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

For an introduction to this blog refer to this link. You may also want to check out the guide for new readers

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 3









In his office Hegomir Torstan browsed through the dossiers that had been generously provided by helpful contacts within the Arek'Jalaan project. He had immediately started reading the material on his shuttle flight back from the orbital facility to the Eifyr&Co tower in the capital of Eram II. Now virtual documents were arrayed all across the touch-sensitive display surface of his desk.

The collected intelligence was extensive.

Ever since the tragic mission of the Raskaan Veyden, which resulted in the loss of ship and crew together with the popular reporter Mielikki Valpuri, Arek'Jalaan staff had done their best to be prepared for further explorations. With the help of sympathetic capsuleers, contacts within various intelligence services, and even bribes for CONCORD officials, they had done their best to collect knowledge about capsuleer factions that roamed the unsettled systems of the Anoikis cluster.

On the first glance, Awakened Industries seemed no different from the usual collection of independent capsuleer thugs living out there. Lead by a renegade Gallente naval officer the small corporation included a wanted Amarr pirate, a Gallente woman of questionably obscure background, a defected Caldari scientist and of course the subject of Republic Security's bounty: Alira Tjalgard.

Torstan kept coming back to her dossier, studying the portrait.

A promising young woman it seemed. The sharp, boyish features of her face and the intensity of her eyes expressed a quick wit and strong determination. Her record with Pator Tech School was flawless in terms of achievement. There were a number of disciplinary records though, eventually resulting in her early expulsion. After that she had started working as independent capsuleer for the Thukker Tribe and later moved to the lawless space those nomads roamed. Her name appeared regularly on CONCORD records of capsuleer kills. Her losses far surpassed by engagements she managed to decide in her favour.

When Hegomir Torstan had interviewed the commander of the “Project Turncoat” mission, Halis Ettin, the man had spoken of Alira Tjalgard's ingenuity and persistence which had eventually brought him down. With a flick of his wrist, Savant Torstan sent a number of documents from his view and called back the notes he had made of the questioning session.

He pursed his lips and frowned. Ettin had suggested that this woman might have found a way to recover the subject of the “Project Turncoat” experiment. In a way that intrigued the Sebiestor engineer. It would have been no little feat to achieve. However, if that were the case, then the consequences could be dire. The subject could be with those capsuleer outlaws now, or worse, she might have ended up in the hands of the enemy.

Certain records hinted at engagements between Imperial forces and Awakened Industries. In general, this small corporation of wormhole capsuleers appeared as capable and resourceful people, and there were no records of losses they had sustained during those engagements. If the Amarrians found a way into wormhole space there would be no way of telling, though. The authority of CONCORD did not extend to those areas, and capsuleer kills that happened there were mostly not recorded.

Torstan hoped that whatever happened between Awakened Industries and the Amarr did not result in the loss of the subject to the Empire. It would be better if she were dead than in Amarrian hands.

He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. With half lowered lids he looked out over the cityscape bathed in red sunlight, thinking of ways how he could get to those people. On an impulse he leaned forward again and called back all the capsuleer dossiers with a gesture. Then he retrieved a stack of project reports he had collected from the public Arek'Jalaan databases. Quickly he flipped through page after page with short taps on his desk's interactive surface.

There it was. He called up a communications line to his secretary using the desk's embedded neocom.
'Ffeifra, get me a link with Kellis Shaharod of Arek'Jalaan.'

'The man you met with yesterday?' the young woman asked unnecessarily.

Torstan rolled his eyes and shook his head slowly. 'Of course! Or is there another one?'

'Immediately Savant Torstan.' Ffeifra replied sheepishly.

'And Ffeifra.' Torstan added 'Send someone to bring me coffee.'

***

Torstan was sipping from his spiced coffee, prepared just as he liked it, and drifted his gaze over the metallic spires outside when his desk-neocom chimed.

'Savant Torstan, I have Kellis Shaharod for you.' Ffeifra announced with satisfaction.

Hegomir did not bother to thank her. It was her job to do just that, after all. 'Link him through.' he ordered curtly.

He had to grant it to that generally oblivious Krusual girl that she was good at making appointments happen quickly. That, and her abilities to keep his less than interesting business relations in order, was the only reason he still kept her around. His last secretary had been a woman as eager to make an impression as she had been incapable of making one. Ffeifra, at least, did not have any sort of ambition to go beyond what she was needed for, and in the mundane world she worked in, she excelled in her own meaningless way.

'Savant Torstan.' the elderly Vherokior scientist of Arek'Jalaan greeted when his holographic portrait materialized above the desk. 'Did you still have any questions about the data we provided?'

'I did, in fact.' Torstan replied calmly and set down his cup. 'I saw that you had several contributions to your project files by a man called Shisei Kanioota.' he began 'Incidentally he is also a member of the small capsuleer corporation I have been asking you about. Do you think you could get me in contact with that man?'

Kellis Shaharod nodded eagerly. 'Kanioota, yes, he was very helpful. Submitted a few very interesting results.' the man opened. 'As a matter of fact we are expecting a visit from him. He promised us a few specimens of Sleeper technology.'

Hegomir Torstan smiled and nodded. 'Very good. Do you think you could arrange a meeting between us?'

'Well, certainly.' Shaharod replied. 'Although, he told me he might be a bit delayed due to some inconvenience.' Torstan sighed inwardly, knowing exactly what kind of inconvenience that would be. '… but I will let you know immediately when he is due to arrive.' the other man promised 'I am sure he would like to meet you.'

'So would I.' Torstan said slowly. Returning his full attention to the Vherokior he quickly added 'Shaharod, may I ask you to keep this meeting as discreet as possible.'

