Solaris – Part 1: Beginnings16th January 200411th March 2018Iron Wolf

In his early years at the Pator Tech School in Ryddinjorn, Darius Shakor had wished he could do so much more. Always interested in galactic politics, he learned from an early age about the enslavement of the Minmatar people at the hands of the Amarr, and had suffered the foul legacy first-hand. Darius was a member of a small but proud clan that was once much larger and held great sway on the south-east island of Matar as merchants and warriors. Darius’s ancestors were among the council members that represented the Brutor at the formation of the High Clan Council that was set up between the Brutor clan and the Sebiestor long before the Amarr brought their evil ways to the homeland. Under the Amarr rule, many of the larger clans were either “convinced” to aid the Amarr with political propaganda or be subjugated for their refusal to comply. Despite the devastation his defiant clan suffered, they remained strong-willed despite their small numbers.

Because of this his clan, although still small, was accorded the respect of many Brutor and Sebiestor for their gallant stance. The elders of his clan, many decades before he was born, were the first to jointly organize and rally the factions of rebels into a liberation army against the Amarr and through this action, many of the liberated joined their ranks and eventually drove the Amarr out. But not before nearly all of his ancestors were wiped out in battle. The few that remained were honored as heroes of Matar. Such a clan in the days of old would have been absorbed by a larger rival clan, however, their status spared them that. But they were not without enemies, as their actions against the Amarr held dire consequences for many others who quietly cursed their name. But their allies were just as strong and thus the clan was protected. During the reconstruction of the council building after the occupation, it was decided that the entrance hall would be dedicated to the fallen heroes of Matar from the liberation war. Darius was proud that the entire wall around the grand door to the chamber was dedicated to his clan and to have the names of his ancestors imprinted there for all time.

His father was on a trade run far from home when his ship was crippled by slavers working for the Amarr and was abducted when he was a young man. For many years his father was made to suffer at the hands of an Amarrian holder whose family once held territory in Matar that was rich in mineral wealth. This territory was liberated by his clan in the war and his father had the honor, and misfortune to bear the clan tattoo that the evil Holder recognized, and had burned from his very flesh on the first day of slavery, even before he was injected with the Vitoc. His father’s hatred for this man was burning deep in his soul and long he plotted his move. He knew how cruel this holder’s family had been in the occupation from stories his grandfather told, and he had been robbed of his birthright markings and even his mark of destiny by this hateful creature. While he was becoming more subservient on the surface, deep down to the bone he spent many years gaining the trust of this holder until one day on a business trip, he and the holder were the only souls on board along with the pilot of the private yacht and a case of Vitoc antidote to last the journey there and back.

His course was clear and true as he slain the holder once they were out of his domain and killed the pilot, ejecting both into space before taking his place in the pod and piloting the ship home. For many days he evaded and tricked Amarrian security services in a game of cat and mouse trying to get out of Amarrian space. He managed to convince a border guard that his visual comm relay was malfunctioning, (in fact it was smashed to bits by his own hands), and then that he was on a diplomatic trip to Gallente space on behalf of his holder who he professed to be on board but unavailable. It worked and he was free at last and headed for home before running into a patrol of Minmatar security officers who took him on board and treated him for dehydration, as the ship was low on supplies and only used for short range travel, before returning him to his family land on Matar.

Darius’ mother was a refined woman from a small tribe that hailed from the same island chain as his clan. More than that, she was a nurse on the same ship he was rescued by and took to caring for him. She even requested leave to be with him as his nursemaid until his strength returned. There was more than that to their relationship as soon after they were engaged to be married. His father had to endure the pain of the Vitoc poison all his life and the humiliation of acquiring the antidote. As his clan heritage was strong, that was not a problem as he was held up by the council as another example of Amarrian legacy and the courage of his people.

Years after his marriage to his new wife, he settled into a quiet life back on the home world in the cradle of his clan and surrounded by his family who admired him. Occasionally he would attend political talks and give a speech on how the slaves are treated and how little the other Empires do for them despite their claims. However, his life was cut short as the Vitoc poison in his body mutated into something new. Had he been with the holder, he would have received a new injection to rectify this problem. However, that was impossible and the regular antidote was having no effect. His father died several months later but not before he was able to cradle his own son, a new life born weeks before his final breath, in his arms before his own life was drained away.

Twenty-eight years later Darius was a student of the Pator Tech School. At the Tech School, many of his fellow students in his industrial management class would voice hatred for the Amarr over the deeds of the past. While Darius has such hate having learned of his father’s ordeal from his mother many years ago, he never points the blame at the Amarrians of today as many of them share the views that slavery is wrong. None the less it still happens today and many slaves are kidnapped in open space as his father was, but the authorities will do nothing.

