Sunday, 31 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.31

Happy birthday to me.

Normally, I guess I'd wish the birthday man many more like it. Not sure I want that. The day was good, but the context of it all?

Fuck it, I'm not clone jumping tonight. I got nice and drunk in the Gate, infomorphing back over to 9DQ would just undo all that hard work.

Figure I'm owed a good night's sleep, tonight of all nights. hangover be damned. Time to check into a VIP suite.

Save. End.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Notice to all crew: YC112.10.30

<Dissonance Vector Internal ComNet Message>
<NOTICE TO ALL CREW RE: Orientation>
<Author: Pilot V_Hakatain>
<12:30 hours, YC112.10.30>
<Priority: B - Strongly recommended access>

First of all, welcome.

For most of you, this will probably be the only communication you ever receive from me. With this message, I would like to dispel the notion that my lack of communication is out of aloof callousness or disregard for you as people.

I forbid myself from becoming too closely acquainted with my crews for the same reasons that crew are forbidden from fraternization under the ship's standing orders. If I were to come to care particularly about one of you above and beyond the others, it might affect my judgement. 

This is important. This ship is ultimately intended for front line combat duty. For every last person aboard this ship to have the best and fairest chance of surviving the carnage of pod pilot warfare, I have to be unbiased and even-handed in how I handle the deployment of damage control, how I open and close emergency forcefields, in the timing of when I launch the escape pods and in all the other myriad ways that will ensure that as many crew as possible survive on the day this ship dies.

If I were to pause at the wrong second because somebody I had become too attached to had not yet reached safety, it might jeopardize the lives of ALL crew. It is best for everyone's sakes, therefore, that you and I remain detached.

I would like to thank you, however. Without you, this ship could not fly. You may never hear from me again after this message, but I want you to know that I feel honoured that you are here, and that I value you. You have my word that I will do everything in my power to bring you back to port safely after every sortie.

Best of luck to all of you, and may whatever you believe in give you guidance and strength.

-Hakatain, YVG. 
Pilot, Dissonance Vector.

<Message Ends>

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.28

I've not seen Nicole in four months.

I don't know where she is, what she's doing or what's being done to her. I don't know if she's dead, alive somewhere wishing for me to come and pull her out of the fire, or alive somewhere wishing never to lay eyes on me again.

I miss her. I miss the fact that she's so much more intelligent than I am, but so much less practical. I miss her blush. I miss the way she calls me "rakkai". She's the only person ever to see me cry, on the day we put Dad in medical cryosuspension.

I'm coping, holding myself together, getting on with things, but I still miss her. And some mornings... it's almost impossible to summon the will to even get out of bed.

But I don't quit for mere "almost impossible". Never have, never will.

Save. End.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Notice to all crew: YC112.10.28

<Dissonance Vector Internal ComNet Message>
<NOTICE TO ALL CREW RE: Evacuation.>
<Author: XO_Yutsaysen>
<01:30 hours, YC112.10.28>
<Priority: A - mandatory access>

All crew to be aware: The Dissonance Vector is a military vessel that is intended for use in warfare operations involving capsuleer combatants on all sides. This means that the destruction of this ship under fire is not merely likely - it is inevitable. 


Unannounced emergency evacuation drills will be conducted at random intervals throughout the service life of this vessel. There will also be twice weekly prescheduled drills.  


You will find the instructions for emergency evacuation procedure plus an audio file of the evacuation alarm sound included in your orientation package. Memorise and rehearse them until they become second nature.


Any crew member who cannot immediately recognize and respond to the evacuation alarm faces expulsion from the crew without outstanding pay. Your performance will be monitored.


This may mean that the only notice you get that the ship is really being evacuated will be when the escape capsule you have boarded launches. For this reason you MUST treat all evacuation alarms as the real thing. There will be no "this is not a drill" announcements.

If you believe that a member of your work team has failed to properly learn evacuation procedure, it is your duty FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY to report them to your team leader, section chief or to the XO.

-Niva Yutsaysen
Executive Officer, Dissonance Vector.

*with the exception of some senior staff. If you have not already been offered a cloning service, then you are not eligible.

<message ends>

Journal: 112.10.27 (2)

It's astonishing how a conversation can turn a simple birthday present into an object of dread.

