Hands to the Sky, I am a Dreamer

OOC (Out of Character): So huge wall of text incoming, you’ve been warned. If you’re a follower of mine, then you know I’m a Roleplayer and from time to time write some very short and sometimes short stories about Katia and her journey. If you’re not into that, don’t care to read, not interested in character insights, feel free to skip this post. 😉

I wanted to share a page from our internal Signal Cartel storyline that’s been running for over a year now, titled “Vacant Spectrum” by our very own OPSEC division (Operation and Planning of Special Events for the Corporation). We’ve started Chapter 6 now. This particular page is a collaborative piece with the OPSEC team that gives some insight into why Katia set forth on her journey and I know many of you that have been following me for a while would be interested. A lot of this won’t make sense to you as it’s part of a much larger story, but I felt like I really needed to share this here.

The root of Katia’s story has been in my head for over nine years now. After sharing this with some of my corp mates, they asked if I’ve ever seen the Disney movie Moana, which I haven’t. My son and niece are older now, so we don’t go to the kiddy movies anymore, but I think I’ll have to make an exception for this one. It seems Moana’s journey is the same as Katia’s. The movie only came out a couple of years ago, yet mine has been in my head for much longer. I have no answer for that, maybe it’s written into my DNA and someone else’s too. We both ended up sharing the same story in different mediums.

I’ve always viewed the Caldari Achura bloodline to be similar to the Polynesian culture of today, particularly the Maori of New Zealand. There’s a couple of amazing synchronicities I thought I’d share. I wear a hand carved Maori jade necklace that symbolizes new beginnings I had gotten many years ago. We ended up calling the celebration fleet for getting my last system, the Great Fleet, which is a reference I had completely forgotten about that a corp mate reminded me of that’s about how the Maori came to be in New Zealand. These only reinforced my belief that I was doing the right thing for Katia, that this was becoming something bigger than myself.

If you’ve been following my story and my journey, you know I like to drop links to songs that give a peek into Katia’s soul. If you’re into insights like that, then I urge you to go listen to this video first before reading on. It’s at the core of her soul.

Now for the story…

I’ve been undocked for a long time.

Stepping into the Grand Ballroom last week made me realize just how long. I saw the huge swarm of people assembled and immediately felt like I might suffocate. But I forced myself to chat amiably beforehand, sit through it all, and even stick around afterwards to process with everyone what we had just seen and heard. This might be my life now: talking in public and bright lights and stations and crowds. I guess the sooner I get adjusted to it, the better.

Still, hearing SSAC Segu tell their tale took me right back to the Great Hunt. Especially that stuff right at the end about Talon Commander Fedi. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that he contacted me for the first time.

*** Flashback ***

**20.10.yc120 – Drifter wormhole Barbican**

‘Katia?’, Aura’s voice entered my thoughts as she asked rather than stated my name. Which was a bit unusual for her. ‘I have an incoming communication request.’

‘Aura, you know I don’t wish to be disturbed while actively engaged in scanning operations deep in a Drifter system,’ my unspoken thoughts replied.

‘Yes, but this is a bit odd, and I am not sure what to make of it.’

Taking a deep breath while immersed in pod goo isn’t as easy as it would seem, but since sighing never seemed to come off as a sigh, it was the next best thing to express my aggravation.

‘What’s odd about it?’ I relayed my thoughts to her.

‘The subject header reads as follows: “Hands to the sky, we are the dreamers.” It’s using the priority code from Kata Sae, your paternal grandfather, despite him being deceased.’

My heart froze as the words struck deep within my soul, uncontrolled tears welled up behind my closed eyelids, and a lump formed in my throat.

‘What?’ I thought and mouthed.

‘Do you wish to accept the connection?’ Aura’s programmed response asked, completely ignoring my question.

My frozen heart beat another tick and I quickly regained my composure. I wouldn’t have made it this far without losing a ship if my recovery and reaction times weren’t sharp. ‘Assume operations, make for the safe, cloak, and silent mode,’ I commanded. This was a communication I wanted to take live.

‘Of course, Katia.’

******

I was six when my Grandfather presented me with my first telescope for my birthday. I often stayed with him while my parents were consumed with their work. They were the perfect converted Caldari, having completely shed their Achura culture — all for the company and the bottom line. It was over 300 years ago that the Caldari had subjugated Saisio III, otherwise known as Achura, my homeworld. The reentry fires of the Caldari ships pierced holes in the sky as they made first contact with my ancestors. Today, most of our culture was relegated to Achura cultural centers in some of our major metropolitan cities, so the tourists could ‘experience’ us. In my youth, I had volunteered and worked at one for a few years. For me, the experience only fanned the flames that my Grandfather had ignited within me, to become a Stargazer and follow the call of my ancestors to the stars.

It was a good thing my Grandfather kept the telescope at his home, because that’s where I spent most of my free time. My parents often referred to him as a dreamer, a title which he wore with pride, a title which I loved and aspired toward myself. We spent many a night stargazing, counting the stars, laughing, raising our hands to the sky. He taught me all about our home system, its planets and moons and constellations. But most importantly, he taught me what it meant to be an Achura, a Stargazer, like our ancestors before us. He inspired me to chase my dreams and travel the stars.

