Monday, October 26, 2015

Apologies for What I Must Do

Cerra Castle: Great Hall
10-26 02:59:00 YC 117

Ryven strolled into the great hall, dressed in all black, with a black cloak billowing slightly from his hurried entrance.  He shuddered to stave off the cold and resumed his advance, finding a seat by the same fire that seems to have drawn others into its glow.  He pondered how people share that same trait with moths.  Thal Vadam had been playing the flute, and apparently Shalee had interrupted him with her arrival. She had just apologized for the interruption.

Thal smiled at her. "Oh you didn't...I was just finishing"

"It was very pretty." Shalee replied, her voice soft.  Her blue eyes slanted away and lingered on Ryven.

Ryven sat and removed his gloves, his ring finger still missing from his right hand. He turned his palms out toward the fire, warming them.

Thal and Shalee continued conversing and Ryven overhead bits and pieces, mostly about Shalee's daughter, some about Tigerfish.  Ryven's mind was focused on what Justice demanded he must do.  Yet, here he was, sitting in the great hall, delaying, postponing.  He stared into the fire, it's dance painting murky images, fleeting and never fully formed before they transformed into something new. 

He wasn't sure how long he had been lost in thought, dreading the task before him, when Shalee and Thal both left together.  He watched them as they left.  He glanced around the great empty hall, determining that he was alone.  He shrugged to himself and continued trying to pry some sort of solace from the flames.  After a while, he found himself humming a tune whose origin he could not remember.  He leaned back in his seat and continued humming the simple but solemn tune.  The words came back to him and he sang them softly to his audience of stone.

I knew an old man, many years ago.  
Stories of faded days by dying fire's glow. 
He washed his hands, couldn't wash his soul.

On the cold dark nights, many years before.  
He spilt his sins on the cold stone floor.
I held his hand, urged him toward the door

He breathed his last, never to rise again.  
He doused the lamps, the lights within.
His ship has gone, I'm alone again.

I hung the lamps, high in the halls.  
I walked the path, I held the pall.
Memories fade. All men fall.

Ryven hummed the final measure and then fell silent, the great hall's stillness now palpable.  He sat and embraced the stillness, knowing it would be the last such peace he would have this night.  He glanced around, seeing he was still alone.  He pulled out a cigarette.  "Fuck it." He muttered, and lit the cigarette, the sudden rush of nicotine sending a wave of euphoria through him.  He felt his tension ease considerably, as though it all drained down through him and into the stone.

Shalee returned only moments later, while Ryven was still smoking the first cigarette.   She hesitated briefly before making her way over to him.

"Good talk?" Ryven asked, taking a drag off his cigarette as she approached him. 

"Mmmhmm." She smiled sweetly, as if nothing in the world was awkward. "Good...cigarette?"

Ryven removed the cigarette from his mouth and stared at it momentarily, as if trying to decide if it was or not. "About average?"

She gave a little nod of her head, "Ah..." She then took a seat opposite of him and smoothed her hands along her dress. "Quiet night, not that I am complaining."

"You should've been here ten minutes ago.  Like a cemetery in here."  In more ways than one, he thought.

She glanced about the hall then over to the window, watching the snow falling. "I don't mind. It beats the chaos that has been going on."

"I wish I could say I didn't thrive on the more chaotic times." He sighed heavily.

"What a curious thing to say. We've been under near constant attack last week. Why would you thrive on that?" Her voice was full of curiosity.

Ryven shrugged. "It's in my blood.  I don't like that people are dying.  But, I'm the type to run toward the sound of gunfire." I always have been, even before I was me.

Shalee nodded. "Good thing you weren't here when it happened, lest you be blooded along with the rest of them."

"That's a fair observation.  Although, on the other hand, if I had, then the Blood Raiders might know terror." I terrify me. 

Shalee replied with a non-committal, "Perhaps."

"I don't let exsanguination go unpunished."

Shalee nodded. "Many people are looking for them. I believe Thal found some the other night. Perhaps you could join him." She paused. "Next time he goes out, I mean."

"Perhaps.  Though, that would only kill those Raiders.  I think I'd rather send a message to all Raiders."

"Killing those Raiders is a start." She replied.

"Sure.  Though, if you can't find those, perhaps you should consider sending a message to others." Ryven's voice was level, but his mind was still elsewhere, and every moment that passed increased his trepidation.

"And how would you go about doing that?" she asked, equal parts curious and nervous, thinking that bringing more attention to Cerra could be a bad thing.

Ryven had to admit he really didn't know.  He hadn't given it much thought.  It had just been his first impression.  So, he shrugged and gave a similarly impulsive answer. "It would have to be a pretty strong message.  I don't have specifics." He looked back at the fire, perhaps to find the answer in the flames. "Just seems like a lot of moping and not a lot of action around here lately.  It's fine to nurse your wounds.  But, it seems like it would be more effective to either go on the attack or plug the massive holes in the defenses."

His answer clearly upset Shalee. "Yes. So your idea is to do 'something'...." she mimed quotation marks with her hands. "Jeez. Wonder why I hadn't thought of that. You're a brilliant man, Krennel." Her voice dripped with sarcasm. She stood. "Now if you will excuse me." She stormed off into the castle. 

Ryven sighed to himself, alone again. "If you don't like the answer, don't ask the question." He said to no one, his voice lost in the air of the great hall.  He sat for a moment, steeling himself for what he could no longer postpone.

Ryven spoke then to Justice, who had only just arrived. "You ready?" 

Justice replied: I am always ready. You have dallied here long enough.  Enough hiding.  Do not fear what you are.  Be my instrument.

Ryven knew the futility of fighting it.  He just nodded and lifted himself wearily from his seat. "If that is what I must do."

He walked solemnly out of the hall, passing through reception like a ghost and out into the night, leaving only the faint remnants of his smoke clouds lingering in the air of the hall.


10-26 YC 117  04:30

The old man shivered uncontrollably, the straps that held him to the old wooden chair straining against him.  He looked to be around eighty years old, a baseliner, with wispy white hair wreathing his bald pate.  His eyes, brown and bulging, were tinged yellow from a slowly failing liver.  His skin was semi-translucent, as though he were wrapped in onion skin.  Jaundice was beginning to set in, and he reminded Ryven of old paper, yellowed and dusty from wear.  He was a frail old man, but the fire of his spirit had not left him yet, and the journey Ryven was sending him on would offer no return.  Worst of all, Ryven had no idea why he was going to kill this man, nor why it was going to be in such a horrifying way.  Justice had decreed it.  He had to obey.

In addition to being bound to the chair, the old man was also gagged.  He had stopped fighting to be heard a while ago, and Ryven admired his acceptance of the inevitable.  The time had nearly come.

"I apologize for what I must do." Ryven spoke, his voice soft and, he hoped, soothing.  "Justice requires your sacrifice."

The man's trembling increased, the joints of the chair rattling.  He removed the man's gag, and he immediately began pleading, in whimpers for Ryven to spare his life.  Ryven stood, his face vacant, but inside he was a tempest of conflicting emotions.  He did not know this man.  He did not know why he had to die.  All he knew was that Justice demanded it.  The man's pleading finally subsided, and the old man simply asked the question: "Why?"

Ryven's resolve wavered in that instant, but only for the most fleeting of instants.  His voice, when he replied, was the cold merciless sound of inevitability. "Because Justice demands it."

Before the old man could respond, Ryven picked up the can of fuel on the floor.  He walked around the chair and lifted the can and upended it over the old man's head, pouring fuel that splashed in waves off of his bald pate.  It ran down his face, stung his lips, burned his throat.  It soaked into his soiled clothes and formed a puddle beneath his feet.  The man began whimpering again. 

Ryven walked back around the chair, turning to face the man, whose name he did not know.  Without a word, he pulled a lighter from his pocket, flicked on the flame, and touched it to the puddle on the floor.  The flames leapt up quickly, engulfing the man.  The rush of the flames was quickly drowned out by his tortured screams.  His flesh bubbled and crackled and slid from his bones.  His eyes popped and hissed, the fluid inside having expanded.  Then fire finally exhausted the oxygen in his lungs and the screaming stopped.  Yet, Ryven still heard it, echoing in his head, a siren.  He watched until long after the flames ceased their raucous feast.  The man was now a charred black statue of ash.  The stench finally overcame Ryven's gag reflex and he rushed to a corner of the room and retched, vomiting profusely until nothing was left to regurgitate.  Then he kept retching.

He ran out the door of the room, through the rest of the small home, and out into the night.  He ran, but he knew not where, nor for how long.  He succumbed to the blackness.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

He Who is Not Afraid of My Darkness Will Find Banks Full of Roses...

"But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests.  Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself!  And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils!  You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain.  You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?"  Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

The Other Ryven's Digital Prison

10-25 YC 117

He did not know how long he had lain upon his face on the barren sandy beach beneath unfamiliar stars.  Waves rushed over his legs and feet, and salt and sand clung to his skin.  He pushed himself up off the ground, clumps of wet sand dropping and splattering below him.  He rocked himself back until he was on his knees, soaked and cold in the night air.  Everything was bathed in the silver of moonlight, and he spied the dead rock fixed in the sky above him, unfamiliar as this very beach.  He immediately began to piece together his memories, coming to him in waves, crashing on the shores of his consciousness, varied in their intensity and coherence.  He had wanted something, something vital.  What was it? He had been on the precipice of obtaining it.  Then, somehow, he ended up here.

What happened to me?  

He finally rose and began walking, forcing his mind to try to remember.  A name kept coming to him, Red.  Who is Red?  He continued walking along the beach, the water to his left.  The gentle whisper of the wind, the crash of the waves, the gentle rush of the water, all began to drown beneath the weight of his thoughts.  Other names and faces came back to him.  Leela.  Shalee.  The Imposter.  THE IMPOSTER.  He had wanted to free himself, to gain a new form, the form of a specter that could travel anywhere, unfettered by physicality.  A mind released from its chains.  What stopped me?  Or did I succeed?  Was this beach the holographic interstices?  Somehow, he doubted it very much.  Something about this place filled him with loathing...and rage.

