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Dec 21st, 2018
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  1. **EUDICO**
  2.  
  3. I founded Solaris United the day an old woman had her pet taken from her. The day my best friend atched her arms be given to someone else. The day my mother lost her head.
  4. I founded Solaris United the day I sold my heart.
  5. To buy a gun.
  6.  
  7. Biz just appeared one day, taught us how to fight economically, intelligently. Oh... Sparky, you should have seen us. Fireballing refineries by night, dutiful clean-up crew during the day. My job was to get people believing in us. Believing we could change things.
  8. That got more poeple killed than anything Zuud and her sisters could have hoped to make.
  9.  
  10. It was a small operation, one we almost didn't run. That's what keeps me up at night.
  11. Deck 12.
  12.  
  13. Everyone I knew, everyone who believed in us, everyone I convinced to sign on... died. Parents, lovers... families. Zuud's sisters. Leg's folks. All gone.
  14. Except for us, and a few others. Me, Biz, Zuud, Little Duck. I washed my hands of it. They were bloody enough.
  15.  
  16. Then, years later, Biz showed up again. And then you. And then, somehow, here we are.
  17. This isn't the first Solaris United. It's the second. And, one way or another, the last.
  18.  
  19. **LEGS**
  20.  
  21. So I ain't got no fam - biological or logical. Mumsie and Dadsie got burned up workin' for Solaris United the first time. Figured I'd be a ventkid, but then the Temple came lookin' to collect on what I took from 'em, an' left me barely a head. So really things could only get better from there.
  22.  
  23. Can't be a ventkid all MOA'd up. Don't fit, can't crawl, can't board. So I make my logical fam right here in me hop. Y'can see the resemblance. Runs in the family.
  24. Woulda been a ventkid, though. For sure.
  25.  
  26. Mister The Business has been really good to me since... since my accident. Always comin' over with somethin'. I tell him he doesn't have to, but he says to me "In revolution, it is the weakest who sacrifice the most. You've done your part, that I might do mine." And then he hands me a nutrient canister or a part I can use. It's nice and all, but why's he looks so sad about it?
  27.  
  28. Mister The Business got me thinkin': me and my MOAs, we're tight. I need it, they do it. If Nef does try musclin' the Solaris out with his MOAs again... I might just replace his with some of my own. Get inside his head, chek? I mean, I'd rather be gettin' my music to the people, but who says I can't also be a beautiful spider at the center of a big ol' web of subterfuge and intrigue?
  29.  
  30. I was hangin' in my rack the other cycle, 'bout to power down, an' I hear Boon and Roky and the venters bangin' skeg on the pipes and ducts. They had a good bounce goin' so's I start singin', as I do. Got a little loud, and the skeg stops. I get all quiet like. Really stepped in it, thinks me. Then the grill pops and Boon's got his head in my hab sayin' "Keep it going'!" Didn't sleep much that night. Neighbors neither.
  31.  
  32. **LITTLE DUCK**
  33.  
  34. Quills want me sellin' arms to the Tenno. Back in Fortuna. Not bloody likely. Quills. Shady, side-mouthed, doubletalking, ambidexter-feeling muckers. Never trust anyone who don't speak plain. Told 'em thanks but hop it.
  35. I'd a previous commitment: a contract to extract a Corpus defector name of Jubb Lott.
  36. Quill smiled that smile. The smile I hate the most. The smile of a body who thinks 'e's two steps ahead.
  37. The more I think about it, the more I know he was.
  38. Pratoo. That was his name. Quill Pratoo Secondary sahd.
  39.  
  40. JUBB LOTT: Today?! I didn't know you were coming today!
  41. LITTLE DUCK: That's how hostile extractions typically work, Jubb! (blam) Unless! (blam) you'd like! (blam) to pencil me in! (blam) for a two-thirty next week! (blam) Maybe copy in your supervisor and half the security team?
  42. JUBB LOTT: AAGH!
  43. LITTLE DUCK: What is their problem?!
  44. JUBB LOTT: I MEAN ALL MY FILES ARE STILL IN MY OFFICE! YOU KNOW: THE WHOLE REASON YOU'RE DOING THIS?
  45. LITTLE DUCK: What files? I wasn't told about any files!
  46. JUBB LOTT: That's because I didn't tell them!
  47. LITTLE DUCK: Tell who? Tell who, Jubb!
  48. JUBB LOTT: The Quills, alright? The Quills!
  49. And that's when it all make a cruddy kind of mucking sense. I'd been set up.
  50.  
