Archive for the Storyline Category

A Chance Encounter

Posted in Storyline on May 6, 2012 by Erbo

The Serpentis ships scattered like angry bees, pursued by their own predatory insects, Hammerhead II drones.  Behind them, the Mons Olympus’ mighty railguns poured forth their firepower.  Inside the battlecruiser, safely tucked into a relatively new Mark XVIII capsule, Erbo directed the battle, his senses extended to sweep the space around him, his motor impulses and his very thoughts translated into orders to the guns, engines, and drones.

He’d spotted this Serpentis lookout complex earlier, out probing around the Aclan system in his trusty scanning ship Amaranth.  He’d done it on a lark, really, just to keep his skills sharp.  He hadn’t known going in whether he’d find something like a hidden asteroid belt, or perhaps a wormhole entrance…but a Serpentis complex it was, and he’d decided to take it out.  Just for drill.

An alert tone crossed his awareness.  The scope showed another ship here, not one of the Serpentis.  The tactical readout quickly came across the fiber-optic control lines and into Erbo’s head: Ishtar-class heavy assault cruiser.  Pilot: Engalo, member of AlphaCore corporation.

Erbo froze.  This was an exceedingly dangerous situation.  The other pilot was prohibited from attacking him outright by CONCORD restrictions, but there were several tricks unscrupulous pilots could use to attempt to cause other pilots to lash out…whereupon those pilots would call in friends and eradicate the poor bastard who’d been tricked, with CONCORD looking the other way.  Yet the other ship wasn’t making any suspicious move…other than shooting several of the Serpentis ships, but those were fair game for anyone.

Fine, Erbo thought.  You don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.  I’ve got a fight to finish.

Soon, the last Serpentis vessel fell.  Erbo began looting and salvaging the wrecks, bringing in his drones and reloading his guns, just as standard procedure called for.  The four wrecks that the other vessel had destroyed shone yellow on the display, but he made no attempt to do anything with them.  There was another area to be cleared beyond the next acceleration gate, anyway.

Suddenly, a message popped up in Erbo’s augmented vision: Engalo was requesting communication.  Erbo opened a channel, but said nothing on the line as yet.  This complex wasn’t worth losing the Mons Olympus over.

“Good to see another corp with a moral backbone,” came a rich, cultured voice over the ship-to-ship comm system. “Sorry for messing your complex up. Take care.”

“Nah, you want the rest of it?” responded Erbo.  “You can have it.  I ought to–” But it was too late.  The channel had been closed.  The Ishtar was gone.

Erbo shook his head and went back to his salvaging job.  He did, however, activate another communication channel…this one to Swine Aviation, the alliance that his friends in the Hauling Hogs had created.  Shuckstar, head of the Hogs, was on the line; he and Erbo had exchanged greetings earlier.

“Damnedest thing just happened,” said Erbo, and proceeded to relate the story to Shuckstar.  “What was he complimenting me on?  That I didn’t try to trick him into ninja-looting my wrecks and shoot his ass? Hell, I thought that’s what he was about to try to do to me.”

“He read your corp description,” offered Shuckstar.

“Hmm…maybe,” mused Erbo, heading for the next acceleration gate.  “Maybe we’re just too nice or something.”

“Yeah,” said Shuckstar, his laughter carrying across the light-years.

Shuckstar signed off soon after that, pleading fatigue, and Erbo was left alone with his thoughts.  What was that pilot doing?  If it had come down to a fight, a heavy assault cruiser would have been able to make short work of Mons Olympus, if fit correctly…and Erbo could almost guarantee that the other pilot had more experience in ship-to-ship combat than he did.  So why didn’t Engalo try to provoke him and roll the dice?  Maybe there’s a few gentlemen left in this galaxy, he thought.

