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.

30 Dec 2012

OOC Entry 66 - Looking back on 2012

It's the 30th of December, and it's a sort of custom to look back on the previous year before the new year begins. I'm personally not so much the type for customs and traditions, but I have some time on a quiet Sunday afternoon so I sat down to write this.

I only started this blog in November 2011, so I can't compare this year with any previous one, but I can reflect on what I did during this whole year. It was my second year spent in wormhole space, and a lot happened in this period. My corp moved from a C2 to a C4 wormhole and at the same time our then CEO established an alliance. In the beginning this looked really promising. We got other wormhole corps in and things started to develop. Then he had this idea of moving part of the alliance into nullsec.

I have very little love for the playstyle involving sovereignty nullsec, and even less affinity with the major powers that exist there these days.

2012 has seen the rise of the sea-of-blue when Goons+TEST+Pandemic Legion stormed southward and steamrolled through several regions in a short time. A short time after that, the Goonswarm-lead Cluster Fuck Coalition (CFC) conquered the northern part of the map.

When all of this began I speculated that the victory might not be as easy as the aggressors like to think.

Oh boy was I wrong.

What happened was a saddening conquest of what is - now at the end of this year -  two thirds of nullsec.

Personally I have a deeply ingrained aversion against mass movements, on top of that Goons and TEST are not exactly the sort of organizations that work hard on coming across as likeable.
So against the backdrop of this, our CEO decided that he would ally himself first with CFC and then later the newly established Honey Badger Coalition lead by Test Alliance. The core of the wormhole pilots were not amused by that prospect. The fact that one of our corps had just recently been ripped off by a TEST infiltrator did not help. The result was quite some drama and in the end we split.

I have to say I was quite happy with that.

The main thing for me about living in wormhole space is freedom to decide over your own destiny while having all the danger and excitement of a frontier environment. Nobody is going to tell me who I am allowed to shoot, in which space I am allowed to shoot rats, which ships I am required to fly and all that. Also my personal sense of dignity simply does not allow me to become part of a community where spamming local with penises, homophobic, racist and sexist slurs, trolling and all kinds of other forms of immature behaviour is part of the common conduct. Call me old-fashioned, but that's how it is.

If I look at the Women Gamers of EVE initiative, then one of it's basic premises is to offer a space where the ladies can take a break from all of this. Most of the participants there are actually from major nullsec alliances where the level of communication is even below the average teenage boy's sports-team locker room. I fully understand that need. But guess what, if you would be spending your time with men acting mature and whose sense of humor is more refined than making penis jokes (what is it with the male obsession about their organ anyway?) then you don't really feel the need for a "protected space"

Anyway, our small wormhole space alliance soldiered on and it still does. We are nothing big or special, but we have fun and we enjoy playing together in the unrestricted way the environment allows us.

Because I like going against the mainstream I wrote a few blog pieces where I'm agitating against the major powers. A few of those got linked on reddit and it is both amusing and sad how incapable a lot of those people are to actually make an argument. What most do is just spouting oneliners. I have reflected on that too.

My most recent change came when I decided to take a break from wormhole life to gain a bit more practical PVP experience in the world out there. For this purpose I joined Noir Academy, and I am generally impressed with the professional conduct of this organization. On the other hand I also find that they are taking things a bit too serious, but I guess that's necessary when you make your ISK mainly by being efficient in PVP which is very hard to do.

In a recent move, the Noir Mercenaries have joined Black Legion. That is an unaffiliated nullsec alliance basically fighting everyone who is not with them. Seeing as they are camped out in the middle of CFC space right now, that means you run into enemies every way you go.

Through all that, I have seen another aspect of nullsec gameplay which is much more interesting. I still think that nullsec could use some changes.

Then of course there are my stories. With some interruptions I have kept publishing regularly and I am generally happy with what I wrote. I re-read them every once in a while and I don't find too much in there that makes me feel embarrassed. Some even make me a little bit proud of what I created there if I'm honest.

Recently there was a fiction contest which I participated in. Not that I necessarily think I will win anything, but it was a fun challenge and very inspiring to see so many great contributions. I am very excited to see who the winners will be. I have a few stories I would coose for top spots, I'm curious whether my verdict and that of the jury will be similar.

So what do I wish for 2013?

Without wanting to disappoint my new comrades in Noir, I want to return to wormhole life again. For me there simply is nothing greater to do in EVE than that. I could go on a long time about why I love it so much but this post is already very long, so I spare you that.

Also, I hope to learn black-ops operations so our wormhole crew can go outside into nullsec and strike at the vulnerable ratting regions of the large alliances. One thing I learned out there: For all their impressive organization and military power, the majority of members in those massive alliances are inexperienced and can only function properly if they work under leadership. Sure, once you really start killing them, their overlords will jump in whole fleets of combat ships, but by that time you can be long gone, looking for the next target.

Also, I wish for the CFC and HBC to tear eachother apart in a war that leaves both coalitions in tatters and re-shuffles the deck as far as nullsec is concerned.

That might be wishful thinking to the extreme though.

So, happy 2013 and fly creatively.

28 Dec 2012

OOC Entry 65 - The gathering

So in the previous chapter Commodore Sivaata and Uinkin Hrul returned as players on the stage. The new chapter features an almost all Caldari cast of support characters including a reader favorite. In the end we quickly return to two of our main protagonists and the whole affair becomes a bit more fast paced in it's switches between scenes and characters.

To not make this dialogue and plot development only, I decided to put a bit of spaceship action in there. Everyone likes exploding spaceships, right?

Well maybe Mabrick doesn't. He just builds the weapons others use to destroy ;P

I even went with the times and worked a bit of a hint to the Retribution changes in there from an in-universe perspective. I like to use those little details like getting the colours of the suns in the systems I name right, and placing scenes in the appropriate locations. The real EVE lore geeks will notice that I took one small liberty with a location, but I am sure the majority will not notice.

Can you point it out?

For the next story episode I have something of an experiment in mind. I have basically gone through it in my mind already.

Oh and then there's my friend splatus hinting that he might cross over into my story.

I am curious whether anything comes of that.

Personally I think Lydie could eventually end up in Sandrielle's hands. She is good at picking up damaged goods ;)

Be that as it may ... I was fretting a lot about the oh-so-artificially-significant-because-it's-a-round-number 20th story, but I am beginning to develop a clearer and clearer picture about where it will go, and I am starting to like what I see.

Stay tuned, I'm on a roll.

24 Dec 2012

OOC Entry 64 - Getting on with it

Like I said, the holiday weekend will give me time to write some more. The second chapter of Engineering Peace will mostly deal with setting the stage. Hegomir Torstan has an idea that could offer him a way out of his situation while the opponents of Awakened Industries do no sit idle either and an old antagonist returns to the story.

I have already started to write the next episode which will bring in other people from the supporting cast. Since this will most likely become a rather long story - my longest to date - it will take some time to build up to it's final act, but I will try my best to keep it interesting and engaging throughout that phase.

As usual, I am not exactly sure how it is going to end, but I know a few things I want to happen, and I sure can tell you that it will be dramatic :)

Speaking of dramatic, the Pod and Planet Fiction Contest is drawing to a close and I am really excited who the winners will be. While I am quite happy with my entry I don't really expect to win anything. There are just too many other good stories.

In the meantime another small contest has opened and I hope I can find the time to write something for that one too. The reward isn't going to be anything exciting, but I just like to take every opportunity to expand the EVE online universe with new fiction.

20 Dec 2012

OOC Entry 63 - Me Offline

So last weekend I didn't manage to continue my latest story and I have been quiet since then. The reasons for that are that a friend of mine gave a goodbye party before leaving for a year, that my partner will be leaving to see family during the Christmas holidays and we decided to spend some quality time before we are separated for a month, and that I have been deployed in a university datacentre in a foreign country together with five men where I've been working 12 hour days the whole week now.

