Saturday, April 25, 2009

Entry 03

*Logcam Activated*

The scene fades in again like the previous entries. The only differences are on Ethan's body -- his hair and beard have been recently shaved, and his eyes are slightly more sunken than before. There's also a medical bay identification tag wrapped around his wrist.

Begin entry 3.

You're probably wondering about the med tag. No, I haven't been to the cloning vats since my last entry -- but I'll get to that soon enough.

The university has been out of lockdown for several days now. It was nice to get out of the station for a change -- I plugged in, borrowed a shuttle and flew a couple laps around the system along with some of the other students. My studies are going all right -- I've been taking some engineering and microeconomics classes, nothing particularly interesting but all of it useful. The only really interesting thing that has happened lately was the set of orders I got from my Navy liason.

As part of my deferred enlistment, I'm still subject to the chain of command. This means that from time to time when they need something done and can't trouble the real navy to do it, I end up with the job.

Ethan leans back in his chair, tilting it up onto two legs with his feet propped against the desk.

This time I got sent to Nourvoukaiken -- we're actually docked at the Naval Assembly Plant around the tenth moon of Nourvoukaiken VII right now. My orders didn't say anything except to be at a certain local pub at a certain time wearing a certain color -- a little different from the usual official summons to the local fleet commander.

Ethan lets the chair sit back onto all four legs as he leans forward.

I'll admit to feeling a little nervous as I walked to the rendezvous -- the lift station was a long way from the pub and it was not in the most pleasant part of the station. I didn't know that space stations had ghettos, but I guess I shouldn't be that surprised.

It turned out that this time I was working for the fleet surveillance division, not command. I'll leave my contact's name out of this log -- security protocol, heh. He had a couple jobs for me -- mostly just the usual pirate hunting. As I skimmed through the datacards, he pulled one out and pushed it to the top. He was very excited about it, and the first line managed to get my attention pretty quickly. Apparently the Gallente found a loophole in the treaty of Iyen Oursta. Gallente corporations operating in our space are permitted to use armed spacecraft for security purposes, and my contact explained that the Gallentean government has been setting up fake businesses as an excuse to stage a military build-up in Caldari space.

The corporate government has only recently become aware of this problem, and currently is scrambling to find a diplomatic solution. In the meantime, my contact explained, one of the Gallentean front-corporations has been found in breach of the treaty due to a "filing error." The way he smiled at that part tells me all I need to know about how exactly that bit of paperwork got lost.

The plan was simple. Show up at the Gallente branch headquarters in Caldari space, declare them in violation of the treaty, and blast away. My contact wanted to come along for the ride, and I thought that was a little strange at the time, but hey, maybe he just wants to get out of the station for bit, right? So we jump to the Gallente's location and sound general quarters. The poor bastards aren't prepared at all -- we broadcasted our first warning about seven seconds after the first volley was away. I didn't even feel them going for a target lock until after the second volly. They didn't seem to be very well equipped -- there were about a half dozen frigates and a pair of destroyers, none of them with decent weapons or armor. The Moa I've been flying for the Navy (the Vincent) made pretty short work of them all. The bridge crew functioned well, nothing got past the shields, and the op was going smoothly -- until the last ship went pop. Then everything went to hell.

The station had been all quiet up to that point. All of a sudden I get four new red signatures -- retractable heavy missle turrets pop out of it's superstructure and start letting loose. It seems that someone on the Gallente side had finally realized what was going on. The Vincent is armed with blasters that have an optimal of less than 5km, and the station is about 25 clicks away, so I immediately jam her into full afterburner and start heading for the station knowing that this is gonna be ugly. The Navy Surveillance guy is screaming, the bridge staff is picking themselves up off of the deck scrambling to adjust the shield boosters, and missles keep coming in.

