Monday, 27 November 2017
The Yulai System, Sanctum Constellation, Genesis. Directive Enforcement Department Logistic Support Station - Yulai VIII (Deck 4, Section 8 - Licensing Dept.)
Weary-looking middle-management-filing-clerk-type enters what back in the day might have been called a 'Records Room', where, back in the day, millions of hard copy files might have been kept in reverent seclusion in a warehouse-sized space, with an army of people tending them in silence like a form of clergy. These days, it's just like a bunch of terminals in a small, under-lit office where no more than five people sit, day after day, performing the never-ending task of updating the DED Starship Registry Database. It's nowhere near as visually impressive. There aren't even any windows in here.
Weary-looking middle-management-filing-clerk-type sits down at his assigned terminal for the day (for hot-desking is a thing at the DED), and logs-in. The second thing that happens during the login process is that The System asks the person logging-in a question. This time it's 'Does your work at the DED fill you with a sense of purpose?'
Middle-management-filing-clerk-type reads this and gets a gigantic flashback to the fork-in-the-road-of-life that was the time when he got chopped after Year One of capsuleer school; an event that caused the kernel of a lifetime of bitterness to form within his then-young soul, a soul too young to recognise that kernel for what it was: the poison of thwarted ambition.
His response to getting chopped was a few wasted years of oblivion spent in bars and pleasure hubs. When the hangover wore off, the opportunity to move sideways into being a regular starship meatbody had kind of passed him by or not even occurred to him (because the glamour of pseudo-immortality is everything!); so the only remaining choice was to return planetside from whence he came, or embark on an oxymoronic 'career in admin' with the DED.
Thus it was, or is, that middle-management-filing-clerk-type reads the question that The System is asking him, here in the present moment, and he sees the abyss of failure encoded within it. He clicks on 'Skip To Main Menu'...
Then the swoosh of the door opening behind him announces the arrival of a boss/leader type, whose name he doesn't even know, because it doesn't really matter. This boss person approaches his burning hot-desk and its expectant terminal and hands him a sheaf of printouts and says: 'Here's today's updates for The System. There's a new one for the Watch List.'
That last sentence generates a brief flicker of interest in the filing clerk. He says: 'Oh yeah?'
'Yeah,' the boss says. 'Legion-class, recently returned from a long deployment to the Anoikis Cluster. Spent the best part of a year there. '
'What's unusual about that? Happens all the time doesn't it?'
'Yes, but this one, its captain has changed employer at the same time. Left a research-focused pacifist group with no record of criminality and joined - or rejoined a group that's based in low-security space. Thing is, she's worked for them before. It's all there in her history. We've seen this pattern many times. It's a slippery slope, and who knows what the hell she's brought back with her from that place.'
Middle-management filing clerk takes the sheaf of papers and turns to his screen. The boss-type turns and swooshes out of the room.
Filing clerk starts typing...
>DED: A DIVISION OF CONCORD
>STARSHIP REGISTRY ENQUIRY: READY
>WATCH LIST: NEW ENTRY
>Legion-class Strategic Cruiser
>Name: Empress of Amarr
>Crew Manifest (see appendix for further crew details):
>Ship's Master: Cassandra Orizi-Habalu-Dannidaana.
>Security Status: 5.0 (provisional - subject to change - see below)
Homeworld: Kor-Azor Prime IV.
Subject is heiress to the Proxima Direct Shipping Company fortune (status restored after recent Imperial decree clarifying capsuleer legitimacy within the Amarr Empire citizenry). Subject also known to possess interests in the Aridia region where she is a prominent political activist in her role as co-founder of the Ni-Kunni Capsuleer Development Foundation. Also known to possess interests in the Genesis, Tash-Murkon and Khanid regions. Operational track record demonstrates non-aggressive tendencies in general, except towards Covenant interests wherever found. However, recent activity involving a prolonged deployment to the Anoikis Cluster with her previous employer indicates the subject retains a strong interest in Jovian/Sleeper/Drifter culture, with a presumed interest in the acquisition of Sleeper-derived technology beyond that which is already developed as part of the baseline architecture of the Legion-class Strategic Cruiser she commands.
