Friday, November 1, 2013

My Sister's Ship

This will be an entry for the Pod and Planet fiction contest. I thought I'd try and write a Eve-O expansion chronicle type piece for Rubicon.

In other news I have another Novellette almost ready. This one is slightly shorter than "A Second Chance at Life", less than 20,000 words as I recall. I pay crap, but if anyone with good Ingrish skills out there fancies proofreading it I'll throw some ISK your way (I split a billion between three who did last one) plus give you a credit in foreword of the e-booklet.

My Sisters Ship

A huge window looked out towards the planet below. The conference room lights were dimmed which made the view into space even more spectacular. The sun had moved behind the temperate planet of X-7OMU II and created a black orb against the star field.

Santimona Sarpati looked away from the window and up at the large display screen as the engineer stood recounting lists of boring specifications and technical data to the board who were seated around the large conference table. The CEO of the Sisters of Eve glanced around the various executives present. Some were looking intently at the big screen on the far wall that displayed the images and data of the prototype craft. Others appeared disinterested and were flicking through their datapads.

She discreetly glanced at her own datapad as the engineer described the improved electronic sub-routines that increased the strength of the scanner probes by 19.43%. There were three new messages. The refugee crisis in Black Rise was worsening. The Gallente-Caldari war was swinging backwards and forwards every six months. There was a message from her team out there requesting more support against the bureaucracy that was hampering their rescue efforts. The next message was reporting that the situation in Fountain had died down substantially. The capsuleer war there had been short and brutal. Millions had died and millions more had been displaced. However, the Sisters involvement was now reducing, she hoped they could be end major relief operations in that region before the end of the year. Finally there was a message regarding the famine on Konora III. Unusual solar flare activity had led to the planets entire crop failing. 400 million people were in danger of starvation and the Minmatar Republic had asked both the Sisters of Eve and the Gallente Federation for help. The message she had received was from a member of President Jaque Roden's Federation cabinet who responsible for external aid and relief efforts. The sleazy politician was probably suggesting dinner again to 'discuss' the situation. She rolled her eyes, another evening meeting where she would be trying to get an agreement on aid shipments and he'd be trying to talk her into bed.

Santimona looked back to the big screen, the engineer was summing up and a video simulation was playing in the background showing the new ships moving towards a half-destroyed Nyx class super-carrier. Flames and wreckage spewed from the crippled craft as the bright white prototype ships moved towards it. A large explosion inside the Nyx blasted a chunk of wreckage towards one of the approaching frigates. The small ship gracefully dodged around the massive chunk of spinning metal and resumed its course towards the stricken craft. Most of her board were now busy with their datapads having heard enough. The CEO knew as soon as it got to the questions segment they'd all be paying attention. She knew that after she asked the first question all hell was going to break loose. Inwardly she smiled, this was going to get very interesting in the next two minutes.

".... and so esteemed executives of the Sisters of Eve, I give you the Astero and the Stratios. Next generation ships, designed from the ground up, to specifically serve the requirements and needs of the Sisters of Eve." the Engineer concluded.

There was a polite round of applause as the lights in the conference room were turned up. The room went silent, the engineer who had been giving the presentation looked at the CEO expectantly. She cleared her throat.

"Excellent work. Please pass my gratitude onto the engineering team. These are impressive and iconic ships that the very sight of will bring hope to those in the most dire of situations. When all hope appears to be lost, when death appears to be the only certainty, the sight of these craft will be a beacon of light in the terrible darkness."

Another polite round of applause. The CEO smiled and nodded in acknowledgement whilst thinking "Bunch of kiss-asses!".

"I myself have only one question for the design team." she continued. "Could these ships be made capsule compatible?"

There was a moments stunned silence, then the room erupted in shouts and hand waving. She fully expected this, she welcomed this. It was time to have this discussion once and for all and the unveiling of the designs of these new ships was the perfect opportunity. She sat up straight and eye-balled each director. Slowly the shouting died down to a murmur.

"I'm sorry? I thought this was the executive board of the Sisters of Eve, not a Matari school playground."

Embarrassed looks were exchanged around the room.

"Now I know this is a delicate subject, so you'll all get your chance to give your opinion. But first, I asked our Engineer a question. Can they?"

All eyes turned to the engineer stood at the end of the table.

"Yes ma'am, the actually design changes needed to make any ship capsule compatible is actually easy to design in and doesn't require much special..."

The CEO raised the palm of her hand. The Engineer realised he'd answered the question and he abruptly shut up.

