I awake with a start - my body tingles, as if a jolt of electricity just passed through it, which in fact it did.
"Cassandra, take it easy. Lie still for a moment." The voice comes from behind me and out of my field of vision. The voice has an electronic overtone. The room is white, there are strong lights above me and I'm inside a transparent tube of some kind. I can smell disinfectant. There is a humming sound and I can see the transparent tube sliding away from me. There is a draught of fresh air which replaces the smell.
"Try moving your arms and legs Cassandra." The voice is clearer now, right behind me. It moves into my field of vision. It's a medical droid.
"Welcome to your brand new body." It speaks reassuringly in a female voice because studies have proven people are more receptive, or something like that.
"Take it easy Cassandra, your conscience has had quite a shock."
So this is it. This is what it's like.
"Your memories and all your personality and skillbase is intact and the transfer worked very well. We estimate 99.746% success. The missing percentage will be trivial memories that weren't important to your functioning. Can you remember what happened yet?"
Snapshots. Disconnected memories reassembling. A feeling of concern; a feeling of impending doom, of being stitched up, a feeling of helplessness and inevitability - of being unable to do anything about it. A feeling of disappointment. Rage. Hatred.
"In a day or two you'll remember everything. You were in the Sagain system in the Tash-Murkon region. Your ship was attacked and destroyed by a capsuleer pirate. You were - ganked? Isn't that the term? Your capsule ejected safely but was also destroyed by the pirate. You are back in the Conoban system in Hedion University's revival facility, in accordance with your contract with us."
The droid didn't use the term 'clone' presumably out of some kind of delicate sensibility. I am, nevertheless, a clone.
The next day...
I'm back in my Quarters at the Hedion University in Conoban. I have a splitting headache, and the med-techs in the revival facility have given me a series of medications to "help reassemble my memory". My body is exactly the same. They even reproduced my hairstyle and the tattoos round my right eye that I only had done last week. I remember everything now: I was en-route from Khanid Prime to Saminer, one of the southernmost systems in the Empire, to take a look at the Traumark Installation. Saminer is at the end of a stargate cul-de-sac, a depopulated dead-end. Saminer and the preceding system on the route, Sagain, are in lowsec (0.3 and 0.4 respectively), so this was a way of gaining experience, of stretching myself. Exposing myself to risk.
I did not expect a free passage through. Nevertheless, I did the due diligence: the Dotlan EVEMaps service, community messageboards, Corp commlink, the Star Map's 'Ships Destroyed in Last Hour' function etc. to build up a picture of how busy and dangerous these two systems were. Any lowsec rookie who doesn't do this is doing themselves a disservice.
I jumped into Sagain. There were only a handful of ships in-system. What I should have done is warped straight over to the other stargate to Saminer. Risk management. No, I wanted to hang out for a bit. I wanted to dock at the TransStellar place and pick up some equipment. I didn't have to, mind, but I headed over there anyway. There were two ships by the station. I thought, are they station-camping? There's hardly anybody else here.
Then the targeting warning sounded, Point Break was pounded by fire, heat and light, and not more than a few seconds later, I see the Capsule Ejected warning. There may have been another flag that indicated a response from CONCORD. After the event. Typical...
Then a dreamstate. Then the white light of the revival facility in Conoban. My original body, the body I was born in, the body that emerged from my mother's womb, is likely still floating in orbit around Saminer VIII as a piece of eternal flotsam like so much of the pollution that humanity generates. Now I am an almost perfect copy of my original self. As far as my thought processes go, in terms of my personality, it's mostly all the same. The revival process is so good, it even recreates the feeling of shame and humiliation - the feeling of defeat.
When I got back to my Quarters, I had two messages. One needless and terse two-liner from the University reminding me of what I already knew:
And another from CONCORD, confirming that the agency had reacted to the bastard's attack, and that I now have a permanent killright on her, with no statute of limitations. A licence, to take the bastard down on sight, anywhere in New Eden:
I looked up my death on the zkillboard service - a macabre league table of violent narcissism. I found my death and the details of the bastard that killed me:
Zkillboard is actually useful in that you can build up a profile of your antagonist based on their statistics. What this shitbag does is repeatedly camp out in quiet lowsec systems for hours at a time and preys on passing trade, most likely rookies, outgunning them using overwhelming weapon superiority. You can see from zkillboard that I wasn't the only one who this shitbag killed on this day. So what you have here is a boring, unimaginitive psychotic for whom the killing is like a permanently unfulfilling conveyor belt of need, but who needs the odds to be overwhelmingly on their terms.
Now I know what the missing fraction of a percent is from the transfer of my mind into a new body. I have been cleansed of it - relieved of the burden of self-preservation. I now see a clarity of purpose forming. I see a future in bounty hunting. Detective work. Hunt them down, kill them a few times, then find them in a station and cap them in their sleep, ending their suffering once and for all, because capsuleers are only immortal in a capsule.
As of now this is a Crusade. I tried to observe the Sacred Flesh Doctrine just like Empress Jamyl, but at the end of the day even she found it inconvenient when the situation changed.
Later on I got another message from Aire Arryns. Another terse one-liner. It said: "I heard you died."
I replied: "Yes".
He responded with one word: "Good".