The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
16 August YC 121
I came to in the same glass-covered sarcophagus where I was given an injection. I looked at my arm where the needle penetrated the skin – there was no mark. At that moment the cover raised and a voice coming from the built-in speakers instructed me to get up and move to the exit. I lifted my head and looked around. Although the clone pod looked the same, it was in a different room. It meant that I had successfully performed my first clone jump! At the same time it occurred to me that declaring it a success might have been premature. I took stock of my memories and confirmed that I remembered my name, date of birth and all significant life milestones. Then I wiggled my toes and fingers, moved my arms and legs, turned my head left and right – everything appeared to be operational. I took hold of the sarcophagus walls and slowly lifted myself out of the pod. The overall feeling was as if I had had a very good rest; my mind was clear, the muscles were supple and there was just a hint of hunger.
Enjoying the levity in my new body I followed the glowing signs which marked the path to the exit. When I reached the door I discovered that I had to wait in a queue which consisted of a group of naked agitated capsuleers. I joined the line and asked the nearest guy what was going on.
“We were pipe-bombed,” he replied sulkily. “The whole fleet is gone.”
“Ah,” said I pretending I understood what ‘pipe-bombed’ meant. “That explains the crowd but why are we waiting?”
The guy shrugged, “They have only so many change rooms.” Then he looked at me, “And what are you doing here?”
“Just a clone jump. Need a new body for implants,” replied I trying to sound nonchalant.
The lady at the head of the queue suddenly turned her head and looked at me with horror.
“Implants!” screamed she. “I’ve lost my fucking implants!”
Another girl looked at her unkindly and sneered, “Shoulda changed the clone before going on a roam.”
“I couldn’t. I had to wait for another 5 hours. Shit! That’s 2 billion kredits I am not gonna see again.”
The lady turned to the glass door which separated the clone bay from the change rooms and kicked it in anger.
“Ouch!” She wailed in pain and dropped to the floor. Nursing her stubbed toe, she cried plaintively, “Oh, fuck. Now I am going to have a black toe! And how am I supposed to go to a party tonight?”
The sneering girl shrugged and said, “Just wear closed shoes.”
“It’s a pool party, you, idiot! Fuck, I am gonna pod myself!”
A moment later the glass door opened and let the unfortunate lady through. She hobbled along the corridor and without bothering to pick her clothes headed straight for the exit. I watched the scene in stunned silence. If I understood what was happening correctly, that woman was going to board her pod, self-destruct and get transferred to a new clone simply because she had a black toenail! And none of her fleet mates looked shocked by such outrageous waste of body. All my remaining time in the line I kept silent and contemplated the mores of the community to which I now belonged. When I was second in the queue I noticed that one of the sarcophagi opened and released the same lady who stubbed her toe just a few minutes ago. Even though I perfectly understood the mechanics of such transfer I found her sight disturbing, almost zombie-like, especially given the look of grim determination on her face and the way she gingerly tiptoed around the edges of the clone pods. I shuddered when she joined the line behind me and was just too glad to leave the clone bay when my turn had come.
Having dressed, I went to my item hangar and picked up two implants. Gingerly inserting them into the slots in my head I listened to my feelings – nothing had changed. To be honest, I didn’t expect anything from the Willpower implant, at least until I had to decide if I should have that last round of beer, but I hoped that the Perception implant would make my vision or hearing significantly better.
In the ship hangar I boarded the pod and woke up Aura. Before I could complain about the implants she looked at me with an expression of great concern and blabbered, “Vlad, are you okay? Do you remember anything? Do you remember me? Why aren’t you saying anything? Talk to me…”
I raised my hand interrupting her, “How can I talk if you don’t let me utter a single word?”
“He is talking,” shouted Aura exuberantly. “Do you remember anything?”
“Don’t you worry. The jump was completed successfully, but it was a waste of time and money – the implants aren’t working.”
“What? How do you know?”
“I don’t feel any difference after inserting them. Don’t know about willpower but my senses have not improved at all.”
Aura rolled her eyes, “Vlad, did you really think it would make your perception better?”
“Yes, that’s what it says on the label.”
“No, it’s not that. The implant can’t really make your vision sharper. All it does is improve your ability to train skills which are based on Perception attribute. Have you checked your skills queue?”
“Um, not,” said I. “What about it?”
Aura projected a window with my training queue on the HUD and pointed at the total duration, “See, with the implants your training time reduced by 4 days.”
I winced, “That’s not very impressive, just 4 days saving in two months.”
“No, two months is your whole queue, but the skills based on perception and willpower required only 20 days. Now this time has gone down to 16 days – that’s 20% saving!”
“Hmm… That’s not too bad,” agreed I. “Still, what are we going to do for 16 days?”
Aura shook her head, “The whole New Eden lies before him, ready for exploration, and he doesn’t know what to do. Let me guide you, Captain. Firstly, find the Undock button…”