We- it's terrible, unbelievable. They're saying that Mr Kuvakei, that the Nation, that we have done such horrible things. I know none of it is true, it can't be. I'm scared though. They're, they say they're coming, the fleets from the Empires. That they killed them, everyone, the places they have been already. Our fleet, we are evacuating, all of us. Miri and the kids are here with me. It's funny, my second time on a spaceship. I think we've cleared the atmosphere, I'm sure everything will be fine. This is a cruiser, it's huge, we could see it out the window in the transfer shuttle. A Phantasm, Utopia Realized is its name. Surely we are safe now. The crew, they seem a little strange. Quiet, lots of implants. Mostly Minmatar. Helpful though, very helpful...
Several pages had been damaged, then:
...can feel pounding all around us, alarms are going off. I'll write more later, when there is time, I'm going to be with Miri. Ancestors and spirits shelter us.
That had been the last entry. Silver thought back to the database dump from the ship he had destroyed, the first time she was nearly killed, when Utopia Realized was still her name. When what the report said was a dead center hit from the main batteries of an Amarr battleship had ripped clear through the reactor power coupling and the cargo hold. He wondered how the book had even survived.
Silver picked up the thin volume and tucked it into a jacket pocket, then stood and walked from the restaurant to find a transport back to his hangar. By the time he stepped out of the lock and into the corridors he had made his decision. After all, he had wanted a change. Needed a cause that was worth it. Hike Osa's Nation had had nothing to do with True Slaves or grabbing power. It had been about making a life somewhere where happiness was possible. Not to mention where you were born wasn't as important as who you were. Something like that was, well, a better thing to fight for than stuffing some agent's pocket anyway. He made a call,
"Ms Invelen, please contact Asbury and forward to the rest of the ICT directorate my resignation, effective immediately. Inform the crew that per their contracts, they can leave service if they would like, with 6 months severance pay. We are going to be making a bit of a change and it may not agree with everyone. Ami... that goes for you too, of course. If you find our new employer objectionable. Anyway, in the mean time, spool up for a jump and see what you can do to get me in touch with Ms Izzychan of Naqam corporation. I have an offer to make. Thank you, Ami."
Silver felt his doubts fade, felt the same unshakable confidence he had coming out of the academy settle back in. That what he did was right, that the costs, whatever they would be, would be worth it. As he passed through the blast doors to the pod chamber and his ICT uniform crumpled on the floor behind him, he knew certainty.
As I write this the shuttle is taking us closer to Stain, and closer to our dreams. I couldn't be happier. Being free of Nugoeihuvi has given me new hope, and I feel like the future is finally a good thing rather than a walk into the Wind. The transport is a little crowded with all the people we took on in the Empire, but it doesn't seem too close at all - everyone is so optimistic! Some of the Amarr seem a little standoffish, but most seem friendly and... just normal. I've started learning Amarrian from one of them to pass the time. Rira seems like a nice sort, used to be a teacher at a private school in the Empire he says. I'm teaching him Caldari, which he says he only knows a little of. As if I know any Amarrian at all, aside from 'hello.'
Silver read on as the journal, not always carefully kept up (though Hike seemed to remember to make an entry at least every month or two) chronicled the man's life in the Nation. In the often crumbling, sometimes indecipherable pages was the story of his settling into one of the colonies in Esoteria, where he worked in database management for one of the plethora of research labs. Throughout he was optimistic, happy, fulfilled. He talked of meeting his wife, his first child being born. His friendships with the people around him, with backgrounds from all over the cluster. The cybernetic enhancements were mentioned as well, in words that spoke of wonder at abilities sharpened, hinting almost at new worlds discovered in perception, communication, even thought. No mention of True Slaves, as Silver read on and an exorbitantly expensive meal grew cold on the table in front of him.
Located adjacent to the salvage hangar, it was here information was carefully sifted from the surviving systems of the destroyed ships. Most of it was useless, at least taken in small chunks, going into databases for trend analysis. What interested him at the moment was the information from the beat up old cruiser that he had run into. He had sent the easily retrievable data on ahead, before he even docked, and now the techs, pale complexions glowing blue in the dim lab with the light of the monitors, pulled up their early results on the main monitor dominating the far wall:
Designation: FDNL33846, previously 'Wrath,' previously 'Utopia Realized.'
Silver scanned quickly through the log, until he came to the date the cruiser was launched. The main structure of the ship was even older than he had thought, from the Nation's golden age, before True Slaves became common. It had been nearly destroyed twice, the first time over a planet, cargo hold and main power conduits breached by laser fire. The ship had floated essentially dead, the – what the log called organic components – had died, for nearly a decade the ship had floated there until the its recovery. Incredible. Reincarnated again only to suffer an even closer brush with death when it suffered a reactor breach fighting Seraphim. That it had been deemed still useful and recovered twice was nothing short of miraculous, and surviving a reactor breach in any condition to be rebuilt - Silver felt a twinge of guilt for destroying such a persistent machine.
Walking back through, once again weaving through the piled refuse created in the name of boredom and profit, Silver came again to the low mounded aftermath of the avalanche across the pathway. Making his way back across, an incongruous shape caught his eye. A book, paper, brown covered and yellow paged. With antiquity? One way to find out. Silver snagged the book and headed toward the blastdoors leading out and toward what the AI concierge claimed was the finest restaurant on this backwater station. He was looking forward to the more complete data from the ship, but not nearly as much as he was looking forward to his first meal in almost a week.