19 December 2015

Someone else's birthday

Most people think of podding as pain and death.

I like to think of it as a birthday. The day you are born again. A chance for renewal. Maybe an opportunity to set things straight.

The point being, getting podded is not all bad. It can be good for the soul, good for you. Maybe not the podding but what comes after, that's really something to look forward to. Your new life. The day you are reborn.

Your birthday.

So Happy Birthday to You!


BLAM

Bitch.

(Comms, standby for killmail.)

16 February 2014

Perpetual Motion: Rituals

Every society, every culture has its own rituals; ceremonies, rites of passage, coming of age or passing away. Amarrian rites stand out as so very formal, Matari so passionate; they all serve this basic need that people seem to have, of marking changes. And everyone has their own personal little rituals, in their very own way.

Because, you know, those little rituals do help.

--

Age seventeen: Tash-Murkon Prime

"Miss Catherine."

"Yes?"

"Everything is ready, mademoiselle."

"Thank you, I will just need a few minutes."

I cut the comms and sighed. It was time to say goodbye.

I walked determined across the House until I reached the door to my bedroom and knocked, knowing there was no one inside. You know... to hear the sound just once more. I knew that door so well -its heft, how to push it exactly so it would not slam... or exactly so it would- how to listen to sounds muffled behind it, how to block it from House control. I opened it slowly and stepped in.

"Goodbye my bedroom," I said to the now empty space. The intricate golden ornaments of the household were there but all my things were gone. It looked smaller, somehow, without the furniture and stuff lying around. It used to be such a mess. And it felt weird like... someone else's already. Of course it wasn't mine: it was tidy.

I looked around as I slowly walked back, picturing every thing the way they used to look, posters, dresser, my backpack, holodesk. Coming out of the bedroom and through my personal quarters, I ran my hand over a massive wooden table that would have to stay. "Goodbye. I am sorry I cannot take you along." The texture of the wood felt so rich and smooth to the touch and the grain looked beautiful; along with the dark hue it had this sense of power, old power and secret deals. I have found similar in boardrooms since, but I bet they don't know half of what mine did of overnights and study, of friends and confessions, of breakfast, of passing out. "I will miss you, you know that."

The family chambers, right outside mine, were still full of the trappings of family life. Maybe a bit less, maybe a bit older now. It had been a family of four long ago, and then three. Now it would become a family of two. Maybe it was too big now. Or maybe dad would be transferred and it would be assigned to be the home to some other family and some other teenager. Well, that is the way it goes, is it not?

"Goodbye, my home," I said to myself.

The household staff were assembled by the door. They were a diverse bunch, gallies and takis, jin-meis and whatnot; from dad's embassy liaison, to the cook, to mom's nurse. Among them, they never found a single spy. Maybe there even was not one.

I said goodbye to each and every one, mentioning little personal details, sending regards to their families and presenting each with a small formal parting gift. Yah, one acquires some local customs after so many years. There were smiles and tears too, those were definitely imports.

I took a long last look at my home. Former home. The next time I came it would be as a visitor and I knew it would not feel the same.

I turned to the head of the household staff, "Mr. Asahir, I am ready."

The man in front of me made a quick gesture and I felt familiar hands fitting a cloak on my shoulders. We had always disputed that, I would insist on wearing the cloak myself, he would argue that it demeaned staff to be deprived of their rightful duties. Stubborn old man.

So for the last time I rolled my eyes at him, smiling.

"The transport will take you to the Consulate where your family awaits; they will then see you to the spaceport. Your luggage will be transferred directly to your new lodging in Luminaire. Will there be anything else?"

"Will you please take care of them."

The Nefantar smiled wryly. "Of course, Miss Catherine. You need not ask."

"Goodbye Hort," I said knowing how he disliked that nickname. "Thank you for everything you have done for us. For me."

"Goodbye mademoiselle."

"Goodbye everyone, take care."

Goodbye old life.

Hello new adventure.

--

Moving is always a painful occasion. Sometimes you do not understand the significance until much later. Sometimes you do understand and -especially when you have staid somewhere long enough to grow roots- maybe that makes it all the more painful. It hurts.

But you find ways to cope with it. Maybe moving was an exception not to be repeated and you find a bright future in your new home. Or maybe a new adventure which will last you all of fifteen minutes, until you have to move again.

So you come up with your own little rituals. Rites of passage for easing the pain, to remember what you used to love of your old life, or to embrace your new life with passion. For rituals mark change, and change is what you make of it. I choose change to be good.

Here is to good change. Cheers,

Q

05 November 2011

Racing Loss

There is often a time when one grows attached to something. Something, as in a thing, as opposed to a person or any other kind of living being. An inanimate object.

