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.

29 Jun 2013

21 - Re-Awakening - Part 3

A Caldari without corporate affiliation or personal business was worse than nothing. Someone who could not fulfill a valuable or productive function in the greater economic scheme was dead weight, contributing nothing to common prosperity. Such failures would be forced to pledge themselves to others so they might be given at least some role in society no matter how menial.

They would give up the last thing they had. Their freedom of choice.

Some claimed that this was virtually the same as slavery like in the Amarr Empire, but Kassina Vikkonen could not disagree more.

In Amarr society, the masters were personally responsible for their slaves. In that religious value system – which Kassina had always found strange and archaic - the slave-owners had to feed, clothe and house their thralls. The way Kassina saw it – and Caldari society as a whole embraced basically the same view – neither the master nor the slave could ever reach their full potential as human being if they were not individually responsible for their own destiny. The slaves, because they were not free to follow their own chosen path, and the masters because they were tied down by a responsibility which was imposed upon them. Both sides became restricted in their freedom of choice, and because of that restriction, the full potential of the society as a whole could not be reached.

It followed from that view, that corporate executives and directors would gain the highest reward from the business they conduct. After all, they have chosen to carry the majority of the risk. No diligent employee would have a problem finding new work if their corporation went bankrupt. A failed CEO, however, was damaged goods and could spend the rest of their lives without another chance at coming back to the top. They better had savings and shares that yield them dividends, otherwise they could drop from the very top of society's ranks to the very bottom.

That is where Tomoe Sairinen now was. After having lost all the assets of her corporation in a pointless crusade against a group of pirates and the even less sensible pursuit of that group of wormhole settlers, she had reached rock bottom. No surprise that the former young executive had pledged herself fully to Kassina Vikkonen. Not that the Deteis bounty hunter had any interest in making use of the Civire woman, but – and that was a surprise – Tomoe Sairinen was actually worth something to those wormhole settlers she had been chasing.

Or so it had seemed at the beginning.

As things looked now, Kassina was not so sure anymore.

After she had finally located the hidden space-borne settlement of Awakened Industries, she found herself between the fronts of a battle. She had decided that discretion was better for business than misplaced heroics and had decided to wait it out.

After all, she was a bounty hunter, not a mercenary.

When that alien structure appeared like a thunderhead above the fighting ships and spat out a swarm of spacecraft that looked more like living things than something that came out of a shipyard, Kassina knew that she was better off holding position far away from the engagement and hidden by a cloaking field.

Eventually the battle came to a standstill. Kassina was not quite sure who all the fighting parties were, but clearly Awakened industries had remained standing, even if badly battered and surrounded by those unknown biomechanoids which kept buzzing around the burning wreckage that remained like a swarm of alien insects.

Only then, Kassina tried hailing the wormhole corporation on the frequency she had been provided for contact. When she had received her answer she chose ten of her best men, landed her Tengu class strategic cruiser on the flight deck of the badly damaged Gallente carrier ship which was virtually all that remained of the Awakened Industries' fleet, and escorted Tomoe Sairinen to a meeting with the leader of this strange crew.

Things went downhill from there.

'I can only repeat what I have already told you a few times.' that irritatingly calm Gallente commander said tiredly. 'That contract was not issued by my corporation, but by an individual.' He stroked his close-cropped beard as if he were pondering the ramifications of that himself. 'And like I said, her ship and pod got destroyed and we have not been in contact ever since.'

Kassina leveled her pale-eyed gaze at the Gallente from where she stood on the other side of the conference table which dominated the room. Her escort platoon was spread out behind her, facing the Awakened Industry guards who stood behind their commander.

'That individual was a leading figure within your corporation. Her word should be the word of the corporation itself.' Kassina insisted sternly. The way how this man calmly ignored her obvious logic began to test her patience. He seemed to try and find a loophole so he could avoid responsibility. That only infuriated her further.

'That's not the way we work.' Cedrien Roucellis said curtly. 'We are not exactly under the jurisdiction of the Caldari Business Tribunal here.' he added.

Kassina Vikkonen pressed her lips together an took a deep breath. 'You should at least have the common decency to stand behind the commitments of your personal friends.' she suggested. If clear logic failed, Gallente can best be reached by appealing to abstract ideals. She had found that out during previous negotiations.

'Look outside.' The wormhole capsuleer gestured at the wide row of windows offering a view of the smouldering remains that were left from the past confrontation. Those enigmatic spacecraft systematically tugged and tore at the wrecks with prehensile mechanical limbs. 'Does that look like I have time to deal with some small issue like your bounty contract?'

He furrowed his brow and actually began to sound angry. 'My main starbase is in ruins. I have a fleet of Sleeper Drones around me who might decide at any time that we are their enemies after all, and the only thing that keeps them from doing so is the hunch of a megalomaniac Matari scientist and two catatonic capsuleers. Most of my crews are dead. The rest of my capsuleers are stranded out in Empire space and the one you had a contract with has not even answered any attempts to open communication with her. I don't even know where her clone is!'

He stood up and leaned over the table. Still considerably smaller than Kassina herself, he nevertheless managed to bear down on her with his angry dark-eyed gaze. 'So, you can either help me out here or you can wait until things get sorted, or you can take your ship and find your own way home.' He straightened and obviously prepared to leave.

'Aluvetti'. Tomoe Sairinen had been sitting the whole time at the conference table in front of the Deteis bounty hunter who had delivered her here. She had been staring morosely at the table's transparent surface, but at the Gallente commander's outburst she had raised her head and whispered a name.

'Mikkai Aluvetti knows where her clone is kept.' The Civire woman said, raising her voice.

Cedrien stopped and turned to look at her. 'How do you know that?' he asked with rekindled interest.

Tomoe straightened in her seat 'When I was on the trail of your corporation, my first lead was Aluvetti. I found out that he had been in contact with a number of operators running unregistered cloning services in Syndicate. Through another channel I learned that he had been looking for some wormhole capsuleer of a corporation he did trading for. Your corporation'

Cedrien looked impressed. 'That sounds promising.' He inclined his head and addressed Kassina Vikkonen again. 'If you want your money, I suggest you listen to what this woman has to say.' He smiled subtly. 'And if you find my missing capsuleer I'll pay you a substantial extra amount.'

'How substantial?' Kassina Vikkonen asked.

Finally they were talking a language she understood.

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