Sunday, 27 November 2011

Through a Gossamer Veil

She opened her eyes, slowly

Cold marble under her back sent a shiver down her spine and she sighed and made a movement with her mind and was standing with a slight crunch

The room was as she left it the night before

A thousand vid-screens showed a thousand images, a thousand more were smashed. Crystal and glass shards littered the floor of the room that went on for miles in every direction. The screens followed a giant curve that moved over marble floors through gossamer walls of mist, over hills and through forests. Everything went on for miles in every direction, there was no curve of a planet, no wall at the far end of vision, there was just... infinity.


She sighed scowling.

With a blink she was clothed and walked around stretching and stopped at a table. The heavy blanket of sleep that used to take so long to get out of wasn't here. One minute she was asleep, then she was awake. That too caused her to scowl. She used to like crossing the boarder between sleep and being awake, a small victory in a day which could go either way. Now gone.

The table was laid for breakfast, a hundred plates of food were stretched out before her. As she had correctly mused before, almost every breakfast she had ever eaten was here. From the slave gruel to the steaks of endangered species. She didn't need to eat, she had found that out quickly enough, but habits are habits and she selected a plate and walked towards one of the screens and watched while she ate. Eventually, she mused, she would work out this place.

With a gesture of her mind she fell backwards into a large comfortable sofa and started watching what was on the screen.....

Carmilla lay down on the doctors couch and watched the dust in the air glimmering as it fell slowly through the beams of sunlight coming through the office window. Far away the star Rens shone like a jewl in the darkness, set against the dust clouds of the far off nebula. She tilted her head and watched as the window slowly polarised.

"How are you feeling today?"
She stretched slightly and looked up at the doctor. For the past week they had worked together to try and retun the parts of her memory she had lost. It hadn't worked.
"I feel good, Doctor. I seem to be dreaming a lot. Strange dreams, but I just can't pin any details down."
"We did monitor you last night and didn't notice any change to your sleep pattern, or excessive REM. All in all, you seem to be in almost perfect health. You do have an addiction to blue pill and to, I hate to say it, Vitoc. Luckily your medical records are complete and up to date, so I was able to give you the right amounts, of the right varients."
"Did you check my other clones?"
"That we can find, there is only one. It seems that when you found out you had been infected with Vitoc you destroyed them yourself."

She let the words sink in. So many questions, so much she needed to know, to find out. The answere were there, she knew, but hidden just out of touch, behind a gossamer veil.
"Why would I do that? Unless I thought I could have found a cure."
"There is no cure, and the one that people talk about is a myth."
"Regardless, it may have been that someone I know, who cared about me was trying to find one."
"Well they didn't. They can't. You can't find somethign that doesn't exist. I'm sorry if I'm upfront on this, but you have this for the rest of your life. Luckily for you it seems you have found your own way around this in public. I must say I do like your quaffe injectors."
"Is my other clone infected as well? And how did you find it?"
"We found it when we checked the logs and backtracked to your corporation station. I can confirm that you have been a member of the Red Federation for over a month and a half. Before that, as the record says, you were a Disciple, but that corp seems to have folded, the alliance broken up."
She rolled over onto her side and looked at the doctor.
"I dont remember any of it. I mean... I have skills.... I can fly all sorts of ships, but I can't remember doing it... and I dont' remember the vitoc.. or the quaffe."
The doctor took out a datatablet and began taking notes.
"Well what do you mean? Can you elaborate?"
"I pulled my details from various nets while you were away. I could break into your computer easily and then into the station net. I found records, details, pictures, movies.... rewards. But I dont remember any of it, not even when I try."
She sighed and got up and walked to the window.
"How many times have I looked at this view. Maybe not from here, but from other rooms in this station, or others. I dont know. It's.... infuriating. From what I've seen, I have a rich and interesting past, even if some of it seems unreal."
"There is nothing more I can do for you. I can only hope that in the passing of time whatever has caused this memory loss will go fade, or go away, or break. And you'll have your memory back."
"Maybe... this is all for the good. I mean, I'll have some learning to do, but every time I go to use my skills they are there. The potential is there."

