Pathways (Part 01): Starting Points

Jotin sat up in his bed. A moment later, the alarm clock rang. He silenced it with a tap and stood.

"Good morning, captain," Sneila, his first officer, chirped from the video comm. "Rest well?"

"It was enough," he said as he stepped into the sonic shower. "What's on the schedule for today?"

"Not very much," Sneila said. She paused as the sonic shower powered on with a high pitched whine, then continued once the noise settled. "We're supposed to be making a delivery to a... Lord Jerimiah in Amarr space."

"What sort of delivery?" Jotin asked, turning so the shower could finish cleaning him off.

"Weapons parts, electronics, other stuff. Pretty standard courier mission, really."

Jotin stepped out of the shower and plodded over to his dresser. "Courier missions. I can't believe I'm stuck doing those."

"Well, it's not all bad," Sneila answered. "Lord Jerimiah wants them delivered to the planet, so we get to stop by, at least."

Jotin pulled out one of the many identical Hyasyoda corporate pod suits and began to slip it on. "Oh, joy."

"Well, the crew should enjoy it at least."

"I'll be at the pod dock in ten minutes."

"I'll prep the crew for departure. See you in ten minutes, captain."

Cierra yawned and lazily rolled over in her bed. The morning lights were already beginning to shine through the windows of her quarters. She grabbed a pillow and stuck it over her head, trying to get in a last few minutes of sleep. She slipped in and out of a light doze before finally sitting up, stretching, and sleepily sliding out onto the floor.

She opened the door, letting the aroma of fresh cooked eggs and bacon waft into the room. Immediately, her stomach growled loudly, causing her to giggle at herself.

Nora waved to her as she entered the kitchen. "Afternoon, sleepy."

"Oh, shut up, it's only..." Cierra glanced over at the clock. "Eleven hundred hours! It's still the morning!"

"It's close enough," Nora said. "For a pod pilot, you sure do like to relax."

"I'm not one of those crazies who spends all of her time locked in a pod in nullsec just waiting for an enemy to jump in. I like to enjoy the luxury my life provides."

Nora grinned and brought a plate of food over to her. "So, what're you up to today?"

Cierra shrugged. "Who knows? I've gotta check with my agents, see what they've got for me. Probably a few courier missions, make a few dozen jumps, maybe stop by Jita to do some shopping."

"Bring me back something!"

"Sure, I'll make sure to get you the shiniest warp scrambler they have. Not sure where you'll keep it though." She scooped a blob of eggs into her mouth.

"I'm sure we can find somewhere to put it," Nora chuckled. "You just make sure you're careful out there."

"What's gonna happen?" Cierra asked between chews.

"I hear Jita is dangerous these days."

Cierra laughed. "Oh, it's deadly."

Gita saluted her commanding officer and stood at attention.

"At ease, captain," the Admiral said. "This is an... informal meeting."

Gita slightly relaxed and nodded her head. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this meeting?"

The Admiral smiled and sat down in one of the two chairs in Gita's sparse quarters. "Please, sit down," he said. She hesitated for a moment before stiffly sitting down across from him. The Admiral kept his genial smile and simply looked at her for a moment.

"How long have you been a pilot, Gita?" the Admiral asked.

Gita was surprised by the use of her first name by an officer. It took her a moment to respond. "Two years," she finally said.

"Two years," the Admiral repeated, nodding. "Two very distinguished years. You have over fifty confirmed solo kills and have been involved in hundreds more conflicts, all in the name of the Republic."

"I do my best, Admiral," she said modestly.

"I know and that's why I'm here talking to you today." He leaned forward and clasped his hands together. "The Tribal Liberation Command wants your services, Gita."

Gita nodded. "I'll do whatever you want me to."

"It's a dangerous mission. It will take you deep into Amarr territory. And, officially, you'll need to leave the Fleet to achieve it."

"Admiral Defard, I owe my entire life to the Fleet. If the Fleet needs me to do something to help out the Republic, I will do it no matter the risk."

The Admiral nodded. "Good, that's what I was hoping for."

Admia woke and walked quietly into his bathroom. There, he showered and readied himself for his day. After he dressed, he walked into the kitchen, made himself a light breakfast, and ate in silence.

Once he finished, he lifted the locket around his neck and opened it up, looking at the small hologram of Reena that was projected out. It showed her standing and smiling. He sat there for a moment, then snapped it shut and tucked it back into his pod suit.

He left his quarters and headed for the docking ring. He was helped into the pod by the sparse and ragged crew of the outpost, then placed into his ship, a powerful Harbinger fitted with a full compliment of pulse lasers.

"Hello," he said on his corporate comms.

"Admia, get to F-DT," one of his comrades said. "We've got a fight brewing."

"On my way," he answered.

For the past three weeks, his corp had been deployed to the Providence/Catch border to assist the Amarr loyalists in the area. While they had spent some time chasing down pirates and hostile alliance members, most of the time had been spent facing down Sansha forces.

So, while he wasn't surprised to see Sansha ships as he arrived in F-DTOO, he was surprised to see an entire fleet of them all together. Yet despite their presence, neither Adima's corp nor the Sansha had opened fire.

"What's going on here?" Adima asked.

"No idea," the fleet commander answered. "They just started showing up at this gate. We were about to engage, but more arrived. Now we're outnumbered."

"What are we going to do?"

"Attack, of course. We're just waiting on a few more reinforcements to even the numbers a bit." A moment later, several more Sansha battleships dropped out of warp. "And there we go! Let's go to town!"

Adima locked his weapons on the nearest Sansha ship, willed his ship toward it, and unleashed fury.

"I hate this place."

"Is that all that you hate?"


"What are you going to do about it?

"What can I do?"

"Seek paradise."

"Paradise doesn't exist."

"Maybe not here. But a doorway can be opened."


"Through the end."

"The end? Of what?"


Part 2

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