Just what the hell does Vieve think is going on?

...what does Celeste think is going on?

Save. End.

Journal: 112.10.27

The Provists did the State a huge disservice when they forced Niva to retire. She's the finest damn officer I've ever hired.

It's been 24 hours and already all the major section chief positions are filled, at a high quality. She's been taking into account personality compatibility, and drawing from non-Caldari sources if it means getting a quality chief who's good for the job. She's picked a Thukker for the flight deck officer, my security chief is Jin-Mei, and Engineering is now the doman of a Ni-Kunni.

The biggest score, however? Fighter pilots. Ex-Navy fighter pilots, not the usual fare of terminally ill civilians who get hired, given a crash-course and a barrage of medication to make sure they survive long enough to be useful. Because it turns out that the Provists have been busy shooting holes in the Navy pretty much since day one, and there are a lot of quality officers and personnel - up to and including a whole fifteen-man fighter squadron - who were waiting for an opportunity like this.

She says they trust her, and that she has faith that I won't waste their lives. I hope I prove worthy of that faith.

Save. end.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Security monitoring, Hakatain residence, YC112.10.26

<Security record: 11:48 112.10.26 (EST)>
<Venue: Hakatain Residence, Korama III - Moon 8 - Ishukone Corporation Factory>
<Suite: Pilot V. Hakatain office complex, security antechamber>

Speakers in order of appearance in record
<Speaker: Trooper Garl Nathaka, Hakatain Estate private security forces>
<Speaker: Commander (ret.) Niva Yutsaysen, visitor>
<Speaker: Pilot Verin Hakatain.>

GN: Good morning ma'am. Commander Yutsaysen I presume?
NY: That's right.
GN: Do you have any weapons or other contraband to declare, ma'am?
NY: My sidearm.
GN: Thank you ma'am, just put it in this box please... and press your thumb here for biometric lock.... Thank you ma'am, you'll get it back when you leave. Would you please step into the blue square?


GN: Very good. Pilot? Commander Yutsaysen to see you sir.
VH: Let her in.
GN: Sir. Ma'am.
NY: Thank you.

<Record break>

<Venue: Hakatain Residence, Korama III - Moon 8 - Ishukone Corporation Factory>
<Suite: Pilot V. Hakatain office complex, Pilot Hakatain's office>
<record continues>

VH: Niva! 
NY: Hello again... sir.
VH: Come off it Suuli, I may require "sirs" and salutes from everyone else I employ, but never from you.
NY: *relieved sigh* Thanks, Verin.
VH: Come here, it's been six years. <they hug>
NY: I missed you too. Look at you! You look younger!
VH: Cloning does that to a man. And you look.... well okay, you look your age, but it's a distinguished look.
NY: Thanks. Distinguished. You're too kind, Suuli. 
VH: <laughs> drink? 
NY: Vodka?
VH: Coming up. 

<silence for 0:45m, sound of drinks being poured>

VH: Kanpani!
NY: Moitte!
VH: So what the hell happened? I figured if someone cut you in half they'd find the star-and-bars printed down the middle. Why'd you retire?
NY: I, uhm... I was court martialled.
VH: yes, I know

<Silence for 0:05m>

NY: ...Spast! Verin, that's classified! how did you...? 
VH: I'm enormously wealthy, that's how.
NY: You bribed a House of Records librarian?
VH: No, of course I didn't.
NY: But in that case how...?
VH: Not relevant right now. Look, I know you Niva. You're a Navy officer on the cellular level. Your trial was obviously corrupt, I can see that just from the record. But the Niva Yutsaysen I know would NOT choose resignation over demotion, corrupt court martial be damned. So why'd you retire?

<Silence for 0:10m>

NY: They... forced me.
VH: forced?
NY: I... well, I expressed an opinion about the Provists in confidence to my superior officer. I had some misgivings about the militia war, and mentioned them off the record.
VH: I see.
NY: Next thing I know, they're court-martialling me over the Tama incident, and a Provist agent walked into my office. He said that he'd arrange for the sentence to be lenient if I agreed to resign. If I broke the deal... well, he said something about how capsuleers will happily shoot at anything for money, and how it's amazing how easily a ship's escape pods can be...
VH: I get the picture. A ship full of good people would have died.
NY: So... yes, they forced me.
VH: *sighs* The dumb fucks would shoot the whole State in the heart to save its little toe.
NY: Anyway, I saw you had a position available for XO on a Chimera-class and... you know, it's you, and I've always wanted to serve on one of those things...
VH: You signing on with me is really going to piss them off, you know.
NY: Yes.
VH: <laughs> you have been warned. Alright Niva, you're hired. Report for duty ASAP, the Dissonance Vector needs a crew. That'll be your first assignment.
NY: *relieved sigh* Thanks, Verin.
VH: <good-natured humour> dismissed, commander.
NY: <laughs and salutes> Sir!