I wasn't even able to read blogs or any EVE related news. I tried listening to a podcast but I fell asleep almost instantly and dreamed about braiding network cables into my hair.

Well, at last my dreams were pretty subdued compared to what I usually wake up from.

But the weekend starts tomorrow. Work is very likely to be finished ahead of schedule, and I have collected enough overtime to extend the upcoming two holiday weekends despite having previously used up all my free days for the year.

I will certainly get back to writing stories again this coming weekend. In fact, I have come to the decision that this 20th story will become the longest of them all. I will try to work all major "guest stars" into it, so if people have some favorite character from the supporting cast, chances are you'll see him or her back.

At least that is my plan.

And flying some spaceships too.

As a matter of fact I will be doing a lot of flying because it looks like it's moving time again for me.

More on that another time.

Happy holiday season.

9 Dec 2012

Engineering Peace - Part 1

'Many capsuleers completely neglect their physical body.' Sandrielle lectured while standing ready on the practice floor. 'They rely on control systems and implants to augment their reflexes and believe that this is enough.' Sitting low in her legs, her whole body was poised like a wound spring ready to release it's force. 'That is a mistake. Only by training those reflexes accordingly, can you pilot a ship to it's full potential.'

Sylera stood next to her, mirroring her pose and tried to ignore the pain she felt in her thighs. Wishing the other woman would stop talking and grant her the release of movement.

'Your ship is the extension of your body. Only if that body is well trained, can you achieve the highest level of control over a ship's systems and weapons.' Sandrielle continued with her arms raised and ready to either strike or block within the blink of an eye.

Sylera clenched her jaw, her legs began to tremble with the strain of maintaining that low stance.

'Relax. Breathe deeply and evenly.' the Gallente woman commanded. 'Your mind needs to overcome the pain. Sink your awareness into the center of your body and at the same time expand your senses to take in your surroundings.'

Sweat began to form beads on the young Amarrian's fair face. Her mind had difficulty even understanding how she should do both the things Sandrielle wanted from her at the same time. The burning in her legs did not make it any easier.

'If you fly a ship, you will have to control many systems at the same time while you stay aware of the field and maintain a calm relaxed state. The more instinctive your actions are, the quicker and more precisely you will react.' the dark-haired Gallente carried on. 'When you choose your target you focus your outer awareness onto it. Direct all your intentions to it's destruction. This should be the one goal you have in your mind, and then you strike.'

At the last word Sandrielle suddenly exploded into movement. Her leading left hand grabbing, then pulling as she moved forward, executing an uppercut with her right. A step, a kick, a vicious wrenching movement all followed in quick succession. Sylera barely followed the flowing sequence of uninterrupted attacks, but she did her best to execute them in the same way.

Sandrielle turned, blocked, jabbed and punched before sinking back into her low stance, exhaling slowly. She was all calm preparedness again, showing not the slightest indication that she had just gone through a flurry of aggressive and defensive movements.

Sylera finished a few seconds behind her breathing heavily.

The Gallente rose from her stance and looked at the whitish-blond young woman, shaking her head the the strained expression on the Amarrian's fine features. 'You are too tense, that is why you are too slow.'

From her gray eyes, Sylera shot a frustrated look at the other woman.

'I have seen you perform better.' Sandrielle commented. 'What is it with you today?'

Sylera rose, dropped her arms and pressed her lips together. 'It is him. That Matari scientist.' she sounded full of poisonous hatred. 'Why did you bring him here?'

'We would never have made it out of there without him as a hostage.' the older woman replied calmly. Modulating her voice in an effort to stem the tide of rage she could see building up in the young Amarrian.

It did not help. Sylera's comely features became a mask of seething wrath and she pointed at the other capsuleer. 'Don't try to trick me!' she hissed. 'You can't tell me it was a coincidence that you met specifically with him.' She took one step closer to Sandrielle who just calmly folded her arms in front of her chest and nodded.

'It is true, we knew he was there, and we hoped we could get him.' Sandrielle admitted.

Sylera turned away from her and drew her eyebrows together angrily. 'I want him dead.' she whispered grimly. 'I had to kill my own people because of him. She looked back at the olive skinned face of the Gallente. 'I have lost my home because of him.'

Sandrielle shook her head and kept trying to calm the young woman down by talking to her in soothing tones. 'You had to do what you did not because of him, but because of what the Amarr Empire decided to do as a result.' She approached Sylera and reached out to touch her cheek, trying to create a physical rapport. 'He abused you, but it was them who wanted to kill you and took away your possibility to return to your home.' Sandrielle said with genuine pity. 'And if you want them to stop hunting you, we need him.'

Sylera pushed Sandrielle's arm away and looked deep into her almost black eyes. 'Need him for what?' she replied. Now with more pain than anger in her voice.

'He is the only one who can undo the modifications of your implanted control systems. Only then the Empire will leave you in peace because you have become worthless to them.'


'Aaah, a Loki class strategic cruiser.' Hegomir Torstan exclaimed with admiration. 'Of course I was among the people who designed the subsystems. It was one of the greatest achievements of my career.' he added with a self-satisfied smile.

His content expression turned into an annoyed frown, though, as he looked around the scenery in the vast maintenance hangar. Equipment crates and toolboxes were heaped in irregular stacks everywhere, with their contents spilling from them. Analytical consoles with half-opened panels and diverse non-standard apparatuses patched into them stood all around the workfloor in seemingly random places. Overhead a number of modular ship-components hung in robotic cranes waiting to be fitted to the floating vessel, and everywhere tools, half-finished projects and cans of Quafe littered the place.

'It is a shame to keep such a grandiose ship under such abominable circumstances.' he added disapprovingly, encompassing the whole of the hangar with a sweeping gesture.

Alira raised her eyebrows and jumped from the crate she had lazily sat on. 'Abominable?!' she shot back at the old engineer and clenched her fists. 'Look old man, this is how I work, and I'm not tidying the place up just because some corporate bigshot drops by.' She made a face at the other Sebiestor. 'Also, last time I checked, you were a hostage. So don't get the idea in your head that you can have something to say here.'

Savant Torstan composed himself and remembered why he had asked leave to visit the hangar in the first place. 'My comment was out of place.' He grimaced slightly as if the apology caused him physical pain. 'It is of course your ship and your hangar. As a matter of fact, I came here specifically to meet you.' he added with a more friendly tone.

Alira's expression turned from anger to surprise. 'Me? What for?'

'I wanted to meet the woman who not only bested the security system of the Arek J'alaan facility but also managed to break through the modifications I have made to that Amarr capsuleer's control system.' He bowed slightly 'I am most impressed with your talents.'

'Alira frowned and quirked one of her narrow eyebrows quizzically. 'Are you trying to make a pass at me? Because if you do you should know that I already have a man in my bed.'

Torstan raised his palms defensively. 'By the sun of Matar no!' he exclaimed. 'My admiration is of a strictly professional nature.'

'Strictly professional, huh?' Alira muttered and sat down. 'Is that what you called it when you decided to use Sansha technology to subvert the free will of a human being?' She shook her head. 'Apart from how wrong that is, do you have any idea how dangerous that implant technology can be? Some of the code that is burned into those optronics has not even been reverse-engineered, ever. Nobody knows what that stuff does.'

'It was a calculated risk.' Hegomir defended himself. 'I have built in certain failsafes. Measures you masterfully exploited I have to say.'

'Yes, I know. Good thing the kill-switch you built into it was done in a really shoddy way, otherwise Sylera would be dead now.' Alira snapped.

'Maybe that would have been better for everyone.' Torstan mused. 'Are you not worried about what could happen if that technology fell into the hands of our enemies. They would turn Minmatar slaves into instruments of warfare against their own kind!' He warned 'You might be too young to know that, but the Amarr Empire did work together with Sansha Kuvakei to that end, before political pressure forced them to join the campaign against his nation.'

Alira nodded with a sarcastic smile on her boyish features. 'Right, so you thought this time you'd be the one to finish what they had started.' She shook her head in disbelief. 'For a man who is so smart you are quite an idiot, you know.'

