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.

21 Sep 2012

What once was lost - Part 4

 
The Arek'Jalaan research facility in the orbit of Eram II was a monument to the human thirst for knowledge. A soaring tower ripped from it's foundations and set among the very stars it's builders would reach for. Site-One, as it was humbly called, thrust out into the red-lit depths of the local solar system as if it wanted to point the way toward the unknown regions it's project staff were dedicating their research to: The Anoikis Cluster. Wormhole Space as it was more commonly known.

The array of smaller constructions floating in space next to the mighty edifice contained the most revolutionary collection of knowledge gathered by humanity within at least a century. Together those space-born buildings formed a treasure trove of data, artifacts and technology that could rival some universities and was certainly unsurpassed in it's chosen field. Nowhere in new Eden could one find more on the greatest enigma of this galaxy. A mystery that, if solved, promised both answers about humanity's past before the Dark Age and at the same time about the most provoking question of them all: Is there intelligent Alien life?

Hegomir Torstan regretted only one thing as his shuttle - shining in the giant sun's red light like an insect made of glass and glowing metal - approached the tall structure: That it had not been his initiative leading to the creation of this unique endeavor.

He still vividly remembered the days when Hilen Tukoss had asked for asylum after his defection from the corporate empire of Ishukone. Hegomir was among the leading scientists who had been invited to hear the renegade present his research to Eifyr&Co for the first time. He would not have expected a Caldari to be capable of such visionary thought. Usually they tended to be too pragmatic and obsessed with quick-to-market applications to ever bother with deep research and the quest for greater knowledge.

Hegomir also recalled how he had been disturbed by the man's appearance. For once it was not the great Savant Torstan everybody was listening to with fascination, but a Caldari defector who came with the groundbreaking ideas. The fact that Tukoss was at least ten years younger and more energetic did not help either.

Not only was Tukoss a man of brilliant intellect, he was also a charismatic figure who managed to gain the voluntary support of dozens of capsuleer idealists – if such a thing even existed. They helped his escape, donated generously to the construction of his facility and were supplying him with research material that would place any normal exploration crew at the highest risk. Eifyr&Co basically just had to take care of the bureaucratic formalities to wave through Tukoss' asylum petition.

For the first time in his life, Hegomir Torstan had felt like only the second best at what he did, and for the first time he had known jealousy. That feeling returned to him every time he looked upon Site-One, but this time the feeling was tempered by excitement as his small craft approached the docking bay.

This time Hilen Tukoss was gone. Probably vanished on one of his expeditions, or maybe finally apprehended by the Caldari State and his former corporate masters. Without his leadership the support for the Arek'Jalaan initiative had dwindled among the upper echelons of Eifyr&Co, and it was Hegomir Torstan again who was unrivaled as the corporation's best scientist.

His excitement, however, did not come from that knowledge. He was – after all – not that egocentric. It still meant the loss of a great man, even if he was a rival.

What really made him feel so stimulated while he emerged from the ship as soon as it had landed, was the prospect that he would meet an actual wormhole capsuleer today, and not only that. He would also prove that he was not only a scientific genius, but had the cunning to operate in the field of secret services too. He would gain first-hand insights into a world he knew only from publications, and he would prove his value to the Republic as a whole.

Confidently he approached the express elevator that would take him to that momentous encounter, flanked by two of his most trusted corporate guards. Today he would open a new chapter in the story of his life.

***

'Allow me to to introduce Shisei Kanioota of Awakened Industries and his head researcher Magalie Setadrelle.' Kellis Shaharod said with a formal tone as he gestured at the two visitors awaiting Hegomir in the aged research director's personal reception lounge.

Kanioota was of Achura descent. His head shaved bald and his small frame clad in a light gray suit of a simple and loose-fitting yet refined cut. His narrow eyes expressed a calm intelligence and he smiles faintly as he bowed. 'Savant Torstan, I have heard much about you.' the Achura greeted him. 'It is an honour to have to opportunity to meet you in person.'

