Sunday, 25 September 2011

Back Routes

She heard the sound before she opened her eyes. A long slow beating of the air, a dull throb of... something behind it. The scent in the air old and musty and just a tinge of oil, machinery and old summer evenings.

The pain swept out from her in concentric circles, pulsing with the beating of her heart, and by infintesimal increments, each pulse was a death sentence.

Beneath her she could feel a bunk, the matress old, worn into the shape of bodies smaller than hers. Over her a blanket that had seen better days by the feel, and she noticed by the smell, was used regularly. Still overhead she heard the slow beating of the air, slower than the circles. With a slight effort she opened her eyes to the room.

The fan above her was behind the tarnished and rusted grill. Light from somewhere beyond cast it's shadow over the bed she was in, and for a while she watched the blades turning. A memory flittered across her mind, several memories. Aft deck, sub corridor C, passenger quarters. Hoarder class industrial. Throwing back the blanket she sat up and rubbed a hand over her face. She flinched as her hand touched a bruise on the left side of her face and slowly she felt the other little pains. On automatic she staggered over to where the facilities were, her bare feet feeling the cold of the floor grating. Pumping the water in the bowl she splashed some on her face and sipped some. With a grimace she recognised the taste of water recycled far too much in a system that had far too many flaws. But, it was water and cold.

In a locker by the side of the bed she found the rest of her clothes, not noticing before her nakedness. Pulling on her her clothes she rolled her head then pulled on her boots. Her bag was under the clothes and she opened it and reached in, pulling out a long sealed medical container which had 'Quaffe' etched into the surface. With practiced ease she rolled in the combination at the base and opened the container, the front pulling back and inner mechanisms pulling the contents out. Several rows of cold vials, all stamped with Quaffe-Noir sat in their little chilled compartments, and beneath them a smaller black case that she opened with the flick of her nail. Taking a vial she slipped it into the hypo-spray from the case and pressed it to her neck, feeling the slight prick and pressed the stud, the vial contents shooting into vein. Rubbing her neck softly she sighed, and smiled and giggled softly before shuddering and flicking her eyes open.

Repacking the case she slung her back over her back and went to the door. She felt the throbbing beneath her feet, even through her boots and rested her hand against the wall. The engines were stressed, pushed to full power. Looking up she noticed the lights were dimming, the power being drawn away from the unnecessary systems to power the engines and shields. In a crate like this there was only one need for that, and as she opened the door to the quarters she felt and heard the screams of metal under stress as the first shots hit. As she ran she could hear the other passengers, some crying, some praying, some, she grinned, screwing. Well, it could be their last moments. Why not.

The bridge of the hoarder was cramped, the modifications made over the decades of use had taken more and more space. Sitting in a cramped seat Mona micromanaged the power as she headed to the jump gate. Already she could see on the monitor that the target was coming back for a second run. Looking over she saw her second cough up his last breath and fall silent.
"God damned puta! You don't fall apart on me now!"
Warning lights flashed as the ship came in and fired again. The port side shield flared and died and she triggered the aging generator, trying to coax the recycle. Slowly it started to rise, but it was too little. Couldn't use the booster properly as it would take power from the engines, and speed was all this bucket of bolts had. More than it was supposed to have for a ship of this class, but not enough to outrun the attacker.
"Mayday, mayday! This is the commercial transport Burning Desire, we are under attack by unknown ship. Please respond.... for the love of god please respond....."

Carmilla stood at the door to the bridge and listened to the voice and listened. Looking around she noticed the damage and the dead co-pilot. She had seen others on the way down, screaming and running to escape pods. Desperation. And a pilot whose only desire was to save her ship. She smiled a knowing smile. Now that was something she could relate to.
"They won't respond....."
Carmilla blinked at the barrel of the pistol as the woman spun the pilots chair.
"Who the frel are you? Get back to your cabin, I'm trying to fly here."
"On your own? Good luck. But like I said, they won't reply. They'll think it's a pirate trap."
She walked over to the co-pilots seat and pulled him out, strapping herself in. The pilots pistol still pointed at her. Ignoring her she looked over the controls, the readouts, and tapped a few.
"Stop pointing that at me and fly. I'll see what I can do here."
"Oh... you're that hopped up puta Max picked up at the last stop. What kind of a woman pays her way with her body.... you sick lady. You need help."
She whispered under her breath as she slammed her fist into the console and jarred the connection, bringing up the scanner. "Dont' we all, lady."
"Rifter class. You got any weapons on this tub?"
"An old autocannon, only fires forward though. The relays need replacing."
"Does it have ammunition?" She raised an eyebrow.
"Yes... now leave me to fly, we're almost at the gate. Transmit the recognition code, blue console."
Carm looked over at the pilot, the strain on her face intense and input the code.
"You know he'll catch us on the other side. We may not be as lucky as we have been."
"Well what do you want us to do? There is no concord here. No gate guns..... and my escort was blown away three jumps ago. Lady, you're lucky you're not out there sucking vac!"