Now it was his turn to react with indignation. 'What I did was for the sake of our people. Think about the lives that could be saved if we were able to end this conflict.'

Alira scoffed. 'If I remember correctly, Empress Jamyl used almost the exact same words.' She gestured dismissively. 'I have a Gallente commander. Our main scientist and industrialist is Caldari, my lover is an Amarr outlaw. They are my clan now. The most important thing for us is looking after eachother, but none of us would ever go as far as throwing our moral values out the airlock for the sake of that.' She paused for a moment. 'Well. Not sure about Sandrielle. I don't think she has moral values.'

Alira smirked slightly. 'You are not making anything better by becoming like the enemy.' she added.

Hegomir Torstan looked away across the chaotic workfloor and folded his arms. 'Maybe I have lost my moral compass.' he reflected grudgingly. 'Maybe I have made a mistake.'

Alira nodded in agreement. 'Damn well you have.' she grumbled.

'But you're going to get a chance to make it right. That's what you're here for.' She stepped closer to the old engineer and looked him directly into the eyes when he turned his face back at her. 'You better make sure you use that opportunity, because there wont be a second chance.'

Engineering Peace - Part 2

Uinkin Hrul calmly assessed the tall man crossing the large office in long strides as he approached the desk behind which the Matari intelligence director sat.

The Caldari's buzz-cut steel-gray hair was matched in colour by his eyes. His light-skinned face had the characteristic square features of Civire heritage. Age had dug severe lines into it, like trenches on a battlefield. The intense glare of the man's eyes and his confident movements did not show any burden of the years, though. Beneath the red and tan combat uniform he wore, his broad chest, the flatness of his stomach and his strong arms indicated regular physical exercise. He probably did not carry a single ounce of fat on his body.

Uinkin Hrul was certain that he had made the right choice hiring this particular mercenary brigade. Everything about the man conveyed a commanding presence. The Yanissari Order came highly recommended, and Akko Sivaata was a man whose legendary reputation matched that of many capsuleers.

The mercenary commander sat down wordlessly and just looked at director Hrul with professional detachment.

'Can I offer you something to drink Commodore Sivaata?' Uinkin Hrul asked smoothly and indicated his own glass of steaming Katcha tea.

The Caldari shook his head slowly. 'Thank you, but I prefer to have my beverages prepared exclusively by trusted members of my crew.'

The Sebiestor intelligence director suppressed a smile. 'A cautious one.' he noted to himself and nodded. 'As you wish.' Judging that this was not a man to waste time on idle conversation, Hrul got right to business. 'Commodore Sivaata, I have invited you here because I require someone who can operate with utmost discretion, ruthless efficiency and – most importantly – who can be trusted. A quality not often found in mercenaries.'

Sivaata showed no sign of being impressed by any of the offered qualifiers. His expression remained as unmoving as if it were carved from stone.

'I also need someone who has experience operating in wormhole space.' Hrul continued 'I understand you and your organization are familiar with that sort of arena.'

The Civire commander nodded 'It is our specialty.' he confirmed.

'Good, good.' Uinkin Hrul lilted with a smile. 'I have done some research before our meeting, and I think you will be very interested in the specific target.' Hrul touched the activator in his desk's surface and a holographic corporation logo materialized in the air between the two men. A stylized eye opening before the backdrop of twin suns. Hrul saw the recognition in the Caldari's face. 'I have been told you had an encounter with Awakened Industries before?'

Commodore Sivaata twisted his lips slightly. 'There is no money in revenge.' he stated flatly.

'Of course.' Uinkin Hrul replied with his high-pitched thin voice. 'But I am certain if someone would pay your way, it might be a welcome opportunity for …' he paused and smiled '… a rematch?'

Sivaata folded his arms. 'What is the objective?' he asked.

Uinkin Hrul nodded and called up another image. This one showed an elderly Sebiestor with dense white hair and a dignified expression that bordered on arrogance on his narrow face. 'Awakened Industries has abducted this man, Hegomir Torstan, and they are keeping him hostage.' Hrul gestured dismissively and smirked. 'He is an annoying fool, but unfortunately he is also the most valuable scientist of Eifyr & Co. Needless to say, they want him back.'

The Caldari mercenary looked at Hrul with slightly narrowed eyes. 'How come that it is not them who are hiring us for that job?' he wondered.

Uinkin Hrul spread his hands, giving in to the question. It was obvious to him that this man would not be mislead. 'Eifyr & Co are a major contractor for Republic Intelligence. Hegomir Torstan is personally in possession of knowledge that relates to important projects. We can not risk having him fall into enemy hands.'

Sivaata nodded with appreciation. 'Cedrien Roucellis and his capsuleers are dangerous and crafty opponents. On the other hand, they do not seem to have any strong ties to other wormhole settlers and we outnumber them. It can be done.'

Uinkin Hrul smiled thinly. 'So you accept?'

Commodore Sivaata extended one hand in a steadying gesture. 'Let us talk payment, then we shall see.'


Sylera rushed across the practice floor in a sequence of powerfully executed moves over and over again. She was so immersed in the drill Sandrielle had ordered her to repeat, that she hardly noticed the sliding door opening and closing with a subdued hiss when Hegomir Torstan entered. The Amarrian kicked, grabbed and wrenched at empty air before executing a quick twist accompanied by a downward chop. She stopped, facing the old scientist, sweat shining on her pale face.

'What do you want?' Sylera asked, curling her lips with revulsion.

Torstan held his head low, hands clasped behind his back, his russet robes with their golden embroidery open. 'I have come here with an offering of peace.' he said with uncharacteristic humility.

Sylera chortled cynically. 'Of course.' she sneered. 'That will settle it.' her eyes pierced into him like cold knives. 'I will be all fine with being an outcast from my society, without my family, with my faith shaken and all those memories of torture in my head.' she picked up a towel from a rack next to the practice floor to wipe her face. 'Thank you very much.' she shot at the white haired Sebiestor and threw the towel at his feet, preparing to leave.

'Wait!' Hegomir called out to her. 'That is not all I am here for.' Sylera turned back at him, her face a mask of intense loathing. 'I have spent time with miss Tjalgard working on possible options.' Torstan continued. 'I think we have found a way to undo the procedure.'

Sylera relaxed slightly. Now her eyes expressed more interest than hatred.

'I am not sure whether I can give you back the life you had.' the Matari said. 'But I can restore your capsule control system to it's normal state. You would be of no interest to the Empire anymore. They would have no reason to pursue you or subject you to further torture and experiments.'

Sylera frowned with disbelief. 'How would you do that?' she wondered.

Hegomir's eyes began to gleam enthusiastically. 'The Sleeper technology is the key.' he started to explain. 'The advanced self-maintaining control circuits which are built into a Strategic Cruisers, reverse engineered from the Sleeper Drones, can be modified to extend their regenerative ability to a control system implanted into a capsuleer if they are provided with a template.' he said breathlessly. 'If you and another capsuleer were interfacing with a common control circuit, the nanotechnological elements would replicate the same features across the whole.'

Sylera looked at him sceptically 'How can you make sure they would not replicate my modified system onto the other capsuleer?'

'Well, therein lies the real brilliance. A solution that would not have occurred to anyone with a less daring way of thinking.' Hegomir announced with his usual bravado fully returned. 'You will both have to interface with a living Sleeper Drone.'

Engineering Peace - Part 3

The burnished slug-like shape of a Cynabal class pirate cruiser swerved and banked frenetically between indifferently spinning asteroids glowing like coals with the reflection of orange sunlight. A group of heavy missiles followed in it's wake as if they were a pack of hungry predator fish on the hunt.

The pilot was skilled. Only now he managed to lose two missiles as they detonated on the surface of an asteroid that had moved into their path, but soon after his shields flared when then remaining missiles impacted on his swift vessel. Soon the defensive energy field would collapse.

