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blankseplocked [Short Story] - The Analyst
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Doctor Carbonatite
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Posted - 2011.02.16 17:00:00 - [1]

Edited by: Doctor Carbonatite on 16/02/2011 17:06:16
The man looked out from his mountainside perch at the plains below. Despite the vast distance, he was sure he could see the grass swaying in the wind. A cold gust chose that moment to blow into his face. He inhaled a great breath of the refreshing chill and turned to the woman beside him. Even more magnificent than the scenic view, her features were indistinct. He could not make out any details, save her perfection, and she seemed to be in a constant state of change, with each incarnation better than the last. This, he had no doubt, was Heaven, a state far better than the Paradise the damned Amarr kept preaching about. He silently cursed to himself as it began to fade.

Kero rose groggily from his bed. The damned alarm seemed tuned to wake him as soon as his best dreams really got going. He wanted nothing more than to drift back into the dream, but experience told him you never return to the same dream, and besides, he had work to do. He hastily began preparing to go. One does not keep a capsuleer waiting.
He was not sure how, but he managed to arrive at the docking bay with a few minutes to spare. Kero had been working this job for two years now, yet still could not help but be awed at the sight before him. A Maelstrom-class battleship sat in dock preparing for departure. It was far from the first time he had seen one up-close, but he could never get used to it. The human eye and brain are simply not designed to take in and process the sight of a nearly kilometer-long machine. It was more than impressive. Not for the first time, Kero entertained a fantasy of owning and captaining one himself as he entered the lift that led to his station onboard.

It was not, for him at least, an unattainable dream; it was simply impractical. Kero was no capsuleer and would never be - genetic tests indicated a 97% chance that he would go into mind-lock were he ever plugged in to a pod. He much preferred to retain control of his body, thank you very much. He also did not at all feel like undergoing the years of training required to effectively captain one himself, and lacked the disregard for his own life so ubiquitous among rich but incompetent non-capsuleer independent captains.

He may very well own and lease one out someday, though. His wealth was beyond the dreams of the planetbound, visible but unreachable for the vast majority of those who lived and worked in space, and not inappreciable even by capsuleer standards. His last account check two days ago showed a balance of over 68 million ISK. Such wealth allowed him access to clones (his account balance check coincided with his last update of his stored self, just in case), though thankfully he had never had to use this yet. He was in full appreciation that he was one of very, very few ship's crewmembers who could easily afford such a luxury. He was also quite aware that he was more than worth it to the capsuleer who paid him.

The lift arrived at Electronics. Kero left and walked the thirty meters down the empty hallway to his "office" of sorts. On most battleships, this hall would have been bustling with the activity of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of other crewmembers. Yet Kero was alone, and the hallway silent. This was, he reflected, another perk of his unique career choice. While most battleships, even capsuleer-operated ones, there would be thousands of crew, this ship would have less than a dozen - all highly-skilled experts like himself. He arrived at his station and settled in behind his console, which was already booted up and configured to his preferences. "Signals station ready," he said aloud. The synthesized voice of the captain responded, "Acknowledged. We will begin undocking in fifteen seconds." As he felt the ship begin to move, Kero began his ritual of focusing himself and preparing to go to work.

Doctor Carbonatite
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Posted - 2011.02.16 17:03:00 - [2]

Edited by: Doctor Carbonatite on 16/02/2011 17:06:41
Kero was an expert in analyzing and interpreting signals from data scanners. Very few people, even among capsuleers, could do such faster and with greater accuracy. On this particular ship, with its singular purpose and extremely small crew, he was more valuable than his weight in gold. His ability to rapidly interpret nuances in the various signals detected by the scanners would be the difference between profit or bust - and for some, life or death.

"Scan incoming," he heard the captain say. His console lit up with data readings from a Badger Mk II industrial-class vessel, and his eyes and mind went to work. "Gravimetrics indicate some propulsion-jamming equipment in there, looks like some warp scrambler field and stasis webification field generators. Advanced tech, tech 2. Mag scans show lots of shield equipment, nothing special, again tech 2. Armor repair systems, one has Blood Raider fingerprints. Looks like a small cache of minerals in a secured container. Some projectile weaponry, cruiser-class, all tech 2. Total estimated cargo value: 215 million ISK." A second passed. "Acknowledged. Not worth it. We'll keep looking." This pattern more or less repeated itself, with minor variants, for the next five hours.

