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

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

29 Sep 2013

OOC Entry 98 - Connecting the dots

Hello again dear readers.

I just woke up in the middle of the night.

Well, some would call it morning.

Anyway, I crawled out of my bed and proofread my latest story episode and published it. Since I am only half awake and didn't even have any coffee, it might be a bit flaky.

Nevertheless, the narrative stands. With great regret I have to inform one of my fans - Thf - that this episode will feature another flashback. But do not despair, the present day narrative also continues.

It will open a possibility on how to get Sandrielle out of The Hive and brings our wormhole capsuleers in contact with more of those crazy nullsec people.

I have to admit, I like portraying nullsec capsuleers as members of some obsessed and at least borderline sociopathic social group in my story. That's just because - if you look at the way nullsec alliances behave in the game - they would be totally sick dictatorships or fanatic sects if you actually thought it through.

Since there is some more flashback history stuff, you are going to learn more about the development of Sandrielle into who she was before she joined up with Awakened Industries.

I reckon there will be one more episode which describes that process, and after that the circle will be closed. This story is not called Metamorphosis for nothing. It is the story of the child which is abducted by The Hive, turned into one of them, and then changed into the woman you have come to know in the previous stories.

In the next episode, those two narratives will connect with each-other again and I will continue the present-day thread.

For now, I hope you enjoy this chapter.

22 Sep 2013

OOC Entry 97 - Character History

I have somewhat painted myself into a corner with my last story.

Sure, everyone is back. Keram is racing to return to Anoikis to see whether Alira is ok, Cedrien is doing his political games with Arclight alliance, Alira and Sylera have recovered from their coma and found that they are bonded by the experience, Shisei is catching up with his old friends in Caldari State.

The problem is, I had Sandrielle be returned to her old home: The Hive.

Nobody ever escapes from The Hive. They can not be bargained or reasoned with. They are the ultimately dedicated fanatics. Hell, Sansha Kuvakei looks nice in comparison to those guys.

So, apart from writing a character off or coming up with some extremely unrealistic deus ex machina, I have no idea how I could get Sandrielle out of that clinch.

So while I make up my mind and find some way for this situation to resolve itself, I am taking a break from the current narrative to deal a bit with the past.

Since we are on the subject, it's going to be Sandrielle's past.

The one that had always been shrouded in mystery.

Where does she come from. What happened between her and The Hive? How did she escape? Where did she get all that sophisticated martial arts training and her abilities to manipulate people?

Those are questions which never got answered so far, and I thought it would be fun to go down that road for a while.

So, there I go, shedding some light on to that character's history.

I hope you enjoy it.

Credit for the artwork goes to Lisa Liang

22 - Metamorphosis - Part 1


23 years ago ...

Bhikkuni Kalsang steered the convent's old ground-effect vehicle around the forested outcropping which lay between her and the plume of smoke she and her sisters had spotted earlier this morning. The wizened Intaki woman had seen enough forest fires to know that this was not one. The smoke was too dark and too dense for burning wood. So she had gathered a group of four younger sisters – among them Ayang who had an aptitude with technology unsurpassed by any other – and went out to investigate.

Once the unstably floating old transport vehicle had completed it's detour around the natural obstacle, the five women encountered a scenery of singular devastation. Trees had been snapped like they were mere twigs, rocks had been shattered and small fires were smouldering everywhere. The swath of destruction formed a convenient path to follow to the source of the acrid clouds which darkened the sky ahead. Several hundred meters down the scar in the lush landscape of Intaki V they found it: A twisted and shattered mass of metal, solar panels and composite materials. It was a spaceship. Not a large one by any means, nothing larger than a frigate. With it's wings broken into translucent shards and the bent metal fuselage, it looked like a gigantic mangled insect.

