The seven hours flew by. Of course, I only ended up getting about an hour of sleep. Tasha and I spent most of the night getting close again. Getting close in an urgent, almost panicked kind of way. I guess she was more worried than she was letting on. The whole night felt more like an ending than a new beginning.
I lay in the bed with my eyes closed while Tasha took a shower. I just wanted to pretend things were perfect for a little longer. There were a lot of things that needed to be done. But right now I was going to soak in every last second of peace. Even peace that doesn't last is better than none.
I heard her walk out and cracked open my eyes. She was standing in the doorway looking at me with a big smile on her face. “You remember that time we went to the resort on Kalfa 3?” she asked.
We had gone to the little resort to celebrate our graduation. “Of course I do, you were so loud that little old Gallente man came to our door to ask us to keep it down,” I said teasing her.
“If I remember right you answered the door naked,” she said teasing back. It was true, and the look on his face was priceless. He stuttered something about keeping the noise down and turned around and left. Some of my favorite memories happened that week. It was also the last time we were really close.
“Sorry, I was in the middle of changing,” I said defending my oh so fragile honor.
“Do you miss those times?” she asked, smile gone now and replaced with something much darker.
I felt like I was walking into a trap. It had to happen eventually, it always did. I could lie and say it didn't matter much to me. But why start protecting myself now?
“I miss them very much,” I said with as little emotion as I could manage. “Do you?”
“No,” was all she said at first. It hurt, but I kind of expected the slap in the face. I waited, hoping she would explain in a way that wouldn't crush me but knowing it wouldn't happen. She paced back and forth a few times. I could feel the frustration rolling off of her.
“Laka, I am so tired of who I am now, of who I was back then. When this project is done I will have a lot of money and I will be able to do anything I want. Pretty soon I will have some power and things won't be the same.”
It was not the response I expected. As long as I had known her she had never talked about power or money. She was so absorbed in her love of her research that those things never seemed important to her. I wondered what had happened these last few years to cause such a change in her and how she had kept it from me until now.
“Tasha, I have never known you to want more than your research and a little fun,” was all I could think to say.
“I am sick of having to rely on people like Geklov... of doing god awful things to get where I want to be,” she said, shaking. I got up and walked over to her and gave her a hug. I had no idea what she had been through, which made me feel like a pretty shitty friend. She hugged me back and I held on until she finally stopped shaking.
“We will be late if we don't get ready soon,” she said as she let go and walked into the adjoining room.
I went into the bathroom to get ready and thought about all the things I was going to do to this Geklov to pay him back.
Tasha led me down one of the long residential hallways on the upper section of the station. The rooms on this level were normally reserved for those with more money then they knew what to do with. I didn't see one person in the halls the entire 10 minutes it took us to walk to Geklov's room. Guess not a lot of rich people need a room in a back water system like this one.
Once we got there Tasha entered a code on the door and it slid open reveling a large open sitting area. It was as big as my whole living quarters back in Vit. Even though the room was big, it was packed with furniture and ornamentation that gave it a cramped feel. The giant couch in the middle of the room was snow white to match all of the tables and chairs. The only thing I could think was white is a terrible color to get blood out of.
Two men were waiting in the room. I doubted that either was Geklov. They both had a hard look to them. A look that made you want to be somewhere else. The one standing against the far wall was slightly shorter than me, but built like a Minmatar earth miner. You know, very muscular but not bulky. The kind of muscle that made you strong and fast. He didn't look up when I came into the room, but I knew he had already assessed the situation and was keeping track of me. I wondered if he decided I was a threat or not.
The other man was tall and skinny. His body seemed relaxed but his eyes said he was ready for anything. The look in his eyes reminded me of a picture of hunting dogs I saw once. He, unlike the other man, didn't take his eyes off of me. I couldn't quite tell if he was watching me because he considered me a threat, or he wanted something far more personal.
