of high treason. On arriving outside the juvatory gates, she learned she would be traveling by air, making the situation all the more unusual. She did her best to calm her nerves, and told herself that chances were whatever was going on couldn’t be any worse than another day in school.

Half an hour later, the pilot told her they were reaching their destination. Ranaan had a look out the windshield, and her eyes met with a colossal machine hovering in midair above them, covered in giant rotors glowing red with heat. The ground below had been liquified to a circle of boiling lava.

The pilot saw her amazed expression, and smiled at her. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked her over the roar of the jets.

“What is it?”

“Think of it like a giant blowtorch. Burns away organic matter, melts the rock down to fifty meters. We add an extra compound or two, and at the end of the day it makes a perfect cement foundation.”

“That area must be twenty-five kilometers in radius! What the hell is your corporation building?!”

“The future, kid!” He was beaming now. “The future of the State!”

Her disposition had changed to deep thought. She had the sneaking feeling fate was somehow involving her in all of this.

-*-

Shortly thereafter she found herself in front of the door to an office, in a mobile operations facility ten kilometers away from the oversized construction site. In the most unsurprising twist of the day, the name on the door read Jasen Soita.

“Please present identification,” came a metallic-sounding voice from nowhere in particular. Ranaan moved her hair away in front of the scanner on the door, every iota of information on her being instantly processed from the invisible data matrix printed above her brow.

“Identification, ‘Ranaan Inodi,’ accepted.”

The door slid open, and sitting behind a desk in immediate view was Soita, his eyes piercing a hole through the space between him and her.

“Enter, Inodi.” His voice was cold.

She walked inside the room, the door shutting behind her.

A stool emerged from the upholstered floor. “Sit down.”

Ranaan sat. She was starting to feel uneasy.

“We never got to finish our conversation yesterday,” Soita continued. “So let me pick up where I left off. You’ve been an orphan all your life, correct?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered quietly. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know where this was going.

“Were you ever told why?”

“…Yes.”

“An unusual case,” he said nonchalantly. “Half Deteis, half Gallentean…it’s not exactly a frequent occurrence.”

Ranaan sat still as a stone. Now she was getting angry.

“I imagine it’s made life difficult for you, yes?”

Her muscles were getting tense, but still she remained silent. He continued to push her. “It certainly shows in your records,” he said as he accessed her profile on his monitor. “Poor academic performance…difficulty holding a job…antisocial behavior…”

She was set on edge now; it felt like every nerve in her body was lit. It was all she could do not to grip the hem of her jumper until her hands bled.

“Of course,” Soita noted as he leaned back in his leather chair, “I suppose such a state of affairs is to be expected given your situation-”

“What does it matter?” She finally snapped. “Why does it matter so damn much where I came from or what my history is? Why are you interrogating me – what the hell am I doing here?!”

“I suggest you cool your head-‘

“No!” Ranaan bolted upright from her seat. “I’ve been putting up with this crap for as long as I can remember, and it’s stopping right now!” She started pacing the room in her fervor. “All my life I’ve been called a delinquent, dysfunctional ‘problem child’ – useless dross sabotaging the Caldari machine. And why? Because I’m half Gallentean; nothing more. Do you think I asked the gods to curse me with wavy crimson hair so everyone could see at a glance what I am?!” She turned back to face Soita, blazing with the collective rage that she’d tried so hard to contain, and thrust her outstretched hand at the window behind her. “No one else out there has ever had their loyalty called into question. They’re born Caldari and that’s the end of it. I have to earn that basic respect; I have to prove myself to every person I meet. But I don’t care what I have to do or how long it takes: I will show all of New Eden that I’m a true Caldari, and that nothing – nothing – will ever change that!”

The seconds ticked by in empty silence. She stood motionless, exhausted from her tirade. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and re-centered herself.

And when her eyes opened again, she saw that Soita was smiling.

“That is exactly what I was hoping you would say.” He rose from his desk. “You should be proud of yourself, Inodi, because today all your hard work is going to be rewarded.”

She blinked in confusion. “I…don’t understand…”

Soita chuckled. “I’ll explain everything. Let me show you what we’re working on…” He indicated the window, which had a clear view of the construction.

An image flickered to life across the glass, as the purpose of the lava pit was slowly revealed. “This is the site chosen for Infinity City, soon to be the core of our planetary industry. As the name implies, the project is massive. The outer ring you see,” he said as renderings of structures came into view, “is a megafactory for the manufacture of ships and their components; the viaduct arcing across it is for transit of resources, with the command center towering above. The inner crescent houses an industrial-size spaceport for the fleets we produce. And the final element: a shining metropolis, the epitome of Caldari achievements on full display.”