Hegomir returned the smile and the bow. 'My colleague Kellis Shaharod here has told me many good things of your valuable contributions to the Arek'Jalaan research.' the Sebiestor scientist replied. 'I would be thrilled to discuss some of it with you.'

'Let us sit.' Shaharod offered and they all settled down in cushioned seats arranged around a low oval table where fragrant spiced coffee steamed in a tasteful traditional metal pot on a serving tray. The tray, the coffeepot and the matching cups were hand-wrought and decorated with the spiraling geometries of ancient Matari design.

As was the custom for the host, Kellis Shaharod poured the bitter brew slowly into four cups and served the guests before himself. Hegomir only now spared the time to look at the woman who had come with Kanioota. Unlike him she was Gallente. She had the characteristic soft features of that race but small wrinkles around her eyes and mouth showed her age. Hegomir assumed she would not be much younger than he himself. Her shoulder length straight hair was silvery gray and must once have been auburn. She wore an understated three-piece arrangement of dark charcoal over a white blouse with a high collar.

Neither she nor the Caldari Scientist himself looked at all threatening. He had expected battle hardened capsuleer veterans with no manners, but those two looked more at home here than at the helm of a warship. Hegomir was certain that the men he had brought with him and who stood in attendance at the door would have no trouble at all dealing with them.

Neither the Caldari capsuleer nor his assistant showed any sign of suspicion as the conversation began and turned towards subjects like the nature of Sleeper Drones, artificial neuro-networks, implant technology and the enigmas of wormhole space. Hegomir noticed that he enjoyed the exchange greatly. While the Gallente woman did not speak much and left most of the talking to her capsuleer superiour, Kanioota was a pleasantly calm-mannered man of obvious mental capacity. Despite remaining modest and professionally reserved as was the usual case with the Achura, it became clear that Kanioota was a man of profound learning and highly developed philosophy.

It was a shame that Hegomir had to betray him, but there was more at stake here.

'May I ask you.' Hegomir began after an explanation of how the mechanics of wormholes allowed travel between Anoikis and New Eden. '… what did you think of the results of my research on live capsuleers?'

Kanioota raised an eyebrow and inclined his head. 'I do not quite understand.' he replied defensively cautious.

'Well.' Hegomir leaned back and folded his arms. 'It has come to my knowledge that you have something which is mine. The modifications of the capsule control implants of a young Amarrian woman to be precise.' He let the words sink in. His two bodyguards moved on cue and approached the seating arrangement slowly.'What is your professional opinion, I wonder?'

A glance passed between the Achura scientist and his Gallente assistant. Hegomir heard the heavy footfalls of his two men from behind and he smiled calmly. His smile even lingered through the events of the next seconds while his brain raced to process them.

The Gallente woman twisted and spun from her seat at a speed that should be impossible for someone of her age. The clatter of the coffeepot and a flash of metal followed as she threw the serving tablet at one of Hegomir's approaching men, hitting him in the throat. The second guard drew his weapon while his companion collapsed, uttering a choking rattle.

Hegomir stopped smiling.

Without breaking her whirling movement, that woman appeared next to Torstan and wrenched him from his seat with shocking ease, expertly using the force of her own inertia. They ended up standing, Hegomir held before her like a shield, just as the second guard released two shots from his stunner. The charged projectiles impacted on the Sebiestor engineer's chest and sent destructive electric interferences through his nervous system immediately. He slumped against the Gallente unconsciously.

'What is this?!' Kellis Shaharod screamed and jumped out of his chair.

'It is called an abduction.' The gray haired woman replied with a soft smile.

'Drop your weapon or Torstan dies.' she addressed the guard still standing there with his gun aimed at her. She held the unconscious man's head in a grip that looked like it would take just a quick wrench to break his neck.

Quickly the guard nodded and slowly put his stunner on the ground. Incomprehension was all over his face.

Shisei Kanioota got up from his chair and shook his head slowly as if disappointed.

'You were right Sandrielle, it was a trap.'

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