Friday, April 9, 2010

Abyssus in Terra

This entry is written for the contest posted on CrazyKinux's site found here. I wrote it before looking at any other submissions and was relieved to see that I was not the only one writing fiction. I tried to make my fiction reflect the realities of both what this will mean for game play and for what it will mean for the Eve Universe as game setting. My apologies if any of my tech or in game mechanics seem fudges as I am a relatively new player, though I will tell you that I broke out EFT for Part 3. I hope you enjoy.

Part One

“Thank heavens for scientific research. I would have made a terrible farmer!” – Dr. Amiel Tsling, Professor of Physics and Theoretician behind the Space Elevator

Safanan Ature furrowed her brow and looked narrowly at the man standing before her. “A rocket? You seriously are merely going to launch a rocket into space for any pirate to come and scoop up?” The man withered a bit beneath her gaze and pushed his glasses a bit further up his nose. He was fidgeting like a small dog cornered by a large butcher. He was afraid for his life, but at the same time he knew that Assembly Manager Ature could give him everything he ever dreamed of, possibly more.

“For now, for now! There is work on a space elevator much more secure, and we could easily wait to shoot the rockets until the coast was clear, or perhaps encrypted rockets… yes…” His voice deteriorated into mumbles before he shook his head violently. “That’s so trivial though! It is the big picture that matters!”

“We’ve been spending so much time sending out our mining teams into asteroid fields looking for rare minerals, or out harvesting ice, we’ve even been mining from the surface of moons with orbital mining arrays. But all that time we’ve been sitting on a fortune, quite literally sitting on it! If we could effectively harvest the resources of the planet with ground based installations we would save loads in supply costs.”

“I think the Amarrians might have a problem with it if we start undermining their cities, Dr. Everet.” Safanan looked at the man skeptically, but now that the idea was in her brain it was slowly being turned over, refined, honed, and clarified.

“We obviously can’t do the industrialized planets, but have you looked our initial survey reports? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of planets that are completely barren, even more have small communities practicing subsistence agriculture. They could hardly stand in the way if we wanted to industrialize their planet.” The doctor continued even more excited now, practically bouncing in his chair. “Think about the science! This is the next huge industrial revolution. This will bring to industrial science and manufacturing what the modulated strip miner did for mining!”

A chuckle escaped from the powerful woman’s lips as she regarded the rabid scientist. “Settle down Doctor, settle down.” She leaned back in her chair where she sat across from the older man. She took her mug from her desk and sipped slowly. “There are... considerations. We don’t want to be seen as oppressors. I’ll need to talk to Metmeon and Essid before we take this to Ardamad.”

Some of the color and exuberance flushed out of Doctor Everet’s face as the name trigged a flight response deep within his psyche. “Ar.. Ar.. Ardamad Zoar? CEO Madame Zoar?”

“Well of course,” Safanan replied casually with a wave of her hand. “I can’t simply authorize us to go into a completely unproven and experimental field her approval. You, of course, will have to present your ideas to her as well.”

“I’m not very good at presenting,” the Doctor offered up weakly, looking decidedly more pale with each passing moment.

“Yes, it is clearly a matter of spin,” Sarafan said to herself as she turned her chair to peer out the station windows at the vastness of space. “Word it carefully and we will seem to be the saviors of these forgotten worlds. Bringing progress and security to unsafe worlds. Providing those with nothing hope for a better tomorrow for their children. Economic prosperity for everyone.” She chuckled darkly, “But most importantly, economic prosperity for us.”

Part Two

“Them devils were bad enough in space, now they got to go and mess up our home too?” – Anonymous

“Move it, the wreckers aren’t going to wait much longer and if you are still here when they crush your home I’m going to have to fill out an incident report to explain the bodies.” The fat man smiled, there was no warmth behind the gesture, just callous inhumanity. “I hate paperwork.” The woman struggled to carry as many bags as possible while herding two small children from the hovel they had called home. Outside, her husband pushed a cart loaded with basic farming supplies. His two older sons carried loads similar to the one being hauled by their mother.

The worn path that served as a road, winding through the small community, was full of families just like their own. Every few homes was a man with a gun, ensuring that the evacuation was thorough enough to minimize the need for ‘incident reports’. The men with the guns weren’t being violent, at least not yet. There was no need, these people had already heard about the fate of the last community that had tried to defend themselves and what they had thought was their land. The bastards didn’t even bother fighting back with their men on the ground. At the first sign of real trouble, trouble that wasn’t going to be put down with single killing, they pulled their troops back. The village had thought they had won. It was a little later in the day when a loud humming filled the air. A single ship with a few missles was all it took to completely decimate the town.