The wind had picked up and the light from the moon had become blocked by a thick covering of clouds.  Where did this storm come from?  Rain began to pelt him, heavy and icy cold.  Then it turned to hailstones the size of apples.  He cried out in pain as they struck him and he felt his muscles bruise, his bones break.  He crashed to the ground and his face smacked hard into the wet sand.  He felt a hailstone crash into the back of his skull with a large CRACK and a wet smacking sound.  His vision went white and then just as suddenly, everything went black.

He was in a corridor on a ship.  He held a body, still slightly warm.  It was a woman's body, and as he blinked to gain focus, he recognized the woman's face.  This.  This is a memory.  Am I unconscious?  He was holding the dead body of his sister.  The sister he had killed.  He tried to scream, but his mouth would not open, his scream would not sound.

He was in a bedroom in a small home.  He was sawing something.  Something soft.  He felt the splash of a warm liquid on his face.  He became aroused.

He was at a dining table.  He was eating dinner.  There were two others at the table with him.  They weren't eating.  The realization finally dawned on him.  They were dead.  He heard his own voice asking them if they enjoyed the meal.  Then he heard his own laughter.

He was falling in blackness.

He awoke on a beach, facedown in the wet sand.  He pushed himself up slowly and came to a kneeling position.  This must be what hell is like.  He stood, his back straight, his head held high.  He smiled to himself.  His fear melted away as he took a few steps away from the water.  He laughed to himself, a sick laughter, full of a strange mixture of mirth and bitterness.  He closed his eyes and when he opened them, he was on the bridge of a ship, the Tovil-Toba.

This isn't hell.  Or, if it is, I am the devil.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

OOC: Extra Life

So, this is OOC, which I'm sure the title gave away.  On November 7th, I'll be participating in a charity event, live-streaming some gaming.  I joined a team, Atheist Gamers, who have set a goal of raising $5,000 for Children's Miracle Network.  I'm not going to guilt anyone or hit you with any aggressive panhandling.  I'm just informing anyone reading my blog that if you want to make a tax-deductible donation to a worthy cause, and then maybe watch me live-stream some horrible gaming on November 7th, you can make donations here: Extra Life

Yes, I realize that this totally has my real life name and photo.  Try to contain your excitement.  Unless your excitement drives you to donate, in which case, submit to your excitement.


Leela and Zhou's Place

10-19  12:47

Ryven studied Leela.  He hadn't seen her since before he had left I.LAW and her absence had been more profound than he had realized until this moment.  She still had her short red hair and piercing green eyes, but there was a hardness now where before there had been none.  She had never been weak, but she had been caring, good, and kind.  He wondered how much goodness still remained.  He wondered how much of that loss was at his hands.  None of that was the purpose for his visit.  When he had contacted her the day before, it was not to make a social visit, but rather, due to his increased concern over the containment of the other Ryven.  Sahriah had made him second guess his trust in Leela's abilities, but more importantly her motives in keeping the other Ryven stored rather than destroyed.  

Leela studied Ryven.  He was different than before.  She was one of the only people to have known both Ryvens.  She had known the Ryven before Dr. Tobit implanted the imposter, who she was now meeting. That Ryven had been a violent and brash man, but he had still been a good man.  The imposter was also a good man, the one she had married.  The old Ryven, when he snapped, had given her no choice but to help the imposter.  Still, she felt guilt at having betrayed him when she owed him so much of her current happiness. 

Leela spoke first, her tone level. "So, I'm guessing you're beginning to question my decision to keep Ryven." It was not really a question, but she waited for Ryven to nod, and when he did, she continued. "You would prefer I destroy him outright?"

"He killed dozens of innocent people, kidnapped your fiance, and, oh, also that whole thing where he took the skin of his victims and, you know, made a coat out of them." 

Leela nodded. "All true."


Leela continued to speak calmly, like a parent to a child asking a question they aren't quite old enough to really understand. "But, reasons.  None of which are any of your business."

Ryven was surprised by her answer.  "He took control of my body."

Leela shook her head. "He could say the same thing about you, now couldn't he?"

One point to Leela.  "I had no choice in the matter.  I didn't ask for this.  He made a choice."

Leela's expression showed she was unmoved. "He is confined.  He's safe."

"For how long, though?  Surely there are ways he could escape."

Leela nodded. "Sure.  But none of them without outside assistance.  Given that only a few people even know of his existence and literally all of them have every reason to keep him locked away, I don't see that eventuality coming about."

Ryven was not convinced, but, he wasn't about to force the issue.  The fact that the other Ryven was trapped at all was because of Leela.  If she refused to destroy him, he wasn't going to go against her wishes, even if he desperately wanted to.  If he was being even more honest, he would have to admit to himself that the other Ryven's only real fault was that he was completely mad.  He wasn't so sure that they didn't have that in common.  Ryven did mutilate a little girl, admittedly an awful one, and solely because he was told to by Justice.  Who is Justice, though?  I have to recognize it is entirely possible that Justice is entirely a construct of my own mind.  But, what about my experiences on that moon?  I didn't imagine that, did I?  The truth of the matter, Ryven had to admit, was that he was scared.  Scared of himself.  Scared of the other Ryven.  Scared of what would happen if the other Ryven ever returned.  Scared of his becoming just like the other Ryven.  Fear is useful, but fear is also a drug.  If we let fear control us, it defeats rationality.  We behave in ways that cause more harm than good.  We lose our ability to weigh options in favor of a system where we simply satisfy our fear.  
If Leela noticed Ryven's inner turmoil, she didn't let it show.  Ryven finally spoke. "I won't force you.  I owe you that much."

Leela's face tightened in obvious anger. "Yes.  You owe me that.  You owe Zhou that." She stood and gestured toward the door. "I think it's time you left."

Ryven glanced over at the door, saw her expression, and decided it probably was time for him to go. "It was good to see you."

Leela replied through clenched teeth. "You too."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sic Semper Tyrannus

Huola VII
Cerra Manor: The Terrace

10/10  21:54

Ryven strolled onto the terrace, having just landed his shuttle on the small landing pad a moment before.  He wore simple khaki work pants, black boots, a black shirt, and a black jacket.  A lit cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth.  He made his way over to the bar.  Behind him, Tara, the Searie successor, a girl of ten years of age, flanked by a pair of Cerra guards made her way onto the Terrace. She helped herself into a chair and ordered the servants around with a tone that made it apparent she expected them to tend to her every demand.

Ryven took a drag of his cigarette, exhaling out of the corner of his mouth in a narrow stream.  He watched the arrival of the little girl and her retinue, immediately forming a negative opinion of the little girl.  He poured himself a drink, amused by the spectacle.

Tara glanced over at Ryven, then tucked a napkin into her collar, preparing to enjoy her meal.
Ryven couldn't help but laugh at the sight of the child, so proper, considering the sort of debauchery that often occured here, or at least, occurred in the past.  He then felt a small pang of guilt, considering he had killed a man only a few feet from where she sat.

Literia, a young Brutor woman of impressive height and build, walked onto the Terrace wearing a long black duster. Her hair hung free down her back to her waist. She frowned when she saw Tara and continued on to the bar. Ryven raised his hand in greeting, but otherwise maintained his silence and sipped his drink.

Tara dabbed her mouth with her napkin and gave Literia a quick look before turning her face up slightly and away, "I trust you've taught your daughter some manners?" She spouted, without any hint of apology.
Ryven grinned slightly in anticipation of what might be some quality entertainment.  There was clearly some history between these two.  Some sort of quarrel, perhaps.

Literia furrowed her brow.  "Oh she knows them, I trust you have learnt some yourself.  She is only polite to those that deserve it."  She nodded then to the bartender and asked for a pot of tea.

Tara was nonplussed and simply replied, matter of factly, "Well, I deserve every bit. I am a Holder after all."

Literia stared at her flatly "And I care why?"

Ryven sipped at his drink, a Dark Amarrian, and considered the virtues of beating children.  Holder or not, this was not the sort of place where you should run your mouth or rely on fancy titles.  This was Huola, the sort of place that had spent considerable time at war.  War tended to make titles useful only so far as they come with a ransom.

Tara further cemented Ryven's opinion of her when she responded with "Because I rule over people who look like you."  Ryven felt his blood rise.  Sure, he had fought for the Empire, had even converted.  But, he was still an abolitionist, at least to the extent that slaves were treated as expendable.  From a doctrinal point of view, slavery for the purpose of instruction and religious education was fine.  Having slaves for the purpose of having slaves was another matter.

Literia had a ready reply.  "I dont give respect freely, it has to be earned."  She paused momentarily. "And you little creature have not earned it."

"I'll remember that when I beat my first slave." Tara said, then added, matter-of-factly, "I'm allowed to own them, you know. I'm a Holder."

Literia  showed no flicker of emotion.  Her face deadpan, she shrugged and accepted her tea.  Not content to end there, Tara taunted Literia further. "I'm sure I could own your daughter at some point as well. She'd make an excellent slave," She paused. "once I beat some manners into her."

Literia sipped her tea, not willing to rise to a child essentially throwing a temper tantrum.

Tara, still not getting the hoped for response, chuckled, "I think I'll have her work in the kennels."

Ryven had sat quietly, but his anger had continued to build slowly as Tara spoke.  He finally decided to break his silence and spoke in a stern tone. "You know, I think you should probably mind your tongue, child."

Literia looked over at Ryven "She is trying to start a confrontation with me and it will not work."

Tara's brow quirked and examining Ryven, she asked, her tone a mix of curiosity and condescension, "And you are?"

