The mass of flesh being worked on by the technicians disgusted me.  A little over fifty kilos of meat, bone and blood; it turned my stomach to even think about it.  The skinbag let out a pathetic whimper as the meditechs dispassionately inserted the veinous shunts and neural probes; restraining its feeble squirming to shove various tubes into its different orifices.  With a mental sigh, I sent neural signals to the things’ muscles, forcing it to climb into the technological womb of the hydrostatic capsule with the assistance of the meditechs.  Viscous goo began to flood the interior as the hatch was sealed, plunging the creature into total sensory deprivation.  I relaxed slightly as the pods’ cyberneural interface came online, bringing the wetware processor encased in the quivering meat-puppet into contact with the systems of the pod.  I relaxed then, and took a moment to look around.  I hate breaking in a new clone; it’s so… messy.

It’s hard, sometimes, to remember exactly what it was like the first time I witnessed the insanity of the Jita starsystems’ Capsuleer economy.  Unrestrained capitalism enough to warm the heart of any true Caldari citizen as beings so far removed from humanity as to be almost incomprehensible traded sums of wealth measured best by comparison to entire planetary GDPs.  It’s said that anything in the galaxy a person could desire can be found in Jita, if you’re willing to pay the price.  Anything, perhaps, excepting a trustworthy friend.

A mental command sent one tiny camera drone buzzing through the interior of the vast hangarspace of the station set aside for Capsuleer use.  A State Navy assembly and fabrication plant in orbit of Quatro’s fourth moon, Jita 4-4 was the center of the Pod pilot universe.  The hangar space could have swallowed a decent-sized planetary metropolis, but I, and thus my drone, knew exactly which bay was my/our destination.

Romantics, and certainly the Amarr, will often wax poetic on the way that light gleams and dances along the hull of a ship.  Poetry had no place in the aesthetics of the ship I slowly circled.  Four hundred fifty two meters from the twin forward radio-spectrum sensor arrays to the arch of the rear dorsal magazine.  One hundred fifty thousand tonnes inert inertial mass.  The hull didn’t reflect the hangar bay lights in any poetic way, the matte-black titanium-diborite alloy hull seemed to suck in the light like a quantum singularity.  Black as space.  Black as death itself.  Okay, maybe a little poetry.

She had the same raked lines I’d come to love in the Scorpion battleships I’d commanded over the years, first in service to the Navy, eventually as a private Capsuleer; but inside she was almost a completely different beast.  Built to my own personal preferences, her crew space was limited in favor of the complicated interlaced systems of propulsion and spatial warping.  Standard in-system warp and newtonian drives, a Duvolle-designed miniature Jump Drive twinned with a Jump Portal Generator.  Her sensor suite was massively overhauled, with stereoscopic phased-array F-90 targeting systems backing up the standard Skyscan 64RadPS.  Ishukone manufactured the quad-spectrum ECM suite as well as the navy-grade cloaking device.  With two forward, two dorsal, and one ventral fire-linked Arbalest siege torpedo bays supplemented by an Ishukone DCU-75Mbit drone hangar and control system, she was a powerful short-ranged combatant.  All I needed was for the Concord inspection teams to finish certifying her for space.

Systems integration had been a major hurdle in getting my new ship ready; with the Navy, and later with the Caldari Militia, I’d flown what were essentially standard ships augmented with a pod control interface.  My new Widow would be entirely automated; reducing the need for onboard environmental systems and consumable storage.  A small section, perhaps enough for a dozen VIPs or so, would be kept; the rest of the hulls’ volume given over to combat needs.  It’s impossible to describe what it’s like to be in full neural gestalt with your ship and feel hundreds, even thousands of people moving around inside your body.  Crews make me itch.  I’d kept some passenger berthing; but someone chartering a black-ops battleship for a ride would be paying extremely well for the privilege.  As I’d found out after leaving naval service; there’s not much a private capsuleer won’t do for ISK.

I set my camera-drone self into steady orbit around the hull of my new body and contemplated the situation.  I had an incredibly dangerous commerce raider almost ready for commissioning, I had rack after rack of consumable equipment, most of it military-grade, ready to fill the cargo holds, fuel tanks, hangar and magazines as soon as the Concord teams cleared her.  I’d some experience as a combat pilot, a healthy balance with Pend Insurance and Banking… and a fat lot of nothing else.  No contracts, no contacts, no employment.  I had in my possession the power to rend the fabric of spacetime and raze cities in the blink of an eye, and I was unemployed.  So, like any demigod of the spacelanes, it was time to check the classifieds.

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