This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

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Warning
: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.

1 Sep 2012

Reborn in a Tomb



In the beginning, Keram thought he was being plagued by more hallucinations. He had long lost the sense of what was real and what was just a product of his imagination. Even the pain had begun to lose it's tangible aspect. They had made sure he would survive and that he could still feel, but it seemed like the human nervous system can only take so much torture before it all became a blur of sensations that the over-strained brain can not process anymore.

When he felt the liquid in his throat, he broke into retching convulsions. It made him remember his first pod immersion. The panic it had caused him despite all the boasts he had made to his fellow trainees. When the viscous solution engulfed him he had flailed, jerked, and screamed soundlessly like everyone had told him he would. Like they all did the first time.

He flailed again and his eyes flew open.

He seemed to remember that he only had one eye left, the vengeful young woman had gouged out the other and squashed it under her heel. But still he saw with two. A blurry, yellowish and churning world with hints of dark shapes, distorted by the liquid prison he was caught in. His thrashing arms struck against an unyielding invisible surface with muffled bumps.

He felt suction, gravity and then his head emerged above the surface of the receding fluid. Only when the shell finally opened and expelled him onto a cold metal floor in a dimly lit room stretching out into darkness to his left and right, he realized that he was not hallucinating anymore.

He was actually there. Back on the tomb-ship.

Officially the immense mobile furnace had been called Storm's End, but it was Arrio Kasozu who had started calling it the tomb-ship. The name had stuck.

When the Stormchasers had become so infamous, that most of them could not afford to be clone-jumped into an official corporate medical facility anymore, they had transferred their replacement bodies to the stations of unaffiliated capsuleer alliances in the vast regions of space beyond the four great empires mankind had forged from the central constellations of New Eden.

In time even those refuges had become too dangerous for them. War was almost a constant factor among the capsuleer nations, and where it wasn't, the despotic rulers of the pod-pilot oligarchies themselves had little tolerance for freewheeling pirates like the Stormchasers. So, eventually, they landed their biggest caper ever and stole the Storm's End from a shipyard of Outer Ring Excavations. They had jumped the massive Rorqual refinery vessel far out into the most deserted regions of the Outer Passage where only hives of rogue machine intelligences built their bizarre homes. There the Stormchasers had hidden the ship that contained the clone-bay in which Keram had just been reborn.

After the neural interfaces' umbilicals had disconnected from his spinal plugs, he crawled over to an instrument console and pulled himself up on it's side. Here in this deserted ship there were no friendly medical attendants like there would be in a commercial cloning facility. He was alone, naked and disoriented while his re-awakened brain tried to remember how to move a human body. Clumsily Keram dragged himself over to a locker and retrieved a set of loose sweatpants and a shirt. Groaning he dropped into a chair and began to dress himself.

Minutes later, when he had some modicum of motor control again, he walked past the other pods in the circular chamber. Matti 'Matey' Saakoi – found drifting in space without a head. Shaar Ka'Lthas – One of the most feared Matari pilots to ever prey on the unwary. Dragged from his pod during a mutiny and killed. Lilianna 'Black Lily' Themerelle – once the pirate bride Keram had desired. She ended up as a mutilated corpse in a Caldari morgue. So many of his most trusted companions, clones that would never wake up again. All of them died without ever having the chance of being transferred to a new body.

Keram felt his eyes stinging, rested one of his hands against one of the forlorn clone's pods and placed the other one on his face wearily. 'Why me?!' he wondered. 'Why did I survive?'

He felt guilty for abandoning the only people who had accepted him with open arms after he had made his escape from the re-education institute in the Amarr Empire. They taught him most of what he knew about fighting like a real pod-pilot. They had been his friends and his family. Now most of them were dead, and he wondered how many had fallen prey to the same avenging Caldari executive who had caught him.

Plagued by such memories and still wondering about how he could have survived or who had rescued him, he made his way through the empty corridors and halls of the silent ship.