Carm pulled up the navigational chart and looked at the system, then powered up the scanner and pinged. She watched as the information flowed in. Three asteroid belts close by, seven moons, three planets, one a gas giant. And a second gate. Pulling up the energy signatures in the area she started. It was a chance, a thin one, but a chance. The hoarder shuddered as the rifter fired at them again and overshot. She tapped the screen and fed the details to the pilot.
"Get us there. Once we're in warp let me drive."
"Let you drive my baby? What makes you think a dopped up slave bitch can fly better than I can?"
"Let me make you a deal. I get you out of this I'll buy you a prowler and retrofit it however the hell you want."
"Sheeet, that cost more money than I've ever seen. Where you get that?"
"My bank account. Failing that I'll steal it. Regardless, I have a plan."

Behind her eyes, far far away the pain returned in soft circles, like a gentle caress on her soul. Damn you Gallicia. Damn you for giving me this curse. Are my memories not pain enough that you make me suffer now for eternity?

The Rifter pilot turned and came in for the kill. He had been toying with this old transport, but now he was convinced it was no trap, it was time to take it. With a mental thrust from his pod he sent the activation code to the warp gate, on the other side he would catch it and destroy it, then sift it's wreck for anything of value.
"Odd," he whispered in his mind as he watched the gate, the transport going underneath it,"Why hasn't it jumped."
He cursed as he watched the hoard warp away, and matched course and jumped after. Arriving several clicks away he locked the target just as it activated the gate and shot deeper into space. With a mental cry of rage, at the potential of loosing the target he followed.

"This is insanity. Why did I let you talk me in to this...."
The hoarder coasted, power down and spun slowly, dead in space, only a little power running to keep minimal life support going.
"God save me from people like you."
"Save us both. Here they come."
Shapes appeared out of the darkness and approached the tumbling ship. From the bridge windows they could see the shapes, strange, alien, deadly. Rogue drones. Sensor fields flittered over them and weapon systems locked them. They could see the lights on the front of the nearest drone, like the eyes of a demon from hell as it approached, closer... closer. Then suddenly they turned.
"Aaah, our friend the rifter has arrived...."
Mona watched from the turning bridge as the rifter shot past them, all of it's weapon systems firing, the rogue drones following it, trapping it.... destroying it. She stopped the spin of the ship and watched as the drones webbed and scrambled the ship, their flailing attachments tearing strips from the hull, lasers cutting away sections. It was a terrible thing to see.
"Lets go before they notice us. It's not like we want to do anything for him. He'll wake up in a station when he dies. We wont' be so lucky."
With a shudder the hoarder warped to the celestial and then after a minor course correction headed back to the gate.

It took several more hours to reach a station, the damage done to the ship had been more extenisve than they had realised. Standing on the docking platform they both looked over the ship.
"Thirty years we been together. And now I can't afford repairs. The cargo bays were blown out, and I can't replace the cargo. Or the passengers, I dont' think any of them survived. Not a good trip."
"Hey, Mona. We walked away from a pirate attack and some rogue drones. Survival is easy. It's a fight you never give up on. Anyway, like I said, I'll get you a new ship."
"You dont have to, puta. I don't need no charity."
"Carmilla. My name is Carmilla."
Carm turned to Mona and looked at her. Standing there in her stained pilots jumpsuit with the arms tied around her waist and a grubby teeshirt covering her chest, several dogtags and necklaces around her neck, she looked so small. So insignificant. Human, she mused. Not capsuleer, not imortal. One life. Kind of like me at the moment.
"Come on Mona, I keep my end of the bargain."
Pulling her they both walked towards the elevators and stood before the end one, the chrome one."
"I dont' have clearance for that, I'm not a capsuleer."
"Dont' worry...." Carm placed her hand over the scanner and watched as the door opened, "I am."