  51. It was hairy but I managed to get us behind a sealed bulkhead, and into Lott's office.
  52. LITTLE DUCK: They don't fight like this for mid-level pencilnecks! Who are you?
  53. JUBB LOTT: Jubb. Lott. Secondary Sub-Architect of Nef Anyo's Venusian Restoration. I... have information.
  54. And then he said it.
  55. JUBB LOTT: For Solaris United.
  56. And then he got killed.
  57. JUBB LOTT: Unf!
  58.  
  59. So. Solaris United was on its feet again. I've got friends in Fortuna. The first time SU tried to knock the crown off Nef's head it almost got every last one of them killed. Some of them, it did. (pause) Biz once told me how he survives atrocity. "If there's a fire on Deck 12, you seal off Deck 12. You don't go in. That's how you burn up. You wait 'til the fire's starved of oxygen. That's when you go in, assess the damage and clean up." I can't seal off Deck 12. Deck 12 is where I live.
  60. LITTLE DUCK: What information? Tell me! Now! (blam blam)
  61. JUBB LOTT: Nef. Vallis. Orb Mothers... It's been developed...
  62. LITTLE DUCK: What? What's been developed?!
  63. JUBB LOTT: Shielding... Satellites... The Orb Mothers... cannot be...
  64. LITTLE DUCK: Jubb? What? The Orb Mothers cannot be what? Jubb!
  65.  
  66. Biz saved me from a life of swabbing latrines on Phobos. He made me what I am. But only because I left before I became what he was.
  67. Now... now I had to go back. Everything Jubb knew... Biz had to know. Yoodi had to know. They, and everyone in Fortuna, could be proper beached if I didn't. Pencilnecks like Jubb don't rick their hide unless they mean it. Whatever Nef was doin' with those Orb Mothers would be a hammer on the head of SU. Had to go back. If I didn't, if somethin' happened to Fortuna, I'd never sleep proper again.
  68. So. No more treasure hunting for LD. No more rescues. Back to where it all happened, and the hope that this time it wasn't burning, and me along with it.
  69.  
  70. **RUDE ZUUD**
  71.  
  72. Chatter wakes me, tells me a woman is at my lock, asking for water. Her carapace is scorched. Her raiments, burnt. I fetch water. When I return there are five more women. All singed. They say they are from... Deck 12.
  73.  
  74. There is no Deck 12. I am certain I have seen those faces before. I fetch more water. I return, they are gone. I return to my rack, feeling... I return to my rack angry at the inconvenience is what I do!
  75.  
  76. The gentleman Business visited with me. Inconvenient. Why? Why so much talk when there is so much to do? The gentleman Business communicated the belief that... such nonsense... that I must 'make peace with what happened on Deck 12.'
  77.  
  78. Deck 12. Deck 12. What is this Deck 12. Chatter had stopped speaking entirely, then. "It's all right that you weren't there, Zuud. That's what your visitors wanted you to know. That fire was not for y..." Ach! Enough! Nonsense and stupidity and a waste of my time!
  79.  
  80. So many visitors, every one of them hoping to take something away. Dealing with them is like an uncomfortable dream, while speaking with Chatter is like being shaken awake. Are they real? How real are you, when you're sleeping? How real are you, floating, dreaming you are somewhere else? That's what Chatter wants to know.
  81. How did the women at my lock know my name?
  82.  
  83. **SMOKEFINGER**
  84.  
  85. I... have no truck with the Corpus. The greatest damage done by avarice for the sake of avarice is precisely that it, without remorse or relent, demonstraates the easy sale of men and women who lend their bodies, their intellects, their voice... to ends in which they themselves do not believe. The Temple of Profit is an ideology that teaches one thing only: that all creations of the mind; words, images and ideas, are meaningless.
  86.  
  87. And that is how you keep people beaten. By starving them not only of models of something better, but draining them of wholesome inspiration, denying them examples of a higher way of being and sapping them of any belief that they can achieve it.
  88. To be blunt: to Hell with the Corpus.
  89. Although... although there was one Corpus, a singular man, for whom I make a singular exception. His name was Sigor Savah.
  90.  
  91. I was a younger man then, an assistant to the efforts of Morphology Specialist Sigor Savah, though I don't think he ever knew my name.
  92.  