I never resented my parents, nor the Caldari for that matter. I simply didn’t understand that way of life. As a child, I was difficult. Often I felt the disappointment of my parents’ eyes upon me, but like my Grandfather before me, I was a dreamer, and it was his approval that I sought. I guess, looking back on it now, it was then — when I got that telescope for my birthday — that I knew I would return our family line to the ways of old. However, unlike some of my fellow Achura who shunned the modern Caldari ways, I wanted to combine the old with the new. Rather than plant my feet firmly on the ground like my Stargazer ancestors before me, I aspired to become a Stargazer and a starship pilot. I wanted to carry the voice of my ancestors with me, traveling among the stars themselves, visiting every star system that New Eden had to offer.

******

As soon as the ship was secured, my thoughts turned to the pod evacuation code that my Chief had rigged for me so I could exit and stretch my legs onboard ship during my long journey exploring Anoikis. My Malediction, Sojourner, was small enough to not need a crew and large enough to have some space for a cabin, living area, and Chester, my slaver hound companion. He was Mynxee’s gift to me when I began my last phase of exploring the stars. “Chester” was my Grandfather’s nickname when he served in the Caldari Navy. It seemed fitting that the bearer of his name would be with me as I finished my trek through wormhole space

I didn’t waste any time after exiting the pod. Showered clean of the goo and towel wrapped around me, I sat at the vidconf portal, took a deep breath of real air, and opened communications. My voice cracked despite myself,  “Gr-Grandfather?” Which was impossible, I knew. He had passed away long ago, but he was the only one who had ever spoken those words to me. “Hands to the sky, we are the dreamers.”

“Afraid not. Name’s Talon Commander Fedi,” the unfamiliar voice replied. “Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, and I couldn’t do it, even if I wanted to. I knew him well, though. That’s a subject for another time. For now, I’ll cut to the chase. What if I told you I could help you finish your journey, not in the next few years, but in the next few months?”

*** Present day ***

Those few months have now passed. My journey is complete and Fedi is gone. I didn’t get to know him well, but his sacrifice for a cause I don’t fully understand has hit me hard. Which has been a surprise. I’m just now realizing that he was my last connection to Papaw Chester. Everything seems like it’s coming to an end, and I’m not sure really what comes next for me.

So, I was interested to see what “Segu” was talking about when they (he?) said that Fedi’s final words would be communicated to me soon. Turns out I didn’t have long to wonder.

******

09 February, YC 121

Katia,

Now that we’re at the end of it, I have less to say than I thought I would. There’s a few things, though, I want to make sure you know.

Your grandfather had his priorities straight, and you were at the top of that list. He’d be proud as Hek to see all you’ve accomplished. Kata knew you were going to be something special. He was right.

It was Esi and him who bankrolled your capsuleer promotion They were both into ancient spirituality. Not really my sack of Khuumaks, but they each had some kind of vision that confirmed you were the one who would visit every system in the cluster. We guessed it would be easier for you to do as a capsuleer.

I worked with your chief from the beginning. You can tell him that “Carlo” says hi. We’ve been supplying him with slightly modified SureShot cam drones all along. That’s how you’ve been deploying Esi’s SOFA network. It only takes a small cube of the stuff to detect the presence of more of itself anywhere in the system. Chief ever complain to you about mass readings on your ships never adding up? Now he’ll know why. You were slowly bleeding mass every time you deployed your cam drones for pictures.

Did you know we had others helping at the beginning? You’ve always been Primary, but we did use a few different secondary ships over the years, especially during your two-year hiatus. We quit that before too long, though. None of them had the drive you did. Esi said an extra year or two wouldn’t make any difference, anyway. And, unlike you, they kept losing ships. Not that the price tag was a big concern, but it was just more economical to have you be the one deploying the network.

I guess Esi will make sure you get this when you’re finished, and after I’m…not available. I’m not sure what your plans are after your grand tour is complete. Maybe you can make sure Esi is OK? He’s carrying the weight of the cluster on his shoulders, and he isn’t doing too good. I’ve read a bit about Signal Cartel’s work with SOFA tissue….

I don’t know what I’m asking, but maybe there’s something you can do? *He really can bring peace to New Eden, Katia.* You’ve got to believe that. I’ve seen him do things with his clones that just aren’t possible. If there’s anyone who can end the bloodshed between the empires, can free the rest of my people once and for all, it’s him. But he needs to stay alive long enough to make it happen.

You don’t owe me anything, Katia. You barely know me. Esi always thought it was best to let you complete your quest in peace and not weigh you down with the news about what else you were doing. So I didn’t have much chance to work with you directly. I’ve been watching you for so long, though, I feel almost as if you were my own flesh and blood. I never had a family of my own. Esi and you are about as close as I ever got. So I’m going to ask. I don’t have anyone else.

If there’s anything you can do to give Esi a shot at pulling off his plan, I’m begging you to do it. Talk to him yourself. You’ll see what I mean.

I’m grateful we met in these last few months, Stargazer. Know that I’m watching over you, now and forever.

Amikarr Fedi

******

The few times that I spoke with Fedi, he never really struck me as a dreamer, but I guess he really was one, too. He had something he believed in that was bigger than himself, and it gave him purpose and courage. That is something I understand, even if I don’t know all the details of what he and “Esi” have been up to.