The final image was unbelievable; a whole megacity stood before her in impossibly realistic glory.

“Am I wrong in saying it looks like a giant Lai Dai logo?”

“Marketing,” he replied. “But of course, such an undertaking as this requires immense amounts of manpower. That’s why I’ve been touring the district, visiting businesses to find local people worthy of helping this dream be realized. And you, Inodi,” he said to her, “are more than qualified.”

She looked over at him. “Is that what my profile says? Or did you forget?”

“I didn’t mention the good points. Solid worker, skilled mechanic, unrelenting ambition – all qualities that we seek in an employee. The rest is inconsequential in comparison.” He typed a command on his monitor, and new material was displayed on the window pane. “You would have everything to gain: better pay, medical benefits, in-facility housing provided by the company, and an academic regimen designed and built by the School of Applied Knowledge. All within your reach.”

Ranaan was stunned. An hour ago she was nothing but an orphan with a bad track record. And now she was being given the opportunity of a lifetime.

“There’s a catch, right?”

He smiled again, this time with a touch of irony. “Not exactly. Do understand I wouldn’t be offering this if you weren’t qualified. But there is…an extra benefit the corporation gets with you as its employee.”

“I’m listening.”

Soita left his desk, moving to approach the place where she was standing. “The war and political shifts of the past year have left a negative impact on the perception of the State. Our media department has been working in tandem with Lai Dai to try and produce a more positive image, especially among Federation citizens. Your mixed heritage puts you in a unique position – someone that Gallenteans can psychologically relate to.”

He walked closer to her. “Think about it for a minute. A half Gallentean girl growing up in the State; orphaned by her parents, rejected by her peers, given absolutely nothing. Yet by sheer force of will and the drive to achieve, she is making a life for herself, defying all the forces that have tried to bring her down. It’s the ultimate success story…and the perfect argument against the Federation’s view of us.”

Us. The word resonated in her head: us, her plus Caldari, among Caldari, as Caldari. She let the word echo through her mind, reaching across its darkest shadows and coming back even more beautiful than it was before. Us.

It was the first time anyone had shown her that kind of recognition.

Soita stood face to face with her now. “Ranaan…you said you wanted of all of New Eden to see your true colors.” He looked her right in the eyes. “This is your chance.”

Another silence followed as Ranaan thought it all over. She thought about everything he had told her, about her life in the dying city she called home, about the future, about every event that had led her to the point where she was now.

She looked back up at Soita.

And she couldn’t think of any reason to say no.

Tyrannis: Data Lost

– by Atern E’Ruz

***DATA LOST***

***iner but no disart. not fare.

05.32.23341

momy sais we hafe to move. momy sais i cant go to skool bicuse the ski pepel are may king a faktorie ware the skool is. I dont no ware we are moveing to. i hop lexan moves to. lexan is my bast frend.

05.34.23341

the ship is big. it ha***

***DATA LOST***

***ver I get my own speeder.

02.04.23347

Why do they even call it high school? Why not just “Job Fair?” Back home the only thing that even looked like a corporation was the Farmer’s Market. Now that the entire place is one big factory, along with everywhere else in the region, it’s like there’s no real education anymore, just “Oh, that guy is good with poetry? Who cares, here’s some ore to be reprocessed.” I know, I know…factories keep the worlds spinning, the ships flying, etc., etc. Don’t they have enough people to do that already?

02.07.23347

I got my essay back. I lost marks because I, and I quote, “failed to correctly add enough corporate loyalt***

***DATA LOST***

***pending on where I’m accepted. I still have my final exams to worry about, but after that I’ll be off this rock, and hopefully able to settle somewhere that doesn’t look like a giant warehouse.

11.14.23351

POWER GRID ANALYST??!? Oh, if Mom could have seen this. How can they possibly think that I’d be good at, or even WANT to be a Power Grid Analyst? Being in a factory all day, staring at bars and numbers, making sure everything is “within parameters?” It’s just a placement though, right? I mean, I don’t have to do it, it’s just what they feel I’m best suited for. Right? Right?!? What choice do I have though? Either make my lousy excuse for a school recruiter happy by signing away the next 75 years of my life to whichever corporation has paid him more this month, or facing the general embargo on planets that refuse industrial takeover… I might look good in a white coat and clipboard…

11.18.23351

My shuttle to the factory power generation center leaves in two hours, and I can’t fin***

***DATA LOST***

***ething other than Quafe Ultra…

07.01.23353

LEXAN!!! I couldn’t believe it when she stepped off the transport! I almost didn’t recognize her at first, but when she scanned in…LEXAN!!! What has it been, ten years? Twelve? What are the chances of us meeting like this again? I’m good with numbers, but I couldn’t do the math on the odds! Who cares? She’s here! We’re going to the cafeteria after my shift, she doesn’t start until next week. I wish I could take her to somewhere that serves real food, but even the ca***

***DATA LOST***

***hree days, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve saved up everything for the ceremony, and used BOTH my days off for our honeymoon. This will last forever!

