Ascension of an Angel

Lord Haran was lenient as Holders go. His slaves were well cared for, given adequate food and medical attention, with working conditions tolerable. He didn’t use any of the harsher methods of control over them, either. He didn’t use drugs or glaive collars to keep them in line.

But he made sure they knew those options existed. On occasion, he would purchase a batch of slaves from another Holder who were addicted to Vitoc. He would be prompt with treatments at first, making sure the slaves never suffered from the symptoms. But as the weeks dragged on, he would become more negligent in providing the drug. They would suffer progressively longer, until they were at the very brink of death. Then he would treat them one last time, sell them off, and nothing would be said of it again.

Any time a slave misbehaved, he was not punished. Instead, he was sold to another Holder. The message was clear.

So while none of his slaves mourned his death, they all were terrified when he died. His son, the new Lord Haran, was not known to be anywhere near as tolerant as his father. Within days, there were whispers that the slave population was all going to be converted to Vitoc.

Ansa and his friends sat around a lamp one night, talking about it. “All I know,” Ansa said, “is I’d rather die than be put on Vitoc. I’m going to try to get away.”

“Where will you go?” one of his friends asked. “You can’t get off this planet. Lord Haran owns the entire thing.”

“I don’t know,” Ansa said. “Maybe I’ll stow away on a transport. But I’ll escape, one way or another.”

“Don’t be stupid,” another said. “It’s better to be living than dead, no matter what.”

“Yeah,” a third chimed in. “Besides, this place isn’t so bad.”

“How would you know?” Ansa asked. “You’ve been a slave here your entire life.”

“So have you, Ansa,” the first friend said. “So have all of us. None of us know what it’s like anywhere else.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Ansa said. “There has to be somewhere better than here. I just know it.”

Ansa never got a chance to put his escape plan into action. The next day, the Defiants attacked. They came in the night, killed every Amarrian they could find, and herded the slaves onto ships. Ansa was roughly dragged out of bed at gun point and ordered to board the ship.

“Where are we going?” he asked, groggy and afraid.

“To freedom, brother!” the man said.

“If that’s true, why are you pointing a gun at me?”

The Defiant kept his gun leveled right at Ansa. “Some people are afraid of freedom. But the ones who are usually are afraid of dying a lot more.”

“I’m not afraid of freedom.”

“Maybe. Or maybe you’re just more afraid of dying. So just move along.”

As Ansa was led down the streets toward the waiting ship, he saw a group of Defiants pull a slave driver from his home. His wife and children screamed for him as the Defiants shot the man in the head. Then they shot his wife and children.

Ansa kept his head down the rest of the way to the ship.

The Defiants took the slaves they had freed - ten thousand in total - to a station on the border between Amarr and Minmatar space. According to Republic law, any slaves that entered Minmatar space were automatically granted citizenship. Ansa and his fellow slaves were to be processed and then sent off to their new lives of freedom.

Some of his fellow slaves - former slaves, Ansa corrected to himself - huddled together and whispered nervously to each other. They stared in awe at the other Minmatar on the station, some wearing fancy clothing and jewelry, others carrying weapons, nearly all of them tattooed. His fellow former slaves didn’t trust them, he could tell. They looked at them the way they looked at the Vitoc slaves.

Ansa kept his head held high. He stood proudly in line and met the gazes of his fellow Minmatar with confidence and pride. He gave them all curt, strong nods. He had been a slave, but now he was free, and he planned to live like it.

After two hours, he finally got to the harried clerk who had been processing the slaves one-by-one. “Name?” the man, a Sebiestor who looked more gaunt than a normal Sebiestor, asked.

“Ansa,” he said.

“Last name?”

Ansa hesitated. He knew that Lord Hasan had a last name, but the idea of a slave having one never had occurred to him. “I don’t have one,” he finally said, trying to not sound ashamed but instead merely sounding stupidly proud.

“Uh huh,” the clerk muttered, seemingly not caring whether Ansa had a last name or not. “Do you have any family with you?”

“No, I have no family,” Ansa said.