My epic journey is over. There will be a brief period of well wishers and excitement, especially with the installation of the statue next month. (I can’t believe the favors Mynxee must have called in with CONCORD to get that approved. I’m still amazed that it’s really going to happen, to be honest.) But I’ve already started to look ahead to the end of the honeymoon. What then?

Do I simply settle down as Quartermaster at our new Saisio office? Start conducting tourist fleets? Train new explorers? Sign autographs? Even as I start to list the options, I know there has to be something more. I’m a Stargazer! As much as part of me wants to rest and retire and stick close to home, I can’t deny that I’m already itching to get back into space. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything, but there are still so many mysteries to be discovered. Whatever is going on here is big — bigger than I ever realized. Maybe meeting with “Esi” is just what I need to launch myself into the next stage of my life.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Chief! What the hell is wrong with my ship?

“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” – John Swigert, Astronaut, Apollo 13 Pilot

9.10.yc120 Saisio < Okomon < The Forge

“Chief!” I yelled as soon as I exited my pod, dripping goo along the deck plates, not an ounce of clothing on.

The sound of running footsteps grew louder as he approached, then he appeared from the corridor, skidded to a stop, eyes darted too and fro not sure where he should and shouldn’t look. “Ah… you want to get some clothes on kiddo?”

“No! No I don’t.” In this instance, I guess you could say my capsuleer god complex kicked in, “I want to know what the hell is wrong with my ship.”

Now he locked eyes with me. “Well, what the hell is wrong with your ship?”

“Seriously?” Exasperation clearly escaped me, I’m usually much more laid back. “Aura is reporting the interdiction nullification system has failed and she’s not able to give me a clear cut reason as to why.”

I raised my eyebrows at him with a ‘well?’ question on my face.

“Don’t look at me like that, kiddo, I’ll have to check it out.” He tried to look stern, but I could clearly see the amusement in his eyes. “And for gods sake, put some clothes on, you’re gonna give this old chief a heart attack.”

I took in a deep breathe, then sighed heavily. He was right, of course, and I wasn’t exactly mad at him. It wasn’t his fault after all. I nodded in agreement, then took a towel off of the nearby refresher station and wrapped myself up.

OOC: Just how does an RPer reconcile in game changes like ship balancing in their storylines? Lol

This post I thought I’d take a look back at my ships I’ve flown on my journey so far. Some I left behind because skills allowed me to move into something better suited for the job. Others were left behind for balancing changes. Some served their purpose. Sadly, I don’t have fits for all of them, I didn’t keep some of them and wished I had, but the main ones that helped me achieve a significant goal, I do have in my hangar.

Cosmos

‘Cosmos’, Condor class, the ship I set out from my home world of Saisio, visiting High and Low Sec systems, taking pictures of every planet along the way, which you can see in my Gallery here.

[Condor, Cosmos]

Damage Control I

Medium Shield Extender I
EM Ward Amplifier I

Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Explosive Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

‘Discovery’, Buzzard class, came next after having expanded my skillset to fly covert ops ships. This one served me well for most of my journey through Empire space. Unfortunately, I don’t have the fitting setup I had used, nor the ship.

Discovery

Towards the end of my Empire space travels, the Sisters of Eve ships came out and I knew when I first laid my eyes upon them, I had to have one. These are a thing of beauty and functionality. ‘Voyager’, Astero class, joined my fleet and I finished Empire space with this ship.

Voyager

[Astero, Voyager]
IFFA Compact Damage Control
‘Halcyon’ Core Equalizer I
‘Halcyon’ Core Equalizer I
‘Halcyon’ Core Equalizer I

1MN Afterburner I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
Thermal Dissipation Amplifier I
EM Ward Amplifier I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Core Probe Launcher

Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I
Small Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I

Hornet EC-300 x10

Sisters Core Scanner Probe x16

‘Jester’s Trek’, Tengu class, the ship that made the Kessel run… sorry, wrong galaxy. This is the ship that saved my life on many occasion as I made my trek through Null Sec and then went on to finish all of Known space without a single ship loss. What a ride, love this ship. Of course, due to ship balancing changes, this configuration is no longer valid, but it was fun while it lasted.

Jester’s Trek by Rixx Javix

[Tengu, Jester’s Trek]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Warp Core Stabilizer II

50MN Cold-Gas Enduring Microwarpdrive
Federation Navy 100MN Afterburner
Cetus Scoped Burst Jammer
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
EM Ward Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Core Probe Launcher
Rocket Launcher II
Rocket Launcher II
Rocket Launcher II

Medium Core Defense Field Extender II
Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II
Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II

Tengu Core – Electronic Efficiency Gate
Tengu Defensive – Covert Reconfiguration
Tengu Offensive – Accelerated Ejection Bay
Tengu Propulsion – Interdiction Nullifier

Sisters Core Scanner Probe x16
Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket x300
Nanite Repair Paste x25
Tengu Defensive – Supplemental Screening x1

‘Jester’s Trek’ was retired to my hangar, but my next ship ‘Wanderer’ was based on the same design with a few special modifications, like Festival Launchers!. I started the last phase of my journey to explore all of New Eden with ‘Wanderer’ when I entered Thera for the very first time and begun my wormhole space explorations.