12.15.23357

Back from our honeymoon in the recreation center! I still can’t believe the guys from engineering managed to smuggle a real cake in for the reception! Right past the Overseer too! Lexan and I feasted on that cake our entire vacation! It feels so odd going back to work after two days off. I wonder if they all still remember my name there! I heard something before I left about another corporation thinking of buying us out…I wonder if I’ll get another two days of vacation if that happens? The las***

***DATA LOST***

***alks with the other CEO. Everyone is saying that they’ll reach a deal soon though. It’s all this back and forth negotiations that are driving me crazy. Just pick a logo, stick it on the side of the building, and be done with it!

06.10.23358

I heard from Khalfen in Accounting that the negotiations with the other CEO aren’t going so well. Maybe that’s a good thing. I mean, if nothing changes, then nothing changes. If this new corporation takes over and decides to move people around, or even replace them…no. I can’t think of that. Lexan and I come as a team. Even Capsuleers have hearts…wait. Do they?

06.16.23358

See? What was I worried about? The other CEO left, everything is back to normal here, and Lexan and I are still side by side every day and every night. Khalfen didn’t get too many details about the negotiations, but from what he heard our CEO didn’t like how the numbers added up. Always with the numbers.

06.19.23358

They need to hire better maintenance crews. Nobody can sleep because the defense sirens are going off every few hours. It’s not a problem with the power grid, so I figure one of the outposts has an elecrti***

***DATA LOST***

***ds us to work. Although it’s a little hard to concentrate when everyone is in a constant state of fear.

06.28.23358

Two more of the reprocessing plants were destroyed today. That makes fifteen buildings now? It’s hard to keep track. “No time for mourning,” as the billboards say. At least we’re in a high security area. I’d hate to think of Lexan and I being in reprocessing or storage. She’s pretty shaken up about all this, Lexan is. She has…had a few friends in Storage Facility 3-29. They still haven’t been able to get a list of survivors yet, but I don’t expect any good news. I keep telling her that after this is all over and everything is safe again, we can think about starting a family. That would be good for us. Mom did the best she could with me, but we’d do even better! Maybe even apply for the management pre-school program so that our child would never even see the inside of a factory. I’ll see what Lexan thinks.

06.30.23358

I told the Overseer that as long as we keep diverting power from the non-essential systems, the shielding should hold aroun***

***DATA LOST***

***r calculate that much. I didn’t think it was possible. Lexan is scared. So am I.

07.08.23358

There’s only enough power left for a few days. The fuel ships have been blockaded, or destroyed, and most of the reserves have already been blown sky-high. I can’t help thinking that if this all doesn’t get resolved soon, we won’t be ab***

***DATA LOST***

***ays since they took Lexan to medical. Since she’s in operations, she should get decent treatment. They won’t let me see her, since they still need someone to run the po***

***DATA LOST***

***ng to come home tomorrow. That is, if we survive that long. The CEO still insists on fighting instead of sitting down and talking it out. Doesn’t he know that we don’t have clones? I guess mortality is hard to grasp when you never ac***

***DATA LOST***

***he medical bay. There’s no word if she had been released whe***

***DATA LOST***

***e’ll come home. She’ll come home. She’ll come home. She’ll c***

***DATA LOST***

***ire life has been ruined due to some stupid CEO deciding that it’s m***

***DATA LOST***

***verheat the grid when they land. It’s the only chance I have for reven***

***DATA LOST***

***nly fifty kilometers away from the surface, and they’re still shootin_

***PLEASE SAVE ENTRY AFTER EDITING, AS DATA LOSS MAY OCCUR***

Tyrannis: From Mishi, with Love

– 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.’

‘What?’

‘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.