At this point I've had a sort of pressure building in my head through the entire op, and with the sudden increase in stress things started becoming really painful. I got us in close to the station and started blasting away at the launchers. Firing the Vincent's weapons didn't help things much, at least in regards to the pain I was feeling. At this point it was more than the normal burning from mangled shields -- this pain was coming from inside of me. I managed to keep it together long enough to finish off the launchers, but as soon as the last one melted into slag I blacked out.

Ethan fingers the paper medical braclet around his wrist.

I woke up in the med station -- still in my original body, thankfully. Apparently they didn't need to drop me into a clone. My contact person had assumed command when I passed out, and the crew had gotten the ship home safely. The doctors don't know why I felt what I did -- they're ruling it stress and over-work for now, and are ordering me to continue this log. I can't make any more sense of it myself -- I'd flown in a dozen combat situations between this one and last time I'd seen the medical staff with no problems at all. Maybe it is just stress.

Ethan pauses as if deciding whether or not to go on.

There is one other thing. I'd assumed that the station had surrendered after I blacked out. They had no weapons left, were crewed mainly by paper-pushing administrators, and the Vincent was still almost completely functional. Well, I reviewed the logs a day later and it turns out that that's only partly true. The station did surrender. They stood down and prepared to be taken into custody . . . and then my contact destroyed them. The Vincent fired on the station until it exploded from within, and then targeted any escape pods within range. He spent a half an hour hunting down escape pods.

Ethan is staring at the camera but his eyes are unfocused -- he is lost in thought. Suddenly he shakes himself back to the present.

I don't know why I mentioned that.

He pauses for a second longer, and then reaches behind the camera.

*End of Entry*

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Entry 02

*Logcam Activated*

The scene fades in more quickly this time and is very similar to the one previous to it. According to the timestamp on the video feed, only a dozen or so hours have passed since the first entry. Ethan sits back heavily into the chair at his desk before beginning to speak.

Begin entry 2.

The computer terminal beeps in the affirmative. Ethan takes a deep breath before continuing, this time looking directly into the camera lens.

Let's try this again. To be honest, I'm not really very comfortable with this kind of thing, so I'll get right to it.

I'm a pod pilot, or capsuleer as some like to call us, but I didn't start out that way. I was born on New Caldari. My family have always been soldiers, and so it was almost expected that I go into the military. I didn't mind -- fighting seems to come pretty naturally to me, and I'm not surprised considering the type of people that my parents are. Don't get me wrong, I love my parents, but they're not the most diplomatic of people. It was a . . . rocky . . . childhood, for me and for all of my siblings.

But that's all beside the point.

I joined the navy straight out of secondary school. Most of my classmates went into various corporate security internship and career training programs. I still remember "careers week" back on New Caldari. Corporate representatives were all set up in the gymnasium, all vying for the most promising candidates. My friends were all wowed by the flashy banners and loud music that was playing -- I tried to get them to look past the advertising to the infighting, corruption, and cutthroat competition that corporate life entails, but none of them would have it (even after two of the representatives got into a fight with one another over an alleged copyright issue that had been in the news). Of course the presentations were slanted heavily towards Liekshone, since our school is run by their parent Ishukone.

The Caldari Navy presentation, however, was much different. The representative spoke quietly and forcefully about our duty to the Caldari state as a whole, about how the navy was the only thing that stood between our lives and death at the hands of the Gallente. The brochures were realistic about one's chances of advancement in the Navy -- while possible, it was very unlikely that one would ever stride the bridge of a battleship as it's captain. I signed up then and there.

When I got home, my parents went ballistic. Corporate security jobs are better than Navy jobs in almost every way -- better pay, better equipment, and the chance for fast advancement if some corporate higher-up takes a liking to you. (It's only natural when you think about it -- aren't the corporations going to look after their own first? They all contribute to the Navy, of course, but strangely enough it's always the most flawed or outdated equipment.) "How could you do this to our family?" "Can you imagine what your grandfather would think?" "Four generations of service to Liekshone and you throw our family name away just like that?!?" They were only mollified when I told them that the Navy representative had told me that, given my test scores, I was right on the threshold to qualify for capsuleer training.