Ryven replied to Literia first. "She should remember she's not in her house."  Then, staring back at Tara, he answered. "I'm Ryven Krennel.  I fought for your Empire for years.  I married a Sebiestor who also fought for the Empire for years.  I also lived here, in this very house."

"Good for you both," She nodded firmly, "Some can be uplifted. But those like my father's slaves and this woman's daughter, for example, are beyond hope." She added, piously, "Sometimes it takes the cane and the whip to create a semblance of what it means to live as one of God's creations."

Ryven frowned. "And you're qualified to decide that are you?"

Tara replied with conviction. "I am a Holder."

Ryven laughed at the temerity of the child. "Oh? You administer the estate, do you?"

Literia just quietly sipped on her tea as Tara replied. "Not this one. My own in the north of here. An entire Holding, actually."

Ryven nodded, wondering how much control she really exercised. "So, you feel that simply owning a holding makes you somehow capable of passing such judgment?"

"God chose me to rule over others."

Ryven grinned at the simplistic answer. "Ah, so, you believe there have never been bad holders?"

"All Holders are chosen by God."

Ryven again nodded, but pressed on. "That's not what I asked.  I accept that all holders are chosen by God.  But, are all holders good?  Are they all equally capable?"  Perhaps he could make her think.

Tara responded quickly. "Of course not. Not all Holders are equal. It is why I am better than Rebecca Sakakibara."

Ryven laughed and Literia scoffed at her remark.  Ryven continued. "So, we agree that some Holders are not so good. So, I shouldn't trust your judgment simply due to your status. So, let's get back to your qualifications to pass judgment here."

Tara's reply was as expected. "But even the worst Holder is better than a commoner."

Kat had walked onto the terrace in time to hear Tara's comment. Ryven frowned and his voice took on a note of disappointment. "I see.  And, so, speaking to me right now, a Caldari, I assume you consider yourself my superior?"

Tara nodded. "Quite."

"She considers herself superior to everyone." Literia said, still enjoying her tea.

Ryven smiled a cold smile, devoid of mirth. "Tell me, little tyrant, who was it who created capsuleer technology?"

Kat looked Literia over, "Heya. How are you?"

Literia smiled at Kat "Oh, I am alright, How are you?"

Kat replied, "I'm okay, although I'd be better if a certain little monster wasn't." She was clearly referring to Tara.

Tara shrugged in response to Ryven's question. "Unimportant. Capsuleers are soulless husks."

Literia emote nodde her head in response to Kat's sentiment. "Oh defintely, I couldnt agree with you more."

Ryven chuckled. "It was the Jove.  The same ones who annihilated the Amarrian fleet effortlessly.  Strange, too, that they gave capsuleer tech to the Caldari rather than the Amarr.  Why is that do you suppose?"  Perhaps she could begin to understand that being chosen or not chosen by God was only the beginning.  That simply being born was not enough.

Kat and Literia continued to chat by the bar.  Tara's response was not what Ryven had hoped. "So? God gave the Empire the Templar. It matters not. The Empire survived the Jove. It will continue to thrive."

Ryven shrugged. "And yet, God gave the same tech to the other empires.  Perhaps we don't know God's will so well, hmm?"

"And God gave all of the Empires capsuleer technology as well. Perhaps you're simply blinded by your own arrogance."

Ryven grinned the toothy grin of a shark, cold and vicious. "Perhaps you should remember that if I so chose, I could kill you here, where you sit, and give absolutely zero fucks about it.  Nor would anyone likely do a damn thing if I did."

To her credit, Tara held his stare, unfazed, and spoke just as coldly. "Then you would make me a martyr and I would go to Heaven."

Ryven shrugged again. "Not every zealot who dies is a martyr, little one. Some folks are just dead."

"Not everyone is one of God's chosen. I am."

"So said every one of those useless assholes who are now dead and forgotten." Ryven quipped.  Something about this little girl truly and deeply engaged his sense of righteous fury.

Kat heard their argument finally, and came over, "So, the little psychopath is still alive, I see."

Literia looked to Kat with a sigh. "Yes, she wants to own my daughter and beat her senseless."

Tara replied to Ryven first. "I think you fear death more than I do," then she turned away from Ryven and looked at Katerina, "Hello, commoner."

Kat, never one to take shit from anyone, narrowed her eyes and spoke, her voice icy, to Literia. "Something tells me your daughter would be the one doing the beating, as long as we make sure the little psychopath doesn't get any knives."

Ryven laughed. "Fucking kids these days."  He wasn't really laughing though. You know what will happen if she doesn't learn. The voice.  Justice.

Literia smirked "My daughter has been trained in hand to hand combat since she was 7."

Tara waved a steak knife tauntingly at Katerina, continuing with her meal. She waved it around when the guards weren't looking, then would stop whenever they looked her way.

After a few times, Kat stepped in quickly, grabbed the knife from Tara, then stepped back just as quickly.  She started waving the knife tauntingly at Tara.

"How immature." Tara said primly.

Kat laughed. "Says the one who stabs people because they don't bow."

Ryven watched with interest, pleased to see he wasn't the only one who found this child irksome. Justice started up again. You know.  You know what she will become.  Ryven shuddered, unnoticed by the others.  You know what I require. 

Tara continued, unswayed by Kat's retort. "Everyone else is meant to bow before Holders."

Kat shrugged. "Good thing you'll never be a holder, then."

"I am a Holder." Tara responded sharply.

Kat laughed. "Oh, I see. They haven't told you."

Tara's eyes flashed. "Told me what?"

Kat waved her off. "Don't worry your young mind about it, you'll learn when you're supposed to."

Tara's voice was filled with contempt. "I'll remember to take Khanid slaves when I'm old enough."

Kat replied. "Go ahead, I'm sure you'll find enough slavers in Sansha's Nation and the Blood Raiders willing to sell to you."

Literia rolled her eyes. Then, she added. "Actually I know an Angel, that would take her."

While all of this had been going on, Ryven continued to struggle.  You know what I require.  Why do you hesitate?  Ryven's hesitation was really fairly simple.  She was a child after all.  Besides, would anyone understand?  She has to learn.  She has to learn, or she'll die a meaningless death when she encounters someone with fewer moral qualms than you.  Does that help?  Does that make it better?  Ryven wasn't sure.  I mean, yes, all of that was true.  He had killed a man a few feet from where Tara now sat, and for nothing more than spouting his racism about Ryven's wife, Leela.  This girl had done worse.  Justice.  Justice requires it.  She's suffered, but she needs to know.  She needs to learn.  Trust me. Ryven finally surrendered and lit a new cigarette.

He walked slowly, nonchalantly, over to within a few feet of Tara. Kat swiped the cigarette from Ryven's mouth, and took a drag before returning it.

Literia grinned a little wickedly "I know a few Sani Sabik that would take her too."

Ryven spoke softly. "You know, I've finally figured out what bothers me about you, little one." Not enough scars. Scars are an outward sign of the lessons someone taught us.

Tara glared at Literia, "You wouldn't dare."

Kat shook her head, "Nah, too annoying."

Literia stepped down off her seat and walked slowly over to Tara. "Try my patience again, and you will see what I am capable of.  You step foot near my daughter again and you will regret it."

Tara scoffed. "I'm a Holder."

Ryven shrugged. "Why wait?" With no warning, he grabbed Tara's wrist and jabbed the lit cigarette onto the back of her hand, hearing the hiss as it burned the flesh.


The guards rushed over to Ryven, placing a hand gently on his arm, "Sir, if you would please let her go." Ryven thought these were unusually polite guards.  Perhaps they had been around the last few times he'd engaged in violence on the terrace.  That might explain their demeanor.  He looked over and saw that Kat was offering him a bottle wordlessly.  While bottle-based murder was certainly one of his many skills, he didn't feel such a thing was warranted in this case.  Instead, he would give the guards a chance.

Ryven tensed his arm and spoke to the guards in a voice that made it very clear he meant every word. "If you value your life, I'd reconsider that."

The guards backed away slowly.

Ryven resumed. "You're about to learn an important lesson." His voice was calm and he spoke softly, meaning every word. "All the titles in the world mean exactly jack shit if people don't respect you."  He didn't wait to see if his words had any effect. "Pain is the best teacher, and this is going to hurt."

He turned his head to speak to Kat. "Knife please?"

Tara started to cry as the memory of watching her brothers and sisters get murdered in front of her while she watched helplessly started playing in her mind.  Ryven steeled himself to do what Justice required of him.  New Eden was a dangerous, cold, and heartless place.  A little bloodshed could make all the difference.

Kat calmly handed him the knife by the hilt before pulling out a chair and sitting down, kicking her feet up.

Literia tried then to intercede. "She is a child after all, dont hurt her please."

Ryven nodded appreciatively to Kat. He continued to speak to Tara. "Now, Tara, you take joy in owning people.  So, I want you to remember that, as of now.." He quickly used the steak knife to cut off Tara's ring finger.  It came off easily and blood gushed out of the ragged wound.  "...I own a piece of you." He took the severed finger and pocketed it, letting go of her wrist.

Tara screamed a bloodcurdling scream that echoed out across the water and off the buildings of the manor.

Ryven stood straight and turned to the guards. "See to it she's taken care of."

The guards tended to Tara, who was cradling her hand, wailing horribly.

Kat looked up at Ryven from her seat. "I didn't think you still had that in you."

"I'll kill you all!" Tara screamed as the guards carried her to the infirmary.

Ryven sighed. "I did what Justice required." He walked back to the bar and poured himself a drink, something fruity.

Kat kicked out a chair, hoping he'd get the hint, "Justice, huh?"

He simply nodded. "Justice." He then sat down in the offered chair. "How long do you figure before someone decides to arrest me?"

"I'd be more worried about assassins from the little twerp, honestly." Kat replied.