Nonetheless, one grows attached to this object because... who knows? Do you have one? Something you may have had by your side for so long, or that has become a trusty sidekick, maybe the secret of your success? Or saved your life? So many reasons...

--

I know it sounds silly.

Capsuleers, for us it it usually our ships. And for me, it was 'A Wing and a Prayer'. Oh, how I love her... my second racer, ever, and together we grabbed the T1 championship, what, four years ago already? Large polycarbon rigs which I crafted myself, some other special equipment and that nice emblem on her sides...

I did something very stupid today.


5 November 113, NE-RA Season 2.0 Race 1
The Bleak Lands


Hello, I am Catherine Delorois and I am team Scuderia Caille's manager in the pro racing circuit. I do not race anymore, or so they say. If you remember last season...

Well, for starters I did retire last season and went planetside. (Of course we all know how this goes, hotshot retires then keeps away from the sport, runway, politics, movies or whatever, then after much expectation comes back to glory and sponsors. Then more often than not gets injured, falls on her behind, melts down, is caught red-handed or whatever, then hotshot retires for good). I am still retired.

Today was the first race of a new season. A full hour before the race I was still retired. A few minutes before the race I decided to support the team an show up flying a frigate... of course it would be fine, being the hotshot that I am, with the best implants and racing equipment, with my racing legend ship and kickass team, what could go wrong?

I am feeling like such a idiot voyant: I so fell flat on my ass. To make a long story short, the Amamake waypoint was camped, I was not careful enough and out of practice, so horribly out of practice.

My clone I can restore, but I am going to miss the Wing.

For the details, you can check Kay's account of the race.

The Wing. It feels as if I have been unfair to her, putting her at risk in racing so... carelessly. She was (is? Do frigates go to ship heaven?) unique and she was mine. But otherwise, what could it have been, a museum piece? A ship belonging to a pre-nerf era long gone? Or a comme-si comme-├ža racer, a slowpoke relic racing amongst Dramiels? Museum or last place? Forgotten until sometime I go planetside for good? And then what?

But she went in a shower of sparks. Racing fearless at the forefront, unafraid of tricky waypoints and fighting for the top spot in the class. I had not felt this way since a couple of years when I stopped racing, and it felt great. I like to think she was meant to go that way, in an electrifying move, doing what she does best.

So, my Wing, we both died today and although only one of us is back, I am going to miss you. I am happy it happened when we were racing together. You were truly my wingmate and you were my Champion Ship.

Merci pout tout.



Racing Series
See what happened before
Wait for what happens next

02 October 2011

Eejit

"So, where shall we go?" he said.

"Somewhere expensive!"

He took me to the NEX store.

:(

20 July 2011

Perpetual Motion: Hints

Age twentysix, Metropolis

Quin, wake up.

I was curled up lying sideways in bed, with the duvet pulled into a nice cabbage around me. There is only one way to sleep, dear, and this is it.

Now leave me alone.

--

Quin, wake up.

My eyes were so puffy I could barely open them. You know how it feels when it is warm under the covers and everything else behind a slightly colder haze. You don't even want to move. At all. Maybe except your feet. I can stay for hours lying in bed, just slowly moving my feet and my toes. It's a gift.

So I did not even bother to open my eyes, wanting just five more minutes, five more.

Go. Away.

--

Quin, wake up.

"Oh please, make it stop."

Yup, because waking up can be ignored only so much.

I turned and stretched, yawning lazily. Nice bed. I opened my eyes and looked straight at... the ceiling, wondering where I had woken up, the baritone voice being about the only thing I recognised around me. I looked for clues, as usual.

After a second yawn I noticed the sounds, there was rain mixed with this incessant hum that could be air conditioning in the room, plus something vaguely industrial far away.

I rubbed my eyes. Ceiling, yes, as unrecognisable as the sounds, with a metallic yet unpolished look with a hint of rust. I spy... a Republic-style building?

Sounds of water. Not rain, coming from behind a door, so maybe a shower. Someone showering? Had I spent the night with...? Yah -you go ahead and laugh- I could NOT remember who I had spent the night with, or even if.

It had better been amazing.

Propped on an elbow, I looked for stuff. The clothes lying around were mine, as was the suitcase, so it was probably my place. Hotel room? No trace of whathisname's stuff, not even a shirt.

Ah, the shower. You know how it sounds different, like movement, when someone is in the shower but it sounds flat when no one is? The rain also sounds alive by the way but this one was flat, so the shower was likely empty. Either that, or there was a body in the shower, ha, ha. Ew.

Alone, bummer, and that was my wake-up shower.

Earrings, my last clue. I reached for my left earlobe and counted: one, two, three. Clone number three, in other words, Business Clone. Money Me.

So:

Republic hotel, by myself and wearing my business clone? I remembered, barely. I was in Teonusude for a marketing pitch, having clone-jumped and flown in on the previous evening for dinner and a whole night of sleep.

