CMDR KazukoHimura profile > Logbook
Honestly? I need to write these more. I keep getting busier and busier these days, what with getting my ships engineered-13 as of this log, working with tech brokers for additional modifications, gaining the Empire’s favor, and working on doing the same for the Federation, despite not being too pleased with what they are doing. Better to have them as possible friends than enemies, though.
Speaking of the Federation, I fought both for and against them in the recent conflict regarding Yuri Grom. Again, better to make friends than enemies. I consider myself more of a mercenary and a contractor towards most-I keep a few imperial factions close, and I only have one sole enemy-the Raiders of StKM 1-442, whom I’ve been trying other tactics to demoralize and intimidate. Whoever made blood stains easy to get out of passenger cabin carpets, thank you.
My activities with the Raiders (common term used among my acquaintances due to the whole faction name being a mouthful-though me calling them “Fucking Raiders” tends to get the point across rather easily) has not gone unnoticed. At the end of last month, I had received an unexpected visitor-a Chapterhouse inquisitor whom apparently the Raiders mistook for me (and that was the last mistake those particular members made). He had come to warn me that they were after me. I was not surprised, but the shock that they’d go that far affected me greatly. Said inquisitor managed to accurately unearth the two secrets-my past of being a slave and my Buzhang Flatworm infection shortly after as well! I’m grateful I was able to keep myself together and not break down completely like I did when I found out who was behind my enslavement.
And finally? I’m back in the bubble for the foreseeable future. There is a future expedition coming up at the beginning of next year, but it doesn’t stray too far from home. As fun as it is going out ‘into the black’, I don’t want to leave home for that long again so soon. And by home I just mean civilized space-I’m not the type to spend days cooped up in my apartment! And honestly, even though my apartment is technically in the lap of luxury, I prefer sleeping in my stateroom in Amaris, my Krait Phantom. Or any of my ships-though the staterooms in Amaris and Roca are just right.
Everything has been insane these past couple of weeks.
First off, Neomedical Industries announced that they’re going to be distributing a strain of Onionhead, due to its medical properties. Around the same time, Kezika made a statement, on behalf of CEA Psychiatric, expressing interest in utilizing it. Given that I owe a lot of my current lifestyle to CEA, either due to my prior stay in what eventually became one of their facilities, or due to them paying well for various needed tasks that a CMDR can do, I immediately opted to follow her back to the bubble.
To be honest, my personal thanks is less of the reason why I’m going back, and more that I’ve just been following Kezika. My end goal in life was always to become a space pilot, but now that I’m here, what do I do? I’d just been blindly following her. Trade, Combat, Exploration, I’ve done it all as she showed me the ropes. I’ve enjoyed all three equally, at that.
The two of us opted to rest in her mansion, as it had been a while since we slept in anything other than a ship bunk or a station bed. While there, those dark thoughts about who enslaved me returned, greater than ever, and came to a peak when I retrieved my medical records to give to Kodiak later, as they are necessary to assist in closure for what happened two and a half years ago.
With the question of who did this to me at the front of my mind, I asked Kezika about it. She made a call to the doctor that treated me all those years ago, and had an answer-The Raiders of StKM 1-442. The eponymous system was only 11 light years away.
After a complete emotional breakdown, Kezika let me move into one of the staff apartments in her mansion, to give me some extra peace of mind. Once that was complete, I went straight to Shinrarta Dezhra, building one of the ships I had planned before, to act as an impromptu combat ship while Phoenix, my combat Fer-De-Lance, is transferred back here.
By the time I was able to think a bit more clearly, and less of vengeance, the initial request for delivering supplies to Neomedical Industries had been completed. Whoops, I let my heart overtake my mind again. But I could still assist them, as due to their actions, they’ve encroached on the Kumo Crew’s territory of distributing Onionhead, and now there was all out war. So I fought for them.
I still didn’t neglect clearing out Raiders, and it’s paid off a little-I got myself an ally, one Michael Ridge. I’m not completely sure what he has against them, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And given that I’m not willing to tell someone I just met why I can’t stand this bunch of anarchists, that’s fine. My hand was already forced in telling him about that accursed little flatworm.
Thargoids ended up attacking a system called Cornsar right when the war ended in victory for Neomedical’s ally group. That night, I joined Kezika and another CMDR to assist in the fight-as she felt it was the right time for me to learn how to take on Thargoids in a ship of my own, instead of as someone else’s fighter pilot, like I was doing before. Which was fine-I did tell Kodiak I’d be out there, after all.
I was introduced to the concept of renting a ship at the time, as well, since my soon to be Thargoid hunting ship was still out in the black aboard Kezika’s carrier. Our small team of 3 ended up killing four of them. Ended up having to rent a trade ship after hearing that the mysterious individual or group called Salvation made a request to deliver ‘medicine’ to one of the rescue ships in Cornsar. By medicine, they really mean disguised weapon components. I made sure to deliver actual medicine as well, of course-turns out delivering both really makes a pretty penny. I did this for a few hours before bidding Michael, my new ‘partner in crime’, farewell, as I headed off into the black again.
As I’m writing this, I’m resting aboard Kezika’s carrier at the current basecamp. The expedition is almost at a close, and after that short taste of a visit, I’m ready to be back in the bubble again.
When she heard rumors of a new weapon that could be used against the Thargoids, Kazuko immediately got to work on confirming them. Sure enough, there was indeed a megaship parked out in a system neighboring Cornsar, selling tons of basic medicines for rather cheap. To her, it was a win-win-win scenario. If there are weapon parts in the crates, then those would be given to Salvation, whoever that is. Any actual basic medicines can be used to help the survivors of the attacks aboard the rescue ship she’s delivering to. And finally, Kazuko makes a massive profit as a result, which was a tossup whether it went to ship related matters or food. Since she had plans, and was sure she wasn’t going to take long, Kazuko requested that her ship staff remain at Sitterly Orbital until her return. Now alone, she flew her Krait Phantom, Amaris, out to the system in question. It was only a few runs before some other tasks she needed to complete would be finished, hence why she took her exploration ship despite its relatively small cargo hold size.
Upon seeing how many credits delivering just 32 tons of ‘medicine’ made her, Kazuko’s eyes widened a bit, and she immediately began to undertake more transport runs.
