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Saturday, April 5, 2014

SotSK Part 3

(Part 3 in the ongoing saga "Shadows of the Serpent Kingdom"...)

Reporter: “To all the viewers out there, thank you for tuning into Celestial Mornings with Marya. I’m your host Marya Haritomo. Joining us today is a special guest, Senator Kimura who represents the Sinq Laison region. Senator Kimura, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us today. We’re very eager to talk to you about an issue which is relevant in the lives of so many Gallenteans: illegal boosters and the effect they have on our culture. Recent legislation has aimed to crack down on users and punish them, with stiffer penalties for dealers than for their customers. But your new proposal is different. Could you tell us about what the goal of your proposal is and why this issue is important to you?”


Senator: “First of, Marya, I’d like to thank you for having me on your program, which reaches billions of our fellow Gallenteans, many of them have had their lives impacted negatively by illegal boosters. I was recently talking to a woman whose son was a straight-A student and great athlete who got a full ride into the University. But then one day at the University, at a celebration, he was introduced to drop. He became addicted and his life disintegrated. He skipped classes, his grades declined, and eventually he dropped out. That’s one life that may not be recoverable, and by itself it’s already a tragedy. But the actions of one individual ripple through society. His actions have taken a severe emotional toll on his family and extended family, and from an even higher view, the loss of that one life has robbed our society of its productive potential.”


Marya: “That’s a terrible story, which I’m sure is not singular in the collective experiences of our culture.”


Kimura: “You’re absolutely right. This is something we must act on to prevent. And that’s where my new proposals come in. As you said, previous legislation has aimed to crack down on the effects of the illegal booster trade, namely stiff penalties for dealers and users. While I am sympathetic towards these aims, they fail to attack the cause of all this, which is illegal booster production. We know it is at an all-time high and this is a big problem and we want to stop it. Without a supply of boosters, addicts will be forced to seek help and we can begin to heal as a culture, starting with those who have been victimized directly.”


Marya: “How do you plan on achieving this goal of eradicating the production of black-market boosters?”


Kimura: “As you know, the largest producer of illegal boosters by far is the Serpentis. I don’t need to go into their history here; I think it well enough known by most Gallenteans. The fact is that, even though they have been expelled from our space, they still manufacture inside our borders or just outside them and use black-market channels to move the drugs into our communities. My proposal is to work with CONCORD and the Gallente military to hunt down and destroy all of the illegal booster manufacturing facilities. We must be vigilant to stop them.”


Marya: “It’s a rather ambitious plan. Do you see any major road blocks that the legislation might meet in the senate?”


Kimura: “Unfortunately yes. Serpentis haven’t survived for this long by being careful. They’ve survived by bribing corrupt officials. They grease the wheels at all levels. There are members of the senate and the government who have been corrupted money or blackmailed and who will try to stop this legislation. To stop the drug flow, we must stop Serpentis, and we must end corruption.”


Marya: “Senator, if I may ask, do you know for a fact that there exist government officials who are corrupt.”


Kimura: “Yes, I do.”


------------------------


The hooded shaking man stumbled away from Baboon’s, through the dark corridors of Platform F. The pounding dance music was still in his head. The vial of mindflood was in his pocket. The shaking was getting worse.


Somewhere down one of these shadowy lanes was his retreat when things got bad.


He scolded himself. Not bad. Not bad. You’re not bad. Things have just been hard lately. So many pressures. Not bad.


The retreat was just a nice name for a hovel where no one would find him. He didn’t want people to see him like this. But I’m not embarrassed, he said to himself. I’m not embarrassed. This is just my thing. My private thing that no one else should be party to.


Dripping water pooled on the metal floor. The man wasn’t paying attention. He slipped and fell on the deck. There was a loud, echoing crash through the corridor, and the tripped-out vagrants looked over. When he hit, he thought he heard the vial of precious glass smash. Panic raced through him. All eyes were on him and his only salvation was smashed into a million pieces. But he couldn’t check the vial now. If he checked it now they would see him. They’d be after him.


He rushed up and doubled his pace through the maze of dimness. Left, right, right. Where am I, he wondered. I thought it was just up here somewhere.


Minutes later he found the room. He input his passcode and leaned against the door, waiting for it to open.


Sorry, wrong code.


He entered the code.


Sorry, wrong code.


“Goddamn, open up!” He started crying and begged the machine to let him in. He input the code again, and this time the door opened.


He fell into the room and collapsed on the ground, finally safe and alone.


The room was filthy. Nothing had ever been cleaned. Moldy boxes and food lay everywhere. It smelled like piss or worse.


He remained among the filth for a few moments while he struggled to compose himself.


Then he remembered: the vial. Was it smashed? He felt along his coat for the familiar shape. Up, up, up, there it was. It was ok. He took it out of his pocket and held it carefully, rolling it back forth through his fingers.


Focusing all of his concentration into the shaky steadiness of his hand, he opened the cap. Whisps floated out into the air.


The magic was beginning…


------------------------


When it was all over, he fell back onto the couch. The warm feeling filled his body. Gradually, the shakiness turned into calmness. The clarity was coming back now. Where was he again? Oh yes, here.


“You look like slagged Amarrian shit,” a voice said.


He startled and looked over towards the voice. “Oh, I didn’t see you there. When did you get back? I thought I wouldn’t be seeing you for awhile yet.”


A tall dark woman standing in the doorway smiled to him. She passed from the door to the couch and sat down next to him. She put her hand on his knee. His pulse quickened. He gave her a quick kiss and they shared a moment. He knew he loved her. She was his special thing.


Neyra. That was her name. Neyra.


“Did you get anything while you were out?” she said, still smiling.


“Oh yeah, got the real good shit this time. Decided to take the risk and go to Baboon’s. All those people are tripped out over there. Bad lighting. Loud music. You wouldn’t believe the line at Baboon’s. All those young punks there. I thought I might not get the best stuff. You know, that they’d beat me to it. But, would you believe it, he had the best stuff saved for me. Just for me! What a great guy, huh? That guy is always the best. What is his name again? Martonius? Martavius? Mart-something, I’m sure. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I didn’t even think I had enough for the best shit. You know, I thought I’d have to settle for that cheap stuff they give the chronic dopers. Not me though. Only the best. Let me tell you what else, babe. When this is all over it’s just gonna be you and me, right? We’re gonna tell all those shit-kickers to take a hike. Right?”


She smiled and nodded while he rambled on. After a few minutes he stopped.


“Do you mind if I turn on the TV?” she said.


“What? Oh no, not at all. Let’s see if there’s anything good on.”


She turned on the screen. She turned the channel to business news channel.


“To all the viewers out there, thank you for tuning into Celestial Mornings with Marya.”


The man, drugged out of his mind, sat there, mesmerized by the screen. What was this shit-kicker talking about? He started shouting:


“What is that guy’s problem? Who the hell does he think he is, telling me what I can and can’t do? I’m a free man. Has he ever tried drugs? Doesn’t he know what a positive experience it is?! I mean, look at me. I’m doing ok for myself. I swear, he better not cut off my supply of the good shit or I’m gonna be pissed. I might just have to fix him right up for that.”


The woman came over and held him for a moment.


“Listen, you can't be angry now. It’s almost time to go and you need to clean yourself up,” she said.


“Yeah, you’re right, we need to get moving. People are expecting us.”


He kicked boxes aside to get to the sink. He turned on the tap and splashed his face with water. The cool water was refreshing. When he looked up, he stared into the mirror.

Neyra was gone, and the face looking back at him was the face of Senator Kimura.