VH: Oh, one last thing Niva. 
NY: Yes?
VH: I know that the Provist agent gave you other orders besides resigning. I don't care what they are, you should forget them.
NY: ...huh?
VH: I have a social adaptation chip and capsuleer social training. I can read every nuance of your body language, expression and vocal stress patterns. You cannot lie to me, Niva, and you cannot conceal the truth.
NY: Verin...
VH: You are an old friend, and whatever they threatened, I can and WILL protect you.
NY: ...thank you.

<NY leaves the office>

VH: That... is going to be a problem. 

<Recording terminated>
<Recording marked for personal archives>
<File ends>

Monday, 25 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.25 (2)

There's only one position I ever bother with personally filling on my crew - Executive Officer.

From there on in, the rest of the crew is their problem. So, I have to choose well.

This morning has been the day for that. Seventeen applicants, all with perfectly good credentials... and then a name jumped out at me.

Niva Yutsaysen.

There are a lot of people in the State... it couldn't be the same person ...could it?

Turned out it was. Lieutenant Niva Matrenka Yutsaysen herself, except she made Commander at some point since I last saw her. A woman I would have sworn was going to wear the star-and-bars her whole life, applying for a Capsuleer's XO position?

My XO position? On the biggest combat ship I've ever purchased? 

So, I have to get her into my office. There are millions of people working for the Caldari Navy, and hundreds of thousands of capsuleers in the sky. There's just no way that one of my old classmates is applying for the job at random.

She'd be perfect for the role. And that makes me suspicious.

Save. End.

Journal: 112.10.25

A Chimera has a volume just shy of twelve thousand cubic kilometres when fully assembled.

You'd think that somewhere in that lot, the designers would have found room to squeeze in ONE more bank of quantum supercomputers.

Save. End.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.24

Yesterday was a day off. Just family time.

Dad's recovery has been remarkable, I would have given him a prognosis for lifelong dependency on some kind of mobility rig when we began the nanite therapy but here we are and he's gardening and keeping busy looking after the family investments and going for his usual nightly walk - and spirits help me if those aren't a pain to keep secure. The only sign there was ever anything wrong is how quickly he gets tired, and even that's fading with time.

I didn't get to see Meera unfortunately - she's just too busy looking after Naia, and volunteering at the creche. I wonder what the director of that creche would think if she knew one of the volunteers had a team of elite shadow operatives watching over her 23/7.  That at any second, men could just appear, bust through a steel bulkhead and sweep her to safety. They're under orders to be on a hair trigger when she's at the creche - extracting her instantly would be safest both for her and for the kids.

Then there's Sinikka, who took me shopping, under the sisterly pretence that I need to expand my wardrobe. And to be fair, mine DID expand more than hers did.

Cheap and unhealthy takeaway food delivered to the estate, and the Kuonela Trophy semi-finals between the Jita Four-Fours and the Sobaseki Sentinels on the Echelon Splinterz feed.

And in the back of my mind, every so often throughout the day, that uncomfortable "mental sneeze" feeling of another skill level tying up the loose ends and finalizing the changes to my neural structure. I don't know why AURA bothers to alert me every time a skill training program completes. I always know.

I had a good day, in other words. One of precious few.

Save. End.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.22

Clone jumping...

from one very technical perspective, it actually consists of deliberately killing myself so I can flit half-way across New Eden in a single Planck time.

Of course, I'm a capsuleer. Dying and waking up again an instant later is sort of what I do.

Anyway, in this case I'm doing it because I need skillbooks. A LOT of skillbooks, and expensive ones to boot.

