'It is truly magnificent!' Hegomir Torstan exclaimed 'Their minds are linked with the consciousness of the Sleepers. Consider the profound potential of this fact.'
In the specialized medical bay of the carrier ship Euryale, equipped with a capsule control interface, two unequal capsuleers were linked to a system which simulated their link with a ship. One a lithe, feminine Amarrian with luxuriously long, almost white, hair and fine features, recently matured by her personal trials. The other, a Sebiestor, was of a more lean androgynous build and short red curls framed her boyish features. She was obviously older than her counterpart, but lacked the harshness that had engraved itself onto the young Amarrian's face. Both were wearing nondescript hospital gowns which turned them into standardized patients below their neckline.
The attending medic ignored the enthusiastic gushings of the elderly Minmatar scientist still wearing his long russet coat and looked at the holographic display which provided a constant stream of data about the condition of the two women's brains. 'It looks like they are still in a form of mental disassociation.' The balding round faced Gallente doctor observed. 'I doubt that it was such a good idea to disconnect them from their ships.'
'We had to bring them back. To study what happened to them' Hegomir Torstan replied with no hint of regret in his voice. 'In any case, for as long as they retain their communication link they will be able to talk to the Sleepers. Can you not see the opportunity this means for us?!' he exclaimed, frustrated at the lack of vision in this morose Gallente who probably never dealt with anything more scientifically challenging than emergency surgery.
'We have been promised revelations about swimming among the stars. Provide them!' An alien voice bereft of any human inflection or emphasis emanated from the speaker system of the sickbay and interrupted the potential argument about to flare up between the two men. It sounded vaguely feminine and had similarities to both Alira's determined tones and the softer, finer voice of Sylera, but it was neither.
The Gallente medical officer looked at Torstan with confusion on his face. 'How did they do that?' he wondered. 'According to my readouts they are catatonic.' he gestured to magnify the central cortex of both women in the hologram. 'And what are they talking about?'
'I don't know how it happened' Torstan replied 'But it is not the women speaking.' he paused and looked significantly at the doctor. 'It is them. The Sleepers.' Hegomir Torstan contemplated the cryptic statement with a furrowed brow..'I think I know what they want. Make sure I have a link to the women's neural interface.' the Sebiestor savant ordered and sat down behind a fluid-router console to establish a connection to the Arek'Jalaan research database. 'We will give them everything we know, and we will get even more in return.' he commented with unrestrained expectation in his voice.
The Gallente man looked at Savant Torstan sceptically, not moving, until the Matari man looked up from his console at him with unconcealed indignation. 'What?' Torstan asked irritated. 'Get on with it, or do you want that swarm of sleeper drones out there decide that they might just as well destroy us?'
Horrified the bald doctor shook his head and began to work.
Cedrien still had difficulty getting to grips with the scenery visible from his carrier's observation deck. Before his eyes lay the floating graveyard of hundreds, maybe thousands, who had died in their ships. The wrecks of his own defence fleet was a testimony to the inadequacy of Awakened Industries in the face of the adversary they had faced. The wrecks of the powerful Yanissary Order fleet – on the other hand – only contributed to the sense of disbelief.
Some of the most powerful instruments of warfare ever built by humans drifted shattered and flickering with plasma fire in the shadow of the vast alien structure which still obscured the light of the two suns in the centre of this trackless solar system. It was not so much the fact that this devastation had occurred, but how it had happened, which made Cedrien doubt everything he had learned about life in the Anoikis cluster.
Looking up at the vast circular complex and the dark biomechanoid shapes which moved here and there – disassembling the remnants of the mercenary fleet – made Cedrien wonder whether this was all but a cruel trick of his mind. Maybe he was actually suspended in the dying moments of his life and his fading consciousness had conjured up that surreal image before his brain would cease to think and dream for ever.
The growling, raging voice behind him seemed to confirm that he was in fact awake, though.
'Are you even listening to what I am saying?' he heard Arrakh scream as he slammed on the observation room's table with such force that the coffee service, tray and cups which had been provided out of common courtesy, jumped and clattered with the impact, spilling their hot content.
Cedrien turned and looked blankly at the tall, muscular Brutor man with his long mane of braided black hair. 'I can not explain it any more than you can.' he offered with a slight shrug and a helpless gesture. 'I am truly sorry for the losses you suffered Arrakh, but do you really think I had any control over them?' He pointed outside at the alien construct veined with pulsing light, looking more like something grown than something built.
Arrakh narrowed his dark eyes and pressed his full lips together angrily. 'If you had nothing to do with it, then why did they not attack any of your ships?' he shot back, but the worst edge was gone from the Matari capsuleer's voice.
Cedrien sat down in a high-backed chair and looked at the coffee spilled on the smooth table's surface by the outburst of his visitor, as if he could find and answer in the dark liquid. 'We have lost all of our pilots and crews who were not with me on this ship.' He looked up at the swarthy Matari. 'Two of my capsuleers got podded back to an uncertain fate out in New Eden.' Cedrien leaned forward and inclined his head slightly while looking at his guest intently. 'Do you really think, that I would have waited for all of that to happen if I had the power to summon Sleepers?' His last words were emphasized to drive home the utter impossibility of that suggestion.
Arrakh sat down opposite from the former Federal Navy officer and shook his head slowly. 'No. I don't think so.' he admitted. 'But this thing, what happened here.' he paused to shake his head. 'Nobody ever did anything like it or even heard of anything like it being done.' The Brutor looked at Cedrien with intensity. 'You must know something.' he added.
'I might know who could be able to tell you more.' Cedrien admitted and his features began to acquire a shrewd expression. 'I might tell you.' he offered and quirked his lips into a slight smile. 'For a price.'
The powerfully build Brutor guffawed. 'Your fleet is devastated, your station has no defences left and you still try to bargain?'
Cedrien shrugged. 'I know you didn't come to destroy us, otherwise you would not sit here with me.' he observed calmly. 'If you change your mind, I don't know how those things out there might react.' he inclined his head in the direction of the observation window. 'I know that there is something you would like to know, and I also know that there is something I need done which I can not do myself.' Cedrien shrugged again. 'Sounds like a perfectly viable opportunity for a bargain.'
Arrakh chuckled deeply. 'Allright, you got me listening. What is it I can do for you in exchange for your great secret.'
'I need someone to convince the Amarr Empire that we do not have what they want anymore.' Cedrien said, now with an absolutely earnest expression. 'And to make this deal more easy to swallow, I can assure you, that I can't tell you what you need to know to do that without also letting you know how all this happened.'
'Sounds good.' Arrakh admitted.
'Oh and by the way.' Cedrien added as an afterthought 'You also get to be the hero who brings back the Minmatar Republic one of their most prized scientists and very likely get a pretty nice reward for that too.'
The Brutor capsuleer crossed his powerfully muscled bare arms before his broad chest and leaned back in his chair. 'Tell me more.' he replied with a broad smile.