Tasha was oblivious to the showdown going on around her. She stopped when she noticed I wasn't following her the rest of the way in the room and gave me an exasperated look. “Oh, come on, does everything with you always end in a pissing contest?” she said looking at me with angry eyes. She proceeded to introduce me to the men in the room so we could all make nice and get on with things. The tall man was Anton the short one was Herrier. They were Geklov's personal body guards. To her that was enough information, they were just more hired help. To me they were people I might need to kill or who might try to kill me.
About the time we were finished with introductions, Geklov made his appearance. He was short and fat. His black thinning hair was greased back in the current Caldari fashion. Every bit the shady business man; exactly what I expected the shit bag to look like. I hated him before he even opened his mouth.
He walked across the room straight to me and his body guards fell in behind him. “You must be Lakasha. Tasha has told me so much about you,” he said reaching out to grab my hand and pull it to his slimy mouth. I yanked my hand back giving him a start and prompting Harrier to move a little closer to his boss.
Tasha gave me a panicked warning look as she stepped in next to Geklov and he put his pudgy arm around her waist. Anger flashed in my chest and I know I didn't keep it from showing in my face. These were the things Tasha had done make her research happen? Dirty deals and god knows what to slime bags like this. Where had I been? How could I let someone that meant so much to me go through shit like this on their own? I know she had pushed me away, but was it because I wasn't a good enough friend to help her?
“I don't like to be touched, sorry,” was all I could manage to say. Now was not the time to make it harder on Tasha. I needed to get her out of here and away from all of this. Pissing off the man who was holding a large debt over her head was not a good way to start.
“Oh, that is quite alright. I understand,” he said as he moved his hand up and down Tasha's waist. I could swear she tensed up just a little bit as he did. I took in a little breath and let it out trying to calm myself without anyone noticing.
“Well lets get down to business then. We are glad you came down to help, as my darling Tasha knew you would. When will the others be coming?” he asked.
“You mean Hellfleet?” I asked a little confused. He just nodded. “I don't speak for them nor would I ask them to come down here and sacrifice their ISK on a cause they have no interest in,” was all I could think to say. I came down here to get Tasha out of trouble, not to fight a war for a shit bag Caldari business man.
The smile fell from his face and he said, “Well that changes my plans considerably. Tasha, would you please head down to the briefing room and get everything ready to go?” She kissed him on the cheek and headed out the door without looking back. He watched her go and turned back to me with a less friendly look. Now we were getting somewhere.
“I can see you care about her very much,” he said with a smile that did not make it to his eyes. “She owes me over 2 billion ISK. It would be a shame if something happened to her before her research was ...”
I didn't let him finish. I crossed the space between us and had one hand on his throat and another on my blaster before he could stop speaking. Less than a second after that Harrier had his hand on top of mine stopping me from pulling the blaster out of the holster and Anton grabbed my wrist and pushed hard at the joint to stop me from putting pressure on Geklov's throat.
The anger died down a bit with the thought that I wouldn't be able to help Tasha if I died in this room. I relaxed a little to let the two men know I was done for now. Geklov stepped back, rubbing his throat and said, “There will be no need for violence. I am sure you and I can come to a reasonable agreement.” He nodded to the two men and each let go of me but remained close enough to keep me under control if they needed.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“Right now, just your support if the pirates decided to make good on their threat. Later...well, I will come up with something mutually pleasing no doubt,” he said as he looked me up and down. “You see I have plenty of ISK my dear Lakasha, I am more interested in the many other ways to pay off debts. Alliances, support from allies, intel...servitude.”
He looked me up and down one more time and started to walk back in to the room he came from. “Oh, and if anything happens to me before I am satisfied with my repayment she will be killed.”
Harrier turned and followed his boss out of the room. Antov leaned in close and said, “I can't wait.” Then he grabbed my arm and lead me to the door. I followed because now was not the time. I had to make a plan to get Tasha away from here. I had to make lots of plans. Geklov was a dead man.
One Man; 5 Enyos.
7 years ago