"So that is a yes then. Before I go around asking you each of your opinions and we take a vote, you will listen to mine. The Sisters of Eve is THE premier rescue and disaster response organisation in New Eden. We are the ones the Empires turn to in times of crisis. We have no political bias. We will save those in need whether they are pirates or monks, saints or sinners. Yet there are sometimes when we ourselves need additional help. The capsuleers, whatever your opinion of them, are a valuable tool in certain limited circumstances. Whether you agree with it or not, we have a long history of working together. Since the new laws, which were implemented this year, that required scan probes have auto-return subroutines included, fewer capsuleers have been approaching our agents looking for work. Pilots are no longer losing our modified scanner probes as much, therefore demand for replacement probes has fallen drastically. This has meant many of our capsuleer contracts have been going unfulfilled and we have suffered, and when we suffer other people suffer. The demand for the goods we offered as a reward for services rendered has dropped, therefore the capsuleers have been offering their time and services to other organisations where they can make a better profit. We need to offer them something to bring them back to working for us. These ships are unique, there are nothing like them. Yes, New Eden would be better off without the capsuleers, there is no doubt about that. However, the fact of the matter is they are here and there is nothing we can do about it. So do we distance ourselves further from the capsuleers, or do we make use of their services for the greater good?"

Again the room erupted in shouts and again was silenced by a wave of the hand from the CEO.

"Titrutolf?" she asked the Minmatar Chief of Staff.

"It is a difficult one. We all know sometimes we need firepower to prevent further disaster and loss of life. It is perhaps one of our greatest issues we must wrestle with on a daily basis. Destruction and death for the greater good. Some around this table may say violence is never an answer, but they are wrong. Whatever your opinions of the capsuleers are, we need them. We have tried contracting traditional mercs, but we have found that this usually only leads to more deaths. I agree with the proposal, the Empyreans have deserted us for more profitable organisations, we need something to tempt them back. These ships are the answer."


The head of administration and chief financial officer steepled his fingers under his chin.

"The finances have been very strong lately. This is simply because we are no longer paying out billions of Interstella Kredits in capsuleer contracts. Since the demand for our scan probes dropped, they have been seeking greener pastures it is true. Well, more profitable pastures at least. In fact we have a surplus of cash. From a finance point of view we are better now than ever. However, I do not think we should be talking about money, we should be talking about actively encouraging capsuleers! They are the angels of death in New Eden and we expend more resources cleaning up after their destruction than on any natural disaster or war! We cannot, we must not, encourage or support these Empyreans. The fact of the matter is that the cluster would be a safer place without them! They will not use these ships for good! They will use them to destroy! I will vote no."

Slowly Santimona Sarpati worked around the room, each of the board members taking one stance or the other, very few sat on the fence other than Vampant Antyles. The head of the archives recounted several incidences where capsuleers working with the Sisters had prevented massive losses of life. A silence engulfed the room when he recounted the plague on Gicodel IV where a lone capsuleer was able to save the vaccine after pirates had hijacked the shipment. Tens of millions of people had been saved due to that one capsuleer. However, as impartial as ever, Vampant also recounted several incidents where the Capsuleers had caused huge losses of life completely unnecessarily. In the end he admitted he didn't know if the Empyreans were a blessing or a curse on the cluster.

The last of the executives gave their opinions. There were those who believed the Sisters should not be associating with the capsuleers and that they should cut ties with these immortals totally. Others pointed out that whilst an aid agency, the Sisters regularly needed a more military solution to problems to prevent further loss of life. Compared to the other alternatives, capsuleers where the lesser of the evils. Finally the last executive, who was in charge of the Security Division, gave their opinion in support of the proposal and all heads turned back to Santimona Sarpati.

"Well unsurprisingly we appear to have two camps. Now I must ask you all to vote. Should our next generation of Sisters ships be casuleer compatible so that we can offer them to Empyreans as a reward for services rendered, or should be continue to distance ourself from them?" she asked.

One by one, each executive tapped their datapad. Within thirty seconds all the votes had been cast the results appeared as a three-dimensional graph slowly rotating above the table. The assembled executives had to crane their necks forward to get a closer look, the two bars appeared almost level.

Santimona Sarpati nodded, her face not showing any expression.

"The aye's have it by a single vote." she announced "The next generation of Sisters of Eve ships will be capsule compatible."

1 comment:

  1. As before, I'll offer myself up as a proof reader, however, let me state that any spelling and grammar markups will be made to the US standard