[Tengu, Wanderer]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Warp Core Stabilizer II

50MN Cold-Gas Enduring Microwarpdrive
Federation Navy 100MN Afterburner
Cetus Scoped Burst Jammer
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
EM Ward Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Core Probe Launcher
Festival Launcher
Festival Launcher
Festival Launcher

Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II
Medium Low Friction Nozzle Joints II
Medium Core Defense Field Extender II

Tengu Core – Electronic Efficiency Gate
Tengu Defensive – Covert Reconfiguration
Tengu Offensive – Accelerated Ejection Bay
Tengu Propulsion – Interdiction Nullifier

Sisters Core Scanner Probe x16
Barium Firework x150
Tengu Defensive – Supplemental Screening x1

After about 3 months based in Thera, I began to see I would have to venture deeper in wormhole diving as there simply wasn’t enough system rotation going on daily basis to expect everything would eventually connect to me. Also, I realized I was going to have to change up ships, because the Tengu wasn’t able to transverse the small wormhole connections. So, ‘Pioneer’ was added to the fleet.

J161119 VI, Moon 1, Pioneer

[Raptor, Pioneer]
Inertial Stabilizers II
Inertial Stabilizers II
Inertial Stabilizers II

EM Ward Amplifier II
Thermal Dissipation Amplifier II
Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender
Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender

Improved Cloaking Device II
Sisters Core Probe Launcher
Festival Launcher

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

Sisters Core Scanner Probe x16
Barium Firework x50

Now, a few years later, since I had left Saisio to begin my wormhole space explorations, I find myself returned to dock again, with another issue, with interdictors. Seems my trusty Raptor is losing some functionality. I would have gone with the Crow, but it’s difficult and/or costly to get it under a 2 second align time, so, we now have ‘Sojourner’, a Malediction class interceptor. Really happy with it so far and almost wish I had done this one to begin with… almost. 😉 Either way, it’s turning out to be a nice ship to fly.

Sojourner

[Malediction, Sojourner]
Inertial Stabilizers II
Inertial Stabilizers II
Inertial Stabilizers II
Damage Control II

1MN Afterburner II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
Scan Acquisition Array II

Improved Cloaking Device II
Festival Launcher
Sisters Core Probe Launcher

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

Sisters Core Scanner Probe x16
Barium Firework x50

That’s my fleet of ships so far. Each one has been a joy to fly in its own right, but each upgrade has been nice as well. Can’t really say I’m disappointed in any of them, they’ve served me well.

Fly clever!

Climbing up, letting go

31.8.yc120 J000186 < H-C00332 < H-R00032

I sighed.

Ran my fingers through my hair.

Planted my face upon my palms.

Forced my breath out. Raspberry loudly sounded.

Chuckling, I dropped my hands away then sighed again. Tedium quickly turned to boredom as I lost myself in wormhole space. How long has it been now since I’ve seen the inside of a station? How many more systems to go? No, don’t look, just keep going. My friends must think I’m a nut.

I needed to chill.

“Aura”, I spoke, “Play something from my Grandfathers playlist.”

Without replying, Aura began to play.

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing, stretching every nerve
Had to listen, had no choice
I did not believe the information
Just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom, boom, boom
“Son”, he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home”

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
‘Til I thought of what I’ll say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom, boom, boom
“Hey”, he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home”
(Hey, back home)

When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom, boom, boom
“Hey”, I said, “you can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home”

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

“Negative…” Aura stated.

“Negative?” I replied. “Negative what?”

“Negative what?” Aura asked.

“You said negative. Why?” I asked in return.

“I am afraid I do not know what you are referring to, Katia.”

Great, now my computer was going stir crazy as well. “Run a full diagnostic on yourself, Aura.”

“Of course, Katia.”

6,000th System, Not Dead Yet

“Well you’re bigger, tougher, meaner, rougher. Dirtier and uglier and sneakier and trickier,
You wanna shoot me with a gun, cut me with a knife.
Take your bare hands baby rip out my eyes. You knocked me to the floor then you bit me in the neck.
Well, hit me again cause I’m not dead yet.”
– Styx, “Not Dead Yet”

11.6.yc119 J123746 < D-C00206 < D-R00021

((OOC: Sorry for the long delay between updates. It’s summer time now, at last, and hopefully that means real life commitments will ease up and give me some time to post a little more often. I’m going go for at least once a month updates, if nothing else.))

“Katia, that makes your six-thousandth system explored”, Aura stated in her monotone voice then paused. “and you are not dead yet.”

I raised an eyebrow at Chester, my slaver hound, who only looked at me with indifferent eyes, while his head rest between his massive paws spread out in front of him laying down on the cabin floor. I continued to stare, which only provoked him to raise his head, with what seemed like a smile on his face, until he realized there was no treat involved from my look.

Dumbfounded, I replied, “Aura, are you developing a sense of humor?”

“Developing would imply growth, evolving, a period of time to study and become better at a given task.” Aura continued in her iterative explanation. “I assure you, I need no such process.”

I chuckled, mostly to myself, even though Chester cocked his head, dropping his jaw into a pant, in anticipation that a treat was forthcoming.

