YC109.08.27 // Messenger

[date/YC109/08/27.return_log]

Mrs. Uomari,

As you very well know, your husband was one of the many casualties aboard the Leviathan-class Titan ‘Emra’ that was under the command of the Caldari Navy. I recovered your husband and used some of my personal funds to have his body restored and a casket prepared for burial. Please accept my condolences for your loss.

Sincerely,
A. Gwanwyn

[date/YC109/08/27.end_log]

YC109.08.17 // Bring Back the Dead

[date/YC109/08/17.return_log]

The rubble of the beast cast a thick shadow in the dust that hung in space. Fires silently burned throughout the vessel as the superstructure spun slowly. The crewship navigated its way toward the Leviathan, skirting past twisted metal and specks of glass.

It skimmed along toward the front of the Titan,  careful to avoid any large fires or the myriad of material that jutted from it. The crewship stopped just above a large, gaping hole not far from the bridge. It stabilized above it, carefully matching the spin of the behemoth’s slow roll. The hangar door opened, and I descended down slowly, gliding quietly through the thickness of space to the Titan below me.

“Alright Adainy, let’s do this one quick and easy. Grab the capsuleer’s corpse and get out so we can be done with this before the scavengers arrive.”

Shadowy figures in the fluid echelons of capsuleer society were willing to pay good money for the corpses of dead immortals – even though the bodies didn’t truly belong to a departed soul.

I gave myself a quick kick off the structure of the ship, floating lazily down the length of the structure toward the hole, which now seemed to be a mouth grimacing in some frozen pain as I approached it. I peered into the depths, lights still flickering in the corridors. Holding onto the edge, I could hear the rumblings of the ship travel through my hands as it tumbled in the burning light of the sun. A groan that couldn’t be heard, forever trapped in the body that held it. I activated my headlamps, and sank down into the maw.

I navigated the hallways, pulling myself around debris and pushing some away. Light glinted off of broken glass panels and sparks burst here and there. I came upon a stairwell that descended downward, and as I corrected my course, a ghastly visage hung before me. It spun slowly, like the ship, and I watched as the face turned to see me. The eyes were open, but looking upward, and the arms were stuck wildly out to the sides. A name tag was pinned to the dress shirt. It read PFC Uomari. I looked the body up and down, and noted it was missing the left leg and most of the left side of the torso. I danced around it, and continued on.

I made my way to the bridge, where I found the installation for the pod. It had burst, just as it was supposed to, but the pod’s ejection and escape maneuvers hadn’t activated properly. It had remained locked in its housing – whether through accident or design, I do not know.

I waved aside the remnants of the amniotic fluid left drifting from the pod, and found the body. This one had a face full of tattoos, and scars marking the length of his body, some cut in intricate designs. The capsuleers were curious demigods.

Tugging the body along with me, I made my way back through the corridors. I passed Uomari and paused, inspecting the face. It was in agony. For every person that died on this ship, somebody thought them priceless, worth more than anything in all of New Eden. But ever since the capsuleers had been born, the price of life had been given a number. So many baseliners could barely afford the cost to recover their loved ones, let alone the reconstructive and funeral fees to make them presentable for their final farewell – and yet, countless eggers were willing to risk life and limb ad infinitum to obtain a shell of a person, a cast off container. Sometimes, I wondered if they even knew, or if they even cared.

I grabbed the hand of Uomari, and pulled the second corpse along with me. I had an idea, as I drifted up and through the dark maw of the ship and back into the blazing light, that perhaps bringing back the corpses would change something. But I knew that wasn’t the case – Uomari’s family would want justice they could never have, and the capsuleers would keep waging their wars, oblivious to the plight of those beneath them.

[date/YC109/08/17.end_log]

YC114.01.03 // The New Year

[date/YC114/01/03.return_log]

All work on Project Blueprint was under temporary suspension due to the increase in war declarations by hostile parties for the greater part of the past few months. As such, I have made absolutely no headway in discerning whether or not there is any relationship between modern day constructs and Sleeper architecture. I’ve had very little time to dedicate to studying the efforts of other projects, and have only noted those events which have highlighted the greater achievements of the Arek’Jaalan initiative in recent times – namely, the completion of Site One and the ensuing Sansha sympathizer attacks that followed. It seems for the time being, however, those parties have grown silent.

Fortunately, my corporation now finds itself without an enemy, and as such, I will be making a trip into Anoikis at the next available opportunity. Having purchased a group of Helioses (Heli-i?) and having them shipped off to my home system, it seems as if roughly 24 hours from now will be my first (and hopefully last) attempt at entering Anoikis. I plan on staying for an undetermined amount of time, studying the Sleepers and their architecture for as long as possible.

Until then, I will be keeping track of some interesting theories that have cropped up from discussion between the Arek’Jaalan members. Given my affinity toward myth and legend, there are some intriguing stories I’d like to investigate.