Because in thirteen hours, my neural structure will finish profiling itself to maximise my ability to interface with drones, and the last obstacles between me and capital ship piloting will be... the actual capital ship skills. Except that all of those skillbooks are absent from the regional market, so I need to jump down to empire and collect them myself. 

Fifty hours from now, I could make the return journey via my own private jump engine if I wanted.

but it doesn't stop there, because BLAST has a peculiar love/hate relationship with shield-tanked ships like, say, a Chimera. So immediately after I've got settled into the carrier I want, I'll need to finish my Amarr battleships training so I can squeeze into an Archon, though I'm damned if I'll stoop to buying one of those god-bothering piles of spangly junk. The corporation can damn well requisition one for me if necessary. And the same goes for the Revelation they'll inevitably ask me to get too. I'd much rather have a Phoenix.

So, I'll go from having zero capital ship piloting skills (unless you count the freighter) to being able to pilot a quarter of all the military capital hardware in New Eden in the space of a month.

Hopefully, maximising those skills should mean I won't have to worry about my next training agenda for a long, long time.

Save. End.


Begin postscript.

Of course, what I wasn't aware of was that the skill books cost more than the carrier. I can afford it, but this is still going to hit my wallet harder than I was expecting.

Save postscript and end.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.21

The River.

I can only assume Cia told me about it before, and my brain did all the thinking without involving me in the process. Spirits know, I set out to produce something appropriate for her, but I didn't think I knew her that well to be able to nail it on the first try.

Kigurosaka, in other words. literally, "flowing smoothly with the stream". Intuition. Hyperconsciousness.

It always amazes me how light years of separation can produce cultural takes on the same basic idea that are superficially nothing alike but, seen from the right angle, in the right light, in the right frame of mind, are wholly identical. The same idea, malleable, folded and hammered and bent until it'll fit minds of different shapes. Changed in form by the variety of heads that carry it, but still the same idea.

History moves in cycles. What has been before will be again. "In a past life, I was...". closed time-like curves, curved space-time... No beginning and no end, and never still, and always and never the same.

We live in just one loop of the infinite cycles of death and rebirth. It doesn't matter what you believe, because all beliefs are the same. Those who die in the glorious service of God are reborn in His kingdom. We pass on to join our Ancestors and live on through our descendants. We go, and come back. We are in the River, and the River is in us...

I don't know why I didn't see it before. Even being a capsuleer, knowing the quantum and physical processes that let me hop bodies all over New Eden, or die in a firefight and get back in a ship mere minutes later... it's all part of that same cosmic loop of reincarnation.

I wish I knew what the Minmatar believed in. I should find out, some day. Even if the idea at the heart of it all is identical to all the others... look at things from different angles, and your perspectives shift. The more you know, the more you understand.

If we confine ourselves to one point of view, we become blind. Only in embracing the other can we begin to know ourselves. There is one truth, but ALL interpretations of that truth must be valid, or else none are.

That truth is very simple:

This is not all that there is. We are more than we seem to be.

Save. End.

passive monitoring summary yc.112.10.21

*Passive monitoring record for apartment 773/a, Subject - Pilot Hakatain.*

0000 - 0523 Apartment vacant

0523: Occupant enters.

0524: <video feed in privacy mode: occupant disrobed>. Recorded activity: shower (duration 3 minutes), ablutions, went to bed.

0530 - 1130: Occupant asleep.

1130: Wakes. Performs ablutions, showers (duration: 7.2 minutes), orders lunch.

<Lunch: vegetable soup with corn bread, cup of tea. Dessert: fruit.>

1150: Exercise (duration: 30 minutes)

1220: Subject in prayer (duration: 10 minutes)

1230: Subject changes clothes and leaves apartment

1230 - 1537: Apartment vacant. Subject's location not on record. *ADVISE INVESTIGATION*

1537: Subject returns to apartment.

1537 - 1800: Subject works at desk (Activity - laser sculpting of crystals)

1800: Subject orders dinner

<Dinner - grilled fish, steamed vegetables and light beer. Dessert - ice cream>

1820 - 2100: Subject watches Splinterz match on Echelon feed #52. Drinks two more beers during duration of match. *POSS. ALCOHOL OVER-USE DETECTED. ADVISE REQUEST MEDICAL OPINION*

 2100: Subject leaves apartment

2100 - 2359: Apartment vacant. Subject installed in capsule.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.20 (2)

Funny. I came to Black Star looking to just be a soldier. I didn't want to get back to being an FC, or a training instructor, or anything where people might wind up relying on me to be anything other than a solid part of the line.

