"Draug!"

Someone was shouting. Male? Draug thought weakly.

"Come in, Draug! Do you read me?" The voice came again, this time with the urgency of death itself.

Who is that? Everything is so… hazy. True consciousness continued to escape him.

"We need you out here, we are getting slaughtered!" The man seemed to be panicking, though it was hard to tell as he spoke with an accent that made his words sound like the blows of a hammer.

"Who…" Draug started, but was cut off. All sound ceased as a planet-shattering boom sounded.

"Gahhh!" Multitudes of voices rang out in his head.

Draug had just realized that he was not using his ears to hear, but rather the words resonated from within his own mind. What is going on? He thought, dizzily. Then there was another booming noise, and whatever amount of consciousness he had managed to hold on to faded.


Draug groaned as he coherent thought returned to him.

"Initiating reserve capacitor," a soft female voice spoke. Unrecognizable numbers and words flashed across Draug's peripheral vision as a subtle humming noise began from somewhere in the darkness. "Reserve capacitor cryostasis successfully deactivated. Prepare for emergency warp to safe spot Archon." The humming ramped up in volume until it sounded as though there was a cascading waterfall directly behind him. "Warp drive active."

It felt to him like being pushed through a straw. A straw filled with liquid nitrogen, as his body had rapidly dropped in temperature during the warp.

"Warp to Archon complete. Consciousness of Capsuleer Draugexa Astrum confirmed. Several systems including environment conditioning, sound cancellation, and visual projection are offline due to damage sustained. Restoring custom AI designated Aura." The voice was offsetting to Draug in his current predicament, as it talked in what he could have sworn was a monotone; and even in his state of mind he knew only machines could achieve a true monotone. "Welcome back, Draug!"

The sudden change of emotion the voice presented to him startled him. Is she a machine or not?

"Returning you control now, sorry about the lack of a display! We barely made it out of that, so I'm glad that we were even able escape those things." Aura seemed to radiate relief at Draug's return from unconsciousness.

"Control? Control of what?" It was his turn to panic now. What is going on?

And then he heard it. It was like the waves of an ocean; that is, an ocean of fire.

"Torpedoes incoming, we must have been scanned down!" Aura said in an urgent tone, her joy at Draug's recovery overran by more pressing events.

Draug stared into the darkness puzzled, for what was he supposed to do? Why am I being shot at?

The sound of the impact was deafening, only made worse by his already pounding head. It was weird, he thought, that he was no longer panicked. His heart rate slowed until it became a rhythmic throb. The world around him ceased to exist as an echo of some forgotten memory played through his mind.

He was his ship. He could see thousands upon thousands of other ships aligned around him. They were all shouting and cheering as a massive ship with curved, sleek designs was destroyed by them. The visual thrumming of its shielding abated as did all of its other defensive systems. He seemed to also be taking part in the revelations, cheering with all his might. This version of himself was elated by the victory and knew that the kill would deal a serious blow to his enemies. As the cheering died, he ordered everyone to disengage the neural link with their ships to avoid possible mind lock.

And then he was back, and he knew what he needed to do. Aura must have noticed the change, for she quickly stated, "Whatever you're going to do, be swift about it. I've managed to reactivate the visual projection by rigging it directly to the central processor. The circuits won't last long with such a strong connection, though. I estimate that you have at most one minute before the wires fry!"

Relying on that single memory, he opened himself to the ship. The feeling of linking directly to the magnificent vessel was one of pure serenity. It was as though his mind opened up to and merged with something made of sheer, euphoric energy. His thoughts quickened pace and his mind became as lucid as an undisturbed pond as adrenaline flowed throughout his body; time itself slowing down around him.

He gasped at the incoming overload of information. As each second ticked past, an ever increasing store of knowledge relating to ships, weapons, and combat tactics rushed into his mind from the ship. From this reservoir of knowledge he knew that he was piloting is a Drake and that it was fit with to deal with this very situation. The ship that had launched the torpedoes at him was a stealth bomber derived from a Jovian frigate class hull. It was damaged greatly from the previous engagement, though, and was apparently unable to recloak. A stealth bomber's job is to get in, fire a volley, and get out before they are locked on to. This one was unable to reactivate its cloak to avoid a lock.

With a flick of his thoughts, he activated his target painter and unleashed a volley of missiles at the bomber.