Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Closing Hours

Unsurprisingly the bar was dark and quiet when I entered - catering primarily to podders, the news of an upcoming sov switch of the area had left the usual patronage in various stages of evacuation. The only other guest, in fact, was a young Minmatar punk who was helping herself to various bottles left behind on the shelves behind the bar. Smiling, I made my way over.

“You look worse than I feel”, I said by way of greeting.

Myra barely looked up. “Ugh. Don’t. Even. Mention. It.”

I hopped up to sit on the bar counter. “Try Arcturian Mega-Vodka. You’ll feel bad again tomorrow, but at least today will be a pleasant memory.”

She looked up to me. “You’re of course an expert in this.”

“Maybe…”, I conceded. “But it wasn’t me who got drunk yesterday and went off loud-mouthing the leader of the attacking alliance in local.”

“I didn’t know that he was the leader, ok?!”, she snarled at me. “I thought he was just another line-grunt, and when he came along with his drunk sense of self-importance, I let him have it.” She emptied her glass and looked at it morosely. “Probably not my best performance…”

I grabbed a glass and bottle she had left open, and poured one for myself. “Nope, not at all.” I took a sip, and shuddered. “It was entertaining, though.” I eyed my drink, unsure if I should let it win. “What are your plans now?”

Myra opened another bottle. “Apart from finding a dog to get hairs from? Ship out to hi-sec, like everyone else.” She paused for a moment. “I might stay there for a while, because…” She paused again.

I took another sip of my drink, willing to face the challenge of it. It still tasted like engine degreaser. “Shush - she’s a good catch.” I winked at her.

She had refilled her glass meanwhile. “Well, you’d be the one to know…”, she replied before taking a drink. Her grimace was newsworthy, and she coughed several times. “What the…”, she began, but then her voice croaked in defeat.

“Dog enough for you?”

“Oh yes!”, she replied, with teary eyes. “And you?” she asked, before taking another drink.

I looked at my glass for a while before answering. “Factional Warfare borderzone.” I replied eventually. “Null just doesn’t do it for me, and I do have other obligations as well these days.”

She coughed again, and nodded. “It must be nice to have a place to call home…”

I refilled her glass.

“It’ll happen, Kitten, trust me.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's In The Name

        "With hindsight, the decision sucked.  But that's the benefit of hindsight.
        When you use it, all decisions suck." -- Giles Todd

[ What did you say? You were cutting out. ]

I grimaced at the holo comms - Miss Phage was being her usual polite self. The reason I had ‘cut out’ was because a round of cheers that had erupted when Kaili Severasse and his squad entered the bar, returning from a successful operation - the new kind required to live in null-sec. And what the patronage of Squirrel Central’s Bar-and-Grill thought it lacked in numbers, it made up for with enthusiasm.

“I said ‘The operation here appears to have been a success - it has been a while since we had that many alliance members and friends in one place.” I paused, and then as if by afterthought added, “And your last POCO has been placed as well.”

[ I got the notice. ] She smiled faintly. [ And the first import/export taxes are rolling in as we speak. Your alliance is quite a busy bunch. ]

“That they are!” I took a drink from my glass.

[ Your team doesn’t happen to be around? ] she continued.

I hmmed and looked around. The strategically dim lighting of the bar, combined with the flickering of the large holo screens playing back everybody’s favorite battle moments made it hard to locate people… ah, there was Rhys, making good on his challenge to arm-wrestle everybody in the room for drinks, currently giving Darius a hard time. And Mica and Myra… sitting a bit apart from the crowd, laughing and having drinks together. I smiled inwardly at the sight.

“There are a bit busy,” I turned back to the comm unit, “but I’ll let them know that you asked for them - they’ll know what it means.”

Miss Phage nodded in acknowledgment. [ I am wondering about something though… ] She hesitated [ While I wouldn’t prescribe my field agents how they perform their job - why Taloses? ]

“Instead of cheaper and more nimble stealth bombers?” I frowned. “I was questioning my decision myself at times. The original estimates showed them to provide better sustained damage than bombers, and the ammunition was cheaper. And they were fitted cross-purpose to be able to serve as heavy hitters in an Alliance defense fleet as well. Alas,” I grimaced, “the latter never came to pass.”

[ Instead there were many mobile groups with cloaky support. ]

“...and we were rusty as hell.” I agreed grudgingly. “But we got into some nice scuffles, and at the end we had a good system down, even though it required a lot of patience.” I sighed. “I’m afraid though that it’ll be a while before the POCOs make back the expenses.”

Miss Phage chuckled. [ It was never about profit alone, and not even about symbolically staking a claim. ] She looked at me inscrutably. [ I wanted to know if my team was still around. ]

“What…” I began, but she didn’t let me finish.

[ You’ll need a name, though. ] she mused. [ I think it’s tradition among Spec Ops teams that they have impressive nicknames.] She smiled at me. [ Especially the more special ones. ]

I blinked at this turn, and all my brain was able to come up with was the highly unoriginal ‘...what?’

Cat’s Destruction “, said a very cheerful Myra over my shoulder, carrying four drinks in her hands, clearly having overheard us on her re-supply mission. “Nobody’d get it!” She beamed at me, and continued back towards her table.

Miss Phage looked thoughtful. [ I like it - it’s very fitting. What do you say? ]

“I say...,” having gotten back control of my words, “I’ll think about it.”

[ Fair enough. ] She leaned back, clearly done with our chat. [ I’ll let you get back to your party - though I do hope that next time I call on you in person, your partner will be at home as well - I’m curious to meet him. Godspeed. ] And the link cut off.

I emptied my drink in one go, a thought flashing through my mind.

*You and me both.*