As a side note, my continuing work on a completed map of ancient era Luminaire is still in the works – it is an extensive project, and I don’t expect it to be done in the near future – along with some of its mythology.

[date/YC114/01/03.end_log]

YC113.12.15 // Arek’Jaalan Logs

[date/YC113/12/15.return_log]

The Arek’Jaalan channel was beset by some interesting chat today, all captured in the logs:

[ 2011.12.15 06:58:57 ] Nathan Jameson > (btw any miners in here for tesseract)
[ 2011.12.15 06:59:24 ] Gabrel tosh > Kanza [command] [brodcast] [node] Ser Geant Pepper
[ 2011.12.15 07:00:03 ] Kanza Mikakka > [node] [acessing] brodcast query[]
[ 2011.12.15 07:00:19 ] Ser Geant Pepper > Send:
[ 2011.12.15 07:00:22 ] Ser Geant Pepper > 01010111 01100101 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01101000 01100101 01100001 01110010 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101
[ 2011.12.15 07:00:26 ] Ser Geant Pepper > We can hear you
[ 2011.12.15 07:01:41 ] Kanza Mikakka > command[cntl] confirmed
[ 2011.12.15 07:02:22 ] Aquila Shadow > got another transmision
[ 2011.12.15 07:02:29 ] Aquila Shadow > 01101110 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01101111 01110110 01100101 01110010 01101001 01100100 01100101 00101110 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100011 01110100 01101001 01110110 01100001 01110100 01100101
[ 2011.12.15 07:02:49 ] Aquila Shadow > 01101001 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01101000 01100101 01100001 01110010 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101
[ 2011.12.15 07:02:57 ] Ser Geant Pepper > “nation overide. reactivate
[ 2011.12.15 07:03:15 ] Ser Geant Pepper > “i can hear you”
[ 2011.12.15 07:03:20 ] Gabrel tosh > kanza [command ] termanite comms [order] override
[ 2011.12.15 07:03:39 ] Kanza Mikakka > comms[order termanated]
[ 2011.12.15 07:03:50 ] Ser Geant Pepper > Wow
[ 2011.12.15 07:04:20 ] Gabrel tosh > kanza order lockdown firewall activate [command only]
[ 2011.12.15 07:04:55 ] Aquila Shadow > 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100100 01100101 01100001 01110100 01101000 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01101101 01101001 01101110 01100111
[ 2011.12.15 07:05:02 ] Kanza Mikakka > [warning] command lockdown [recever] lockdown [transmitter] lockdown
[ 2011.12.15 07:05:16 ] Ser Geant Pepper > “your deaths are comming”
[ 2011.12.15 07:05:52 ] Aquila Shadow > 01100010 01110101 01110010 01101110
[ 2011.12.15 07:05:58 ] Gabrel tosh > kanza order [command] advise protocol active[transmittion] [input/output]
[ 2011.12.15 07:06:19 ] Ser Geant Pepper > “burn”
[ 2011.12.15 07:06:24 ] Donken Egom > try to reset it
[ 2011.12.15 07:06:29 ] Kanza Mikakka > [i/o] advise [lockdown] enabled
[ 2011.12.15 07:06:32 ] Guthris > So… about that whole research project thing called Arek’Jaalan
[ 2011.12.15 07:07:11 ] Guthris > ohh never mind, its pointless to start this discussion
[ 2011.12.15 07:07:35 ] 00Athus > what decussion?
[ 2011.12.15 07:07:44 ] Ser Geant Pepper > Send:
[ 2011.12.15 07:07:45 ] Ser Geant Pepper > 01010111 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101 00100000 0110100 10111001 10010000 00111010 00110100 00110010 10010000 00100010 10111100 10110010 10011111 10000110 100001010
[ 2011.12.15 07:07:51 ] Ser Geant Pepper > “Where is the Eye?
[ 2011.12.15 07:08:22 ] Kanza Mikakka > [warning] i/o lockdown enabled
[ 2011.12.15 07:08:34 ] Gabrel tosh > hes not talking
[ 2011.12.15 07:08:59 ] Gabrel tosh > the whole comm is shut down par this one
[ 2011.12.15 07:09:14 ] Ser Geant Pepper > I’m in Eram, where are you?
[ 2011.12.15 07:09:31 ] Gabrel tosh > site one
[ 2011.12.15 07:09:39 ] Ser Geant Pepper > OK
[ 2011.12.15 07:13:15 ] 00Athus > its never a simple job any more
[ 2011.12.15 07:14:14 ] Gabrel tosh > when was it?
[ 2011.12.15 07:14:35 ] 00Athus > true
[ 2011.12.15 07:15:18 ] 00Athus > tho i wanna no y im still flying around in the spikey phantasm of doom
[ 2011.12.15 07:16:19 ] Gabrel tosh > we were gonna run som tests tho this seems to b put on hold
[ 2011.12.15 07:17:09 ] Aquila Shadow > the last of the probes just jumped back to NAVCOM as ordered
[ 2011.12.15 07:17:48 ] Aquila Shadow > 24-48 hrs and we will know were the messages came from.
[ 2011.12.15 07:18:06 ] Ser Geant Pepper > Did anyone record the conversations?
[ 2011.12.15 07:18:15 ] 00Athus > i can probly take a shot nd tell u were
[ 2011.12.15 07:18:32 ] Gabrel tosh > hav this log
[ 2011.12.15 07:18:37 ] Aquila Shadow > my money is on the stain region
[ 2011.12.15 07:19:07 ] 00Athus > this place had 2 wormholes earler when i scaned the system down
[ 2011.12.15 07:27:27 ] Ser Geant Pepper > I’m docking up for the night. Good night all.
[ 2011.12.15 07:27:39 ] Gabrel tosh > night
[ 2011.12.15 07:30:48 ] DJ Markus Ditori > So, im about to head into Dead End to visit the Monolith.
[ 2011.12.15 07:31:12 ] DJ Markus Ditori > Anything new about the rogue drones there, since the first communication?
[ 2011.12.15 07:31:13 ] 00Athus > the giant rock?
[ 2011.12.15 07:31:30 ] 00Athus > only that it has gotten worse
[ 2011.12.15 07:31:42 ] DJ Markus Ditori > How so/
[ 2011.12.15 07:31:44 ] DJ Markus Ditori > ?
[ 2011.12.15 07:35:03 ] 00Athus > after the infomorph drones apperantly gotten worse there
[ 2011.12.15 07:35:49 ] DJ Markus Ditori > well, I’ll let you know.
[ 2011.12.15 07:35:52 ] DJ Markus Ditori > 3 jumps from it.
[ 2011.12.15 07:39:16 ] 00Athus > well…
[ 2011.12.15 07:39:44 ] Gabrel tosh > don’t worry i sent it
[ 2011.12.15 07:40:17 ] 00Athus > well i think im gonna dock up for a bit get outta this spikeball
[ 2011.12.15 07:42:23 ] DJ Markus Ditori > Eh, just 4 Frigates and 4 Cruisers of Blood Raiders.
[ 2011.12.15 07:43:31 ] Gabrel tosh > dam bug
[ 2011.12.15 07:44:04 ] Gabrel tosh > athus is u would cheak ur mail
[ 2011.12.15 07:44:23 ] 00Athus > ya ya im on it
[ 2011.12.15 07:45:57 ] 00Athus > wow seems to hav cooled down then