The story spread fast, the few survivors who had been out in the field saw to that. So when they came to the next town, and the next, the people didn’t dare rise up. They simply packed up and moved on, settling down with neighboring communities where they had friends or family. If there wasn’t enough room they would just move on to the next town, so far there was still plenty of space on planet.

“Dad, where are we going to live now?” The young boy looked at his father. His face was tight and set firmly against the tears that were welling up within his eyes. The man looked down at his son, proud that his boy was trying to bear the heartbreak with a maturity beyond his years. It was a maturity beyond anyone’s years; there isn’t a man alive who can walk from his home at gunpoint and lead his family into the unknown without feeling that sense of pain and of failure. But like his son, the father put on a stoic face, even trying to smile weakly.

“We go down the road son. I figure there’s someone who can use a sturdy farmer whose good with his hands, and if not we’ll find another patch of open land and start over.” Even as he said it the words felt hollow in his ears. “Until they come and take that land too.” He thought bitterly. These corporations and the capsuleers who ran them would never stop until the whole planet was as efficient and barren as the ships they withered away in.

It had all started when some hotshot capsuleer had discovered that planet 8RL-OG VII had potential for excavation since it was rich in the minerals needed for so many of the high end implants and modules that the spacers had an endless appetite for. He quickly sold the information to a large industrial corporation. At first they had been all smiles, offering the world, great jobs, the comforts of modern life. What they didn’t understand is that the people had no desire for such things. They liked their land and they liked their autonomy. Those who were interested wanted far more than the corporation was willing to give. So instead they showed in force, they brought in troops and they brought in their own workers by the shipload. They began to clear out village after village, town after town.  Where there had once stood rolling fields of hand planted grain there were now automated factories, digging deep into the earth, extracting what they wanted and spitting out the remains.

“And that will be the fate of the entire planet” the man thought to himself as he pushed his cart roughly down the road. The corporation would push and grab and steal until the people were trapped, squeezed onto the few tracts of land that the corporation didn’t want for themselves. Then the day would come when those were the only places left to expand onto. But by then they would be a broken people, they would gladly take whatever work the corporation will offer them for whatever scraps of compensation the corporation decides to bless them with. And as he walked down the road thinking of the fate of his children and grandchildren the man didn’t even try to stop the flood of tears that poured down his weathered cheeks.

Part 3

“What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. Until I take it of course, then it’s mine.” – Unknown Pirate

Tetz sat in the cockpit looking out at the stars. “You ever notice how screwed up the world looks through the cloak Kiogi?” There was a pause and Tetz looked at his console, waiting for the response.

“Nope.” Kiogi’s voice came back without any additional commentary. Tetz let out a sigh in the solitary confines of his Crane. He really hated being partnered with Kiogi. His partner sat about 2AUs off the jump gate monitoring the incoming traffic and probing out the system. At least it would be over soon, this was the last pickup and then they could get the hell out of the system and back to home space.

“How does it look?” Tetz asked. They’d been sitting here for the better part of an hour, it never hurts to be too cautious. After all that time though, Tetz had been getting impatient.  He couldn’t wait for them to finally perfect the Space Elevator so the minerals could be lifted from planet side to an orbital station rather than the almost archaic rocket system they were using.

Kiogi ran a few more checks and then came back over the comm. “All clear as far as I can tell. Be careful.” Tetz nodded and went to work. He signaled the planet station to initiate the launch. Once the code was given there was no time to abort, so no matter what happened now it was go time. There was a visible flare as the rocket blazed out of the lower atmosphere. It shot  into low planetary orbit and hung there, waiting for someone to pick it up. Tetz turned his nose towards to cargo rocket and made his way towards it. This was the dangerous time, there could be another rogue Crane out there, just waiting to snap up what was not theirs. It happened once a few weeks ago, the thief made off with an entire rockets worth of cargo. That is when they started being sent out in twos. Kiogi would watch the gates into the system for incoming vessels. Once they thought they were reasonably alone Tetz would order the launch and grab the cargo.

Tetz positioned himself just at the edge of transfer range, not wanting his cloak to drop early and prepared for the tricky bit. Suddenly his cloaking field dissolved. “What the hell?” he said to no one in particular. Warning lights flooded the cabin a deep crimson and sirens began to shriek in his ears. “What’s going on Tetz?” Kiogi’s voice for once showed genuine concern.