Ryven chuckled with more mirth than he actually felt. What the hell did I just do? "Oh, I imagine she'll be wanting her finger back at some point, so she may be a little hesitant, not knowing where I'll be putting it." You did what I required of you.

Kat laughed genuinely. "Oh, you're horrible."

Ryven shrugged. "I meant what I said. She had to learn. She definitely learned something just now."

Kat rolled her eyes. "Probably just that she'll have to wear her signet ring on the other hand. Her kind never learns."

Literia spoke then. "What lesson did she learn?  She is still a child, albeit a monstrous child that is pyschologically scarred."

Ryven frowned and decided to defend himself. "Oh. I see. So, you would prefer she go on thinking she's inviolable?"

Literia furrowed her brow. "The child needs professional help, not cutting off her finger."

Ryven, angry, shouted his response. "I WAS PROFESSIONAL!"

"Calmly, Ry." Kat said, quietly.

Literia shrugged her shoulders and shook her head disapprovingly.  She puts her tea cup down, and walked off the terrace.

Ryven shook his head. "She's now marred. Every other Amarr she meets will see it, and they will know."

Kat nodded. "I hope you're right. But you know how Amarrians get."

Ryven laughed genuinely. "That I do." He sipped his drink and decided to change the subject. "So, how've you been?"

"Well enough. Kid's asleep, thank God. You?"

Ryven shrugged. "I keep busy. Moved to null-sec. Still getting things settled."

Kat raised her eyebrows. "You? Nullsec?"

"Things change. It's where most of my comrades ended up, after all."

Kat replied. "Ahh...Triumvirate huh?"

Ryven nodded. "Seemed as good a place as any."

Kat chuckled. "If you say so."

"You disapprove?"

Kat shook her head. "No, if I have to be honest. But you know how us Legionnaires are." she tossed Ry a saucy wink.

Ryven shrugged. "A dime a dozen, only found in dozens, and otherwise easily eliminated?"

Kat laughed at the joke. "Fighting words there, Ryven Krennel!"

Ryven smiled. "I think we've had enough blood for one night, don't you?"

"That, and you couldn't hurt me."

At that moment Thal Vadam arrived via shuttle, dressed in black robes, but neither Kat nor Ryven noticed.

Ryven grinned. "I think you mean wouldn't."

"I'm pretty sure I mean couldn't."

Lunarisse Aspenstar returned from the shuttle, visibly tired, and made her way directly to the Guest House, while paging through a book.

Ryven shrugged. "You've acquired delusions of grandeur in my absence."

Kat nodded smugly, "Requirement for owning an Aeon in PL."

Reginald Sakakibara rushed onto the Terrace, walking immediately up to Ryven, "You cut off her ring finger?"

Sahriah BloodStone stepped off her own shuttle, having changed back into her usual mercenary uniform en route back to the manor. She walked up the path towards the terrace, clearly unhappy. She stopped right beside Regi, her arms crossed.  She stared at Ryven with a frown.

Ryven frowned. "Hi, Regi, nice to see you too." He nodded to Sahriah, who he had met only recently, though he remembered liking her well enough. "Sahriah."

She clearly looked displeased. "Ryven."

Regi raised his voice, "She is ten years old!"

Kat shrugged and answered for Ryven. "And this way she might learn how to make it to eleven."

Ryven sighed. "Honestly, it was in her best interest."

Regi turned to Sahriah, "She's in the medical bay. I'm going to pay her a visit." He glanced back to Kat and Ryven, "And prevent a war."

Sahriah nodded at Reginald, having expected him to react more harshly than that. "Fine." She remained still, looking back at Ryven. "What prompted you to decide that mutilating a 10 year old was an acceptable action?"

Ryven frowned. "Have you met this 10 year old?"

Sahriah's face darkened and she took a few steps towards Ryven. "I have. Infact, when I first met the child she was chained barely alive in a bedroom next to the bodies of her decapitated parents."

Ryven shrugged and responded sarcastically. "Aww, she had a rough childhood. Gee, why haven't I thought of using that as an excuse to be a jackass?"

Regi returned from the med bay, "She's sedated, but recovering. I'd imagine they can grow her a new finger." He walked back over to the group, looking at Kat, "And you just watched?"

Kat shrugged at Regi, "If there'd've been room I would've helped."

Ryven continued. "I grew up an orphan too, and yeah, it sucks.  But, running around pissing on everyone telling them how fancy you are is stupid and a great way to get yourself dead."

Regi shook his head, "I hope you don't let our son's finger get cut off just for being a child."

Sahriah glared at Ryven and then Kat. "Funny, you didn't seem to react the same way when Reginald slaughtered children in the past. I suppose violence on children is just ok when it's convienent for you."

Kat eyed Regi and Sahriah cooly, "I didn't see either of you react when she stabbed Literia trying to murder Amitel for nothing more than refusing to bow and scrape before her."

Sahriah looked back at Ryven. "I don't disagree that she has issues that need sorting out. I just think the way you went about it was incorrect."  Then to Kat: "I suppose grabbing her and taking her away from the rest of the children wasn't reacting then?"

Kat responded sarcastically. "Oh yes, let's give the vicious little murderess a time out. That's sure to help."

Ryven shrugged. "Pain is an excellent teacher. Disagree with my methods if you want. Telling me I'm basically subhuman after all I've done for the Empire, well, honestly she's lucky it was just a finger."

Sahriah waved a hand at them both dismissively. "Reginald's incompetence with dealing with her properly isn't an excuse to mutilate her, but I guess i'm wasting my words on people who cannot figure out another way to deal with a child." she walked past them off towards the gardens

Ryven sighed to himself. "I did what Justice required."

Kat shrugged. "Can't expect everyone to understand, can you?"

Ryven shook his head. "Honestly, I'm not always sure I do."

Regi sighed heavily, "And Lady Lianne won't like this." He then looked at Kat. "But how is our son?"

Kat chuckled. "Last time, Ryven had rammed a bottle through a corpmate's throat. I'm sure Shalee will probably be fairly relieved nobody died." She looked up at Regi, "Asleep, thank God. But he's well." She replied to the question about their son.

"Thank God?" Regi looked at her curiously.

Ryven felt he needed to correct Kat. "Last time, I got shot because I was wearing a people coat.  The time before that it was killing a corpmate."

Kat continued. "He still likes to wake up at all hours demanding food." Then, in response to Ryven's correction. "Right, I'd forgotten that we shot you over the people coat."

Regi shuddered at Kat's nonchalant reaction, but smiled regardless, "When will I get to see him?"


Regi repeated, quietly, nodding, "Soon." Then he quipped. "Soon seems to last quite a long time."

Kat nodded calmly, "At least it's not forever."

Regi sighed, "Yes, thank God for that."

Ryven lit a new cigarette, the old one having long since expired.

"May I speak with you privately?" Regi asked Kat.
She nodded, stood, and followed Regi.  She scrunched her nose a bit at Ryven's cigarette smoke. They both walked off the terrace down toward the shore.

Ryven sat and enjoyed his cigarette, the terrace now desolate except for him. "Alone at last." He spoke to no one.  He sat there for a while, pondering what would come of the night's events.  Then, finally, he stood and walked off the terrace to his shuttle at the landing pad.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The New and the Old and the Passing of Ages

Cerra Manor
Ryven's Cottage

Ryven stared into the mirror, examining his face, knowing it as his but somehow feeling detached from it.  He still wasn't sure he felt at home in this skin, even though it was the only one he'd even known.  It felt loose, like clothes that fell baggy on an emaciated frame.  This week had been one both old friends and new environs. 

When he had come back to the Manor he had run into his old friends, his old lovers.  First had been Shalee, which had awakened many old memories and some old feelings which he had thought dead and buried, but had only been hastily buried.  Then, the next day he had run into Kat.  This too had been a tumultuous meeting, though he had managed not to let it shake him as much as the previous meeting.  They had talked, largely joking and friendly, as though none of their history lay between them.  But, that couldn't really be the case, could it?  No.  History is ignored at one's peril.  Still, he wondered when he would see her again. 

He had just joined No.Mercy, Shalee's new home.  He wasn't sure why he had done so, but before he knew it, he had swapped his old Amarr uniform for the colors of Triumvirate.  They seemed like a decent enough outfit, though, he was till getting used to things. 

The truth was that while it had only been a few months since he had been in a cockpit, in reality he had aged considerably.  Something happened down there on that moon.  Something transformative, something transcendent.  He had stepped out of his little shack on the moon and was suddenly thrown to the ground.  He had tasted blood and his teeth hurt from the impact.  He lay face up and suddenly he had passed out of space and time and lay there, cold and naked beneath the stars as the universe spun above him endlessly.  Days passed like years, hours like weeks, minutes like days.  Each moment was interminable.  He relived his every moment in a continuous loop, his life displayed before him in harsh focus.  He watched the shared memories of the man who was born Ryven Haijikioten, a child born with an unquenchable fire and an even more insatiable thirst for violence.  There was an innocence there that could never have survived, and Ryven mourned every time he watched its passing.  He wept with every time he watched himself pick up the broken body of Leela before perishing together in the flames.  He trembled every time he watched the Other take over and hunt his prey.  He watched and watched and watched until finally his torment ended.  The universe resumed its ponderous pace.  Time flowed in the manner it had for his entire life.  All was returned to normal.

Except for him.  He would never be the same again.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Return

Cerra Manor
- Guest Cottage

7 Sept. 

Ryven lay awake, still dressed in his white linen garments, atop the covers on the surprisingly luxurious bed.  His little shack on the unnamed moon for the past few months had not been this plush.  This cottage itself was a far cry from the comforts of his old quarters here.  How had he suffered it, he wondered? How had he justified such opulence?  

Truthfully, he was staying here only for the sake of Shalee.  He could tell that she wanted him to accept her hospitality.  Somehow, she still had a hold over him.  Their conversation had awakened old memories, as he worried it would.  He was forced to admit, he had gotten lonely during his self-enforced exile. 

