A Sombre Coquetry Of Death

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The sound of the funerary violin was a sombre coquetry of death.

The single pitch split becoming two tones and held for nearly 4 minutes, then faded to silence.

Then the lone horn of Aurthrian sounded a long single tone.

The sound seemingly echoed throughout the Birch forest.

System stood as still as she was able to.

There were only forty three people encircled at the centre of the ceremony.  Another one hundred and eighty six were in the outer circle some 220 meters outside of the inner circle.

The two Athra sarcophagi, at the centre of the ceremony floated half a metre above the woodland floor, which was in the centre clearing of the Tra’vein forest that was deep inland of the Island.

The black surface of the sarcophagi seemed to be devoid of light, perpetually resisting any reflection or edges. Only the red and gold Amarrian emblem and the House Baud emblem were visible across the top surfaces of them.

The sarcophagi looked as System’s heart and spirt felt; cold and dark, but in full control by the sigil’s of her house and society.

Then the House Cleric, and childhood friend of her father, stepped forward and spoke. His long dark robes neatly pleated and his hood drawn down around his neck so his silver hair and full stature was seen and known.  He began solemnly,

“In the beginning all things were as one.
God parted them and breathed life into his creation.
Divided the parts and gave each its place.
And unto each, bestowed purpose.

The Amarr people came into the world and the world came into being.
Our illustrious ancestors freed their souls from the evils of the old world and created a new one.

The great Amarr Empire was founded to cultivate the spirit of man.

To do so the enemies of the outside had to be defeated.
And the enemies of the inside controlled.
The Lord gave our Emperor the power to harness the Good and punish the Evil.
Ever since, the Emperor has lived the lives of his subjects and breathed the air of authority.

The Wrath of God is Immense.
His Justice is Swift and Decisive.
His Tolerance is Limited.

Be Careful.  – Pure Thought is the Instigator of Sin.
Be Watchful.  – Free Thought is the Begetter of Disorder.
Be Respectful.  – Uniform Thought is the Way of Life.

The Mercy of our Emperor is Limitless.
His Rule is Benign and Righteous.
His Love is Perpetual.”

Then there was silence.

System looked up, and slowly, as not to draw attention, began scanning the circle of people close to her, making mental notes of who was in attendance.

The usual close family and friends were there.  Three of the people standing in the close circle had hoods cloaking their identity.  They were likely very high in power politically and were as anonymous as possible for security reasons.  They had, even though, been screened and cleared to the area by an Imperial security detachment that had been deployed by someone close to the top of the Amarrian government.  The security team was not there necessarily to guard the Baud House, but all those in attendance.  They did not want anything happening while such important people were here.

Other than the three cloaked visitors, System made mental note of the other forty individuals.  Six she would have to visit at a more fitting time in the weeks and months to come as a responsibility of now being the new leader of the Baud House. Twenty two of them she would send a gift to thanking them for their attendance.  The last twelve were close family that also lived on the Island.  She would have to postpone visiting them until a later time.

Then Tru’nar the Cleric looked her way and said, “System, as eldest daughter to Aurthrian and Victoria Baud, and now Heir High Matriarch of the House Baud, it is now time for you to address the funerary.”

The formal title Heir High Matriarch had never been utter out loud in regards to System and it shocked her a bit to hear it uttered.  A flood of memories filled her mind and she immediately tightened her lips and pushed the memories back.

She strode forward at an even pace until she was standing alongside the two sarcophagi.

The circle of people faded out of her perception as she reached out her hand and placed it lovingly on the cold black cylinder that contained her father.  She ran her fingers across the House Baud emblem feeling the edge between the cylinder and the paint.

She froze, feeling like every muscle, all at once decided to stop responding to her mind. Then a solitary Hue-gatal bird cawed out from a nearby Birch tree drawing System back to the physical world around her.

“My father…” she began her voice cracking and faltering just slightly. She drew in a deep breath and started again.  “My father, Aurthrain, … papa … da … was a man, an Amarrian that broke free from the constraints of society and forged a path of his own destiny. He was a loving father and husband, a tribute to our ancestors.  The legacy of the Baud House will be felt for many generations, though that is not why he chose the path he did.”

She paused, looked down at the ground below her feet, and again everything faded and she was 8 years old again reaching up holding her dear pa’s hand on the shore in front of her childhood house. His hand was warm, inviting, strong…. yet soft.

She blinked and drew in another deep breath and receded from the memory.