Tyrannis: The Child of Dust

– by Xideinis

*As a note, I recently entered this story into Silver’s fan fiction contest. I feel that it has a better place in Roc’s contest as it deals with a moment from the life of a young child who has been thrown unwillingly into the middle of a massive, planet side conflict. I have revised a few words here and there but most of the story is the same as the original. Without further ado, I present to you The Child of Dust.*

A small child stands before the burning ruin of everything she had known and loved, the tanned skin of her cheeks glistening in the hellish glow of the fires of war as her tears burned a trail of grief down to her chin, only to fall into the dust and ashes of her beloved home. She was so alone, so lost, and, despite the blazing fires, so cold. These grim thoughts intensified her anguished sobs and she fell to her knees, unable to hold herself up anymore.

Above, the giant silhouette of a starship could just be made out in the night sky hovering just below the blanket of clouds marring the stars. The low humming of its engines was a constant reminder that war had indeed come to the world of Ostingele IV. Explosions blossomed along the ship’s hull as ground-to-air missiles impacted scattering large fragments of the ship across the battlefield and lighting up the dismal, war torn landscape.

In the far off distance, crackling gun shots and the impact of mortar shells could be heard, adding to the din of war. A small personnel ship full of fresh soldiers for the front line roared abruptly overhead. It had an escort of two fighter jets who fired a salvo of missiles at a distant enemy lighting up the horizon. The poor girl turned her head slowly and watched the glow evanesce back to darkness.

A shout and the sound of a purring motor sounded behind her, and she glanced over her shoulder, face suddenly pale with fear. A company of soldiers was marching towards the front, a burly tank in their midst. Even in the darkness, she could see plumes of exhaust emanating from the rear of the tank. She could just make out the factional emblem in the dark which was painted on its side. They were Gallentean mercenaries by the looks of them. The good guys.

Slowly, the small girl stood and mustered all of her strength. Her short little legs were very unwilling, but slowly, she began to shuffle towards the column of soldiers. A dry breeze brushed her long dark hair from side to side as she walked with heavy footsteps. Her sobs were noticed by one soldier, a mere silhouette against the rest of the column.

“Get out of here, girl!” A deep voice shouted over the noise of the distant battles, “It’s not safe for you!”

The girl’s strength left her again and she stumbled and fell to her hands and knees. She could just make out the put-put-put of the soldier’s swift footsteps as he ran toward her. Before long, a strong hand grasped her upper arm and pulled her up sitting her easily upright in the soldier’s arms.

“There now,” the soldier said softly. The girl’s sobs subsided as the soldier reached into his back pocket. He held up some sweets and she took them, but did not eat.

“What is your name, young child?” The soldier inquired. The girl just stared. “A quiet one, eh?” The soldier asked, smiling tenderly. She looked into his green eyes framed by the chiseled features of his scarred face and found a sweetness that gave her a sense of security. “Well then,” the soldier started, “where are your parents?”

At the mention of her lost parents, the girl felt a fresh wave of silent tears coming on, and saying nothing, she buried her head into the soldier’s comforting shoulder.

“I see,” the soldier said solemnly patting a soothing hand on her small upper back.

Suddenly, there came a shout from the rest of the company. “Incoming!” A harsh female voice intoned loudly. The kind soldier swore under his breath and braced a firm hand on the girl’s back as he began to run towards a row of abandoned buildings. His, rifle which was slung across his back, clacked as he ran and the impact of bullets around the soldier’s feet made a sffp-sffp noise as he dashed toward a gaping hole in a towering sky scraper.

They entered the building unscathed as a hail of bullets occupied the area that the two had been in only seconds before. They waited together as the intense gunfire died down. The soldier, panting, looked at the girl.

“Are you harmed?” The soldier asked worriedly. The small girl just stared, tears momentarily stopped due to the terrifying excitement of almost being killed. He gave her another kind smile and set her down on a staircase adjacent from the bullet riddled hole that they had darted through.

“Stay here,” The soldier commanded over the clamor of gunfire. He unslung his rifle and turned back to the hole.

“No!” The tiny girl ran to the soldier and grabbed his muscular wrist, fresh tears streaming down her face, and began pulling him away from the danger which was his duty. He looked back at her, and smiled caringly. He allowed the girl to pull him back to the stairs where she sat clinging to his arm.

“I must go little one, and you must stay here. You will be safe. I will protect you,” the soldier said reassuringly. He pulled his wrist away and brushed the girl’s tear laden cheek with one thick finger. She hugged his neck and he chuckled, a little surprised at the girl’s attachment.

“And now, I must go,” he said, and rose brandishing his rifle. The girl hugged her knees as the soldier walked away. He reached the hole, resting one hand on its ruined surface. He paused to look back at her and smiled.