He had stayed there on that solitary verdant moon, alone but for his conversations with the strange incorporeal being that haunted him.  He lost himself there, bereft of connection to his old life, the world from which he was born.  And he died there and was reborn anew, fresh and fierce and no longer wearied and bowed by the cares of his former life.  He sat beneath the stars and forgot their names, their stories.  He gave them new names and new stories and he lost all sense of time.  But, like all children, he had to leave and rejoin the world outside. He left, remembered, and reunited with his past.  

Yet, his past had not waited for him.  The world kept moving without him.  His friends scattered throughout the cluster, he returned to his former home.  Then, Providence or Fate, he reunited with his old friend, former lover, and the singularity around which all the threads of his old life had woven, Shalee.  

Ryven sighed and rose from the bed.  He lay down on the floor and slowly drifted off into sleep.  He no longer found comfort in opulence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Conversations in the Wild

Ryven had mostly healed in the days following the crash.  He had awoken hours later in the field, the night air cool and damp on his skin.  He was dressed adequately for the weather, clothed as he was in a jacket, short sleeved shirt, and cargo pants.  His boots were also quite fitting for the occasion, strong and resilient as they were.  He was also fortunate that the planet's climate was a temperate one.  He had not really surveyed the planet prior to his crash, so he wasn't sure of much beyond what he could tell right away, that it was a fertile planet with a decent atmosphere, slightly on the thin side, and temperatures that would not present him much difficulty.  Based on this information, he concluded it was very unlikely there were no other human inhabitants.  However, he was not ready to meet any of them.  For now, he needed to establish shelter and settle in.  So, he had built himself a decent shack out of local timber he had felled for himself.  It was nothing fancy.  It had a simple mat made of reeds and grass for him to sleep on.  It had dirt floors which he covered in moss to absorb the morning dew and regulate the temperature.  It had a roof to keep out the rain.  He had thatched it with additional tall grasses and reeds and then coated it in a layer of mud which had baked well enough to seal the roof.  Outside he had built a campfire pit which he used to stay warm during the early evenings and also to cook what game he could catch.  He had found a nearby lake that he could fish and the local forests contained small game which he could feed on.  He had quickly adapted to surviving in this habitat. Not that I didn't have some training in this already.  Life varies from planet to planet, system to system, but the basic rules apply everywhere.

Each night, while sitting by his campfire, he would converse with the strange whispering voice that spoke to him.  He still did not who it was he spoke with, but the discussions had become increasingly more involved, but always they centered around the subject of justice and how best to achieve it.

So, is justice a shield then for the powerless?  Or is it a sword wielded by the strong for the purpose of those wronged? 

The voice replied. "Neither is sufficient without the other, is it?"

A sword without a shield is still a sword.  A shield without a sword is a dish on which to serve your enemy his victory.  Surely the sword is better.

"A sword or a shield without the proper purpose serve only as a bed for rust."

I see.  Those who have these tools are bound by basic duty to use them.  Justice, then, is both a sword and a shield, depending on the circumstance.

"You are learning.  Though, knowing the proper circumstance is not something which comes quickly or easily.  Justice for one may be injustice to another.  How do you tell what the greater justice is?  Across a vastness such as this New Eden, how does the calculation go?  Where do the ripples end?"

I don't know. Will I ever know?

"Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  When you are ready, you will know what it is you must do."

Don't I also have a duty to my friends, my comrades, my Empress?

"Your duty to your friends, your comrades, and your Empress doe not include participating in and exacerbating further injustice does it?  Also, remember the old saying about empires."

I do remember.  'An empire long united must divide.  Long divided, must unite.'  I don't actually know where that saying originates.

"That saying was ancient before your ancestors ever passed through the EVE gate into New Eden.  Its roots are beyond recollection.  Perhaps because it has always been true.  It is the maxim of the dynastic cycle.  All empires must eventually divide and all divided nations must eventually reunite into empires.  No empire arises from nothingness.  All rise from the ashes of the previous one, like an immortal Phoenix.  The body dies in conflagration but the spirit is born anew in a new form.  The cycle goes on.  You know this.  You are Caldari.  You are a pragmatist.  Such reality has not escaped you."

Ryven nodded unnecessarily.  That is true.  Though, such thoughts are seldom consolation to those caught in the conflagration.  Nor does it ease the toil of those responsible for the rebirth.  Human trials have always been dire for those whose lot it is to realize human ambitions.

"Human ambition is a double-edged sword.  Without it, humans stagnate and wither on the vine.  Yet, individual ambition also propagates injustice.  One cannot fulfill ambition without crushing those caught between them and their goal."

It all seems quite hopeless.

"You're not here to save the universe.  Nor to change the human condition."

Then what is my purpose?  Ryven wondered.  He did not receive an answer.  Whatever his mission was to be, for now he must stay here, live off the land in squalor, and commune with this spirit until all became clear.  How long that would be, and what toll it would take from him, was anyone's guess. 

Ryven doused the fire and sighed along with it as steam rose from the now quenched embers.  He walked the seven paces to the door to his little hut and once inside, doffed his jacket and boots before laying down on his mat.  Whatever answers he was seeking, he looked forward to his dreams.  In his dreams he was reunited with his friends back in the good times before he ruined everything.  He wondered what they were up to as he drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Whispers in the Night


What if it were all for nothing?  Ryven wondered to himself.  He had left the EVE Gate, the whispering growing too frequent and too disquieting.  What if removing the old Ryven had just been a futile gesture?  Was he also going mad?  Was he hallucinating the whispers?  Ryven shook his head, trying to clear his mind.  What good does it do to worry over it? What can I do about it?

He had received a reply from Kat, thanking him and attempting to explain to her reasons for resorting to torture.  She didn't have to do that.  It's not like I could really have told her no.  His thoughts turned to her often.  He never really had the opportunity to say goodbye properly when she left.  I did have my own colossal mountain of shit to deal with at the time.  Fuck you, Ryven.  She had sort of disappeared from his life.  That's why her message had been so jarring.  How much have you changed, Kat?  You were always a top notch fighter, but this is different.  Of course, he had changed too, hadn't he?  Of course I've changed.  But, then again, there's no escaping the fact that this person that I am now is just a fictional person created by Dr. Tobit.  I'm a parasite, an infestation that took over, like one of those parasitic fungi that invades insects and drives them mad.  The anger hit him with the force of a clenched fist, straight behind his eyes.  He lashed out involuntarily with his fist and struck the bulkhead.  He felt one of his fingers break.  Teeth clenching through the pain, he clutched his injured hand in his uninjured left hand and held it against his chest.  "Fuck." He said to no one.  He examined his broken finger, the third one on his right hand, checking to see how badly he had damaged it.  It hurts, but it looks like a fairly minor fracture.  Fuck it, it will be fine.

He sat down in his chair in his tiny quarters.  The Manticore class is not a roomy vessel and his quarters were not adorned with much in the way of furnishing or decor.  He had a small table, a chair, a bunk, and a few drawers to hold his belongings.  The lighting was a plain dim white light that managed somehow to cast shadows in the corners, despite the room's small dimensions.  There was a bottle of vodka on the table and he took a quick sip of it.  The sudden warm rush of the alcohol was refreshing, so he took a longer second sip.  What am I even doing out here running at a snail's pace from star to star?  What am I even searching for?  He listened closely, hoping there might be an answer.  Then he realized how ridiculous that idea was and took another long drink from his bottle.  Whatever it is, I hope I know it when I find it.  If I find it.  If it's even something that can be found.  That would be my luck, wouldn't it?  Search the goddamn cluster for something only to find it isn't even something that can be found, some fool's errand.  Self-discovery is such a fucking drag.

Ryven took a last sip of his vodka and climbed into his bunk to get some rest and hopefully quiet his mind.


The meteor began a century before as a chunk of the hull of a cargo vessel for delivery of supplies between the local planets and outposts of the system.  The ship had suffered a tragedy when local pirates attacked it, immobilized it, killed the crew, and took the cargo.  The chunk of hull had flown off with the force of the explosion that had breached that part of the ship.  Spinning and whirling with no frictional forces, it continued on at the same speed it had been traveling.  Thus its long journey began.  For a century it traveled through the system, its course altered by the gravitational pulls of the other planets and moons of the system and always trapped by the gravity of the orange star at the center of the system.

Today, however, it's journey would end when it finally collided with another object in space, one not visible to the naked eye, a cloaked vessel sitting still near the edge of the system.


Ordinarily, Ryven's ship would have been able to avoid the collision.  Ordinarily, the ship would have had a full crew compliment.  As it was, no one noticed the debris hurtling toward them.  The four ton chunk of hull struck the Penance, overwhelmed the shields, and struck the ship's engines.

Ryven awoke with the jarring impact and the sudden cacophany of blaring alarms.  He was thrown from his bunk and crashed hard onto his face on the cold metal floor.  His jaw shot streaks of pain through his vision.  "Fuck!"

He rushed to the capsuleer bay of the ship only to find the equipment too damaged for him to utilize it.  "Fuck!"  He'd have to do it the old fashioned way.  He ran up to the ship's bridge.  Ryven had a policy of keeping a fully functioning bridge on his ships in order to allow for this very possibility.  That being said, he had not had to use it in a while.  Still, he had all of Ryven's memories and he had spent decades on ships that weren't rigged for capsuleers.  Of course, he had a minimal crew, no more than three people on board other than himself.  He wondered how many were still functional.

He arrived on the tiny bridge to find two crew members already trying to fight the damage.  One was an older man with a scraggly reddish beard and the beginnings of a paunch.   The other was a woman in her early thirties with short cropped black hair with blue tips.  She looked exhausted, so, Ryven assumed she had been on watch when the ship was damaged.  Ryven spoke to her first. "Hargrave, right?"