How quickly we fall back into the same roles again and again. Here I am, giving the fleet commanders navigation advice, training them in how to lead bomber wings and rapid strike forces. Here I am, doing what I'm best at - taking capsuleers and turning them into soldiers.

If I'm not careful, I'll wind up being alliance Special Forces task force commander again. If so, I hope I can find a way to do that job but stay out of the endless politics at that level of alliance command.

Save. End.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.20

Somehow, giving somebody a considerate gift that's just perfect for them isn't quite as satisfying when you didn't do it consciously or intentionally...

Journal: 112.10.19

Ewoks, Ev0ke and NC are attacking the Talos Coalition outpost in 9R4, which is basically in our backyard, and blue. So tonight, I was part of the relief fleet.

The result was something along these lines.

I lost an Apocalypse in the fighting. I hadn't even named it, it was just a piece of standard-issue equipment that the corporation handed me and used.

I'm still reviewing the crew roster. about 72% of the crew evacuated and were recovered by friendly cleanup to crew a BLAST vessel. 16% were recovered by hostile cleanup and are now POWs... presumably they'll just wind up working for the other side. Can't say I begrudge them that, it's not like they have any ideological reason to work for one side or the other. The remainder, including the ship's executive officer and the quartermaster, are missing presumed KIA.

Dying aboard a piece of standard-issue equipment without even a formal name. None of the missing personnel left forwarding addresses for next of kin or beneficiaries.

If there'd been anything, even a record in the ship's manifest to send bereavement pay to an account number, they'd seem more human to me. As it is, it's almost like another statistic of ship loss, like how long the shields, armour and structure held out. How many modules survived the destruction, who the people who shot me down were.

I survived. With so many armed and active targets on the field, they really weren't bothered with shooting at an unarmed capsule, so I punched out of the warp bubble and disengaged. Made it back to v6 safe and sound.

I'm... not pleased, but at least relieved to find that I still care about their deaths. I feel sorry for them, and for the others like them. Sometimes, I think our crews must be more inherently tragic than we pilots are. Putting their lives on line - and they only have one to gamble - on the promise of wealth. I think a lot of them are here precisely because they want to die but can't quite will themselves to suicide. We build our crews on the desperate, the weak and the forlorn.

I checked. ALL of the crew on that ship were forwarding their pay to somewhere else. The payroll is full of charity codes, bank accounts registered  in somebody else's names, or entries that are just marked "refused".

Do we waste lives? Or do our crews waste them for us just by signing up? Is it parasitic behaviour to take what is freely and willingly given?

I don't think I'll ever be the kind of pilot who fails to think about the people I'm destroying, but I've come to terms with it I think. Ghosts don't haunt my bedside... but they do haunt my ships and keep them running for me.

poor bastards.

Save. End.

Monday, 18 October 2010

journal: 112.10.18

Several years ago, I was shot in the knee.

the mission, as I recall, was to arrest a suspected Guristas operative who was meeting a cartel of counter-corporate terrorists with a shipment of spoofed corporate scrip equivalent to about three thousand ISK, and a possible weapons shipment.

"possible" turned out to be "definite" when we stormed the place. And it figured that the squad medic would be the guy who found out the hard way that they'd acquired an anti-vehicle pulse laser. A half-second pulse took my right knee down to scorched bone pretty much instantly, and the explosion of steam knocked me staggering. that was probably what saved my life, that I went sprawling into cover from the detonation.

I remember that it didn't actually hurt. the nerve trauma was too great, and the automated medical systems in my armour clamped down on all the pain, gave me a whole cocktail of stuff. Mephodrazine, Frentix, Codethaline, Adrenaline, steroids... From upright and running with an SMG in my hands to a drugged haze in about four seconds.

I don't remember much after that. Medical evac, doctors, worried faces... it all blurred together except for Suma. Suma Kidachi. Breaching regulations by holding my hand. I think we'd have been court marshalled when I woke up if...