It was on one of those runs that everything turned sour.
The blaring of her ship’s COVAS that she was being interdicted was the first thing. The second was feeling the sudden ‘tether’ attaching to her ship. Tightly gripping her control stick, Kazuko began to fly in twists and turns, attempting to escape, but to no avail. A loud bang erupted as she dropped out of supercruise, and she immediately began looking around to see exactly who was behind this interdiction. Was it a random pirate after her cargo? Did a scout from the Raiders of StKM 1-442 tail her here and see an opportunity? Was she selected for an inspection from system security? Or was it something more sinister? Turned out to be close to the last answer-it was one of those pro-Thargoid nutjobs, armed with packhound missiles.
Before Kazuko could even get away, several missiles fired, immediately heading straight for her. She immediately pushed the throttle to max, and tightly gripped her ship’s control stick to attempt to maneuver away from them-only for it to be all for naught. Those missiles were seekers! The first wave completely took Kazuko’s shields out, only for another wave to follow suit. The first shot from the second wave hit, completely obliterating her unable-to-keep-up point defense turret, and sending an impact that knocked her ship partly off-kilter. Another hit Kazuko’s frame shift drive, causing it to malfunction. Several more blew holes in her hull, thankfully none compromising the cockpit. Emergency warnings were going off around Kazuko, slowly becoming more muffled as her seat became encased in a hard shell, everything fading to black.
Kezika had her ship computer set in wing mode with Kazuko’s ship as she was also running the shipments between Salvation’s megaships and Cornsar. Both of them tended to run at the opposite pace from the other, one would be in Cornsar, while the other was at the megaship in the neighboring star system-as is the case currently.
“Wing member under attack!” Kezika’s COVAS alarm blared, catching her attention immediately.
“Aw, crap,” Kezika thought as she went to open the mic to ask what was happening.
“Wing member destroyed!” the COVAS blasted just as Kezika was about to open comms. Waves of worry washed over her after hearing that so suddenly, and before she could even contact Kazuko. Having been the first person that Kezika was really comfortable lowering her guard around, she had grown to care greatly for the thin woman. Her first thought was that a Thargoid had hyperdicted her exploration vessel and fired upon Kazuko afterwards. Pushing that thought aside, Kezika pressed a button on her ship’s control panel, activating the comms.
“Medical bay, prepare for emergency,” Kezika shouted over the comms as she made an abrupt turn, pointing her ship in the direction it came from. She then targeted the system that Kazuko was last reported in-specifically Cornsar, and initiated the procedure for hyperspace jump.
Upon the Cutter’s arrival in Cornsar, an acutely worried Kezika began to track down the SOS signal from Kazuko. Upon spotting it, she slammed the throttle to max and hastily maneuvered towards its location as noted on her HUD. The flight towards it felt like hours as multiple potential outcomes swarmed her mind, many of them not good. The Cutter dropping out of supercruise and the resulting bang that came with it jolted Kezika out of her thoughts.
The sight before Kezika was horrific. Bits and pieces of a now-destroyed Krait Phantom floated in the black, interspersed with dented storage containers, likely full of either the ‘basic medicines’ the two of them had set out to deliver, or the vast quantities of food stores Kazuko kept aboard her ship. What remained of Amaris was a large metal lump so filled with holes that it hardly even looked like a ship anymore-the damages in question looked to be from packhound missiles. The fact that someone deliberately did this to her closest friend made Kezika feel physically sick.
Fighting those feelings back, Kezika immediately checked the rest of her surroundings-and hit the jackpot. Slightly above the hole-filled shell of a Krait Phantom was a single escape pod. Even better, it was occupied and in good condition. Kezika carefully maneuvered around the wreckage to find a straight shot to the escape pod-the only one she could find was an incredibly narrow fit. Gingerly adjusting her controls, Kezika slid the massive ship in between what looked like two massive hull pieces, deftly scooping up the escape pod. With Kazuko’s pod secure, Kezika paged her ship’s butler, Xavier Hampton, to the bridge.
“Take the controls, I have to attend to this. Scoop any of the remaining intact cargo, too.” Kezika commanded.
With Xavier now at the ship’s helm, Kezika bolted towards the ship’s cargo bay, throwing the doors open once she reached it.
Ship Doctor Niamh Masamba was ready in the cargo bay to receive Kazuko’s escape pod and was already working through the opening sequence.
“What’s the situation‽” Kezika urgently requested, her voice laced with worry.
“System statuses showing normal at the moment, we shall verify vitals as soon as she’s out of the pod,” Niamh assured.
Kezika immediately jumped in to assist Niamh with the pod’s opening procedure, allowing said procedure to be completed in a timely manner. Both doctor and executive lifted a still-in-cryosleep-Kazuko onto the awaiting stretcher, despite Kazuko’s light weight making assistance barely necessary. The two began to pull the stretcher through the zero-gravity halls of the Cutter, heading towards the medical bay. It was then when Kazuko began to stir.
The first thing Kazuko was aware of was the feel of the stretcher. The second thing she was aware of was the fluid in her lungs. Clapping a hand over her mouth, she began to violently cough in an attempt to expel the offending substance. Once she felt like she could breathe again, Kazuko wearily glanced around, her eyes briefly setting upon Kezika’s face-or what she thought was it. Everything blurred in front of her eyes, sounds not able to be easily connected to their proper sources, both forms of stimuli and even several others not able to be comprehended. The halls of the Cutter rushing by began to fade away, once more replaced by the blackness of unconsciousness.
“Kaz! Kaz!” Kezika shouted in the brief moment Kazuko was stirring.
“Oh no! She’s back out!” Kezika shouted to Niamh.
“Fairly standard just out of the pod,” replied Niamh matter-of-factly.
Niamh and Kezika pulled the stretcher around the corner, and into the official medical bay. The doctor then pulled over a diagnostic device, plugging it into a small interface on the back of Kazuko’s flight suit. An array of options showed up on the device’s screen, Niamh swiftly pressed through a menu before hitting a button labeled “vitals readings”. Whirring sounds could be heard in parts of Kazuko’s flight suit as a result.
Readings soon began flooding the screen, most of the highlighted green, considered normal acceptable values by the software. When the readings were complete, one value was yellow-considered a caution zone by the software. That specific value was for blood sugar.
