For a moment he considered trying again to kill the woman as she fondled the badge in her hand, but several previous attempts had shown him that it was a pointless endeavour. The realisation made his gut squirm in anger. Part of him wanted to howl at the betrayal – He’d tried to get his family out; to free them from the slavery of the damned Amarr and they’d turned him in. Now here he was, on hands and knees, prone before some filthy Ni-Kunni slaver. If he wasn’t so furious he might even be impressed by the efficiency of the set-up. He had found himself wearing wrist restraints and a collar that immobilised him before he had even got anywhere near the woman or the guards. They didn’t cause pain, it just sent pulses through his body that created spasms, locked muscles and caused a kind of numbness… A little like being out in the cold too long, even in this world’s perfect weather. Their use had been explained to him; in short sentences; in a high, patronizing tone. As if she’d been speaking to a child! If he came to near to anyone wearing one of the transmitters the pulses would come. The collar was a real piece of work, apparently the most sophisticated part of the restraints, it had sensors and programming efficient enough to gauge when someone intended to talk or spit or bite ones own tongue. And then send pulses to stop this. Forcing him to sit like ‘a good little boy’, awaiting her Lord, surrounded by a mixture of Amarrian marines and Kameira soldiers. He could see the badges that held the transmitters affixed to a number of the guards. Strangely, both marines and kameiras had been equipped with them. He didn’t wonder why they didn’t all have them. Not after one of the ‘demonstrations’. He’d tried that first time to rush to her and strangle her. From the corner of his eyes he’d seen one of the guards move to stop him. But the guard would never reach him in time. And if he did, with luck the guard would kill him. It was a risk to take. Outside of his capsule with its complicated scanner he had no way of knowing if his implants could make the proper transneural scan. Or any scan at all. He’d never bothered to read up those aspects of being an immortal. So there was no way to know if, after his death, he’d wake up in his clone body. But either way he’d be free. Then the spasms hit and instead of stopping him the guard caught him and then gently helped him down unto his knees.
He’d tried a few times to attack his captors or goad them in killing him. Trying to kill the woman again or, once he’d noted and been told of the transmitters, to attack the guards without them. But the apparently they also functioned as remotes and the woman and the other guards were alert to his every move. Only now did her remark about the tongue sink in. they didn’t want him to kill himself either.
Apparently this lord had a great sense of timing. Just as she’d finished her little talk he entered the hangar flanked by two light marines. His step was marked by a strong steady pace. As he approached Dormas began to assess this lord. Dark leather boots encased his feet and legs nearly up to his knees. Above that a finely made suit, cut similarly to that of a navy captain, but clearly non-military. Dark hair, glistening slightly and stark, blue eyes. The Woman stepped back to allow her master the spot in front of the bound captive and bowed lightly but long, showing clear deference. After taking the woman’s place the blue eyed bastard seemed to study Dormas’ face for a while. Then he stepped in closer and crouched over the Minmatar, turning himself to look at his neck. Scrutinizing his implant sockets no doubt. His inspection complete, the Amarrian straightened up with a smile on his face. The smile did nothing to warm his eyes though. It tinged his voice with smugness though. “God works in mysterious ways and provides bounties to the Faithfull. We are blessed today.”
Dormas fixed the slaver lord with an impotent glare; ‘Curse you to hell Amarrian scum!” Sneering, he continued: “Your ‘faith’ is just an excuse for you to enslave my people! You don’t even believe!’
There was a sharp pain to the back of his head and Dormas’ vision went black for a moment. When it returned he was using his hands to brace himself against the floor. Apparently the guard behind him hit him around the back of his head with the stock of his rifle. The man gave him a small nod and gestured towards the doorway.
‘Cavish,” he said in an imperious voice, “You are dismissed. You will report to Ara in an hour or two.’
The guard who had hit him gave him a sharp salute and marched out. Dormas though that he somehow looked worried, but the Minmatar couldn’t figure out why he’d been dismissed or what could possibly worry him. The cold-eyed Amarrian didn’t award the guard a single glance after dismissing him. His attention was rapt upon the bound young man before him.
‘Faith is something we feel very strongly about here,’ The Amarrian said, fixing him with his steely eyed gaze. ‘I am sure you were told by those in… ‘Freed’ territory that our Faith is nothing but an excuse for…certain liberties, but that is far from the truth. You are simply ignorant of course, and as a result this cannot be fully held against you.” Did he just explain himself!?
