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

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

14 Nov 2011

The Affairs of Insects - Part 1

'It is still unknown where they come from. Their structures appear on deep-space scans without warning. Nobody ever saw a base of the enigmatic Sleepers materialize in space, and nothing is known of the methods they use to move those constructs, which rival small space stations in size, from one wormhole system to the other. Neither does anyone have an explanation why they only emerge in Wormhole-Space and never travel to the known systems of New Eden. There are - of course - many theories, but little to support them, because there is another problem with the Sleepers: They are violently defensive and unresponsive to any attempt at communication. They make no attempts to foray into space, but once they are approached they seem to know only one purpose: To destroy any intruders without hesitation or mercy. They never attack escape pods and capsules, though. It is as if living beings do not register for them. Any ship – however – they will annihilate with the determination of an immune system tackling an infection.'

Such or similar were the observations everyone who ever came across those artificial creations would eventually make. Shisei Kanioota had spent enough time inside wormhole systems to have considered all of the possible theories about Sleepers many times over.

'Maybe they are some sort of immune system?' Shisei idly thought as he monitored the complex reverse engineering processes which broke apart the alien technology of gathered Sleeper wrecks to reassemble it into useful components 'Obviously they are machines built for the single purpose of defense. Possibly they, and the structures they spawn from, are part of something larger? A complex and vast machine collective with a higher awareness that we can not understand. To such a form of non-organic life our ships would only be an irritating infection'

The overlapping panels of the entrance door to the control-centre of the science station smoothly slid apart with a subdued hiss, and Sandrielle entered. She walked past workstations manned by engineers, technical assistants and science specialists who were too occupied with their work to pay much attention to her passage. To Shisei's Caldari-educated mind, the aesthetic indulgence of this Gallente-designed facility seemed frivolous and unnecessary. Sandrielle, however, fit right in with the smooth lines and rounded corners. The embroidered gray and black of her casual clothes and the soft cascade of her long, dark hair complimented the light ambiance of the surroundings.

'The Gallente spend too much time to make themselves and everything they do look good.' Shisei observed inwardly and slightly shook his head at that waste of effort.

'A pleasing workplace will motivate the worker and therefore increase output.' Sandrielle stated as she arrived at Shisei's side. 'A Caldari should understand about increased productivity' she added with a soft smile that underscored her patronizing sarcasm.

Shisei found her apparent ability to read what people thought in their expressions and body-language highly unnerving. He very much valued the privacy of his own mind. 'So do clear lines and lack of diversion' he retorted with forced calm and intently set his sharp features into a blank expression. 'But I assume you have not come to discuss the merits of industrial design with me?' he added.

Sandrielle nodded concededly and waved a hand at the viewport to the to the advanced manufacturing facility outside. 'I came to check on the progress of the engineering efforts' she specified.

Shisei activated a number of holographic readouts on the arching console they were standing at. They showed various complicated components of typically angular Caldari design under construction. An array of robotic arms moved here and there with brisk efficiency. Countless construction nanites, represented as multicoloured flowing strings, were visualized as weaving around and through the objects they were working on. 'Thanks to the extra materials we have collected from Sleeper sites recently, our work is ahead of schedule as you can see.' Sandrielle looked at the glowing holograms with satisfaction. 'We will have enough subsystems to assemble twenty Tengu-class strategic cruisers within this week' Shisei added.

'Fascinating, isn't it?' Sandrielle said musingly 'We hardly understand how those Sleeper drones work, what drives them, or even where they come from, and yet we have found ways to transform certain parts of them into technology of our own.' an unreadable smile appeared on her full lips 'What does that tell us about ourselves?' she asked rhetorically 'We are like the organisms which break down dead bodies into sustenance for themselves. Such insects and bacteria have no understanding of the corpses they decompose, just as we have no understanding of the Sleepers we salvage to build our most advanced instruments of warfare'

'It has crossed my mind' Shisei said dryly.

'Neither do they seem to care about us. They travel with their bases by means we cannot fathom, from one wormhole system to the next, for reasons only they know, and only seek to annihilate us when we interfere with their unknown affairs' Sandrielle continued her musing.

'Sometimes I wonder whether they know what their reasons are.' Shisei joined in with her 'They seem to have no mind of their own. Just the necessary intelligence to act as a defense-mechanism for the structures that spawn them. Some have speculated that the Sleepers are leftovers from a lost civilization. I keep doubting that. Maybe there never was a civilization. Maybe it is like you say, and the Sleepers are just a small part of something much bigger that we can not see or encompass with our mind. A form of machine-life spread across regions of space we can not access, map or travel.'

Sandrielle marked how verbose the usually laconic Achura scientist suddenly was. 'That is a subject he has much interest in and little opportunity to share' she made a mental note for later reference.
'Well, so far nobody managed to find out' Sandrielle shrugged '… and the Sleepers themselves are not telling either.' she added with an amused smile. 'One thing we do know: Those Tengu cruisers will get us the one thing we can not find in here, the isotopes refined from ice belts outside of Wormhole-Space.'

'I honestly hope that your choice of a business partner for this venture is not one we will regret' Shisei said with a look of concern in his narrow, slanted eyes.

Sandrielle nodded reassuringly 'The capsuleer Alliances of the outer regions are preparing for war. Each one of them will look for any edge they can gain above others, and they have collected such riches that money is not an issue for them.' She gestured at the holographic displays. 'That is where we come in. Nobody except wormhole explorers has access to the materials and technology for Strategic Cruiser construction.' again she smiled 'Of course we could sell them on the markets of Empire-Space, but this way we cut out the middle men and trade directly with the end-users'

Shisei grimaced slightly. Like many Gallente, Sandrielle had a tendency to state obvious facts as if everyone else was too stupid to grasp them. 'I am aware of the economic benefits' Shisei said and did not attempt to mask his annoyance at her condescending lecture. 'I am questioning whether it is a good idea to trade with those lawless warlords. They know no honour, ethics or moral code.'

'Now you are the one who assumes to tell me something as if I didn't know' Sandrielle replied. She waved his concerns away 'I know how to deal with those people, don't forget that I used to be one of them' she said as she turned to leave.

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