“He loved his wife and partner of forty two years, my mother Victoria, like no love I have ever seen or heard of.  He was a model to many, a safe haven for a few, and my first love.”

She stopped, a lump rising in her throat.  ‘Not now… no, not now,’ she thought.

Then like a broken cask, tears began to stream down her cheeks.

“I…  he… mumfth, “ her mouth seemed to stop working and her face become bright red off setting her blond white hair.  She had told herself this would not happen. She had chosen not to display emotion to these people, most of whom did not deserve to be inside her defences. And now, here she was, crying like a little girl who had lost her beloved stuffed fedobear.

Then the horn again blew.  A single low note bellowed out covering her sorrow. It went on for several minutes.

Unwavering and steady.

Mournful and solemn.

She was thankful for the distraction, but unhappy she could not continue with a few thoughts she had for her mother.

She strode back to her place in the circle.

Over the next 40 minutes many of the forty three stepped forward and each shared a story or two about her beloved Mum and Da.

Then the horn sounded a third time, long and rumbling, shaking the ground.

A space opened below the sarcophagi, the temporary sliding doors grinding to a halt. Then the two cylinders lowered gracefully into the ground.  The doors then lifted and floated to the side of the area. Another small platform, with a 2 metres high pile of soil, then floated over and tilted pouring half of the soil into the grave site. Then two small pods the size of a Bathran melon floated over to Systems side.

She reach down and pick them up, one in each hand.  She solemnly and slowly walked over to the half-filled grave and dropped in both pods. Each one settled over the top of where each cylinder was buried.

The pods would grow over the next few months, their roots going down into the buried sarcophagi, its sapling nourished by her parents, and in the years to come would grow into another pair of Birch trees here in the forest of their ancestors.

The platform tilted and the rest of the soil filled the hole completely, then it floated away to the side.

One last horn sounded for about twenty seconds, then immediately followed by nine short blasts, in sets of three cadence, of the Amarr percussion cannons that were stationed just outside the forest.

The funerary was over.

The attendees slowly walk away from the fresh grave, toward where the secondary service was to be held.  System would not be attending that service.  Her duties now complete, she was free to proceed as she wished.

She stood silently at her parent’s grave until all had left.

Then allowing her full emotion to ebb and flow; sorrow, regret, loneliness; feeling, thinking, remembering, she began to cry.

The tears and sobs were so healing to her damaged soul.  She had held back for the last three days and now with abandon she allowed them to reign freely unrestricted.

This was the final purging confessional of emotion, she was now ash in God’s hands, ready to rise and become his holy flame of purification.

She was now free to hunt.

 

The Spark, Reni Brahk

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The Carthum Jubilee Confessor floated a mere 2 meters off the Baud House hanger floor. The MPSR system barely noticed its mass, passively levitating the ship’s 2 million kilograms while simultaneously locking down any lateral vibration that might affect the ship’s 300 meter station in the hanger.

System stretched out her hand and let it run across the metallic surface for a few meters until she reached a placard embedded in the hull. She stopped and turned her eyes up and found the familiar words etched into it’s surface in stylized Amarri script.

“Your first duty is to purge yourself in the flames of your confession before God. You must become ash in God’s hands, for only then may you rise anew to strike the adversary down.”

-Apostle-Martial Zhar Pashay; Battle of Rahdo, Amarr Prime AD 20538

The Confessor, a one-of-a-kind prototype, had been given to Aurthrian Baud by Empress Jamyl I in YC111. It was a gift of honor for the Baud House’s role in working with the Empress’ Declaration Emancipation Decree of that same said year. This did not go unnoticed by System, and the purpose for which she was to use it was very fitting to the nature of the circumstances that had recently unfolded on the Baud household.

System’s father had fit it uniquely with a Coreli c-type microwarp drive, a Sentient type-a sensor booster, four Imperial Navy beams with each having it’s own Draclira heat sinks, and an Estamel cloak.

System recalled what her father had proudly told many guests to the hanger.

“She’s a mean raging fire of God that can burn 800 dps out to 25 kilometers all while traveling over 2500 meters per second. With the Tobias Deca warp scram, the ship, though highly unstable, can lock, snare, and destroy any ship under 25,000 Imperial tons before you can mix your Rum into your coffee.”

The fact that her father was prone to bouts of exaggeration, though he was not far off from the truth, stirred feelings of both sadness at his passing, fondness for him, which inevitably was followed by a dull vibrant anger for those who had murdered him and her mother.  She wonder if this constant wave of emotions would ever subside, if there would ever be peace in her soul again.

