Friday, April 4, 2014

For Services Rendered

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here.

I saw an article in the news that reminded me of an old(er) movie. I got the old "How could that be set in the Eve Online universe?" in my head. Which led to this. It’s a bit old school Greek to be honest. This is how I see capsuleers in New Eden. The Immortals sat on Mount Olympus playing with mortals lives for their own twisted enjoyment. This one is a bit longer than normal at 5k words-ish. Sorry, got carried away with this one!

TL;DR - Capsuleers are utter bastards!

For Services Rendered

"Armour down to 15%!" Garin shouted over the alarms on the bridge.

His wife, Kairi, just looked at him through the smoke as she frantically work at her console trying to get the shields back on line. She was scared out of her wits. The Angel Cartel cruiser fired again at their small research frigate. The bright red laser fire sliced into the engineering section setting off more alarms. Garin could see all was lost. He abandoned the defensive systems console and ran over to his wife. He embraced her as the hull breach alarms sounded, burying her face into the side of his neck and wrapping his arms around her protectively. Another explosion rocked the ship.

He whispered "I love you" into her ear as they waited for the end.

Garin and Kairi had been researchers at Duvolle Laboratories. They worked in warp theory and had been key players in the development of several advanced technologies over the years. Their bonuses from these discoveries had helped them save for 'The Beagle'. A small research frigate they had been using since they left Duvolle Laboratories to conduct private research into new methods of faster-than-light travel. They had grown tired of a company getting rich off the back of their own hard work so had left the company and gone to work for themselves. Things had been going well until this moment. They had been near to developing an enhanced warp bubble generator and tests had shown a 13% reduction in the power consumption needed to create the depleted vacuum. It would make them rich. They had taken loans to fund the last of their research and whilst the repayments were crippling, they were close to making big money. One of the final tests was to ensure the enhanced warp bubble functioned within the unstable gravity flux of an asteroid field. Unfortunately they had entered the field at the same time as a pirate cruiser. The engagement had been short. Theirs was a science vessel, not a warship. Their small crew had all been in the engineering section trying to boost power to the shields and had left the husband and wife team to man the bridge. The Angels had specifically targeted the engineering section and their pulse lasers had hit with deadly accuracy. The few surviving crew members from that strike had gotten to the escape pods but the pirates had captured them with a tractor beam as soon as they had launched. Garin and Kairi were the only ones still alive, and the way the ship was breaking apart, they wouldn't last long.

Garin opened his eyes which had been closed since he embraced his wife. Something must have happened. The ship should have been destroyed by now. Why weren't they dead? He then thought the pirates might try to board the ship and take them alive. He gazed at his wife and shuddered when he thought what might happen to her. A steady beep snapped him out of that horrific daydream. They were being hailed. He broke the embrace and went to the comms console. It didn't make sense, it wasn't the pirates hailing them. It was a Caracal class cruiser called 'The Murphy'. The Angel Cartel cruiser was no longer on scan. Garin was about to say something when the abandon ship alarm went off signifying the internal fires and structural damage had reached critical levels. The computer estimated total destruction within sixty seconds. Garin grabbed Kairi's wrist without responding to the incoming hail and ran to the bridge's escape pod which two minutes ago had been not an option with the pirates outside and their deadly tractor beam.

The husband and wife team climbed through the narrow hatch and strapped themselves into the small escape pod. Garin slammed the eject button and the hatched slammed shut. There was a roar as the powerful thrusters activated and the small pod sped away from the burning ship. They could see their life savings explode in a magnificent ball of fire in the small rear-view window before the blue-grey Caracal cruiser dominated their view.

The pod juddered as it was caught in a tractor beam and pulled towards the cruiser.


The door buzzer sounded again. Garin rubbed his head and got out of the warm bed, and he made his way across the room. It had been a long night. The escape pod was picked up by the Caracal almost immediately. They had been met in the cargo hold of the cruiser by an officer. He had told them his name was Executive Officer Landis. He explained that they came across the fight and had destroyed the pirate ship. He even apologised for arriving too late to save their crew and their ship. They had then been given a meal and some quarters and told to rest. That was some 12 hours ago and they'd both slept all night, exhausted as they were.