“Little low on blood sugar, but otherwise fine.” Niamh explained upon looking at the reading. The doctor continued to speak while floating over to the cabinet. “You can calm down now, Kez, just make sure Kazuko tunes the nutrient intake settings on her next ship’s escape pods.”
“Thanks, I was worried for a bit there, will she be conscious soon?” Kezika asked, breathing a sigh of relief as she floated over to a nearby seat, strapping herself in.
“Indeed, just passed out from exhaustion, the ejection process, as I’m sure you’re aware, isn’t the most gentle thing in the world,” Niamh replied while preparing an IV bag for Kazuko.
“Point, point,” Kezika commented as Niamh brought over the IV, inserting it into Kazuko properly.
“Little low on blood sugar from the hypoglycemic effects of the parasite, should be in order with this soon.” Niamh explained. “I’ll be in my quarters across the hall if anything else is needed,”
Kezika nodded and waited patiently with Kazuko in the medical bay.
Kazuko eventually stirred, her eyes shooting open almost immediately. Frantically she glanced around, not sure where she is now, given being disoriented prior. Slowly, Kazuko pulled herself to a sitting position once she had at least a grasp of where she was at.
“Okay, this is the medical bay of a ship,” She thought. “Who brought me here?” She soon glanced over, noticing Kezika, prompting a small smile on her face.
“Got in a pickle with one of those crazies I presume?” Kez inquired.
“The pro-Thargoid people? Yep. Fucker had packhounds and everything.” Kazuko explained. “What the hell even happened? Last I remember was several hull breeches.”
“Critical damage, headed to scoop your escape pod as soon as the message popped up,” Kez informed her.
“Critical damage…? Shit, the food stores-!”
“Xavier’s flying the ship, scouring the wreckage for any salvageable items, anything else we can get replaced,” Kez replied.
“And for my… actual ship? We have to get to the base camp in a few days, after all.” Kazuko added.
“Pilot’s Federation shipyards are already working on a reconstruction with the insurance, that shouldn’t be an issue,” Kez reassured, “Might take a day or two for such a standard build exploration Phantom, very modular.”
“Whew, I’m sure I can make it back in time, then…” Kazuko trailed off. “I hate to ask, but do you have anything to eat?”
“Indeed, shall I pull you along to the mess?” Kez inquired.
“Oh, please do!” Kazuko exclaimed. “I only just realized how hungry I am.”
Kezika pulled herself around to the back of Kazuko’s stretcher, pushing it along the zero-gravity hallways towards the crew mess hall. Upon arrival, she parked the medical bed near a table, pressing a button so it would reconfigure into a seated position.
“Anything in particular?” Kez inquired.
“I’m not restricted to synthetic chicken broth, right?” Kazuko asked.
“Not at all, might want a little more sugar than normal though, you were a bit low on sugar,” Kez explained.
“It’s more complicated than that…” she trailed off, sighing in relief a bit at her first statement. “3 synth meat burgers then. And a slice of brownie cake.”
“Sounds good, oh by the way before I forget, Doctor Niamh said to make sure you adjust your escape pods’ nutrient supply settings for next time,” Kez suggested.
“Noted,” Kazuko chirped in response. “I’ll get to that when I get my ship back-AND on all my other ships when I get to them!”
A single question had been weighing on Kazuko’s mind for a while-who was behind her enslavement? That question was mostly pushed aside, as she often had more pressing matters to deal with, such as the expedition she was on, or a goal that Kezika was supporting, since Kazuko semi-blindly followed her in a way. Such a goal was what brought both of them back to Keltim prematurely, at least for a short period of time. But before they were to deliver much-needed supplies to Neomedical Industries, the two were taking a much-needed break in one of Kezika’s mansions on Keltim A5, specifically the one in Fire Opal. The two of them were walking through one of the hallways when Kazuko broke the silence between the two.
“I’ve been thinking for a while-for a long while, to tell you the truth.” Kazuko confessed. “Who did this to me? Who enslaved me? Who put this...this parasite in me?” The thought of not knowing practically suffocated her. She was highly certain that it was some group from somewhere halfway across the bubble that she had little chance of encountering again while ‘off-duty’, per se.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you off the top of my head, especially since I need more information to go on.” Kezika explained, a little stunned by the question. “I do know where we can start, though. While I can certainly access them myself, I would like to know if you have your medical records on you.”
“I had to get them for something unrelated earlier.” Kazuko explained, handing over a media card for their slates. Kezika then inserted the card into her slate, reading over the data it showed.
“Buzhang Flatworm, huh?” Kezika remarked. “That could be any number of-Oh! The doctor that made the diagnosis is still employed at one of my facilities. I can ask him. Hold on a moment.” Kezika then ducked into a nearby room and closed the door.
A few moments passed, with Kazuko waiting patiently outside the room, before Kezika emerged, handing the card back to Kazuko, whom pocketed it.
“I just finished calling your doctor from all those years ago. As I suspected, there are several different groups of slavers who use that particular parasite. Despite that, we were able to narrow it down further, based off of where your escape pod was found. This parasite, the location you were found in, and the ship wreckage nearby all point to the Raiders of StKM 1-442.” Kezika’s words piqued Kazuko’s curiosity.
“Wait, how far away is that system again?” she asked.
“About eleven light years from Keltim.” Those words, on the other hand, deeply unsettled Kazuko. Eleven light years!? That’s right next door, not halfway across the bubble! Fear of being found and captured by them welled up in her, but she couldn’t show it.
“E-excuse me.” Kazuko stammered, before darting into a small door nearby. Once inside, she noticed it was another hallway, which she sprinted down for about a few seconds before drawing her arm back and punching the wall in anger. Shaking out the hand that took the impact, she half-slumped against the wall, closing her eyes while silently crying, trying to keep herself together.
A few moments later, she could see the shadow of the door behind her open, and a figure peek in.
