Diclaimer: EVE Online is owned by CCP and I claim ownership of nothing except the storyline.
As i said before my version of eve will be less developed than the current game actually is. Mostly that will be visual here in the absence large supercapital fleets or even the amount of capsuleers in large fleets. Again sorry for the long delay in updating, but both a holiday and Mass Effect 3 got in the way. EVE is properly back in the picture again though, so is this story. As far as i can tell were maybe at the 30% mark here as i have a lot more idea on where to take the story. So bear with me.
As always i hope you enjoy the new chapter and any comments, reviews and tips are appreciated.
Lena and Dr Shift had taken a seat in the booth in the furthest corner of the room and one of them had activated the sound bubble that each of the booths had fitted. For now Lena seemed to be doing most of the talking, though he wondered how long that would last. Dr Shift for her part seemed to have resigned herself to the inevitable and just sat slightly slouched on the couch. She was seated with her back towards him so he couldn't see her face. He briefly considered running the image of Lena talking through his neural processor to figure out what she was saying. Cross-referencing the meaning of her lip movements would be snap and he'd understand all she would say with barely a nanosecond delay. Before he'd even finished thinking that he decided against it. Not his place.
He focused back to his own booth where Lynn had just activated the 3d projection above the table and was displaying a galaxy map overlaid with tactical info on the current war. The map zoomed in on the Tribute region displaying more detailed information on fleet movements, staging points, supply routes and reinforced timers.
"At the moment the war is in a stalemate." Lynn started. "They outnumber us, but we have the home field advantage here and have made good use of our capital fleet under jammers to leverage most fights our way. "
"Jammers?" Vesla ventured.
Cyber quickly explained. "Cynosaural Jammers are a certain module that can be anchored at capsuleer owned towers. They prevent any cynosaural field from being lit in system making it impossible for anyone to bring in capital ships until the jammer is taken down. With the use of jump bridges and cycling the jammer at opportune moments friendly capitals can be brought in, but hostile ones kept out. Making the only viable entrance to the system for the hostile fleets the gates. Which can easily be set up to be killing grounds for hostile forces who would need to jump in at your optimal range, facing a fleet with capital support without any of their own."
Cyber gestured to Lynn to continue after Vesla nodded. "For now that's what we've been doing and its kept us in a stalemate. We simply don't have the numbers to counter attack into their space under the same conditions, so were restricted to a defensive war."
Lex leaned forward and picked up. "It's not all bad though. This war is slowly wearing them out. Both in material and morale. They have sustained significant sub capital and even capital losses and made very little progress to show for it. What worries us most is the possibility that they still slowly grind through Tribute before they wear out. Morale isn't exactly high here either as every knows were pulling a holding act. Slip up once and it's all over. That's where we were hoping you could help."
Lynn nodded, her look visibly hardening. "I don't know if you can actually do what I'm asking, but Lex assures me you have the resources needed to give us the edge. At the moment most of the fighting is clustered around H-W, which we still control, and D7-, which they have managed to take over. They are using IMK-K1 in Tribute as the jumping off point for their offensive, only a short trip from our forward base in UMI-KK. Were planning a major offensive to take that system. That would cripple their supply route to the front as well as their northern Tenal holdings and give us some breathing room in Tribute. But at the moment our chances of success aren't as high as I'd want."
"What she means to say is we'll get the crap beaten out of us without some advantage to leverage this on." Lex clarified, which earned him a glare from Lynn that he pointedly ignored.
Cyber studied the map for a moment and nodded. "Tenal will fall easily if you manage to secure Tribute, so I can understand why the fighting is all down here. What about their infrastructure? Jump bridges, cynosaural beacons, high value moons?"
"We have scouted out most of their jump bridges and cyno beacons as well as high value moons. There all quite well defended, so we can't really do anything to them without capital support or sustaining a large amount of losses. In the end it's just not worth the effort."
Now it was Cyber's turn to look up from the map and glare at her. "Wrong, disrupting their infrastructure is THE way to win this. Lex you have spent your entire career as a capsuleer fighting outnumbered, you should know this well enough."
Lex sighed and ran a hand through his black shoulder length hair. "I'm not even going there. I'm a good pilot Cyber, even if I do say so myself, but I also recognize my own limits. Tactically I'm good, leading a fleet is no problem, but strategy is a whole other ball game. You know I always sucked at long term planning and this is no different. Me and Lynn both thought this plan was our best shot, but I know you well enough not to dismiss any crazy plan you come up with. So let's hear it."