Garin opened the door to find Landis standing there.

"Good morning. I trust you slept well." he enquired.

"Excellently all things considered. We cannot thank you enough for saving us." replied Garin.

Kairi wrapped the bed sheet around herself and came to the door.

"Yes and more. Would it be possible to thank the Captain personally?" she asked.

"Well... I'm not sure that will be possible. You see 'The Murphy' is a capsuleer vessel. Our captain is an Empyrean sealed in his hydrostatic capsule in the belly of the ship."

Capsuleers or Empyreans where the elite star ship pilots of New Eden. Unlike regular captains, they were suspended inside a hydrostatic capsule which kept their body in a sort of suspended animation. The ship was wet-wired into their neural and central-nervous systems allowing them to control most systems with their minds. Whilst they still had a small crew, the Capsuleer could respond and react quicker and more efficiently than a normal captain with regular crew. This made capsuleer ships extremely powerful. The capsule also granted them immortality. Neural scanners built into the pod could capture a brain scan at the moment the capsule was breached and transmit the scan to a waiting clone in a distant station. When the ship docked, the Capsuleer could then leave the hydrostatic capsule and go about their business.

"Oh. Well in that case please, pass on our thanks." she replied.

The XO enquired if they needed anything. When they said no, he explained that due to their mission, the cruiser would be in space for three more days. They would then drop them off at a Federation station after that. Both Garin and Kairi thanked the XO again and asked him to thank the crew on their behalf before he left them to rest.


Garin emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He felt significantly better after a shower. Whilst he was rapidly approaching 40 he still worked out regularly. He was someone who subscribed to the old healthy body, healthy mind philosophy. His wife was only two years younger than him at 37. They had married young and children had arrived quickly after that. Two boys and a girl. The eldest boy and the girl were both at university. He was studying Graviton Physics and she, Political Science. Their youngest son wanted to join the Navy and was going through a private officer training college. It was expensive, but it would mean he could enter the Navy at officer level without having to work up the ranks. Garin looked at his wife laid on the bed. She too kept in shape and he wondered sometimes what a beautiful woman like her was doing with him. As he watched her he noticed her shake slightly, she was crying. He lay on the bed behind her, pressing his body against her and stoking her long glossy black hair.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"Everything" she sobbed "We've lost everything. All our savings, all our lifes work was invested in that ship. We have nothing. None of the research, none of the blueprints. We were banking on them, now they are gone. We cannot even pay the kids college fee's next month or the loan on our home. We've ruined their lives as well as our own."

Garin continued to stroke her hair lovingly. "Look" he whispered reassuringly "We'll work it out. We always have. We're alive and that’s the main thing."

They lay together for over an hour. Just two people comforting each other. The door buzzer finally made Garin rise. He opened the door to find Executive Officer Landis. He was holding two clothing carriers and two bags.

"Compliments of the Captain. He'd be honoured if you would join him for dinner tonight. Say eight o'clock?".

Garin thanked him, took the offered bags and returned to the bed sneaking a peek inside the carriers.

"I guess we are dressing up tonight." he smiled at Kairi as he showed her what was in the clothing carriers.


They were collected up by an officer in dress uniform at twenty hundred hours ship-time sharp. The officer took them to one of the upper decks and opened a door for them. They stepped into an amazing ornate dining room. Garin gave a small laugh at the absurdity of the situation. 24 hours ago they were getting ready to die. Now he was dressed in a dinner jacket with black tie with his gorgeous wife, in a shimmering blue satin cocktail dress looking amazing. They were standing in one of the most impressive dining rooms he'd ever seen. All in deep space aboard a warship.

Sat at the table was a man. As they entered he stood and walked towards them. Kairi studied him with a scientific eye. He looked Gallente and in his early 40's. She knew there was no way to guess his real age. He was a capsuleer and could change bodies as most people changed clothes. He could be in his early 20's or could be over 150 years old. It was impossible to say. He was immaculately dressed. The grey suit was fitted and hugged every contour of his body. He was certainly attractive and moved with the grace of a big cat. The way he looked at her as he approached, for a split second, made her feel as if she truly was the prey of a big cat.