Then, too, it had been rare in the past that there would be others entering a complex as he was clearing it out.  The cluster was definitely getting more crowded.  Erbo doubted it would get better anytime soon, even with the promise of more riches out on the wild, unmonitored frontier.  There were new capsuleers being churned out of the major educational institutions all the time.

With a sigh, Erbo docked up, making arrangements to have the ship reloaded and repaired, and its spoils of war transferred to the corporate hangars.  Ours not to reason why, he mused, ours but to do or die.

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Scramble!

Posted in Storyline on June 25, 2011 by Erbo

June 21, YC113, Ralpha Dogs Aclan Station Offices

Erbo climbed up the ladder from the dock where his new Mark XVI capsule had settled, stepping onto the command gantry.  Behind him and over his head, the bulk of the Viator-class blockade runner Tantive IV floated in its mooring beams, cargo-handler droids already unloading the gear he’d flown a long way to pick up.  Running a hand through his gradually-lengthening hair, he walked towards the open pressure doors separating him from the captains’ quarters.

Selena was waiting inside.  After delicately raising herself on her toes to kiss him, she said, “Did you get it?”

“I did,” responded Erbo.  “One Sisters of EVE probe launcher, ready to put on your new Helios.  Least I didn’t have to go to Jita for it.”  Of course, he thought to himself, I probably had to jump farther to pick that up.  The launcher had come from a Sisters station deep in The Forge, where Erbo had bought it on contract for several million ISK cheaper than the best prices available in Jita.  Still, going that far into Caldari space always gave him the jibblies.

“Good,” sighed Selena.  She relaxed audibly and glanced around the interior of the Gallente station.  “Maybe now we can–”

Her words were cut short by the loud klaxon of a stationwide alert.  She whirled to face the main screen of the quarters, as did Erbo.  “What the hell…”

The screen told the story, showing an external view outside the station: cynosaural fields flaring and jump bridges opening, in a system where they had no right to be.  Pouring out from them, multitudes of evilly-spiked frigates, cruisers, and battleships.  A scrolling ticker superimposed itself on the bottom of the screen, telling them all they needed to know.

“It’s the Sanshas,” muttered Selena, quietly.  She looked up at Erbo.

Erbo, his face taut, nodded.  “An incursion.”

. . . . .

Ninety minutes later, orbiting the Meves jumpgate, Lirsautton system (3 jumps from Aclan)

The ships assembled around the jumpgate could perhaps best be termed a “fleet in being.” Very few bore the same corporate logos, and the ships themselves were a decidedly mixed bag.  Among them were Selena and Erbo, representing the Ralpha Dogs in an attempt to field a fleet that could strike back at the Sanshas.

Megathron-class Wolf 359

"Wrought in deepest Hell...our vengeance is freedom!"

Selena was piloting the Myrmidon-class battlecruiser Imala, ill-fit for this mission, but with its railguns and drones primed for action.  She stayed close to Erbo’s larger and newer ship, the Megathron-class battleship Wolf 359, freshly fitted from the shipyards at Dodixie and Aclan, based on Erbo’s rushed design work.  Its seven mighty ion blaster cannons were loaded and ready, and its massive shield generators ensured that it would not go gently into that good night.

Both of them were on multiple communication channels with the other ships, and also monitoring the new constellation-wide channel set up by CONCORD to carry news of fleets being formed against the incursion here in Ysilette.  They had arrived here in response to a call by Ricky Wrath of the International Space Pimps, who was feverishly trying to coordinate more ships, logistics cruisers especially.  Those pilots who could fly logistics were in high demand, and a number of them broke off from the fleet in Lirsautton to assist other fleets elsewhere in the constellation.

Sadly, not even the arrival of a more experienced fleet commander in a high-powered ship, Balin Tovak from Dead Nation Industries, could keep the fleet together, and it dispersed without launching an attack.  In the process, though, Erbo and Selena learned much about the Sansha incursions, as both Wrath and Tovak had flown against them before.  Erbo realized that he and Selena–and Lexx, too–would all have to start taking crash courses in logistics flying.  He might be able to do more good flying an Oneiros-class cruiser than he could with the big battlewagon…and eventually, he might need the option of flying other races’ logistics cruisers, too.