Cyber glared slightly at Lex for the crazy remark, but focused on Lynn again. "Your thinking too much in terms your enemy wants you to think. They have the advantage on an even playing field, more numbers in both capitals and sub capitals and a better ability to replenish both if you add in the industry base their allies have in Geminate. I won't comment on morale, as I have insufficient information on that. What is the possibility super capital deployment?"
Lynn quickly answered that. "As far as we have been able to discern they have two Titan class vessels at their disposal and an additional five super carriers. Both Titans are used solely for their mobile jump bridges. We have only one Titan, used for the same purpose, and three additional super carriers. So far both sides have refrained from using them on the field, as the outcome of each battle remains too uncertain. The loss of any super capital asset is something neither side can afford at this point."
Cyber didn't even bother to look up and just nodded in acknowledgment. "I'll see what I can do on obtaining a fully accurate jump bridge map from Ascension, maybe even get a few passwords as well. Though that would just be a bonus. Hold off your strike against IMK for now, all it would do is rally your enemy against you. Focus on cutting there supply lines and disrupting logistics. Your allowing them to freely resupply and get rest in their home in Vale of the Silent…."
Lynn was getting angry now and stood up as she cut in. "I know, but we don't have strength to fight them there at the moment. They would crush any fleet that moves to contest towers or stations there and leave us vulnerable in Tribute."
Cyber looked up to meet her eyes. "Who said anything about a fleet?"
Lex put a hand on Lynn's shoulder and slowly pushed her down on her seat again. "I think I know what you're getting at Cyber. Keep the standard war stalemate and have a small fleet dedicated to disrupting as much of their normal operations as possible. It will take us time to set a group up for that and for them to become effective though, by that time it may be too late."
Cyber nods again. "I know. However at this point I have as much interest in winning this war as you do, so I've taken the liberty of sorting that out. My ehm…. 'associates' are already on the move towards Nalvula. We will stage from there and disrupt what we can."
Vesla looked surprised at that. "You're dragging the rest of your corp into this as well?"
Cyber looked over to her and gave a noncommittal blink. "Well I am the CEO."
Lex just laughed. "Man it will be good to see them around again."
Lynn looked more serious. "I won't complain but that's more of a favor then you owe me."
Cyber nodded and looked back to her. "If it works you'll owe me one. At the moment there available, best suited for the job and knowing them they'll probably enjoy it quite a bit."
Lex chuckled again. "Enjoy it. They'll have a blast!"
Cyber pointedly ignored Lex and just kept talking to Lynn. "Were a small outfit and technically no one is obliged to come, but I'm quite certain they all will. Which will mean around 30 capsuleers to lock down a region. Shouldn't be too much trouble. I'll relay any intel we find on fleet movements and form ups. If you in turn keep me posted about any reinforcement timers we will do what we can."
Now it was Lynn's turn to nod. "Ok, I just hope you can do what you claim you can. They will start camping gates and systems you're in quickly."
Cyber just gave her another non committal blink. "We'll take care of it."
"OK, I'll relay all this to the rest of high command. We were planned to have a meeting this evening anyway. Lex if you…"
Cyber blocked the chatter out of his mind after that and refocused his attention. His sensors had picked up a vibration through the floor that didn't belong there. Just one tremor, small enough not to be noticed by the rest. At the other booth Lena had stood up and smashed both her hands into the table.
"Well that would be the tremor."
Tears were in her eyes and he instinctively started reading her lips. "You did what?" She was shouting, still no sounds penetrated the sound bubble, but by the looks of it she was doing so loudly. "How could you work on something like that!"
Dr Shift reached out to calm Lena down, but to no avail. She shrugged off the hand and continued on. "Your own sisters are capsuleers and still you went along with it!"
Vesla nudged him at that point to get him refocused on the conversation at hand. Lynn had started talking to him again. "We'll need to get standings sorted out, just in case and I'll get you access to our jump bridge network."
Cyber nodded and linked into the network to update corporate standings to the list of allies Lynn had uploaded. "Done."
"Good, same here. I'll let you know if anything relevant for you comes up in the meeting tonight. For now that's all. We'll be in contact when needed."
Cyber just nodded and focused back to the conversation between Lena and Dr Shift. Lena seemed calmer, at least she sat down again. She looked defeated somehow, on the verge of crying even. "I… I need some time…."