She nodded, her attention on the display in front of her.


She shook her head and he could see the lines of worry etched on her face. "I don't want to sound alarmist, but, I think a conservative estimate is we're royally fucked, sir."

Under different circumstances, Ryven might have chuckled.  It was a shame she was probably going to be dead in the next ten minutes.  Shit snowballs really fast on a ship.  "What hit us?"

"I'm not sure, sir.  Meteor?  Looked like a chunk of debris, probably ten meters by ten meters, a lot of mass or a lot of velocity."

Ryven nodded.  That made sense.  "Where did it hit?"

"Port quarter, engines.  We've got no maneuvering."

"Life support?"

"We're good for the moment.  But, the maneuvering is a real problem."  She pointed out the forward viewport. "We can't dodge that."

Ryven looked up and saw the planet rapidly filling his view.  "Well, shit."


Ryven had done everything he could to alter the Penance's attitude as it entered the planet's atmosphere.  He had forced a mechanical breakdown of one of the ship's life support reservoirs and it had vented its contents out into space with enough force to alter the ship's course to a much shallower angle.  He wasn't worried about the heat of the reentry, but with no chance of maneuvering in the planet's atmosphere, he needed to neutralize the angle of impact.  He had managed it, but only barely.  He was lucky to have pulled it off.  Well, sort of.  He glanced down at the mangled corpses of his two crew.  He had failed them.  He wondered what sort of lives they led when they weren't serving him?  Had they families?  Children?  Unlike him, they wouldn't wake up in a new body lightyears away with only vague memories of the pain and the terror.  Instead they died violently when the ship impacted and threw them forward at several hundred meters per second.  He had had to pry them off of the forward bulkhead of the bridge.  He still wasn't sure why he had done that.

He looked around at his surroundings.  The planet was temperate, which was good.  He had crash landed in a field, which also had helped.  He had been saved from demise by pure luck.  He had strapped himself into a chair, the same as the others.  Unlike the others, though, his chair had not detached from the deck when the ship crashed.  The impact had still cracked some ribs and he may have broken his clavicle.  It was extremely sore, at the least, and his breathing was labored.  Still, he had survived.  Wait.  Why is that a good thing?  I'm a capsuleer.  I would have woken up in a new clone light years away.

He pondered that for a moment. He heard the whispering again, but this time he could make out the words.

"It's not time to return yet."  The whisper was very clear, but it seemed to be coming from outside of him, as though someone was whispering directly into his ear.  "You're not ready."

I'm not ready for what? He thought to himself.

"You're not ready to take up the mission."



Justice?  What sort of mission is that?  How the fuck am I to accomplish something as amorphous and goddamn hopeless as that?

"That's why you're not ready."

Ryven may have been dazed from the crash, but at the moment that actually made sense to him.  His eyelids had gotten very heavy, after all, and it was becoming very difficult to keep upright.  He plodded over to what looked like a very soft bit of ground and dropped to his knees before laying down on the soft soil in the middle of the grassy field.

His eyes closed and before he knew it, he drifted off to sleep with the sun sinking slowly on the horizon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Easier in the Abstract

Everything is simpler in the abstract.  Anyone can say, "It is always better to be honest."  Of course, that sounds good, and definitely honesty seems the best policy if one does not think more than perhaps one step ahead.  However, given minimal time a person can hypothesize any number of situations where honesty is actually a shitty idea.  Justice, Ryven considered, was indeed an easier ideal in the abstract than it was in the concrete.  He was faced with a conundrum, a dilemma from which no clear solution could be readily contrived. 

His newfound morning routine of exercises followed by prolonged meditation had been interrupted by a shrill alarm from his neocom.  He had received a message, short, terse, and familiar, from someone he had not expected.  Kat.  The message was not a warm one.  It was direct and to the point, which told Ryven it was definitely authentic.  Kat had always been rather quick to get to the point, never miring herself in unnecessary banality. Simply put, Kat needed something from him, something that she knew he had: his sadism. 

But, I put that behind me.  Ryven pored over the words, few that they were, finding their meaning to be clear.  "I need your advice on how to get information from someone."  If you send a message to a librarian, they'll tell you to read a book.  If you send a message to a doctor, they'll tell you what medicine to take.  If you send a message to someone like Ryven, there's a particular kind of answer you are looking for.  Or at least, that was the old Ryven.  So I am called upon to cause yet more injustice.  But, can I?  Ryven stared out the main viewport of the Penance at the glowing expanse of ethereal wisps of gas and dust that formed a nebula many light years across.  He gazed at it, something tickling the back of his consciousness.  He studied it's haunting sickly green length from one end to the other, seeing the mottling of brown and yellow shades twining through it.  It was a truly majestic sight.  He remembered his earliest studies in astronomy.  The particles in a nebula are actually miles apart from one another.  Were a person to actually be within the nebula, they would not realize it because it can only be seen from light years away.  The particles are that small and that far apart. 

Holy shit.  That's it, isn't it? Ryven's thoughts scaled from the macro to the micro.  Patterns are repeated at all scales of existence.  The same shapes and forms that exist in the cosmos are mirrored in the patterns and shapes found in the microcosms found under the most intense magnification.  What mattered was the scale at which they were viewed!  Of course torture is an injustice when seen apart from its context.  However, what is the context?  Kat didn't say what the information was or who the poor holder of that information happened to be.  The information might be vital.  The person might deserve the pain they receive.  The injustice done to him might actually be justice for things that the person had done or would soon do.  Justice needed to be seen not as the individual particular acts, but rather as the nebulous aggregate of many millions of acts.  Or perhaps even a smaller subset of acts.  The trick was the scale at which it was analyzed.

But, there's another reason, too, isn't there? He thought to himself.  He hadn't really wanted to think about it.  I wronged Kat.  I wronged her repeatedly.  I hurt her.  I neglected her.  I treated her unjustly. I owe her this.  Self-sacrifice.

He stared back out into the vastness.  Trillions upon trillions of people, all of them in the abstract.  None were visible.  None tangible.  He was alone.  Who we really are is who we are when we're alone.  The real us, devoid of masks, devoid of pretense.  The only expectations we must live up to when we are truly alone are the ones we set for ourselves.  This is the most naked I may ever be.  Have I shown my true colors right here?  Is this all I can ever be?  A killer?  A sadist?  A butcher? She didn't contact you so you could tell her to "ask nicely."  She contacted you because she wants to get information in the sort of way where you need a mop afterward.  The sort of way where you don't get to make a follow-up appointment.  If I answer her, I'm condemning a man to death in a violent, excruciating, prolonged, and absolutely brutal fashion.  If I don't help her, then I have failed her again.  He looked out into the void again.  As always, he found only himself and he knew what he must do.  

He began to write a reply, his hand trembling as he did. 

Some things are easier in the abstract.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


EVE Gate - Genesis Region
0917 6/9

Ryven's Manticore Penance

The massive wormhole took up the majority of Ryven's field of vision.  In the back of his mind, he knew that many people journeyed to the EVE gate as a sort of pilgrimage.  He wondered, when they stare at it, what do they see?  What words does it speak to them?  What revelations do they receive?

Staring out at the slowly swirling mass of light, chaotic yet somehow simultaneously serene, he saw humanity's past, but also its future.  The EVE gate was a singularity.  It was the point at which all things converge.  All of New Eden came from this massive rip in spacetime.  Inevitably, one day they must also return through it.  This region was named Genesis, but it might also one day be named Exodus.  Still, such thoughts were vanities that he could ill afford.  He didn't come here to ponder the EVE gate, no matter how it whispered to him in his dreams.  No.  He came here because he was looking for something.  Solace, maybe?  Redemption?  A vision?  Was he every bit as much a pilgrim as so many others?  He knew from his time as the other Ryven that he, at least one version of him, had been here before a few years back.  As with most cosmic phenomena, it seemed unchanged by the passage of time.  Of course, until very recently, a human lifespan was nothing in the cosmic timeline.  The capsuleer changed that, or at least had the potential to change that.

Weariness washed over him at that thought.  That was the part that no capsuleer ever really was prepared for: the knowledge that they might honestly live for millennia, or even more potentially.  
How could a human mind grasp that?  What sort of horrors might such a lifespan wreak upon a human psyche?  How much accrued guilt and remorse might one person be able to stand?  Perhaps that explained the widespread sociopathy he saw in many of his fellow capsuleers.  The sociopath wasn't concerned with such matters.  In a way, the sociopath might be the next phase of human psychological evolution. 

He laughed to himself.  How pointless is that thinking?  I only just became ME for the first time in a decade, and maybe even for the first time ever.  I'm still not even sure to what extent I am Ryven Krennel, or Haijikioten, or whatever.  This persona was invented by some dead scientist as an experiment.  The real Ryven, asshole that he was, is gone. Well, mostly.  Leela still has him stored on some disk somewhere.  And I thought I had it bad.

The truth of the matter was that everything in Ryven's life had basically gone awry.  He was a new personality in an old body with a lot of history.  His corp, his mission, his friends, all of them had left to go out into null-security space on the fringes and he wasn't ready to make that leap.  Missionless, listless, lonely, and unsure of himself, he had hopped into his manticore with a skeleton crew and set off on a random course, drifting from system to system, meditating, thinking, and avoiding human contact.  At least, that had been the case at first.  He had made a few stops on small planets far from anyone who would know him.  He would sit quietly in a bar and watch and listen.  He was beginning to get a sense of who he was.  Most importantly, he had discovered a certain righteous rage in himself.  Everywhere he looked, he saw injustices.  Justice was what was missing in New Eden.  Sure, there were laws, but the laws were easily evaded and circumvented, for such laws came with meager enforcement the further one got from the central systems.  Out on the fringe, the only flavor of justice was revenge.  Revenge was a poor substitute for real justice.  Real justice was not only retributive, but restorative.  Real justice sought to make the wounded whole again.  The old Ryven was not interested in justice.  The old Ryven was driven only by rage, rage and desire.  He rolled that word around on the tip of his tongue.  There's some bitterness there.  Old loves die hard, it would seemI don't imagine I'll be seeing her again anytime soon.  Even if I did, what would I say?