The hotel room was the best on the station. Carmilla spared no expense and it was obvious that Mona had never seen so much luxury. The room itself was larger than the cargo bays of her ship. After she had showered and cleaned Carmilla watched the little gallentey woman enjoying a massage.
"Why did you need to buy passage on my ship, Carmilla? You could fly your own."
"Sometimes I like going the back ways. Besides, I needed to get away for a while. To get out there and find out what I wanted. To find out if I wanted to go back to what was waiting for me."
Reaching into the bottom of her bag she pulled out a flat black jewellry case and opened it. Sitting nestled in the black velvet was a chrome collar. Running her finger over it she saw the door to the room open and three people walk in. Mona, too engrossed in her massage hadn't heard.
"And what was waiting for you? Was it worth it? Your voyage of discovery?"
A new voice spoke out, crisp, cold, pure khanid. Mona jumped, her hand instictively reaching for her hip and her pistol. The two paladins pointed their weapons at her, their faces hidden behind enclosed helmets. Mona watched as the Khanid woman walked over to Carmilla and withdrew a sword. With a speed that defied even the watching paladins Mona ran and stopped infront of the woman, pushing Carmilla back.
"Back off lady, she's with me."
"Actually, my dear sweet little morsel... she's with me."

Holder Ithiria Deritan looked at the woman before her, smaller than her by a good foot and wiry, and even though she was holding a sword in her hand, showed no sign of being afraid. Carmilla placed her hand on Mona's shoulder
"Mona, allow me to introduce you to Ithiria Deritan, Holder of the Khanid Empire."
"Charmed. Now back away, you don't scare me."
Her hand reached out and grasped the bottle from the table, smashing it against the edge and holding the broken glass towards her.
"Mona.... Ithiria is my wife. She's been waiting for me."

Mona looked back at Carmilla, who now had a chrome collar around her neck and back to the khanid woman. The look on both their faces, one of love and longing.
"I.... I'm sorry..."
"No, dont' be sorry, Mona is it? You stood up for her even though you didn't know who she really was or what she was. That is something isk can't buy."
She looked at the broken glass and dropped it on the table.
"I will get dressed now and go. I'm sorry for threatening you...."
Ithiria turned her gaze from Carmilla to Mona and held up a hand.
"Please, get dressed, but stay. You are our guest. Carm, help her please."
"Yes Mistress."
Carm slipped her arm around Mona and steered her towards the bedrooms. Ithiria watched with a smile as they went, not listening to the whispered frantic conversation between them, just watching.

They stayed at the hotel for several days, and at the end Carmilla took Mona down to the docking bay next to where her ship was laid up. As they entered Mona looked up at the ship handing in space, a Prowler class transport. On the front, the ships name had been painted. Burning Desire II.
"You have a choice now my dear. Either we can retro fit it so you can fly it on your own as you flew your previous ship.. or you can fly it like I would."
"I'm not a pod pilot Carm. I'm just... me."
Carmilla handed over to her a folder, stamped on the front was the Deritan seal.
"This is our gift to you, for your friendship. We are sponsoring you for the Capsuleer program. All it needs is for you to say yes."
"But that... this.... it all costs....."
"Mona, friendship is worth more than isk. And when you stood before Ithiria and her guards with nothing but a broken bottle stem.... told me all about you that I needed to know."
Mona flung her arms around Carmilla and hugged her tightly, tears in her eyes.

Later that day Carmilla followed Ithiria onto her ship and they departed. The journey was taken in silence, with neither speaking to the other, only looking at each other. There were no words to be said, the look in their eyes said it all.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Awaken to Despair


.... oh it's no wonder that you lie there with your eyes open looking up at the ceiling with that almost bovine stare. You are little more than cattle, you know it, they know it, you have lost your way. Soon someone will come, but will it be to lead you to safety or to hell? If it was me, it would be to hell. You have done nothing but serve when you should have been leading. You are everything that is wrong with the festering darkness that blights this hallowed land. Given the power to roam the stars what do you do? Kneel. Kneel and kowtow to the people who enslaved you before you were born. It doesn't matter that she is better than the others, she is who she is. Nothing can change that, and better people have tried. Tried and failed. Failed like you failed time and time again. Failure. FAILURE. FAILURE!"