Dr Shift said something again judging by her movements. Lena just shook her head. "No, I… I need to think on this."
She stood up and started walking away, but as she passed Dr Shift she put her hand on her shoulder and spoke. "It's still good to see you though."
At that she walked straight out the door, not even acknowledging anyone else. Cyber sat there for a second as he heard the door hiss closed behind him. Lex and Lynn had already moved out as well, eager to work out a new planning with the rest of their leaders. Only Vesla still sat next to him and Dr Shift sat, head bowed, at the table her sister just walked away from. Wirelessly he linked to Lena sending her nothing but a question mark. The only response was: "You were right." Then she cut the link just as quickly.
Cyber got the hint, she wanted to be alone. She was a capsuleer, it wouldn't take her long to work through this. Dr shift was no capsuleer though. "Vesla, take the squad to their quarters and get some rest." He stood up and looked down at here. "For unless I miss my guess, you'll have work again soon."
Vesla saw the serious look in his face and just nodded as she stood u as well. Talking softly into her communicator she walked out the door as Cyber approached Dr Shift. She still sat there staring at table in front of her. Inwardly he sighed, he had never been good at this. However somehow he figured he should care. He walked up to her and just stood next to her in silence. After a few quiet moments she look up at him, her face betraying more sorrow. It reminded him of Vesla so long ago, before she had escaped the Amarr Navy.
"She's probably hungry."
Odd thought, but he could not find anything better to start with. "Come on, let's get you something to eat."
She looked surprised at that, but he didn't wait for a response and started walking towards the door. He heard her get up and walk hastily after him. As he walked into the nearest transfer pod he idly wondered why with all the new problems to solve with both the Gallenteans and the new capsuleer war he had gotten sucked into, his main concern seemed to be what she would like for dinner.
The transfer pod was the equivalent of an elevator except it also went sideways and came with seats. She had read about them, but never actually been in one. They were used only in smaller stations and even then access was limited to the elite, which of course included the capsuleers. So far the ride had been quiet. The prevailing direction seemed to be down and she idly wondered where they were going and what he would ask when they got there. That thought got her down again. Her sister hadn't reacted that well to her news, not that she had expected her too, but still it hurt somehow.
She figured he would want some answers as well. Admittedly he did deserve them, after all he had saved her life. She just wished he would ask so she could get it over with. For now he just sat there, eyes closed and arms crossed. You could almost think he was asleep if it weren't for the fact he was sitting up straight and didn't sway or move in the least every time the pod changed direction. She knew having that conversation again would leave her a wreck. On top of that she had no idea how Cyber would react. With Lena she knew at least somewhat to expect, but she didn't really know Cyber all that well now that she thought about it. He didn't seem like someone who got mad easily, but this might just do it and something told her she wouldn't want to see Cyber mad. Perhaps it would be better….
"What would you like for dinner?" Cyber interrupted her chain of thought.
That sort of threw her off. "I don't know." She answered hastily. "I mean whatever you want. What can we actually get?"
He opened his eyes to look at her. "Calm down. I asked about dinner, nothing else."
She took a deep breath and tried get her thoughts in order again. Somehow they wouldn't stay on food.
"Aren't you going to ask what me and Lena were talking about?"
He just gave her a noncommittal blink. "Do you want to tell me?"
She looked away from those piercing eyes as he said that. She had to admit to herself that she didn't, she just wanted to go home. But that wasn't an option anymore. She also didn't want to anger Cyber, so far he had been nice to her. Not overly friendly, but nice. For now she liked that, admittedly even needed that.
She just shook her head and refused to meet his eyes
"Then no, I'm not going to ask."
Somehow that didn't surprise her, but it did worry her.
She sighed. "You have a right to know."
He tilted his head sideways slightly as he looked at her. "No I don't."
She looked up at him before he continued. "Come on, I made reservations."
On queue the pod stopped and the doors slid open as Cyber got up and started walking.
"How the hell does he always do that."
She looked around as they walked along. They were down on the lower levels where all the normal dock workers, repair crews and science employees lived. The plaza they were currently walking across was busy with people moving around there everyday lives. Eating, chatting or just walking around. Cyber himself was drawing some attention simply by being here, but people mostly ignored her. She wondered why he had come down here. Surely he had access to much better restaurants on the capsuleer only decks.
