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Man of Values and Faith (Chronicle)

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Hand me that component, please. Thank you.

Ammatar - yeah, this part'll take a while, but let's all be careful with it. We value our arms and legs - the Ammatar Mandate was a fraud and a sham. In the dark old days when the Amarr Empire held our people completely in thrall, the Nefantars actually assisted those sanctimonious murderers. When the rebellion finally came they cowered under the wing of the Empire and were given a planet of their own. Nobody back home wanted to call them Nefantar any longer, so a new name emerged. It was an insult but our people took it up in blissful pride. Ammatar. A semiautonomous faction of Minmatar under the aegis of the Amarr Empire. The mind reels.

No, don't move it just yet. It needs to settle. And make sure your hands are clean before you start shifting it. Any dirt will just cause smoke later on.

It's been rotten. It's been absolutely rotten to speak the truth in this place. Minmatar sympathizers are not welcome here, even when every one of us is Minmatar however much we may deny it. We're a small group, just us and our loved ones, getting increasingly smaller. But we are not Amarrians. We were born Minmatars. The people of our nation are being kidnapped and enslaved by the very same leaders whom the Ammatars serve. The mind truly reels.

Yes, over there is fine. Careful.

I am Ammatar in name but I was born Minmatar, and even as I was taught Amarrian thoughts in school, my true nature shone through. I learned to think and reason for myself. Besides, it was never any great challenge to see through their lies. Data isn't hard to come by. People just need to look for it.

So I was taught that we Nefantars, that traitor tribe of the Minmatar, had collaborated with the enemy and been doomed to subservience for our efforts. That is what I was taught. What I learned is that it couldn't be true. It never made the slightest bit of sense. Even leaving aside the idea that an entire tribe would betray its nation for the enemy, under threat of death and torture and whatever else, it happened far too easily. Not at the end, when everyone would have been exhausted and worn and tired of war, but early on, when they still had recruits willing to fight. I could not believe this choice had been made in good faith by our own people, leaving our best interests by the wayside.

No, of course I never spoke of it. They'd have had me killed.

Anyway, I was right. I couldn't possibly have imagined the scope of what they did, but I was right.

During the great Minmatar rebellion, the Nefantars cooperated with the occupying Amarr forces because another tribe, the Starkmanir, were about to be wiped out of existence. And we took them in. The Nefantar leaders took in the last of the Starkmanir, hid them among our people in a marvelous web of deceit, and then allowed the whole Nefantar tribe to be taken in by the Amarr, Starkmanirs intact. Protected by the very monsters who had sought their destruction and ruin.

Nobody knew this except a few of the chosen. I can't imagine the organizational complexities of their plans, the raw desperation for a solution, any solution - and the sheer nerve they must have needed, knowing that their only measure of success would be the hatred of their fellow men until the end of time. They would know the truth and no one else, and if I can carry myself with equal good graces through the oncoming conflicts, I'll be amazed.

Ready to pull that off in five. Otherwise they'll start reacting and we either have to start over again, or we'll be cleaning you off the ceiling. It's the smell that'll tell you. Smell's a good indicator that something's gone wrong.

Yes, that and you on the ceiling, alright.

I don't think we ever thought we'd see the great tribes return. It's always been a small group of us here in the Ammatar Mandate, banded together by the cause and our love for our fellow Minmatar, fighting for the right for our people to return to their proper home. Nobody else on this forsaken planet seemed to have any interest in awakening to their true natures; nor did the rest of the Minmatar nation want to have anything to do with us. They wanted to free their brothers, yes, but only those who'd been enslaved by the Amarr, and not the idiot Nefantar who'd willingly walked through the gates.

Then one day the skies darkened, and they came for us.

Led by the Elders, the Minmatar Republic invaded the Amarr Empire's sovereign space and brought a massive fleet to bear on the Empire's defenses, reducing them to dust and tattered scripture. They came to the Ammatar Mandate, landed on our planet and pulled our people out, as many as would come. But even in the madness of the evasion they were very selective about who they took with them: You could come if you liked, but there were certain people whose presence they simply demanded, and there was a lot of furor and trouble because some of them stupidly didn't want to go. At the time I didn't understand why they chose specific areas, communities and individuals. I do now. They were coming for the Starkmanir.

If our people had retained any sense, we would have all gone with them. And if the invasion had succeeded the way it was planned, I'm sure we would have. But it was halted by the goddamn superweapon wielded by that Amarrian bitch. Once the news reached us that she had vaporized a good half of our fleet - that grand fleet we had barely even began to realize the Minmatar had amassed, let alone deployed in battle - it was simply overload. The mind was so overloaded by world-changing events that the more mundane events on the ground were simply passed over.

You do not want to pick that thing up right away. Look at the back of my hand. See those grafts? Trust me.

Once the dust had settled, and we'd come to grips with the fact that the Minmatar had come and gone, I thought we were in for a new era among the Ammatar. Even before I knew the full extent of what we had done for the Starkmanir, I realized that we were leaderless, out of the Amarr Empire's immediate sphere of concern, and populated with a race that had just seen its fellow members come in force and kick ass. It was the greatest opportunity in the history of the Ammatar Mandate to incite rebellion and tear our way out of that tangled web of Amarr for good.

We blew it. We absolutely blew it.

We thought - we who call ourselves revolutionaries - that we had time. After the furor and trouble of the Minmatar invasion, and the loss of the Mandate leader, and the chaos they left in their wake, there was too much to do here on a daily basis. You can't have revolution if you don't have food nor shelter, and while the invasion was as painless as one can be, it really does not take all that much to destabilize a planet's production and distribution systems. Everyone had to pitch in and make sure our economy still functioned.