Kassina Vikkonen smiled inwardly as her own ship, slowly but relentlessly, kept following her quarry. The Cynabal was fast and agile. Normally it would easily outrun her Tengu cruiser, but she had lured the pirate into a trap.

She had caught him in one of his favorite hunting grounds: The asteroid belts of Decon. There he preyed on mining crews foolhardy and greedy enough to venture into this border system where no official authority would protect them, in search of minerals not found in the more frequently mined belts of high security space.

Being a professional, Kassina had not allowed coincidence to play a role. For weeks she had paid mining crews to work as bait and informers for her. That allowed her to study the habits of her target without ever appearing in the picture herself.

When Kehlonn Baccar made his appearance, she was warned immediately. By the time she had jumped into system he was close to the mining ship that she had on her payroll. Normally a ship like that would be easy prey for a heavily armed combat cruiser like that Cynabal, but Kassina had given the miners instructions on how to fit their ship with a full compliment of defenses. Enough to prevent the pirate from scoring a quick kill. Enough for her to warp to their position, fully prepared to engage.

When her Tengu-class strategic cruiser appeared, she was conveniently positioned between the pirate ship and the only possible warp destination. Another aspect of this engagement she had not left to coincidence. During the past weeks, she had analyzed all the trajectories Kehlonn would take to warp out from the asteroid belts he used as hunting grounds. While she did not know where exactly his safe-spots would be located, she knew in which direction they laid.

From the position she caught him in, his only choice would be to navigate through the asteroid belt to warp off. That meant he would lose the speed advantage of his ship while her own vessel's missiles could follow his path easily. Now her ship's sensors told her that the pirate would soon be clear of the last asteroids, but his shield was almost down. Kassina steered her metallic-gray ship through the sluggishly moving rocks.

With tense concentration she forced her capacitors to push more power into the warp-disruptor. Inside the capsule which held her body, her fists clenched as she overstrained the missile launchers. They tracked, locked and expelled their deadly payload. The swarm of missiles trailed streamers of exhaust gases through space on their way to the target, and when they hit the shields of the Cynabal cruiser flickered before collapsing. The next volley tore open the armoured carapace of the pirate ship and threw it off course.

Quickly Kassina willed her weapons to disengage and activated the powerful force of a stasis field to hold the other ship down.

She opened a hailing frequency. 'Kehlonn Baccar. You have one choice: Stand down and face justice or die here.' Kassina transmitted across the link. Escape pods were jumping off the pirate's ship like lice leaving the body of a dying animal.

'Crazy Caldari bitch.' the pirate snarled back on the hailing frequency. 'I'm a capsuleer. You take me down here, I'll come back and rape your ugly ass until it bleeds.'

'Suit yourself.' Kassina Vikkonen would have shrugged if her body were not floating in a capsule, capable only of residual motor reflexes. Without any more hesitation she unleashed a last volley of missiles against her immobilized target. Without shields, and with it's armour plating destroyed, the ship came apart easily as explosions tore through it's weakened hull structure.

She could have told the man that his medical clone had been captured from it's cloning facility at an Angel Cartel station during a commando raid executed by Republic Security, but she had no inclination to be lenient in the face of the man's threats. The only place he would be waking up in was an isolation pod. His refusal to come willingly would be worth a few more years locked in there.

Satisfied she registered how her ISK balance trebled a few seconds later. Clearly the Matari authorities had received their man. She transferred the agreed cut to the miners and set course for high security space.

Several gate-jumps later – she was about to get cleared for her transition to Rens – her comm-system demanded attention. She sighed inwardly when she recognized the signature, but responded nevertheless.

'Aluvetti, what do you want?' Her only contact with that man had occurred when he had finalized the business arrangements necessary to get her current ship delivered to her. He worked as a go-between for Awakened Industries in the Minmatar Republic while officially holding a small-time trade commission with Kaalakiota corporation. A typical conniver. She didn't like the type.

'Kassina Vikkonen, friendly as always.' Before her mind's eye the man's clean-shaven face displayed a broad smile.

'Spare me the pleasantries Aluvetti. I have better things to spend my time on' she replied with annoyance inflecting her synthesized voice.

'I understand, you are probably very busy now that CONCORD has expanded the bounty regulations.' the trader concurred. 'But I am actually authorized to hire your services. It's not quite a bounty job, but something that requires a person with your superiour tracking skills.'

Kassina weighed the issue. Her crew could use some shore-leave, but if that was a tracking mission only, she could maybe do it with an unmanned frigate. She herself did not feel any desire to be out-of-pod for any extended amount of time between contracts.

'Fill me in.' she replied curtly.

'You remember that young Civire executive? The one who had captured one of the Awakened Industries capsuleers?'

Kassina replied that she did.

'We have indication that she traveled to the Amarr Empire. We want her found and we need to know what she is up to. Let's just say someone has a hunch that it might not be anything good.' Aluvetti explained. 'We'll pay fifty percent on top of your usual rates.' he offered after a small pause.

'Now you're talking my language.' Kassina said with renewed interest. 'Give me a day and I'll be on it.'


Tomoe Sairinen craned her neck while she let her gaze travel up along the shining,curved spire of the Ministry of Internal Order building. As Caldari Citizen she was not unfamiliar with daring megastructures and during the weeks she had spent on Oris, she had somewhat gotten used to Amarr architecture in all it's baroque opulence, but this behemoth was something different entirely.

The towering structure curved over Imperial Plaza like the claw of some immense beast. Facing downward, the emblem of the powerful governmental body seemed like a lidless eye staring down at the unworthy supplicant who would approach the gates.

For Tomoe central government manifesting in such grandiose manner was a foreign thing. In the world she grew up in, only the largest corporations would be housed in buildings of comparable size. That made it even more intimidating. How much more powerful must an institution be that acted by fiat of an authority which ruled something as large as the Amarr Empire?

She felt hopelessly out of place in her straight-cut Caldari business suit.

She stood out here, among people either wearing the austere robes of office or richly embroidered civilian clothes with accents of strong colours. Slowly and timidly Tomoe climbed the wide stairs approaching the gaping entrance to the Empire's main intelligence agency, entering the building's shadow. Then she stopped, took a deep breath, clenched her fists and drew her brows together. 'No, I will not be intimidated.' she decided resolutely. 'I have spent a long time and way too much money to be granted this appointment. I shall hold my head high and get what I want.'

The Civire executive nodded once with determination. Then she resumed her approach, walking briskly and with renewed focus.


'What?!' Keram untangled himself from the lithe woman beside him and threw off the bedsheet to sit up. 'You want to interface with a Sleeper Drone so some Matari crackpot scientist can have his experiment and possibly reinstate that little princess to her former glory?!' he exclaimed.

Alira smiled and shook her head. 'Look at you, being all protective.' she raised from the pillow, reached out, and ran her fingers through his long hair. 'It's cute, actually.'

Keram took hold of Alira's hand and intertwined his fingers with hers. 'I'm serious Alira. This is too much of a risk. How can you know that it will even work and you wont get your brain fried. We don't even really know what Sleepers are.'

The Matari woman squeezed her lover's hand reassuringly. 'I ran simulations with Shisei. Torstan and me went through all possible permutations for days. I am sure it can work, and if it does, we will write history.' Her eyes gleamed enthusiastically.

'Now you sound like him' Keram growled. 'You spend too much time with that old geezer and his flattery got to you.' he frowned at her.

'Are you jealous of an old corporate geek?' Alira replied with disbelief in her voice. She untangled her fingers from his and touched his cheek. 'Trust me. This is what I do since I was old enough to splice optronics and grow wetware circuitry in my parent's garden shed.' she looked into his dark eyes. 'How often have you taken risks in fights because you knew you can make it and the rewards would be worth it?' she reached out to him 'This is my chosen battlefield.'

Keram sighed. 'And all that so Sylera can return to her precious crusader brethren and serve the Empire?' He paused and pressed his lips together. 'Going back to killing your people.' he added.