I have no idea what any of this is about; I sent a message to Mark726 containing the logs and am waiting to hear back from him with his opinion. It may all just be gibberish, but you can never be sure, especially when Kanza Mikakka is involved. We’ll see what happens.

The Arek’Jaalan community still hasn’t heard back from Dr. Tukoss, but this is to be expected with his busy schedule. With our department heads firmly taking control of the situation, I feel comfortable saying that Arek’Jaalan and Site One are currently in good hands. The threat from Nation is still under investigation, however, and we may yet see how deeply its corrupted veins delve.

[date/YC113/12/13.end_log]

YC113.12.07 // Particle Tracks

[date/YC113/12/07.return_log]

Uploaded from the public portal of C C P Alliance’s chronicle division, a series of stories collected for public entertainment and scientific research, for Mark726, who seems to be experiencing frustrations in accessing the portal:

The Glittering Dream. How banal, the man thought. He stepped out of the transit tube to the top level of perhaps the most famous nightclub in the Federation and walked over to the bar. The place was, by its standards, quiet and the crowd parted easily before him. At the bar, he glanced in the vast crystal mirror behind it and noted his own classically Deteis features with a wry grimace. Ideal, always ideal without pre-conditioning. He used the mirror to scan the bar behind him while he gestured to the barman for a drink. May as well play the game.

The woman wasn’t difficult to pick out. She was looking directly at him with a faint smile playing about her lips and laughter in her eyes. He shook his head, picked up his drink and walked over to her table, set at one corner of the vast western picture window. Ignoring the breathtaking view of Caille by night, the man looked down at the smiling woman with a frown.

“I’m a busy man, Yani. I can do without the theatrics.”

The Gallente smiled more broadly and gestured at the chair opposite her with an elegant and perfectly manicured hand. “My dear old friend. Always the direct one. Please sit, talk with me a while and perhaps the, ah, ‘theatrics’ as you call them will make a certain amount of sense.”

The man remained standing. “I agreed to this meeting for two reasons. First, you weren’t the one who broke contract on me. Second, I’m frankly curious as to what you’ve been up to since the takeover. That curiosity is what’s keeping me here. But it has limits, Yani, and you’d best come to whatever point you want to make quickly.”