This incursion would eventually be driven back.  Pilots from other sectors of space would converge on Ysilette, their tactics already tried, their ships battle-tested.  And they would reap the rewards of a successful fight, and once again, the constellation would be at peace.

But Sansha’s Nation would return.  And when they did, Selena and Erbo hoped to be ready for them.

Searching Out Further Away From Homebase

Posted in He Said-She Said, Storyline on June 20, 2011 by selenalore

Selenalore wakes and looks around the new Captain’s Quarters on the Jarzalad Station that has been the spot for the Ralpha Dogs Headquarters for a long time. She smiles softly to herself as she makes sure that she doesn’t wake Erbo. She quietly heads out into the living and office area and touches a few spots on the new desk and a computer screen rises from the desktop.

She then reaches out and touches the screen and does a few code processes to activate her computer system. She smiles as she hears a voice come from the computer and a face appears on the screen in one of the corners of the big computer screen and says, “Greetings Selenalore, it’s been a while since you have awoken me from my slumber to do some research.”

Selenalore smiles and says, “Greetings Coahoma, nice to hear that voice of yours. Did the move to the new quarters computer go smoothly for you?”

There was a brief silence, and then the face showed a big smile and Coahoma says, “It went smoothly as planned and they treated me well in the move, didn’t even shake my code up. They done a great job.”  Coahoma looks around and says, “The quarters could do with some sprucing up but I’m sure you’ll do that eventually.” Then she looks back at Selenalore and says, “So what do you want me to do for you, cause you wouldn’t have woke me for no apparent reason just to chat.” she laughs softly.

Selenalore sits down and pulls out some maps of the chartered systems around and looks at them when she speaks, “You are correct on that Coahoma. I need you to look up the Gallente space domain areas and check each one for ice fields. We want to spread out towards that area for corporation operations and possibly pick up new members in the process if all goes well.”

Coahoma says, “Working on that now boss.” and as she starts doing the research the data and pictures of the star systems start popping up and all over the screen as the computer starts searching. Selenalore smiles as she watches the screen with much interest since the newer systems are far more superior to the older systems that wouldn’t do very many graphics especially of the high quality that is being seen now. She is amazed how far technology is coming and going in everyone’s lives here in New Eden. She then goes back to pursing the maps in front of her and checks for routes and trade hubs and dangerous areas, which she will recheck via Coahoma’s research and the star system maps and more over the computer system.

Coahoma finishes and starts talking and explains what she has found and where and also updates Selenalore on all things including news and gossip and stocks and more. She then checks Selenalore’s mapping and routes against what she has come up with and what has been found and makes the plans that will be sent to the shuttle to help Selenalore get to the destinations and to have the updated information there as well. Oh yeah and she herself will be there as well since with the new computer systems you can do the base to ship over distances.

Selenalore finishes the preperations and prepares to head out, but she checks in on Erbo to see if he is still resting well, and then she heads to the balcony and picks the ship that she will be using to fly to the locations and scout out areas for both mining and offices as well as jump clones and more.

Selenalore gets into the shuttle and prepares to launch, and she has left a note to Erbo to let him know she has gone out to scout out new territory for ice mining, mining and offices and more. She then sets her destination to head to the Everyshore territory of Gallente space, and sits back to enjoy the ride and listens to good music and taking naps off and on and such while she travels.