“Katia? I fail to see the humor in your reaction.”

“Exactly!” I proclaimed. “Which tells me all I need to know.”

“Katia, if I may…” Aura persisisted.

“No, you may not.” I grinned as I knew if I didn’t stop her now, she would never cease to explain. “Six-thousandth system, huh? I guess this does call for a celebration.”

Now it was Chester’s turn to raise an eyebrow my way as I reached in a drawer behind me and tossed him treat.

“Congratulations Chester, we’re not dead yet.”


Home: A Place I’ve Never Been

“As we roll down this unfamiliar road… just know you’re not alone. ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.” – “Home”, Phillip Phillips as performed by Peter Hollens

((OOC: It’s been a while since I’ve done some in character fiction and this event seemed to scream for it. So, here you go. The TLDR is I’ve begun Phase III: Wormhole Exploration by starting in Thera with an in corp welcome home and send-off. The famous Signal Cartel Hugs fleet was in full force and we all had a great time throwing snowballs and fireworks at each other touring a little bit of Threa, since it was my first time there. If you don’t enjoy IC Fiction, I’ll see you next time, if you do, read on, it’s longer than planned, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it. Please let me know! *The character of Mynxee used with permission.))

03.01.yc118 Saisio < Okomon Constellation < The Forge

Thera I, Epicenter

Thera Epicenter

“Well Chief,” I paused and forced a quick smile, “this is it.”

He smiled in return, but his eyes told the truth, “Listen kiddo, I understood when you were exploring known space it made sense you would station as needed where ya were. I even understood while you were out in Null Sec, ya had no choice but to shut down your systems in space, exit your pod, to get some down time, so you wouldn’t have to travel and station in Empire.” He paused long enough to sigh before continuing. “But for wormhole space, ya know right? That you can base out of here, Saisio, your home? Those holes wander. You know that, right?”

“I do.” I tried to force my smile again, goodbyes were always difficult, but I hoped he could see the spark in my eyes for the next phase of my journey. “But that’s the point. I am going home.”

“To Thera?” He scoffed, something he rarely did with me. “I don’t get how you can call a place home, if ya ain’t never been there.”

Thera III, Testing Facilities

Thera III, Testing Facilities

A genuine chuckle escaped me before I could contain it. “Now Chief, you know as well as I, joining Signal Cartel is the best thing I’ve done in a very long time. I’ve never been happier since before my Grandfather passed away. They’re my family now, besides you of course.” I winked. “And Thera is our, Signal Cartels, home. I know Grandfather would have no issue with me declaring it as such for myself.”

Chief knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on. “Naw, I reckon he wouldn’t and he’d be damn proud of ya too for what you just accomplished.” He offered his hand in resignation. “You fly clever now, Ma’am.”

I batted it aside and wrapped him up in a big hug. Well, as big as I could manage for my tiny frame and his broad shoulders. “Thanks for getting the ‘Wanderer’ ready. Be sure to dust off ‘Jester’s Trek’ from time to time, alright?”

He nodded and I could’ve sworn I saw a hint of a tear in his eyes. “Gesh Chief, I’ll be stopping by more often, those holes do wander, ya know?” I used his own words against him.

“Wha…? Riiiight, just somethin’ in my eye is all.” He winked.

Thera VIII, Planetary Colonization Office Wreck

Thera VIII, Planetary Colonization Office Wreck

I didn’t linger for long as time was running short and I had made arrangements with Mynxee, Signal Cartel’s CEO, for a sendoff get together with my new family in Thera. Having been in the corporation for almost a year now, I had yet to make an official, let alone a formal, event. Rather difficult for me as I had decided once I started my exploration of Null Sec, I wasn’t stopping until I had finished. Ironic, that I did break away from Null sec and returned to Empire once just long enough to join Signal Cartel to begin with.

With one last look at ‘Jester’s Trek’ sitting in the next bay, the ship that had faithfully served me well in Null, I turned and faced my new tengu, ‘Wanderer’. Nearly identical to my previous one, but with one special modification to the launchers. I was rather looking forward to seeing them in action soon. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought. I’ve heard some great stories about our signature fleet, but have yet to be a part of one, let alone be on the receiving end. So, I had no doubts about the good time that was ahead me.

Thera XII, The Sanctuary Surveillance Observatory

Thera XII, The Sanctuary Surveillance Observatory

Eager to be about it and as quickly as I could, I boarded the ‘Wanderer’, prepped the pod which was already mounted and locked in with the ship, and disrobed before descending into the preheated podgoo. Having been out of the pod for over a month now, I had forgotten just how soothing and relaxing the goo could be. At least up until the point when you first get jacked into the ships systems which no matter how much you mentally prepared yourself for, it would always come as a shock to your senses. But as with most things with time and experience, the shock and nausea seemed to fade just a little bit faster than the last time. Such was the case this time around and I began my preflight system checks and departure request before the last imaginary ball of light faded into nothingness behind my eyelids.