“Do you wish to change your name?” the clerk asked.

“Change my name?” Ansa wondered. “To what?”

The clerk shrugged. “Anything you want. Some people don’t like their slave names.”

“My parents named me Ansa. It means ‘Honored’.”

The clerk snorted a laugh. “Of course it does. Well, Ansa, you should choose a last name, at least. If you can’t think of one, we can assign one to you.”

“I… do not know what I would pick,” Ansa said.

The clerk nodded. “Alright. The computer recommends Orga. It’s the second most common Brutor surname.”

“That sounds fine,” Ansa said, though he didn’t even think it over.

The clerk nodded and hit a button on his computer. Moments later, a small card slid out of a slot. “There you are, Ansa Orga. You are now a citizen of the Minmatar Republic. Welcome to freedom, brother.” The man said the words without emotion.

“Thank you.” Ansa sat there for a moment.

Finally, the clerk cleared his throat. “You can leave,” he said.

“Where do I go?”

The clerk shrugged. “Don’t ask me. Just move along. We have thousands more of you to process today.”

Ansa slowly rose and walked away from the terminal. Another former slave hurried up to the clerk to be assigned his freedom.

Ansa finally decided he should go to Pator. It was the homeland of his people. It made sense to him. The only problem was he had no idea how to get there.

He tried asking people, but they mostly ignored him. When he told them he was a recently freed slave, they mostly looked at him in disgust. A few gave him unhelpful advice like “take a shuttle”, which meant next to nothing to him. He had no idea where to find a shuttle, much less how to fly it.

Finally, one of the security guards at the station took pity on him and directed him toward the docking ring. There, he was told, he might find someone to take him to Pator. When he got there, he found it a confusing bustle of activity. A crush of people pushed and moved in every direction at once, seemingly oblivious to the presence of others except for the resistance to movement they caused.

Ansa tried to find a sign or some other indication that someone was going to Pator, but he saw nothing. Finally, he took to yelling. “Pator! Is anyone going to Pator!”

He could barely be heard over the cacophony of voices and the occasional screech of machinery. Most people gave him a single derisive look, then turned back to their own business. Finally, someone called out. “You need to get to Pator?”

Ansa let out a sigh of relief and turned. “Yes, I need to - ” He froze.

The person walking toward him was Amarrian. “Well, you’re in luck,” the Amarrian said. “I’m headed that way on a freight run. I’m pretty full, but I can probably squeeze in another person.”

“Who are you?” Ansa asked, taking a step back.

The Amarrian bowed his head. “Tanar Yat, at your service,” the Amarrian said. “I’m the captain of an industrial that’s heading to Pator. You can either pay for passage. Or, if you don’t have any money, I’m sure I can find a little work for you. Maybe you can help out in the galley.”

“No,” Ansa said, taking another step back.

“Excuse me?” the Amarrian said.

“No. I will not go with you.”

The Amarrian sighed and shook his head. “Look, I know I’m an Amarrian and you’re a Minmatar and all. But I’m the only one here who’s gonna help you.” The Amarrian took a step forward and stuck a finger in Ansa’s face. “So drop the bigotry and - ”

Ansa swung a fist at the man. He hadn’t ever trained to fight, but years of working in fields had made Ansa strong and tough. The Amarrian crumpled to the ground. Ansa looked down at the man, who was dazed and trying to stand. Before he knew what he was doing, Ansa was on top of him, swinging his fists and screaming.

Almost immediately, someone was grabbing Ansa and pulling him off the man. Ansa swung at them, but more joined in and restrained him. With confusion, Ansa realized it was other Minmatar who were pulling him away. “But he’s Amarrian! He’s a slaver! A slaver!” he shouted as he watched another group of Minmatar help the bloodied Amarrian to his feet.

The station security forces threw Ansa into a holding cell. “Not even a day out of chains and he’s already back in ‘em,” one of the guards joked. The others all joined him in a laugh.

Ansa quietly fumed, bewildered at his treatment. Finally, the security chief entered and unlocked Ansa’s cell. “Thank you!” Ansa said. “I knew I did nothing wrong! I was only defending myself against a slaver.”