"Scan incoming." Back to work. The console showed a Sigil-class ship and the readings began pouring in. "Graviton signal again showing propulsion-jamming equipment, nothing special. Infrared shows lots of radioactives - he's carrying lots of antimatter rounds, looks like Federation Navy manufacture. Some shield equipment - basic rechargers, transfer drones, heat dissipation fields. Wait a second - multispectral dispersion field, unusual signal. Guristas, but not their typical stuff. This is really high-grade. Signature reads - holy crap. Signature indicates personal issue for Estamel Tharchon. That's an Estamel's Invuln." A few seconds passed, but Kero was already out of his chair and jogging down the hall. He knew what the call was going to be. "Acknowledged. All hands abandon ship. Firing in five seconds," he heard just as he reached the escape pod. The two women who operated the ship's sensor cluster were already there waiting. He entered, sealed the door, and punched the eject button.

As the pod sped away from the ship, Kero and the women watched from the viewport. The full rack of 1400mm howitzer cannons silently thundered along the side of the ship, each launching a projectile the size of a planetside personal transport toward the Sigil, which compliantly exploded. The brilliant flash lit up the Maelstrom they had just abandoned, and one of the women smiled. "There are few things more beautiful than a Maelstrom lit with the light of it's enemy's critical reactor," she whispered, though they all knew this was more a victim of opportunity than an enemy. They watched as another capsuleer vessel - an interceptor captained by a "corpmate" of their employer - sped toward the Sigil's wreck and began recovery operations. They returned their view to their own ship just in time to see CONCORD vessels arrive and begin firing upon it. Twenty seconds after the Sigil exploded, the Maelstrom followed suit.

Doctor Carbonatite
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Posted - 2011.02.16 17:06:00 - [3]

Edited by: Doctor Carbonatite on 16/02/2011 17:06:57
"Now we just wait for the station authorities to scoop our pod," Kero told the women. They were rookies to this work - he was a seasoned veteran. They continued to drift for another thirty seconds, then felt something bump against the hull of the pod. "Is that them?," one of the women asked. "No, too soon," replied Kero, and moved to the viewport. Two seconds later he clarified, "Corpse. Amarrian, so probably from the Sigil. God damn, there must be a hundred of them out there." Later on, he would find out that it had actually been seven hundred and eighty. "Station authorities will take another few minutes. They'll take us back to station, then release us." This was, he considered, a fatal flaw in the CONCORD system, but one that he could easily exploit. Just as CONCORD did not consider the lives of the crew members on board when they destroyed a capsuleer vessel in retaliation (strangely enough, sparing the life of the one person who could for certain come back), they did not hold surviving crew members responsible for the actions of their captain. No charges would be filed against Kero and the women, and their employer would simply drop in CONCORD standings until he did them a few favors by shredding Guristas pirate ships out in his normal home in nullsec. A couple of weeks later, and this whole scenario would play out again just the same. It was really quite amazing.

The capsuleer left that evening for nullsec. Kero returned to his home aboard the station accompanied by one of the women from Sensors, an attractive brunette. Not the woman of his dreams, but as his grandfather often said, "Dream in one hand and shyt in the other." She would do for now. Three days later he was forwarded his payment for the operation - ninety million ISK. He had made as much ISK in one day as many remote colonies could make in a year. He smiled to himself, turned to the brunette beside him, and drifted into dreams.

Doctor Carbonatite
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Posted - 2011.02.18 10:26:00 - [4]

Apparently I suck at this Embarassed

Posted - 2011.02.18 13:12:00 - [5]

Originally by: Doctor Carbonatite
Apparently I suck at this Embarassed

What makes you say that? Just finished reading and it was a good an enjoyable story. From what I've seen with my own peice (halfway down the first page of this board now) many people just read without leaving comments even if requested.

In terms of feedback on this I did like the approach of taking the whole event of a suicide gank from the perspective of a crewmember. Suicide ganking itself made for a nice interesting twist.

As I read I could see a few areas of improvement if you are interested:

-I am not certain but I think there is a small PF problem with the idea of the cloning for this guy. I was under the impresssion that the scanning of one's brain prior to cloning resulted in death, so storing at intervals as I beleive you described would not work. Each scan would kill him and he would need to be revived in a clone. I may be wrong though as this may have changed.

-The 5 hour pause: you may want to put an extra space there to seperate the two paragraphs.

-In dialogue each new speaker should start on a new line. In the pod conversation you have left all the conversation in one paragraph, making it hard to understand who is talking.

-The second to last paragraph didn't seem to work too well for me. I do not know exactly what could improve it but it seemed a bit too wordy and jumped topics a few times. There is nothing really bad about it but compared to the previous few paragraphs it seems to lack coherancy and purpose. This made the end let down what is otherwise a very good peice.

So bottom line: you don't suck. I enjoyed this peice and only a few minor problems listed above detracted from what was otherwise a unique and well written story.

Rafe Zetter
Posted - 2011.02.18 14:50:00 - [6]

Some decent descriptive writing in there ('silently thundering' is an interesting choice of words), but the dialogue is far too strung out and not at all realistic to my mind's ear.


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