The universe is built around liars. From petty to grandose to smooth to unskilled to cunning, liars permiate the entire structure of our petty little universe. Some excell at twisting the truth as you would silk or string, winding it around misconceptions and misinformation to the point that others would swear to their honesty at knife or gunpoint. Others make themselves appear inept, and orchestrate careful slipups on their part, subtly convincing their contacts that they know more than they actually do, while maintaning the veil of idiocy that allows them to ask probing questions without appearing probing, or prompting pity from others while never giving it themselves unless to maintain the facade of a bumbling fool.
John Darman, born on Gisleres II to Gallente parents, living a simple life of learning until being chosen to operate the communications console of a Hulk-class mining barge, was discovering that the capsuleer currently in charge of his life and the thousands of others operating every facet of his ship was a terrible liar indeed, if the chatlogs scrolling past his head had anything to say about it, as threats of fleets numbering in the thousands and of connections to huge corporations beyond the fathom of the pirate’s imaginations scrolled past John’s eyes.
And if the readouts blinking red on the console next to him projecting information regarding the ship’s shields (gone), its armor status (almost unrepairable), its structure (50%), and its capacitor(dry), which according to Jim in engineering was about as stable as a Brutor on every booster in existance BEFORE the fleet currently working out ransom demands had appeared on Dan’s console, and judging from the dumfounded terror on Dan’s face, was a well equipped fleet indeed, especially since the ship’s sole frigate-sized shield booster, able to impede one small ship on a good day, had burnt out.
Looking back to his logs, John’s own fear became steadly greater as the words in front of him, communicated through the capsuleer’s brain and the computers circuitry, conveyed negotiation after negotiation between his Amarrian capsuleer, who by this point had convinced John that his superiors had selected him more for his religious fervor and less his tactical space combat prowess, and the pirates who currently had them dead in space.
At this point, the wheeling and dealing from the business-minded end of the negotiating table (not his side, which had so far quoted scripture five times, pleaded six and offered, from what John knew, insulting amounts of ISK) came to a screeching halt. After a few seconds that seemed like hours, a single line appeared, blinking, on John’s console, waiting for him to send it through to the capsuleer’s brain for his response.
“You are out of time. Pay us the 75 million, or your ship is forfeit”
With heavy fingers, and mindful of the last communication officer’s fate when he failed to promptly report all incoming transmissions, John sent the message. After a distressingly short period of consideration, his commander’s response appeared on his screen, softly blinking a nice shade of green, contrasting the severity of the message and its effect on John’s future well-being.
“As for generations the Amarrian people have stood strong and unyielding in the face of opposition, I stand tall against my fate. You shall have no quarter nor ISK from me”
This…. was not good. While the destruction of his ship would be a mild inconvenience to the capsuleer, John’s early termination of life would put quite a dampener on his long-term plans. He reached over and grabbed Dan, shaking him out of his stupor and pointing towards the readout.
“Dan, stay here, watch this console, and make sure NO-ONE pushes the transmit button. I’ll be right back.”
Getting up from his console, John sprinted down the ship’s hallways, vaulting over various impediments and sidestepping around other people with other tasks, convinced that their role in the ship’s well being was much more important than a paltry communication’s officer’s task, whatever it may be. He shoved past all of them, vaulted over a cursing tech repairing a panel which had apparently caught fire, and slammed into a medical bay, currently three fourths of the way full with casualties from the recent attack. Looking through the sea of faces of people he had seen in the mess hall and hallways, he spotted Kim, or, given her full title, Kimuran Haston, Head Overseer of Capsule Medical Status and Connections. A few more vaults and sprinting and he was at her terminal.
“Kim, it’s an emergency, I need you to knock him out. We are all going to die in however long it takes a small fleet to burn through our remaining structure. I think I can stop this, but I need him out of the picture for the next five minutes”
The appalled look on her face from the first sentence vanished as she took in the rest of his statment and his current exhaustion. She typed furiously, overriding the medical barriers (Not that hard to do when the system is currently in an emergency state) and altering the capsule’s breathable mucus support solid/fluid to include a healthy section of ether, blanking their commander’s mind for a good ten minutes.
While Kim did the unthinkable from her standards, John had sprinted back to his console and was doing his own unthinkable act as he returned to his terminal, wiping the unsent command and sent a few concise messages to the attacking fleet, promising the money and apologizing for his earlier rudeness. He then sent a private channel request to an old friend of his he met in a marketing class on Gisleres II, a self-described “lazy bastard” who had, quite frankly, unfathomable good luck trading on some space station in Caldari space despite almost failing the market class he had attended with John.
After a minute or two, in which a small crowd had gathered around John’s terminal, the private channel opened and a friendly greeting appeared on John’s screen. Grimacing, John sent a significantly less carefree message back.
“Max, buddy, I’m in a pile of trouble and I need financial assistance or me and two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine other innocent people are going to die in the next five minutes. I’m calling in that term paper favor.”
“The term paper favor? You mean that paper you wrote for me, that if I hadn’t used, wouldn’t have gotten me the connections I needed for the startup cash to get me where I am today? Dude, how much?”
“75 bil? Jeez, man, who did you piss off, the friggin Amarrian Empire?”
“no, no, I need 75 mil. Send it to Baron Stranivar”
“Oh. Well, that is SIGNIFICANTLY more reasonable. ISK sent, but isn’t that the asshole dude that keeps posting scripture in the local channels?”
“I don’t know and I honestly don’t care. Thanks, bud”
Closing the channel, John wiped the log and turned to the personal information manager, who nodded at him. Returning to the pirate channel, he selected the name of the man who had made the initial demand.
“Send it to Hardar Arganor”
Relaying the message that the ISK had been sent to the hostile fleet, John watched as the enemy ships hung in space, no doubt debating whether to kill them anyway or leave them be.
Then, a ship warped away, Its engines igniting a cooling blue as it was propelled away. Another followed, and the lines of text and readouts on Dan’s console slowly faded from red to green, and Dan carefully initiated emergency warp procedure, standard procedure when the capsuleer in command is unexpectedly disconnected or unable to command the ship. A message sent to Kim, the logs wiped and rewritten to make it appear that the pilots had believed the capsuleer’s threats of an incoming fleet, and everyone returned to their posts just as a status check, the first ping in the last ten minutes to come from the capsule nestled somewhere inside the ship, queried the ship status and was told that all was well.