There was a time when my life consisted of mining asteroids for ore. Armed with a single mining laser and a scanner, I would fill the bowels of my dilapidated Hoarder, "Betsy", with ore. While Betsy slowly chewed away on asteroids, I found time for my studies; simple and complex exercises to develop reflexes and higher brain functions. Once Betsy was filled to capacity, I would pilot my ship to the station in high-security (hi-sec) offering the best price for my ore. Today, that destination was a station nestled in the Rens system, in Heimatar space.
Aura, Betsy's artificial intelligence, broke the silence and announced that a citizen identified as Good Samaritan had requested to chat with me over a secure frequency. I'm a lone-wolf by nature- I have few friends. I may be what some would affectionately refer to as "paranoid". I prefer the term "cautious", as I enjoy my privacy and I enjoy living to tell about it. Space is a cold and cruel vacuum, after all, and one can't be too careful! I requested Aura perform an information query on Mr. Samaritan in order to glean information about this fellow before I agreed to speak with him in a private channel. Aura complied, and a second later I was looking at Mr. Samaritan's public record. A feeling of trepidation washed over me. It would seem that Good Samaritan was an alias used by the rough and tumble cut-throat better known as LongJohn Scr0tum!
Mr. Samaritan had a knack of separating citizens from their possessions and a true talent for scuttling the ships of those foolish enough to provide him such opportunity. Why would this gentleman of ill-repute focus his attention on me? My already pallid complexion drained entirely of color. My stomach began to knot as I reluctantly accepted Samaritan's invitation to chat. Instinctively I looked over my shoulder, eyes wide as adrenaline began pumping through my veins. The comm channel hissed to life as Samaritan spoke:
"well good evening sir," he purred,"how are we this evening?"
Attempting to mask my trepidation, I answered that I was well and asked Samaritan how he fared.
"i am fine thank u sir."
Instinctively I responded,"I work for a living, you don't have to call me sir." Good Samaritan asked if I were a hauling alt, to which I responded in the negative. I informed Samaritan that I was a cadet in the Republic Military School (RMS).
" but that character is over a year old," Samaritan said in disbelief. I explained to Mr. Samaritan the reason for my lengthy tenure in RMS was due to the fact that I had served time in stasis. I would say little more about that experience, other than to confirm that Amarr masters are as cruel as Minmatar propaganda would have you believe.
My conversation with Samaritan remained light and civil, which increased my agitation. I imagined Mr. Samaritan's corp-mates hiding out of my visual range. At any moment they would gleefully de-cloak their warships of mass destruction around Betsy and negate her ability to warp. In the next instant, Samaritan's corp-mates would unleash munition hell upon her shields, armor, and hull- vaporizing Betsy into a cloud of debris. If I wouldn't- if I couldn't fulfill their ransom demands, my pod would suffer the same fate as my ship. My body shuddered at my last thought.
I had never died before.
I had heard other pod-pilots relate personal stories of death in space: What the transfer of consciousness to a clone body felt like, why it was important to update and maintain your clone on a regular basis. I was also familiar with accounts of catastrophic failures in relation to the cloning procedure that resulted in permanent brain damage or death. I had not updated my clone in quite some time...I promised myself that if I managed to survive this encounter, I would update my clone the very next time I docked into a station AND would never, ever let my clone lapse again. Ever.
"Was Betsy still moving?" A quick glimpse of my digital HUD interface told me that Betsy was in motion. Betsy travelled at her maximum velocity of 148 M/S- a slug's pace by space ship standards. Had I thought that jettisoning Betsy's cargo would have increased her speed, I would have dumped the ore stuffed in her gut that very instant. Unfortunately, the one sure way to make a slow ship, slower, is to outfit a ship with cargo expanders'. To remove those expanders' from Betsy would require me to dock in a station. I was a mere 3,000 KM from the star gate that would hurl me to the Rens system and relative safety. I absently rocked in my pod while I continued to ponder my current predicament. Surely, a sub-conscious attempt to increase Betsy's velocity. It did not work.
"Well, I was wondering if you would be interested in joining a corporation." Good Samaritan's statement was not posed in the form of a question.
"Join a corporation?" I thought. My earlier data-base query of Good Samaritan informed me that he was a member of a corporation called "Gentlemen of Low Morale Fiber", or "SCONE". Now, I was sure Samaritan had ulterior motives! No corporation would want an RMS grunt such as myself. I had a pittance of combat training lacking any true combat experience outside of a DED space training complex. I had very little to offer the likes of those jaunty rapscallions of SCONE, other than a target for target practice.
"Do you have an information site that I may peruse?" I don't think my voice betrayed my overwhelming paranoia that threatened to engulf my ability to reason. My goal was to delay Samaritan long enough so that Betsy could successfully warp to safety. Good Samaritan answered in the affirmative and encoded a link to his corporation's information site. A glance of the SCONE site confirmed what I had suspected: The Gentlemen of Low Morale Fiber were pirates!
"1,000 KM, warp drive active." Aura's voice purred in that accent I could never quite place. The warp gate hurled Betsy across light years in mere seconds. Far, far away from Samaritan and into...
...Rens. I had escaped with my ship and my pod intact. Quickly, I plotted a course to a station owned by the Brutor tribe which orbited the moon, Rens VIII. While Betsy aligned in preparation for the small warp jump, I gleefully celebrated in my pod. I lived! I survived! I was intact! I was... curious.
Good Samaritan and his band of 'baddies took part in all sorts of illicit hi-sec activities that involved separating pod-pilots from their ships and valuables. I was not ready to accept Samaritan's invitation to SCONE, nor was I entirely convinced that Samaritan's offer was on the level. However, I was ready for something more than my current existence of catatonic mining expeditions while reciting ancient litanies of acumen. Approved to dock, Aura notified me that Betsy would be towed in to berth. I relaxed and shut my eyes as a smile crept across my gaunt face. That was the last time I piloted Betsy and there she would remain to this day- betrayed for a Rifter frigate, adventure and infamy!
Later, I still wore that silly smile as I updated my clone. I owed Good Samaritan a debt of gratitude. Rejecting the mundane existance my life had become, my eyes opened and I awoke from a state of torpor.