Suddenly, a spray of red erupted from the soldier’s head. A wet smack sounded as his blood splashed against the shattered wall. He fell and did not rise. The girl just stared, mouth completely agape as her mind attempted to register what had just happened. Upon realization, she couldn’t help herself. She screamed as she buried her head into her knees and wept as her whole world came crashing down around her.

Tyrannis: Black Rose Immortal

– by Dys Novus

Nars groaned, his head in his arm, resting on the bar’s counter. Another long day in the factory for another meager paycheck, and yet trying to relax on the barren rock he was shipped off to was almost harder than being on the assembly lines themselves. He looked up, his vision blurry, the faint trails of light shining through the soot blackened skylight reflecting off the dust in the air. He eyed the dust woefully, and instinctively coughed, swearing under his breath. Glancing toward the bartender who was busying himself with another meager soul at the bar, Nars tapped the bar top. The bartender looked over at him, and lazily pulled a bottle from under the counter and slid it over to him.

A sudden flash of light illuminated the gloomy scene, as the door to the outside opened and abruptly shut again, trailing in a new cloud of dust. A storm was brewing outside. Nars took a swig of the bottle and ignored it. There was a brief pause, before the stool next to him was pulled out and a large man covered in a makeshift turban and goggles sat beside him, shedding his headgear. Nars glanced over at him, recognized him as one of the workers from his line, and nodded toward him in greeting. The man seemed a mix of excited and terrified, with an odd, forced smirk on his face, which was nearly all bright red from being in the sun too long. The sight made Nars want to laugh, but he didn’t have it in him.

The man waved to the bartender, and then immediately turned to Nars. “Hear what happened, mate?” he started, forgoing a greeting. Nars glanced at him again, and sighed, “Another round of layoffs?”. “Maybe,” the man grinned, “Maybe not… Word is that the State’s been selling planets to Capsuleers. Entire continents up for grabs. Somethin’ about streamlining production or whatever”. Nars looked at him for a long while before responding with a curt ‘So?’. The man blinked, then his excitement returned and he continued, “So, Sukuuvestaa sold rights to mine this planet to an egger. Which means an Immortal will be setting up mines all over the place!”

Nars thought about this for a moment, and took another drink. “I hope they are hiring. Working for a Capsuleer has to be better than working for these corporate fucks.”

* * *

The docking clamps held the behemoth Rokh battleship in place as it finally came to a rest inside the station’s enormous hangar. Creaking was the only thing heard as the craft nestled into its cradle of steel, the aging struts holding it in place groaning. A man in a suit waited impatiently at the hangar’s viewport, the loading gantry extending slowly. He turned to his assistant, who looked very excited at seeing the metal beast up close, then followed her gaze to the side of the massive ship in front of them. Seemingly ancient paint covered a small section of the hull, worn with time and countless battles. he stared at it for a long while before making out what appeared to have been a black and white flower, next to lettering that was too worn to read.

The gantry connecting with the Rokh with a thud broke his semi-trance, and he turned to inspect it. The extended bridge pressed against the airlock of the battleship tightly, and sealed itself to the hull. Glancing over to his protégé, he announced “Come, my dear… our capsuleer awaits”, and motioned to the gantry’s entrance at the opposite end of the viewing area.

Repair teams were busy rushing back and forth on the deck the gantry was connected to. The two corporate representatives stood still, alienated in a torrent of movement as gearheads of every caliber moved past them, hardly noticing them, chatting about what repairs needed to be done where, and how long it had been since they’d had a real hangar to work with. One of the mechanics stopped in front of them, a short girl whose face was smeared with grease, and looked them over. “Who you waiting for?” She took another look, eyeing the suits “You do know this is a warship, right? Not a country club?”

The executive glanced at her, then at his suit, then back at her, wanting to protest, but decided against it. “I’m here to see the commander of this vessel” he stated adamantly. The gearhead grinned, “Oh, the cap’n? He should be hopping out of his pod right now.” She turned to point down the hall, and the executive’s eyes followed ” ’bout a hundred meters down there should be a service elevator, take that up to deck 8, then find section C, head to the medical wing, then ask one of the meds where the cap’n is, they always know.” The exec blinked a few times, trying to remember what she had just said, and opened his mouth to ask her to clarify. Without letting him speak, she slapped him gently on the shoulder and started after her repair crew, yelling “You’ll find it” behind her. The man stood there for a moment before huffing in frustration.

* * *

“This is ridiculous!” Anton yelled at his subordinates, sitting in his estate’s office area planetside, a few kilometers from the rest of the settlement, “After fifteen years of running this colony, they just decide to kill my contract and hand my land over to some fucking egger… my land!”. His retinue shifted uncomfortably, not wanting to be in the room or hear the rest of the rant their boss was spouting. Anton picked up his datapad, harboring the message from the Sukuuvestaa board of directors, and hurled it against the wall. The group sitting before him flinched. Anton paced a few times around the room, before sinking into his plush chair, and massaged his temples.