"I am Captain Gage. It is a delight to meet you both."

Pleasantries were exchanged and they took their seats at the table. As soon as they sat waiting staff appeared from nowhere with a gazpacho soup and exquisite white wine.

The meal was fabulous, fit for a State banquet. As they were finishing their coffee Kairi, had to ask a question that had been nagging her all night.

"You are a capsuleer then?"

"Yes I am." replied the Captain. A glint in his eye showed he was interested where this was going. He placed his glass down and shifted slightly to face her.

"How did you get out of your capsule without docking the ship?" she asked. The Captain smiled.

"This is what we call a hybrid ship. It has an internal pod gantry that allows me to enter and leave my pod at will. It is not an overly pleasant experience as you can imagine so I don't do it too often. Also it puts me at risk. Here I am mortal and should the ship be destroyed I will die unless I can get back to my capsule and jack back in. It also puts my crew at risk. Capsuleer vessels require significantly smaller crews due to the amount we can do when wet-wired into our ships. Right now the crew is working harder and less efficiently than a normal crew whilst I am un-jacked."

"So if it puts your ship at greater risk and works your crew so hard, why did you leave your capsule tonight?" Kairi asked.

"I wanted to meet you both in person. Holograms are useful, but not very personal are they?" the Capsuleer smiled. "Shall we?" and with that the capsuleer stood and held out an arm indicating they should move over to a door in the back wall.

Garin and Kairi followed as the Capsuleer went through the door and into a small room. There were a few seats and a small table with a bottle of amber liquid with glasses. The capsuleer gestured for them to sit and poured the drink.

"This is my favourite room for an after dinner drink." he said.

Kairi looked around. The room was small and the main wall in front of them was just unpainted metal with no decorations or art. A blank, boring steel wall. She raised an eyebrow at the capsuleer.

"Oh sorry" he said "Computer, transparency on."

Suddenly and entire section of the wall just faded away to nothing and they were left with an amazing view of the cosmos.

"To life amongst the stars!" the Capsuleer said, raising his glass. Garin and Kairi repeated the toast and sipped the very expensive brandy.


Several hours flew by as the three told stories and chatted about their past. Finally the Capsuleer glanced at his watch.

"So we'll be docking in about 36 hours. What do you plan to do next?" the capsuleer enquired.

He saw Kairi's demeanour change instantly.

"I'm sorry, did I say something wrong?"

Garin spoke up before his wife, fearing she may cry.

"We don't know. To be honest everything we owned and all our money was invested in that ship. We took a gamble, rolled the dice and I'm afraid we came up with snake-eyes. We just need time to think of the next step." Garin explained hoping the Captain would have the tact to drop the very touchy subject.

Thankfully he simply gave a half smile, nodded understandingly and refilled the glasses with more Gallente brandy.

They changed subjects and chatted for a while longer. However, each time the subject inevitably came around to money or the future and the conversation would die suddenly.

"Look, your loss is obviously a massive problem to you. Where are you based?" the capsuleer finally asked.

"The system of Villore currently." Garin replied guardedly wondering where this was going.

"So, you deal in Federation Credits." the capsuleer picked up a data pad and started inputting some numbers. "Would 4.8 million credits cover your loss?" he asked nonchalantly.

Garin and Kairi looked at each other wide-eyed. That number was many times more than what they had lost. That amount of money would not just replace their ship, it would buy them a better one. They'd have money to cover all three children's educations from now until they graduated and it would also support them with their living costs for the remainder of their college days. It would pay off the loan on their home completely and still leave them with a large chunk of cash left.

"Yes." replied Garin finally, still guarded.

"Well then I have a proposition for you. You can provide me with a service which I will pay you 4.8 million credits for."

The husband and wife glanced at each other.

"What service could we possibly offer a Capsuleer?" Garin asked. He had folded his arms across his chest and his body language had become decidedly defensive.