Bhikkuni Kalsang was by no means knowledgeable about such things, but Ayang immediately called out when she saw it 'It is an interceptor! A Stiletto or Claw class frigate of Minmatar design!' Kalsang nodded, satisfied that she had brought the young disciple along. Although the order did not concern itself with worldly matters, it encouraged study among it's members, and Ayang had focused mostly on the technology of interstellar travel and the engineering of starships.

The Intaki nun veered the rickety floating vehicle around the wreckage and set it down at a suitable spot as close as possible to the burning remnants of the fighter craft. The younger women left the vehicle before she could heave herself from the driver's seat. Gentle Tenyu gave her a hand and Kalsang smiled thankfully at the girl.

Ayang was the first to approach the crashed spacecraft. Before she could even get close enough to need her breathing filter for protection against the smoke, she stopped in her tracks and pointed at the wreckage. 'Look sisters' the young woman shouted to her companions.

The other women respectfully kept pace with Bhikkuni Kalsang as she approached carefully. Once she had arrived at a point close enough to see, the old Intaki looked in the direction her young disciple pointed to.

Where the main hull had broken open, a rounded shape lay split among the remains of the fuselage. Inside the seed-like shell, a smaller kernel of transparent composite material was slowly leaking a viscous fluid from several cracks, and within that, a human body floated suspended in the same liquid.

A woman's body by the looks of it.

Bhikkuni Kalsang moved closer, helped along by one of her disciples, and pulled the respirator over her face to protect herself against the toxic smoke that rose from the burning wreckage.

As a nun of the Ida she lived in seclusion, but she knew enough of the world to recognise what she saw. 'It is a capsuleer.' she whispered with surprise in her voice.

'What is a capsuleer?' disciple Tenyu asked. Despite being very knowledgeable in medicine, that girl had come from a very sheltered home and knew little about the outside world.

'A human being who has sacrificed their spiritual rebirth to become one with a machine.' the old nun replied. 'They live inside their spaceships and have gained unnatural immortality through the use of technology.'

Ayang, followed by Keioki – the Achura convert – climbed carefully into the ship to inspect the capsule.

Ayang found an instrument panel that had miraculously survived the crash. It showed lifesigns on it's flickering display.'I think she is still alive!' she called out, her voice muffled by the respirator which she was now wearing.

“We must get her out of there.” Kalsang said and then addressed the disciples beside her. 'Tenyu, Lahoi bring the toolboxes from our transport.'

Apprehensively she looked over the red and green markings of the crashed ship. She noticed the spiny, multi-legged form of an ebailla insect, almost invisible under a layer or soot. It was an instrument of warfare, and the markings looked threatening. Bhikkuni Kalsang hoped they did the right thing by rescuing that crashed capsuleer 'May the ancestors be with us.' she muttered under her breath.

***

Bhikkuni Kalsang was still straining her mind to come up with an explanation for this whole situation while she looked at the girl moaning and writhing on her bed in the recovery room. Tenyu knelt beside the young capsuleer and dabbed sweat from her brow with a cloth.

'She has bad dreams.' the disciple said with a concerned look on her face.

'Not surprising.' Kalsang thought. 'She must have endured horrible things. Who would do such things to a young girl like that.'

When they had taken the capsuleer from her ship she was in a deep coma that she had not woken from in the five days since they had found her. When the nuns inspected her for injuries, they found scars and burn-marks all over the girl's body. Some of them looked so old that they must have been inflicted on her years ago. Someone had abused and tortured that poor girl for a long time.

Her features looked Gallente, and she would be pretty if it weren't for a hard cast to her features which spoke of hardships, both physical and emotional. She was not much older than the youngest initiates of the convent, but there was nothing girlish about her. Her lean body looked more like that of a stray animal than that of a girl.

'Who turns children into capsuleers like that?' Kalsang asked herself.

Suddently, with a scream, the capsuleer girl rose from the mattress and opened her eyes.

With the panicked expression of a caged beast she looked around herself quickly. Then, without a moment of hesitation, the girl grabbed a pair of scissors from the small, low table beside her bed and hurled herself at Tenyu with a feral growl.