Just as with her inner emotional turmoil, the problem, System realized, was in how to control such a beast of a vessel.

If not piloted by a capsuleer with very rare and hard to acquire set of implants, the Reni Brahk would itself become an eternal blazing flame. For this reason it was mostly an ornamental vessel and hence why System initially did not consider it as a viable ship for her needs. But that all changed when she had gained access to her father’s personal vault.

Inside the vault she had found, among other things, a small black glass case that contained 6 small cerebral implants. They looked like most any normal implant except for the red and gold symbol on each one.

The symbol was one of legend, and System did not believe what she was holding until she scanned them with her Trexel Mark VII analyzer confirming the content of each implant.

The symbol on each implant was a combination of a Genolution Core logo, and an Implar Vipre crossed with a Veni Da’ Gar.

Her father had held many secrets throughout his life, and it appeared that some of his secrets, had secrets as well.

It took her nearly 7 hours of searching until she found her father’s personal hand written diary in the massive vault and deciphered the mystery of the implants.

These implants were the key to being able to successfully control the Carthum Confessor, Reni Brahk.

Now all she had to do was warm up the vessel, install a fresh install of ALLISON, install a Zendaine rigs for solo flight, and store some provisions and gear for the trip.  She had a long night ahead of her, and commenced with determination.

Tomorrow she would attend to her parents funerary before leaving Oris.

 

Hot Quafe, Cold Hearted

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System sat reclined in the J-cluo chair in the East Lounge. She was looking out over the ocean contemplating it’s depths, and it’s ability to keep a balance, trying not to let her imagination engage in what was to come.

Mr.Pinn strode into the room carrying a tray in his left hand and clutching a satchel in his right it’s strap over his shoulder, the House Baud emblem stitched across the satchel.

The tray had a large silver frosted bottle, an empty glass tumbler, and two pipping hot cups of Quafe.

He set the tray down on the table beside System and pulled a large leather chair up to it.

He then sat down and placed one of the hot cups of Quafe next to System’s arm, “I do not know how you can drink that stuff hot, Little Miss.”  The term of fondness warmed her heart, recalling memories to her childhood momentarily.

System grabbed the bottle by the neck, twisted off the cork, and poured a short shot into the cup of Quafe. She set the bottle down and then picked up the cup and carefully blew across it’s surface.

“It takes some getting used to Mr. Pinn, but 125 year old Donny, sure does take the edge off the Quafe.”

He grinned a bit, there it was, the old Mr. Pinn she remembered was still in there.

“Dear old Mr. Pinn, Please tell me now what happened to mum and da,” her voice faltered and cracked on that last word.

“I am unsure how to say this wisely, so I beg your forgiveness.  Let me just tell you the circumstances blatantly.” he said while picking up the empty glass tumbler and pouring himself a generous pull of Donny straight.

He tipped the glass tumbler back, the cool intoxicating beverage tantalizing his tongue, and slipping down his throat.

“It was the Minmatar.” he said, an edge in the tenor of his voice.  “Two Thukker assassins and a Krusual bitch.” he spat the last word out revealing the deep hatred he held in check.

Anger welled up inside her chest, her stomach tightened and she felt herself beginning to bare her teeth.  A flush of blood and adrenaline surged across her face.

Thukker?” System queried, the word had mixed emotions wrought from the roof of her mouth. “They are a bit far from the Great Wildlands aren’t they? Why did they do this? Why…” her voice trailed off.

“That’s not all dear princess, the Krusual bitch was a capsuleer.” and again the disdain could be felt when he uttered that word, bitch.  System winced when he said it, but hoped he didn’t notice. She could not remember a time of ever hearing Mr. Pinn using impolite language.

“The house authorities think they know what happened. I’ll leave the details of their attack to you to read as I cannot bring myself to put them to voice. The why is what we should discuss dear one.”

He continued, “the Thukker’s had scrawled in Helio nano paint across the walls of your parents chamber five words, ‘Slaver Pish. Blood Vi Cunt’.”

System’s heart sank, she knew exactly what it meant.

They were Retributionist.

A growing problem on Oris in the last decade was the number of politically motivated terrorist ‘revenge’ killings for Amarrian slave owners, at the hand of alien Minmatar assassins.

As it is with many activist and terrorists, misinformation, and the gullibility to believe without verifying, these three must not have known, nor took the time to find out about the Baud family history.

