Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prano's Journey #2: The Once and Future Kings.

My meeting with Colonel Roc Wieler presented several challenges.

First, I had to get into Evati alive. It being a den of pirates was a problem, as I wished to enter and leave the system without incident. I accomplish my ingress via a Republic civilian transport. Pirates didn't normally harass civies as there was little profit to be made, and the wrath of CONCORD would not be far behind.

Keeping my status as a capsuleer hidden was a skill I'd become proficient in. There was plenty of distrust between normal humans and the trans-human pod-pilot community, and avoiding that during initial contact with the down-trodden people I sought to help was important. After docking at the station and going through the same public decontamination procedures that all normal people had to endure, I stepped on to a magtrain and headed to the meeting place the Colonel had chosen.

One could easily tell it was an officer's club that had as some point been commandeered by the local pirates. A spray-painted symbol featuring a cat with over-sized fangs gave me some idea of who called this place home.

I make a living hunting pirates, so walking into a literal den of thieves was not my idea of a wise tactical decision, especially when I was unarmed. I had to assume however, I was the only one without a weapon. This evening could turn from cordial to deadly in the time it took to pull a trigger.

It was not difficult to pick Roc out of the crowd. He sat at a table in the centre of the room, facing the only door. He had a half-consumed beer and a pocket terminal with him, but his attention never wavered from the door. The moment I entered, he deactivated the terminal. I could sense the tension in the room rise slightly, telling me he had friends here ready to shoot me the moment he gave the signal. I tried not to look around too much as to not let on I knew I was being watched. I approached the table and bowed.

“Roc Wieler. It's an honour to meet a warrior of such skill and renown. I'm grateful for this opportunity to speak.” I said, still bowing, but keeping my eyes locked with his. Coming off as too submissive would surely backfire between Brutor. I omitted his rank from my greeting, as I was unsure how some ease-dropping pirate at the next table may respond. The Colonel stared for 10 seconds, sizing me up, then nodded at the chair opposite from him. I sat. A waitress came by and I ordered a beer, same as Roc.

Roc took a chug of his beer before starting. “Just so you know, I've done a little checking up on you. I'm curious what someone who grew up adopted by a Gallente mogul can teach me about being Minmatar.”

I told the Colonel my story, as I've told many before him. I told him about the Prano clan before the Amarr came. I told him about my mother and the hundreds of other slaves who died liberating me from that Amarr Battleship, leaving me with only a message on a datacore as evidence of my family heritage. I told him about my adopted father, who set me on the path to becoming a capsuleer so that I may find my own path in life. I told him about the Elders, who lured me out into the Great Wildlands and trained me in the ancient ways of our people. Finally, I told him about he people I've been helping and my efforts with the Ushra'Khan.

“We're a civilization with a lost history. We're bound together by a vague understanding and the simple notion of that history. We're tied together by our anger for the Amarr, but there will come a point when even that won't be enough. Shakor knows this and so do the Elders, but change on a scale such at this is a difficult thing, especially when many among us are still disenfranchised. Unfortunately, by the time this all becomes apparent, you'll be in the centre of the storm of hearts and minds and souls. I'm here to prepare you for that.”

The Colonel shook his head as an almost inaudible chuckle escaped him. “I'm not the man you think I am. I'm a soldier and a commander, but I'm no leader. Let Shakor do that. Once the fighting is done I just want to be left alone.”

I took another sip of my drink. I was starting to understand the man behind the stories. “You may not have a choice in it. You're a victim of your own success, and even though it was not your intention, others have started to rally to the tales of your exploits.

“By the end of this war you'll be a hero in the eyes of our people. Your frame will be covered in medals and you'll be forced to go to parties and events that you don't want to go to. People will look to become important through proximity and association, but then our collective adrenaline will fade and we will begin to crave meaning in the peace and prosperity we'll have created for ourselves though bloodshed. You're already the warrior, but I can show you how to be the philosopher we will all need you to be.”

Roc's mood was beginning to sour, and I couldn't tell if it was due to impatience with me or an understanding that he was indeed trapped. I extended my senses past our table, trying to discern who in the room posed a threat to me should the Colonel decide I was not to leave breathing. There, behind me, the tall Minmatar red-head. A gun was laying on her lap. I wouldn't be able to avoid her shot at this range. Careful not to turn to view her. I suddenly felt very naked without my kandjal.

“So, what exactly are you offering?” asked Roc. I still couldn't tell what had him on his last nerve, but I'd have to choose my next words carefully.

“A past. Our past, so that you can help create a future for our people, a future you fight for now. I studied the ancient literature the Elders took with them to escape the Amarr, but without that wisdom, we can't grow as a people. We can not see the path before us without understanding where our feet have already fallen. The Prano legacy is that of peacemakers between tribes and advisers to the Elders. I offer myself as a spiritual guide, to be called upon whenever you need answers. I ask that if you find those who seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be Minmatar, send them to me. When the time comes, it will be my duty to arm you with the wisdom all of Matar will seek from you.”

I downed the last of my drink and rose slowly to my feet. “The choice is yours. You have my personal comm information. You'll be able to reach me anywhere and at any time.” I bowed again and turned to leave. Harping on the point would do me no good. Better to let the conversation stir in his mind and let him come to me when he's ready, rather then push him now.

“I may just do that.” Roc said before I reached the door. I turned, surprised at his comment. Roc had already risen from his seat and was now at the bar, being joined by the red-head.

I rented a room for the night, as the next civilian transport didn't leave until the next day. I meditated on my encounter with Colonel Roc Wieler. I could only hope that he would call upon me before it was too late for us all.


Mynxee said...

Enjoyed this...the combination of the characters involved plus the readable writing style worked for me. I'm interested to see how the tale unfolds. I perceive Roc as an introverted, anti-social idealist...not exactly the best candidate for a darling hero to inspire the masses. Guess we'll find out eventually.

Oh and...small caliber projectiles > kandjal. *grin*

PsycheDiver said...

I'm not actually sure where I'm going to go from here. It may be a bunch of one-shots until I come up with a multi-chapter ark.

I want to continually expand on Minmatar culture from different perspectives as Gigaer encounters them. He's wandering, letting people and problems find him.

Roc (RL) told me himself that he (IC) was not the best person for this. It's the circumstances he's found himself in and his ability to rise to the task at hand.

Gigaer isn't exactly the best person to change the spiritual base of the Republic, but like Roc, he'll need to rise to the task, or a lot of people will suffer.

Mynxee is a Brutor. Maybe you'd like to collab?

I'll try and do another chapter this week. I have an idea you may like.

Anonymous said...

"What a strange man." Roc said as he saddled up to the bar beside Mynxee.

"You have NO idea." she replied coyly, a wide smirk across her face.

Great story based on an interesting meeting in real life. I also have to agree that the writing style on this one is very professional, and maintains the reader's interest. Well done.

PsycheDiver said...

Thanks Roc. It was a lot of fun getting together. Next time sushi and sake on me. At least with Sushi I won't burn my mouth.

I guess we know who Roc used to check my background.

It's an interesting triangle of fiction we have going. It covers a wide area.

- Roc's the soldier who deals with pirates and monks and is on so-so terms with the law.

- Mynxee is a pirate who uses people, like soldiers and monks, but her actions hint at a heart that's not stone at all.

- Gigaer's on good terms with the law but has by far the least power of the three. He hunts pirates but isn't against working with them.

As the world turns...