Minutes ticked by in the room, as a dust storm raged outside. There were no traces of the harsh elements in the secure estate, no dust whatsoever. Anton fumed, then stopped short of starting another rant. He looked up at the group staring at him, then relaxed a bit, slouching in his chair. He pointed at one of the lackeys and announced “Return a message to corporate that we do not accept this new arrangement, and will make sure any immortal renters are dealt with, should they send them here. This is my land”. With a nod, the chosen employee stood up and hurried off to the comm station to relay the message.

Pondering the situation, Anton turned to another lackey, “Have the miner’s union head meet me here so we can discuss what is going to happen in the next few months.” The lackey looked confused, then replied “But sir, you executed the last union leader for asking for pay raises for the workers. There hasn’t been a union since”. Anton fumed even more, then yelled back, “Then fucking make one. I need the workers on my side! They need to be told about what an evil tyrant is moving here and why they need to fight against him!”. The group looked at each other, skeptical.

* * *

“… as I was saying, I represent the Sukuuvestaa Corporation, and will handle-” the executive repeated, being cut off by the capsuleer, fresh out of the showers. “Yeah yeah, handle the planetary colonization contract, I heard you the first time”, the immortal ran his fingers through his wet hair, slicking it back, “What’s your name again?”. The executive glanced over his shoulder at his assistant, who was staring at the naked capsuleer. Rolling his eyes, the executive turned back to the egger and responded “Gordon Toth. Mr. Toth, if you will”. The capsuleer tied a towel around his waist, and walked over to Mr. Toth, adding “Well, Gordon, welcome aboard the Black Rose, finest battleship in Lonetrek” with an extended hand. Gordon scowled, and shook the immortal’s hand.

“Now, onto the contract”, the capsuleer announced happily, “Gimme the pad, I sign the pad, and you can go home”. Gordon’s scowl deepened at the generalization of his line of work. “It isn’t that simple”. The capsuleer smirked at the assistant, adding “Should be.”

* * *

Nars closed the hatch to the community center behind him, and ripped off his own turban and goggles. One of the only ‘clean’ places in the colony, the community center was a large modular building where all meetings of import were held. Currently, a large group were gathered around the podium used by company heads to announce policy changes, work shifts, pay cuts, and tax changes. One of the company managers was behind it, preaching to the group as if it were an Amarr congregation that needed saving by their god. Nars made his way closer to the group, and listened in on the rant.

“The capsuleer who has bribed Sukuuvestaa into letting him claim this land is nothing but a monster who enslaves those working for him! You will be expected to work his mines for no pay, with no benefits, with no choice or say in the matter! This can’t be allowed to happen! As caretakers of this fine settlement, we ask that you fight with us against this tyrant from the sky!”, the manager announced with religious fervor. The crowd was mixed in its reaction, some, particularly the younger employees, cheered him on, and yelled provocative things like “Down with oppression!” or “Death to eggers!”. The more seasoned workers, who had already grown to loath the current company management for being tyrants, simply stood silent. Some jeered at the manager, yelling for him to get off the podium unless he was announcing pay raises or vacation time.

Nars shook his head in disgust, nodding to the other older workers whom he recognized, and joined them in their silent protest of the preacher’s words.

* * *

“There is a little problem” Gordon added, after negotiating the terms of the colonization contract with the capsuleer, who was now fully clothed. They were sitting in the living space of the ‘captain’s quarters’, sipping coffee, or in the capsuleer’s case, hard liquor. Taking a drink, the immortal inquired, “And what’s that?”, almost glaring at Gordon, making sure it was known he did not want to hear bad news. Gordon hesitated, then continued, “The regional CEO for the Sukuuvestaa holding company that operates the mines planetside is… reluctant to accept a contract termination. We tried offering him a position in one of our other companies, but he is… very stubborn”. The capsuleer grinned, to Gordon’s surprise. “Name?” Was all he asked. Gordon glanced at his datapad, searching for the name of the irritant, then replied with “one Anton Varric”.

The capsuleer stood up, then extended his hand. “We have a deal.”

* * *

The Rokh’s docking clamps unlatched one by one, and the docking gantry retracted back into the station’s superstructure, allowing the giant warship to drift away from the birth and into the hangar proper. The set of heavy magpulse thrusters on the battleships roared to life, accelerating the behemoth toward the mouth of the hangar. The speed of the ship picked up as it glided out of the station, and slowly turned, meter by meter, toward the planet below.

