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.

22 Sep 2013

22 - Metamorphosis - Part 3



15 years ago ...

'Hello, my name is Tenshin. You don't look Intaki. Are you from here?' The young man strapped into the seat next to Keitu smiled with his thin but smoothly curved lips and his narrow eyes reflected the smile with a dark glint.

This look in his eyes made something stir inside of Keitu. Something she had never felt before in exactly that way. It tingled most pleasantly. Almost enough to make her forget that she was not Keitu anymore.

She made herself remember that she now was a Gallente woman called Sandrielle Jaunes. That woman was a capsuleer too. Unlike herself, that woman had not survived being shot down in her craft. It had been long ago, in a time when more errors happened with capsule technology than today. The transfer system of that unfortunate capsuleer had malfunctioned when her ship had crashed on the planet below. Her body remained dead and but her mind was caught in a timed-out transfer buffer. A forgotten casualty of an insignificant border skirmish with the Caldari State which was swept under the rug by political interests at the time. Back then, the two interstellar nations were formally at an uneasy peace, and the Gallente government had – as of yet – no interest in letting the conflict flare up.

Thus politics had made a missing person out of Sandrielle Jaunes.

Since all official records had been buried, it had fallen to the Ida nuns to preserve the capsuleer infomorph of the Gallente woman for many years, since it was part of their belief system that a spirit should not be allowed to die, even if the physical body had. It did not matter to the nuns' faith whether the spirit in question was something abstract or something that could be stored on a wetware mainframe.

So, when the time of Keitu's departure came, they made it a gift to her, and thereby gave that spirit a new lease of life.

The whole night before Keitu said her last goodbyes and took the road into town one last time, she had been linked to the datastore which held the capsuleer's mind. Through her own neural interface, she absorbed all of what had been Sandrielle Jaunes: Her youth as ambitious girl in a strongly patriotic family. Her enlistment with the Federation Navy, motivated by a profound conviction and idealism, and of course the prelude to her death when she confronted Caldari Militia capsuleers in the then increasingly secessionist Intaki Syndicate.

'My name is Sandrielle.' she replied with a truthfulness that had been ingrained to the point where it became reflexive. 'You are right. I am Gallente. But I want to support the cause of the Intaki.'

The young Intaki man – if at all, then not much older than Sandrielle herself – seemed to dwell on the smooth lines of her neck to a degree that made her feel uncomfortable and excited at the same time. The tingling sensation increased and filled her with a strange warmth that welled up from below.

'What is it?' she asked. Uncertain what else she could – or should – say when Tenshin's gaze met her eyes.

'It's just …' the bronze skinned young man now looked over her face in a slightly impressed way, and Sandrielle felt like blushing.

She decided it must be because they had broken atmosphere and were now floating in open space aboard this personnel transport she shared with a hundred other volunteers who had come from the small town close to the convent to sign up with the Rasenzoku capsuleers, to defend their home.

'You have those implants. You are a capsuleer!' Tenshin said.

Sandrielle could see how he tried to regain composure. The awareness training of the Ida order had taught her to read the most subtle hints of body language and minutiae of change in facial expressions or voice. She noticed his increased depth and decreased frequency of breath. A sign of someone trying to compensate for excitement. There were signs of a conscious effort to relax the eyelids, so as to not make an appearance of fear or astonishment. Finally there was that clearly forced but yet deliberately casual smile.

'And you are beautiful.' the Intaki added.

Sandrielle sighed inwardly. Really? Had he taken all that effort to seem in control just to deliver that line?! She had to smile nevertheless and found it endearing in an amusingly clumsy way.

'Thank you.' she said and now allowed herself to blush. She had been taught how to react strategically to play off of the expectations of another person, but this was not quite what she did here. It made her feel strangely exhilarated to see the boy's smile beam when she responded to his flattery in this way.
'It must be the feeling of being back in open space again after so long.' she thought.

'I have always been dedicated to the Federation's cause, and for me the Intaki deserve the same support as all of us.' Sandrielle sidetracked the conversation and composed herself with a subtle breathing exercise. 'Unfortunately the Gallente Federation does not want to get officially involved in a conflict with capsuleers, so I decided to volunteer to join the Rasenzoku.'

Tenshin nodded. 'I am sure they can use a capsuleer like you.'

He frowned slightly and looked down. 'I am just a crewman with experience in navigating long-range hauling ships.'

He faced Sandrielle again and smiled at her in a way that she found very fetching. 'Maybe I could become a crewman on your ship.' enthusiastically he grabbed her hand. 'I am sure they will give you your own ship.'

Sandrielle was suddenly forced to remember the nameless girl she had been before the nuns rescued her, and the destroyed girl she had been before that. Back when the Hive took her.