Kellis Sharrod smiled softly 'We are dealing with independent capsuleers a lot. We always keep things discreet.' he confirmed implicitly.

Hegomir Torstan nodded thankfully at the other man before he disconnected. 'I will have to make sure Hrul and his henchmen don't get in the way.' he thought with a determined frown.

***

Keram yelled triumphantly on the combat frequency when his pulse lasers burned through the structural integrity of the Hurricane class battlecruiser. The dagger-shaped vessel came apart along it's central axis in an explosion of superheated gas and molten metal.

The Amarrian willed the heavily armoured hull of his Legion cruiser to turn and engage the battleship that had waited for them at the gate. His peripheral awareness registered the flight of Gallente designed combat drones screaming past him toward the target.

Broadening his awareness Keram saw how Cedrien's Myrmidon banked sharply as he aligned it towards their last opponent. Tilted like that, the ship's vertical design looked like a massive flying wing torn off some larger craft.

They had been in need of products only obtainable from the markets of New Eden: Ice isotopes.

With six different bounty-hunter posses committed to catching them, the chances were high that any one of them might trace and intercept them on the way to Rens. The closest market hub to their current wormhole exit. Alira had raged at not being allowed to come. Concerned about her impounded clones, Cedrien had ordered her to stay. She reacted like a sulking little girl who had been sent to her room. Any attempt of Keram to make her feel better through jokes, diversion, even sexual attention, were thrown back into his face with hissing annoyance.

That woman really didn't like being told to stay put, and he could absolutely understand it. It was one of the things he loved about her,.

So it had fallen to him and Cedrien to escort Shisei in his massive industrial command ship. It's holds were crammed full of advanced Sleeper components to sell and make room for the essentials they needed to keep their stations up and running. As they had expected, a gang of bounty-hunters waylaid them.

The Stray Dogs were notorious and feared throughout the four nations of New Eden, but their engagement strategy was geared towards fighting petty criminals and their tactics relied on facing opponents who were much less experienced in small engagements.

Shisei had used electronic warfare drones to disable their systems while presenting a tempting large target. Keram had his modular ship outfitted to take heavy punishment and to reciprocate equally. The battlecruiser Cedrien flew was an unorthodox configuration with multiple capacitor-booster fed repair systems and using a newly developed technology that sent bursts of energized particles to his drone wing – amplifying their damage considerably. It was designed to engage overwhelming forces.

Their opponents had soon lost their small support frigates and cruisers to the superiour tactics the wormhole pilots employed. Their Minmatar designed Hurricane battlecruiser had just been overcome, and now the two Awakened Industries combat ships bore down on the menacing shape of a Megathron class battleship.

Their antagonist was a capsuleer too, so he reacted with a speed and precision no base-line crew could achieve with a ship that size. Nevertheless, he had lost his support and he was now faced with a decision whether to keep attacking the Orca industry vessel that showed signs of becoming unable to resist his relentless attacks, or to concentrate on the two more dangerous ships that began to target him.

In the end, even the powerful pod-pilots were just human. If anything, the illusion of immortality stunted their instinct for self-preservation. Sometimes that was a factor which made them take decisions against better judgment. After all they would just wake up in a clone if they failed.

For the wormhole pilots, there was at least the conditioned realization that their death would result in a tedious journey back from the cloning facilities of New Eden. That and the constraint that crews were not readily available from a vast recruitment pool. Out here in empire space, there was a multitude of greedy or desperate people who would sign up on a capsuleer ship. The pod pilots generally offered large sums to compensate for the high risks they took regularly. A few tours could be enough for a crewman to feed a whole family for a year.

In wormhole space, that luxury was not available. Only the most adventurous or uprooted individuals would take the step into the great unknown, far away from their homes. As such, the pilots of Awakened Industries fought harder and with tactics more suited to keeping their ships intact and crews alive.

Keram swung his ship into an orbit around the massive emerald shape of his opponent. The heavy blasters of the Megathron tore at his armour, but his vessel had been configured to weather such destructive force. Streams of repair nanites held up in the race against the antimatter charges that were flung against his ship. They felt like a soothing prickle, subduing the pain impulses of the impacts.

Shisei replenished his shields in the moments of respite he had been granted. Keram registered that he sent a flight of electronic attack drones against the enemy battleship again.

Passing ships at the jumpgate to Rens watched the dance of destruction unfold, and the Minmatar navy stood idly by. After all, this engagement was protected by CONCORD regulations, and – unknown to the wormhole pilots - the commanders of the Matari ships had been told to stand down by authorities they would not disobey. The capsuleers of Awakened Industries were flagged as criminals, but someone up high had a vested interest in allowing them to pass without interference.

Cedrien's drones now swarmed around the enemy ship and he came into range to engage it with his projectile weapons. It was not a common thing to fit a Gallente ship with the Minmatar weapon systems he used, and that resulted in an element of surprise. The opponent had not been prepared for something like that, and the defenses of his ship were not accounting for it. Even less for the combination of electronic warfare and heavy energy weapons on top of that.

Cedrien sent a devastating barrage of highly destructive shells into the massive battleship hull while Keram's energy turrets sliced through it's defenses like industrial cutting tools. Eventually the combined efforts of the three capsuleers brought down the last of the Stray Dogs.

They left the battleship's burning carcass behind as it shed escape pods like fleas jumping off a dying beast.


While they were going to be docked for business, there would be time for Shisei to attend to a visit he had planned.

A representative of the Arek'Jalaan initiative had requested a meeting to discuss some research with him. An opportunity the Caldari scientist would loathe to miss.

With the bounty hunters off their back for now, there could hardly be any trouble coming from that.

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