With the ship aligned, the massive engines cut out for a second, before roaring back to life, slipping the ship into a warp bubble, and hurling it toward the planet, angling into a low orbit.

* * *

Inside the capsule of the Black Rose, the immortal floated in the life giving fluid within, cables lodged into his neck and upper back, connecting him with the ship. The egger monitored the warp bubble’s progress, before breaking it off and dropping out of warp, entering orbit over the largest settlement on the surface of the planet. Launching camera drones and sending them closer to the planet, he synced his vision to one of them, as it descended through the cloud cover, revealing the barren brown wasteland below.

The settlement was in plain view now, with every building illuminated by the camera drone’s vision enhancement. He glanced over the settlement, then consulted his Neocom, looking up the information of Anton Varric on this planet in Sukuuvestaa’s records, bringing up a layout of his estate. Finding a matching building on the surface, he grinned. “Target acquired”

* * *

A set of heavy dual railguns on the Rokh’s underside deviated from their standard forward-facing position, and instead moved to aim directly down. A large tungsten charge loaded in both barrels, the turret fired with a blaze of light and sound. The entire ship seemed to shift from the recoil of the enormous weapon, as two slugs screamed toward the surface, partially burning in the atmosphere.

* * *

Anton sat, biting his nails in frustration, as the manager returned from his heated surmon at the community center. He turned to the manager, and stood up in his chair, “Did they buy it?”

A streak of light shown through the clouds, racing toward the ground below, as the manager smiled and prepared to give Anton the good news. The charges impacted the estate’s roof dead on, and obliterated the entire complex in a glorious explosion. Anton, and his company lackeys were nothing but specs of dust in the crater left over from the blast.

* * *

3 weeks later.

There was no rebellion against oppression, or armed revolt against the capsuleer. He brought his own, state-of-the-art equipment from off world and set up the smoothest running factories and mines the planet’s population had seen since the original colonization by Sukuuvestaa so many years before. The capsuleer alone held the jobs of almost three quarters of the entire population. Nars was more than happy with this arrangement, seeing as his ex-employer was regrettably dead, and his new one was entirely happy letting the workers run the plants with minimal oversight. As long as they produced, it was probable that the Immortal wouldn’t even notice the goings on of his new mining and production company. That, and he probably would be too busy to cut wages, which suited Nars just fine.

Tyrannis: No Way Home

– by Sciabada Nishiani

When she closes her eyes she could still smell the fragrance that the moist sea wind would carry to the shores of her home planet. Her memory of “That” day where still crystal-clear. All her childhood she had lived on the southern shores of the province of Arghun’T Anerr a daughter of a simple fisherman. Her mother had died giving birth to her little brother when she was Five.

She remembered the tales she was told as a child. Terrifying tales of demigods roaming the space between the stars, presumingly kidnapping children that wont obey their parents. Every night she gazed upon the stars and wondered if they really existed.

It was costume on her planet that once in a lifetime a citizen would undertake a pilgrimage and visit the temple of Karret A’Tnagar on the mountain of Kareen Shaled when they become Of Age. It was a trip organized by The Order who also took care of all education on her planet. The priests would screen the children and advise what direction they should take to fit the society’s needs. Aged 12 they would undertake the pilgrimage to the temple and visit the sanctuary within. It is there where all the scrolls, scripts and artifacts that spoke about those demigods where held. In the eyes of a child they all look strange and intimidating. But there is one that really leaves a mark: its a huge egg-shaped thing with lots of wires inside and a strange smell. The priests called it a Capsule. Every child that came Off Age spent a night with the priests at the temple and heard the story of a glorious race that came through a Portal to settle the universe. Gods for sure, she assumed as a child. Who else could fly among the stars. Only beings with wings could fly. So she figured that these gods surely where immensely big and had huge wings. She asked the priests to see pictures from those Gods. But all they could show her where strange designs she did not understand and that Capsule.

But as children are she did not give it any further thought once back to her daily routine. Enjoying the vast beaches of the southern shores she passed her time playing with her brother and friends, attending school and doing all those things children do. Only at night, when the stars where out on the sky her thoughts went back to the temple.

She had heard of nobody ever to have actually seen one of Them also simply because They did not interfere with the planets. They only protected them from other powerful
beings They called The Enemy. Therefore the planet-dwellers had to be grateful They where out there looking after them.

