It was a dark and stormy night. Thunder, in the distance, was violating the air. On this distant planet, far from whatever homeworld they originated from, thousands of Gallente citizens were trying to find sleep in draught proof compounds stirring from the jungle. The skyline was nowhere to be seen, black clouds brawling over a moonless country. Once again, Gervais Zhang thoughtfully listened to the results of the psychological profile analysis. Something was wrong. He had had it too easy. Once again, he reluctantly decided to go back to the detention centre. There was only one way he could reach the decision point by now, and that would be by confronting the soldier.
The detention centre looked more like a very nice apartment. The prisoner was having dinner lonely, in a chair so comfortable that you could not feel uneasy in it. He was watching some holoreel. He stopped when Gervais politely coughed for him into the communication unit, prior to entering the place. He straightened and smiled.
"I see you have completely recovered from your wounds. Good."
A last echo of the storm, outside, died when the door shuttered back.
"Ensign Olmen, you are here for a reason. You have been captured in Akhragan in the wreckage of the Apocalypse-class battleship you were serving on. We are talking about a lawful action performed in the context of a CONCORD-sanctioned war and, as such, you are a legitimate prisoner of war that Strix Armaments and Defence can freely dispose of. We can actually execute you with little consequences, since nobody in your homeland knows you have survived the battle, and the courts in Villore have not been notified of your presence yet. It is not our usual policy, but your former Praetoria Imperialis Excubitoris masters, as befits Amarrians, are known for their ruthlessness with prisoners."
Ensign Olmen was a handsome True Amarrian, his blood thick-blue with countless generations of powermongering aristocracy. His profile mentioned brilliant studies at the Imperial Academy and, provided he was given the opportunity, he might manage in the future to become a capsuleer. For the time being, he had but one life to lose.
"I understand, sir.
- Do you, really? You do not seem worried.
- Whatever you may think about my people, and its undeniable flaws, we have not forgotten how to remain brave when the need arises. But, in this case, I have no fear. You will not hurt me because your culture and your laws are based upon the respect of life. That is one of the reasons why I have asked you the favour.
- You seem to assume that our democratic regime is inherently forgiving and weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Democracy is a very old and very cold-hearted lady."
Gervais sat. The knot still needed to be untied, he decided, but he would have to take a back door.
"There is a legend people tell about Democracy. They say that, when it was but a child, before your people's God was even imagined, Democracy decided to punish a renegade ally by killing all its men and selling all its women and children as slaves. Slaves. Since the dawn of time, democracy has bitched its way to the domination of the world. Countless peoples have been destroyed by it. Tyrannies are overthrown; reigning families wither and die; democracy persists through the centuries. Now, I serve my immortal monster and you serve yours. If you want to swap masters, be aware of their nature."
Obviously, the young Amarrian did not expect this answer. His voice became cautious.
"You never were the politician type, were you? But I cannot agree with your vision of democracy. You try to disgust me, and I am not sure to understand why.
- That's the truth as I know it. Or, at least, part of it."
There was a tense pause.
"You have applied for asylum in the Gallente Federation. My duty is to pass along your application to the relevant commission, and to add a fair assessment about you."
Both men locked stares.
"As much as I would like to say yes, my prudence regarding your true allegiance and my foremost duty to not compromise the future return home of possible captured Strix crewmen compel me to deny you this opportunity.
- Are you sacrificing me to your future defeats?"
The young man was angry, now.
"This corporation's policy is to always facilitate in all instances the survival of its non-capsuleering crewmembers. We do believe there is a substantific doubt about your actual motives for applying. Provided you agree to sign the necessary documents, you will be released to a representative of PIE, Inc. within...
- Bullshit! You try to prevent me from staying with Hélène, don't you?
- My personal feelings for Hélène Meiev have nothing to do..."
Olmen threw away his remote and made a theatrical gesture.
"Do you think I care about all of that? I am a rich man, on Amarr Prime! My house is a place of light and wealth. If there was anything that could have redeemed me from my religion, it would not have been your Federation, but Hélène!"
Gervais's voice lowered to an almost inaudible level. After a few seconds, a holoscreen displayed a footage of explosions in space.
"Doctor Meiev's ship has been destroyed this morning while trying to intercept, on the behalf of a Federation Navy agent, a small Amarr Navy force operating illegally within Federation frontiers. None of the escape pods made it on time. The analysis indicates the medical bay was vapourised almost instantly by a direct hit."