She turned and walked back to the doctor and offered her hand. He took it and grasped it between his own.
"Doctor, I have to thank you. You've been most helpful."
"Aach, I have done nothing, I feel a failure for not doing more.... Are you allright?"

Failure, yes I can remember when I thought I was, when everything I did to keep her failed. And yet now, I walked away from her, and look what has happened. Can I take all the blame on myself? Or even a part of it? I failed her more than anyone will ever know

Carmilla shuddered violently and looked around her. The shivers down her spine as of someone walking over her grave.
"I.. dont' know. Something, a reaction a very powerful emotional reaction to what you said."
"Then there is still work to do... but I am not the person to help you it seems. Here, I have a list of places that I could obtain that you have been recently. Perhaps a visit to these places will stir some memories, and here, a list of people who you may have had interactions with."
She looked at the list on the datatablet he passed her and transfered it to her own.
"What if I don't like who I was. I mean, Vitoc is used for slaves. Was I a slave?"
"A capsuleer slave? I find that very unlikely. But it merits a search. There is another problem."
She sighed and walked over to a wall covered in pictures and traced her finger over the profile of a typhoon battleship.
"There are large parts of your past that I simply can't find. I've checked various databases, the entries have been wiped, scrambled, and in one case replaced with music. Someone out there doesn't want you to remember who you are, or what you were."
"Was I that hated? I wonder.... was I a monster?"
"Regardless my dear, for one such as yourself what has been done to you is a crime. Don't be surprised if security or the local police come to see you. If this can be done once, it can be done again."
"I thank you Doctor. Please, keep in touch if you find anything else. I think I'm going to go to the Eystur system. My quaffe-vitoc capsules are stamped with the local factory there. It's as good as any other place to start."

Eystur.... aaah yes my home away from home, when I'm not at Seshala. Go there next, Seshala. Seshala!

Carmilla stopped and turned to the Doctor with another shiver.
"Was there anything in those records about.... the Seshala system?"

Interaction? To something I shouted? Interesting...This is a screen to watch. Perhaps I am in my own mind, locked out and watching what is happening. A real, this is your life. It makes sense, this all this is my mind, the screens are my memories, everything that happens here is because I want it to.... so there must be a way out.

"Why yes, there was a delivery note for a consignment to go to a planet in the Seshala system. I transfered the details to you. Why? Do you remember something?"
She reached behind her head and massaged the pod interface ports, hidden under their faux-skin covering.
"Just a hunch... or perhaps a whisper from a ghost."
She looked into the mirror by the door and stared at her face, her one good eye twinkling.
"Regardless, when I am ready I will return..."

A ghost. Yes. Though maybe with me here to guide you we'll make less mistakes than we did before. I wish though... that.....

A hand reached down and touched her shoulder and a voice as soft as honey and as tranquil as the morning whispered in her ear
I am here, I will always be here

She reached up and took hold of the hand and sighed happily. The khanid woman slipped onto the chair with her and together they watched the screen. All around them everything else faded away until all there was was just the one screen and the chair.

When I am ready, I will return. I know how, I think. Regardless, this will be a journey of discovery for all of us...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Waking into Darkness

Three men sat around the table. Two were scientists, long white coats, datapads on hand with constant streaming reports, the smell of drugs and chemicals on them. Both were young men, but their eyes told a different story. The third wore white also, but a suit of immaculate smartness, a cane with a silver head and the pockmarks on his skin where skinderms covered pod connections. Brushing his hand carefully over his styled white hair he watched them, as a serpents watches its next meal. He smoked as they talked, and looked at what they had created at his behest. Even with his foreknowledge it did not make it less blasphemous.