That was the last time I saw her alive. Her or anyone else in the squad. They shoved me in a tissue regeneration vat and kept me under for four months. When I came out of it I was briefed that my whole squad had died in the valiant defence of a civilian personnel transport that got hit by blood raiders. The fought off the boarding action, so the fucking Blooders went and vaporised the ship. What was supposed to be downtime duty while one of the team was in rehab turned out to be #35 "Tanto" squad's last mission... and I wasn't there to die with them.

The Counsellor told me that the best thing was to remember and reflect on the good and not dwell on the bad.  To find new work, something, anything at all to keep me from missing them horribly. To give me purpose so I'd just get out of bed in the morning, so I wouldn't be tempted to find some way of... joining them.

I went on an intensive re-training scheme. took my experience as a medic and went on a fast-track course in trauma surgery which landed me in Field Operations Support Hospital 883, promoted to Captain.

Some days, it really was hard to get out of bed though. I missed them all, but Suma... Ancestors help me, I loved her so much. So much that I made mistakes like marrying Iadne because I thought maybe if I tried hard enough, I could...

I don't even know what I thought I could do. Ten years on and I still haven't figured out what was going on in my head when I proposed to her, or what was going on in hers when she said "yes". All I know is that the marriage lasted all of two days before it started to fall apart.

And now Nicole's gone. I don't know if she's dead or alive. I don't know if I need to go to the cloning techs and authorise her reanimation, or if I need to go rescue her and hold her and be the big damn hero. I don't know.

At least I could grieve for Suma properly. Her death scarred me in ways I'm only just acknowledging, but there was no uncertainty. She died, I grieved, that's how it went. Clean and natural, even if it nearly broke me in two.

But now? I don't know how I'm holding up. I don't know if I'm holding up. I'm out of my mind with worry and grief and rejection and anger and fear and self-doubt. Seems like every minute a new type of misery is slamming into my brain, forcing the others aside until they fight back one by one.

So all I can do is distract myself. I meditate, I practise Tastoitsu, I sculpt, I fly, I fight, I run simulations, I get drunk, I socialise, I focus on other people's problems to distract me from my own. I commit to my distractions until they make me forget her, for a while. But I can't stay distracted 23/7... she always returns, and then the worst misery of all comes with her.


Save. End.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Journal: 112.10.15

It's amazing how often pilots will contact me with various messages along the lines of "BLAST suck" or "your alliance can't hold space" or "your alliance can't fight."

I can't imagine how it might be possible for me to care less either way. My job's not to lead these people, my job isn't to be their spokesman.  Fleets are called, I sign up, I show up, I kill. Thus far, I've not lost a ship in turn, but that's only a matter of time. It's so simple, so pure. No obligations, nobody relying on me for leadership or guidance. Just... a function. A component in the system. I have my job and I do it as well as I know how. Win or lose makes no difference to me - just performing my role to a high standard is sufficient.

How long has that feeling been missing from my life? That feeling of belonging, of being part of something greater than myself... Even if the alliance's motives are petty, even if it only exists to make money and hold space and for no good philosophical reason, it's still something I feel like a part of.

The State hasn't given me that feeling in a long time. I'm a capsuleer, I'm not part of that society any longer. I'm still Caldari, still a citizen, but I'm not really a part of the State any longer. No longer really involved with that greater good.

But here, surrounded by and working with others like me, other pilots? Here I can get that sensation back again. It's a powerful, heady narcotic of a feeling and resisting the urge to turn my back on my origins is going to be hard. But I won't give in, because it's still missing that spark of inspiration that comes from having a philosophy more noble than simple greed.

If capsuleer alliances have a creed or philosophy beyond the accumulation of wealth and the pursuit of selfish dalliances, I've never identified it. So, neither option is satisfying, really.

But I'm glad I'm doing this right now.

Save. End.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

passive monitoring video file #137/45.663

V6-NY1 Outpost passive monitoring
YC112.10.14 03:39 hours.
Quarters: Pilot Verin Hakatain
Subject: Pilot Verin Hakatain

Verin has cleared a space in his suite and is facing the pressure-hull window. The window is in the station's shadow and only faces the star field. Verin himself is wearing only a pair of loose canvas trousers. He is stripped to the waist and barefoot.