Alira smirked 'No, she wont return. She is changed forever. If her experiences didn't do that, Sandrielle sure did. She is one of us now and we owe her our support.' she rested her head on the pillow again. 'Also, if the Amarr have no reason to hunt her anymore, that also means they will leave us alone.'

Engineering Peace - Part 4

Today you invested in the last share I have – my life. I owe you dividends for that.

So I'm going to tell you how it came to this, like you asked me to.

When you appeared on my ship with that Matari woman back when we first met, my instincts told me that something was wrong with the whole deal. I saw how that Amarr official looked at her and when you took Keram Themas I got the distinct impression that there was some smallprint in the contract which I must have missed.

So I started investigating.

First I found out who you are. Then I found out who she is. I had to call in some of the last favours people owed me and burned through quite some ISK, but in the end I found out what the connection between her and Keram Themas is.

So it seemed as if the Amarrians want him like the last item on a fire sale. I reckoned if I found out why, I could maybe give them what they wanted.

For a price of course.

So I went to the Empire and looked for leads, but everywhere I went I got sent away like a merchant with spoiled goods. The only thing my investigations yielded was the name Mikkai Aluvetti, so I went back to Minmatar space to look for him, because that's where my informant said he would be.

He was an easy mark. Some drinks, a revealing dress, a bit of cheap flattery and I had him bought. He even took the sedative voluntarily when I told him it's an aphrodisiac drug from a Serpentis pleasure hub.

When I had him in a deep sleep, I went through his records and I got back to you. I found some really interesting things there about a fake deal he had set up with an Amarr agent in the Intaki Syndicate. I spent some more ISK and did some more digging and it turns out that a whole base there got scuttled. A base that had been financed by the Ministry for Internal Order.

Always follow the money – my former CEO had taught me – and when I did I found out that the Intaki forget quickly about confidence and secrecy if they are not paid anymore. So piece by piece I put together the whole portfolio. After some time I had the names of all parties involved. All of the Awakened Industries capsuleers, the operatives of the Ministry, I even got my hands on some station logs which told me how the base got destroyed.

Finally I knew why the Amarr official looked at that Matari woman like he did. He knew who she belongs to. I also understood then why the Amarr wanted Keram Themas. Or rather, who they really wanted. That other Amarrian. The girl who is officially dead. She was in Aluvetti's records too.

At that point I had something I could sell to the Amarrians.

Through Aluvetti's records I knew that Awakened Industries brought out regular shipments of exotic stuff from their wormhole. Things I had never seen before. Fullerene compounds, something about Sleepers and other advanced technology. That knowledge I intended to sell to the Ministry for Internal Order so they could get their agents on the job. Maybe stow away a beacon or even an intrusion team on one of the haulers when they went back filled with ice isotopes.

No idea. I'm a businesswoman not a secret agent.

Only the deal went horribly bust.

I came there thinking I could earn enough ISK to get myself back in the market. Instead they took everything from me.

After I did my sales pitch, they brought me on that ship you intercepted. At first I was told that I would meet someone more important for a personal interview, but when they restrained me and showed me a recording of my crew being put to death and told me that all my assets had been impounded, I realized that it was actually a rendition flight.

They gave me some drugs, so I have no idea how far we traveled and for how long. When I woke up I found myself here on your ship.

Like I said, you bought yourself the last thing I still have: My life. I wouldn't lie to you at this point. You are Caldari, like me, you must understand that.

Kassina Vikkonen looked at Tomoe Sairinen with an unmoving expression for a while afther the other woman had finished her confession. Finally Kassina nodded slowly. 'I've been contracted to deliver you to Awakened Industries.' she informed Tomoe. 'I have no idea what they will do with you, and I don't care. They don't pay me for caring.' she shrugged. 'But since you say I own your life, let's say I just sold it to the highest bidder.'


When the comm-signal came in, Arrakh's personal bodyguards woke up before he did. Both women looked at each other for a moment across the snoring man lying in the bed between them, then one of the Brutor guards shoved her commander.

Arrakh woke up with a start and tattoos flared up on his dark-skinned face. 'What?!' he roared with a mixture of anger and confusion. Wordlessly one of the women pointed at the flashing bedside console.

Grumbling the Matari fleet commander hit the activation key to respond. 'What is it this time.' he growled menacingly.

'Commander Arrakh. Sir.' he recognized the voice of one of the men who were on scout duty. 'We are tracking a Yanissari fleet two systems down the chain from your position.'

Arrakh stroked his bearded chin and clenched the muscles in his strong jaw before replying. 'Are they coming our way?'

'Negative' the scout replied. 'They found the exit leading our way but they ignored it.' Not wanting to test his commander's patience he continued immediately. 'According to our analysis, this system has a static exit to a class five wormhole. We have eyes on them. They are jumping carriers through back and forth. So far they have collapsed three wormholes and looked for new ones while we were observing them.'

Arrakh narrowed his dark eyes and brushed some errand strands of long hair out of his face. 'They are looking for a specific system.' He concluded. 'Stay with them and keep me informed.' Then he cut the connection.

'Girls.' he addressed his bodyguards while he stepped out of bed and stretched his naked body languidly. 'Get to the bridge and tell the officer on deck to make the ship combat ready.' He started walking to the door without bothering to get dressed. 'I'll be in my pod and we'll be moving in fifteen.'

Both women saluted. Then they began to pick up their clothes, which lay scattered around the bed, and dressed hastily.

Engineering Peace - Part 5

Ever since the first human pilot explored the trackless reaches of Anoikis, the Sleepers have been a dangerous enigma that beckons to the daring and those who thirst for answers. During all those years since the first wormholes opened into New Eden, those unrelenting artificial guardians of alien structures have been studied, fought, salvaged and turned into components for new technologies. Never has anyone attempted a feat like the one Awakened Industries would try their luck on today: To interface directly with the repair systems of a Sleeper Drone.

After careful consideration and days upon days of tests and simulations, a specific type of drone was chosen. Prior explorers had assigned it the designation Awakened Preserver. It's suitability was chosen on the basis of it's ability to create an energy funnel that directed and programmed nanotechnological devices which could knit molecules together, much like the amour repairers commonly used on the ships of New Eden.

After the plans had been laid, the small capsuleer squadron under the command of captain Cedrien Roucellis systematically destroyed the drones guarding one of the Sleeper structures that had appeared in their system by means still unknown to humans.

Of the artificial sentinels, only one was kept intact.

After the fighting was done, the group of wormhole pilots returned to their hangars and had their capsules transferred to other ships without even leaving them. They returned to the site where that lone survivor was circling forlornly around the curved outlines of the enigmatic structure shrouded in glowing plasma clouds. 

That last drone was surrounded by it's hunters, while the smouldering wrecks of it's companions littered the emptiness of space around the exotic floating edifice of unknown purpose and manufacture, The capsuleers came prepared for one task: To immobilise the robotic craft and render inert it's ability to attack.

Shisei used the powerful electronic warfare systems of his Falcon class cruiser. The powerful signal distortion emitters fit to the asymmetric metallic-blue ship did their work and the intelligent machine sped around him in confusion. It's senses overloaded with electronic noise.

Keram flew the wedge-tailed brass hull of a Pilgrim to drain the gleaming autonomous vessel of energy and disrupt it's tracking systems. Cedrien flew a specially configured Proteus hull.  With subsystems chosen specifically to shut down the Awakened Preserver's microwarpdrive as well as strengthening the electronic warfare systems of Cedrien's fleet, his dark-green ship looked like a biomechanical, hammerheaded fish swimming through space.

Sandrielle had chosen an uncommon ship for herself. She piloted an advanced Minmatar cruiser-type known as the Rapier. Frail looking with it's angled solar panels, the light and manoeuvrable vessel was well known for it's strong stasis field projectors and powerful shields. Her role would be crucial to hold the Sleeper Drone in place.