The security chief shook his head. “Mr. Orga, we have hundreds of witnesses who saw you attack Mr. Yat unprovoked. The only reason you’re being let go is because Mr. Yat agreed not to press charges.”

“What?” Ansa asked.

“Mr. Yat is a peaceful trader. He’s been at this station dozens of times. If he’d pressed charges, you were looking at a minimum of six months in prison. But after we explained you were a newly freed slave, he agreed to drop the charges.”

“But…” Ansa shook his head.

“Now, if I were you, I’d go apologize to Mr. Yat for your behavior.”

Ansa snarled. “I will never apologize to an Amarrian. Never.”

The security chief shrugged. “Suit yourself. But let me tell you something. If you want to survive out in the real world, I suggest you drop the attitude. ‘I used to be a slave’ won’t save your ass forever. Now get out of here.”

Ansa fumed as he left the security office. He had spent several hours in jail and still had no way to get to Pator. To top it off, he hadn’t eaten all day either.

“So, what were you in for?” a voice asked.

Ansa turned and saw a short Krusual man leaning against a wall. “What?” Ansa asked.

The man nodded toward the security office. “The jail. Why were they holding you?”

“I attacked an Amarrian,” Ansa said without shame. “But he dropped the charges.”

The Krusual laughed and held out his hand. “The name is Mynat Rukhan.”

Ansa took his hand and gave it a firm shake. “Ansa Orga.”

Mynat laughed again. “Orga, huh? Lemme guess, ex-slave?”

Ansa was shocked. “Yes. I was just freed today. How did you know?”

“The only people named Orga are ex-slaves. Second most common name my ass. It’s only like that because they assign it to everyone who doesn’t have a last name of their own.”

“I see,” Ansa said. Suddenly, he wished he didn’t have the last name Orga.

“So, you’re trying to get to Pator?”

Ansa blinked. “Yes, I am. How did you - ”

Mynat waved his hand. “I hear things. Like you down at the docking ring, shouting about it at the top of your lungs. Look, I can help you out. I work on a ship that’s heading that way. You can come along.”

Ansa’s jaw dropped. “Really? I don’t have any money, so I can’t pay you. But I can work or - ”

Mynat waved his hand again. “No, don’t worry about it. No charge. Consider it a favor. You’ll owe me again in the future.”

“Why would you help me like this?”

Mynat grinned and shrugged. “Hey, you never know when you might need a favor.”

“Thank you! Thank you.”

Mynat’s ship was a cruiser. Ansa was put into quarters and was explicitly told not to leave. Mynat brought him some food and then left him. After eating, Ansa realized it had been almost an entire day since he had last slept, so he lay down on the bed and fell into a dreamless sleep.

He was woken up some time later by Mynat, who told him they had arrived at Pator. “We’re sending a shuttle down to Matar in a few hours. You want to be on that shuttle, right?” Ansa nodded. “Good. Come with me.”

Mynat led him through darkened corridors, down to the shuttle bay. “Just take a seat and sit tight. You won’t be the only one on board.”

“Thank you for all of this,” Ansa said. “You are a good man.”

Mynat grinned and said nothing, just patting Ansa on the shoulder and leaving. Ansa buckled himself in to a seat and waited. Over the next two hours, dozens of men slowly filled the shuttle. They were hard looking men, with tattoos and scars and permanent scowls. None gave Ansa a second glance and they didn’t even talk with each other.

Finally, without warning, the shuttle began to move. Ansa braced himself and waited.

The shuttle landed at a port in Brutapa, one of the largest cities on Pator. Everyone disembarked silently. Ansa had no idea what to do once he was on the ground, but he saw a sign that said “Freed Slaves” and went over to it.

“I am a freed slave,” Ansa said.

The man behind the counter looked at him and grinned. “Welcome, brother, to Pator! The ancestral home of all Minmatar people! You are a recently freed slave, yes?”

“Yes, I just said that.”

“Well, I am here to help you find work, shelter, and food.”