“I have long wondered what could compel your people to choose the existence of squatting in hovels over that of living within God’s embrace. I have prayed for guidance on this.’ He placed a finger to his temple. ’It wasn’t until I had access to a new social implant that I was able to envision living as you do and find some explanation: You believe in the lie of freedom and you view the acts of the Chosen as emblematic of us all.” He spared the captive a brief and sympathetic smile, “It is a sad truth that some fail to see God’s calling to us as a license to anything. The scriptures state that the others shall serve us as we serve God. Total obedience is required.” His tone became forceful as he smacked a fist into his palm to illustrate the point, “I can see how that could be interpreted as allowing all forms of… excesses.”
“God challenges us so often does he not? But God’s will is divine.’ On these words for the first time his cold gaze left Dormas’ face. Gazing upwards he continued. “He tests us with a purpose, not to appease some whim. You and your people are here to serve us as we serve God. Should we then not be held to the same standards? We have an obligation to God to be just gods. Wise gods. Benevolent gods. Are not all Amarr created in the image of God? We will guide you to a better purpose and in so doing serve God Everlasting.” Dormas didn’t dare take his eyes of the rambling lord, but at the edge of his vision he saw one of the kameiras looking at his master with a fanatical gleam in his eyes. That guy at least believed. “You will learn this here. And learn God’s truth. How the world was made and ordered. You will find your place and you will learn that you can’t escape God’s will. Freedom is a lie. You are bound to God’s will. But His hands bring glory when you embrace them. You will. We will see to that.’
Dormas scowled up at his captor, “You’re mad!”
The cold-eyed one smiled at that and clasped his hands together, “From your point of view I’m sure that it appears the case. From mine, however, you are the one who is mad.” The man stepped forward to tower over his captive and placed his hands on Dormas’s shoulders. As he squeezed it gently he said: “We will endeavour to cure you of this madness.”
He turned his head towards the NI-Kunni woman and gave a small nod. Just as he did light reflected of something on his own neck. A small gasp of surprise escaped Dormas. He recognised that glint. A neural jack. A Capsuleer! Then the spasms came followed by darkness.
This time the restraints on his arms weren’t so advanced. Simple rope, though soft and apparently of a high quality, held him bound to the bed. The collar was still attached to his neck though. He’d been left there for what seemed like an hour. Of course, he had no way of knowing how long he’d been out before he woke up. It was a simple room, holding only the bed, a chair and a small table. Just the one door and no windows. There was a reader on the table. Since he had no way to reach it he could only wonder at its use. Right next to it stood a vase holding a single white rose. He could smell its sweet scent all across the room. He wanted to crush that rose. But there was no way to reach it trussed up as he was. All he could do was think, while the feeling left his hands. Once more his thoughts went to his capture. He’d come in secret, with the aid of a local cell to find his parents. He found them living in one of the slave huts, and through the aid of the local cell managed to contact them. On that fateful evening he talked with them. The hut smelled faintly of roses, like the room he was in now. There were huge rose nurseries on the planet. Part of the planet’s industry was supplying roses and other flowers and spices for various luxury products. He’d been told they worked the fields here. Looking at his stooped father and both his parent’s gnarled hands he didn’t think the life here was any easier then any of the other slave colonies.
He told them one of his earliest memories. The training ground where they trained young Minmatar slaves to becomes warriors. Training the dreaded kameiras. Then of the raid on the training ground that took him from Amarr space and into the republic. How his records were lost during the raid. He’d been too young to remember anything from before the training grounds. He apologised to his parents for not remembering them. Tearfully they told him it was alright. He’d been taken away when he was so young after all.
With no records to fall back on the Minmatar officials assumed, by his looks, he was of Brutor descent. So he was placed with foster parents who’d had far too many children tot take care of already. Then on to telling them how he’d impressed his teachers with an aptitude to a wide variety of skills. He’d joined the military and quickly made a name for himself. Ultimately impressing his superiors enough to have them consider him for the military Capsuleer program. His face spread in a grin at the memory. It hadn’t been any goal of his own, but something his superiors had decided for themselves. Becoming an Immortal soldier battling the Amarr. He hadn’t been one long yet. The training had been gruelling, but he’d made it. Perhaps those years spent in the Amarr training grounds had prepared him to some degree. And not long after that an antecedent search came up with startling news. He was not of Brutor descent, but Ammatar. And they, his parents, were alive.
