Intaki V – Moon 5, Astral Mining Inc. station
“And the next shipment?” enquired Darius. “I hope it will go better than the last one.”
“I have refitted our haulers.” replied the Vherokior on the other end of the holoscreen. “Should survive enough punishment to get to warp. So, yes. They will be fine. The production line ends in… another 4 hours. I will have them loaded up and begin moving them straight afterwards.”
“Thanks Haq.” Several seconds of silence followed.
“Gratitude.” Came the eventual reply. “If I didn’t know better I would say you were starting to like me finally.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” replied Darius dryly. His comms panel pinged quietly indicating an incoming message. “Alright Haq, send me a message when you are done shipping and set up the transfer contract. Got somewhere I need to be.”
“How’s it going over there, by the way?”
“Different. ILF is not as big as the Ushra’Khan. But size isn’t everything.”
“See, that’s what I used to tell people all the time in my black market days.” With a slight nod, and his customary sly grin, the Vherokior terminated the signal.
Darius seated himself around a conference table in a meeting room, part of the ILF Corp facilities here on the station. Several members were already present, others too far away to make the journey attending via holo-link either in their quarters or via the capsule’s NeoCom system. Standing at the front of the room, Bataav had been updating the corporation on current affairs. Being based in low security systems, the ILF needed to stay updated on the current state of affairs. Intaki was seated deep inside the Gal-Cal contested war zone, established in a conflict that began several years ago with a surprise attack on Gallente space by the Caldari military forces. Since then capsuleer militia forces on both sides, established by CONCORD in the wake of the invasion, roamed both sides of the border seeking to further the sovereign interests of their chosen faction. Beside that the ILF had internal projects to keep members updated with, and interests beyond pure Intaki sovereignty. Having concluded all other business, Bataav turned the holo-projector on in the centre of the table. The space above was filled with the image of a planet, the surface that could be seen through the violent storms spread across the land was scorched and desolate looking.
“This is a current image of Reschard V.” stated Bataav. “On February 9th, ten years ago New Eden standard date, the planet was the victim of a cataclysm that left it a barren rock. Prior to the planet-wide explosion an Avatar class titan was reported in low orbit, after that the entire planet’s communication grid went dark. Satellites shortly after, but not before they transmitted an automated emergency code to the Federation’s navy indicating a massive energetic event. It took seven months before the Sisters were able to reach the colony, their initial relief efforts hampered by capsuleers from IRON.”
Bataav continued to elaborate that Mordu’s Legion, contracted for security by the Sisters of EVE, investigated the site and discovered consistencies with a ‘doomsday’ weapon typically used on the Avatar titans. The planet never recovered due to massive electromagnetic storms sweeping the planet, the geomagnetic field slowly eroding subjecting the planet to solar influences which caused high static buildup within the upper atmosphere.
“When the final rescue efforts were completed, only around 2,000 people were recovered. A projected survival rate of only one out of 50,000 people total.” Bataav gave the numbers a few moments to sink in. The room was entirely silent, save for the gentle hum of the projector. Bataav turned the projection off, adding further to the absence of noise in the room a moment longer before he cleared his throat.
“This ten year anniversary is coming around in the next few weeks. This disaster was felt deeply among the Intaki people, being the principal inhabitants of the planet, though a great many people from around New Eden also settled there. We want to ensure this tragic loss is not forgotten, and those lost are remembered accordingly by the ILF.”
9th February YC118
Intaki V – Moon 5, Astral Mining Inc. station
Darius packed the last of his ceremonial supplies in the carry box, checking the contents before closing the ornate wooden case. Today the ILF would mark the disaster of at Reschard V. Darius had began his own honouring of the dead in the ways of his clan, though it somehow felt out of place. He knew of the catastrophe before the briefing some weeks earlier, it having been wide spread news on the GalNet ten years ago. Though, like all tragedies, they have less impact the further away the news travels. It becomes something that happened to other people. Darius only felt that difference last month, during Bataav’s briefing in the conference room. Looking around the room at the time he could see a few who clearly felt the impact more deeply than he could. Either way, this was a major loss of life and the dead should be honoured.
Darius headed through the capsuleer accommodation zone of the Intaki V-5 station, seeking somewhere more fitting than a table in a dark corner of his quarters. He had not been long in Intaki space, and was unsure of the customs for such occasions. Even so, he knew what mattered most was intent of mind over cultural accuracy. Darius approached one of the entrances to one of the gardens on the station. While this area was reserved mostly for capsuleers, there were always small pockets of service staff cleared for access here and there. Even with that the capsuleer habitat zone was mostly deserted here in Intaki, another thing about life here he was slowly getting used to compared to the core of Minmatar space. Today, the quiet would be perfect for his needs.
The inside of the garden was equally quiet, besides the one grounds tender deeply engrossed in his work. Even when capsuleers docked at this station long enough to venture into the interior they rarely visited this particular deck. A whole half of the dome stretched high into the air above providing a view of a large atrium spanning several decks up and down. Several large verandas extended out into this gulf and were staggered at different levels, each one populated with stalls and plazas, single and two story structures, and pickup points for the station transit system. The other half of the dome provided a view out to space, the station’s current daylight rotation angled to a view of the fifth moon which reflected the light of the sun back at the station.