He shook his head to clear those thoughts.  He would see her again.  It was inevitable.  But, not until he was ready.  Not until he also was made whole.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Ryven hadn't forgotten Regi's advice that he seek a new hobby as a means of aiding his recovery.  Recovery seemed a deceptively benign word for the process of having to both come to terms with the suffering his Other persona had sown all over the cluster, and also with how to move forward with the basic foundations of his psyche altered irretrievably.  He still experienced some memory loss.  There were numerous portions of his past that were simply voids he could never fill.  Other memories were simply isolated flashes of memory devoid of context.  Ryven wasn't sure which was more disconcerting, vast stretches of time he couldn't recall or recollections he could not explain.

All of this is why he was half an hour into his training regimen, practicing his martial arts skills, honing his body into a weapon, but also seeking the solace that is found in discipline.  He was not in as good of shape as he used to be.  Months of Dark Ryven's excesses had softened his body and eroded at his previously honed edge.  His reflexes were slower than before.  Yet, he had gained something he had been lacking when he had carried around the toxic baggage of the Other.  As he practiced his technique, he found he could channel his energy through each strike with more ease than he ever had before.  During his training, he could clear his mind, focus, and throw himself completely into each strike, block, and kick.  His body was sluggish, but his mind was quick.  If he could bring his flesh back into top condition, he would likely be a better fighter than he had ever been.

Of course, he couldn't stay in his training room forever.  The duties of Imperial Outlaws' diplomat were rather constant.  It seemed every time he turned around there was another diplomatic incident he had to sort out.  His trips to the training room and the outlet it provided for exorcising his frustrations were his refuge.  He made a mental note to try to make it to the room more often.  Finishing off his routine, more than a little winded, he made his way out of the training room and into the adjoining showers, finding even more comfort in the warm cleansing comfort of a post workout shower.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Long Road to Closure

System: HLW-HP
Region: Curse
Sovereignty: Angel Cartel
11-7 YC 116 0250

Ryven's ass ached from the uncomfortable storage trunk on which he sat, alone in the darkness of Katerina Tzestu's sparsely decorated quarters in the Archangels Assembly Plant station orbiting moon 3 of the third planet in the HLW-HP system of Curse.  It also ached from traveling 33 jumps through 7 different regions (The Bleak Lands, Heimatar, Metropolis, The Forge, Etherium Reach, Insmother, Scalding Pass, and finally Curse).  Only nine of those systems he passed through were technically friendly.  The vast majority were in fact null-sec systems in which he was simply an interloper, and as such, should probably be shot on sight.  He had made the trip in a Hound, hoping the cloaking device would be sufficient to keep him from destruction.  He had actually encountered no resistance.  As different colored nebulae light years away slowly shifted from gold to red to blue and eventually to the bright twin clouds of white, red, orange, and brown that you could see from HLW-HP in Curse.  This was a long journey for what amounted to an attempt at closure.  Simply put, he needed to say goodbye to Kat properly, or rather, to put the ghost of their relationship to rest.

When Ryven arrived in HLW-HP and evaded the local patrols, he warped to the Archangels Assembly Planet orbiting Planet III Moon 3 of the star simply designated HLW-HP.  Ryven had often wondered if the people who inhabited these systems for long enough ever named these unnamed stars.  Some personnel might spend their whole lives circling around a star no one cared about enough to refer to by anything other than some jumble of letters, always hyphenated, sometimes with numbers.  HLW-HP was just another orange K7 class star to Ryven, but to the people who live in such systems, perhaps HLW-HP was something more personal.  Or, perhaps they just named them something that took less time than HLW-HP to say.

Ryven's Hound decloaked as the warp bubble surrounding his ship collapsed and deposited him within the docking ring of the Assembly Plant.  He transmitted a docking request to the station and hoped that Leela had done her magic.  With only a momentary delay, his ship was allowed to dock, his capsule extracted, and he found himself standing inside of a space station. 

Leela had been kind enough to locate Kat's quarters inside the station, so, all that he needed to figure out was where he was in relation to her room and then make his way there.  That was a rather simple task since the station bulkhead told him which compartment he was in.  It had taken no more than ten minutes to make it to her room, with not so much as an inquisitive look from anyone he passed in the corridors.  The only real hurdle came when he had to hack the lock to her door.  That was accomplished easily enough, though, since door lock technology was essentially the same out in Curse as it was in most stations.  He had a tool for that.  It just required a few moments without interruption.  Thankfully, at this time of night, there wasn't much foot traffic.  He just stood and whistled to himself while his door hack did its work.  With a slight hiss, the door slid open of its own accord and Ryven let himself in.

The quarters were the standard capsuleer quarters for a Caldari station. The room was relatively austere, with  only a few personal effects around the room. There was also the trunk that Ryven took a seat on, a hand drawn picture of Kat wearing an In Exile. jacket, and a picture of what Ryven presumed were Kat's parents.  He hadn't been waiting long when he heard the door open and Kat entered the room.

Ryven stayed sitting quietly, dressed in a pair of khaki slacks, a black t-shirt, and sandals.  He had been twiddling his thumbs to pass the time.  Kat shed her jacket and started to toss it onto the bed.  She noticed Ryven and immediately let out a quick scream of fright. She recovered quickly and grabbed a gun she had laying nearby and trained it on him.

Ryven was amused at this reaction, since it wasn't unexpected, and also because, had he been there to harm her, sitting on her trunk was probably not the ideal way to go about it.  He spoke, humor in his voice. "It would put a quick end to a lot of trouble I took if you ended up shooting me.  It's not a very nice way to treat an old flame."
Kat took a minute to breathe, keeping the gun squarely on Ryven. "You're not exactly an old flame, are you, Mr. Krennel?"

That answered one of Ryven's questions for him.  She apparently didn't know he was back to his old self now.  Which made sense. He nodded slowly. "That would depend on which Mr. Krennel you think you're talking to." He gave her a warm smile. "It would be nice, though, Kat, if you'd lower the gun while we figure it out."

Kat's expression made it clear she was not convinced.  The gun didn't even quiver.  "No offense, but I highly doubt you're just here to talk. If I had to guess you're here to torture me or something, so I think I'll keep the gun where it is."

Trying to put her at ease as much as possible, Ryven simply shrugged and gave her a curt"Suit yourself." He looked around the room for a moment, appraising it. "Nice room." His eyes returned to  Kat. "Believe it or not, I did just come to talk.  A lot of things have been happening back home."

Kat's face made it clear she still wasn't buying any of it. "Like? Did you finally try killing Shalee or something?"

Ryven frowned reflexively.  His voice gained the slightest twinge of anger. "You really should check in more often.  You might have learned things, like Dark Ryven is gone, for instance.  Or, I threatened an MIO Inquisitor over your ass."

Kat's frown mirrored his own.  She let the muzzle of the gun drop a bit as she contemplated what he had just said. "The other you is...gone?"

Ryven grinned. "Well, he's certainly not in this thick ass head of mine anymore." He hedged with "What Leela did with him, I'm not sure. And she isn't talking about it."

Kat sighed, either from relief or maybe exhaustion. "You don't mind if I don't exactly take your word for it, do you?"

Ryven shook his head in response. "I don't blame you at all. I wouldn't in your position.  I also don't really have any way to prove it is me, since Dark Ryven and I share the same memories."  Providing any particular shared experience as evidence would be meaningless.

Kat seemed to really want to believe him. Seeking some external confirmation, she asked, "Are Leela or Shalee connected at the moment? Or who else would know?"

Ryven shook his head again. "Neither.  And neither of them know I'm here.  I'd prefer to keep it that way."  He sighed, not really wanting to bring up her new boyfriend, not with the memories of their relationship so fresh in his mind. "You could ask Regi, if you wanted." He suggested, surprised that it didn't bother him as much as he thought it would.  Perhaps he was maturing, finally.

Kat pulled out her neocomm with one hand, careful to always keep sight picture on Ryven. Recognizing her wariness and wanting to keep putting her at ease, Ryven raised his hands up in the air and grinned meekly. He could wait patiently while she sought verification of his claims.

"So, if you are who you say you are, how are things at Cerra?

Ryven shrugged. "Depends who you ask."  He paused momentarily before continuing. "Things have been a bit messy, actually.  Seems my Dark persona wasn't the only troublemaker.  There was the mess with Vlad, an investigation or two, and of course, the Inquisitor who came looking for you."

Kat nodded, well aware of the sore point that was said inquisitor.  Her neocomm beeped and she glanced down at it.  She sighed, this time out of relief.  She set her neocomm down on a the desk and unloaded the gun.  She sat down at the desk and faced him. "Reginald said it was you."

Ryven nodded and lowered his hands, chuckling. "I'm glad you lowered the gun.  Means I can stand up and stretch without getting aerated."  He stood up and stretched, the aches from sitting on that trunk easing. "This trunk is unbelievably uncomfortable."

On impulse, Kat bounded up from her seat and wrapped her arms around Ryven in a sudden embrace that took Ryven by surprise. "It's good to see you again." Ryven hadn't expected this.  He returned the embrace, an unbidden tear welling up in his left eye.  He blinked it quickly away.

"It's even better for me, I promise." His voice wavered only slightly.

She sighed. "I'm sure." She drew back a bit. "Can I offer you anything?"

Ryven looked around again at the very sparse furnishings. "I don't know.  What have you got?" He asked, hoping it was something at least 80 proof.

Kat shrugged "Not much, but I have a bottle of something around here." She walked over to a counter and picked up a bottle of scotch, showing it to Ryven.