Payback, Motherfrakkers

Posted in Storyline on January 27, 2011 by Erbo

“Latest reports indicate that Sansha incursions have taken place in Amarr and Gallente space.  Capsuleer forces have mobilized to counter the Nation attack fleets, but indications are that even they may find this a long, tough fight.  The Federation Senate today released a statement, saying–“

With a mental command, Erbo dismissed the subspace newscast.  Hell of a mess these days, he thought.  Those murderous bastards will stop at nothing, will they?  Let’s hope Jarz doesn’t come under attack any time soon. It was a long way from where he sat in Pimsu…and right now, Amaranth was hot on the trail of a rogue signal.  He refocused the scan probes and told them to try again.  The visuals before his eyes showed the four probes warping to their new positions, then reaching out, homing in, correlating their signals.  What is this?  Wormhole, maybe? Or…

Bingo! A hard lock on a target, identifying itself as SANSHA HIDEOUT.  A thin smile crossed Erbo’s lips.  Time for a little payback.

He quickly recalled the probes and sent Amaranth, which was, after all, not a fighting ship, speeding for the jumpgate back to Jarzalad.  Once he’d jumped back into the system, he streaked for the Ralpha Dogs’ base, sending a message ahead to have Syria Planum ready for departure.

Upon arrival at the site, though, he discovered it was an acceleration gate that wouldn’t pass anything larger than a destroyer.  Cursing, he returned to Jarzalad, trying to remember: Do I actually have any destroyers that have been reactivated after the corporation-wide stand-down?  What kind of shape are they in? He checked his hangar inventory, settling on Mannerheim for the assault.  Its configuration required some rework, though, replacing an afterburner with a more efficient one, rearranging the gun turrets, and so forth.  He gave orders, and ordnance and materiel quickly converged on the Catalyst-class vessel from the Ralpha Dogs’ corporate stocks.  Turrets were reconfigured; ammunition arrived from bunkers to load the guns and resupply the reserve in the ship’s cargo hold.  With a quick message to the insurance office to properly cover the destroyer, Erbo got the wing-shaped ship into the black.

Mannerheim easily passed the first gate, catching several Sansha frigates by surprise with her long-range railgun batteries and her single drone.  A second acceleration gate from that point led to a refinery and a pair of bunkers, with but a few guardians.  Soon, though, as Erbo was busily engaged in shooting them, a True Sansha, obviously the boss of the group, warped in.  A harsh voice sounded over the local communications net: “The refinery must not be destroyed!”

Erbo kicked Mannerheim around in a tight loop circling the boss, opening fire with the short-range blaster battery.  The armor-damage warnings began sounding, and he engaged repair systems.  Soon, though, the assault was too much for the True Sansha, which exploded quite nicely.  The remaining ships didn’t last much longer.  Neither did the refinery and the two bunkers, which died in a blaze of glory under the impact of the iridium slugs from the railguns.  After all the fuss the True Sansha had made, blasting the refinery to smithereens had seemed like a fine idea.

As Erbo turned to the tedious work of looting and salvaging the wrecks, a reading from the communications suite caught his eye.  Somehow, the True Sansha had managed to get off a distress call before it was destroyed.  The computer extrapolated the likely target of the signal: Andabiar system, one Erbo knew from flying the route between the Ralpha Dogs’ headquarters and their major manufacturing base.  But freighters and haulers would not be needed for this task.

“We’ll not let you get away,” muttered Erbo under his breath.

. . .

Syria Planum warped to the likely location of the recipients of the Sansha distress call, to find a newly-constructed acceleration gate surrounded by nine Sansha guardians.  To meet the threat, Erbo released a flight of drones heavier than the one Mannerheim had used, and engaged with four railgun cannons of larger bore.  The combined forces quickly made short work of the enemy ships, and Erbo soon discovered that this acceleration gate would carry a battlecruiser’s heavier mass.

Sliding through the gate, he emerged far behind a trio of Sansha vessels, that picked up speed and went to warp before he could get within gun or drone range.  But the computer had pegged their trajectory: right back to Pimsu where he’d started, perhaps to the location of the refinery that now only existed as rapidly-expanding gas clouds.  Erbo gave chase.