The attack was savage but still dangerously well executed. This girl knew how to fight and kill. Tenyu would have ended up with the scissors lodged deep in her throat if it weren't for the nun's own martial training. Thanks to that, she reacted quickly. Tenyu sidestepped the attack, caught the girl's wrist and spun downward dragging the attacker with her while sweeping the legs from under the capsuleer while she turned.

With another scream the capsuleer girl crashed into the ground and ended up with her arm twisted onto her back and Tenyu pushing a knee into the small of her back to hold her down.

Kalsang stood up with a sigh and walked over to kneel down beside the girl who squirmed and screamed under Tenyu's hold. The younger nun looked pleadingly at her elder, clearly at loss how she should deal with this obviously disturbed young capsuleer.

'Please, calm down.' Kalsang begged the girl who hissed and spat at her. 'We mean you no harm.' the old Intaki continued. 'We rescued you from your wrecked ship.' she added.

The girl seemed to calm down a bit, or maybe she had just exhausted herself. 'My name is Kalsang, I am a Bhikkuni, a practitioner of the way of Ida.' the old woman said calmly. 'Would you like to tell me who you are?'

'There is no me.' the girl growled back at her. 'There is only the swarm of The Hive and it will come and kill all of you and burn your whole planet.' The last words were delivered with such a conviction that Kalsang felt a momentary chill crawl down her spine. With a sad expression she stood up and walked over to the medicine cabinet at the far wall of the small chamber. She retrieved a sedative injector and returned to place it against the girl's neck.

'It is better for you to sleep some more. Maybe we can talk once you wake up again.' Kalsang said and pressed the release.

Tenyu rose when the girl finally relaxed under her. 'What was she talking about? What is that Hive she mentioned?' the young Bhikkuni asked with a troubled expression.

Kalsang looked at her disciple earnestly. 'When I went to town last time to get supplies, there was an information bulletin about them. When I saw the symbol on her crashed ship I recognized it. The Hive is a group of capsuleer terrorists who have killed thousands of innocents recently.'

Tenyu looked at her elder aghast. 'Then she is very dangerous. We should bring her to the city and give her to the authorities.'

Kalsang shook her head. 'No, that would only make matters worse.' She looked down at the sedated capsuleer on the floor. 'This poor young girl has endured too much already. We have to heal her.'

Tenyu looked puzzled. 'But her injuries are healed and she has clearly recovered her strength.'

'Not her body my dear sister.' Kalsang said. 'We must heal her spirit.'

22 - Metamorphosis - Part 2



15 years ago ...

Bhikkuni Kalsang watched her young trainee while she was perched cross-legged on a rock. At moments like these she had to think back to the early days after they had found the girl. She had been strong even back then. Marked by abuse and neglect, but hardened by a life that few children ever had to endure, and fewer still would survive. The feral strength of her then lean teenage body had been cultivated over the years into the lethal grace of the young woman who now performed her training sequence under Kalsang's scrutinizing gaze.

Just like her body had matured and redeveloped, so had her mind. Back when they found the girl she was a savage creature. Very much like the insect which The Hive - her abductors - used as it's symbol she had no sense of self and a boundless aggression against everything that did not belong to her “swarm”. The weeks and months which followed her recovery from the crashed ship had been difficult, both for the girl and the sisters. More than one sister got injured because of the girl's ceaseless attempts to break free or at least hurt her caretakers. So much work had gone into healing the ravaged spirit of that stranded young capsuleer, but eventually they had managed to soothe her pain and free her mind from the harsh lessons imprinted on it by The Hive.

They had named her Keitu - the Intaki word for comet - because she did not remember any name of her own. The Hive had taken that from her too. The sisters taught her how to be a person again, and when she finally became an individual in her own right, she turned out to be a quick learner.