"I am a capsuleer. I am immortal. That plays havoc with ones love life. I can never be in a real relationship with a mortal, she would wither and die before my eyes over the years. As for other Capsuleers, well to be honest we don't seem to get along with each other in the long term. When you truly have eternity together, things get very boring very quickly. Small annoyances grow to massive bugbears over the decades. One night stands? Oh they are always available for the rich and powerful. But you can only take so much of the over-the-top moaning and groaning from high-class call girls and their mechanical, detached, love-making. I would like a night with a real woman, not a hooker, not a call girl, but a real woman. A mother. A wife. Four point eight million Federation Credits for one night with your wife Garin. Just the one brief night and then you will leave my ship with her and the money and you will never see me again."

Garin's face went red and was about to shout when the Capsuleer held up a hand which stopped him.

"I know exactly what you are about to say. You are about to refuse my offer point blank, you'll probably question my parentage and then threaten me with violence. Please don't say or do anything you'll later regret. I will leave you two, to talk now . A member of the crew will come to your quarters at eighteen hundred hours ship-time tomorrow. You can send them away, or Kairi can go with them and you can let them bring her to me. If this seems one-sided we have girls on board for you Garin, if you so wish. You both might find it easier that way. Anyway, good night."

As the capsuleer rose and turned to leave, Garin clenched his fists and started to rise. Kairi put a hand on his shoulder stopping him. He sat back down and watched the Captain leave.

"I cannot believe the nerve of that guy" Garin hissed almost shaking. He turned to Kairi and noticed she didn't seem angry. He raised his eyebrows in shock.

"We need to talk about this." Kairi said in a hushed tone. Garin looked at her aghast.


They had returned to their quarters and had indeed talked. Garin had started furiously. He was angry that Kairi even wanted to discuss it and that they should forget that the whole thing ever happened. Kairi trying to get him to talk about it only increased his rage. Finally it became too much for him and he broke down sobbing. Kairi went up to him and embraced him.

"I'm not the only woman you've ever slept with am I?" she asked in a hushed tone "Were there others before me?"

"Yes." he answered.

"Did you love those other women?"

"No!" he replied forcefully.

"So you can go to bed with someone without love? Without an emotional connection? Just sex?"

Garin shook his bowed head, he could see where this was going but didn't know what to say. Did she want to go through with this?

"You... you want to do this?" he stammered.

"No. I don't want to do this." she emphasised the word 'want'. "But do we have a choice? If you say 'no' after we have properly discussed this then I won't. But I ask you what is the alternative? I ask you to think about our family. The kids will be kicked out of college, we'll lose our home and the bank will seize all of our assets to cover the loans we took to fund the last of our research. The five of us will be on the streets, homeless. What will we do? Where will we go? How will we survive? Isn't one meaningless night worth it to prevent that and also secure our futures forever? Isn't it worth it to stop the utter destruction of our family? Is what I am being asked to do tomorrow night any worse than what we might be forced to do in order to survive a few months down the road. What the kids might have to do to survive? When we are on the streets, cold and hungry, what will we all do to survive?"

Garin looked at her with red eyes. She was right, they had no options. He moved in and kissed her deeply. They collapsed on the bed and made love. Anything to delay the decision that they had to make.


The door chimed at exactly 6pm ship-time time the next day. The door opened and the Executive Officer in dress uniform was confronted by Kairi. She was stood there with the small bag in her hand. Garin was sat on the bed behind her with his head in his hands.

"You don't need the bag ma'am" he said polietly "Everything you will need has been provided for you."

She simply nodded and placed the bag on the floor. She looked over her shoulder. Garin looked up with bloodshot eyes. She mouthed "I love you" and followed the Executive Officer down the corridor. The door hissed closed as she left.

After a quick ride in the lift the XO showed her into a room off a long corridor. "You will find everything you need here ma'am, to get ready. The Captain will collect you for dinner at twenty hundred hours." With that the officer left leaving Kairi alone in the room.