But all of this changed one sunny day when the sky suddenly turned dark. She was 16 and on the beach with her father helping fixing the nets when she saw a big dark something
covering the sun. It descended slowly upon them growing bigger and bigger. Out of its belly hundreds of smaller things emerged. Each taking a different direction and most of
them disappearing behind the horizon. One landed in a field close by and all villagers gathered around it. A door opened and a man dressed like the priests stepped out. He
looked at the gathered crowd and told them to go home as he had no business with them. More men stepped out. They looked different. Without neither visible face nor hands. As
nobody moved one rose his arm and a blue flash came out of it. The crowd panicked and dispersed in terror.

That day changed her life forever. They came in the evening to her house telling her father that their for fathers had chosen her and that she had the Gene. Chosen for what?
They put her in their air vehicle and left the planet.

For the first time she met Them. Or at least one of Them. After a flight that seemed to last an eternity they arrived at a space station where She was waiting for her. She sat in one of those capsules she had seen in the temple on her home-world. The strange smell was much stronger with Her than back there. She told her to follow carefully her tutorial. At the end she would be one of Them. She was chosen to become a Demi-God herself.

The training was hard and painful. The first time they put her into her capsule was the worst pain sheʼd ever felt. They gave her drugs to endure it better but they where not
strong enough. The pain was there non the less.

Soon they sent her out doing missions because she was good. Her specialty was electronic warfare they said and to that she was educated.

She had to admit, the fun was so much better than the stupid games with her friends back on the planet.

They sent her places she could not even imagine. She even saw the original Wormhole! Of course now she had access to all the knowledge of the Universe and by the Merciful
Sisters she sucked all of it into her brain via the links.

Soon she left the safety of her tutorial station and left out to make her own fortune becoming a mercenary. Big corporations where out there mining asteroids and harvesting moons and they always needed soldiers for their dirty jobs.

Her wealth grew but with it the need for more drugs and more wealth. Outlaw space was a tough place and only the best survived.

All was good until one day the big corporations discovered the wealth that lies within the planets. Greed is a poor host indeed.

The invasions began and she was called once again to do the only job she new: Killing!

She looked aside when corporations enslaved entire planets to their misdemeanor because the pay was good and the drugs even better.

She looked aside when soldiers killed men, women and children that stood in their way.

She looked aside when entire planets where destroyed by the strong mining beams.

Yesterday she did what she always does. Killing and looking aside.

Then suddenly she overheard a transmission. She heard that the mountain of Kareen Shaled held enormous treasures and she knew what that meant.

Kareen Shaled? Where had she heard that name before? Her drugged mind could not grasp the exact location of that memory on her brain.

And suddenly it hit her like a torpedo! Kareen Shaled! The sacred mountain on her planet!

No, no, no! That canʼt be! They should protect the planets! Not destroy them!

She had to do something! Too often had she seen how those operations went!

Inhabited planets where given to choose the life of miners or taken by force. Decent corporations fished the planet-dwellers with the promise of development and wealth, exploiting every man, woman and child. Those who refuse faced certain death.

Not to speak about the death and diseases the mining operations brought with them. The choice was a false one: either you choose for instant death or an agonizing one. Then there it was: Her home-planet. At the very center of a battle in the space surrounding it. The resources where extraordinarily rich she heard. In stealth mode she flew through the guarding ships. She wanted to see for herself what was going on on the surface.

What she saw was total destruction in most of the places. Foot-soldiers fighting to win ground. Her village was gone and so was her house. Hacking into the information network
she found out what cruelty her planet has been exposed to. The images where compelling and so was the smell that accompanied them. She found out that her brother had been fit
to ride the big mining drones (he had part of the Genetic Code after all).

But in a war even if youʼre only a miner in a drone you become enemy target if youʼre working for the wrong corporation.

Her father was too old and therefore useless to the corporations. He rebelled when they took her brother and they shot him.

Her brother was drugged and plugged into the mining drone. But he was still alive somewhere!

That was when she knew what had to be done!

She hacked a little deeper into the information network and located her brother and waited for the right moment. She locked a tractor beam on him and pulled him up in his drone.

One last thing she wanted to do before leaving the planet.

She flew over the wast ocean and aired the ventilation system of her ship sucking in the moist air from the surface.

The tingling of the moist air she felt on her skin was real!

The smell of the sea was strong this time!

For the first time in decades her brain was free of drugs and free of pain.

She took a deep breath of that moist air and listened deeply to the sound of the waves in her memories, ignoring completely the proximity warnings from her shipsʼ sensors while flying directly into the bright sun ahead that had illuminated her world when she still was a planet-dweller, long ago, in another life!