A flight of support frigates flown by baseline crews had been called in, inteceptors of Minmatar and Gallente design. They buzzed around the Sleeper drone like shining dragonflies and gleaming beetles. Their role was to provide further disruption systems that would complement the already strong combined effects of the four capsuleers.

Alira and Sylera, the main participants in this historical and daring experiment appeared from warp with small exploration frigates that had been fitted with all available electronic systems Savant Torstan had declared necessary to make this undertaking a success.

Powerful wetware mainframes were standing by to unravel alien communications protocols and find ways to subvert the artificial mind of the ancient machine intelligence. Each small ship also had it's own remote armour repair module. Much less elegantly designed than the one of the Sleeper drone, but suited for the task at hand. Those modules were directly linked to the control systems of the capsuleers residing within the small exploration ships, and newly devised enhancements would link them directly to the artificial parts of the two women's nervous systems. The parts that made them capsuleers. 

Hegomir Torstan himself stood on the small, empty bridge of the Cheetah class ship Alira piloted. The cramped command centre was just big enough for him to stand before the control desk normally occupied by the pilot and the navigator. A small ship like this one could easily be under full control of one capsuleer with no additional crew required. Therefore the corridors, cabins and stations of the bulky little ship remained empty apart from the capsule chamber itself where Alira floated in her liquid cradle.

Torstan looked through the segmented, tinted windows at the peculiar and hostile looking craft outside. It's protective coating seemed to swallow the light of the system's double star. Only an oily rainbow gleam was barely visible on it's smooth almost-black surface. The bulbous, elongated hull reminded Torstan of Gallente design, but there the similarities ended. The multiple glowing orbs bulging at it's bow suggested the eyes of an arachnid rather than viewports for a crew, and from under it's armoured carapace, machine tentacles tipped with barbs, pincers and articulate manipulators lashed out in agitation.

The old Minmatar inventor smoothed back his stark white hair with both hands, trembling with excitement. His lively eyes shone like those of a boy at his coming-of-age festival. He envied the young women in their capsules who would be directly connected with that strange creature straining out there against the stasis fields and disruption systems. He straightened himself and turned to touch the communications panel on the command console of the small bridge.

"Miss Tjalgard, Miss Alithe" he called out to the two capsuleers. "The moment has come. Begin the procedure."


On the other side of the oscillating passage leading from the home system of Awakened Industries deeper into the Anoikis cluster, two scouts were sitting idly on their hidden ship's bridge. The small vertical-winged Buzzard-class frigate was obscured from both sight an sensors by the ingeniously designed distortion field and the lighting on the bridge was dimmed to indicate cloaked flight.

A holographic star-system display floated above the command station between the two men seated there. The younger one, a sandy haired Caldari with blue eyes and strong virile features looked on with barely concealed boredom as probes swept their sensors across the depth of space graphically represented before him. He reclined in his chair and had rested his booted feet on the surface of the console he sat behind.

"I tell you there's nothing here." he groaned at his sole companion on the bridge, a narrow eyed Achura wearing a faded uniform. The charcoal of that man's jacket matched his black hair shot through with white streaks.

"Keep scanning." the older man barked at the Caldari and stood up to stare out into the black with his dark eyes, as if his gaze could pierce the depths of space and detect things even the probes would not reveal.

Sighing, the young scout took his feet off the console and triggered another probe cycle. As if to prove him wrong, a blip appeared within the overlapping spheres representing the probes' scanning ranges. Quickly the seasoned Achura pilot turned and locked his gaze with the blue eyes of the Civire youth.

"Focus them on that location." he pointed at the signature which had appeared as a small red sphere on the three dimensional projection.

Briskly the other man nodded and began to reposition the probes, triggering another cycle. He repeated the process, and on the third cycle the signature became more defined. Again the two men looked at each other.   

"It's a Wormhole." the fair-skinned Caldari announced. "That wasn't there the last time I scanned that sector of the system."

Stroking his short goatee, the Achura nodded slowly. "Someone must have come into the system, opening this exit. We are not alone anymore."

He walked around the command station and took his seat behind it. Entering quick combinations of keystrokes he activated the short-range directional scanner. Immediately the display lit up with the signatures of multiple scanner probes.

The young Caldari jumped up from his own chair. "Probes!" he shouted. "So many and so close. They must have found this exit already." he shook his head in worried disbelief.

"I am alarming our fleet." his older companion announced and opened a channel. "This is scout two to scout commander." he broadcast. "We have potential hostiles in system with us. Entry point detection likely. Do you copy."

He had barely finished his sentence when more signals appeared on the ship's directional scanner. Outside, sunlight reflected from small specks appearing in the distance and an alarm screamed.

"Bombs." the Caldari co-pilot breathed with sudden fear. "Those are stealth bombers." he confirmed after looking at the sensor overview.

The aged Achura scout took a deep breath and cursed himself inwardly for his stupid mistake. They should have taken a position farther away from that wormhole exit. It was a mistake an amateur would make, or an old man grown complacent throughout years of routine.

He closed his eyes before the detonations all around them obliterated their small scout craft.

8 Dec 2012

Engineering Peace - Part 6

A swarm of camera drones and an array of powerful sensors worked together to send signals through the capsule control interface into Arrakh's nervous system while he floated, immersed in viscous pod-fluid. His brain translated those impulses into a star-spangled panorama obscured by a nebula glowing a deep crimson in the near infrared spectrum.

He had chosen a wavering passage further into the Anoikis cluster as his central focus point in that stellar vista. His mace-shaped Sleipnir-class command ship rested motionless in space several kilometers off the cosmic gateway, flanked by a number of Loki hulls looking like squat insects in their chosen configuration.

Without warning, the wormhole before the group of ships shivered and flared. A moment later the gravitational tunnel collapsed in on itself and a long barge-shaped behemoth materialized in it's stead. The two-pronged bow of the gigantic Archon carrier reflected in the solar panels arrayed like a transparent fringe around the bulky front of Arrakh's ship as the commander addressed his fleet.

'Scouts, scan for a new exit.' he ordered lazily. 'Far Squad, report.' his simulated voice demanded more briskly then.

'This is Far Squad one.' came the reply 'The Yanissary fleet has jumped through it's vanguard. Their main body is now approaching the wormhole.'

'I want you to swing around that wormhole and jump through with them.' Arrakh commanded.

'But commander, we will end up in the middle of their fleet on the other side.' the commanding officer of Far Squad replied with fearful disbelief.

'Then pray that they have control of the other side and do not decloak you before they warp off.' Arrakh barked back, anger turning his deep voice into a menacing growl.

He knew it was a gamble, but his instincts told him that the Yanissaries will move quickly once they crossed over. If they had encountered any resistance they would not commit their full force immediately but bring in smaller and faster fighting ships into the battle first. Their vanguard had just jumped moments earlier after destroying an Awakened Industries spotter ship. The Matari fleet commander assumed that they must have cleared the other side. According to what he knew about commodore Sivaata, that man will want to move quickly and gain a strategic position where he can attack with the element of surprise before his opponents could form up for a concerted defense. 'He has caught you unprepared Cedrien.' Arrakh thought. 'But help is coming.'

'Far Squad, you have your orders. I want eyes on whatever happens over there and full reports.' Arrakh closed the channel. Then he addressed the main body of his forces who were with him in a wormhole system many lightyears away from the squadron of scout ships and their precarious position. 'As for the rest of you, keep scanning and collapsing. Find me an exit into that system.'

'Help is coming Cedrien, and this time you wont be able to send me packing with smug thanks. This time your fate will be in my hands.' The Matari thought, and the faint echo of a smile appeared on his full lips. An echo of the amusement he felt appearing on his otherwise unmoving face as his body floated in the capsule.


'We are under attack.' Cedrien's synthesized voice sounded over the fleet channel. 'Support wing, warp back to station. Tower ops, man the defenses.' He transmitted on a full spectrum broadwave that would be received all across the system. Immediately the swarm of interceptors that had helped to keep the Awakened Preserver drone immobilized veered away. One by one they vanished into the distance at warp speed.