Yani sighed and held up her hands in a placatory gesture. “Very well but, please, sit, ”she said. “After all it will be easier on both our necks, no?” The man grunted and sat down in the indicated seat, at right angles to the woman. He took a sip of his drink, raised his eyebrows and looked at Yani with renewed interest.

“Good, yes?”

“Surprisingly good.”

“This is part of what I want to talk to you about. Let me thank you for coming here. I realize you were taking something of a risk…”

“Minimal,” the man interrupted.

“Well, just so, but by coming here you put yourself on my home ground, so to speak, and I appreciate this.”

Rare is the chance to destroy your enemy away from his home, therefore consider his home your ideal ground.”

***

The Talos-class battlecruiser banked around the wreckage of its erstwhile target, riding out the shockwave effortlessly as its blasters swivelled back to the center line. The Rokh pilot was still cursing over the local band but he must have understood he hadn’t stood a chance. Just thrown in the multi-scenario mix along with the rest. The Talos pilot smiled in his mind. Pride was a notorious failing of his kind. He’d fallen prey to it enough times himself. Kind of pointless to get upset in here, though.

Ah, the controllers were speaking into his mind again. Annoying, like a rasp on the skin. Something artificial to him. Not like the NeoCom. What’s that? They wanted him to take on a Drake in close-quarters. He locked down the reflex reaction. This was a job, they were paying and what did it matter in the end? Maybe the Drake would be a suboptimal fitting. Heavy missiles and slaver’s breakfast shield-tank perhaps? Even so, he didn’t fancy his chances.

These basic one-on-one scenarios annoyed him. OK, they happened, sure. Every variation happened. He guessed that was the point. He was slated to continue testing for a few more days. Real time. That was a lot of scenarios in here. He groaned inwardly, partly at the thought of the grind he’d just realized lay ahead of him, partly at the sight of the Drake accelerating to meet him. Damn.

***

Rare is the chance to destroy your enemy away from his home, therefore consider his home your ideal ground.”

“Well, now. Analects of the Raata Empire?”

“No, the War Commentaries of dos Rouvenor. More appropriate to this setting, surely?” The man suddenly grinned but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“Your point is well taken. In fact, it is more relevant than you may realize.”

“Yani, those limits I spoke about…”

“Of course. First, do you require any further guarantees of security?”

“No. Get on with it.”

“As you wish. No doubt you’re aware of the latest arms race between the core empires?”

“I am aware of many arms races, Yani. I make it my business. You know, all this may not take much time out there,” the man gestured vaguely upwards, “but it does take some time, and yours is running out.”

“Understood. I’m speaking of the new battlecruisers. These fast attack, heavy-hitters the empires have decided are the new paradigm in warfare they’re going to try out.”

“Oh, those. Yes, of course I know about them. What of them?”

The woman smiled and unfolded her hands. The Deteis noticed that she was wearing an exquisitely cut and polished black gemstone on her left ring finger. Despite himself he smiled too.

“You’re familiar with the pattern of this particular escalation. The Amarr came up with the Oracle – a ship design quite out of character for them – and the rest either dusted off some old concepts or rushed new designs through. We’ve seen this kind of thing before.”

The man sighed inwardly, but gestured for Yani to continue.

“The interesting aspect of these ships is that, as an attempt to shake up the Empyrean War, they’re all designed around the capsuleer market and as such…”

“…as such the designs will be on that market very soon. Yani, please tell me you did not drag me into this ridiculous proscenium in order to breathlessly offer me advance copies of starship designs that will very shortly be available on the open market. Please tell me you do not take me so lightly that you imagine I do not already have copies of said designs. And please, for the love of the Winds, tell me that you have not completely wasted my time and your own with this nonsense!”

Yani sat back a moment and regarded the Deteis with hooded eyes.

“Evidently, you take me lightly, old friend.”

The man looked down, took a sip of his drink, marvelled at the taste and feel of it once more, and looked back up at the woman.

“Point. I apologize. Please continue.”

“What I was about to say is that as warships intended to upset the balance of the Empyrean War, each of these designs have been put through a crash program of testing with capsuleer pilots. The problem, of course, is that to test the scenarios adequately requires time. But the empires didn’t want to wait – each of them is afraid the others will put these monsters out before themselves. What could they do?”

An inkling of where the woman was going begain to creep across the man’s mind.

“They tested everything in virtuality.”

“Precisely so. More than that, they tested everything in the most sophisticated virtualities available to them.”

What Yani had been driving at all along flashed the remainder of the distance across his mind and stood starkly before his apprehension like a blazon.

“A tank. You’re talking about a tank.”

***

Magnificent, thought the pilot as he took up his position in the ten-strong attack wing of Oracle-class battlecruisers.  He’d fallen in love with this new design as soon as he’d seen it in holo. To actually fly one and fly alongside others was wonderful. Well, he caught himself, not actually, but near enough. This virtuality was the best he’d ever experienced. He’d heard of the tanks, of course. Everyone with practical knowledge of naval warfare in the Empire had. Combat information virtualities capable of simulating space battles in perfect resolution, at many times the speed of reality. They were used for research, testing and, most importantly, during combat itself. All the major powers used them but he believed the Empire had the edge. How could it be otherwise?