Ansa smiled. It seemed his fortunes had turned after a bumpy start. “Thank you. I will do whatever I can.”

“You are a Brutor, so you should go to the Brutor Tribe center here in the city. Register with them. They will be able to get you started on the right track.” The man reached under the counter and handed Ansa a small paper stub. “Take this to the bus terminal. They will take you to the center along with the other new arrivals.”

“Thank you. You are a good man,” Ansa said. He turned then stopped. “Where is the bus terminal?” he asked, not even knowing what such a thing was.

The man gave him confusing, convoluted directions. Ansa thanked him again and then tried to follow his directions, but got lost several times. Finally, nearly two hours after he had landed, he found the terminal. He showed the attendant his ticket.

They loaded him onto a packed bus. He could feel the breath of other Brutor on the back of his neck. Elbows and knees jabbed him as he stood. But it was only a short ride to the Brutor Tribe center.

There, he waited in line again until a man took him into an office.

“Hello, Mr. Orga,” the man said. “I am Domi Pol. Welcome to Pator.”

“Thank you Mr. Pol. It’s a honor to be here.”

Mr. Pol frowned. “Yes, well. The Brutor Tribe is committed to helping its recently freed brothers get their lives on track. I know it can be a difficult process to get acclimated to life outside of a Holder’s yoke.”

“Thank you. I have had a lot of help so far.”

“Mm. Yes. So, Mr. Orga, do you have any family on the planet.”

Ansa shook his head. “No. My parents were slaves too. So were their parents, I believe. I do not know any relatives and even if I did, I doubt they would know me.”

“Ok.” Mr. Pol typed something into his computer. “Do you have any living arrangements made?”


Mr. Pol typed more. “Alright. Well, since you have no housing, I’m sending you to the tribal dormitories. They aren’t very fancy and you’ll be living with other people, but at least they’ll be a roof over your head. What about your skills?”

“Skills?” Ansa asked.

“What kind of work can you do?”

“I can do anything you ask me to,” Ansa said.

Mr. Pol sighed. “No, I mean… What are you trained to do? What did you do as a slave?”

“I worked in the fields,” Ansa said.

Mr. Pol let out a heavier sigh. “Worked in the fields? Are you sure you didn’t do anything else? Did you ever repair any machinery? Or build housing for your other slaves?”

Ansa shook his head. “No. I worked in the fields.”

“Alright. Well, I’ll put that on your file. Employers will be able to find you when they’re looking for people for manual labor. I’ve also put you down for other menial work, such as janitorial work. Can you fight?”

“Excuse me?”

“Can you fight? You look strong, so I’m guessing yes. Even if you can’t, you look the part. I’ll put you down for security work too. It’s really not that complicated and even if you can’t fight, you’ll pick it up.”

“Alright,” Ansa said, not really sure what it all meant.

“Well, you’re entered into our database. It might take some time, but eventually, we should find work for you. Once you get some steady income, we’ll help you find a house of your own to live in. Until then, you can head over to the dormitories. They’ll get you all set up there.”

“Thank you. You have really helped me,” Ansa said.

“I hope so,” Mr. Pol sighed.

The dormitories were little more than one-room tenements with only the barest of necessities. Each floor had fifty rooms each with up to four people living inside. The entire floor shared three showers and three toilets, some of which only worked half the time. There was no air conditioning, so the heat was nearly unbearable during the summer months.

Ansa shared his room with three others. The three changed with regularity, as someone would get work, earn enough money to move out, and be replaced by someone new. Ansa never got the chance to know any of them well. It seemed he alone stayed jobless.

At one point, the floor pooled together enough money to buy a primitive video screen and hook it up to the antenna on top of the dorm. On some days, the entire floor gathered around the screen and watched things. Usually, it was gravball or the occasional match of Spliterz. Sometimes someone watched a Mindclash match on it, but that never gained much popularity on the floor.

One month, they watched one of the capsuleer Alliance Tournaments. People cheered when the Ushra’Khan won, booed when they lost, and pretty much celebrated the violence, especially against Amarrians and their ships. Ansa was more amazed at the amount of money being poured into it, at numbers he couldn’t even begin to understand.