At Pimsu, another acceleration gate guarded by Sanshas awaited.  Again, the frigate-size vessels were no match for the guns and drones Syria Planum could bring to bear.  And again, after passing through the acceleration gate, Erbo emerged too late to fire on the three traveling Sanshas…though, this time, he’d been able to identify one of them: Gamat Hakoot, a notorious wanted criminal relatively high in the Sansha hierarchy.  And his computer had pegged Hostakoh system as their most likely destination.  “A stern chase is a long chase,” mused Erbo as he set the course.

Upon arriving in Hostakoh, it was more of the same…except, this time, the guardians included four Centii Loyal Butchers.  Though the other five defenders, including their True Sansha commander, fell quickly, the Butchers proved troublesome, as Erbo’s standard tactics weren’t breaking their tanks.  They were no longer capable of breaking his, but…A classic Minmatar standoff, thought Erbo. Time to change the game. He concentrated his drones and cannons on one Butcher at a time, adjusting his orbital plane to maximize the effectiveness of the railguns.  This tactic proved successful, as, one by stubborn one, the Butchers exploded.  Quickly, Syria Planum followed the acceleration gate.  Again, Hakoot slipped the leash…but this time, his escorts didn’t, bursting in showers of sparks.

Grimly, Erbo set course once more, this time for Elmed, in pursuit of Hakoot.  By now, he was halfway convinced that there was an incursion being planned somewhere nearby, and that this was his one chance to stop it in its tracks before it started.  And the Sanshas must be stopped.

More Sansha vessels awaited him at the rendezvous spot, though thankfully no Loyalists as at Hostakoh.  As he wiped out first one group, then another, he spotted Hakoot’s ship, seemingly tired of running and spoiling for a fight.  Erbo directed the Valkyrie II drones towards the Sansha overseer, and opened fire with all guns.  Between the two, it was a matter of mere minutes before Hakoot’s ship detonated in one final explosion.

Erbo sighed with relief as he recalled the drones and secured all weapons.  The Sanshas were cunning enemies, but they would not get the upper hand here today.  And perhaps, New Eden was just a teeny fraction safer.

We’re Puttin’ the Band Back Together

Posted in Storyline on July 6, 2010 by Erbo

“Val, Darien,” said Selenalore as the two of them walked into the Ralpha Dogs’ office.  “It’s good to see you again.”

“Same here,” said Valorna Edgeworth.  “We were enjoying our vacation in the Mesokel system when we got the alert message.  I arranged for us to get back right away.”

“She insisted,” said Darien Dresden, nodding.  “Plucked me right off the beach and told me to start packing.”

Erbo chuckled.  “Well, it seems someone’s anxious to get back to work.  Of course, we probably won’t mount full-scale mining operations for awhile, due to other events.”  He handed Val and Darien copies of a recent pilot information bulletin.  “So perhaps we–”

He was cut off by an insistent chiming from Mother’s main console.  “That’s odd,” he said.  “Hang on a minute.”  He stepped over and touched a control, silencing the chime.  “What’s the story, Mother?”

“Command priority channel establishment, Level Ultraviolet,” responded the tones of the computer.  “Please give musical authentication key for verification.”

Erbo grinned; the Abbots of the Ralpha Dogs had set up high-level authentication codes that were, not merely passphrases, but musical segments that required the correct tonality and voiceprint to authenticate.  Taking a deep breath, he sang out the ancient words:

Master! Apprentice!
Heartborne, seventh seeker!
Warrior! Disciple!
In me, the Wishmaster!

“Authentication code verified,” came Mother’s digital voice.  “Replaying authentication code of originator prior to establishing link.”

The next voice that came out of Mother’s console speaker was all too familiar, even if the language they sang was one that predated New Eden itself:

Zankoku na tenshi no you ni,
Shounen yo shinwa ni nare!

One word escaped Erbo’s lips, under his breath…”Lexxi.”