It had taken Dormas quite a bit of wheedling to get a rescue mission planned, or getting himself assigned to it. But he’d done it! How could he not? How could he not come to try and free his parents from their oppressors? He didn’t notice it then. Their furtive glances. He did see their apprehension at his words. Oh what a fool he’d been. Thinking they were afraid of getting caught. All the while plotting to get him captured. The false excuse his father had used to steal away. His return, joining hands with his mother’s for comfort. Believing they were dreading the dangerous trip off the planet and not quite believing the promise of freedom. He’d felt himself relax and then the guards had come. He rose to confront them, but was sluggish, oh so sluggish. And in that instant he realised it was no ordinary calm, but one brought on by drugs. Drugged by his own parents. Sold out by his own parents! He couldn’t fathom the meaning of his father’s last words then. But now, with the cold-eyed bastard’s words still echoing in his mind they became all too clear: ‘You will be saved my son’. Not from captivity, not from the Amarr, but from freedom.
The bitterness of it all made him want to spit, to scream, to bite his tongue. But the collar prevented that. He was trapped and with every move his jailors made it became excruciatingly clear they knew exactly how to keep him alive. Alive and captive.
A soft his of the door opening brought him out his dark memories. A girl came in. Ammatar by the looks of her and about 20ish. She wore a simple dress with a high neck. Adhering strictly to the Amarrians religious clothing doctrines. More evidence of the zealotry that seemed so common here. As if he’d need any more.
‘I am Mariskha. My Lord has instructed me to help guide you on your path to enlightenment. I am here to answer any questions you may have.”
For a moment he considered asking her to release him, but the holoreel cliché died unspoken. There was no way she’d be here if she wasn’t part of the setup. With his mind still shrouded in the bitterness of his capture all that came out was: “and how are you going to ‘help me’?”
Her dress rustled only slightly as she lightly made her way to the chair. She sat down and picked up the reader. Apparently it had come from Khanid Innovations, judging by the company logo on the back. “I will read to you from the scriptures. You will hear the Words of God. “Her face was as solemn as could be as she continues: “How can you continue to err after hearing God’s words? I will be here to answer any questions you have. And if needed a priest will come to talk to you as well. All here in our little haven are eager to help you!”
A chortled laugh escaped Dormas. “And that is all you’re going to do? Read from that pack of lies and then expect me to fold over!?” For a moment hurt and anger flashed through the girl’s eyes. It went by quickly though. Apparently she didn’t phase that easily. “God’s word is purity and truth. You will know this in due time.” Her face was now a mask, an almost professional demeanour. “Now you’re still misguided, but my voice will guide the way back. Do you have any questions that you’d like answered now? ”
Madness, the whole idea. And Dormas could only shake his head with incredulity.
“I will begin then. “The girl spoke, still with the professional mask on her face. Though it remained on her face a while longer it didn’t carry in her voice. As she began Ametat and Avetat it quickly became clear she had a true storyteller’s skill. Creating images with her voice. Sparking his own imagination. And unbidden a memory came to Dormas. Sitting on his father’s lap while listening to the same story. It had been a different voice, but one of similar skill. A memory from well before the training ground. He’d been happy and warm in his father’s arms and rapt to the speaker’s voice, even if most of what he’d said had made no sense.
She continued on, reading a few more of the stories, weaving them into vibrant images. Then she lowered the reader and looked at him, her face once more open and questioning. “Any questions so far?”
“And this is all you’ll do? Keep me here, read a bunch of words and then…expect me to become some form of believer?” Her eyes were open and honest as she said: “Well, of course we’d like to hear your thoughts as well. Discussing Scriptures is good for the soul. It’s all that’s been needed before.”
“You can’t have had many offworlders then. Just the simple ones that have never left this ‘haven’ of yours.”
“We receive a few slaves every few weeks from their masters. Some even taken in raids from the Republic. We’ve had to turn some requests down at times. There’s only so many we can help at any given time. But we save hundred’s each year and we’ve been working here for many years now. I’ve seen so many doubts laid to rest. So much fear evaporate in the face of God’s truth. It is a glorious sight. I wish you could see your own face when this happens.” Her eyes tracked away from his face. Down to his neck. Staring at the capsule jacks she couldn’t see. Widening as they did so, and with awe in her voice she continued: “but you will remember the feeling itself forever. You will get to serve our lord Errubus for ever!”
“You will never turn me!” Dormas spat out.
Her gaze returned to his face. Looking on her as she reacted to his words cold descended on every part of his being. Not because of the words themselves. Nor from the quiet calm with which she said them, but because of the little knowing smile. “That’s what they all say.”