"We need a proper test subject now. The ones before, they were all implanted by us. We need a proper one...
"An actual capsuleer," he spoke with venom in his voice, "One of the blessed immortals."
The white haired man nodded and stubbed the nic.
"A capsuleer I can get. I can get a hundred, or a thousand. All I have to do is mention isk and they will fall over themselves to get here. No... we need a specific test subject. For this... we need someone we know how they behave, how they act, we must have detailed files on them to prove it will work."
The venomous one snorted.
"That will take years."
The smoker smiled and placed a memory crystal onto the table before them. They both looked at it as if trying to determine it's contents from just looking at it.
"Lucky then that I have had several people under surveillance for just something like this."

A lighter composed of the symbol of the Serpentis came out of an inner pocket and he lit up another nic. Leaning back he watch them as they loaded up the crystal on the big screen and he saw the face on the monitor. The scar over one eye, the neck length white hair, the dark tattoo over her eyes. The look in the remaining eye, pure mystery. Her smile, slightly mocking.
"And who is this woman? This Carmilla D'morenta?"

The man got up and walked over to the wall screen and looked at his half sister.
"Some one dangerous. Some one who is predictable. And someone who won't see it coming."
Looking at his half sister, knowing what was going to happen, the hideous blasphemy that they were about to unleash upon her..... he smiled. He was, after all, Serpentis first, family second.
"And do we know where she is going to be? Is she that predictable?"
"Oh yes. She'll be in the Rens system, planet VI, eighth moon. The Brutor Tribe Treasury."
"How do you know? If they pick up on what we are going to do they will inform her and rescan the clones."
"I know... because I used the right piece of cheese for our test subject."

Hageken System - Lonetrek

The small fleet of frigates, destroyers and cruisers docked at the various bays in the station. Repair crews moved in almost immediately, trucks with ammunition and fuel already unloading, crews attending to their duties. In the midst, all across the stations pods were withdrawn from the ships and the pilots decanted. One such pilot, one of many in the Red Federation bathed quickly and then joined the others in the pilots bar. Clad in tight fitting red leather trousers and a quaffe t-shirt she walked in and thumped the air with a scream of victory.
"We showed those Blues! It's time to drink and celebrate!"
A chorus of cheers went up and the bar was thronged. The bartenders simply putting crates up on the bar and cases of bottles. By the time the last was taken from a crate the first bottle was empty already. The doors to the bar opened and closed softly as the FC walked in and looked at them all, a smile on his face. Several of the pilots turned around and cheers and the group saluted him, and he returned it.
"Okay quick break guys and gals. We're going back out in about twenty minutes. So make merry quickly! We earned it!"
With a bottle in one hand and a chicken leg in the other from the constant buffet Carmilla D'morenta sat down at a table with several other pilots. The group of them replayed the battle with oaths and curses and sound effects amidst copious amounts of beer and wine and spirits. Leaning back in her chair she looked at her datatablet, a message was blinking and she read it quickly.
She got up and headed over to the FC and slapped him on the back and slipped a beer into his pocket.
"I got to miss the next one. I got a contract to collect in Rens. Seems someone finally sold me a cheap Daredevil."
"Maybe you'll be able to keep up now, Carm...."
"... unless she keeps the handbrake on that one as well...."
"... Does she even have a pilots licence?..."
"Hey hey! I loose less ships than you do, compadre, and your damn head is so snaked out that your ships need three clicks to decelerate!"
They all laughed and she shook his hand.
"Get some for me, I'll bring you a bottle of that Matari Whiskey you like so much."
"As long as you keep away from the Khanid version....."
She lowered her voice, "Hey.... those days are over. You know me, little blue pill, little vitoc is all I need," she raised her voice, "That and an ac packing Rifter wrapped around my pod killing Blues!"
They cheered and as she finished her beer she headed out to the medical bay. On the way she pulled up several schematics for daredevil layouts and ran the numbers. It was going to be a good day!