“Link established,” continued Mother.  This was followed quickly by another voice….the one that had sung those lines, the unmistakable voice of LexxEva, head of the Ralpha Dogs.

“Yo, Erbo! Sel! You still alive in there?”

“Lexxi!” responded Erbo, his words picked up by Mother and transmitted to Lexx’s ship.  “Good to have us all back here!”

“Yeah, I got your message and stopped off by the Khanid stations to install a couple jump clones,” said Lexx. “I’m heading in to the barn now.  Three jumps out, estimated arrival three-zero minutes.”

“I’ll have food ready by the time you get here,” said Selena, turning to head for the kitchen.

“I’ll help,” said Val, following Selena.

“I guarantee you a warm reception,” said Erbo.

“Thanks, bro,” said Lexx.  “See ya in a few.  Lexx out.”

“Channel closed,” reported Mother.

Erbo leaned against the console, expelling his breath in a happy sigh.  With the core leadership back in place, he was hopeful that activity would pick up shortly.

Awaken From Deep Slumber

Posted in Storyline on July 5, 2010 by selenalore

The men down below are still loading up the new capsules and loading up the old ones, when the lights in the control room above start to brighten at the same time as the ones in the ship bay do.

They all freeze in their work as they blink a few times to adjust them to the somewhat brighter lighting and stare in amazement at all the ships that are in the bay, since now they can see them all. Each man notes the Gallente ships since they are more prominent in the bay, but now they note not only Gallente, but also Minmatar, Amarr, Caldari, and an Angel Cartel ship. Apparently this corp is interracial, and they have all put aside their differences between all the races and have learned to work together as one unit.

The men stir from standing there and get back to work loading and unloading as they hear the soft descent of the hydraulic elevator making its way down to the bay area…

——————————————————————-

Selena wakes from her sleep and her wonderful dreams, as the warm air from the room gently brushes over her face. Soon enough, her beautiful, piercing blue eyes opened and she looks around the room, while her eyes adjust to the lighting, and then she stretches her long and lithe body to help the unused muscles and joints to move some and circulate the blood throughout her entire body.

She then climbs out of her tube and looks first at Erbo and then Fan and makes her shaky way to Erbo and smiles down at his handsome face, and leans down and places a gentle and loving kiss on his lips to help him wake up.

One of Erbo’s startling blue eyes opens and watches as Selena starts to move around, and mumbles something like, “Mom, it’s not time yet.”

Selena laughs softly and says, “Yes it is, and I think Mother wants to chat with you.” She gives him another kiss as she moves back to let him climb out.

Fan speaks up, saying “What’s all this noise going on?” and Selena moves over to help Fan climb out and moves back after Fan has a hold of the side of her tube and starts doing some stretches to help her blood circulate to unused muscles and joints.

Selena watches as Erbo heads over to chat with Mother, and then she makes sure all things are fine and then heads to the living quarters of the Ralpha Dogs and takes a shower and steps into a fresh uniform before heading to the kitchen and preparing a large meal and placing it in the oven to cook, and the other fixings to chill in the fridge and such.

Selena then heads back into the area, after making sure fresh uniforms are laid out in each living quarters for the others to take a shower and such after their sleep.

Selena steps back into the control room fresh and alert and heads over to her designated area and checks on security and notes the delivery of their new capsules and heads towards the elevator. She passes a kiss to Erbo’s cheek in passing and gives him a smile and then slips into the elevator and heads down to the ship bay area.

The men look up as the elevator comes to a stop and opens. They stare for a moment at the striking Gallente woman as she heads towards them with a smile as she reaches out and grabs a clipboard from the side of the elevator next to a well lit console, and as she walks towards them she touches some things on the portable console and bots start to come awake and make their way towards all the ships and start cleaning them and doing maintenance on the ships to make sure all is in working order.