So we clung to our processes - yeah, go ahead, but be careful with that - we clung to the processes we knew, dug deeper into our ruts, and went with familiarity for the time being. Inciting revolution among frightened, insecure crowds would not have worked, not when the inevitable backlash came. We needed solid ground for our activities, and we needed our subjects unafraid of more change. We needed more time. Some of us had that saving grace of patience; others did not.

When they said Ardishapur was taking over I thought it was a blessing.

The man is renowned as a hard-line Amarrian. Of all the heirs to the Empyreal throne, he is the one who clings the hardest to the Empire's old ways of evil and destruction. Even the bitch empress is more forward-looking than he is. So when I heard he had been assigned the Mandate, I rejoiced, because I knew - I thought I knew - that this would be yet another push for our people on their path to independence. They would suffer Ardishapur's hellish rule only long enough to realize where their true destiny lay, and the few doubts left over in their minds from the Minmatar invasion would be erased, bringing them over to our side.

Our brothers in the Empire, who knew better, warned us that the man should not be underestimated, but we ignored their claims.

All right. I ignored their claims. But so did others.

We thought he would come in with a steely hand, clamping down on the masses, all the better for us to rise against. That he would offer the hellfires of damnation to a people who had seen another way out of this wretched half-life they had in the Mandate and who'd think very hard about what the Empire was trying to thrust upon them. That he would force us into his faith and the Empire's clammy arms once again, with temples on every street, and prayers to a false god ringing in the night.

It would have been perfect. It was everything we needed; a subjugation of our peoples that would lead them straight to me. To our cause, I mean.

And he came, but what he did was so much worse.

He built a goddamn school. In every neighborhood.

He brought with him a latticework of Amarrians who slid into every vacant position left empty by the fleeing administration, and who took up their places like they were meant to be there. And immediately they set about building or repairing necessary structures - schools, hospitals, operating centers of various kinds - and buffering internal support, rather than concerning himself with our relations to the Empire. He made the Ammatar Mandate an independent kingdom again, subject not to the Empire's whims but merely to his own direct rule, and capable of sustaining itself without necessary intervention by Empire authorities.

He brought their twisted faith, too; of course he did. There were religious overtones to everything he did, in every school and hospital. They were really nothing new to the rebellion and people like us, so we didn't mind one way or the other. But the people, the general population, should have recognized it for what it was. They should have been incensed that their opportunity to be free at last, and to live as proper Minmatars, was being taken from them and replaced by this celestial sham the Amarrians call a religion.

For I am convinced that whatever Amarrian religious habits have been forced on them, all their lives, for these untold generations, they would fall away like chaff as soon as we went back home. There might be some slight discomfort in the adjustment, but any true Minmatar could cast it off.

I was wrong. I admit it. The allure of comforts overrode the drive for rectitude. In even what I'd thought the staunchest of revolutionaries.

No, put that down. Wait. We have to wait. It'll be ready soon enough.

As representative of the Minmatar league I tried, I tried so hard, to gather support. This should have been our time. The Mandate had been put in total disorder, the people of our origin had come and shown us the way, a new leader with a vile message had come to impose his will on us ...

I expected the people to flock to me. To us. Instead they massed at the feet of that dictator Ardishapur. As if he could bribe us.

Of course it was necessary, what he did. Of course it was needed. Good education, clean water, a running economy, etcetera. But not from "him". What price, health and happiness? When your life, enjoyable as it momentarily may be, is based on such false and badly founded values, it simply cannot be permitted to go on. No matter how much temporary comfort it may provide you. Otherwise you are perpetuating a cycle that your children and their children will find it even harder to break out of, and you are poisoning your people and their culture with this ... metaphysical falsehood, this intangible lie that this life is how it should be. Anything new you create will find the spark of its life ignited by the same lie, and thus by extension be equal lie itself. I wish some people had understood that, before they left to join the lie.

The Nefantar aren't entirely poisoned yet. Not while we are here to tell them the truth. But without us, without this societal antidote, they would be lost for good. And our numbers are dwindling. We have had thrust upon us a pious leader who knows how to dominate the public's minds by that most insidious of methods: improving their quality of life. If this goes on we are going to lose the Minmatar ideological grip on the Ammatar people, the grip we held for only a moment. If we are going to act, it has to be now.

Now means now, yes. It also means we need to have those detonators ready. Are you going to have them ready? Good. We're leaving soon.

I was angry, yes. Over the reactions of the Nefantar, and of the people I know.

Yes, some more than others. Get those goddamn detonators ready.

I was trying to get the people on this planet to mind, because I thought they should. I am a man of values and faith, and I will not be taken in by chicanery. And yes, it's been an agonizing grind and of course we have lost some of our people down the road, but it doesn't matter. Ardishapur's work must be stopped. The man is a carnivore, offering only the warmth of his teeth.

So now we need to show him - show them, all of them - what it means to be Minmatar. That the order he created is a lie and cannot be allowed to live. Not merely for our cause, but for those who've suffered so terribly through the ages and are no longer here, whether by fate or by choice.

Yes, including her. She chose to leave.

What?

I said she's "gone".

Away. From us at least. Stop asking goddamn questions and hand me those goddamn detonators right now.

So there's nothing to it. The people have betrayed us, fallen asleep on the guard, turned away from us. The ones who truly loved them. And they need to be woken up.

May my people forgive me and see that what I did was necessary. Bring the rest of the equipment, please.

We'll start with the ones in our neighborhood.

Where she is.