The House Baud had done away with the practice of slave ownership nearly five generations ago. Forsaking passages from the Book of Reclaiming, and the prophecies of Gheinok the First they suffered politically and socially. After several generations they had found a peace with it managing to abstain from the practice completely without drawing to much attention.

Later, System’s great grandfather started an abolitionist movement, underground at first, but by the time her grandfather and father had come to power they had moved the abolitionists movement, though in minority, into the modern Amarrian civilization’s collective consciousness.

Then her father’s life’s work was honored and recognized when Empress Jamyl I proclaimed her Emancipation Decree in YC111.  Hundreds of millions of slaves were freed, although a large number of slaves, Minmatar and otherwise, remain enslaved with in the Empire, even here on Oris to this day.

System had grown up in a house where slavery was not taught as a right, and that the freedom of all sentient beings was the highest enlightenment to attain to.

Proving being first was not always being correct the Baud House was considered by many, even to this day, as heretical to traditional Amarrian religions beliefs.

Her father had worn this general Amarrian disdain toward himself and his House as a badge of honor.

Every Minmatar that had worked for the Baud’s over the last 135 years, had been free to leave if they wanted.  They were treated fairly and paid well.  Even if they left, they had the protection of the House Baud, which came merely by having been in their employ.

The Bauds had many enemies in Amarrian society, but none were physically dangerous.

Their enemies had always resolved themselves to wield their enmity toward House Baud with political power and with the manipulation of social medias against them.  This was not that kind of enmity.

This attack was guttural and intimate.

She spoke with Mr. Pinn for the next few hours asking him many questions, many of which he was able to answer. They both cried, and at one point they just sat quietly enjoying each others company in silence commiseration.

Then Mr. Pinn had pulled out of the satchel several data links and some official linen paper documents for System to sign and blood stamp.

The beginning of the legal transfer started, Mr. Pinn excused himself to freshen up a new brew of Quafe and grab a couple more bottles of Donny.  Dusk was beginning to fall, as the evening sun light began to ebb.  They would be up late into the evening sorting things out.

While he was away System sat quietly thinking.

She had set in her mind firmly that she would have to hunt down these two Thukker mortals and their Krusual capsuleer and bring the holy justified might of Amarrian punishment to them.

They would die by her hands, slowly, and painfully she hoped.  She knew it would not bring relief to her or her House’s grief, but it had to be done to send a message to other Retributionists, and to sate her anger and rage.  Until this was accomplished she would not find balance in her immortal life – she could not fully begin this new chapter in her life, until…

Mr. Pinn entered the room with fresh provisions and sat quietly not speaking.

After a few minutes, System spoke, “Let us attend to the final official legalities and ceremony of my Heirship and the power transition as the Heir of the House. I want to get the House in order so I can leave as soon as possible.  We must also plan and attend the burial rites in 3 day, after which I plan to leave Oris.”

She realized she was going to have to leave the Pacifier behind, in more ways than one. She would leave it docked at the station orbiting Oris and acquire a more suitable ship for the task at hand.

System would also have to keep her plans quiet.  Any word reaching the Enclave’s ears might raise too many ‘Creedo’ compliance questions, and at this time she could not afford to have anything hindering her.

She would deal with Mynxee and Splunk later if she had to… for now she was going to become invisible and stalk her targets, learn their ways, and bring to them a slow raging death.

This phoenix had teeth, and would bring fire and anguish.

She felt the power of her ancestry pulsing through her veins, and desperately tried to keep it in check and balanced.

To Everything There Is

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The door slid open and System found a tall thin man in his 70s standing in its opening. He had a tightly groomed mustache, silver hair, and wore glass spectacles that perched low on his nose.  His dressed denoted one that was in charge of many responsibilities,

“Oh Mr. Pinn,” System let out, her voice trembling so slightly.  She felt 13 years old again in his presence.

“I am so happy…” her voice trailed off as she stopped herself, “I’m… I .. I ..  I’m pleased to see you.“

Miss System, the misfortunate passing of your father and mother this last week have weighed heavily on the House, and we are all very glad that you have finally arrive.  Please come in,” he continued, “This is your house now.  I will bring refreshments to you in the East Lounge. We can talk more then and proceed with the pressing legalities.”

System stepped forward and almost embraced the man as her emotions welled up, but she restrained herself and placed her hand warmly on his shoulder lingering as she stepped past him from the portico into the entry passage.

Mr. Pinn, thank you, thank you. I need a few minutes.  I’ll meet you in the lounge in 20 minute.  If you would be so kind, I would like 2 hot Quafe’s and a bottle of old Donny.”