“Shit, shit, shit!” shouted Tetz as he tried to turn to his combat console. The first volley of missiles hit before he could even bring up his overview. “Oh fuck, Widow Kiogi, it’s a fucking Widow!” He tried to bring himself in to warp, but the computer informed him the warp bubble could not form. “And he’s got me locked! I’m fried!”

Kiogi’s voice was tinged with a hint of panic, “Aligning now.” Just then two more blips appeared on Tetz’s screen. “Don’t bother Kiogi,” Tetz replied with a sigh, “Two more Rooks just uncloaked.” He watched as his shields started to buckle as volley after volley of missiles slammed against them. There was no chatter on his comm. other than Kiogi, no ransom requests today. He could hear the missiles tearing into his armor now as his shield gave way under the assault.

“Hey Kiogi, do me a favor?”

“What’s that?”

“If they pop my pod buy my clone a few rounds and give him a message for me.”

“Sure, what’s the message?”

“Tell him I slept with his wife.” Tetz laughed with Kiogi as the volley caused his ship to rupture into nothing but wreckage. He thought to himself, “That joke never gets old.”

Part Four

“War is hell.” – General Sherman

The following excerpt was recovered from an unknown soldier after the great planet wars.
=Begin Transmission=
No one said it would be like this. The technology was supposed to improve our planets. We were supposed to be better off than before.  When the corporations first came to our planets with the promise of a better tomorrow. We believed them. We would all live with the comfort of gods. They said they were going bring us great cities.

Instead they brought us battlefields.

Endless battlefields are all we know now. Battlefields where the unfortunate few who stayed behind or who weren’t killed when the first wave of fighting erupted wage an endless war. They made us immortal, but they also made us cannon fodder. A capsuleer may die once, twice a year if they are unfortunate. There isn’t a day that goes by it seems when I don’t wake up choking and gasping in the darkness of a medivat.

At first it was almost like they promised... almost. The corporations came and there were plenty of worlds for all. There was no need to squabble over resources when the planets were seemingly endless. Why fight over a planet when you can just move onto the next one? But as the resource rich planets became fewer and fewer the competition became more and more fierce. The corporations started offering more and more to the citizens to woo them one way or another, but that didn’t last long.

Eventually some bean counter in a corporate office figured out it would be more cost efficient to simply drop a garrison of troops and take over an already claimed planet than it would be to scout out another operation that wouldn’t bear as rich of a fruit. It was a PR disaster at first, corporations and governments were outraged at one another, but it was an easy problem to solve. The invasions became liberation movements. Show enough holovids of the terrible working conditions on these planets, and they were terrible, and you could convince anyone that whichever corporation was being invaded that day deserved it.

It slowly got to the point where every single planetary installation had a full garrison and war was constant. Some companies would hold strong enough footholds in a system to keep the others at bay for a little while, but soon a rival faction would tear them down again. It was a living nightmare. It has gotten to the point where the planets don’t even have names, just combat designations, and they all look the same. Sure, one has two moons and one has three. The skies may be green on one but yellow on the next, but the fighting is the same everywhere, and by now most of the ground is stained red with blood.

But up in space the corps keep plugging away, so it must still be profitable, at least to someone, damned if it is me. They keep saying we can earn up enough and retire, go to the stars and be a capsuleer if we want. But somehow that goal is always just out of reach, the eternal carrot that I can never grasp. I don’t know if I’d want it even if I could get it now. The smell of Med-gel hangs around me constantly, that and the smell of death.
So I finally found my way out of it. Tonight I am going to break into the Medlab, I’m going to shoot my clone, then I’m going to shoot myself. Who knows, perhaps I’ll end up in the stars once I’m dead.
=End Transmission=

Thank you for reading. When I envisioned this story I only had imagined parts 2-4. As I was writing I felt there needed to be a Part 1 to set the stage, to show what put the wheels into motion. Part 1 and 2 were meant to show the possible development of this new mechanic through the eyes of the non-player denizens of Eve. Part 3 was my brief homage to a new potential breed of piracy, the planet camp instead of the gate camp. Part 4 was my hopes for what Dust 514 will eventually bring us. As always, comments welcome.

6 comments:

  1. Fantastic post. Great progression of ideas.

    m

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment Mike, glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for your participation. The results of the contest will be announced tomorrow morning! Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations David on winning one of the 5 PLEX that were being given away for the Tyrannis PI Contest! Please follow the instructions in order to claim your PLEX

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent post, congrats on the PLEX!

    ReplyDelete