Knowing of the existence of a thing is not the same as experiencing it, though. Much like God, at that, he mused, before clamping down on that possibly heretical thought. He didn’t think his connection with this virtuality laid bare his every thought to Pulpit Command, but after all it was best not to take chances. He brought his concentration back to the attack run. They were closing on the targets quickly, a group of three Typhoons. Dangerous opponents in the right hands, but they surely couldn’t stand up to this much firepower.

Warp tracks. A lot of them. Small signals. Destroyers. The Typhoons had an escort group. The Pulpit channel briefly, and slightly irritatingly, confirmed the attack run was to continue. This was what they wanted to know, then. Presumably the scenario without the destroyers had been run in several variations already with other pilots. He’d been rotated in off a very repetitive sequence of attacks on Tempests at close range. It hadn’t gone well for the artillery-equipped battleships. The pilot mentally shook himself. He needed to concentrate, treat this as if his implants and clone contract were at stake. The coming fight promised to be quite interesting.

***

“A tank. You’re talking about a tank.”

“More to the point, I’m talking about several tanks. To be precise, the Carthum-Viziam Military Research Virtuality, the Duvolle Quantum Holography Facility, the Hyasyoda Naval Research Cluster, and Project Dreamwalk. That last one is the rather picturesque name the Minmatar gave to their military-industrial virtuality program.”

“Yes, I know. I also know that any one of the primary tanks operated by those organizations is as secure as any virtuality gets. I couldn’t even speak for my own primary tank being as secure. Hell, the Duvolle facility is an off-the-books mirror of the Black Eagles VCIC. There’s no way anyone’s getting into it.”

“Ordinarily, you’d be right, about them all. As it happens, the Duvolle job was relatively simple and served as the template for the others when it came to ironing out the technical details.”

“You’re joking.”

“I invite you to consider the design history of the Talos.”

“By K’vire!” The man was sitting bolt upright now, his mind racing with the possibilities of what he was hearing. He had a thousand questions but as of now there were only two important ones. “Alright then, Yani, you’ve got my attention. What are you selling and what are you asking for it?”

The woman smiled.

“Let’s start with the price. I recently liquidated some interests in the planetary development  field. As you know, I’ve always had an interest in capsuleer infrastructure but generally as a means to an end. It was the same this time and the handover deal with InterBus was very lucrative indeed.”

“InterBus? You mean to say…”

“Just so.”

The Deteis shook his head wonderingly. “That was deftly done, Yani. I had my people look at the operating conglomerate the SCC brought in to operate the planetary customs offices. They couldn’t find a hint it was anything more than a partnership of chartered investment trusts.”

“In essence, that is all it was. It just so happens that by one means or another the majority of those trusts are controlled by me. I had them play their part in setting up the network…”

“…and meanwhile you started the pressure to end the monopoly through political proxies. No more DED protection in the outer worlds. No more station-grade shielding. Sell the outer network to a ‘neutral party’. Ha! I still can’t believe InterBus took them on.”

“They do not understand the outer regions as you and I do, Muryia. They think they can raise the tariffs and people will respect their neutrality. Alas for them. But not for me.” The woman smiled broadly.

“You must have made an emperor’s ransom out of that deal.” The Deteis took another sip of his drink. “So you don’t want money. You want a favor.”

***

The dreamwalker resented the intrusion of these others in the Dream. They had come with the Tornado and he resented the swift-sailing wing of a ship for it. Perhaps unreasonably. But he resented the others. They did not even feel the sting of dreamshock when they failed. How could they possibly try their utmost without it? Some of the dreamwalkers said these others felt something akin to it. Something of their own making. He doubted it. They were not dreamwalkers even if they walked in the Dream.

Yet they did walk in the Dream and they could be the cause of pain if he did not take care. His charge today was a Zealot. Like the others in the Slaver’s Fang dreamclan, he specialized in the ships and weapons of the Great Enemy. In the Dream, he knew nothing else but his duty to fly the golden ships to the best of his ability. That and the dreamshock should he fail in that duty. His fellows were in a variety of Amarr ships, in close assault formation. Some Crusaders, a few Retributions and several  Zealots. Off in the distance, the others. In their Tornados. They seemed to sail lazily through space, like birds from a dimly remembered other time.