One good thing had come from the things which The Hive had done to Keitu at a young age: They had erased everything that she was before, emptied her completely and created within her a single-minded determination to dedicate herself fully to any task at hand. Once the sisterhood had broken the chains which The Hive had forged to bind this girl, she became an eager and quick learner due to this conditioning. Philosophy, martial arts, medicine, the art of psycho linguistics; whatever Keitu was taught, she picked it up at a speed that was almost prodigious. 

Right now, however, the young woman's actions interrupted Kalsang's reverie. The old Intaki spiritualist tapped her cane three times against the rock she was perched on. Keitu stopped in the middle of her sequence of movements. The evening breeze picked up and made the long grass of the forest clearing move like the surf of the sea. The trees all around rustled and groaned as they were moved by the sudden gust of wind, and Keitu's black hair swirled about her head as she turned to face her teacher.

'Stop!' Bhikkuni Kalsang commanded. 'What did I tell you about the form of the moon emerging from behind the parting clouds?'

Keitu relaxed her stance. 'That it should be executed in one fluid movement without any pause.' the young Gallente woman replied.

'Right. And what did you do right there?' Kalsang asked.

'I paused, my sister.' Keitu said humbly.

Slowly Kalsang slid off the rock. The years had taken their toll on the old Bhikkuni, but what the years had taken, experience and long training had done their best to compensate. With an agility well beyond what one would expect from a woman her age, Kalsang began the sequence and executed it slowly but faultlessly. 'The movement of the arms should be like swimming through the air, while your body moves forward. The power of the movement comes from the legs, and when your arms move backwards you settle your weight. Like this.' Kalsang stopped and touched her disciple to guide her through the movement. 'Do not use the strength of your arms to pull back, have them follow your weight as it settles into your root.' The old woman frowned momentarily. 'You are so tense Keitu. What is on your mind that distracts you so much?'

The dark haired Gallente stepped away from her teacher and bowed her head. 'Sister.' she said 'My mind is occupied with an announcement I saw in town.' 

Kalsang raised a thin white eyebrow and a map of wrinkles appeared on her forehead. 'Tell me about it girl.'

The olive-skinned Gallente closed her eyes and lapsed into a recall trance. Even her voice was modulated to almost sound like the recorded announcement she had seen on a holoprojector downtown.

'Intaki people. The savage and inhumane capsuleers of The Hive have invaded your homeland, the Intaki Syndicate. Those mindless killers have slaughtered hundreds and thousands of your kin. The Serpentis enforcers you tolerate, the Mordu's Legion mercenaries you hire, your own defense force. All of them are powerless against this threat. We are the capsuleers of the Rasen Zoku. We are your only hope against The Hive. Join our crews! Man our ships, and we shall liberate you from the terror of The Hive.'

Keitu stopped the recital, opened her eyes again and looked at her old instructor.

Kalsang exhaled slowly and shook her head. 'You think that by joining with those capsuleers you will set things right?' she asked. 'Have you learned nothing during the years with us?'

'No sister.' Keitu answered. 'It is not for my own peace that I want to do this.' She knelt before the old Intaki and grasped her wrinkled hands. 'You already gave me that peace. You have made me a person. You gave me a name. You taught me many things. But now I feel the need to repay my debt.' she looked down and tears rolled over her smooth dusky face. 'I feel like I owe so much to the Intaki way of life. I can not stand by to let the Intaki people be ravaged by the ones who took everything from me.' Pleadingly she looked up into the face of the venerable Bhikkuni. 'Who will be there to save the likes of me if The Hive wins?' Desperately she shook her head. 'I must do this.'

Bhikkuni Kalsang looked deep into the black eyes of that young Gallente woman she had poured so much of her knowledge and her wisdom into over all those years. She remembered the day that the teenage girl she once was had first embraced her, wracked by deep sobs. Kalsang remembered the laughter she enjoyed when Keitu had first managed to even sway her own mind with the perfectly chosen words and appropriate modulation of her voice, proving that she had mastered the art of psycho-linguistics. She remembered how impressed she felt when she had seen what Keitu could do in spaceship fighting simulations, and the incredible progress the Gallente girl had made in martial arts training.