He begins by getting a small ceremonial table out of a cabinet. He sets it down in front of the window and kneels next to it, lights a candle under a bowl of scented oil, and rings a bell before shuffling back and bending down to touch his forehead to the ground. he stands, takes several paces back, and raises both hands, palms pressed together, presses them first to his face, then his chest. His feet shuffle apart to shoulder width, and his hands come down to hip height, clenched into loose fists.

"It is a symptom of madness that thoughts become uncontrollably disjointed. This is to be resisted. It is a symptom of sanity that thoughts are collected and calm. This is to be encouraged."

He is speaking to himself, eyes closed as he shifts his weight onto one foot and begins the series of slow, sweeping movements that are part of a Tastoitsu warm-up.

"Become centred. Focus only on here and now. There is no past. There is no future. There are no other people. There are no distractions. There are no goals. There is no self. There is no thought. There is only calm."

even as the martial movements become increasingly vigorous, Verin's feet never leave the floor. He instead drags them around with a faint scrape of skin against carpet.

"Become balanced. There is no good. there is no evil. There is no true. There is no false. There is no black. There is no white. There is no self. There is no thought. There is only calm."

Having stretched and warmed up, Verin's motions approach top speed. Rapid-fire punches ripple through the air, crooked elbows and bent knees throw unseen opponents to the mat, drunken sways at the waist and sudden shifts of weight cause phantom attacks to miss. At no point do his feet leave the floor. He begins to breathe heavily and a sheen of sweat appears.

"Become the focus. The centre of everything is nothing. The balance to all that is is all that is not. Become centred. Become balanced. Become the focus. Become nothing. Become everything. There is no self. There is no thought. There is only calm. There is no self. There is no thought. There is only calm. There is no self. There is no thought. There is only calm."

Despite the obvious exertion, his voice remains level, calm and quiet, timing the mantra around steady, deep breaths. After some time, the vigorous motions slow and are replaced by languid, slow ones designed to places muscles under tension rather than exert them. The mantra changes again.

"...only calm. There is only the focus. There is only the centre. There is only balance. To be focused is to be calm. To be centred is to be calm. to be balanced is to be calm. There is only calm."

He comes to a stop and sinks to his knees in front of the little table again.

"It is a symptom of madness that thoughts become uncontrollably disjointed. This is to be resisted. It is a symptom of sanity that thoughts are collected and calm. This is to be encouraged. Turn awareness outwards toward transcendence. Turn awareness inwards toward the self. Be mindful of both and controlled by neither. Balance in all things."

He presses his forehead to the ground, rings the bell again, and pinches out the candle.


Journal: 112.10.13

I didn't clone jump back down to Fountain last night. Woke up in a VIP suite on the Impro factory in Goinard after a night in the Last Gate. by the smell of my clothes and the pain in my head when I woke up, I had a bottle of vodka all to myself. Thank the ancestors for hot showers, painkillers and complimentary laundering.

And now I can't remember the password to the old journal, can't find it archived anywhere.... and even if I could, the last entry was in May, when ForgeTech was still active, before Nicole and I got married, and before I spent a few months working for LDIS before buying off my contract and retreating back out to nullsec. Time for a fresh start I guess.

Last night proved something to me at least - I need to start doing things if I want to avoid going insane. Things like giving my advice on other people's problems to help throw mine into perspective. Things like voicing my problems, even if it's just to a machine. I've done insanity, I don't want to go back there, and keeping what's worrying me bottled up is just going to lead back down that road.

Which is the bigger issue, I wonder? "My kid sister who's too young to be cloned flew a ship solo into lowsec and is really mad at me" or "I haven't seen or heard from my wife in three months"? I mean, at least Cia's ordeal is over. No disaster, no permanent harm done - At least Camille's there to work things out with. To tell off, to talk to, to just hold. But Nicole's a big girl, and a capsuleer. Even if the worst has happened, I will see her again even if it's just to be there and hand her a towel as she steps confused out of a CRU. Her last scan that I know of was the day we came back from the honeymoon.

I don't know how I feel about that, though. I mean, we're both body-hoppers, but we've never been in two at the same time. What would she think if she came back and found me happily asleep with her own clone. What would she do? What would WE do?

...Time to jump back to V6. I need distractions right now. Distractions like "There are ninety hostile pilots coming, everybody fleet up and prepare to kill and get killed". It's funny how I turn to battle and destruction when I'm seeking emotional peace.