The Shamans were speaking. The pattern for the battle was laid out in their chanting and it signalled a charge on the foe. The Crusaders seemed to skip ahead, angling to avoid the direct line of approach. The rest of the ships followed, taking wider angles than their smaller and much faster brothers.  The enemy were approaching, which meant they were using autocannons, but they would try to turn this into a tail-chase. The Crusaders reported making scramble on several targets, shutting down their microwarpdrives. Several reported being counter-scrambled. Interesting. A few also reported webbing and tracking-disruption. The dreamwalker mentally smiled. Foolishness. The mixed electronic warfare across the enemy fleet was a good idea in principle, but to reveal the hand by using it all on the Crusaders indicated panic. The others would not win this fight.

***

“You want a favor.”

“Correct.” The Gallente woman played with her black gemstone ring. “You know me well enough to understand that I want back that which was always mine. That which I built. And I will have it back. The Snake wanted his takeover to be legal, in his twisted way, so legal it was and the stock is still traded.”

“Stock you’ve been quietly acquiring, I presume.”

“Yes, I now control sufficient stock to promote my own proxies to the board. Crucially, the corporation still controls a large reserve of stock that can be issued by qualified majority decision of the board.”

“You can’t have bought enough stock to control that kind of majority… so, you’re going to buy Sarpati’s nominees out from under him?”

“Precisely so. Our old foe has one blind spot. Even as corrupt as he is – so corrupt indeed that he would gladly pay for the pleasure of selling himself – his pride prevents him from realizing that a bought man, even a man he has purchased body and soul, can generally be bought more easily the second time.”

“And you have the ready cash to do it. I think I see what the favor is. Even with you two vying for control on the market, all that gives either of you is legal recognition of sovereign ownership at the Assembly. You need enforcement and that’s where I come in, yes?”

“Yes. I realize that you are heavily engaged with various ongoing contracts but I am not asking for space superiority coverage.”

“Just as well,” muttered the Deteis.

“What I need is the wherewithal to board and seize the stations. Once I have them, my possession combined with legal title and the newly-coded DED-grade station shields that will come with it, will check the Snake. I would naturally value your services under an ongoing station defense and patrol contract.”

“I bet you would. Well, that’s going to depend on what you’ve got to offer. They’ve shut you out of those tanks by now, I take it?”

“Of course. It was to be expected that any intrusion into facilities of that kind would have a relatively brief half-life.” The Gallente woman shrugged slightly. “Fortunately our bandwidth was wide enough to extract a considerable volume of tank telemetry in each case.”

“Incredible,” whispered the man, half to himself. He finished his drink, the marvellous sensation cutting through his thoughts again, then looked up sharply at the woman. “That’s what all this is about,” the man gestured around him and lifted his empty glass.

***

As he adjusted to the virtuality, he realized that the base specs of the Naga-class had changed since his last session in the tank. OK, they’d fitted rails to it in this scenario but that wasn’t exactly a change. Ah, he chuckled, so they’d given up on that idea. Yeah, he’d not been entirely impressed by the suicidal nature of the Naga as giant torpedo bomber himself. He called up the daily brief. “Unacceptable ratio of losses to tonnage enemy matériel destroyed.”  Well that was one way of putting it. Megacorp technocrat-speak could make fedo crap sound like a mildly annoying stain on the deckplate.

So, today was a basic gunnery run. Test out the new specs with railguns. Opforce was a bunch of different targets. As much variety as a possible. He grinned, yeah well, he’d seen plenty of FDU fleets as ragtag as this in his time. The variety was a bit artificial, a bit too much in the one-of-everything vein but it wasn’t entirely unrealistic. Squadron strength for the Nagas and decent range with the provided setup. This sort of thing he’d do “drive by” strikes usually, but this scenario was staying basic. No warping. Control test. Free initiative scenarios when this was over. According to the brief.

Sooner this was over with the better. The squadron lined up at distance and a primary was called, nice fat Dominix. He wondered why they bothered with using capsuleers for this calibration stuff. Eliminating variables probably. Oh, look at that, Dominix down. The Opforce were trying to make transversal but the bigger stuff wouldn’t be able to do much. Some of that stuff could be dangerous if they got it together though. Apoc, Rokh, Tempest, Mega, even the Raven. Squad commander must have taken longer adjusting than he had. This target list was terrible. He thought about saying something, then noticed the long-range stuff  was yellow-boxing him. Check that, they were red-boxing and his shields were gone. Mentally he grappled with his systems, even as he hoped they’d picked the squad commander as secondary.

***

“That’s what all this is about,” the man gestured around him and lifted his empty glass.

“Yes. Long as we’ve known one another, I did not think you would believe me unless you experienced our capabilities for yourself, if only in a small way. The drink is good, is it not?”

“You’d have been fucked if I hadn’t been in the mood for one, Yani.”

In war, risk. So too in life.”

“Hmph, that’s the Analects. A pretty trite one too, if you ask me.”

“Yes, well, sometimes that’s truth for you. As you know, it is important with the higher-level experiences that immanence be on the terms of the subject. Otherwise, well, it really never works properly. These things can’t be forced.”