Finally Bhikkuni Kalsang nodded. 'If this is what you must do, then it shall be.' she helped the young woman up. 'Walk with me back to the convent. You should spend one last supper with your sisters to say goodbye.'


The present day

'You must be kidding Cedrien.' Keram transmitted across the communications link. 'That wormhole entrance will maybe last another hour at most.' Nervously the Amarrian looked at the timer displayed before his mind's eye. 'If we get cut off we will be stranded out here in the ass end of nowhere. Do you have any idea how far away from everything Omist region is?'

'All I know is, that it's pretty close to Tenerifis, and that's where Rasenzoku make their home these days.' Cedrien replied across the communications link.

'Yeah great.' Keram growled back. 'So if we actually find them before being shot to pieces by a bunch of local capsuleers, they might actually hear us out before podding us. Is that your plan?'

'Since when are you the one to be so risk averse?' Cedrien taunted.

'Since we are sitting in the middle of a warp disruption bubble with nothing but two frigates, in the name of the empress' tits.' Keram shot back.

Space around them seemed empty. The ancient gate that had been built centuries ago as part of a long line of connections back to settled space, floated in space more than a hundred kilometers away.

Some local capsuleer pilots had anchored a warp disruption field generator right at a point where it would drag passing ships into it's artificial gravity well. A standard trap in the outer regions of New Eden where the Yulai Convention served only one purpose: To register the official claim of capsuleers to dominion over an unsettled system. This particular one was claimed by a group calling themselves The Southern Cross, and it was the choke point between their claimed space and the handful of systems Rasenzoku called their home these days.

Systems like this one were highly contested. Capsuleer alliances kept fighting over such strategic points on the map of New Eden. Wars on a massive scale would start in such places.

Aware of the danger, the two wormhole capsuleers had taken small frigates out to this remote region through a convenient portal into New Eden. With the recent losses Awakened Industries had endured, it would be reckless to risk a full crew compliment in something that might possibly be a suicide mission.

When more than a dozen combat ships suddenly appeared on their sensor scan after hours of waiting, it seemed like that was exactly what this was going to turn out to be.

Only seconds later the combat squad appeared within fighting distance and began to establish sensor locks on the two frigates they found inside the warp-disruption field.

Unsurprisingly the incoming ships carried the sun-and crucifix markings of Southern Cross.

Keram resigned to a quick death and inwardly cursed his commander, but then a new ship appeared on his tactical scan and ripped open a tunnel through the space-time continuum. A new force seemingly appeared out of nowhere shortly after.

The squadron of advanced black ops ships which emerged bore other markings. Their hulls were coloured metallic blue with stylized white spirals. As Keram and Cedrien maneuvered to avoid incoming fire, a storm of destruction broke loose that blotted out the light of the local sun. The carnage was over in minutes with the spiral-marked ships being the only ones left on the field.

Again the two wormhole capsuleers became the targets. Gallente designed recon ships rendered their warpdrives inert and flooded their sensor systems. Minmatar vessels enveloped them with powerful strands of electromagnetic energy to slow their ships down.

Keram was expecting the wrenching sensation of clone transfer, but it never came.

'Who are you? What are you doing here, and why are you marked as allies on my targeting overview in the first place?' a harsh voice with an Intaki accent demanded.

'We are friends of Sandrielle Jaunes'. Cedrien replied on the hailing frequency. 'We hoped to meet you.'

'What do you want of the Rasen Zoku?' the disembodied voice asked.

'We are looking for help.' Cedrien answered. 'We need help to rescue Sandrielle from The Hive.'


22 - Metamorphosis - Part 3



15 years ago ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'And you are beautiful.' the Intaki added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The present day ...