Thera XIII, The Sanctuary Applied Gravitation Laboratory

Thera XIII, The Sanctuary Applied Gravitation Laboratory

As usual and as expected, the Chief had the ‘Wanderer’ in top notch condition, readied, and primed to go. Like ‘Jester’s Trek’, the ‘Wanderer’ was a specially modified Tengu. The Chief was a bit of an expert when it came to automated shipboard functions and he had a talent for making the impossible work. Before I even began my explorations, it was important to me that no one risk their life for mine. For the frigates I flew, that wasn’t a problem as their size didn’t often require crew members, but the strategic cruiser offered the challenge of figuring out how to operate it without a crew. Typically, a ship of its size required 30 to 50 crew members to operate effectively. I knew I just wouldn’t be able to fly it with any chance at all that someone could die on my behalf if I were caught exploring and yet I would survive because of the pod and the cloning technology. I honestly didn’t understand how others could do it with any sort of conscience or lack of survivor’s guilt.

From what the Chief told me, the solution was rather elegant, but not one that I could even explain, so I won’t try. Suffice it to say, since I didn’t demand ammo reloads for the launchers, I figured I’m cloned anyway if I’m caught, as well as giving up a lot of extra eyes to watch various sensors and no damage control, and … I could go on, he managed to get the ship operational with only myself on board. Not only that, he was also able to rig up a means for me to enter and exit the pod while on ship.

Thera XIV, The Sanctuary Fullerene Loom

Thera XIV, The Sanctuary Fullerene Loom

Now when I say rigged up, that’s exactly how it looked on ‘Jester’s Trek’, sort of a hastily throw together controls and robotic assist, pumping systems, goo refresh tanks, and so on. But on the ‘Wanderer’, he really took it up top notch. The pod area looked more like a first class suite on an interstellar passenger cruise ship. Gone were all the hanging wires, hoses, arms, and what nots. Now all that was tucked away, out of sight, comfortably part of the ship instead of looking all tossed in hap hazard. The Chief certainly out did himself this time around. Grandfather would be proud of his old friend.

It was time that I got a move on, I didn’t want to be late for my first corp fleet-up, especially since Mynxee was leading it and it would be my first time meeting her since I joined the corp. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, but really not sure why as it seemed like I already knew her. Perhaps from another life or perhaps she simply had a way to make those around her comfortable. Whatever the reason, if my hands had been on controls, they would have been shaking. As it was, I only had to give it a thought and I departed the station with no issues.

Sendoff_Katia

Sendoff by Katia Sae

Thanks to the EVE-Scout services that are freely open to all capsuleers of New Eden, I was able to pin point an entry wormhole to Thera that was only 17 systems away. I had no trouble at all navigating through Empire space, finally finding myself in a low security system that contained the wormhole. Since Signal Cartel is part of the EVE-Scout Alliance and we’re home to many scouts and explorers from all over New Eden, there was already a bookmark in my navigational subsystem that contained the coordinates to the Thera entrance. In my excitement, I failed to use my directional scanner to check before I warped to the navpoint, but I at least had enough wits about me to land well short of the entrance to have a look before going in.

Thankfully I did as there was a svipul, a tactical destroyer, loitering around the wormhole entrance. ‘Whew’ I thought to myself, knowing that could’ve been really bad, but having been in this same scenario countless times and the fact there seemed to be only one ship, I knew patience would win the day. The wormhole ended up being a rather busy one with several ships exiting, but my patience paid off, the svipul left, and after I was given the all clear for the Thera side of the wormhole, I entered and found myself home for the first time.

HomeComing_Katia

Home Coming by Katia Sae

I joined our waiting fleet, warped to Mynxee, and there are simply no words for what happened next. If you’ve never been a part of a Signal Cartel Hugs fleet either on the giving or the receiving end, there’s just no experience like it in all of New Eden. I’ve seen many sights, I’ve met a lot of capsuleers, but none of those experiences came close to the warm welcome and the camaraderie I experienced being among my corps mates as we launched snowballs and fireworks at each other. I know, I know, it sounds corny, like some game you’d play as a child, and perhaps there is some silliness to it, but it was absolutely a great time and we all really enjoyed it.

I wish I could remember all that attended, but I know if I tried to start and list them off, I’d miss some, so I won’t even try. Hopefully they’ll understand if I missed a wave or a signing off, a comment made, or a question asked. It was difficult to keep track of all the coms among the many, many fireworks and snowballs that were blasting around me.

Sendoff_MerkatoCesaille

Sendoff by Merkato Cesaille

We carried on as a fleet for much longer than I would have thought we could. Making our way to Thera’s sun at one point, then back out to a safer location again. We shared many laughs, stories, thoughts, questions, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. For the first time, in a long time, I felt very much a child surrounded by the comfort of my home with my family. I could feel my Grandfather’s arms hugging me tightly. Even though I could feel his presence, I wish he could have been there.

As the events of the evening began to fade and we all had other responsibilities we needed to attend to, Mynxee requested that we dock our ships together before departing. She said something about supplies she wanted to pass along before I began my exploration of wormhole space, the next phase of my personal journey. Interesting, because I had not requested any supplies, but ships docking in space was not an uncommon occurrence for crewed vessels. It was, however, rather odd for capsuleers because of the nature of the pods and leaving the ship completely dead in space while not actively piloting. Not to mention doing so in Thera could prove deadly. I was also a little nervous trying the maneuver without a crew. But the thought of telling my CEO no was the same as if I were telling the same to my Grandfather. First off, he wouldn’t accept it so why would Mynxee and second of all, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to say it – out loud that is.