I am very good at sleeping, by the way. Not so good at waking up.

And I needed to be in top shape because, racer history would not matter. I had to show off my keen sense of market, the fact that I can buy my own expensive stuff and justify that yes, hiring the real deal would cost them dearly. They would not care how many Nomads I had plugged in some other clone, if my mind and my +5's right here were dozing off and wandering somewhere else.

Anyway, it was time to get ready.

"Mirror, mirror," I asked out loud, "Is there time for a bath today? And will you please find me an actual mirror?"

The baritone replied "Quin, you have a meeting scheduled in three hours. This room is not equipped with a holo mirror, although you may use the reflective membrane on the wall as per local custom."

Reflective membrane... a flat mirror?! How precious! Ever tried one yourself? I know it takes getting used to and you end up twirling and twisting your neck so you can not really look at yourself -which was the whole point of this mirror concept to begin with. But it is such a quaint thing, and the feeling that you have to use this ancient object in the same way they used to, in the old days. Like an Amarrian Holder Princess of yore, ha!


As I stood up I found what looked like a window into another room and saw... myself, looking back. A flat mirror, how cool! It had been years since I had used one but, you know how it is, once you learn how you never forget. Only last time it had been mounted on a proper golden frame.

Bath! Right. "Please cancel the shower and prepare the bath."

"Quin," the AI voice said, "the shower is currently in use."

Oh?

I turned around, surprised, and walked back towards the closed door, listening carefully for any extra hint. Clone jumping always messes my mind up, but maybe there was enough time to remember what I was up to last night.

"In that case," I grinned, reaching for the door, "please order breakfast for two."

--

You get used to it, and even come up with ways of coping. Ways of making it appear interesting or even funny, the fact that sometimes you may even not have a place regular enough to call home.

So you smile, you laugh. At every chance, every little thing you observe. The way people walk, or that silly monocle, or how the sun feels different or moves the wrong way. Because it is new, true or not, it should be exciting, and finding excitement in the little things, that makes all the big changes worth it.

And it keeps you going.

01 June 2011

Racing not

It feels odd that, upon the start of a new racing season I should be writing about not racing. Yet here I go.

Hello, I am Quin and I am not a racer.

Well, for starters I did retire last season and went planetside. (Of course we all know how this goes, hotshot retires then keeps away from the sport, runway, politics, movies or whatever, then after much expectation comes back to glory and sponsors. Then more often than not gets injured, falls on her behind, melts down, is caught red-handed or whatever, then hotshot retires for good). I am still retired.

Then there is this little thing about the team. We were once two teams, Kay's Dragonstar and Quin's Scuderia Caille. Then we were Scuderia Dragonstar and it was the best of times. Now due to corporate politics we have had to split the team, which albeit done on the friendliest of terms still resulted in, you guessed it, two teams. Kay will race with Dragonstar and I will not-race with Scuderia Caille.

Which leaves us one little problem: racers. DS is welcoming all racers her corp's bigot policy (sorry, I just said that - but it's a sport for goodness' sake!) will not allow her, which leaves SC quite weak in numbers. Demon, our frigates champion, seems to be as retired as I am; Searaph is around but not with SC; Lief is probably racing away from police as the good smuggler he is. Our roster so far includes two.

Which by the way is ironic as we started out as an the University of Caille racing team, an inclusive bunch that reaches across borders, affiliation and ethnicity in order to go fast, have fun and learn. And this gets us? Two racers.

Not that I have been doing much team management work either. I went planetside, remember?

So I am not racing and am torn between placing my racers with someone else, while maybe putting SC on ice... or coming up with something for the team that is completely crazy and as fun as competitive racing once was. I have talked to some of the other team managers about placement and they have been nothing but supportive. Thank you, by the way :)

Anyway, last Saturday was the first race of the season and what did we have? One racer showed up.

Nicoletta's first race ever (did I mention she is also a rookie?) ended up with her taking 3rd place in the AF podium. Not bad. Even though she was a team unto herself (I refuse to say 'racing alone') we were on comms during most of the race, sharing tips and hints and trying to figure out where she was. Besides, she did not blow up which is like doing twice better than I did on my very first race.

Waitaminute...

First race, not blowing up, podium? Hey, not too bad at all!

Still, I'm really wondering about what to do next.

Maybe we need to be closer to our roots as a team - remember when in season 3 we kicked ass and took numbers? And though we were the best frigates team out there we still got zero season score due to our not meeting the requirements to register as a corporate team. And we did not care a bit about not getting points.

Or maybe our mission is to really be the little league of the sport. All we need is a few good newbies and good instructors, as when we registered for S4. To teach the racers of tomorrow! And looking back, I do feel proud about SC racers joining other teams and showing what they've got. That's what we said back then we would do: teach people. And we did it!