It had been six months since he moved into the dorm and he had not found any work. His calls to the Brutor Tribe center were either ignored or placated with promises of soon. Finally, he could take it no more and went down to the center himself.

“Why haven’t you found work for me?” Ansa asked.

“I’m sorry, Ansa, but there just isn’t any,” Mr. Pol said.

“What do you mean?” he asked, bewildered. “I’ve had dozens of roommates over the past six months and they’ve all gotten jobs! Why not me?”

“It’s not that simple, Ansa,” Mr. Pol said. “They had different skills than you. Some had worked in factories, some had mining experience, some were carpenters, some were mechanics. There’s demand for that and not enough people who can or want to do it. But all you can do is work in the fields. And there’s too many people who want those jobs and not enough jobs to go around.”

“I’ll do anything, Mr. Pol. I don’t care what. I just want to work.”

“That’s the problem, Ansa. You can’t do anything. And the things you can do, everyone else can do too. I’m sorry, Ansa. I’m trying. You’ll just have to wait longer and hope something comes up.”

Ansa sighed and shook his head. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Pol.” He turned and walked out of the office.

“Hey!” a voice shouted to him. It was familiar, but Ansa couldn’t quite place it. Then he looked and spotted a short Krusual man. “Ansa Orga, right?” he called out, running over to him. “It’s me! Mynat Rukhan! Remember me?”

Ansa smiled. “Mynat! It’s good to see you! What are you doing here?”

“Well, I need some help with something. Funny thing running into you, the man who owes me a favor. Maybe you can help out?”

Ansa nodded. “Of course, of course. What is it?”

“Well, I need a package delivered,” Mynat said. “The thing is, I can’t do it myself. I need someone else to run the delivery for me.”

“Of course, I can do it. Where does it need to be delivered to?”

Mynat grinned. “I knew I’d find someone here to help me out! I need it taken to Elder City, over on the other coast. We’ll cover all the costs. And it pays well too.”

“Pay?” Ansa said, surprised. “No! I couldn’t take your money. It’s a favor!”

“Oh, I insist!” Mynat said. “Trust me, taking the job is returning the favor. Taking the money is just your fair reward. And if you do a good job, there’s more where that comes from.”


“Really. Of course, if you’re too busy or something, I can always find someone else…”

“No!” Ansa blurted out. “I can do it. Please, it will be my pleasure.”

Mynat grinned wider. “Good, good. Come with me. We’ll get things ready for you.”

The package was a box, about 100 centimeters cubed in size, that weighed about 30 kilograms. It was very plain and sealed shut. Ansa took a flight from Brutapa to Elder City, then was to take it to an address in the outskirts of town.

He got there and found a run-down building with boarded up windows. He hefted the box up the walkway and knocked on the door. “Who’s there?” a voice called out.

“Uh, I have a delivery,” Ansa answered.

“From who?”

“Mynat Rukhan sent me.”

Ansa could hear locks turning on the inside, then the door swung open. A Sebiestor man was there, looking around nervously. “Alright, get in, get in!” he said. Ansa picked up the box and the man nearly yanked him into the room.

Inside it was as dingy and dilapidated as on the outside. There was only a single light on, so it was dim and hard to see. “Put it on the table,” the man ordered, pointing at a rickety wooden table in the rear of the room.

Ansa did as asked and the man cut the box open. The box was full of small packages, each with an individual pill inside. The man cut one open and looked at it, a small blue pill about the size of a fingernail. “This stuff good?” the man asked.

“Uh, I don’t really know. I’m just delivering it.”

The man peered at him, then looked around. Finally, he popped the pill into his mouth and swallowed. The man remained staring for a moment, then smiled a wide, lopsided smile full of yellow teeth that were crooked. “Yeah. Yeah, this is the good stuff,” he said.

“Ok… I’m supposed to get some money from you to take back to Mynat.”