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

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

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

Even inside, it bore the scars of battles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Sep 2013

OOC Entry 96 - The Gallente as Bad Guys



What comes to mind first when you hear Gallente? Democracy? Multiculturalism? Hedonistic lifestyle? Organic-looking green spaceships? Exotic dancers?

Probably a few of those things and then some.

There wont be many people who will think of the Gallente as sinister, duplicitous and self-righteous to a level where they become relentless killers. However, since New Eden is a setting of Grey and Gray Morality there is of course a dark side to this mixture of US-American parliamentary democracy and French culture - in space.

The example that stands out most is the Gallente - Caldari war.

Not only would the Gallente not allow the Caldari to go their own way, they even initiated a massive bombing campaign of Caldari Prime. The reason, and justification, for this indiscriminate bombardment of a planet which the Caldari were trying to evacuate and leave anyway was a terrorist attack on the underwater city Nouvelle Rouvenor which was attributed to Caldari separatists. The whole operation served no actual military purpose. It was pure ideologically motivated retribution.



I am sure New Eden had (and has) it's own brand of "911Truth" conspiracy theorists who would suggest that the Nouvelle Rouvenor attack was a false flag operation to get popular support for the war. After all, the Gallente are not above duplicitous operations where they will even hire capsuleers to kill Federation Navy ships to get rid of a war monument where Caldari come to commemorate.

One of my own favourite examples of just how ruthlessly calculating the Gallente can be when it comes to violence is the Methods of Torture chronicle. Apart from the pretty nasty torture in the story, the implications of what they are doing it for are particularly chilling.


The anatomy of Gallente evil

Apart from providing a basis for enjoyably sinister plots and characters, one might wonder why the Gallente are particularly devious and covert about the bad things they do. I would propose it is exactly because of their otherwise very positive culture and image. A regime like the Amarr Empire would not have a reason to hide it's cruelty. Much of it would be conducted quite publicly as a deterrent against deviation and because the Amarr at least partially base their society on a divine mandate. There would be little reason for a faithful Amarrian to question harsh practices to punish deviants or enemies. Another example, the Caldari, are both highly militaristic and also very darwinistic in their outlook. While they would probably not stand for violent action that hurts the bottom line, they would generally be way too pragmatic to have ethics enter into the equation.

The Gallente, on the other hand, have a reason to uphold their positive image. The citizens of the Federation need to believe that their government - and by extension they themselves - are doing the right thing. Otherwise there would be no coordinated resistance against possible external threats. Also, the government, and the whole powerstructure that exists around it, would find itself without popular support if it were to deviate from it's role too much.

During the first Gallente-Caldari war, there was an extreme-right-wing government in power, but that only existed by the grace of the half-million dead of Nouvelle Rouvenor. Without that cause which supported the righteousness of action against the Caldari, most Gallente would very likely have returned to hanging out in fancy caf├ęs and watching holoreels rather than going to war against their former brothers and sisters. That does show, however, that the Gallente are well prepared to set their high ideals aside for the sake of what they view as a way of defending them.

The carefully maintained positive self-image of the Gallente is exactly what enables them to commit extreme acts of violence against others. They feel justified by the "knowledge" that they are doing it for the "right reasons". They manage to rationalize and externalize any atrocities committed in the name of freedom. In the minds of the citizenship such extreme measures are only a temporary and necessary evil to overcome adversity, not a general state of affairs or part of their identity.

In the meantime the Gallente have been engaged in a second war with the Caldari (this time the Caldari actually shot first), have conducted operations of extreme prejudice against the Amarr, created a secret state agency specialized on black ops and are not even above retributive action against their Minmatar allies when they act with a typical lack of diplomatic finesse.

So things are far from love, peace and holoreels in the Gallente Federation.