“Kazuko?” Kezika’s voice rang out, a tad concerned. “Are you looking for a specific room? This is a staff hallway.” Upon hearing Kezika’s voice, the last of Kazuko’s metaphorical walls completely crumbled to dust as she sank to her knees, trembling and choking back sobs. Everything she’d worked for over the years almost melted away, and she was back to the scared girl found in the escape pod, all due to the fact her slavers were based out of a system that most ships could get to from Keltim with one jump! That was all she could think about, was them finding her and capturing her again. Even with everyone she knows-and everything she has-at her disposal, none of it could shake that intrusive thought from her mind, that same thought which drug old, long-buried memories to the surface. Memories of long hours in harsh working conditions, of endless hunger, of tasteless powdery supplements made of sawdust, and of being forced to swallow that accursed flatworm. Each and every one hit her like shots from a plasma shotgun as she took gasping, shaky breaths.
The feeling of one of her hands being gently gripped dragged Kazuko straight back to reality, and through tear-filled eyes, she could see Kezika sitting next to her, holding her hand.
“Kaz, would you like to talk? Or do you need a moment?” Kezika asked. Kazuko initially did not respond, but spoke up after a few moments.
“...The first thing I remember was swallowing that parasite…” she whimpered, her voice small compared to before. She initially paused to let Kezika speak, but given that Kezika was just listening for the time being, Kazuko continued to speak.
“I never knew what it was like to not be hungry because of that-we only got enough rations to keep us working-and we were almost always working. I...I’m shocked I even lived long enough to escape…” Kazuko dissolved into sobs once more, just barely managing to speak through them. “Some days I couldn’t..couldn’t even...even muster enough strength to work...and lost consciousness...only to wake up to agonizing pain…” By that point, Kazuko was nigh-inconsolable, crying hard enough that she couldn’t even speak.
“Kaz? Kaz, it’s okay. It’s alright, you’re here in my mansion on Keltim A5. You’re safe now, you’re safe here.” Kezika reassured Kazuko, squeezing her hand a bit. For the first time since this all began, Kazuko finally looked over at Kezika, tears streaming down her face. She was still trembling quite a bit, but that gradually slowed.
“But will I be safe back home…?” she meekly asked. “There’s so many other patients, and one of them could pose as a visitor and and and…”
“The staff wouldn’t let anything happen to you, all CEA facilities are secure. The staff wouldn’t let anyone come in that would hurt you. But if it gives you extra peace of mind, I have living quarters available here at this mansion-I will let my security staff know, and they can keep a lookout for anyone suspicious. In addition, this particular mansion isn’t in a generally well known area outside of the Wylair Verdure Center, granting extra security through obscurity.” Kezika continued reassuring Kazuko, whose sobs soon quieted.
“I have other residences that you could select from as well, if desired, not just limited to Keltim.” Kezika offered. Kazuko then took a deep breath before speaking once more.
“...I weep for the lost, scared, and sick child I was when I exited that escape pod all those years ago.” Kazuko stated, shifting to a more comfortable seated position. “As a CMDR now, I feel the time for tears is over. I accept your offer to move into this mansion here. And after I’m settled in, I have some slavers to destroy.” Before anything more could be said, Kazuko darted out of the hallway, heading to catch transportation to her soon to be former apartment.
Kazuko soon arrived at Kezika’s mansion once more, this time with a single crate of cargo, containing all of her belongings. One of the house stewards took care of that as Amaleigh greeted Kazuko.
“Welcome. Come, follow me, Kezika is waiting for you.” Amaleigh led Kazuko inside the mansion and through the familiar halls once more, towards the drawing room Kezika was waiting in. A new-wave style song could be heard over speakers built into the ceiling, piquing Kazuko’s curiosity a bit.
“In a room in a house in a dream No one's too sure whose dream it is we're living in If it's real, that's a brand new deal Ricochet days welcome to reality”
“This song….” Kazuko trailed off. “It almost perfectly fits me, it knows how I’m feeling. What is it?”
“Not too sure.” Amaleigh replied. “Something Kezika put on a bit ago while waiting. She said something about, uh… modern, I think. Doesn’t seem very modern, though...” Upon hearing that answer, Kazuko simply opted to ask Kezika later. For the time being, they’ve reached the drawing room in question.
Kezika then led Kazuko down another hall, specifically to the ‘apartments’ within the mansion that were vacant. Everything was pretty similar size and amenity-wise, but the real difference was in the window view and the decor-but for Kazuko, the former was the most important. Not just for peace of mind, but out of personal preference as well. She finally decided when one of the window views was that of the sky over a grassy field.
“I believe I’ve found the one I want.” Kazuko confidently stated with a slight smile.
“I’ll have the steward bring your belongings up to this unit. While we wait, care to join me for some tea?” Kezika asked, to which Kazuko nodded in agreement.
As I’m writing this, I’m staring out the window of Explorer’s Anchorage in a system adjacent to Sag A*, admiring the gold bands of the galaxy as a backdrop to the stars. And I can’t help but think about how far I’ve come, in a way.
But enough about that.
I actually ended up making a detour to Colonia. You see, Nu Simbad needed their home system retaken, so Kezika and I headed out there. But it wasn’t just war that I encountered out there.
I ended up reuniting with Captain Kodiak. No need to go into details over how that went, but a massive weight has been taken off my shoulders as a result.
In addition, I began work on two different ships. A small planetary base landing ship, that has the ability to pick off scavengers from the air, and my future Thargoid hunting ship. The latter one already feels familiar, as the Krait Mk II and Krait Phantom-which is what my exploration ship is-are quite similar. I may miss the nimbleness of a fighter, but I’d rather not risk getting blown up while physically out there, after all!
Or at least, decrease the risk as far down as possible.
I’m not completely done with either of them yet, as both ships need more work done back in the main ‘bubble’. Only four more weeks until we reach our destination-or at least that’s the planned date, since I’ve been quite fast, after all.
And to be honest, I can’t wait. I kind of miss home.
Kazuko had made her way out to the Colonia ‘bubble’ the prior day after hearing that a faction Kezika supported was at war there. The trip didn’t take long, thanks to having gotten practice using ‘neutron chains’ to fly long distances in short lengths of time on a prior leg of the expedition she was on. Thankfully she wasn’t missing any part of that, since she had been the first one to the base camp again before getting the news.
Given that the flight was long, Kazuko took a bit of downtime the day of her arrival, opting to get a head start on building a couple of ships she had been planning-or was given plans for-and she had put the finishing touches on them at Jaques’ Station an hour or so ago. Now, she was waiting for Kezika to join her in the concourse at Neon Sanctuary in Poe, so the two of them could head to Far Tauri for deployment together.