Cyber for his part walked in a straight line across the plaza towards his apparent goal. A crowded but cozy looking Gallente café. As they came to the entrance the waiter smiled and showed them to their table. As they sat down he handed her a menu and quickly moved off to get the complementary garlic bread. Oddly she saw that Cyber didn't get a menu.
"Have you been here before?"
Cyber calmly nodded his head. "No, it seemed nice enough though. They also serve the best Jeroille fish platter on this station."
"How the hell did he know that!"
She just sat there staring at him for a second as the waiter came and went with the bread and he looked out over the terrace view. He finally turned back and gave her a noncommittal blink.
"Is something wrong?"
"How in god's name did you know I liked Jeroille fish?"
He blinked once more before answering. "It's your most ordered dish of all times according to your restaurant history. So it seemed like the most accurate guess."
Her head hit the table at that comment. "I don't even want to know how you found that out."
"Egonics keeps a surprising amount…" He answered anyway.
"I said I didn't want to know."
For a moment she just laid there, head on the wooden table, and the whole situation just seemed idiotic to her. She was having dinner with the capsuleer that saved her life in a normal restaurant as if the Gallente Navy wasn't hunting her on a station in some unlawful place in nullsec and he had just figured out what her favorite food was.
"Would you like me to order you a pillow?"
She looked up at Cyber only to see a straight face and serious blue eyes as usual. He was actually serious and then something just snapped. For the first time in a long time she laughed, uncontrolled and free, she laughed. She felt the stress and nervousness leave her and she became more at ease the longer she laughed.
After a while she pulled herself together enough to thank Cyber. "Thanks, I really needed that."
She heard Cyber mumble under his breath. "Wasn't meant to be funny." But he gave her a small smile all the same.
"Well for now at least lets order, I'm hungry."
Cyber cleared his throat before answering. "I already did."
This was going to be one interesting dinner.
Terric Karaka was not a happy man right now.
The Executor of Ascension alliance was a tall Civire, with neatly combed brown hair and dressed crisply in a grey suit. He was currently walking back to his office after a meeting with his leadership team about there recently failed attempt to take H-W once more. The Phoenix Coalition was holding out far better than any of there earlier scenarios had predicted. Progress had been slow, too slow. If something didn't change fast this war would stop within a month simply because the alliance would run out of funds to sustain these kinds of losses. Capsuleers were rich yes, but war with other capsuleers was costly to the extreme.
He grunted as he passed his secretaries desk and moved into his luxurious office. The hiss of the door as it closed behind him barely registered. Not only this war was on the line, from now on his position as well. The board had ruled this wars failures his doing and his position as executor of this alliance rested on the outcome of this war. Failure was no longer an option, but he couldn't see any other way forward. They had been hitting Phoenix relentlessly for over three months now and had only managed to secure 3 station systems and maybe a third of Tribute as a whole. He had the numbers advantage in both sub capitals as well as capitals, but due to their use of jammer he couldn't leverage them both and his sub capital fleets alone were not enough against phoenix's combined fleets.
He sat down at his desk and 3d screens popped up showing the latest war information, financial projections and alliance ship movements. He was just about to decide to just sleep on it when his secretary came over the comm.
"Sir, I have a incoming vid call for you."
"Who is it?" he grunted.
"I'm not sure sir. He's refused to tell me who he is, only that its important. However he looks as if he's from the Gallente Navy."
"The Gallente Navy, what could they want with me?"
"Very well, patch him through."
The main screen blinked to a man seemingly in his late forties, sharply dressed in a Gallente Navy captains uniform. The background was the standard metallic green you found on every Gallente ship and station. He simply stared at the man and waited for him to speak first.
"Mister Karaka, pleased to meet you."
"You seem to have me at a disadvantage Mister…."
"Nouveau, captain Nouveau."
"How can I be of service captain?"
"You seem to be having some trouble with your war against the Phoenix coalition as of late is it not?"
Karaka's look darkened. "What's that to the Gallente Navy?"
The captain smiled and continued on. "I think we can help each other out in a certain matter Mister Karaka. I'm sending you an encrypted data package. I suggest you look through it to see what we can offer you."
Karaka simply nodded as he received the package.
"We will be in touch again soon."
At that the screen went dark and Terric focused his attention on the data package. After only a few minutes he leaned back into his chair, smiling. His chances of staying executor has just vastly improved.