“Enough of the metapsychology, Yani. That crap always gave me a headache in the Academy and it’s no better coming from you. Worse, if anything. It’s time to deal. Straight and clear, what are you offering me?”

“What am I offering you? Well that’s simple enough. I’m offering you this.”

“What the…”

***

Heavy assaults pounding his back and belly, immune system failing, nanobots going inert for lack of sugar, what was that light?

Adrenaline rush as he spat light from his fingers, swatting stinging bugs, something burning in his vision, heart pumping as energy is injected.

Victory ululating in his mind, the Dream unfolding, birds falling out of the sky, his legs burning from the microwarpdrive.

Gods-damn that moron to the hells and back, pressure of light and electromagnetism on his skin, the egg sitting there, comrades taking a vengeance for him with spears of plasma.

***

“What the…”

The woman was suddenly by his side, steadying him in his seat. He looked up at her, vision unfocused then snapping back to clarity. He drew in a deep breath and restrained a sudden urge to snap the Gallente’s elegant neck.

“My apologies, old friend, but as you have repeatedly reminded me, time is a valuable commodity and what I could have attempted to explain at tedious length seemed easier to simply show you.”

“What happened to not forcing it?”

“For the purposes of this demonstration, the raw scope of what I am offering, rather than a synaesthetic accuracy that would have required several baseline hours of pre-conditioning to appreciate, seemed more convenient. Once again, I apologize.”

“Do I have this right? You have personality-level telemetry of capsuleers operating in multiple scenarios from no less than four of the most advanced combat information tanks in the cluster?”

The woman smiled. “Yes, that is precisely what I have.”

The man grinned back, and this time his eyes were dancing. “OK, Yani, when do you want to meet for real? I think I can make some room in my calendar.” He paused and added, “Even if you won’t look as good.”

***

Acknowledgements to CCP Big Dumb Object, E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith and Gustave Flaubert

[date/YC113/12/07.end_log]

YC113.10.31 // Eggs and Graves

[date/YC113/10/31.return_log]

The floating graves
Up in the sky
Tumbling ’round
Up there so high.

The bodies hid
And tucked away
We sent them off
Just this past day.

But still they come
Come falling down
And out they crawl
Onto the ground.

So run away
And get the guns
And send the corpse
Back to the sun.

But still they’ll fall
Fall from the sky
And come back down
To eat and fly.

They’ll burn your flesh
And hatch from eggs
To bring on more
As walkers beg.

We’ll send again
Them to the stars
But still there’s more
And only scars.

[date/YC113/10/31.end_log]

YC113.10.28 // The Shadow Men

[date/YC113/10/28.return_log]

From the rocks
They do crawl
In a fumbling, bumbling
Haunted fall.

In the dark
They do creep
To the laughing, clapping
And the beat.

Wicked and hungry,
They’re tireless ghouls.
Full of great evil
That calls to fools.

In your home
They do sneak,
With creaking and cracking
Smelling meat.

To your bed
They do slide,
With a silent and quick
Fright’ning glide.

Dancing and waving
They’re after you!
Snatching and grabbing
They reach for you!

Watching your breathing
Until you yawn,
They will shut your mouth
Until your gone!

[date/YC113/10/28.end_log]

YC113.10.27 // Little Eram Dor

[date/YC113/10/27.return_log]

In the small town of Agah Ageth, there was a particular girl among all the many children named Little Eram Dor, who loved to play in the fields and sing all day. She was loud and raucous and perturbed all the people in her village. She would sing and scream, night and day, and never once made a friend. Her father would try to shush her, but she would shout, “I just want to play!” When in church he would reprimand her, for she was always humming and talking to herself. She would sing too loud and talk too much. And so everybody in the town despised Little Eram Dor.

Then one day, a new church was raised in Agah Ageth, and they held services late into the night. Little Eram Dor could hear them singing; they shouted and hollered and played on their drums, dancing around great fires in there field. So she snuck out into the night to watch them, far from her home and on the edge of town. She crept up to the brim of the firelight, and watched them spin and sing around the flames.

Little Eram Dor returned to her home, just as the sun rose, and hid her venture from her father.

Night after night, she would go back, creeping closer and closer toward the light. The people always seemed so happy and full, and danced and danced until the morning came. Little Eram Dor never slept, for she always stayed out too late to sleep. Soon, her father began to notice her tired ways; she no longer sang or shouted or jumped, and was thin and small. She only sat silently, thinking of when she could go back to the bonfire to watch the other people. She was so weary, she never noticed the how the children were less and less as time went by.

Then one night, as Little Eram Dor crept from her house and came upon the place of worship, she saw no one was there. She walked up to the edge of the roaring fire, and soon as she did, the people leapt from the field and began to sing,”We are hungry, so feed us bones! We are hungry, so fill us full!”