  93. The kavat, Specimen VK-7, had been tracked to her lair and was to be destroyed. Sigor prevented that at the cost of his liberty, and was soon to lose his life. Coward that I was I told myself there was nothing I could do.
  94. hen she was there. VK-7. In front of my hab, waiting, looking at me with more intelligence than any kavat should have. And she dropped keys at my feet. The keys to the security center.
  95. It was I who opened the door to Sigor's cell. Who watched as VK-7 dispatched Sigor's would-be executioner, a Corpus I had often worked with in Reclamation 3. It was I who ensured one cargo pod in particular was replotted, to intercept an outbound Solaris rail tractor. It was I who sealed multiple bulkheads, to stem the flow of troopers meaning to end them both.
  96.  
  97. Why did I do it? Hmm. (thinks, changes the subject for a moment)
  98. I remember Sigor best this way: he puts own an instrument, respects me enough to look me in the eye, and he tells me: (pause - much slower, savoured delivery) "Every living being longs to be whole. Every living thing yearns to defy death. If from death you returned, yet the part you loved best did not... what then?" That was the last thing he ever said to me.
  99. That is why I helped him. In saving that animal Sigor Savah had saved himself. How many of us can say that? I was not about to stand by and let the Corpus steal from him the one thing that was truly his.
  100. To a flaming Hell with the bloody Corpus.
  101. Cetus, is where Sigor went. The Plains. His story is out there, if you want to hear it. To this day I hope he is, too.
  102.  
  103. **THE BUSINESS**
  104.  
  105. In this life a person has to find that which is more important than themselves. The Orb Vallis died a long time ago. It should not exist. But here it is. It has a second chance.
  106.  
  107. A sculptor sees the shape within the rock. Their skill lies in removing anything that is not that shape, delivering something beautiful and lasting into this world.
  108.  
  109. I was a sculptor, of sorts. Modest. My task was the considered removal of those who obscured the shape of what we wanted to be. With their deletion a just society came into clearer focus.
  110.  
  111. Small actions lead to powerful outcomes. One example: a young man is repoed, and Eudico resurrects the resistance.
  112. Wise conservation is all about understanding... patterns. Cause and effect. When orchestrating change in an ecosystem, ask: how will the system reconfigure in response to this new species. New forests? Redirected rivers? Diverse and beneficial new breeds? It is all connected.
  113.  
  114. It was Legs' punishment that inspired Eudico to resurrect Solaris United. Lean and wise, it is time for that hungry, furious wolf to enter the woods. For the Corpus to recieve a selective and beneficial extinction.
  115. A small price to pay. A young man's body. An old man's soul.
  116.  
  117. **TICKER**
  118.  
  119. Used to be every time an old love ended and a new one began, friends would say "You seem so much happier now." And I'd smile and I'd agree and then I'd go back to my hab... And say your name. Just to feek it on my lips again. Like summoning a ghost.
  120.  
  121. We met in unspoken agreement. You called me by the name of the one who had hurt you. My name for you was the name of the one who had wounded me. We played the part for each other. When I spoke, I spoke for them. Through you I told the one who had wounded me all the little things I never had the chance to. Cooked them all the meals I never got to share. Made all the jokes. Laughed all the laughs. With them, through you. And you, with yours, through me.
  122. Then one day you called me by my own name and we never looked back.
  123.  
  124. There's a dream I have every now and then. You are you, in your own first body. And I am there in mine. I stand on the shore. You stand in the sea. I watch as the waves roll in, but never break against your back. They whisper right through you, and you fade away from me. Again.
  125. I still have your glove. Just the one. The only thing I have left of you. In quiet moments I lay it on my lap, lace my fingers through yours, and make promises.
  126. I promised that what happened to you would never happen to another. Your first body quartered and sold. Your beautiful mind, taken from me, locked far away, and ransomed.
  127. Promises. I couldn't keep.
  128.  
  129. I sold my arms to buy you an arm. I sold my legs to buy you a leg. I sold my lungs, my bones, my heart... to buy a safe place to cradle your beautiful head. I bought you back from them. I brought you back to me. You in the body I had bought for you, me in the body I had earned to replace the one I sold.
  130. But you weren't you. Not anymore.
  131.  
  132. Sat so long on the Taxman's shelf, you barely knew who you were. And you certainly didn't know me.
  133. The goodbyes I said decades earlier... they stuck.
  134. These days you work the canal with few memories of who you were. And I'm in the business of keeping promises.
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