Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chapter 2 Distress Call

My Merlin entered the docking bay on autopilot and I started running the checklists to disconnect myself from the pod. The checklists are fairly complicated, but after you have done them a few hundred times it moves pretty quick. One thing I learned as a pirate is to not only run the checklists to get myself disconnected from the pod but also run all the ones I can for reconnecting when I come back. It is kind of like cocking a gun if you will.

By the time the dock sequence was complete I was disconnected and waiting the two minutes for the pod to power down and let me exit. While I waited, I wondered what kind of trouble Tasha was in this time. Last time she was on some backwater moon, was lonely, and decided I was her best friend again. She gave me some bullshit excuse to get me there. Of course, I came running even though I knew a week later I would be old news and crushed yet again. I have never understood how I pick who I love or am loyal to. But once I pick it seems I can never let it go even if it is to my detriment. Glutton for punishment I guess.

The pod released me and I stepped out into the bright lights of the landing bay. A cheerful maintainer robot rolled up to my ship and evaluated the damage. I followed it around noting scorch marks along the afterburner and multiple chunks out of the visible armor.

“It seems you have damaged your ship pilot Nachthexen,” he chirped out as though it would be news to me.

“No, shit. You think you might be able to fix it?”, I said with as much sarcasm as I could muster. The sarcasm was lost on the robot, but it made me feel better anyway. Taking it out on the junk pile verbally was also better than getting in trouble for blowing up another Mx robot. Damn things are expensive.

“Yes pilot Nachthexen I can fix it right away, but I am afraid your afterburner has completely seized. Would you like us to replace it with one from your hanger?”

“No, I will fix it myself,” I said as I walked away in a huff. Thank goodness for a little skill with nanite paste.

I walked through the empty halls toward my office. I passed several now vacant rooms as I went. Echos filled the corridors with each step. It really made me sad that there were so few of us left. I guess that is what happens when you try to keep a group of women pirates together. Eventually, everyone will need to go off and do their own thing. It was just a matter of time before they came back, at least that is what I kept telling myself.

My office looked like someone had broken in and trashed the place. Just like I left it. I've never been the most organized person. The fact that I was keeping what was left of the corp in one piece was amazing. I could barley keep track of myself, let alone corp bills and diplomatic issues. My life was a mess and it never seemed to get better. Self-induced no doubt. I was very thankful for the Hellhounds who were sticking with me through all of this. If they hadn't, I'm sure the Hellcats would have fallen away already.

I walked over to my desk and melted into my chair. The last few weeks were so tiring, and nothing to look forward to but more of the same. The message light was flashing on the communications panel. I was dreading making the call back to Tasha, so I scrolled through the various status reports. It seemed like Evi was still causing all kinds of chaos in Lis. Seven ships destroyed in two days. Pretty soon she would have Lis and the surrounding systems under HellFleet control. I shook my head and smiled, she had defiantly earned the second in command role. I desperately missed her being around though.

The two remaining messages were bill notices for corp offices at places I never heard of. I had no idea If I should pay them or let the rent expire. I finally just said fuck it and let the offices expire. I really didn't know why I was so hesitant to make these decisions. The fact was, I was CEO and no one was coming back anytime soon to change that. I really should start running things the way I wanted instead of trying to figure out what others would have done in my place.

The messages were gone and I didn't have any more excuses. I sat there for another minute or two trying to remind myself that Tasha was sometimes not that good of a friend. She was self centered and had a bad habit of using me. She also liked to skew the truth to fit the reality she wanted to see. I would never call her a liar, but to an outside observer it might seem that way. All I had to do was call her back, remember she was my friend, and be willing to listen. That would be good enough.

I logged onto the communications band and input her number. After about a minute her image appeared in the view screen. She looked really good...and pissed.

“What the hell was that all about? I call you and tell you I am in trouble and you disconnect,” she said so low I could barley hear her. She was cussing, she must be really pissed because that was not how she normally handled things. I just gave her a big smile and tried to remember that I was here to be her friend.

“Well?”, she said and I could visualize in my head her foot stomping the ground. It made me smile again, and that got me another mean look.

“I was in the middle of a little business hon. Now what kind of trouble are you in this time.”

Reminding her that she was in trouble seemed to calm her down. I could swear she even blushed a bit. She always liked to be in control of herself. She fancied herself as a logical scientist who wasn't burdened by strong running Caldari emotions. It made her mad when people saw her get emotional. She took a deep breath and quickly pulled herself together. It hurt a little because I use to be one of the few she would let see her that way.

Tasha and I had gone through pilot training together. She was already a brilliant scientist when she showed up for training. She really wasn't cut out for being a pod pilot. But she was ambitious and saw the ability to freely move around space as the key to finding what she needed to pursue her research. She had dreams of research labs and mining operations whose only purpose was to feed her research.

The only problem was she was a horrible pilot. I probably wouldn't have even noticed her but the instructors paired us up hoping I would be able to help her through training. She and I hit it off. I'm not sure why, because we had very little in common. But she had such drive to succeed and a love for life that I was missing that it made me feel good to be near her. We were inseparable the rest of the time and we both managed to get through the program.

She talked for about thirty minutes. I wasn't really sure what parts were true and what parts were skewed to make her story a little better. Basically, she had joined up with a scum bag Caldari business man named Geklov Barkly. She had made a breakthrough with her research and he had promised, for a small fee, to get her the research labs and materials she needed to finish the project.

Geklov arranged blue status with a null sec alliance. Then he moved his entire corp to a little system deep in 0.0 and set up everything for her. She had borrowed a lot of money to make this happen. Now, a fleet of enemy ships were holding the system hostage and threatening to blow up all of the research labs and kill everyone if they didn't pay them billions in ransom.

Her story seemed to be lacking details. But that didn't surprise me since she was so oblivious to anything going around her that did not involve her research. You could also say she had a pretty sheltered life. I was the only pirate she knew and she did her best to tell me how disgusting my life was every time she saw me. Funny, now she was calling me to help deal with the pirates.

“Laka, please come help us. I owe a lot of money. They will kill me,” she spoke this time without holding back any emotions. She was really scared, and to see it on her face was like a knife in my chest.

“Okay, I will be there,” was all I could say.

“Please come quick,” she said, and the com link terminated.

I was going, and I knew I was going to regret it.

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