I had been born human; however much I might deride and, yes, despise the pathetic little fleshbags I was all too frequently required to interface with, however wealthy and powerful I might have become since, I have never forgotten that my mother and father were human. Not that I’d ever met them in person, of course. When I was old enough, the School permitted me to access the relevant records. My mother had been a fourth-grade materials-handling technician in a chemical plant in Nourvukiken, my father a pipefitter at the same plant. And while their workplace exposure to toxic chemicals made any viable pregnancy a blessing; such blessings are all too frequently a double-edged sword. Yet the State is nothing if not efficient; and not one to waste any resource. There’s always a chance that, while the body may be twisted and the eyes dim; the mind behind them may hold vast potential. And so, when prenatal encephelography indicated some minimal threshold of aptitude, my mother received a contract from the State Naval Academy to carry to term.

I understand that the childhood I had at the Lab Schools complex in Kisagodo wouldn’t be described as normal by billions; yet it was what I had. Among my classmates, all ‘shell’ people (for the miniature hydrostatic life support capsules derived from Capsuleer technology) and the instructors. We had classes, played games like Stall and Powerseek. With the assistance of the Counselors we probed the boundaries of our aptitudes and abilities; seeking the limits of what our human minds, unbound by the trivial needs of flesh that had failed us before birth, could achieve. And while there was always call for minds with the ability to run entire manufacturing complexes with a thought, we all knew that the highest goal we could aspire to was to become one of the far-travelers, the starborn; a human mind with the body of a starship. A capsuleer.

Of course, there’s always strings attached. While the State may not officially endorse the outright ownership of another human being as is the practice of the Amarr Empire; the life support equipment that had sustained me through my childhood had been the property of Lab Schools, Inc; my education, the costs of the various surgeries, it all added up into a debt that would have been untenable for most normal humans. Thankfully, the School had a very special relationship with the Navy; and the military was more than willing to buy the debt of a capsuleer born and raised as a pod-pilot. The term was ‘indentured servitude’, de-facto slavery until I could repay the crippling deficit on my accounts.

And so I flew with the Caldari Navy, beginning with a tour as the pilot of a Kestrel-class escort frigate, guarding at first low-value cargoes through otherwise secure space. But pod pilots are too valuable to waste on trash hauling duty, and my first tour turned out to be training with the hullform before moving on to a Manticore covert strike frigate; a ‘stealth bomber’ in the vulgate. I loved it. I was fast as a thief, invisible to eyes that sought to guard against me. The spacelanes were mine to explore; within the constraints of the orders given to me. Perhaps I chaffed too openly at the nature of those orders; for I found myself being transferred to ‘command’ of my first Scorpion battleship after only a brief training tour on a Kitsune electronic attack frigate.

At first, I loathed the lumbering behemoth. To someone who’d reveled in the freedom of a frigate, a battleship was like having an anchor chained to my leg. To one who’d lived in perfect neural gestalt with their ship-body, having to wait for a crew, to have a human commander was nigh unbearable. In time, though; I began to learn, that while a covert ops ship might be invisible, an ecm platform made the searchers blind. To reduce a target vessel to complete helplessness became more than an ideal, it became an obsession.

When I’d first heard of the so-called Black Ops Battleships entering service with the various stellar empires, I almost scoffed. What, I thought, was the point of engineering a vessel for covert operations when it massed so much that a depleted-vacuum bubble powerful enough to permit it to warp would completely destabilize any cloak? Yet the idea festered, like a splinter in the mind. First though, there were accounts to settle. My debt to the Lab Schools, now owned by the Navy, and made all the larger for the various ship and ordinance fees; medical expenses for having my mothers’ lifetime of toxic exposure corrected in my own reference genome on file with cloning services. Concord pilot licensing. All while paying the upkeep and maintenance on my ship-body and the minuscule blob of meat in the middle that served as life support for my mind.

I had been born human, I will not contest that fact; but events, one might even say destiny, conspired to transform me something into something so much more. I am a creature of titanium skin and alloy bones. Eyes that can see from microwaves to gamma-rays guide fists of missile systems able to burn cities from the face of worlds. Nuclear fire burns in my heart, coolant flows through my veins. I am a creature of the stars; forced to wait on the inefficient organic ants from whence I sprang before I can emerge from the cocoon of this station, reborn once more into the body I’ve always been meant to inhabit.

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