Selena comes to a stop in front of the man and introduces herself, and says, “Welcome to the Ralpha Dogs’ ship bay. I’m Selenalore Evans, one of the Abbots of the Ralpha Dogs and head of security.” She gives a smile and shakes each man’s hand and then takes the offered sales slip and shipping form of the new capsules and looks over each one and gives a nod and says, “Excellent work, and well done.” She smiles and finishes helping the men and then signs, pays, and gives tips to the men for the hard work and with a nod and handshake to the men she watches as they leave.

Selena smiles as they take their time as they continue to look in awe at all the ships, until they can’t see them anymore. She laughs softly and heads back towards the control room above and files the forms in the appropriate places and checks to make sure all is go and sends out signals to other Ralpha Dogs out there if they are still with them to let all know that the Ralpha Dogs are back up and running.

Selena looks around one last time and heads towards the kitchen to serve dinner and all to those here…

Arise!

Posted in Storyline on June 20, 2010 by Erbo

June 20, YC 112

In a dusty, now all-but-forgotten corporate office, inside three cryonic suspension tubes, three sleepers lay dreaming the deep, slow dreams of suspended animation. One man, two women; one woman with the hard features of the Minmatar, the other two fair-haired Gallente. Only their clothing gave clue to their identities, or even the fact that they all served a common cause…the characteristic black hooded jackets and Greek letter pins on their lapels.

The three dreamers each dreamed their own dreams, sealed away inside the plastic-and-metal cocoons that preserved their lives. The Minmatar woman dreamed of great struggles, of hot desert planets and the flash of bright blades in combat, of crushing defeat for the enemy and the triumph of her tribe. For the Gallente woman, dreams were more a means of escape; she dreamed of other lives in other places, noble indigenous natives, ethereal elves, worlds beyond imagination. The subject of many of her dreams was the third sleeper, the Gallente male; his own dreams were more shadowy, bordering on nightmares, tending towards the idiosyncratic. He might not remember these dreams when he woke…or he might choose not to remember them.

But one entity survived to watch over them. The Ralpha Dogs’ main command core, the Multi-Operational Team Hub and Event Recorder (M.O.T.H.E.R.), kept close watch on the frozen sleepers, lest their long sleep inadvertently turn into the Last Sleep, and also monitored external events, to know when it was time for them to wake. For months, it had fulfilled this capacity in silence, while events swirled on outside this office, outside the station, outside the star system, beyond constellation and region, beyond the borders of space controlled by the four great empires, and even beyond all human ken in a dimension that defied understanding…and the realm of an entirely different, and more dangerous, class of Sleepers.

One screen on Mother’s console lit, in response to a recognition signal received from a far-off source. The computer considered the signal for long moments, verifying the authentication codes, pattern-matching it against known transmission characteristics. The machine made a decision. Long-dead circuits came to life, additional readouts flickered on, the room echoed with the loud clicks of power relays snapping over.

The room lights, long darkened, gently faded up to a soft glow, and the chill air in the room began warming to a temperature more hospitable to organic life, as the patterns of lights on the sides of the cryonic suspension tubes changed. More words flashed across Mother’s displays:

...SUBJECTS...ERBO EVANS...SELENALORE EVANS...FANCHON SIHU...
...REVIVAL SEQUENCE...INITIATED...

For long minutes, nothing changed.

Then, the hiss of hydraulic mechanisms began as the cryonic tubes swung slowly open.

. . .

Selena was the first to awake. For long moments, her dreams blurred into the awareness of reality, of the fresh air of the room impinging on her face, removing the chill from her bones. Her eyelids fluttered, then popped open, the piercing blue eyes behind them focusing on the consoles at the other side of the room. The light, slightly painful at first, became bearable as her eyes adapted.

She craned her neck from one side to the other, peeking over the edges of the tube around her, checking first Erbo’s tube, then Fanchon’s. Neither one seemed to have stirred from their own slumber as yet. A momentary flash of panic came to her, but she quickly cooled it with the discipline of an Abbot of the Ralpha Dogs.