What he didn't tell me was that "right on the threshold" means "not good enough." I failed my first entrance exam to the State War Academy in spectacular fashion. I was even young enough to be surpised, ha -- having been the best student in school all through my childhood, failing at something was a new experience. I spent a year as a machinists' mate on a Drake, studying and perparing for next year's exams. Full of confidence this time, I went in smiling -- and failed utterly once again. It was at this point that my parents started with the "I told you so" routine. I started feeling bad about it until I realized that I could block their interstellar mail address. I guess there are some benefits to being in deep space for months at a time.

I failed the exams twice more. I told myself that my fifth attempt would be my last, and if I failed I would resign myself to a life of reactor maintenance. Lo and behold, I scraped by -- I was admitted to the State War Academy on academic probation. After graduation, I applied and won a scholarship to attend the Eve University, deferring my enlistment for my graduate studies. And that's where I am right now.

However, I'm still subject to yearly physical examinations by a Naval medical officer, and that's where this log comes in. Took me long enough to get around to the point, eh? I've been having some sudden, sharp pains in my head and body ever since I got the capsule interface implants. Most of the time it's not really anything worth mentioning, but occaisionally it can get pretty bad. I know that there's supposed to be pain involved when you're flying a ship in combat, it's only to be expected when you're neural net is wired in that closely to something that's getting shot at. However, I was . . . temporarily . . . convinced that maybe it was something else and made the ultimate mistake of asking the med tech about it. Two hours of lecture about the dangers of pod interfacing later, and now I have an official order to keep this video log as a record of pain I experience while flying. Sometimes I surprise myself with my own stupidity . . .

Not that I have had a chance to fly recently anyway. It turns out that the university, as a corporate entity, can be engaged in warfare just like any of the Caldari corporations. We've been in lockdown for the past several weeks, mercenaries or something -- I don't know. The war should be ending, though, so hopefully I'll have something to document soon.

Ethan pauses before laughing to himself.

Or, rather, hopefully I won't have anything to document.

Ethan reaches forward to a switch behind the camera's field of view, and the feed cuts out.

*End of Entry*

Entry 01

*Logcam Activated*

The darkness fades into static as the video feed initializes. After a few jittery bursts, the view stabilizes and a small, starkly furnished metallic room is visible. The unmade bed, desk, and closet fill most of the available space, and through an open doorway at the back of the room a cramped washroom is visible. A man is leaning over the camera adjusting something -- the image scatters again before finally coming into focus. As he leans back into the chair next to his desk, his face becomes visible. He appears to be in his mid twenties, with a sharp jawline, thick lips, and deeply sunken eyes. A Caldari citizen identification barcode has been tattooed on his right cheek. His hair has been buzzed off in the Caldari military style, but the bristles on his chin and scalp are ragged and numerous. He seems to have trouble looking directly into the camera lense for any length of time, and clears his throat nervously before beginning to speak.

Begin personal journal, Kragstar, Ethan J. Caldari Citizenship Identification Number 348159267. Password is bREh5Get. Confirm password: bravo, romeo captial, echo capital, hotel, five, golf capital, echo, tango.

The terminal on Ethan's desk beeps in the affirmative.

Begin entry one.

Another beep.

This is Ethan James Kragstar's personal journal. I don't really know what to say, I've never . . . done anything like this before. I'm a pod pilot . . . and a Caldari soldier. My original body is, uh, twenty six years old. Right now, uh, I'm in the Korsiki system . . . training for . . .

Ethan trails off, staring at a spot on the floor and seemingly unaware of the nervous tic in his leg that has been developing throughout his short monologue. Suddenly he looks up, reaching towards the camera.

This is stupid. I already know who I am. Why I let him talk me into this I have no-

The feed abruptly ends.

*End of Entry*