Finally

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This cycle was the day for the lucky nameless pilot. After nearly 3 months of ceaseless training, painful implants, and more ISK spent than he cared to admit, the pilot could use the shining, packaged speed demon in his hangar. He had already picked out the fitting for his newest ‘toy’, and purchased it during on one of his many trips to Oursulaert over throughout his travels. The market hub was a good 20 jumps from his current location, but he didn’t care: He could use his new ship, and nothing could touch him on his way there; it was all high security jumps after all. This fact didn’t keep him from worrying about losing his most prized possession, but did ease the nervousness of flying an unfitted ship such a daunting distance a small amount. It wasn’t as if he had a choice in the matter either, as hauling his entire fitting back would be just as risky for him. If only faction fittings were as easy to find as cheap ship hulls, he wouldn’t be in this mess… But such was the life of a capsuleer, the life he had chosen to lead many clones ago.

Given that there was no more room for debating his choice to fly his unfitted ship 20 jumps to pick up its modules, the pilot focused on what came next in what was sure to be a long day’s sequence of events: unpackaging his new ship. Calling up the dock display and giving the order to do so was simple enough, but the wait for the process to finish was many times harder. He paced, had a cigarette, and even so much as browsed the station market to see if there was anything that he could fit on his ship that he had missed in his last scan not 20 minutes before. There was nothing affordable, of course, but the perusal had killed a great deal of time and by the end of it, the ship was nearly completed. The pilot all but ran to his pod upon seeing that, hopping into the vessel and shutting its doors like he had several times before, but this time with a considerable amount more excitement than his usual outings. Barely able to avert his gaze from the clock in his pod, he got himself ready for launch almost entirely by feel, and only really paid attention to what he was doing once he began to launch procedure, as it was a somewhat painful and very distracting thing. The process of getting ‘plugged in’, then ‘filled’ with the life-sustaining goo that always filled pods was never a pleasant one… Except for this time, as it meant the nameless pilot was that much closer to being able to helm his pride and joy.

The entire process of assembling his ship and getting his pod ready had taken probably a grand total of 15 minutes, but to a capsuleer, whose fate could be decided in split-seconds, that seemed like an eternity.  The end result was always worth it, and this time… This time, it was almost beyond the price he had paid to get to this point. The identity-less capsuleer felt something he had not felt since he had been in his first dog-fight as a rookie pilot as the interface for his ship began to load onto his visual display: pure adrenaline. His heart was racing, his breathing was short, and his eyes were wide; it was like getting into a pod the first time all over again for the all but overwhelmed clone. He shut his eyes and just let his breath slow for a moment, trying to regain his composure so that he could begin testing out his new ship’s systems in preparation for launch. Even with shut eyes and slowed breathing, it still took a moment for his nerves to steady, but they did eventually, and that was the cue for the pilot to get to work.

The first thing that the capsuleer noticed was that the amount of data which flew across the screen as he started up the pre-flight checks on the ship was staggering compared to his old ship, and it took all he had to keep up. He did take a brief moment to praise the gods for giving him a Perception implant to offload some of the work to, but did not let his supernatural thanks interfere with his mathematical work. It was one thing for a Gallente to be spiritual, but quite another for a capsuleer to make a mistake on the maiden voyage of a ship as costly as his. He had never made one before though, and with everything he was checking was coming out green, worry evaporated in a matter of moments. This wasn’t to say he still wasn’t as excited as a rookie pilot or as nervous as one too, but he was composed again, and confident in his ship. It was that confidence that pushed him to undock from the station, and that same confidence that let him think he could escape the waiting pirates right outside the station doors. He couldn’t, but with his foolish pride alone he tried to, as the adrenaline in his system had overridden any careful doubts he had had just minutes before having his ship pushed out into the void. Unlike the foolhardy pilot however, the pirates knew what they were doing, and with a lock, a scrambler, a few missiles, they ended the existence 128 and the first Taranis.