Subject's addition to the Capsuleer Watch List is therefore based on the subject's recent change in employer within the context of the default operational strategy of her new employer, combined with the presence of a former Amarrian Templar in her bridge crew in the role of Chief Weapons Officer [see appendix for full crew manifest], a combination which requires the DED to assume that unverified Sleeper-derived technology will be used in flight operations in low-security space with her new employer outside the authority, control and jurisdiction of DED/CONCORD.
>Status: Expected to change. Watch-listed as of 10:49 NEST - 14/11/119.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
The Manarq System, Sanctum Constellation, Genesis - 2121hrs, 10/28/119
I've been here a number of times before. I've spoken to her. I've worked with her when I brought the renegade Dagan in a couple of years ago. I last saw her a few months back. She'll remember me, right?
I started to open a channel but they got there first...
'Ship approaching this battleship, state your registry and identify yourself.'
'Legion-class, registration ARX/O/12883745/III, Empress of Amarr. I was wondering if, er, Lear was around?'
There's a few seconds of static. The sound of military bureaucracy moving at the speed of geology. We're not on a fluid router here. This is actual UHF ship-to-ship radio.
'I take it you mean Commander Evanus? She is not available. Please contact her through conventional channels. If you do not require any further assistance then please keep this channel clear. Goodbye -'
'No wait! Tell her it's Cassie. We go way back. I just wanted to say hello, that's all.'
'This is an Apocalypse-class battleship of Her Imperial Majesty's Navy, not a cruise liner, and nor is this channel a medium for light chit-chat. Goodbye -'
'No wait! Let me draw alongside. Just tell her I can see -'
'It's alright Captain, you can stand down. Cassie, it's Lear, switch over to this private channel I'm sending you.'
A window opens in my field of view. Lear!
'There, that's better. Now then Cassie, how have you been? How long has it been?'
'Ah, a few months, I know, I'm sorry, I've been busy.'
'You say you're going to call then you disappear for weeks at a time.'
'I know, but you know what I do, it comes with the territory.'
More static. The sound of me squirming with embarrassment even though I'm swimming in a pod and nobody can see me. Definitely nobody can see me, right?
'Hmmm, yes, yes it does,' Lear said. 'Anyway, that's a very expensive-looking ship you have there. Legion? Don't see much of those things round here, most ships that come through here are small-fry. Mostly destroyers. Boring. This is much more exciting. How many crew do you have?'
'None? Just me and a bunch of robots and a load of automation.'
'Are you telling me that ship runs itself? That you have it all to yourself? Does that even work?'
Another pause. The sound of disbelief.
'Don't you get bored?'
'Well, no, but, well, it works OK, but sometimes it gets a bit problematic.'
'Imagine if I had this thing all to myself. This huge ship. My God it would be torture. You have to have a crew to order around. That's the whole point. Who did your interior design?'
'I did. It's awesome. I have the most fabulous Captain's Lounge.'
'Who else gets to see it?'
'I rest my case. What about the problematic thing? What's the problem?'
'The automation centre. Sometimes it lags, gives false responses. The helm doesn't always answer immediately. Target selection sometimes doesn't even work and I have to keep on selecting over and over. This ship is incredible really but if I could hit it with a hammer then I would...'
'And I bet they told you the automation would be flawless, like you wouldn't miss a crew, right?'
'That stuff never works properly. You need a crew, you need slaves, you need a functioning community aboard that ship. What I wouldn't give to get off this clapped-out old crate and get me some real technology. In fact I'll come over there and join you right now.'
'Captain Tight-Ass back there wouldn't like it.'
'I'm joking. Listen, I'd love to chat some more. We must have - what is it you call it - chai?'
'Yes, that's it. Chai. Later darling!'
[voice channel closed]
Was it wrong to just show up like this? I know it's been a few months, but, you know, we all have lives, right? And I don't mean multiple lives in the capsuleer sense either.
Lear Evanus was right though, and to be fair, I had been coming round to the idea myself anyway. Just because you can fly a ship this big through an automation centre, doesn't mean you should. Sometimes I just need someone to tell me out loud what I already know.
A week later...
I docked the ship in Amarr. If you're going to recruit a crew - an entire ship's crew - it's best to go to the place where you're most likely to find people wanting to join a crew. The busiest place in Domain; the second-busiest place in the entire cluster. The trade hub.
So I got hold of a datapad, found the InterBus home page, subscribed to Crew Dock, placed an ad, retired to a favourite cafe, and waited...