Jay Garret. Chief of Security - INV Midnight Sun Neon Sanctuary, Poe System
I spent the better part of the last hour staring out the huge window overlooking the horizon. Drinking down some reservations about the Captain’s latest mission. To think he dragged me 22,000ly, all the way out here to the middle of nowhere. I say dragged me…. As if I would leave him unsupervised. He is a brilliant leader, tactician and loyal to a fault. But the emperor knows he is bullheaded and never shies away from a challenge. Even when there is no hope of winning. That's the real reason I stayed on as his Chief of Security.
22.000ly… all in on a lead that may or may not turn out to be a wild goose chase. At Least I have a new crop of men to train up, after the mauling we took down in the Pleiades. I hadn’t seen combat like that since…. The footage of the Battle of Achenar. But that was different. That was us against us, at least we knew how evil our enemies were. Thargoids are different.
I looked to my left, Ensign Samira Thomalla, my newest second was mulling over my last few words to her.
“Close quarter combat is all about patience, precision, and most of all, keepin’ your wits about you while everybody else’s go to shit”
She’s a damn genius, but when it comes to execution she needs a little more work. We spent almost the entire trip running simulation after simulation. Repelling boarding actions and performing them. She was improving a great deal, but has a habit of being a lot harder on herself than I am. I invited her out for a drink to get her mind off it, and don't get any ideas, she’s a fourth my age you assholes.
Kazuko sighed upon looking at her slate, seeing that Kezika had some matters to attend to, and thus caused a delay in them being deployed together. Her original intent was to head off and join the next Frontline Solutions dropship out, but Kazuko then realized that she could continue working on the two ships she had started outfitting. As she passed the window overlooking the horizon, something-or more accurately, someONE, caught her eye.
‘Is that Officer Jay Garret? From one of my first job placements?’ she thought. ‘It can’t be…’. But if she could fly all the way out to the center of the galaxy and then back to Colonia like she did the day prior, then her old acquaintances could have made it out here too. The deployment and ship plans can wait. For now, she has some major loose ends to tie up. She noticed a woman in a similar uniform next to Jay, so she stepped up to his other side. From there, she wracked her brain. How do you open a conversation again?
“Nice view, huh?” She asked.
“Someone is full of themselves aren't they?” Jay said, without looking away from the window.
“I sure screwed that one up.” She remarked out loud. “I have a ques-”
“Not while my drinks empty you don’t. Barkeep, three more of these” Still not looking at the stranger, but tapping his empty glass on the bar. Excellent service saw that they were replaced almost instantly. Jay shoved one in the general direction of the voice.
“Ah, thanks, but…” she trailed off, not sure how to follow up with that, so she gently pushed the glass a slight bit away from her. “So, this probably sounds rather out of the blue, but what ship did you come in on?”
Almost in unison Samira and Jay’s heads turn towards the voice “What’s it to ya?” Clearly Jay had instantly sobered up a great deal.
Kazuko didn’t recognize Samira, the lady with him, but she certainly recognized Jay. But the real question was, did he recognize her? She mentally fumbled for an answer for a few seconds, a baffled look on her face.
“You looking for someone?”
“Yes. A few someones, in fact. Please, just tell me the name and ID of the ship you came on.”
“I guess it doesn't matter that much anyway. EV-760”
“Thank you for your time.” Kazuko replied, standing up and leaving the bar, her drink untouched.
Watching suspiciously as she walks away, Jay gives the Ensign an order “Drink up.” and slides the strangers untouched glass her way. Eliciting a groan and hiccup.
Scene, Kazuko’s Krait Phantom, Amaris-AR-TS2. POV: Kazuko.
“Here’s hoping this works…” Kazuko trailed off, before turning on her ship’s comms. “Alfa Romeo Tango to Echo Victor Seven. Do you read me, Echo Victor Seven?” She leaned back slightly after sending the message, waiting for a response. “If Officer Jay was here, then Captain Kodiak is likely not far. Hopefully Commanding Officer Marcela is present too, it would be great if all three of them would see me again together.”
“Copy Alfa Romeo Tango, this is Echo Victor Seven. Send traffic.” Upon hearing that, Kazuko immediately switched to private communications between the two ships.
“Echo Victor Seven, this is Alfa Romeo Tango, am I speaking to the ship’s pilot?” she asked, listening carefully to see if that is indeed Captain Kodiak’s voice she is hearing.
“A-Firm. Alfa Romeo Tango. How can I be of assistance?”
“I would like to meet you aboard your ship, in private quarters, please bring your Commanding Officer and Chief of Security with you. I have information regarding an incident from two years and five months ago.”
“I understand. The instructions are being sent now.” The connection suddenly cut off afterwards. Even with the cutoff, Kazuko felt relieved. Everything is working out for the best. She’ll meet all 3 of them soon, and come clean. Explain how she fainted due to hunger, nothing more, nothing less. The helmet and visor portion of her flight suit obscured her completely as she left the cockpit, the only hint that the figure heading out was CMDR Kazuko Himura was how thin the form was.
Scene, Kodiak’s Krait Phantom, Nova-EV-760. POV: Kazuko.
It didn’t take long for Kazuko to find the exact pad that the ship was landed on, and it took even less time for her to find the CMDR’s quarters, given that it was the same kind of ship she had been piloting ever since she had gotten her license. Once she found it, she stood outside the door, initially hesitating to make an entry request.
Kazuko wanted to keep her identity a secret until the door was closed and she began speaking, hence the helmet and opaque visor being on-she only has her helmet on in emergencies, and usually with a transparent visor. Even she didn’t know why she wanted it to be this way, it just felt...right to her. But even so, she felt nervous. Taking a deep breath, Kazuko lightly knocked on the door, awaiting permission to enter.
Commander Kodiak. Captain - INV Midnight Sun Captain’s Quarters - Nova (Personal Exploration Vessel)
“Mars, do you know how many incidents we went through two years ago? More than I can count. And I know you think this is stupid, and I cant fault you for that. But what if it’s something related to the Aurora?”
I could almost feel the entire ship move with the violence of her patented Eye-Roll, something only she could get away with doing to me on my own ship.