She stepped past the prefect house scribe and into the estate.

She took the stairs up to the sleeping quarters and passed down their long corridors until she reached a door, painted red with white letters neatly scrawled in an artistic, though childish script.  It read “Princess System” and below that “of the House Baud” with little hearts intermingled between some of the letters.

With a raise of her hand the door slid open, recognizing her bio signs.

System entered the room.

The bed was tightly dressed and had been pushed to face the great window that stretched out to a view of the ocean.  A few of her belongings had been left around the room making it feel personal and occupied, but it was obvious no one had used the room for the last 10 years or so. Then the smell hit her.

The smell of her childhood, the linens, the ocean, the fresh rain… it all started to bring to mind intense memories.

Memories of her and her father walking along the beach, memories of him reading to her at bed time, of her mother brushing her hair.

That one guy that hid under her bed when they thought her father was coming to ‘catch’ them… and how he had fallen backwards out the window and into the pool below. She smiled slightly at the memory of how fast he ran in his wet cloths.

The ‘girls only’ slumber parties she had had with Tristan and Katie.  The many long nights they had stayed up talking about life, boys, and the latest clothing styles.

Her sullen teenage years…  the Manji weed she secretly smoked on the balcony with the twins and thought no one else knew about.  Yukie, … little sweet Yukie – her so fuzzy Ketteh she had from age 9 until she had left home.

That time her mother angrily threw her suitcase across the room smashing the mirror to bits and pieces. The time her father yelled and screamed outside the door cursing at her mother and then smashed his fist into the wall.

He hadn’t known she was listening, hiding there in her room.

He had not known.

Her father…

Her father’s consoling hugs, his arms warm and tight, embracing her protectively.

Her father’s arms.

She sat down on the end of the bed.

Her father’s freshly shaven face.  The smell of his shave after oil.

The lump was back again in her throat.

A moment passed, then she stood up and strode across the room.

This was not the time for self-indulgent emotions.

She made her resolve again, straightening her back and tightening her shoulders.

Then she left the room heading for that cup of hot Quafe and the answers she sought.

Knock, Breath

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The Amarrian shuttle had landed softly and opened up revealing the capsule chamber, exposing it to the damp air of Aotera Bou Island.

The capsule then opened silently, as all Jove tech did, and System lifted her naked body from the Hydrostatic pod gel.  The ‘snick‘ sounds popping as the fibre connection cables disconnected from her spine.

She reach down and pulled a fresh dry linen towel from a locker and dried off her body. Slipping into comfortable and familiar leggings and top she pulled on her boots and jacket and began making her way down the peer.

The rain was miserable.  Lightly glazing her face in defiance as it fell to the ground.

She felt a warm heat rising from the ground radiating upward, telling her the wet weather was fresh in the last few hours welcoming her home with appropriate reverence telling of the current circumstances.

Her father was dead. Her mother also had succumbed to her wounds, to which System had received confirmation of when she had entered the Star system of Amarr. Her mother had never regained consciousness.

System thought back to the last time she had arrived at the Baud estate and how angry her mother had been with her… a dry lump started to form in her throat and she wished she had something other than tears to wash it back.

The estate was located on planet VIII, on an island owned by the Baud’s for 400 years, just below the 48th Latitude South in the Orisic Ocean.

It was nestle along a hillside gracing the ocean beach front.  The landing platform jutted out into the ocean accommodating both Ocean going vessels as well as Star ships.

System reached the front door to the estate and raised a hand to knock, then hesitated.  Her face felt flush all of the sudden and a weighted feeling drew down on her shoulders.

The enormity of her responsibility seemed to double in that instant as she realized she was now the Heir to the Baud House, she was now the eldest of her family House.

Being immortal only meant she would hold this responsibility for a very long time.

She was the first capsuleer ever to become Heir to the Baud House since its founding 400 years ago.

She took a deep breath, wondering why she would knock at all, then exhaled.

She drew in another deep breath.

And knock on the door.

Gone.

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Crushing.

Her soul just seemed to wither as she lay on the dry bed.

She screamed into the pillow, biting the fabric with her teeth aching, a deep breath… then silently she just sobbed, breathing irregularly.

The eveMail was open on her bedside screen, mocking her existence.