Placing her hands on either side of the tube, she pulled herself upright, cautiously stepping forward and out, her steps wobbly at first but gradually gaining surety. She turned to her right, facing the leftmost of the three cryostasis tubes, and gazed upon the still-sleeping face of the man she loved, watching his chest gently rise and fall as the enforced sleep of cryostasis gave way to more natural sleep.

So handsome, she thought to herself. He always has been, really.

She stepped carefully over to Erbo’s tube, leaned down, and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. His eyes remained shut, but his breathing deepened slightly, and he emitted a small rumble of contentment that reminded Selena of a cat purring.

“Dear,” she said, gently, “it’s time to wake up.”

One of Erbo’s eyes fluttered open, tracking on Selena. He muttered something that she thought sounded like “Mommmm…not time yet…”

“Yes, it is,” she repeated, gently shaking his left shoulder. “Come on, dear. We’ve got work to do. And I think Mother wants to talk to you.”

Erbo’s eyes opened, and he reached above his head, stretching long-disused muscle groups. “Okay, okay…gimme a sec.”

From the third tube came another voice, feminine with a pronounced Minmatar accent. “What’s all this noise?”

“And good morning to you, too, Fan,” said Selena, stepping over to her tube as Erbo disengaged from his own, bringing himself to his feet, scratching the back of his neck near the carved-ebony dust cap protecting one of his neural jacks as he tentatively stepped over to Mother’s console.

He touched his NeoCom, syncing it with Mother’s information feed. The master status showed green; no hostile activity, no internal trouble, no urgent pending issues other than one person asking for a corporate invitation and a few bills that had been automatically paid. Touching the keys on the console, he began giving orders as Selena left the room to see about getting their quarters habitable again.

He had taken possession of the Ralpha Dogs’ funds and matériel while they had been in stasis, to prevent it from being stolen. Now, money flowed back into the corporate accounts as massive warehouse containers were opened and their contents restored to their rightful location. Ship hulls and fitting components, ammunition, drones, ores and minerals, and containers of blueprints all made their way to the correct locations. Communication channels long-closed came to life and membership applications were once again enabled.

He came upon the “Suspension of Operations” bulletin posted in the corporate communications system. With a rueful grin, he erased that bulletin and quickly wrote another:

Now Online

We have resumed EVE operations here and we are once again open for business. We’re still shaking down, so it may take us a bit to establish a routine. But tell your friends…the Dogs are back in town!

Wrought in deepest Hell…our vengeance is freedom!

Clear skies,

– Erbo Evans, Abbot, ΡΑΔ

He quickly followed this up with a message to the entire corporation, requesting status information. None of them had been around for awhile, according to the corporate member listing, but it was worth a shot.

Finally, he keyed up a view of his own hangar. The screen lit to reveal his hangar space, now brightly lit again. Scores of workmen were checking over the ships ranked therein, verifying their systems. Occasionally, via the audio feed, he could hear the whine of ion and plasma thrusters as engines were lit and revved in tests. He glanced over the neatly ranked battlecruisers and cruisers, the lean, powerful shapes of Minmatar Rifters (which he privately thought of as “the official ship of gettin’ yo’ ass in trouble”), the long, slender shapes of Iteron Mark V haulers next to the compact, flat bulks of ORE mining barges, and, looming over all, the Orca Janne Wirman and the Obelisk freighter Tuomas Holopainen. All bore the Rho Alpha Delta corporate monogram; soon, they would be ready to fly once more.

“Sweetheart?” came a familiar voice from his left, a voice he’d not heard for months prior to this day. He turned to face Selenalore.

“Yes?”

“We’ll have food on the table shortly. Anything from Mother?”

Erbo looked thoughtful. “No, all quiet here. Things are getting back up to speed now. Hopefully, we’ll know where we stand soon.”

The two of them left for the crew quarters, leaving Mother to her own inscrutable thoughts.