“Yeah, of course man. Of course.” The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. “Here, that should be more than enough, I don’t care man. Oh, wow, this is good stuff. I’m gonna make a ton on this, make a shit ton. Mynat knows what he’s doing, alright. His crew makes some good stuff.”

Ansa stared at the money. It was a fortune. He couldn’t believe the package was worth that much.

“What’s wrong?” the Sebiestor asked. “You look messed up. You want to try some?”

“No. I’m fine, thanks.” The Sebiestor man plopped down on the floor and started laughing to himself. Ansa quickly turned and left.

“Keep the rest,” Mynat said, after taking only half the cash from Ansa. “Consider it a bonus for a job well done.”

“I… I can keep all of this?” Ansa gaped.

“Yeah. Stupid Pinter. Always tries out the merchandise before paying. Always good for a nice little bonus.”

Ansa paused and looked up at Mynat. “Yeah, that reminds me… What was it I was carrying?”

Mynat laughed. “Oh, just medicine, Ansa. Just medicine for Pinter and a bunch of his clients. Don’t worry about it. Besides, I’ve got another run for you to make. If you’re up for it.”

“Well…” Ansa sighed, looking down at the wad of cash in his hands. It’d be enough to rent his own apartment. A clean one with working heat and air.

“It pays even better than the last one,” Mynat said.

“Alright,” Ansa agreed. He could already see his new apartment coming.

The packages slowly grew larger and more valuable. Ansa never asked what was in them, though he saw plenty of times. He got paid plenty. All for simple delivery jobs, he told himself. He moved into his own apartment. Then he moved out of that into a better apartment. And then into an even better one.

Six months later, he bought his own house. It was two stories and had a pool out back. It wasn’t the best house ever, but it was more than he could have ever dreamed about.

There were parties too. Mynat hosted them and he slowly introduced Ansa to more of the people he worked with. They were all men with hard looks to them. They talked quietly and were guarded. They never spoke straight, always with twists and turns.

At one party, one of the men invited Ansa to a private room. Half-naked women crawled across table tops. “Try this,” the man said, handing Ansa a blue pill.

“What is it?” Ansa asked.

“Just try it.”

Ansa put it into his mouth and swallowed. He felt nothing at first. Then he suddenly felt all the tension leave him. He felt happier than he ever had before. He started laughing and a woman crawled onto his lap.

“It’s good, yeah?” the man laughed to him.

“It’s good!” Ansa answered. He slapped the woman on her butt and she laughed and he laughed harder and it continued like that for the rest of the night.

“Blue Pill?” Ansa wondered. “What’s that?”

“A booster,” Mynat said. “It’s what you’ve been carrying for us. Didn’t you realize it man?” Ansa shook his head. He didn’t even know what boosters were. Mynat laughed harshly. “Jeez, you really are something. It’s a drug. Makes you happy, keeps you on a high.”

“We’re drug dealers?” Ansa asked.

“No, we’re drug manufacturers. The people you deliver the stuff to are the dealers. I can’t believe you didn’t realize this before.”

“I thought it was medicine. You said it was medicine.”

Mynat laughed again. “Yeah, medicine for a fucked up world. Is this gonna be a problem? Are you gonna bail on us now?”

Ansa thought. About his house and the money he’d made. And of the woman on his lap and the laughter and fun he’d had. Then he thought about the dormitory. He shook his head. “Nope. No problem here.”

Mynat grinned. “Good. Then I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet.”

Mynat drove Ansa across town, to one of the clubs they held parties at. The security let them through with only a glance. Mynat led them to a back room. A man sat with his back to the door.

“Mr. Tavish, I’d like you to meet Ansa Orga. He’s been one of our delivery guys for a long time now. I think it’s time he moved up the organization.”

The man turned around. It was an Amarrian. The Amarrian smiled and extended his hand. “Ansa, I’ve heard good things. I’m Dochua Tavish. I head up the local branch of the Angel Cartel. How’d you like to work for me directly?”

Ansa hesitated just a moment, then grabbed Tavish’s hand and shook it. “I’d be honored, Mr. Tavish.”

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