Back down in their quarters the door chimed again. Garin leapt up in hope. Had Kairi changed her mind? Had she decided that she could not go through with it. He knew she was right, if she didn't do this not only were their lives ruined but also their children’s. But he also wanted to her to say no, that he was the only man for her. He opened the door and was disappointed that it was the XO stood there. Garin sighed in resignation realising she was really going through with it. He went back to the bed and sat down. Landis entered the room.

"Sir. I know this is a very difficult time. However, the Captain has asked me to ensure you want for nothing tonight." The XO cleared his throat and movement at the door caught Garin's eye. Slowly, one by one, five women entered his room and stood opposite him. There were two Gallente women and one of each of Matari, Caldari and Amarr. All five were utterly beautiful and dressed to kill. Garin just held his head in his hands.

"I'll leave you alone sir. Please take your time and choose as many as you wish. The girls you do not need know their way out." and with that the XO left the room.

Garin looked up at the five high-class call girls and shook his head at the situation. The five beautiful women stood there smiling and flirting with him, all with pure lust on their faces.

Up on the top deck Kairi was finishing getting ready. The Capsuleer certainly had expensive tastes. Her clothing had all been laid out ready for her and an AI hologram had been on hand to advise her on dressing, make-up and hairstyle. The black satin cocktail dress she wore was from one of the best and most exclusive Gallente fashion houses. Same for the shoes and the lingerie. She smoothed the dress over her legs, trying to hide the tell-tale bumps of the suspender belt holding up the very expensive black Amarrian silk stockings that she wore. The material of the dress was too thin to hide them. She assumed that was the point. She had actually struggled in getting ready, she'd never worn anything like this before and at one point the AI hologram had to correct her. She lifted the hem of the dress and tried to adjust the suspenders one last time to try and make them comfortable.

She checked herself in the mirror. She had to admit to herself, she looked amazing.

She was still checking herself out in the mirror when the door chime made her jump. She walked over in the stiletto heels that probably cost as much as an entire semester for one of her children’s college fees. She took a deep breath and pushed the open button on the door control. The door opened and the Capsuleer was stood there, smart in a light grey suit.

"My! Kairi! You are a vision of beauty!" he said.

Kairi's heart fluttered. She hadn't felt like this for years. It was like she was on a first date. She was nervous yet, she felt ashamed to admit, it could also be a little excitement. The Capsuleer was attractive and if she had been single... but she'd never been with another man since her husband. But this wasn't a date, this was a contract. Four point eight million credits for services rendered.

The capsuleer lent forward and kissed her gently on the mouth. She didn't respond.

"It is not too late to back-out" he said mentally noting that she did not return the kiss "Just say and I'll arrange for you to be escorted back to your quarters. No hard feelings."

Kairi didn't know what to do. The thought of going back to Garin sounded like everything that she wanted right now. However, she knew the consequences if she backed out. She had no choice, she was trapped. She shook her head slightly.

"Are you sure?" the capsuleer asked "I will not force you, and you need to be a willing participant, otherwise all bets are off."

"Yes, I am sure." came the whispered reply as she hung her head in shame.

He stroked his palm gently and lovingly over her cheek. She closed her eyes and thought about her husband, her children. The past. Their potential future. What would happen to her family without the capsuleer’s money. What would happen to them if she didn't go through with this. She raised her head to look at him.

The capsuleer ran his thumb gently over her lips. He looked deep into her eyes and lent in again for the second kiss, his hand snaking behind her neck, under her hair and pulling her head gently forward to meet his.


Garin heard the door to the quarters hiss open. He was sat on the end of the bed and sprung to his feet. Kairi stood there in the doorway looking in at her husband. It was a look of both shame and sorrow. A single tear ran down her cheek. Garin realised he hadn't been keeping track of time. He glanced at the wall, it was 0800 ship time. He'd been sat there all night. Kairi stepped forward into the room and he moved to meet her. They embraced together. For minutes they stood there, just holding each other, not saying a word. Each wanted to ask the other about the previous night, but they had agreed not to speak of what each did. They finally collapsed on the bed, still embracing, and cried into each other’s shoulders.


