It was 29 low and null sec jumps to DRO-11. I made it through four gate camps with bubbles on my way there. I decided to go in my Manticore, because nothing beats a cloaking ship for travel in 0.0. Also, I wanted to be able to scout the area around DRO once I got there. The Manticore is not the best of the stealth bombers by any means, but it is well rounded and has enough medium power slots to make it very adaptive to my needs.
DRO turned out to be a dead end system on the outskirts of Amarr space. The adjoining system only had one way out also. It would be a bitch to defend and resupply in the middle of an invasion. Good thing there was no invasion. The last three systems I traveled though were empty. It had been 10 jumps since I saw more than a frigate. It was hard not to think that Tasha had suckered me into coming down here for god only knows what.
I gave her the benefit of the doubt and made some safes in the adjoining system before jumping into DRO. The system itself was pretty much worthless with three planets and one ice field. I quickly warped to each of the planets making safes along the way. Then I scanned out two research POSs and went to check them out as well.
Lets just say I was underwhelmed with the defenses on each position. Both consisted of a small control tower with shields enveloping a research station and a corporate hanger. The only thing defending either of them was a few Medium Blaster Batteries and a pair of Stasis Webification Batteries. I had taken down a POS with this much defense solo in a Geddon once. It took forever, but I managed to overcome the boredom and pull it off. If there was an enemy fleet inbound they would destroy the stations without breaking a sweat.
I shook my head and pointed the bomber toward the only station in system and engaged the warp drive. I was almost nauseous from the anticipation of seeing Tasha again. I have no idea why I work myself up so much over meeting with her, but I do. I can never quite wrap my head around our friendship. I don't really understand what she wants from me. Some days I am her best friend ever and others she doesn't know my name. I love so few people, sometimes I wonder if I pick the ones that do nothing but hurt me on purpose.
The warp drive disengaged and the station loaded me into its docking sequence. I let the station take over and started the checklist routine. It was all instinct now, I didn't need to look at the steps. By the time the pod had powered down I was unhooked and everything was prepped for my return. Although I haven't really timed myself since capsuleer school, I could be loaded back in and ready to launch in well less than a minute.
I got out of the pod and a maintainer robot came running up. I waved it off and started looking around the hanger for Tasha. I'd left a message with her about 30 minutes out, letting her know I was almost here. But she wasn't in sight so I started snooping around the hanger to try and ascertain what kind of situation we were really in here.
The hanger was actually pretty busy. There were quite a few battleships and battle cruisers being prepped for flight. I counted about 10 pilots running around in flight suites checking on their ships. However, for the most part the bay was full of haulers and mining vessels. Of course the hangers are spread out all over the place so it was hard to tell for sure what kind of combat support was around.
One of the pilots ran by me and I stopped him to try and get a little information. “Getting ready to defend the station?” I asked inquisitively.
At first he didn't respond, and started to run off, which was pretty rude. I blocked him with my shoulder hard enough to send him spinning.
Startled he said, “Oh, umm no. Dietrie probed down an ancient site two systems over. We are scrambling to get over there and see if we can find any thing good before someone else gets it.”
“You're are not worried about the invasion fleet that is on it's way?” I asked. He looked a little confused.
“Um, no, Geklov is taking care of that,” was all he said. Then he took the chance I wouldn't knock him on his ass and ran down the corridor. Interesting to say the least. They were down here carebearing it up while a supposed group of pirates were on the way to kill everyone in the station. So many things were not adding up that my head was starting to hurt.
I walked back down toward my ship to wait. About a half an hour later Tasha showed up bossing around two men holding extremely large boxes. She looked over in my direction and waved, then continued her dispute with the men. Finally, she headed my way.
It had been about a year since I had seen her. She never really looked much like a scientist to me. She was tall and skinny. Her long black hair was always pulled up into a neat tight ponytail. Her clothes were always stylish. It was like at any moment she could walk out of the lab and fit in at a dinner party or a night club. I was never quite sure how she pulled it off.
As she walked up that feeling of nausea started in my stomach again. This could be the part where she was pissed at me for something or loved me to death. She put her arms around me and whispered in my ear how happy she was to see me. I relaxed a little and stepped back as she let go.
“You were supposed to be here hours ago,” she said smiling as she looked me up and down.
I smiled back and said, “I have been here for hours.” She rolled her eyes at me and started walking toward the door she had appeared from. Once we got into the corridor she looked around then she grabbed my hand and squeezed so hard I thought she was going to break it.
“Laka, I am so glad you are here. I have so many things to show you and tell you about,” she giggled like a little girl. I don't remember ever seeing her so excited. Somehow I didn't think this conversation was going to be about an invasion force. I didn't come down here to catch up. I came down to get her out of trouble and get the hell out before I got my feelings hurt yet again.
“Hon, I need to get all the intel on the people who are threatening you. I also need to know how many ships we have and..,” I just stopped talking. Her glazed over look told me all I needed to know. It was obvious she was not really listening. Probably doing math problems in her head. I just stared at her.
Finally, she realized I had quit talking and said, “Don't worry, Geklov will get you up to speed on all of that silly stuff. Now come on,” she said as she started pulling me down the corridor again.
I spent the next two hours following her around from makeshift lab to makeshift lab. Apparently, she had made quite the discovery in implant production. There were small amounts of a material on one of the moons here that could be used to increase inter something-or-another communications between implants. If she could get enough of the material to synthesize it would basically allow implants to talk to each other faster. She already had a few prototypes, which she was also producing here at the station.
She was so excited and enthusiastic it was hard not to get excited too. She had a charismatic field around her that just pulled people in. It was one of the things I loved about her. She always seemed to make me feel better, no matter how shitty I felt. For a while I could forget myself and just be happy.
I followed her into every one of her labs and listened as she explained processes that were so far beyond my comprehension there was no way I would ever understand. She knew I wouldn't get it, but it made her happy sharing her work with me. That made me happy. Almost happy enough to forget why I was here in the first place. But as she pulled me from place to place I started to get that nagging feeling that I needed to get information soon or it was going to be too late. Finally, it was all I could think about. Workaholic I guess.
She pulled me to another door and I had had all I could take. “Sweetie, I really enjoy seeing all of this stuff. But if I don't get the information I need to help you it is all going get blown up.” I said it as nice as I could manage. Her face fell and my heart beat a little slower from the sudden increase in gravity around me.
“I know,” she said with a frown. I could see her brain working hard to make everything fit into her reality. To her, reality was just another science problem to figure out. Just a bunch of variables that if manipulated properly would end in the results she wanted. Not exactly the ethical way to run an experiment, but that is how it worked for her. I had watched her do it many times in the past.
“Geklov said he would give you all the information you need at the meeting he is holding,” she said, happy again with how things were going.
Finally we were getting somewhere. I started thinking about all the questions I needed answered to make sure we could mount the best defense possible. Then I realized she was just standing there staring at me with a big smile on her face. She didn't say anything because she had said it so many times in the past. She thought I spent too much time thinking about bad things or things I had no control over. Sometimes it was a cute discussion and sometimes it was a fight. I was guessing from the smile today she thought it was cute.
“When is the meeting?” I finally asked.
“That is like seven hours from now. Do we really have that much time to waste?” I asked, irritated.
“We have the time, or Geklov wouldn't wait. He stands to lose a lot from this deal if it goes bad,” she said as she walked toward the door.
“Another lab?” I asked as the door opened.
“Nope, this one is my room. I figure you need some rest and we need to kill a few hours,” she said as she walked in.
I followed her in, and I hated myself for it.
One Man; 5 Enyos.
7 years ago