Coordination Axis 38234.3.542.3522.2

To: System.Baud
C: Signal Cartel
A: Eve Scout Enclave
C/O: Thera XII – The Sanctuary Institute of Paleocybernetics
Type: Institute of Paleocybernetics
Corporation: The Sanctuary

From: House of Baud, Amarr
C/O: Third Scribe Shivan of the Primary Vese

Dearest System,

My sincerest apologies on this time of sorrow for the House of Baud and you their Eldest Daughter, Princess of Glaiset, Heir to the Command of House Baud.

On 21.11.YC119 your father, Aurthrian Baud, was found dead in his chamber.

The specific nature of his death and the surrounding circumstances will be available to you, on your arrival, at the Primary Baud Estate in Amarr.

At this time the house authorities believe his death will be classified as under ‘unusual circumstances, pending further investigation’.

Your mother was also found injured, unconscious, and in critical condition. She is currently under medical care at the Uliran Medical Center on Amarr VIII.

Please make haste, travel and find your way home for you have urgent matters to attend to as the new Heir of House Baud, as until a time that your mother recovers.

With much displeasure,

Pinn Rhal
House Chief Scribe and Conduit


System felt like space was squeezing in on her heart as she lie for what seemed hours cursing her fool hearty personal ambitions.

She knew she should have stayed closer to home. She had not… the thought faded from her mind.

No, she thought, willing herself to rise.

Partially on auto pilot, partially with determination, she left the chamber and walked down the passage to her Pod. Touching her ear lobe she queued the coms to her ship.

“ALLISON, please prepare for departure and Inform Tristan, Katie, and Jason that I have urgent matters to attend to in Amarr and will have to meet them another time. ALLISON, I plan to depart immediately, please prep my pod. Set Destination for Amarr VIII and please contact Eve-Scout for the nearest J hole exit from Thera. Oh, and ALLISON, Let’s take the Pacifer this time.”

System’s tears mixed with the Hydrostatic fluid as she submersed herself, her thoughts wandered fondly through her past… her father, The first love of her life… gone.

Thera Or Bust

Katie and Tristan arrived in twin Raptors.

The interceptors were fit for speed and tank and had a dark crimson paint scheme which was emblazon with bright white emblems of the Caldari House Override.

The two Caldari Raptors pulled along side the Tengu matching its speed.

The com static crackled and a voice spoke forth into System’s mind.

“Hello dear cousin. Tristan and I had a bit of trouble getting to you here in Onsooh. Sorry we’re late. So what’s the plan ‘Dweeny’ ?”

System blushed a bit when she heard the name her cousins had teased her with when they were teenagers. She knew they meant it in fun and affection, but there was still a bit of sting from her childhood hearing the nickname that had so often embarrassed her in front of guys.

“Tristan, Katie, I am so delighted to hear your voices. It has been so long darlings. The plan is to try and catch the J hole in Eshwil just 4 gates from here. My initial scans shows the J hole is a Thera class hole, so we should be in Paleo this evening. We will meet Jason there and head out for the Epicenter in the morning, Paleo time.”

Jason Kepler was a childhood friend of the three women. Each of the twins, and System had vied for his attention and affections at one time or another in their teen years. Later after he had returned from the Federal Navy Academy at the age of 28 they realized they would just have to share him. They had all given up on capturing’ him, deciding to keep things close together without commitments and had somehow found a way to not split and divide themselves against his intentions.

He of course loved them all dearly and enjoyed their attention, but in a stroke of unusual cultural genius found away to not make any of them feel jealous of each other.

System had stayed a bit distant from Jason because of the situation at the Khanid Transport Storage Station near planet ten in Bashyam. But the Override twins, she hoped, would never find out about that. At least she knew he would never tell them.

“Katie,” System thought into her coms, “Why don’t you go ahead and scout out the star systems in front of us en-route to Eshwil. Tristan, you stay behind a bit and follow us. If we do this by the numbers, we should be able to move this 4 billion isk in cargo without incident. I will be cutting you both in for a quarter of the profit as we discussed last month.”

“We won’t let you down dear Dweeny,” chimed Katie.

I hope not thought System to herself.

“Ok synchronize coms sub space carrier… we will leave in 30 minutes. Tristan stand off 3500 meters and engage cloak. Katie, head out now. I will be engaging my Tengu’s cloak in 2 minutes.”

This was the last time System was going to haul so much in a Tengu to Thera. Too many eggs in one basket was not the risk she was used to at all, but the 23% shipping reward on 4 billion isk was way to much isk to pass up.

She would sleep much more soundly after the mysterious third party accepted delivery in Paleo and paid them.

“ALLISON, Sudo Auth, Engage Cloak in 3, 2, 1… mark”