Click Click.

Carmilla shook herself awake and sat up, sweat streaming down her face and looked around. Scared. Startled. Afraid. Breathing deeply she looked at the tubes snaking into her arm, listened to the gentle beeping of the machines that were watching her. Slowly her anxiety began to fade and she slumped back into the bed. Automatic systems lifted part of the bed so she sat up and she shuddered violently.

"Hello?" she spoke with a dry whispering voice,"Is there anyone there?"
A door opened, casting light into the room and a woman walked in. She was tall, a kindly looking face just too plump to be called thin, the roll of her hips and the way her uniform fit indicated something to Carmilla'd mind, but she couldn't place it. So familiar, yet so.....
"Nice to see you awake, my dear. You've been asleep for a number of days."
"Where am I?"
"You are safe. The secure medical facility you were brought to after you passed out in the club you were in. Several people have been looking in on you. Quite a popular patient. Feel like eating something?"
Carmilla shook her head.
"Just a drink please?" she shook her arm jingling the tubes,"These are good for the body, but I need something. My mouth is as dry as the third quarter drought that hit our Masters planta...."
She frowned and shook her head. Where did that come from? The third quarter drought... that was so many years ago. Back when she was a slave on the plantation, before Gallicia, before... everything... The nurse looked at her with a kindly smile and offered her a plastic beaker of cold water.
"Well, I'm sure you have some happy memories of that place. But here you are and don't drink too much. If you need me, hit the red button, and if the pain gets too much, hit the blue one."
Carm put the water onto the table beside here and smiled her thanks as the nurse walked out.

As she lay in bed she looked up at the ceiling. It was blank, and yet she could see so much in that blank sheet of pure white. How did I come to think of the plantation? That was so many years ago. Put to the back of my mind, locked behind door after door. Things no one knew about, things I hadn't even told Ithiria or Relana about.....


....It was a good time wasn't it. You were happy, you and your sisters and your family. Serving your Master. You obeyed and you were treated well. Obey. Obey your Master....

Click click

....that I was happy. Things were so simple back then. I was happy and I obeyed. There was no refusal because.... people got hurt when I did. Always when I do something wrong, people get hurt. But I can change... can't I?


.... always people get hurt when you disobey. It's because of you that they were punished, or worse. How many punished for your indiscretions? You cant' count it can you because there are so many....

Click click

What have I done? How many have been punished for me..... no please, the memories hurt... the pain is too much to bare. Don't make me see their faces.....

Carmilla opened her eyes and looked up. There was a face on the ceiling, a woman, Celina! No, not Celina, she was dead..... no. She reached her hand up to block out the face that was on the ceiling looking at her. Closing her eyes she tried to breath but found she couldn't, something was stopping her, panic started to rise in her and her eyes flicked open. Celina was still there, the slave she worked with on the plantation, getting smaller as she was dragged away by two guards. She shut her eyes and screamed.

The nurse walked into the room and turned the lights on, sitting on the side of her bed and grabbing her hand, rubbing it and looking at her with concern.
"It's just a nightmare, my dear. Nothing to worry about. Just a nightmare."
Carm pointed to the ceiling.
"She was there, I saw her. Just like before, being dragged away....."
She pulled her self into a foetal position but the nurse gently stretched her back out.
"Now now my dear. I told you before, if you are in pain, hit the blue button. Okay?"
Carm nodded and looked over seeing the blue button, reached over and touched it. The cool plastic feeling more real now she could feel it. Turning her head she looked at the nurse. Tracing the curve of her wrist, past the star tattoo to her sleeve and the rest of the jacket. The bulge of her breasts and the suspicious shape at the base of her spine, tucked into her skirt that could only be a weapon. Suspicious, but probably necessary. One of Literia's nurses no doubt.
"Thank you nurse...."
The nurse adjusted one of the drips, smiled and returned to her station, flicking off the light switch.

At her station the nurse returned to the neural display. It took a while for her to fall asleep, even with the increase in the sedative she had just given. Somehow she was fighting still. An amazing subject she thought to herself, even with the constant vitoc dose and the hallucinagens she still had access to her own reality matrix. The screens started decoding the subjects dream and with a keen eye she read them and smiled, reaching up with the small controller and clicked it, then spoke into the microphone.