One of Darius’ closest friends, Ramar, shared this view and happened to be the brother of a man who was high up in an anti-slavery rebel organization. Often he would brag that his brother was going to get him a spot in the organization when he leaves the Tech School and would go fight the Amarr who keep and trade in slaves. Darius had turned down his offer to get him a place too as he preferred a more diplomatic approach.

After Darius had graduated from the Tech School, he settled into the career of a miner. The money was short, and he was soon longing for something new. After nearly a year, Darius decided to mine in some more risky space. He had just dropped his last load off at the station and met a man who was buying on behalf of the station. Demand was low for now and the price was smaller than Darius would have liked. But he needed the money for repairs to his combat drones and ship which took some damage when some Arch Angel pirates took exception to his mining activity. He often wondered if it would be in the best interest of the economy to clear up the belts that held the more precious ores.

Later in the day he was forcing down a rather unappetizing snack from the canteen and reading a bulletin board on the wall. The place he was sitting was part of the main promenade as he could only stand the smell of the canteen as long as he could hold his breath. If there was no queue that would be long enough to get in, select something with haste and pay on his way to the door at rapid pace. It was either that or he would risk a lung full of the air in there and whatever ill health that came with it. He wasn’t exactly sure what this thing he selected from the shelf was as he just grabbed anything. But from what he can remember, most of it all looked the same anyway. Station food was never very good in this part of Metropolis, or at least in the Minmatar stations anyway. That alone depressed him as he knew that his people could make much better delights than this. If you go planet side you will have your choice of many fine meats, fresh vegetables and sweet foods.

Since the Amarr occupation and the following rebellion, such things are in short supply and restricted to planets and their colonies. His own grandfather would tell him tales of his business he owned when he was a young man soon after the occupation that would produce the best meat tenders in the east island chain. However, the business was losing money as only the richest clans would buy from him and only in short supply. As far as he was concerned, this foul smelling paste he was eating out of a plastic wrapper was simply the legacy of the occupation. However, its vile taste and smell was more than enough reason to throw it in the nearest bin, than for what it represented. The only thing stopping him was the fact that he was hungry, and one would have to be to eat this slop.

It was the graveyard hour in the station and few people were about on the main decks as they were either in their quarters or one of the several establishments. Darius got sick of sitting in the wide and dimly lit void that was the promenade and took a walk to the docking ring. He was going back to his ship to plot a course home and rest while the ship flew back to Pator on autopilot. The narrow and dirty hallways were poorly lit and Darius couldn’t help but wonder what the shadows gave refuge to. With that thought, suddenly, an arm grabbed him around the neck, pulling his head back and he felt something press against his back.

“Give me your mone…”

Before the assailant could finish, Darius’s quick reactions and strength had him over his shoulder, his arm free from around the neck and in a nasty lock, and he landed on his back on the station floor with a thud. Darius was reaching for his knife when the hair over his assailant’s face fell to one side and he saw a familiar face laughing in pain. He was taken back for a second until recollection kicked in and he realized it was his old friend, Ramar.

“Whoa, chill out Dar.” He half laughed, half screamed. Darius, shocked for a minute slowly pulled his friend off the floor and released his arm. He then saw that what he had poked in his back was nothing more than a rolled up magazine, the theme of which he dared not to guess at knowing his friend’s taste in literature.

“Ramar?” he asked.

“You sure know how to have a good laugh, Darius.” He replied as he flexed his arm to get the blood flowing again with a big grin on his face.

“You sure know how to say hi to an old friend.” Darius retorted with a little anger in his voice. Ramar was taken back by this sudden tone, worried that he had upset his friend. Then Darius let out a big grin, laughed loudly and clasped Ramar’s shoulders. Both men laughed and shared brief questions about how each had been since the graduation. Both men had not seen each other in many months and, at the Tech School, were as close as brothers. Even over that time, a bond like that cannot be worn thin or forgotten.

Ramar explained that he had become a member of his brother’s organization and was fighting the slavers. Darius also explained that he was engaged in mining and owned a converted Stabber cruiser and a Hoarder for large hauls. Then they made their way to a bar and shared stories of their adventures. The bar itself was doing a good job of keeping in with the overall theme of the station. Dirty, dim and maybe a little toxic. He thought that there should be a public health sign that read:

“Under no circumstances should you let any part of your bare skin

come into contact with the surfaces of this establishment!”