Gervais Zhang, wall faced but shivering with pangs of emotion, closed the holofile with a whisper, turned his back and walked away. Behind him, the prisoner did not move until he left. The storm was over, by now. Once in the street, the champion of freedom stretched, then looked at the stars.
"Very nice job, Hélène. He is hooked. One day, this man will be ours."
There was concert hall music in the distance. The voice in the earplug was amused.
"De rien, Gervais. Hopefully, the FIO will decide to use him soon. I can't wait to be resurrected."
-- The Guardians of Luminaire, season 3, episod 6 --
The captain was one damn nice fellow, for sure, with a liver the like of which the most vicious alcohols ache to challenge. Can't wait to serve under his command again. Planetside duties are more boring than a Slaver church propaganda leaflet and the ladies around have all the intellectual brilliance of the average Caldari. Yeah, Zhang inspires loyalty, even more so than old Bigeard. Gimme drones, a Dominix, and a captain like him, and we will rape all the bad guys!
-- Strix drone controller, interviewed in Eglennaert --
The lady's demure pretense did not last long. She was dressed for sin and sin she did mean. Slowly, she began to entice him into disobeying the Scriptures.
"Handsome one, why don't you relax and tell me about your work on this big battleship?
- Do you really think you can corrupt one of my race so easily? I wish I had my slave whip in hand!"
A spit would do the trick.
"Young man, you don't mean to..."
Slapped, the bitch fell to the floor. The place was obviously bugged; a furious man stormed into the room.
"At last! I get to see your master, whore! Zhang, you, again!"
In a whirlwind, Casmeus Olmen dodged the vicious punch of Colonel Zhang. Exasperated, the devious Gallentean yelled over him.
"Do you think you are safe here? I could kill you right now."
He could smell the hatred, the garlic, the cheese and the wine. And a bit of frog, too.
Other Gallentean goons poured into the room.
"May our Lord have pity on you.
- Maybe he will, but only after I am done with you, and damned be Yulai's Convention."
The evil Colonel Zhang grabbed an oyster opener.
"This world is cold and it will not miss you. It's torture time!
- The Lord is my shepherd. I fear no harm!"
This holoreel is based on real events as described by Captain Olmen in Escaping from the Sinners. All rights reserved for all countries including the State.
Yes, I understand your question, Mr. Journalist. Don't you know when to spot a hint?... No, I am not a capsuleer. No, Strix captains are unavailable for comment. The very reason I was sent to deal with the press was because I am not a capsuleer. You are welcome to quote me, to talk about me, but I guess you will not extend your queries far for the puny reason that I am a space janitor - even though janitors have talked and talked about other people's issues for untold thousands of years. How many holoreels are published each year about capsuleers? I regret people like you forget that they are but a tiny minority among humankind. Pilots endowed with the capacity to interface with capsules to control ships with their thoughts wield enormous power over the lives of the multitudes. Their riches are staggering, and their lives are fraught with constant danger and adventure. It only seems natural that each and every capsuleer is admired or loathed. That thousands of entertainment programs, in every corner of the galaxy, are dedicated to these champions. But, read my lips. All of them, lies. Fantasy!
And, and, the technology that gave immortality to the capsuleers did not gift them the wisdom to properly handle the opportunities it afforded them.
Vieve Tisserand, Vieve DuNord? No, we have no comments whatsoever! Don't mention it again! Other questions, please!
You are exasperating. Gervais Zhang does not wish to be a public figure anymore, how can I make myself more explicit? The existence of your ilk, the tales he has to bear with would make anybody wary of meeting the public eye again, just for the entertainment of bored teenagers. He has higher purposes in life. Don't trust the holoreels! Trust the janitor!
-- The Scope, Review of 110: the worst interviews --
Gervais Zhang is one of the founders of Strix Armaments and Defence, a roleplaying corporation. Unfortunately, the man behind the character had to stop playing Eve some time ago. I can only hope he will be able to safely come back to the pod. I enjoyed the leadership he provided and the care he took to explain things to help people grow. He was also the one to recruit me.
Gervais, as Oscar Wilde would say, more or less, it looks like you can take care of the moral pain yourself, so I just wish you to be spared any of the physical sort. And, for myself, I hope you can come back so that we can discover the truth about Citizen Zhang before those soap holoreels authors completely destroy his reputation.
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