Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chapter 5 Times Up

The briefing room was on the main level of the station. It set just outside the main hanger where most of the corp ships were stored. The rooms came in different sizes and setups depending on what you wanted to pay for. The ones outside the main hanger were the most expensive but normally worth the price.

By the time I got to the main level I managed to get back into control of my emotions. Being emotional Laka would not get Tasha out of this mess. I really have two sides to my personality. One side was the one with the nicer emotions. The one that still had some hopes and dreams about love and life in this shithole of a universe. Over the last two years I found it harder and harder to connect with her. I found myself relying more on the other side of my personality, the pirate. Sometimes I wondered if there was a point of no return and all that would be left was the pirate. A little part of me shivered at that thought, the pirate smiled.

I walked into the briefing room and let the pirate take over. It wasn't something I had to concentrate on to do anymore. One flip of a switch in my head and I was all about the business of pain and death. I was a cold void ready to act. The only emotion that I had very little control over in this state of mind was anger. But it could be channeled and used for my purpose. I found a place along the back wall and forgot about worries over love and friendship.

I spotted Tasha in one of the seats at the front of the room. There were about seventy other people already seated. I took a quick count and estimated about thirty of those were actual pilots. The rest seemed to be civilians of some type. Probably a part of the corp's station side logistics personnel and scientist there to help with Tasha's research.

After about twenty minutes of waiting Geklov came in, Antov and Harrier at his side. In addition to the two body guards were three other men trailing behind. Nice that he needed five men to protect him in the middle of his own corporation. He walked to the front of the room and the men took positions around him. He gave a little nod to Tasha, and started speaking.

He stood up in front of everyone explaining that negotiations with the Sons of Death Alliance had been more difficult than expected. Even though they had promised the corp blue status they had reneged and now the filthy pirates wanted five billion ISK or they would come into system, destroy all the labs and then trap and ransom everyone in the station. He was very good at changing his voice and tone to play to the audience. If I had not known better I might have been convinced of his concern for the corp.

This situation seemed to be new to some of the people in the room who started shouting questions and hurling insults at Geklov. Several of the pilots got up and left. Geklov stood and answered as many questions as he could but no one was listening except me; and I was starting to understand the infuriating truth of the situation.

Tasha got up and explained that she needed at least one more week for completion of her project. Once the project was done everyone would get all the money they had been promised. As she talked I watched Geklov and his men. Three of the men stood behind him hands resting on the blasters at their hips. They seemed tense and I knew they were no threat. Antov and Harrier however, were a different story. They seemed relaxed, hands resting at their sides. These were the men to fear. It might have been transparent to others but I could see by the way they stood that they were ready for a fight. Almost begging for one.

“Geklov, did you give the Sons of Death the money they requested for this system before you moved in,” I shouted while I looked at the floor, trying to control the anger in my voice.

“I'm not sure that it is any of your concern how my corp does business...,” he said and continued rambling, but I wasn't listening.

I took in a deep breath and pushed the anger I was feeling into a ball in the center of my chest. When I looked up at him he stopped talking and the men at his side tensed. I have been told by many of my friends that when I get truly pissed I have a look that would make death stop and take notice. I was cold and empty inside, ready. I wondered for a second if that is what the two mercenaries next to Geklov felt like right now.

“You know what I think Geklov? I think you never paid the Sons of Death. I think that you are squatting in their territory and kept the money for yourself. Then, when one of their scouts came in system they watched while you moved your people in and put up your POSs. You put yourself before all of your people, thought the stupid pirates would never know the difference, and now all of these people are in danger because of you.” Tasha was in danger because of him. The words were so calm coming out of my mouth. I felt detached, like I was standing to the side listening to myself talk. I slid my hand down to my blaster and the men up front got ready.

“That is not the case and you should not spread such rumors,” he sputtered out. “Besides, no one is in danger, I am quite sure that these pirates will not even show. If they do, we will give them a few ISK and they will be on their way.”

I was livid. He had brought his people down here to die, most of them without the benefit of a clone if the Son's wanted to make an example of them. It was all I could do to not put a bullet in his head. But there was no way I could kill him and all five of his men before one of them killed Tasha. I noticed Antov was flashing me a smile and the bastard even slid his hand away from his gun. I thought for a second about killing them all anyway.

Station alarms went off and I didn't get a chance to see if I was faster than the men on stage. The tactical screen at the front of the briefing room lit up displaying little green blips as multiple ships surrounded the station. Each ship was identified as belonging to the Sons of Death alliance. Once all of the inbounds were accounted for the readout displayed 30 battleships and about 20 frigs.

The communications channel opened and a crusty looking Amarr man filled the screen. “You have one hour to deposit five billion ISK into our holding corp account or we will come in and take it,” was all he said and the communications channel went black.

Almost every pilot in the room stood and headed out the door toward the hanger. I really wasn't assuming it was because they were ready to fight. I figured most of them just wanted to make sure they were in their pods when the fight started. There were about nine who stayed behind and they headed to a corner of the room. These were the guys I was looking for.

I walked over to the group and listened from a few feet away as they threw together a strategy to fight the overwhelming force. I liked them already. I threw in a few ideas as they talked and the circle slowly opened so I could step in to join them.

I could hear the uproar in the background as Gekolv tried to calm the remaining crowd. He finally gave up and tried to communicate with the leader of the invading force. The Amarrian did not answer Gekolv's communication requests.

We were about to head to our ships to see what kind of damage we could do to the Sons when the station alarms started screaming again. The tactical display flashed red blips as each new ship appeared at the station. When the final count came across there were ninety-two hostiles in system. The last two ships were Avatars. The only identification the computer displayed was Blood Raider.

Everyone in the room was silent as they stared at the monitor. I watched as the overwhelmed little green dots on the tactical display started to disappear. Some of them tried to run, but most didn't get clear before the cloud of red overcame them. They where obviously as surprised as we were.

I had never heard of the Blood Raiders operating in such a large force. I sure as hell had never heard of them having Titans. All I knew for sure was the Blood Raiders would not be interested in an ISK ransom. They could only be here for one thing. We were all fucked.

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