Four hours later the XO escorted the married couple to the main airlock following their arrival at a station in the system of Fricour. He passed them a data pad as they passed through the thick steel door.

"Four point eight million Federation Credits have been deposited in your account. I hope that brings you and your family happiness." he said with sincerity.

Garin and Kairi nodded with half smiles and briefly thanked him. They walked through the airlock and down the ramp, hand in hand to the bustling space station promenade and vanished into the crowd.

Suddenly a hologram of the capsuleer appeared next to the XO.

"Excellent work Landis." he said.

"Thank you sir."

"Did the husband partake?" the capsuleer asked.

"No sir. He sent all five girls away as soon as I left and remained on his own the entire night. Given his wife was in your quarters all night and you paid them the money, I assume she was compliant?" the XO replied.

The hologram of the capsuleer chuckled. "More than you can ever believe. She was excellent. Really made me feel like I was her lover. She was a very good find Landis, well done. I had a very, very enjoyable evening. I don't know how you find these sometimes."

"Well sir, those two were found using my, shall we say 'slightly unauthorised', access to the local banking systems. I have a bot in the system that identifies married couples in their 30's with children whose bank accounts show they are either in financial trouble or have sunk their life savings into a gamble. Those with children are always a good target for your games sir. The bot identified those two a month ago. With a bit of digging I found they had gambled everything into that little science vessel and had a word with our pirate friends. Oh and we owe them two hundred thousand for staging the attack."

"No problem. Transfer the cash immediately and thank them for a job well done. So what have you got next for me? You'll have to work hard to beat the last one." said the Capsuleer.

"Well sir I'm hopeful this one will be even better." replied the XO as he started walking towards the bridge "For your next game I've found a Matari family running a mining vessel two systems over. The wife is just your type sir. Mid-30's, lean and fit with dark and dusky complexion. We could use our pirate friends to attack them, board their ship and snatch their two young children. It would be easy to paint over the Angle Cartel markings with some Amarrian Slaver markings. We then turn up just in time to rescue the husband and wife from their burning ship, but after the 'slavers' have warped off. Of course they will beg you to pursue the slavers and rescue their children. You would need to play the normal 'bastard capsuleer' role this time. Say that you'll rescue the kids from the evil slave traders if they pay for your trouble. Of course these poor miners could never afford capsuleer rates and have nothing to offer. So after they plead a bit more you can 'take pity on them' and agree to save the kids if she makes, shall we say, a special payment to you."

"I like it." replied the holographic capsuleer with a large grin. "Yes, I like that plan a lot. In fact she'll be so desperate she'll agree to anything won't she? I have an idea, I'd like one of my resident girls to play my twisted girlfriend in this one. Maybe that black-haired Gallente one, Yvette? She likes girls too right? Oh, and nothing for the husband. He just gets to sit in the quarters and imagine what me and Yvette are getting up to with his wife." the capsuleer chuckled.

"Understood Sir, I'll contact our pirate friends and tell them that they are playing slave traders next and to snatch the children and to wait at a safe spot until we turn up to 'rescue' the children. I will also ensure Yvette is briefed and appropriately dressed. The addition of Yvette will make it a truly inspired caper sir." the XO smirked.


  1. Nice work. I do enjoy your writing. o7

  2. Interesting story. With the recent brouhaha going on, when I finished the piece my first thought was "Another satisfied client for the bonus room."

    That was not intended as a slam. Not all stories are about princesses and fairytales. I do enjoy you work. Thank you

  3. Wow. Fiction *rarely* manages to surprise me. I mean, you can see most plot twists coming a mile away. You surprised me several times here, and that alone is worth a big congratulations.

    The female protagonist in the EVE fiction series I'm starting has a few flings with Angel Cartel pirates (hate sex FTW), but she's totally obsessed with a Jovian she can never have.

  4. Thanks all, really appreciate the feedback.

  5. First, I wanted to remind you, Angels don't use lasers... Then came that scam pirate, scam painting part and I was "oh, sooo... that's why...".
    Your friday fictions are the second best thing EvE related each week. :-)