Now that I had a plan, my daily visits to the pod became worklike – I had a project with a deadline. Every day I went through a number of tests, and the fact that all of them were unsuccessful did not depress me as before; on the contrary, I felt anxiety and was motivated to try out as many reports as I could.
The days went by following pretty much the same routine: after breakfast I went to the docks and tried my best to move the capsule; then I had a lunch break and continued my exercises until dinner. Then, depending on the mood, I could return to the pod for “one more try”. Although other candidates in our group had a similar regime, we rarely saw each other in the cafe as all of us had different circadian rhythms. Still, every day we tried to get together after dinner in a bar where we exchanged our, mostly disappointing, experiences and at the same time encouraged each other to carry on. I was usually the first to come and had a quiet couple alone reflecting on the day’s events and waiting for others.
One evening, while I was sipping my beer and looking through the viewport at the busy traffic around the station, my reverie was interrupted by the sound of running feet after which the swinging bar doors almost exploded letting a new visitor in. It was Lenka; she was breathing heavily as if she ran all the way from the docks, but her eyes were shining. Her gaze found me in my seat and she yelled across the bar, “Vlad, I did it!” and rushed towards me. Continue reading “The First Success”
Professor was pacing up and down before the group; we were patiently watching him. After a while he turned to us and said, “You know, this is my least favourite part of the test. All our data shows that successful activation of brain-machine interface is a unique experience for every capsuleer. Yet here you are, expecting me to give you a silver bullet. I truly believe that sharing successful candidates’ experience with you not only adds no value, but in fact hinders your progress, as your minds get locked onto specific techniques. What I want you to do is completely opposite – release your mind, broaden your horizons, think out of the box and find your own way to control the pod. This is your best chance to achieve the goal. If you trust me, I ask you to leave this room and return to your pods.”
We looked at each other – no one was going anywhere.
“Ok,” said Professor, “I see – you tried hard for a month, nothing came out of it and you are frustrated. But please understand that one month is nothing, it’s just…” Continue reading “A New Hope”
On the first day of the second test we rode on the internal station train to the remote arm of the station where corporation’s private docks were located. Each candidate was provided with an assistant, a capsule and a cubic kilometre of personal space. The space contained three beacons which marked a triangular route. All we had to do to pass the test was to guide the capsule through that route using only power of mind.
When we arrived to the dock, Hughard, my assistant, escorted me to the capsule.
At the end of the two weeks we gathered for an announcement of the results of the first test. There were seven of us – only those who passed the test. Others had quietly left before; I appreciated the discretion of the testing panel as there was no need to rub the salt into the wounds of those guys by publicly announcing their failure – they were hurt enough.
I was glad to see that Lenka made it to the second test; over the previous fortnight we talked a lot and became good friends. It was strange to talk to her in a normal language again and she teased me by correcting my unconscious attempts to say words in Inverted Napanii.
The 48-hour countdown started as soon as the induction meeting finished. I ran to my room and checked the datapad. I expected to find volumes of new information, probably scientific or engineering, related to capsuleer technology. That would make sense as such info would be useful for those who passed both tests. Instead, I found just one page with pretty simple instructions. The main rule that we had to learn and follow concerned the usage of Napanii language. For the duration of the test the pronunciation of all words changed as follows: Continue reading “The First Test”
Gerhardt said he was sure I would eventually contact him about the referral. If only he knew what I had to go through before I made up my mind. Anyway, I was grateful for the opportunity and immediately applied for the capsuleer tests on the portal. A reply came surprisingly quickly. One of the government-run capsuleer corporations sent me an invitation and paid for the transfer to their office which was in another system.
The next six months after the meeting with Gerhardt I spent travelling. The generous bonus would have allowed me to pay off my mortgage, or set up my own business, or make investments that would have provided a decent income for the rest of my life. I thought, to hell with that. I could always earn enough money as a professional, and provide for at least half-decent retirement, but I might never have enough money, or time, or physical ability to travel the world. And that was what I always wanted to do. Before, my excursions did not go farther than the neighbouring Caldari systems, but now the whole New Eden was open to me, and I snatched that chance.
I felt now was the time to ask the question that was burning in my mind, “Ger, and how does one become a capsuleer? I was trying to find information in The Net, but there wasn’t any: no application forms, no how-to guides, no nothing!”
“So you want to be a capsuleer?” smirked Gerhardt.
“It’s a recording of a conversation between my passengers.”
“Do you eavesdrop on your clients?” I raised an eyebrow in mock indignation.
“Huh, of course I do!” bristled Ger, “You never know what they are up to. Last year, when I was the only one who offered trips on Victorieux, I was hired for a pleasure cruise through hi-sec. It was a round trip through all eight systems in the constellation Ani. A particular point of interest was Republic University station in Nakugard where at that time Gallente and Caldari held peace talks. That event received a lot of publicity so it didn’t seem strange that the tourists wanted to visit the place. When we started from Hjoramold I switched on an audio feed from the cabin in a background mode, just to ensure that the party wouldn’t get disorderly. The company didn’t sound like your typical holiday-goers; they spoke in hushed tones and their conversation revolved around Nakugard. I increased the volume and bit by bit put together the pieces of their actual plan. Apparently, they were a group of Caldari extremists who did not want the peace talks to succeed and they were ready to sacrifice themselves to stop the negotiations. Specifically, in Nakugard, when we would have been in the vicinity of Republic University, they intended to hijack the yacht and, using the CovOps cloak, approach the station unnoticed and crash the ship into the conference hall.”