Thera V

Thera V

After a few nerve racking moments of minutely controlling my ships thrusters without the aid of a crew, we managed to dock. Perhaps in record time, I disengaged from my pod, showered, and put on my new dress and shoes I had bought myself as a present for completing my Null Sec explorations. I would much rather wait for my CEO than have her waiting on me. Her time is valuable, I know, and there was no way I would keep her longer than necessary if I could help it. At least, I knew she had to go through the same process as I being a capsuleer herself and I hoped I was a little quicker.

Turns out I was ready first so I went over different greetings in my head while I waited at the airlock. ‘It’s a pleasure, Mynxee’ Hmm, too informal. ‘It’s nice to finally meet you face to face, Ms. President’. Is that what you call a CEO? Doesn’t sound right. ‘My Lady Mynxee, it’s an honor to meet you.’ Good grief, now I’m just sounding silly.

Then the hatch opened and there she was. I froze, eyes wide and jaw locked, and only after a few moments did I finally manage to extend my hand in greeting without saying a word.

She batted my hand aside and wrapped me up in a hug.

I was home.

“I got you a present, I hope you don’t mind,” Mynxee said releasing me from the hug, “Someone to help you endure those long stretches without company while exploring wormhole space.”

“Someone?” I replied with a bit of concern. “Mynxee, I ah… don’t really need a…”

“Here boy!” Mynxee yelled out, whistled sharply, then pointed at me.

From around the corner, in what seemed like slow motion to me, a rather large form appeared, bounding as it charged. So quick was it, my only reaction was a blink of my eyes before it was on me. HSlaverHounduge paws upon my shoulders, for the beast was nearly as big as I, it proceeded to open its maw full of teeth as long as my fingers, and just when I thought I was surely done for, it proceeded to lick the length of my face. I busted out laughing, most un-lady like, and threw my arms around the slaver hound, thinking that petting him would calm him down. It didn’t.

“You’ll have to name him, of course.“ Mynxee said. “Any thoughts?”

After a few moments, I finally managed to ease him down off my shoulders, but he insisted I continued to pet and rub his back with the threat that if I didn’t he’d jump up again. So I did as he wished with a huge smile on my face. The last time I had a pet I was a child and the thought never crossed my mind to have one on board ship. Since I would be able to enter and exit the pod freely, I could take care of him. We would be able to keep each other company while wandering the stars. I’ll have to see if the Chief can come up with a pod-like kennel that could possibly survive and be retrieved in the event my ship was caught and destroyed. Sounds like some more rigging in the Chief’s future. The more I thought about it the more I realized it was possible to have a pet.

“A name…” there was only one name that came to mind. The only name that made sense. A name that to me meant comfort, love, and that special feeling of home. “I’ll name him after my Grandfather.”

The slaver hound cocked its head slightly sideways, then looked from me to Mynxee and back again.

I smiled and replied, “Chester.”

Sendoff_Mynxee

Sendoff by Mynxee

Shake that Cosmic Thing

“Everywhere I went up there, they were shakin’ their cosmic things” – “Cosmic Thing”, B-52’s

04.07.yc116 Saisio < Okomon Constellation < The Forge

Futzchag II, Thukker Mix Factory

Futzchag II, Thukker Mix Factory

The pod goo swirled down the drain as I twirled in the shower in tune to the rhythm that beat in my head. My feet were light as I danced and my heart was thrilled as I shook my cosmic thing. I just couldn’t keep from smiling having finished my exploration of Empire space. One-thousand, nine-hundred, and seven systems across twenty-three regions. Unbelievable! Of course, if someone were to observe what I called dancing, I’m sure they would beg to differ. When talents were handed out, I seemed to have missed that one.

After finishing my exploration of the Hahyil system in the Derelik region, I had returned to my home station in Saisio. It was time to take ‘Jester’s Trek’ out, my Tengu, that the Chief had fitted out for me. I was excited, thrilled, and nervous at the same time. Maybe even a hint of fear, but that made it all the more exciting. Still shaking my hind side and humming the tune that was stuck in my head, I had a difficult time getting my workout shorts and top on. I had made it a habit, after long periods of pod time, to exercise and keep physically fit.

I guess I should have kept my eyes open when I exited my quarters, but I was too lost in the music, just taking in the moment for all it was worth, because I slammed into the Chief as he was getting ready to ring the chime. The smile on his face matched my own then we both burst out laughing.

“I’ve missed that smile, kiddo.” He managed to get out after a moment.

Ibaria III, Thukker Mix Warehouse

Ibaria III, Thukker Mix Warehouse

“What can I say?” I replied, “It feels good to finish a major milestone.”

“Enjoy the moment, it’s well deserve.” He nodded at me thoughtfully. “Your Grandfather would be proud and I certainly am.”

I wrapped him up in a huge hug, at least as big as my tiny frame would allow, and squeezed as hard as I could. That once bright eyed, full of wonder kid had finally returned to my spirit. I had truly moved on and had let go of the past. Now I could honor my father and grandfather by continuing with the next phase of my exploration.