“I just think this is a waste of time, the only saving grace would be if she happened to know something about the slaver ring out here. But let's be real here for one second, how could she possibly know you and be all the way out here. And if she does know you, and we have indeed met her before, it's likely she was following you. Where is Jay and his new 2IC? Shouldn't they be here by now?”
I could tell she couldn't be less enthused, about entertaining a stranger on the ship. Truth be told I wasn't all that into it either. I was a very long way from my ship, the rest of my crew, and my home. I don’t mind long expeditions that much, not when I get to take Mars and Jay along. It's kind of like a mini-vacation. But this wasn't a vacation. Not really. We are here to investigate the disappearance of two platoons worth of Imperial mercenaries.
“Come on, you know we have no leads out here so far that's not turned out to be anything but a dead end. Hell, the last one turned out to be two prospectors fighting over a claim on the nearby moon. We won't know anything else until Jay gets back anyway. Ah that must be our guest now, would you get that Mars?”
The door opened, and an abnormally thin figure in a helmeted, teal flight suit stepped inside, her facial features obscured by the opaque visor. Glancing around, she realized it was just Kodiak and Mars for now. Perhaps that would be enough? She wasn’t sure.
“Thank you both for your time. I take it your Chief of Security is tied up in other matters?” she asked, her voice seeming familiar.
“Before you go any further, you will remove your helmet in the Captain's Quarters.” Mars took a ready stance, ready to jump on any perceived threat.
“It's okay Mars, not everyone in the Galaxy is a murderer. Besides, you know the ship would have sent out an alert if she boarded with any weapons.” Kodiak said, trying to defuse….. Well just defuse Mars.
“Very well. I had full intention of removing my helmet anyways. But while I do so, allow me to introduce myself formally.” the figure stated, the visor retracting, with the helmet following suit. While she looked a couple years older, was still as thin as ever, and had cut her hair into a much shorter ponytail compared to the long one from two years ago, this was the same woman who was found unconscious in the cargo hold of the Midnight Sun after the completion of an inventory management job.
“I am CMDR Kazuko Himura, explorer, independent pilot, and freelance mercenary. It’s nice to see you both after so long.”
“Oh joy, the spy,” Mars rolled her eyes in Kodiak's direction.
“What do you mean spy? Wait a second...” Looking at Mars with a puzzled expression. Several long seconds passed before it clicked, obviously the last two years of heavy combat had brought with it too many blows to the head. Or so Mars would have told him. ”Oh! I remember you, I’m glad to see that you recovered. I hadn't gotten any word or update on your status, something about patient privacy. Though we certainly could have gotten the authorities involved… I trust you have some answers for us regarding your collapse? Were you attacked on my ship?”
“Take a breath captain.” Mars finally lifted her gaze from Kazuko. Kazuko sighed heavily in response.
“To be honest...I don’t really like discussing what happened, for various reasons, but I know I’m going to have to do it anyway.” Kazuko stated. “I will explain everything when Officer Jay arrives, because I only wish to say this once.” She glanced down slightly, seeming incredibly nervous, like she’s about to reveal some deep, dark secret.
“Well, have a seat” Kodiak motioned to a chair “He should be here soon, he was on….. leave”
With his words, Kazuko took a seat, keeping mum about the fact she bumped into Jay during said leave, and that was how she ended up here.
POV : Jay Garret
“What a lightweight. I suppose I shouldn't have made her take that last drink, she’ll get better at it I guess.” The Ensign was safely in her quarters, and Jay was headed to the Captain’s quarters to report on the new lead he managed to find. It was only when he saw the door already open that he remembered that weird person that was asking about the ship. And hurried along to the quarters. “Well shit….”
Soon, after a period of waiting and small talk-of which Kazuko had very little answers for-Jay arrived, prompting a smile from the young woman.
“Sir, I’m sorry it took so-”
“Officer Jay. Long time no see.” She greeted him. “I apologize for the awkwardness at the bar earlier, but I had to tie up these loose ends.”
Caught completely off guard. “I’ll be damned, you look better. I’d wager you are a little heavier too since I had to pick you up out of a crate”
Mars winced at the ape of a man’s words. “That’ll be enough Jay. Have a seat.”
Kazuko rolled her eyes in response to Jay’s words, it seems someone learned from Mars.
“I wish.” She quipped back, though given that two years have passed, his statement may have been accurate. Taking a deep breath, Kazuko braced herself to finally tell them all the truth.
“To catch Officer Jay up, I am CMDR Kazuko Himura. And I have been for a few months now. I predominantly work freelance. I presume all of you have questions for me? One at a time, please.”
“Yes, in fact I do.” Kodiak took the initiative, “What happened to you that day? Were you attacked on my ship?”
“Okay, this is going to be hard to explain, but…” Kazuko trailed off, then fell silent, trying to gather not just the right words together, but also her courage. After what felt like a long wait, she finally spoke again. “Yes, and no. It’s difficult to explain.” Before she could say anything more, Kazuko visibly winced, raising a hand to her belly. The only thing she could think was ‘Why now, why here?’ A harsh growl tore out of her stomach, breaking the silence further.
All three looked around in unison. “Did something blow up somewhere out there?” Jay was the first to speak, moving to a view port.
“I don't know… I think it was our …. Guest?” Mars spoke slowly.
“Do you need….. Somewhere or something?” Kodiak asks with uncertainty.
“Aahh….sorry….” Kazuko sheepishly trailed off, her face flushed with embarrassment, eyes easily showing she’s still in a bit of pain. Despite this, she almost seemed relieved, as if this was all a blessing in disguise-and it certainly was! After all, not only do all three of them have two possible clues to answers, she has a segway into an explanation. “As for your questions...no, yes, and yes to both depending. I hate to ask, but...may I please have something to eat?”
“Help yourself.” Kodiak gestures to a refrigeration unit by the door entrance. Catching a glare out of the corner of his eye from Mars. Kazuko noticed the glare, but also accepted Kodiak’s offer, and she practically made a beeline to the refrigeration unit, opening it up and eying the contents within. Another low growl escaped her stomach, making it quite clear what exactly is going on with her, and what happened earlier. Kazuko grabbed as much food as she could carry, before returning to her earlier seat and digging into her found meal. It took a lot of restraint for her to not scarf everything down like some sort of uncivilized brute, she was that hungry.