A few hours later Keram sat at a control station in the extensive operations centre of the Rorqual. He had checked on the ship's systems and found them fully operational, but he was the only one present aboard the gigantic vessel, he had found. He was pondering whether he should contact one of his few remaining Stormchaser mates, or get in touch with Awakened Industries first. 'Maybe I owe it to Arrio and the others to finally come back to them?' he considered.

While he was still weighing the issue, an instrument panel beside him lit up and proximity alerts chimed. The ship's sensors had picked up a nearby signature. Keram moved over and activated the holographic projector as quickly as he could. The menacing shape of a Cerberus assault cruiser materialized – a sharp edged trident of a ship with heavy missile launchers armed. He recognized the white and blue markings. It was the ship that had hunted him across five regions, the ship of Kassina Vikkonen.

The chill that ran over Keram was suddenly replaced by a warm feeling deep down in his core as he recognized the ship that decloaked beside the Caldari vessel. The unmistakable buffed and burnished bronze shape of a Loki strategic cruiser with the markings of Awakened Industries.

'Alira.' he sighed with relief.

***

Keram was surprised when the lightly built Matari capsuleer flew out of the airlock and threw her arms around him in a hug that was so strong that the air was pressed from his lungs. Before he could say a word she planted a kiss onto his lips and held it before suddenly letting go with a confused look on her face.

Alira seemed to be as surprised by her own reaction upon seeing him alive as he was himself. Quickly she released her hold on him and drew her eyebrows together in a scowl. 'Don't you ever do this again.' she pierced a finger at his face.

'What?' he retorted 'Get tortured to the verge of dying?' he bared his teeth in his signature feral grin. “... or make you kiss me?' he shrugged nonchalantly. 'I can think of easier ways to get a woman's attention if I'm honest.' he added smirking.

The heavy footfalls of combat boots in the airlock passage announced the presence of another person. 'She got my attention just by offering me a new ship.' Kassina Vikkonen entered. '… and I want that ship.' she said gravely.

Keram looked at Alira with a playful frown on his sharp featured face. 'You are sending bounty-hunters after me now?' he wondered mockingly.

Alira replied with an amicable slap to his face. 'She helped me save your worthless Amarr ass, and I promised her a Tengu and some license extensions for it.'

That was as surprising for Keram as realizing that he was still alive had been. He shook his head in disbelief at the Deteis woman who stood taller than him by almost a head. 'You?' he asked with bewilderment 'You chased me until all I had left was escaping to wormhole space where I have lived ever since.'

Kassina Vikkonen shrugged dismissively. 'I once vowed that I would catch you, and catch you I did.' she said. 'I don't care about justice if the price is right, and the way that corporate woman had cut you up, I'd say you got what you had coming.' she added with a stern look at the two wormhole capsuleers, reminding them that they still owed her.

Alira waved her implicit concerns away. 'I have been in contact with my commander. They are looking for a route that would lead close to this region.' she assured the other woman. 'I have told Cedrien about our agreement and he said that you will get all that was promised to you.'

Kassina scoffed and made a sour face. 'Sounds Gallente, that name.' She shook her head 'I have never trusted a Gallente I didn't have at gunpoint, and even then one better checks every word they say.'

Keram grinned at her. 'Well, look at it like this.' he began and spread his arms in a gesture of mock helplessness. 'It's either the word of a Gallente deserter, an Amarr outlaw or a Minmatar vagabond you'll have to trust.'

Kassina Vikkonen grimaced. 'You got any food on this floating scrapheap at least?' she grumbled.

'We are well stocked with the best goods from all over new Eden.' Keram confirmed and stepped aside with a flourish, opening the way for the two women to pass on into the ship. 'This is a pirate treasure cache after all.' he added.

His last words sounded sad and hollow though.

1 comment:

  1. Great story - great tension in it. Love the way Keram wakes up utterly alone in the huge ship and realizes the guilt and the joy of being alive... ty!

    ReplyDelete