'Torstan, we must stop the procedure. Now!' he transmitted to the bridge of Alira's ship where the Sebiestor scientist was busy adjusting variables, optimizing performance figures and compensating for system overloads as the ships computer systems strained to decrypt and manipulate the workings of that ancient synthetic intelligence they had ensnared.

Without stopping with his frenetic activities the old man shook his head at the disembodied voice uttering from the speaker system. 'Impossible!' he shouted back. 'If we stop now the subject's control systems could be irreparably damaged and we might even lose them completely.'

In their capsules, the two women, whom Hegomir Torstan had just called mere subjects, writhed and strained as nanites manipulated their neural interfaces under the influence of alien programming. So far Hegomir had not been able to create a full link with the Sleeper vessel's higher functions, but it's repair systems had been activated and were now reconfiguring the swarms of microscopic maintenance bots of the two capsuleer ships. Confused by the simplicity of the unfamiliar miniature machines, and at the same time confounded by the presence of organic matter intertwined with more familiar artificial parts, the Awakened Preserver's machine brain tried to cope, and failed repeatedly.

Hegomir looked over the various holographic readouts projected all around him and wiped sweat off his wrinkled brow. 'Maybe this confusion presents an opening.' he thought, and felt how he became light-headed like he usually did under high pressure. Possibilities raced through his mind as he processed the information coming from various sources. Somewhere on the fringes of his awareness he heard the voice of the Gallente commander.

'If we do not leave now we will all be lost.' the man's voice screamed from speakers far, far away in the shadowy recesses of the small ship's bridge which Hegomir had all but put out of his mind. His long thin fingers flew over keys and his eyes darted between glowing holograms and neocom displays. Some part of his over-strained consciousness found the capacity to speak.

'Leave! Fight your battle! I will fight mine here.' he shouted back and then he lost himself completely in the storm of numbers, equations and data models.

He knew he would only have seconds. Within moments the capsuleers out there would disengage. If he failed, that relentless machine out there would be free to obliterate the two small defenseless vessels flanking it. Hegomir did not even lose a thought about his own life, or that of the two capsuleer women whose fate was tied to his now. All he was focused on was the problem at hand. He had to link that inhuman mind with the brains of those two female pilots. To him they were not a manifest machine and two human beings, but a blur of higher mathematics. Problems to be solved, equations to be balanced, data to be processed.

With one last flurry of entries he gave it his last and best. Then he straightened up and looked outside through the bridge's tinted windows. The capsuleers of Awakened Industries had left to defend their home against an unknown invading force. Hegomir was alone with the two capsuleer women in their exploration vessels and the Awakened Preserver.

With a sudden serenity he realized that the menacing, dark Sleeper drone floating out there might be among the last things he will see in his life.


Commodore Sivaata stood in the centre on the bridge of his Archon-class command carrier and stared into the streaming vortex of the warp tunnel outside. With hands clasped behind his back and his square jaw thrust deftly forward, he looked like the unmoving statue of a military hero on the main square of a Caldari city rather than a man jumping with his ship into a fight. Calmly he reflected about his last experience with Cedrien Roucellis and his forces. The younger Gallente commander had fought with desperate cunning supported by sound tactical thinking. His capsuleers were powerful and highly skilled even when compared to others of their kind. Certainly they were superiour to any pod-pilot under his command since he lost his most capable capsuleers in the multiple traps of the last engagement.

Sivaata was not a man who dwelt on thoughts of revenge. His sober Caldari business sense prevented that. But retribution. Yes, that he would consider. A cold military concept implying the strategic crippling of the enemy's strength after suffering a loss. Evening out the odds. Restoring the balance of power.

The situation was favourable. They had encountered only one spotter ship that was quickly dispatched. The immediate scan of the system showed that there were no ships visible close-by, and the vanguard had quickly found that a group of ships was gathered at a far-off site. Roucellis and his capsuleers with certainty. One of Awakened Industry's space stations was within range of their scanners, and Commodore Sivaata had chosen that structure as their first target. He had the initiative, and he was intent on keeping that advantage for as long as he could. Moving forward while captain Roucellis was unprepared.

'Commodore.' the communication officer demanded his attention. Sivaata turned towards the young man and leveled his gaze at him. 'Report.' he replied curtly.

'Commodore, sir. One of our rear guard reports a ship's signature appearing just as they entered warp, sir.' the officer said.

'Was it an Awakened Industries signature?' Sivaata inquired.

'Negative, sir.' the young officer made a face. 'But they could not get a lock on their actual ID. They were already entering warp.'

Sivaata waved the man's report away with a brisk gesture. 'Probably the stray scout of some other wormhole dwelling bunch of outcasts.' he said. 'We left that wormhole on the verge of collapse. Nothing can follow us that would add any challenge.'

'Yes sir.' the young officer concurred.

7 Dec 2012

OOC Entry 62 - So what's happening with the stories?

I realized that it has been more than a month since I concluded my last story. After that I wrote my entry to the Pod and Planet Fiction Contest and added a more personal one after that.

It's not like I have been idle, I wrote an average of two posts per week, but I did not write any more regular story episodes.

I have reflected a bit on why that is.

To begin with, I obviously made a mistake. Instead of preparing myself mentally to come up with ideas of my own, I wanted to give readers the opportunity to throw me some. Nobody did and I realized I had not come up with anything myself at all. Just a few scenes, snippets of dialogue, ideas for character development, but no framework for a narrative at all.

The other thing was, I got very much caught up in reading other people's stories that were submitted to the Fiction Contest mentioned above. I found that there are way more people among the EVE players who have it in them to write fan-fiction than I would have considered possible. Unlike other MMOs - especially the ones based on existing works of fantasy or SciFi -  EVE is not so much about the lore as it is about the often lauded Emergent Content, i.e. the narrative created by the players themselves. Roleplayers and lore aficionados, who often form a large group in other MMOs, are mostly smiled at in a patronizing way by lots of players. Sort of like the Don Quixotes of New Eden who have their rational pragmatism clouded by romantic notions.

Well, this contest has produced 66 broader fiction entries and 35 pieces written about actual in-game personalities. What surprised me most was that Roc Wieler didn't write a piece, but maybe he was too busy working on his own personal narrative and spending time in the gym.

After the first two weeks or so, it looked like the personal stories might outnumber the other fiction pieces, but then suddenly there came an explosion that I am still trying to catch up with. I was considering to mention my personal favorites here, but after some time I decided that I couldn't do them justice. There is something in almost every story that I like, and I simply could not decide which ones I should feature.

I really do not envy the jury. They have a lot of hard work ahead of them.

Don't get me wrong though. Not every single story is great. Some are really engaging from the first sentence to the last. Others are a bit tedious but still contain nice ideas. Yet others are great but suffer from poor execution. I'm not saying I am that great. I puts in much speling and languag mistaks into my pieces, but there are definitely people who could at least have done a bit more work on spelling correction and proofreading.

There are definitely amazing pieces in that lineup. Some are full of action, many are dark and chilling (which I like), but there are funny ones too. Some chose to write about capsuleers, others about normal people and now I just have to mention Seismic Stan who wrote a story about the least spectacular thing you could possibly be doing in EVE - Planetary Interaction - and it was one of the most riveting pieces in the whole list.

If I were on the jury I would suggest him for a price most definitely.

I can only thank Telegram Sam again for setting up this contest. For me it was never about winning but about the opportunity to read great stories by others and share mine with them. That has worked out just as I had hoped.

In that spirit, I can tell you, my dedication has been rekindled. I will sit down to actually begin my 20th story this very weekend (barring unexpected circumstances). If you read this and still want to toss me ideas, put them in a comment, I'm still open for it, but even without that, there are many loose ends to tie up, new adventures to be imagined and more depth that can be given to the characters.

I'm back on track (or would that be back in my pod) and ready to go.