“Can you continue? Or do you need time?” The next words allowed Kazuko to pause eating.
“The reason I said yes and no to being attacked is because technically I was attacked in a way...just by my own body.” Kazuko explained, taking several more bites as she formulated her next words. “All three of you witnessed this again just earlier, and I’m sure you’re wondering what I’m talking about. You see...as much as I hate to admit it, I am not well. I’ve been fighting a parasite infection for a while now-and I don’t feel comfortable discussing how I got it. I will say that I’ve had it before I even stepped foot aboard the Midnight Sun, I’ve had it almost all my life. That accursed little worm has been devouring almost everything I eat.” She angrily took the last few bites of the last of the seemingly pre-made meals she grabbed.
“So that's it? You just passed out on a crate in the hold?” Jay looked skeptical. “Because you were hungry or something?”
Kodiak and Mars exchanged looks before Mars spoke up, “Do you have any proof of this?”
“I can get my medical records when I return to Keltim.” Kazuko offered, sitting the now-empty plates on her lap-about 5 of them in a stack. “But given that I’m in the middle of an expedition, that may take time. If that is too long for all of you, I give full consent to a medical examination by staff of your choice. And Officer, I opened the crate in hopes there was something that could keep me going long enough to reach the cafeteria, but my body gave out shortly after prying the lid off.”
“I think I can arrange something,” Mars looked between the three of them and then back to Kazuko. “We do have a physician onboard, I'll contact Ryleigh.”
“While she is doing that you are free to help yourself to more if you’d like….” Glancing down at the stack of plates before continuing. “Jay, did you have any luck on digging up a lead?”
“I did, I'll explain more later. I have to meet with a contact tonight.”
“Alright I look forward to it, also make sure you submit a report for the logs.”
Kazuko slowly walked through the hallways of the Nova, practically knowing her way around despite it not being her ship-though to be fair, she has a Krait Phantom of her own, and little was changed in terms of the layout. However stepping into the med bay revealed a difference-the one aboard the Nova was unaltered, whereas the one aboard Amaris was expanded. While she was not surprised to see the physician there, she wasn’t expecting XO Marcela to be present.
“Hello, Kazuko, am I correct?” The physician asked. “I'm Dr. Ryleigh Sharpe, and I’ll be examining you today.”
“That’s me, it’s nice to meet you.” Kazuko greeted in return.
“Well, let's get to it” Mars nods to Ryleigh. ”Give her a complete check up. And Kazuko, tell her what you told us”
“As I told the others earlier, I have been dealing with a parasite infection for most of my life.” Kazuko explained. “Specifically one that eats most of what I eat.”
“Okay just lay down on this bed here and we’ll get you checked out.” Ryleigh shared a knowing look with Mars. “You'll know if it's a threat to the ship as soon as I do.” At Ryleigh’s words, Kazuko laid down immediately on the bed, mostly just staring at the ceiling. She’s been through a few of these by now, she knew the drill. She did, however, have one single question-why couldn’t the exam wait until after she’d eaten something again? She remained quiet as Ryleigh conducted the bio-scan. Her stomach, however, didn’t, and started growling again, prompting a blush from Kazuko.
“Well, it looks like she’s telling the truth. There is indeed a parasite in her upper intestines.” Ryleigh addressed Mars without looking away from the charts. “It’s definitely not a threat to us, but I'm curious how she ended up with it.” she turned facing the two of them.
“I really don’t like discussing how I got it…” she trailed off, both hands atop her belly.
“Fair enough, you are free to go. Everything else seems fine”, Ryleigh began putting her equipment away. Kazuko pulled herself up, sliding out of the bed. Another grumble escaped her stomach as she started heading out.
Mars and Ryleigh stopped in their tracks and looked towards Kazuko.
“Maybe you should go get some more food…. You can get it from my quarters” Mars put a heavy emphasis on the ‘my’.
“Noted…” Kazuko trailed off, hurrying out. She did not want another incident report written up with her in it.
After having eaten, Kazuko found herself once more in Captain Kodiak’s quarters, seated in the same chair she used to spend so many hours in after work 2 years ago. Or at least, it would be if she was on the Midnight Sun instead of the Nova. Except now, instead of staring at a holo-screen with a game on it, she was staring at a slate with a report on it.
“Is that your medical report?” Kodiak looked at the slate curiously.
“Yes, it is. Specifically the results of the exam from earlier.” She handed him the slate. “I will still bring my official medical records over from Keltim upon completion of the expedition I am on. As much as this exam proves I am not an immediate threat to you, your staff, or your ship, I would prefer all of the information necessary be present.”
“I appreciate the efforts you are making to bring us closure. I'm afraid when you get back you’ll have to forward the records to the Midnight Sun. We won't be back for some time.”, he leaned back in his seat and let out a breath. “Have you heard of the Thargoid incursions in the Pleiades?”
“To be honest, neither will I.” Kazuko stated. “I have several more weeks on this expedition myself. And yes, I have.” Kazuko took a breath before continuing to speak. “A friend of a friend let me fight a couple in small fighter ships. I have full intent of going out there to fight them myself, and have a ship being built as we speak for the task. It might take a while for her to be fully ready, though.” Another pause. “As for bringing closure, it felt right, to be honest. It didn’t feel right to suddenly pass out and wake up back in the hospital, without letting the individual I was working for know the job is done. That makes me look like a bad worker!”
“The Midnight Sun is currently undergoing extensive repairs and refitting, she got badly mauled when we were down there fighting.” Setting the slate down and taking a deep breath before continuing. “You were very efficient and finished ahead of schedule. You are a great worker. Honestly until we found you, we thought you were a spy or a saboteur. Then when we found you unconscious, we considered that someone else might have tampered with something and you were collateral damage. However when we started looking into it, either nothing was done or taken, or whoever did it was very good at what they do and we didn't even notice. This brings that case to a close, and it's good to see you are well…ish again”
“I take it you must have been called out to the Pleiades fairly quickly.” Kazuko replied. “And likely with not much time to prepare, given what you told me. As for my performance review, as I’ll call it, that’s a relief. But why would you have thought I was a spy or a saboteur? Was something going on behind the scenes while I was taking inventory?” A pause. “And no. No tampering at all. I’m pretty sure the sudden increase in physical activity-since I did insist on carrying some of the cargo even though I didn’t have to-and me not adjusting my diet to accommodate was the true cause, as a similar incident happened shortly after my work as a CMDR started.”