Ryven's eyes lingered on the drawing of Kat, wondering if that was Regi's handiwork.  He turned to see the bottle Kat held and nodded. "That will do." That will do quite nicely, actually. You can't say goodbye with anything less than 80 proof.

She poured a glass for him and one for herself. "So now, since I'm fairly certain you don't plan on killing me, what occasions the trip?"

He sighed, which, along with the shrug, was probably his most common action nowadays. "Several things, honestly, some more personal than others.  First and foremost, because I wanted to see you.  The last time I saw you while I was in control of myself, you had just left me."

She frowned. "I know. I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "That's not why. I'm not looking for an apology.  I just missed you and wanted to be sure I got to see you at least one more time as myself."  That's the actual truth. "I don't blame you for what happened, and I'm not trying to get you back." Also, both true.  Am I growing up?

She nodded in understanding. "Well I'm glad you're not trying, to be honest."

Ryven took a sip of his scotch and then changed the subject. "The Inquisitor who was snooping around is the second reason."

"Yea...we've met."

Ryven continued. "Not a very charming individual, and I suspect he was not pleased to make my acquaintance either."

Kat smiled and Ryven felt the familiar sting of old longings arising in him, coupled with pangs of regret and no small amount of remorse. She asked, "What did you do to him?"

Ryven smiled and shook his head. "Oh, nothing so intense as all that. I just made it abundantly clear that his lifespan would be measurably longer if he didn't hang around for long."

Kat couldn't help but giggle. "You're too kind."

Ryven beamed and added, "Your boyfriend threatened him with mountains of paperwork and red tape.  I'm actually not sure which the Inquisitor was more afraid of." Truthfully, I'm really not sure which I'd be more afraid of.  I prefer a fight.

Kat giggled even harder, "Oh he so would too!" She added, more soberly, "I wish you were around a month ago."

Ryven nodded, every bit as soberly, perhaps even a little bit haunted. "I have many things to atone for.  That's not the least of them." His face grew serious and he asked, "Are you making trips to the Manor?"

"I did a few times. Trying to explain to Shalee. But I didn't stay for long, and I had a team ready in case they saw anything suspicious."

Ryven nodded, not surprised. "I think you should avoid the Manor for a while."

"I only went because I was hoping to save my friendship with Shalee, you know." She said, defensively. "I knew it was an insane risk, but I couldn't help it."

Ryven spoke calmly. "I understand.  I'm just saying it's probably a little too risky right now."  He smiled. "I don't want to interfere with blooming love, either." He winked at her. "So, I may have a safe spot you two can meet if you so choose."

Kat laughed. "I appreciate it, but I know a few places out of the reach of the Ministry, you know."

"I know. But, do they play good jazz?"

A smile slowly took over her face as she understood his meaning. "You know... I don't think so."

Ryven reached into his pocket and pulled out a small shiny metallic card.  He handed it to her. "I went to the trouble of having this made when I had the security at the bar upgraded last night. It will allow you access.  The bar is closed, otherwise."

She smiled. "You're the best, you know."

He frowned. "I'm not.  But, I appreciate it."  He looked away and took a sip of his drink. He changed the subject, uncomfortable with her praise. "You know, Regi seems like a nice enough guy.  He's a little uptight, and sometimes a little naive, but he seems right in the ways that count."

Kat smiled, clearly pleased to hear Ryven sing Regi's praises. "He is very sweet. And very proper."

Ryven chuckled. "So, nothing like me."

That made Kat laugh, " were never mean or anything. so he's like you in that way."

Ryven smiled, truly enjoying the opportunity to talk to her again after so long. "That's true, I guess."  He looked around some more. "How are you liking it in the Legion?"

Kat shrugged, " be honest I came here because I needed a safe home, and the ability to fight back. But they're nice people, believe it or not."

Ryven nodded. "I always suspected they were people."

She chuckled, "Well they're not bad people, unlike what thinks."

"I think that's an oversimplification.  I mean, some people in I.LAW probably do think that. But, that's what war does.  The Legion is just as likely to kill us as hug us.  That doesn't make me hate them.  It's war."

She shrugged bitterly, "Well according to Shalee I'm a psychopath now, and everyone else I was friends with feels that way too so would I please get out of her house now?"

"Well, you're still alright in my book."

Kat smiled, "Thanks, but you and Regi are the only ones who think that apparently."

He countered her smile with one of his own. "That not enough?"

She shrugged again. "Well I'm hurt Shalee thought so little of me. You know."

Ryven nodded solemnly. "She had me shot and nearly tortured.  I can relate."

"Well, you kind of deserved it...' She let her voice trail off. Then she added, "And I believe she probably did it to help you, since she still valued you. Me? Well apparently not so much."

Ryven sighed, not really sure how to argue that. Although, he did find it odd that she felt slighted since Shalee hadn't shot her or tortured her. "Well, at least you still have two people willing to associate with you.  Hell, I even flew way too many jumps, snuck into an Archangels base, and sat on an uncomfortable trunk for far too long just to say hi." He was exaggerating a little.  It had been more tedious than difficult really.

Kat laughed, "That you did, and a good thing too, I'm glad you're back."

"To be honest, I also did it to see if I could."

Kat shrugged, "It's not a legion station, you know."

"I didn't know, actually."

Kat nodded, seeming unsurprised. "This system isn't owned by the legion, we don't own systems."

Ryven shrugged. "My experience with the Legion has been largely confined to fighting their capital ships."

"I've flown my new carrier in combat twice. The rest of my time is spent in subs actually."

He chuckled. "I'm not saying I don't think they do anything but fly capital ships around, I'm just saying I don't know much about them beyond my few run ins with them in space."

"Fair enough."

Ryven looked around one last time. "I think I should probably get going."

"Well I appreciate you coming out here to talk to me."

Ryven smiled at her. "How could I not?"

She laughed, "Rather easily, I'd imagine."

Ryven  simply shook his head. "That's not how friendship works.  Not for me."

"I'm glad you say so."

"Of course.  And enjoy the bar."

She smiled again. "I will. Thank you."

Ryven walked to the door and glanced both ways out in the passageway. He looked back at Kat. "Don't mention it."  Without another word, he stepped out into the passageway and closed the door behind him.

Kat took a seat at the desk, leaning back and crossing her ankles on the desk, feeling a lot better than usual since leaving In Exile.

Ryven began the long journey home, but had nearly finished his long journey toward closure.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Back in the Saddle, Again

Ryven was still in recovery.  Rather than weeping in dark corner somewhere, he had made the conscious decision to hurl himself into his Alliance duties.  Dark Ry had actually managed to somehow perform those duties diligently enough, but new issues had arisen in the past few days that required Ryven's attention.  It was perhaps not widely known that Ryven's actual position in Imperial Outlaws was only one step below Shalee herself.  Ostensibly, he was the alliance's diplomat, but he was involved in any number of other decisions beyond what his title implied.  He did not hold quite the clout of Almity, I.LAW's master warmonger and arguable tactical genius.  Yet, his opinions weren't disregarded wholesale either.  The fact that a former Caldari mercenary was one of the top policy-makers in a top tier Amarrian militia corporation was a constant amusement to Ryven.

He smiled to himself, having just managed to prevent open conflict between I.LAW and P.I.E.  I.LAW had recently recruited one of P.I.E.'s former members, one Daemun Khanid, who housed views that P.I.E. viewed as heretical.  Ryven hadn't been particularly troubled by Daemun's views, holding several of them himself.  After all, I.LAW had never quite fallen in line with the more traditional and conservative Amarrian mindset.  In Exile, for instance, was radically anti-slavery, a fact that had not endeared it to other hardliners.  However, In Exile got results, and was largely allowed to continue unmolested.  Joining I.LAW was actually a fairly smart choice for Daemun to make.  However, Daemun had managed to poke P.I.E. in the eye with his attempts to recruit new members for his fledgling corporation in their stationing system of Mehatoor.  He set up mobile depots bearing messages that indicated his reformist views.  Captain Laerise, not exactly known for her calm bearing, destroyed one of the depots in a moment of pious rage.  This came to Ryven's attention, and he quickly took over the matter from Daemun.  What followed was a series of communications with Laerise and Admiral Lok'ri.  Laerise felt it was her job to stamp out heresy where she saw it.  Gaven thought it was a personal feud between Laerise and Daemun.  Ryven found both of those arguments uncompelling, since both ignored the fact that Laerise had attacked the property of Imperial Outlaws.  Ryven was convincing in explaining that whatever the origins of the dispute, it had culminated in the violent destruction of I.LAW assets in violation of I.LAW's sovereignty.  This, more than Daemun's message, Ryven argued, was disrespectful and intolerable, and would not be allowed to continue without repercussions.  Cooler heads prevailed.  Ryven accepted P.I.E.'s apology, the denouncement of Laerise's actions, and the affirmation that I.LAW's property was indeed outside of P.I.E.'s authority and influence.  Gaven promised to instead make future complaints to Ryven and Shalee.

One such complaint had already been made, which had resulted in more than a little annoyance to Ryven.  Apparently Daemun's new message was barely more tolerable than his first.  Preferring to avoid war with I.LAW's ostensible allies, Ryven convinced Daemun to relocate his operations a few jumps away, hoping that perhaps out-of-sight really did mean out-of-mind.  Apparently, tensions were still high, and may continue to be in the foreseeable future.  Hopefully, Laerise would be able to control herself.  Otherwise, a war with P.I.E. may be a very real outcome.  Though, Ryven wasn't particularly worried about that.  His main reason for attempting to avert war was that it distracted from I.LAW's real conflict with the Minmatar.  This seemed to always happen though.  Whenever the Amarr began to push ahead in the war, internecine conflict seemed to erupt.  He just prayed the Amarr could keep from killing each other long enough to really solidify their control of the warzone and possibly take even more systems.