Now, 128 had done two, and only two thing right before he had died so carelessly: he had insured the ship properly, and installed his successor clone in Oursulaert. How do I know that? I am 129, the one born out of his prideful mistake and left to avenge his meaningless death. A simple contract or waiting for a better time to fly would have kept my birth from needing to occur, but as I spilled out onto the cloning bay floor and was rushed to the awakening room, his memories flooded into my cerebrum and I saw every error, every mistake, and every lapse in judgment the holo-worm had taken up until his final ‘glorious’ death. Had he been thinking clearly, he would have known that no death is glorious in space; they all cost ISK, time, resources, and give other capsuleers yet another reason to target you. He had not been thinking clearly though, and had thusly passed that task onto me to do for him.

**************

                Vengeance was my only thought once I had been cleared to leave the recovery room. It may only take a day for new clones to be cleared for use in space, but that day was the longest day my memories held, as I knew that every minute I spent adjusting to breathing air and thinking for myself, those pirates were off wandering space and making things harder for me once I was released. Sure, I had their names, but names were meaningless when it came to locating an individual: New Eden was far too vast to keep track of everyone in it, let alone the capsuleers like me who skated all but above the law. It took all I had not to try and escape so I would have a greater chance of catching the bottom-feeders before they moved on, but I stayed, got acclimated, and set out as soon as legally allowed with 2 goals: Get a ship, and get those 3 pirates.

I had to print and register a few things as I left the Cloning area, just formalities to get all of 128’s assets cleared for use again by me. They went through immediately and without hiccups, as always, and immediately I began to burn through them. A second Taranis, insurance for it, and a couple new implants were made mine before I had even taken ten steps outside the Cloning area. Twenty steps, and the ship was being assembled with all its modules prefitted and a couple new ones I purchased using the leftover insurance money. I would have done more, but since it was only about 25 steps to the Implant attachment ward, I had to stop my flurry of activity and get upgraded to the best combat implants my meager sum of ISK could afford. This wasn’t to say I had to purchase anything bad, but anything truly top-of-the-line was far out of my reach.

The installation of my upgrades took only minutes, but the pain of them lasted well past the time I left the ward. To describe the process would be to relive it, and since I don’t ever want to go through that again, I will simply say that it is horrifyingly painful and so ruthlessly efficient it was as if the Caldari themselves invented it. The painkillers I was given after the ‘surgery’ helped to deaden the acute pangs of pain, but there was nothing, and I do mean nothing, that could be done to truly make it go away… Yet. Getting into my ship and killing the first of the 3 capsuleers who had destroyed 128 so effectively would more likely than not make me forget about the pain, and I thought of only that as I strode towards the hangars. Every step hurt from the leg implants, and the bright lights of the pod room stung my newly-augmented eyes, but I just kept the thought of ‘space justice’ in my mind as I briskly navigated my way to my pod and climbed in.

As I clambered into my cramped ‘coffin’ for the first time, I let my eyes shut and breathing slow as I tried to calm myself down so that sanity would stay with me, and not abandon me as it had 128. I was about to set out on a hunt for revenge, fresh out of a clone vat and with minute-old implants, so I figured a moment to collect my thoughts was rather justified. I just needed to focus on my goal, remember to be more logical than 128 had been, and know that if I messed up, 130 would have an even bigger mess to clean up. That thought alone brought the adrenaline that was coursing through my veins down to a manageable level. When I coupled it with the fact that revenge couldn’t be attained if I lost my grip on my intellect for even a second though; I had my pod prepped before my eyes were even fully opened again. I knew I would need to shut them again once I was plugged in, but I wanted to have one last look at the station where I was created before setting out.

Once I was plugged in and placed into my ship via the pod-loader, I ran a full systems check in record time and was ready to go in less than half the time 128 had been. I made no mistakes, and I was not hasty with any of my work, but to say I was not rushing to get off the station as fast as I could was an understatement. I checked conditions outside the station and in the surrounding area before undocking in an attempt to abate my chances of making the same mistake as 128, but one never knew what was going to be beyond those bay doors. I could hope that I would zip through space, with six turrets on my hull, 5 drones in my hold, and one me safely in my pod, but until I launched my ship that was nothing but a pipe-dream.  Nerves took hold of my hands as I shakily reached for the comm to request undocking permission. I, the successor to 128 and previous to 130, was about to launch out into space for my first time… And it was terrifying.

May the gods guide my ship to safety.

“Launch.”

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