As she walked into the medical bay she went over to one of the lockers and coded in her ID. Her clothes and equipment securely locked away she walked naked to the clone chamber and sneaked up behind the overseer, wrapping her arms around him.
"Guess who, Clay."
"I'd know your soft touch anywhere, Penelope!"
She thumped him on the shoulder and laughed.
"What are you like."
"Where you off to today, Carm?"
"Rens. Got a pickup to make and I'll fly it back. Twenty five odd jumps in a pimped out Daredevil..."
"Ooh, nice one," he checked his console," And looks like bay 17 is the closest one. See you on the flip side."
She slipped into the bay and adjusted the location of the hypo-injectors and laid back, nodding to Clay as he operated the control from the outside, feeling the pricks of the injector and then drifted into darkness.

Rens system, planet VI, moon 8 - The Brutor Tribe Treasury

The duty overseer sat slumped at his console, an erotic magazine in his hands. With a quick eye he could cover the many screens of his console and see any problems. Out there in the clone bays dozens of servitors were bustling around the new arrivals and those departing. His free hand went again to his inner pocket and felt the thick wad of notes that was there. A fat payout for letting some techs look over the technology. Typical, he sneered, always someone wanting to ferret out the secrets of Matari technology. Let they try, as long as they pay. Changing the page he grunted at the intermingled bodies on the page and licked his lips.

With a hiss of escaping air the clone tube seal broke and the glass panel slid out and up revealing the naked body of sebiestor woman. She blinked and stretched, stepping out of the tube and looking around with a very confused look. Other naked travellers passed by her on their way to and from the tubes. Still, she just looked around, at everyone coming and going, eventually she drew the attention of one of the servitors, a kindly looking old brutor. He put his hand on her shoulder and spun her slowly around.
"You okay, hay? You want some help missy?"
"Do... I know you?"
The servitor laughed.
"Me? I'm just here to make sure people get in and out safely. You okay? The lockers are down that corridor. Here, let me take you, whatsay?"
She nodded and let herself be walked down the corridor, none of it looked familiar.
"We get it some times, people come out and are a bit groggy. Best you get down to medical once you dressed, yesno?"
"I guess so. Where are we?"
He laughed again as they walked into the long gallery filled with lockers.
"Locker room. Now then, what's your name lass?"
"I... I dont know....."
She looked at him and gripped his shoulders strong enough to make him wince.
"By the moons, I don't know.... who am I?"
Walking down the line of lockers she looked at names on the little displays, then noticed a console against a wall and ran over to it, pushing a man out of the way. The kindly brutor moved beside her and pushed the man away as he tried to come back.
"Leave her be now, or I'll make an issue, yes?"
Running her hand over the console she brought up command screens from a supposedly locked menu and started sifting until she found the right ones and activated a function. A panel opened on the console revealing a palm scanner and a blood tester. Blowing the dust from it she placed her hand on it and squeezed. The screens ran a quick diagnostic then flashed up a picture and a small biography. The old man looked back at her.
"That's station security files. How in the pits of the pilgrims did you do that?"
"I don't know. It just seemed the right thing to do."
She looked at the picture. It was definately her, but with long black hair, and no tattoo. She read the name out loud.
"Carmilla D'morenta. That's who I am apparently."
Turning to the brutor she smiled weakly.
"Lets find my locker, then if you can show me to the medical bay I'd apprecaite it. Somehow I dont recognise this place, I feel blind, like my memory is clouded."
"Well lets get you dressed first, yesno?"

Looking into the locker she found her clothes, or at least she assumed they were hers. A crimson kimono with a large pale blue belt, high heeled boots and a small purse with identification documents. She looked at them, but it had a different name, Carmilla Deritan. At the back a heavy pistol and a discrete makeup bag and overnight case. Dressing she turned to the old brutor.
"Well missy, you sure look beautiful. You look like one of those Khanid Geisha."
"It's all I have here. Come on, take me to the medical bay. I want to find out what's wrong with me."
"Well then missy, take my arm if you will."
Together, they walked to the medical bay, again as she looked around, none of it was familiar. Though she didn't show it, inside, she was scared.