"You will betray them all, like you did before. You will sell them all out to save yourself. Everyone you care about you will see die because you will betray them. You will betray everyone you love. But you can stop that.... take your blue pill... take your vitoc.... be a good slave and obey. Always obey.... obey...."

Literia slammed her fist into the top of the receptionists table and reached over, lightning fast and grabbed the front of her tunic. The scarred woman cringed as she was dragged forward, her face an inch away from Literia's.
"What do you mean she was moved? I didn't give you permission to move her!"
"But... but...."
"Where did they take her? Who took her? God damn you talk to me!"
Lit let go of the woman and picked up a pen that was on the counter and started rolling it between her fingers.
"It was the nurse, Samira. She came in with the paperwork to move the patient. It was all above board! Here.... check!"
The nurse moved practiced fingers and pulled a small bundle of papers and handed it over. Lit looked it over and scowled. It looked authentic, but the destination was a handwritten scrawl. Illegible.

Carmilla lay in the bed watching the nightmare unfold before her eyes. Figures danced across the ceiling, the white turning red as the blood from her victims as they begged and pleaded and bled. Her finger was pressed so hard on the blue button that it shattered, the concoction of narcotics pouring into her system was fast approaching overdose levels. From her station the nurse watched the bio-screens and fumbled for a hand held hypo, selecting a heavy sedative. As she got up a sound made her turn back and look at the screens, they all flatlined. Looking up through the window the bed was empty. Her empty hand reached around and pulled out her pistol and ran towards Carmilla's room. She had just raised the pistol as she looked into the room when the cylinder of oxygen slammed into her head knocking her out.

She leaned against the wall and looked down at the nurse. The neon blue of the uniform flickered on and off, picking up the pistol she averted her eyes, the glare getting too much. Staggering down the corridor she blasted the lock from the door as it screamed at her, it's mouth opening to let her in. As she fell through the mouth and into the space beyond she stood at the back of the throat and looked down, the darkness below flared with flashing scents of lavender and engine oil, sharp and crisp like a morning fire. Dropping the pistol she laughed as she leapt forward, diving down the throat and into liquid blackness.

Ithiria Deritan sat at her desk when her terminal flashed. Reaching over she tapped a button and read the message on the screen. Her eyes widened as she read the message.

To: Ithiria Deritan

From: Station Security - Sisters of Eve - Rens

Your wife was recently discovered in a critical condition in our station after a severe fall from a luxury hotel. Unfortunately due to her apparent lack of clones she is now in intensive care. We request you come and pick her up as she is disturbing some of our other patients.


Lucinda Devaraus, Head of Security

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Medical, Get to Medical

Carmilla lay on the bed in the medical bay, Literia standing beside her, holding her hand. Carm's shallow breathing and rising temperature was a worry, as was her collapsing at the bar. The doctor walked over to her and beckoned her away.

"What's wrong with her Doctor?"
"A few things. Is she yours?"
The doctor pointed at the collar around her neck that they had been unable to take off. He noticed the temperature drop sharply.
"No. She is not. She is a good friend. Whats wrong with her?"
"Well.. where to start? She has a trans cranial microprocessor, it's an advanced model, like nothing I've seen before."
"Remove it."
"I'm not sure I can. But I'll try....."
He looked at the list and ran his finger down, Literia swipped the datatablet from his hands and sat on the end of the bed and read it.

Blue pill abuse, levels in excess of safe limits. Potential for sever hallucination and memory infringement.
Subject is experiencing stage 1 vitoc withdrawl symptoms.
In addition vitoc in her system is not one of the known varients to come out of Amarr in the last six months. Type unknown.

She handed the datatablet back to the doctor and looked down at Carm. Vitoc! Of all the things she could be inflicted with. This couldn't be her Mistresses work, not from the way Carm was always talking of her. She thought back to how she was in the bar, looking at shadows, checking out everyone who was coming in.

Standing up she buckled the sword onto her belt, marvelling at the feel of it.
"Force her to clone jump. Then destroy this clone. Report to me when you are done."
As she walked out the doctor sat down at his desk and sent a data request on Carmilla's clones. He frowned at the reply he recieved.

At this time Carmilla Deritan has zero active clones. Warning. It is recommended to clone this capsuleer as soon as possible.

Turning his head he looked at the woman on the bed and sighed. This was not going to be an easy conversation to have.