Or this could be a business opportunity. Want to race? Want to ride shotgun with the pros? So we go into the consulting business to help a team, any team or teams, beat the others. Our racing R&D is still unrivaled off and on the track - who flies frigates with large polycardboard rigs? Who developed the away-from-can opening? The jump-clone shortcut? The blind warp? SC did, that's who.

Possibilities, endless possibilities...

So be warned. We are still at the track, one way or the other. A blip in your overview, a shadow in your rear-view mirror, a system ahead, sniping at you in chat. One way or the other...

We are good. We are creative. We are Scuderia Caille.

And we are BACK.


Q

19 March 2011

Cee Vee


It is midnight and the man pushing the cart down the street stops to catch his breath. If it only were easier. A life of hardship has taught him to be strong, to be steadfast, but he has always wondered, and even now, looking up at some of the lighted housing in the arcology. He wonders how it would be if he had a life like that.

It is midnight and inside, another man stands up from his paper-covered desk and walks to the window. Oblivious to the man and his cart downstairs, he is too worried to notice. Expenses, mortgage, payments, ends having to meet; his climb up the corporate ladder slower than anticipated and now changes with the new CEO. There are needs that must be filled. If he only had a chance...

It is midnight and the new CEO looks down her domain from the top floor building. The pressure, the people, the petty strife amongst corporate divisions; public appearances and secret negotiations. Right now, she would rather be free amongst the stars, flying from planet to planet until she chose another star, any star in the sky and start over. If she only could fly like they do...


--

It was midnight and I put the finishing touches to a description of my entire life. It is grossly unfair to sum it up on just a handful of pages, but that is the way it must be. And if I spent any more time making it perfect, I would show up and next day's interview being sleepy, grumpy, stupid and with bags under my eyes. Not the best first impression, I am afraid.

I hate job hunting. Hate it, with passion.

--

Interviewer X> Can you tell me about your combat experience?

Quin> I have, ah, seen combat.

X> Do you have any killboard references?

Q> Not really. But here, see, I have two kills.

X raises an eyebrow> Two kills in four years?


--

I do not know which part I hate the most, whether it is the constant application/rejection cycle, or the part where I have to pretend to be someone I am not, just because everyone else pretends.

Okay, I get it. Really. Eggs must be broken to make an omelet. You have to apply a hundred times to get one acceptance. I do not have to like it, do I?

What I find disgusting out there is the sheer amount of people wanting to oversell themselves and embellish their life with fantastic details. Should I pretend as well, or is it better to be honest up front?

--

Interviewer Y> What are your best strengths as a pilot?

Q> I can go fast. I used to race in the pro circuit, you know.

Y> So you are a tackler...

Q> Yes, I could be.

Y> Could? You are either a tackler, or are not. What else do you consider a strength?


--

So I do not pretend and that usually lands me in trouble. Or, rather than trouble, -here is to positive thinking- saves me the time and effort of attending a second or third interview with the same people.

I have been saving a lot of time and effort lately.

Everyone else pretends. Then again everyone else is, well, not me. They have skills people want around here. Maybe I am looking in the wrong spot?

--

Interviewer Z> Your CV states you are committed pacifist; you also state you have trained Advanced Weapon Upgrades to level 5...

Q> I am an angry pacifist.

Z> What makes you think you are a good fit to our corporation?

Q> I think that people skills are a valuable contribution to any organisation. I mean, you can have all the technical stuff in place but your corp still needs the right approach to people to work and endure in time. The current skillpoint system does not really reflect that...

Z> Oh. Okay. Shall we... Is there anything you would like to know about us?


--

Or maybe I am the wrong candidate?

The worse that I have been called? I would say it was me being 'management material without management experience.' I think the proper answer to that one is feeling somewhere between flattered and insulted. Like I would be just right for the job if I did not know jack shit. Small detail.

I think I may be doing this the wrong way. I have been out of the picture for too long now, out of the loop. Maybe there is something I could do to make myself fit better, a skill or certification that looks good on my CV but is something real, substantive and useful. That way, I would not have to pretend being someone I am not. Rather, I would be interesting because of what I can actually do. Because of who I am. Which, incidentally, is the same woman I was before, only now with a nice certificate on the wall.

I think that's it: I am off to learn some skills.

I still hate job hunting, though.

--

What do people see when they look at capsuleers? Giants, gods, monsters, mythical creatures, insufferable snobs, unreachable heights?

Capsuleers are not gods, just people as well like everybody else. We bleed, we die, we look for acceptance, we look for a life to call our own. There are needs that must be filled, because we are human. And because we are human, it does not matter how many things one gets for granted.

There are still needs that must be filled.