She cast her eyes down. 'Maybe.' she said somberly.

Poisonous memories now quenched the warmth and the tingling inside of her, but when she looked up again and saw the light in the handsome boy's dark eyes, she still smiled, and the warmth inside of her slowly rekindled.


The present day ...

'Any friend of Sandrielle will always be welcome on my ship.' the Intaki commander said as he shook hands with Cedrien and Keram. 'Please have a seat.'

The commander's quarters were small and cramped. Nothing like the spacious suites Cedrien knew from similar ships that were in service with the Gallente Navy. Of course, judging from the implants that were visible at the base of the dark haired man's skull, the commander was a capsuleer and therefore not in need of much in terms of personal shipboard comforts. Still, most capsuleer pilots were self-indulgent enough to set aside the best quarters on any ship they flew, just in case they wanted to meet someone in person or just unwind while there was nothing better to do.

It was very obvious, though, that this recon cruiser was first and foremost a warship.

Even inside, it bore the scars of battles.

They had passed through corridors where some of the lighting didn't work. Much of the ship's interiour structure looked like it had been subjected to recent and very haphazard repairs. Every available space they had seen while on board had been crammed full of ammunition, backup systems and unassembled combat drones. If not that, surplus space had been rededicated to fit heavy armour and bulkhead reinforcements. Damage control systems were distributed throughout every section of the ship and the crew had been reduced to a bare minimum as usual on a capsuleer controlled vessel.

The Intaki commander looked like a reflection of his own ship in human form. Once he must have been a handsome young man, but the memories of many hard fights had drawn deep lines into his features. Long deployments in space had made him look thin, almost haggard, in appearance.

'My name is Tenshin Noy, Recon Commander Second Class of the Rasen Zoku and I am an old friend of Sandrielle myself.' the Intaki said after seating himself behind the small desk of the ready-room. 'Probably even more than a friend, if anyone could claim to have come that close to that woman.' he added with a wistful smile.

Cedrien stroked his beard and raised a brow. 'I have been aware that Sandrielle had friends within Rasenzoku. I never knew it was that personal.'

'So you been shagging her when she was younger and even hotter?' Keram asked rhetorically. 'Lucky bastard.' the Amarrian added with envious emphasis.

'Lucky in more ways than one.' Commander Noy replied with a smirk. 'Sandrielle provided the Rasen Zoku with inside knowledge about the Hive. Knowledge that helped us drive them out of the Intaki Syndicate space back then.' he explained. 'She also made it look in a way that much of the credit went to me. Thanks to her the Rasen Zoku made me a capsuleer and Recon Commander.'

He sighed then. 'Unfortunately luck left us not long after she did.' Tenshin Noy paused there as if he was considering to elaborate on the reasons why Sandrielle left the capsuleer alliance.

He decided against it and continued. 'We drove the offensive onward against the Hive. We thought we had already beaten them.' The Intaki frowned and the lines on his face seemed to deepen. 'In our arrogance we declared ourselves the victors of that war, and indeed, we had liberated the Intaki people from the threat of the Hive. Like many other Intaki who had joined, I considered that a genuine success.'

Tenshin Noy pressed his lips together to a thin line. 'But as we pressed further into the depths of Cloud Ring we got surrounded by their numbers without even realizing it.'

Tenshin Noy paused as if reliving those painful memories. 'Only a few of us got out of there. The Hive did not just destroy our ships. They boarded them and took both crews and capsuleers. Those they could not turn were executed. Now all that remains is a nomadic fleet of scavengers with no space to call their home.'

'Still...' he drew himself up and opened his arms. 'I owe much, if not all, of what I have achieved to Sandrielle Jaunes.' Commander Noy leaned forward on his desk and looked at the two Awakened Industries capsuleers intensely. 'Now, you say she has been captured again by the Hive.' his jaw clenched. 'You do know that it is highly likely that she is already dead?'

Cedrien nodded. 'Yes, we are aware.' he gestured sharply when Keram opened his mouth to interject. 'We also owe a lot to Sandrielle. I don't expect you to know what life beyond New Eden is like, but trust me when I tell you that for us out there, every single person counts, and while we see a possibility to help them, we will not abandon them.'

Recon Commander Noy smiled sadly. 'I can understand the way you feel about this Captain Roucellis, and I would be prepared to lay down my life if I knew it would save Sandrielle.' he shook his head then. 'But what can I, what can all of the Rasen Zoku even, do against the power of the Hive?'

'Oh don't worry.' Keram said with a broad grin. 'We've got a plan. It's crazy …' he shrugged, but then narrowed his eyes mischievously. '… but believe me, they wont see that one coming.'

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