Darius and Ramar ordered a bottle of drink at the bar and 2 short glasses. He knew then that he would no doubt be spending the night on his ship in the hangar rather than returning to his home base several jumps away. He would remember this from his university days with Ramar as they would go through at least 2 full bottles of anything that was on the go in one night before either finding some action or passing out in the process. Oddly enough the tables were made of wood and they made their way to a corner booth under a dim light and began to share stories. Ramar poured the first glasses and, as always, his aim with a bottle was even worse than in zero G. He spilled a little on the wood table and Darius was sure that on contact, he saw a wisp of smoke and heard a faint hiss from the surface. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the glass, held his breath and, after a salute, downed it in one. Despite the heavy drinking days of the Tech School, he was sure that this was stronger than he could remember as his throat burned and his eyes watered as the fire erupted up his nose causing him to cough and splutter. He looked over at Ramar who was simply clearing his throat and making a noise as if he was a kid drinking Strawberry Quafe.

“Haha, a little strong for you Darius?” Asked Ramar. Darius struggled to make the words in his throat. He wanted to say “Water!” or some kind of plea for help. Ramar continued to laugh.

“Man you are out of practice.” It was not so much that as it was the fact that the spirits they used to drink at the Tech School station were not as strong as this. Obviously being in the rebel resistance had done more than make a fighter out of Ramar. As his throat soothed he put the glass down and grabbed the bottle with a grin on his tear-soaked face.

“You wait and see,” retorted Darius, “I will put you under the table tonight!” And with that, he poured another, raised the glass and they gulped it down together again.

While they were killing brain cells with liquor strong enough to degrease the plasma injectors on his Stabber’s warp core chamber, they shared many tales of tight situations over the last months. Darius had little to tell Ramar who had many stories of battle and freeing slaves. Eventually, the conversation steered to Darius wanting to make more money and Ramar mentioned that they are always looking for outside traders who will supply them with ammo and equipment for the rebellion. It took some convincing as Darius always favored a more diplomatic approach. However, part of the newscast he was reading earlier was about anti-slavery negotiations between the Gallente and the Amarr hosted by CONCORD and how the negotiations had reached a deadlock. Even Darius could see that this was common place and had been like this for as long as he could remember. In over 100 years there had never been any kind of breakthrough in negotiations to end slavery and nothing had changed.

As Darius settled into a grim drunken state, he could not help but remember the tears of his mother in his childhood as she recounted the tale of how she and his father met, what he had gone through and how he had died. His mother had recently passed away and he returned to his home planet when she was taken ill to be with her. The events of that night would replay in his mind as clear as if they were yesterday. On the night she died, Darius was keeping a quiet vigil at her bedside as she drifted in and out of consciousness. Despite her delirium from the fever, she took a clear look at him as he was resting his head on the bedside and took his face in her free hand. He opened his eyes to see his mother smiling faintly and clearly stated that she was proud of him and how much like his father he had become. With tears flowing from her eyes she stated her love for him, and then slowly closed them as her hand gently fell to the bed and she quietly slipped away. In his shock, he stepped away from the bed as the medical staff rushed in and worked around him. One of them moved him into the hallway outside the room and was saying something to him, but he could not hear the words nor did he want to. Then as quickly as the memory came he returned to the present as Ramar’s voice cut through his attention. He realized he had drifted off for a second and Ramar was clasping his shoulder with his hand. Even Ramar could see that the tears on his friend’s face were not caused by the strong broth they were drinking.

Later that night, Darius was taking accommodation in his Hoarder cabin and as much as he had to drink, he was thinking clearly for the first time since he left the Tech School and wondered if maybe it was time to take another approach…

A month later, Darius was making his 4th ammo supply run that week for his friend and the rebel organization he was a part of. Darius had not been offered membership, nor would he accept for the simple reason that he wanted to stay clean in the eyes of the law. It was good money and somewhat exciting with all the cloak and dagger stuff and under the table deals. His contact was a corporation liaison that acted as a legal front for the rebels. Most of the money they made was used to sponsor the rebels and buy the ammo or ships for them. Corp’s buying ammo was common practice and CONCORD or the empires never found it to be suspicious as most corps involved in mining need the ammo to fend off the pirates. In this case, the ammo was to be given to the rebels fighting Amarr corps who trade slaves and Vitoc, the substance used to keep slaves subservient that his father had fallen victim too soon after he was born.

Another thing was, his new clients paid good money for these products and Darius knew a good place to get what they needed. For the first time since leaving Pator Tech School, Darius felt like he had found his calling in New Eden.