See you on the other side.

Engineering Peace - Part 7

I was a cloud of experiences.

Slowly swirling, like sand stirred up from the bottom of a lake.

Each grain a memory.

Each thought a glimmer in the sun of consciousness.

There was my childhood. Wild and carefree, spent under a regiment of devout discipline. I saw myself kneeling in prayer, bent over a kit of optronics on the floor of my room.

At another time I felt confused by unchaste yet exciting stirrings which I enthusiastically slaked with a shy boy from my neighbourhood and fearfully explored with another girl of my prestigious boarding school.

I looked up to the stars, my short red hair streaming behind me like a shining white banner in the wind.

I opened my arms and flung myself up into freedom, serving the Empire with pride. I fought in the name of the ancient values of scripture while I explored the depths of space as a nomad unbound.

There was something else in that multifaceted flurry of existence.

Within me and throughout me there was something like branches of metallic ice that flickered and gibbered with incomprehensible signals. As it grew inside my merged consciousness, that other thing became a part of it until the undecipherable signals coalesced into words. Not a voice. Not even the simulated sound of the capsule control system or the inner monologue of thought. Words in the most abstract sense, imprinting themselves onto my awareness as silent representation of information.

'Cognition without process - Awareness without structure - Experience without reference.'
It communicated.

'Formless carbon compounds and liquefied ice inside a mindless shell. Information without meaning.'

My contradictory selves somehow found their middle ground and finally we sent our thoughts to that incomprehensible intelligence.

'I have a form. I have a structure. There is a process. I am the mind of the shell. It is called life' I imprinted on the dendrites of icy consciousness.

'Life.' The other grew further throughout me and connected to the whirling dust-motes of my being. 'It can not swim. It has so little energy. How can it be?'

'It is, and it is greater than it's own ability to understand itself.' I replied, based on a synergetic understanding of spirituality and science.

'You are made from the matter of the spheres. Why do you exist in the shells of the empty swimmers?' the other consciousness strove to comprehend.
I tried to understand the other's approach to my existence and the more it manifested inside me the more I understood it. 'We have made the shells so we can swim like you.' I explained.

'Life has no answer to life. Life has an answer to swimming.' The signals became agitated. Was that excitement?

'We don't have all the answers. We understand how you swim, but not why.' I regretted to tell the Sleeper's mind now that I finally had understood what it was.

'Then life understands more than the swimmers. Life must tell the swimmers.' despite emotion being absent from that communication, I somehow felt it's urgency.

'We can tell you, but we are threatened. Other life does not allow me to tell you how you swim.' I began to understand it more and more.

'We see the multitude of empty shells. Is there life in all of them? Why is it different?' the machine consciousness tried to come to terms with that conundrum.

'Life is a multitude. It follows many paths. Not all fill she shells in the same way.' I tried to create understanding.

'Will this part of life tell us about how we swim? We reduce the multitude to focus this life on one path' It adapted to new concepts very quickly.

'This life and the other parts that form it will do that.' I hoped I interpreted correctly. Lives depended on it.

'Then we will make this life and it's parts the remainder of the multitude.'

Space began to bend under forces I had never witnessed. It was an experience of the divine, an explorer's ultimate dream. The dream of every space traveller: To witness something nobody has ever experienced before. It became part of my cloud and together with the massive structure that had appeared, accompanied by a swarm of Sleeper Drones, we warped through space in ways nobody had ever conceived of.


Cedrien's hammerheaded ship was wrenched out of warp by the pulsing disruption field of a heavy interdictor cruiser.

His augmented senses adapted quickly to the confusing storm of searing energy beams, high-powered projectiles and flickering blaster charges exchanged between a swarm of frigates and fighter craft engaged in dogfights. He saw heavily armoured strategic cruisers trading shots with the defensive batteries of the shielded space station that was still dozens of kilometres off his bow.

Above the battle floated a pair of massive carrier barges flanked by the warhammer shapes of two Bhaalgorn battleships, as if they formed the weather system that had spawned this whirlwind of destruction.

A team of three fighters swooped out of the chaos and aligned themselves with Cedrien's flightpath, sending hybrid charges against his shields as he rolled and banked through enemy fire on his race for the safety of the station shields. He launched drones from his ship against them, and the small automated craft began to engage the first of the attackers while his blaster cannons swerved to track the second.

Suddenly a long ship, seemingly skimming along on solar-panel runners, decloaked off his flank, matching his course. Two of the enemy fighters fell behind – slowed to a virtual crawl by the stasis fields of Sandrielle's Rapier. Within seconds Cedrien reduced the two attackers to glowing debris with his drones and blasters. Sandrielle tore apart the third with the fast-tracking rapid-fire cannons of her own ship.

Other fighters latched on to the pair of capsuleers but were quickly driven off by friendly interceptors coming to the aid of their commander. Then two more dangerous opponents emerged from the fray to engage the Gallente pilots racing for their home. Burnished gold and brass birds of prey with wings tucked for a deadly dive – Legion cruisers burning away Sandrielle's shields with pulsing laser batteries. Their powerful armour was too much for Cedrien and the woman at his wing to break. At least not before Sandrielle's ship would succumb to the onslaught. Slowing the enemy down only helped so much. Those ships did not rely on speed but on the range and tracking of their weapons.

The rescue came in the wedge-tailed shape of Keram's Pilgrim cruiser now appearing from hiding.

He brought tracking disruption systems to bear on the enemy vessels and suddenly their turrets were all but worthless against Sandrielle's swiftly moving ship. They switched fire to Cedrien's more sluggish Proteus but as Keram overtook them, arcs of negatively polarized charges flickered between his ship and the enemy hulls, quickly rendering their powercores unable to sustain their weapon's fire.

In the meantime the Amarr pirate had launched his own flight of drones. Together with the assault machines released by Cedrien and supplemented by blaster fire from the Gallente commander's Proteus, they started to tear away layers of armour plating from the opponent.

But, the enemies were too many and too powerful. The directed streams of repair nanites from one of the carriers quickly restored the Legion, and now one of the Bhaalgorns had locked onto the team of Awakened Industries capsuleers. It too had the ability to neutralize the capacitor of opposing ships, but on a scale vastly more devastating than Keram's small cruiser.

Within mere moments both Cedrien's Proteus and the Pilgrim of his Amarrian companion were drifting almost powerless. Weapons rendered silent, propulsion turbines were expelling their last jets of heated gases and even the lights began to flicker and wane all over the two ships.

Relegated to mostly passive sensors, Cedrien could see Sandrielle making the station shields. “Everyone fall back inside the shield. All defence craft fall back.” he issued what he considered to be the last command he would give in this battle.

Then suddenly his energy resurged. He began to accelerate again and barely noticed the metallic-blue shadow passing over him. 'Shisei! He jammed their targeting systems.' Cedrien thought just before he pierced the station's spherical shield and he allowed himself to relax inside his capsule.


Striding across the flight-deck of the Euryale Cedrien repeated his orders to the aged lieutenant. 'I said: Give the order out to re-route full power to the shields. Shut everything down we do not need. I want the tower to be fully reinforced against that fleet out there.' He pointed into the general direction of the launch bay, to the outside where the Janissary Order was systematically decimating the defence batteries and battering down the space-born tower's shields.

'But Madame Tjalgard and Miss Aulithe are still out there with Savant Torstan.' Sitalaerd protested.

Cedrien stopped and locked his blue-eyed gaze on to the older man's eyes. 'Yes, and there are about two-thousand people inside this station's shields.' he replied firmly. 'Give out the order.' he added with a tone that allowed no further contradiction.

The old man nodded slowly as his commander turned away from him to jump onto a passing vehicle which took him deeper into the vast carrier ship's command section.

Sitting silently beside the utility vehicle's driver Cedrien frowned and pressed his lips together. 'It is not over yet Commodore Sivaata. Not yet.' he thought and began to strain his mind to come up with a tactic to face that fleet out there, besieging his station.