They spun and cheered, and Little Eram Dor was swept up in the haze. She sang and jumped and danced through the night, as the people threw her meat and joined her in her hungry feast. Night after night, Little Eram Dor returned to dance with the people and enjoy the delicious food they had.

She became fat and full, and her father noticed her mysterious change. He told her not to go out at all, but Little Eram Dor, being clever and having hidden her ventures from her father, kindly replied, “Father, I would never disobey you!” But that night, Little Eram Dor crept out again.

When she came upon the fire, the people were not dancing. She yelled at them, “I want to dance! I want to sing!” So they gathered around her and began their chanting, and Little Eram Dor was in quite a delight. She shouted and sang, and they lifted her up. They bound her hands and tied her feet, but still Little Eram Dor was singing. They built the fire big, and threw her over and around the flames. Still she did not cease her singing. The people shouted, “We are hungry, so feed us bones! We are hungry, so fill us full!” They tossed Little Eram Dor onto the fire, and still she kept on singing.

The next morning, the church was gone, and her father and the town came to find her. All that remained was her head, the little skull of Eram Dor, her mouth wide open, now silently singing.

[date/YC113/10/27.end_log]

YC113.10.26 // In the Forest

[date/YC113/10/26.return_log]

“There once was a boy named Urzogam, who was brash and arrogant. He always disobeyed his mother when she commanded him, telling her he was a man and would not heed her. She would call him for supper, and he would cry back, “I am not hungry, because I am strong!” and he would thrust out his chest and spit on the ground. She would call to him for bed, and he would cry back, “I am not tired, because I am strong!” and he would run out of the house and jump in the garden.

All of Urzogam’s friends admired his pride, and Urzogam enjoyed his fame. One night, he was playing with his friends near the edge of the forest far from the town. As the sun set, his mother came and called for him, and he said to his friends, “Listen! I will show her! I am a man, and I will run into the forest when she calls and not come out until the sun rises!” His friends were shocked at his bravery, because the forest was said to be haunted by shadows that ate children. When they said this to Urzogam, he spat on the ground and said, “I am not afraid, because I am a man!”

Urzogam’s mother called again, and Urzogam ran into the forest. As he ran further, he could hear his mother’s cries fade away, just as the sun faded into darkness behind the trees. Soon, it became pitch dark, and Urzogam began to feel afraid. He reassured himself, saying, “I should not be afraid, because I am strong.” He heard whispers and rustling away in the dark, and said to himself, “This is fine, my trick has gone on long enough. I will return back, and show her how brave I was!” As Urzogam walked, he could not find his way out. He became weary, and so sat down to rest. He heard more whispering, and the rustling was closer now. In fright, he stood up and began to run. “I am sure the edge of the forest is just this way, I am sure!” he said to himself.

He ran faster, and the whispering drew closer, followed by the footsteps and the sound of drums. They beat louder and louder, and he ran faster and faster, and the whispers turned to laughter and mad singing. Urzogam ran faster and faster but the sounds were nearer and nearer, and soon they were right upon him, the thumping of the footsteps and the pounding of the drums, the wickedness of the laughter, louder and louder, faster and faster, howling and calling, he could not run any faster!

Urzogam’s friends told his mother what he had done, and she gathered up the townsfolk to go to the forest in the middle of the night. As they came upon the edge of the forest, they heard a frightening skriek far into the thicket that pierced their senses, and then silence.

The next morning, the townsfolk found the bones of Urzogam, lying piecemeal mere feet from the edge of the forest. Some say that to this day, you can still hear the cries of Urzogam as his ghost tries to escape its fate, and that those who have ventured in to find it… have never returned.

[date/YC113/10/26.end_log]

YC113.10.17 // Whisperings

[date/YC113/10/17.return_log]

There was a lot of dust. It hung eerily, with no wind to whisp it about. The Traveler glided slowly into the cloud, disrupting its serenity. I activated the cloak, and waited.

For hours I sat there, unmoving. The unnamed planet spun in the distance, it’s stormy atmosphere roiling. I focused my camera drones on the planet, watching the lightning storm erupt. There was nothing quite like wormhole space – The untouched planets, the unclaimed freedom. Well, almost unclaimed.

They zipped in, two of them, warp drives deactivating. They drifted slowly along the edge of the gas cloud, their appendages bending and snapping at nothing. Their sleek, pristine armor reflected the light of the two suns, and I could pick up indecipherable chatter from them. What were they saying? Who were they talking to?

One diverted, slowly, engines giving a slight pulse. It poked into the cloud, about three kilometers off, pincers clapping. After a moment, it backed out, and joined the other. They began aligning toward some destination in deep space, their seemingly incoherent garble continuing without hesitation. They warped away, the chatter leaving with them.

They were a complete anomaly. We knew they had come from New Eden once, and that they had once interacted with an ancient race, the Talocan. Beyond that… the Sleepers were an unrivaled mystery.

And we had barely scratched the surface of their existence.

[date/YC113/10/17.end_log]