A call in the night

I awoke to a shrill sound from my Neocom, a message notification. Bleary eyed; the light from the clock felt like a laser burning through my retina. It was 03:24 AM. I was accustomed to being woken at all hours, but tonight was different, I’d not been in bed long and was extremely fatigued from the weekend frivolity at a planet-side conference called Fanfest (a gathering of capsuleers discussing the state of New Eden).

I closed my eyes; what ever the message was it could wait until I had rested. Again, the Neocom gave the same shrill sound, again the light from the clock burned my bleary eyes, it was 03:34 AM. I staggered from my bed, half naked, the cold metal floor of my quarters was as bad as the light from the clock; another assault to my weary senses.

I had no intention reading the message, just simply disable the notification alarm, I needed rest. Opening my Inbox I glanced the subject of the messages, which read:

URGENT: Matter of Extreme Importance <encryption seq. ASTRO-Ω-514-445553543531342D4E4F54494649434154494F4E>

The subject didn’t pique my interest; the encryption sequence did. It was like a cold shower; a rush of chemicals through my brain and I was awake.

I had created the encryption sequence over three months ago when I first became aware of the Clone Soldiers and the technology used to transfer their conciousness at the point of death. I had not made anyone aware of the sequence nor shared it with the Minmatar Militia. How then was someone using my encryption sequence and how did they find it?

I opened and decrypted the first message using my private key and biometric data; it simply read:

Encryption test; await further instructions

I opened and decrypted the second message:

Greetings Khai Astroyka,

My name is [redacted], I’m contacting you regarding the Clone Soldier situation and have a proposition for you that will provide you with the intelligence you have been looking for and secure you the appropriate assets for planetary conquest.

Please contact me on channel [redacted] at your earliest convenience to discuss the matter in further detail.

Kind regards, [redacted]

My heart skipped a beat; I wasn’t sure what to make of the message nor how the person found an encryption sequence only known by myself. I quickly got dressed and ran a security scan of my room and terminal; no anomalies found. This didn’t reassure me, I had no way to tell if my scanning equipment was simply being fooled by an unknown signature. I had to find out what the “proposition” was and the only way to do that was to connect to the channel and find out.

Could be risky; but what’s one more entity in New Eden hunting for me? I decided to open the channel using the encryption sequence; both as a signal to the end user that it was me and to provide a modicum of security. I masked my bio-feed, best as I could, but my name still appeared in the communication list. Within seconds [redacted] entered the channel.

[03:52:14] Astroyka > How can I help you?
[03:52:20] [redacted] > Thank you for responding to me. I’m aware you are fatigued so will keep this short.
[03:52:35] Astroyka > How did you breach my system and find this encryption sequence?
[03:52:42] [redacted] > That does not matter at this time, we have more important things to discuss.
[03:52:51] Astroyka > Proceed.
[03:53:10] [redacted] > As I know you are aware of the recent escalation of Clone Soldiers and Mercenaries in New Eden I won’t bore you with the history.
[03:53:21] [redacted] > New Eden is changing fast and these new entities will be making a huge impact.
[03:53:33] [redacted] > The cloning process isn’t perfect in the eyes of the four factions; not all of the soldiers are mindless automatons they need, and this scares them.
[03:53:56] [redacted] > Many soldiers are making freewill choices and already see the factions as how you and many like you see them.

I wasn’t sure where this was going; my mind raced as I read the words on the screen, wondering what would come next.

[03:54:02] Astroyka > Who are you and what’s your proposition?
[03:54:10] [redacted] > Who I am doesn’t really matter; who I represent is what’s important.
[03:54:15] Astroyka > So who do you represent?
[03:54:25] [redacted] > I represent those soldiers that want to be free!

Still unclear on what was going on here; and to continue with an air of ambivalence,  I pressed the question.

[03:54:58] Astroyka > OK, and your proposition?
[03:55:08] [redacted] > How would you like to sponsor a mercenary?

The words left me cold. I slumped back in my chair and stared at the screen. I wasn’t sure what [redacted] was truly offering.

[03:56:19] Astroyka > Explain.
[03:56:24] [redacted] > I’m being contacted daily by soldiers that are looking for honourable sponsors to support them and provide materials and resources needed to fight on the frontlines.
[03:57:02] [redacted] > In return they will pledge allegiance to their sponsor and provide ground support in tactical or strategic offensives the sponsor requests.
[03:57:40] [redacted] > I have three candidates who are aware of the Minmatar struggle and wish to join the fight and are looking for an established capsuleer to follow.
[03:58:07] [redacted] > Is this something of interest to you?

I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass by, but this sounded like a slave trade.

[03:59:22] Astroyka > You sound like a slaver. What’s in it for you?
[03:59:25] [redacted] > You injure me! I have no financial interest in this and do not take any remuneration for my services. I’m simply an agent connecting capsuleers with mercenaries.
[04:00:10] [redacted] > I will let you consider the proposition and will await your response.

— connection terminated —

The agent left the channel and I was left staring at his final words. I was none-the-wiser about how [redacted] gained access to my encryption sequence, but that was trivial compared to the proposition that was made.

Fatigue washed over me, I was exhausted, I needed to rest and clear my head before I could process what had been discussed. I undressed and fell back into my bed.

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One Comment

  1. Skare-Krow

    That is pretty brilliant, I’m really impressed with this. I was thinking of writing some fan fiction up about my dust character starting being loyal and obedient to the caldari state but as he fights in endless battles he slowly becomes dehumanized and loses his blind obedience for his parent empire

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