“We were hunting down a missing Majestic Class Interdictor, we thought someone had gone snooping around in our system. But like I said, we found no tampering at all. ”
“Did you eventually find the missing Interdictor?” Kazuko asked. “And here I’m surprised none of you noticed snacks missing…”
“Oh Jay was on the warpath over the snacks, I think he suspected the marines on board though. Don't worry, I won't tell him if you don't.” he mused to himself. “Unfortunately we haven't yet. I think we found evidence of it having a run in with Thargoids but…. No ship yet.”
“I’m not saying anything about the snacks, but I’m sure he might put two and two together eventually.” Kazuko added. “As for the ship, I hope you find it soon. When...and if...you and the others get back to the Pleiades, keep an eye out for a Krait MkII-Whiskey-Lima-Oscar-2 Roca. That will be me. Friend of a friend is really insistent I join him in fighting Thargoids.”
“I will, ” he leans over to tap on a slate a few times. “There, it's even in the log. How long have you been in Poe?”
“Less than a day. Though it’s probably now been at least a day since I arrived. Flew here all the way from The Galactic Center when I caught wind of some of the people I contracted for getting caught in a war.” Kazuko explained. “Yes, I consider myself a freelancer, but I have a few factions I keep close to. One of them is even running the expedition in question.” Another pause. “As for how I got here so fast? I guess the same way I got to each expedition waypoint so fast, maybe? Just knowing how to plan efficient routes.”
“Okay, I was hoping to find another lead. Hopefully Jay has come through for us this time.” a flash of disappointment crosses his face. “What do you think, a game for old times sake?”
“Of course.” Kazuko responded, giving a small smile.
This current leg of the expedition has been full of surprises, both good and bad. To be honest, I should get the bad out of the way first. I dropped into the cone of a neutron star. Not on purpose, mind you, but while trying to jump to the next system, my FSD malfunctioned-at 79-fucking-percent at that, what shitty luck! And my canopy shattered at that! The one thing I did in the brief moment of calm before I started panicking was making sure my staff were safe, and seated, so in case of emergency they’d be easily able to get to escape pods. Kezika guided me out of the star and to the nearest fleet carrier, and I thankfully managed to guide myself AND land manually despite having a massive panic attack. I’m honestly grateful I didn’t pass out, since I was on limited oxygen as is, even with synthesizing it. I made it with a bit of oxygen to spare, and plenty more synth ingredients in wait, and got my repairs done. My staff were safe, anyone shaken or injured were attended to, I got an emergency therapy appointment, and everything turned out alright.
Ended up making it out to Beagle Point and Salome’s Reach. It was amazing to turn one way and see the entire galaxy, and another way and see blackness. Some of the history of those particular places was quite interesting too.
But the biggest surprise actually wasn’t part of the expedition. You see, I’ve been utilizing telepresence to keep my combat skills up by volunteering to pilot fighters for other CMDRs. One in particular with a Cutter, his voice sounds familiar. Did I run into Captain Kodiak again? I can’t easily tell, he doesn’t speak much-and he hasn’t exactly addressed me. Perhaps the telepresence obscures some details-I’ll have to find out exactly if my guess is right or not come the end of this expedition.
And I’m honestly kind of excited for that, but also a little nervous. I did, after all, leave my job for him on a stretcher. I’m not sure what he’d think of me or my work ethic, despite having completed his job with flying colors. Same with his chief of security-oh, boy, the remarks would be coming in like mad. But he’d probably get elbowed by Marcela again as a result.
I’ve made up my mind. I’ll request a meeting with all three of them, and come clean.
Breathe, Kazuko. Breathe. That was the only thing she forced herself to think when her ship’s canopy broke, when everything began to fail. Her ship’s FSD had reached a point where it began to malfunction, and it caused her to drop right into the cone of a neutron star. All Kazuko could do was panic-some of her expedition members advised her to boost and she followed the instructions, getting out and able to go back into supercruise. She was given the location of a fleet carrier that could let her repair her ship. In that entire mad dash, through multiple neutron stars, over a dozen jumps, she was panicking-not good when you’re on limited oxygen. Even synthing it required prompts from her friends.
Breathe, Kazuko. Breathe. She finally made it to the destination system, but she couldn’t use supercruise assist or landing assist-and while she knew how to land manually, the sheer anxiety was smothering her much like...well it’s obvious. But, she managed. Upon landing on the carrier, repairs were immediate, the canopy and life support systems first. Kazuko breathed a sigh of relief.
When she finally calmed down, Kazuko had only one single question:
“Can I book a telepresence therapy appointment? I’m going to need it after that.”
The Fleet Carrier that holds most of my ships is already heading to the next basecamp, which sort of limits the activities I can do here in the Colonia bubble. Trading would be limited, and ship combat completely out, unless I want to fork over a fee to transfer the ships in question. That’s honestly fine, I need to do more on-foot activities anyway, to help keep my stamina up.
Who knows how much that’s decreased after spending most of my time ship-bound?
Whoever’s reading this, I’m fine. I swear I’m fine.
I’m just on an expedition, obviously, and have spent most of my time flying from waypoint to waypoint to basecamp. It’s clear that sort of thing means you’re pretty much in your ship for the time-being, and in the pilot’s seat.
Come to think of it, why do people worry so much about me? I can take care of myself, the...thing in me is mostly kept under control.
I haven’t even had any nightmares in a while.
Yes I may have some difficulties, but I can handle myself just fine. After all, I made it to the Colonia bubble in one piece, right?
I’ve been testing out my new combat ship, Phoenix, recently. And I think I’ve been getting the hang of it, namely taking out single ships trying to interdict me, etc.
And I got to thinking for a bit about how this would be back home.
Then my mind took a dark turn-something that hadn’t happened in a long, long while.
Who did this to me?
Who gave me this parasite?
Maybe I’ll practice on them.
I’ll have to ask Kezika if there’s a way we can find out.
But not now.