Darius followed the path along the inner part of the dome for a few minutes, passing various mixed arrangements of plant life, no doubt from various planets across the Gallente Federation. While not being expert himself, each section of the gardens along the pathway followed a principle of arrangement in which negative spaces were used between each plant to draw further attention to each one as its own unique form. Each plant was specially picked to complement the shapes and colours of the other in the display without either sacrificing the minimalistic approach nor drawing attention to its use. Other parts of the garden interior were given over to thicker growths of bushes and wide trunked trees, their thick branches spread out low and wide giving the impression of a giant mushroom constructed of wood. Some of the branches were draped with the occasional patch of thin vines with leaves the colour of burnt orange.
Darius left the pathway behind in favor of the secluded inner tracts of the garden, seeking a spot he had located some weeks back. He arrived at a small stream which formed at the base of an artificial waterfall. Several small flat rocks were spaced around the area, and the ground was well tended compared to the wilder vegetation surrounding the small sanctum. Several such sites were dotted around the garden interior, like small islands of calm between the riot of nature, each one a reward for anyone who ventures off the pathway to find them.
Content with his choice of site, Darius set the carved wooden case on the largest rock. He worked the two clasps holding it closed, then opened out the case, laying it flat on the rock like a tray. Inside the box were several layered compartments which could be raised up on brass fixtures which locked into place, extending out from the middle on either side like steps. Darius lowered two more brass legs from beneath the outermost tray, extending them to the notches carved in the side. They rested against the wood and supported the weight of the tray above. When he was done the case would serve as an altar. He began withdrawing each ritual item from the lower portion of the box, setting them in their own place. The left of the altar contained ritual implements such as a ceremonial stone dagger, candles and an incense burner. To his right were natural items such as dried herbs and resins needed for the burner, each contained in a large sea shell collected from his home island, as well as two spheres of polished volcanic rocks – one dark and one pale – used as focusing aids in his meditation. A final empty shell he filled with water scooped from the small stream. Darius placed a small compressed charcoal disk inside the incense burner before running a strip of abrasive material over the surface. It reacted to the self-igniting coating on the disk, setting a spark that grew to a small flame. As quickly as it was given life, it spread itself thin across the surface with a steady crackle before extinguishing, leaving a faint orange glow in its wake. That soon gave way to white powder, hot enough to burn the small bundles of herbs and resins which Darius began sprinkling over the disk. Thin wisps of smoke rose from the bowl which gradually melted away.
Darius was not certain of all Intaki beliefs regarding the afterlife. He knew they believed in reincarnation, though this was not always the rule for all. And, as with all heavily homogenized societies such as the Gallente Federation, new generations adopt new systems of belief and old ones are less practiced. Even so, the Intaki people held firm to their core spiritual beliefs and still widely practiced them. Much like the Minmatar tribes who, even under the Amarr occupation, preserved large parts of their cultural heritage and spiritual practices. Regardless of his lack of general knowledge of such things, he knew enough to know the Intaki believed in spiritual essence, separate from the physical body. Among his own people’s practices, the smoke from special herbs would carry his message to the spirits. This was Darius’ belief, and when it came to honouring the dead that was all you needed.
Later, that same day
“You look deep in thought.” came the voice behind him. Darius smiled a little, leaning against the railing along the garden’s inner dome section. He had not left since completing his ritual, the wooden case sat besides his feet. He turned to Sakaane as she took a place at the rail beside him.
“Boss.” he said, by way of greeting.
“Namas, Darius.” she replied. He turned back to the view of the station atrium.
“I was just thinking about some things after my meditation.” Sakaane’s eyes lowered to the bx by his feet and back at him again. “It’s called a Tun’ma. A box for storying ritual items which also serves as an altar. I decided it was better to hold a remembrance here among the life of the garden than in my quarters.” Sakaane nodded with a smile.
“In had been meaning to ask you again how you were fitting in here. I know it has been a little difficult to adjust to some things. Is that what you are thinking about?”
“In a way, it is.” Sakaane waited a few moments longer before Darius continued. “I sometimes feel a little out of place when it comes to Intaki ways. I felt it a little with this memorial, too.”
“It’s ok, you didn’t have to do anything specific.” Sakaane said, still smiling.
“No, but I wanted to anyway. Because it was right to. The thing is I worried more about doing it ‘wrong’, if that makes sense. In the end I simply decided doing anything was more what counted.”
“Well, there you go then. Don’t let such things trouble you, Darius.”
“It’s ok, I moved on from thoughts like that during my meditation as I prepared.”
“So, what is on your mind still?”
Darius paused a few moments before answering. “Knowledge.” he said finally. Sakaane turned to look at him, slightly confused. “I’m interested in knowing more about Intaki cultural ways. Spiritual and social things. I came here because I felt the call of a freedom fighter stir inside, after I thought it long gone. And sure I know some things. As much as the average person in New Eden, I guess. More than enough to want to fight for the liberation the Intaki deserve. Now I want to spend time learning more about Intaki as a people.”
“Well,” Sakaane said after a few moments of silence. “If you want any help with that just ask. I can put together a good recommended reading list.” Darius looked at her and nodded with a smile.