Using the material

In my writings I like to play with stereotypes in many ways. Quite obviously Cedrien is the archetypical Good Guy Gallente who would choose exile rather than following orders and go against his ideals (which are after all the ones that the Federation is supposed to be founded on). Sandrielle represents the dark side of the Gallente although she has been shaped by a life among the capsuleers of null-security space which is arguably much harsher than life in the Gallente Federation would be. The way she conducts her dirty business, though, is still very Gallente. She is aware of the evil that she does and therefore tries to hide it as much as possible. In that way she is comparable to The Operative in Serenity (The Alliance in the Firefly world as a whole could actually be compared with the Gallente Federation).

In other works of fan-fiction, writers have used the theme of the dark side of the Gallente, so writers are definitely aware of it and like to play with it. This often makes for particularly interesting stories because it subverts the stereotype and shows an aspect of the world that is not commonplace.

It also serves to create a pleasurably chilling reading experience. After all, what good is there left in the world if even the Gallente who make the most popular softdrink, entertainment and food of New Eden are also evil bastards.

I was long planning to write a story in which the Gallente Federation are the main antagonist. So far the Amarr and the Minmatar were featured [*] Apart from the mercenary leader Commodore Sivaata and the conniving trader Mikkai Aluvetti I left the Caldari out so far, but they make great individual antagonists which - I feel - serves them well because they are a very single-minded lot in general.

One thing I know for sure: A story with Gallente antagonists will have to be sinister and unsettling to work properly. Nothing of the likes of the uncompromisingly self-righteous actions of the Amarr or the desperate measures of Republic Intelligence.

I will have to work hard to come up with a good one for that to make it a story which does the dark side of the Gallente justice.

***

[*]  I really liked deconstructing the stereotype of the Minmatar as straightforward "warrior race" guys by having them use covert assets.

10 Sep 2013

OOC Entry 95 - All similarities are possibly coincidental

Hello readers.

When I stopped playing EVE, I decided I want to go and see something of the world. So, now that I am sufficiently physically recovered for a hiking trip, I spent some time on the picturesque island of Corsica.

That meant that any blogging activity went right out the window because I didn't have any computer with me - a situation that is unfamiliar for me when I look back at the last two decades or so and also weirdly liberating .

On the other hand, I did have enough time to think about where my story should go, and when I arrived back home this morning I didn't even unpack but sat down and wrote a whole new chapter in one go.

Since I didn't take as much time developing the writing, I hope I haven't put too many grammatical mistakes into it. Usually I end up finding quite a few of those even after proofreading the piece three times and then re-reading it after it's published.

I hope you can forgive me for sometimes doing terrible things to the English language.

With this chapter, all the main protagonists have come back on stage, and both Sandrielle's fate and the nature of The Hive are further developed.

Of course, since you are familiar with the big players in EVE, you probably wont miss some similarities between this fictional organisation and two major in-game alliances.

One of the two alliances I used as a reference is particularly interesting because it presented me with the challenge to come up with an in-universe analogy of recruiting players from outside of the in-game community.

Avid readers with knowledge of the French language will maybe also notice the thing I did there with the alliance logo of The Hive ;)

Also, there is a reference to an in-joke I used to have with (some of) my corpmates in the scene with Sandrielle. If any of them reads this they'll probably get it, but it's not a problem if you don't, it doesn't make the scene any less meaningful.

As for the story development, I thought I will close "Re-Awakening" with this chapter and continue the narrative in a second story. That's mostly because my way of reverse-dating the chapters to get them into the right order ends up concentrating a lot of posts in the past, and I want to come to a fresh start in the present rather than having a count of 20 posts in June.

Other than that, the title of the story  would not fit the continuation of the story. Now everyone is re-awakened and other things will happen which will follow a very different theme.

So, I hope I can keep you engaged in the story, and as always, any comments are welcome.

P.S. My thanks go out to all the people who were so kind as to contribute to getting me my present. Those books have been a source of enjoyment and inspiration on my travels and on evenings at home.