One last squeeze, then I patted the Chief’s back and stepped away. “He’s ready?”

“Who?” The Chief started, then chuckled. “Oh that’s right, ‘Jester’s Trek’ you mean? You know kiddo, that just ain’t right calling a ship a he instead of a she.”

I shrugged my shoulders as there was no amount of ribbing he could incur that would deter my festive attitude. “Eh… to each his own I guess.”

He rolled his eyes, but continued to smile. “Yeah, he’s ready.”

“Awesome!” I started to move my arms in a locomotion gesture and bounced on my heels in succession to that beat that was once again in my head.

Ejahi I

Ejahi I

“Don’t do that.” His face turning slightly red. “Causes me impure thoughts.”

I stopped, dropped my jaw, and then smacked his chest with the flat of my palm, “Dirty old man.”

“Damn straight.” He replied, but I could see in his eyes the care instead of a leer.

“Besides, what would Grandfather think of you?” I smarted off.

“He wouldn’t, he’d just kill me.” The Chief grinned.

“Damn straight!” I mimicked his tone. “Thanks Chief, for everything. I plan on taking a few days off, but only after I’ve worked out and taken the Tengu out for a spin. Then I’ll be scanning down a wormhole entrance to Nullsec.”

His gaze turned to one of admiration, but with a hint of concern, “You be careful out there Katia, alright? Let me know of anything, anything at all I can do and you’d better see me before you go. Copy?”

My nerves tinged again, but I smiled despite them. The time for joking had passed as he only used my given name when he was serious and deeply cared for my wellbeing. I swallowed hard, fought the tears back that wanted to fall, and hugged him once more.

“Copy that.” I sounded as official as I could. “I will, I promise.”

Jaymass IV

Jaymass IV

Jester’s Trek

“Goodbye, stranger, it’s been nice. Hope you find your paradise. Tried to see your point of view. Hope your dreams will all come true.” – “Goodbye Stranger”, Supertramp as performed by Goldey

08.06.yc116 Saisio < Okomon Constellation < The Forge

Systems 20140608“Not bad for a god.” I heard the voice below and behind me say. I smiled without looking to see who it was. No need, I knew the voice to be that of my home station maintenance chief. He continued, “Wasn’t expecting you back so soon, Ma’am.”

“Wasn’t expecting to be back, Chief.” I replied.

“Are you… are you actually doing what I think you’re doing?” He asked.

I stopped for a moment, leaned back and took in my handy work. “I am.”

He chuckled, “You know we have drones for that, right?”

“I do.” Dipping my brush in the can of paint next to me, I carefully wiped off the excess on the inside of the opening. The work was tedious, but relaxing. If it wasn’t for the lack of adequate ventilation and air conditioning in the open hanger, it would have been enjoyable.

Nalu VII, Moon 4, Imperial Shipment Storage

Nalu VII, Moon 4, Imperial Shipment Storage

“Not much for words today are ya.” He stated without questioning. I could sense his desire to jab at me some more, but could tell he realized this wasn’t a good time. The chief and I go way back. He watched me grow-up, having served with my Grandfather in the Caldari Navy. They had been best of friends and when my Grandfather passed away, the chief had taken over that role. That was long before I had become – a god – as he puts it. “Well… sorry kiddo, I’ll leave ya be.”

He started to turn away before I stopped him, “No – it’s alright Chief.” Laying down the brush along the top of the can, I wiped the sweat off my brow then half turned around so I could see him fully. I tried to smile to reassure him I was fine. “It’s just I had read about him retiring and I was… well… just sad to hear about it, really.”

“Ripard Teg, you mean.” Again it wasn’t a question as any capsuleer or space crew knew of him. “Yeah, damn shame really, but most good things never last.”

Luromooh V, Moon 1, Imperial Shipment Storage

Luromooh V, Moon 1, Imperial Shipment Storage

A sudden familiar sense of loss sunk in the pit of my stomach as I thought of my Grandfather and the recent loss of my father. I swallowed hard then tightened my jaw before finally relaxing then quietly replied. “Yeah…”

“Well except maybe for you.” He added quickly, trying to lighten the mood, but seeing it hadn’t worked so well. “Hey, I’m sorry kiddo, it’s just…”

“I know.” I raised my hand to stop him and smiled warmly for his concern, “Listen, Chief, I’m about a month away from finishing up my exploration of Empire space so you know what that means?”

He nodded, frowned slightly, and even with the distance between us, I could see the concern in his eyes. “You’ll be heading into Nullsec. Yeah, I know. What do you need from me?”

“Diplomatic contacts.” I stated flatly.

Skills_20140608“You’re gonna need a lot more than that.” He placed his hands on his hips as if he were about to lecture me.

Holding up both hands in surrender, I chuckled, “I’m joking Chief. I just need you to have the Tengu ready to go.”

“She’s ready.” He crossed his arms, taking a stance of denial. “You sure about this?”

“I’m sure and it’s a him.” I turned back to my handy work painted on the side of the Tengu hull and smiled. “Jester’s Trek.”

04 Vale IVJester’s Trek Exploration Tengu Fit of the Week

Statistics
1,624 systems explored making that 29.9% of New Eden with no ship losses so far.

Madirmilire VIII, Niarja Gate