“AARGH! Turn the fracking lights off!”
“”Sorry“ my arse.”, I growled. “You knew exactly I was here.”
“Well, ok, I knew.” I heard Eta making her way through the cramped POS control room. “But what’s up with this blackout?”
“I’m trying to relax for a few minutes - and have you seen this room with lights on? I prefer the Blinkenlights.”
“Point.” She found her way to my spot, and made herself comfy on one of the consoles. “So, Sis, what have you been up to?”
Good question - what have I been doing?
“Uhmmm... ”, I hedged, “you know how it is: this and that, and afterwards you can’t remember exactly what it is you did.”
“Tush! I didn’t fly all the way to your hi-sec connection just to listen to Corporate Speak!”
“Ok, well - we had some more Corpies coming in here, but we also had our setbacks: Our Wormhole system has been rather dry recently, Lance lost his brand-new Hulk...”
“Ah, that’s why he was so happy about the Covetor I brought in.”
“Exactly. During a spatial disturbance yesterday, LC got podded - again.”
“+5s, and a 5% mining implant.”
Eta whistled through her teeth. “Ouch.”
“...and we lost Heloisa about a week back.”
“That cute Khanid girl in the ‘dictor? What happened? ...oh, and whatever you’re having, I’d like some, too.”
I handed her the can I had been sipping from, and tried to recall that night. It had been a bit of a mess, as I had been involved in negotiations with business associates, so my role that night was mostly one of hovering around cloaked and providing occasional scraps of Intel.
“Business associates?”, interrupted Eta.
“You don't wanna know.”
We have been exploring a neighboring wormhole system, which as usual these days involved figuring out if the inhabitants were friendly or not. We had only seen one guy active, going by the name of Meditril, but he was really good: I saw him clean out a CA in just a Wolf. Of course, he noticed us as well, and we began a game of cat-and-mouse with scan probes. Unsurprisingly, he found the entrance to our wormhole and took a look around - and few moments later we got a rather surprising comm from the scout we left behind:
[ Uhm, this Meditril guy, he just talked to me local. He claims that we’re blue to him.]
“That’s what we thought.”
As it turned out, their corp had given us standings some time ago without us knowing, and in the light of this (and his generous offer to play in his wormhole’s sites), we no longer pursued him, but instead our group continued blazing through the anomalies (ok, the rest of my group, while I was sitting at the wormhole connection), and Meditril continued his scanning for signatures.
Except - the scan probes we saw weren’t his. The extent of our mistake became evident when a complete heavy gang appeared at the signature site: Buzzard, Huginn, Zealot, Drake, Typhoon, and a Scimitar against our Devoter, Onyx and Damnation. The Onyx and Damnation managed to warp out, but the gang got a point on Heloisa’s Devoter, and started to to take it apart.
On our side, not having prepared for this contingency, hesitation reigned. Jump back to help? Ambush the gang on their way out? Flee? Our Onyx pilot did make an attempt at a rescue, but was intercepted long before he could get into fighting range. Heloisa held on for a surprisingly long time, but even the Devoter’s tank could not withstand the onslaught forever and the ship exploded.
“Did she get her Pod out ?”
“Yep - bounced off a planet and then back into our wh system.”
“...mightily pissed, I presume.”
“You could say that. That Devoter has served her well for the good part of a year - while we did pool together so that she could buy a new one, you can’t replace that history.”
“Yeah...” Eta chewed her lower lip. “Though I don’t see what you could have done differently - they had the superiority on the field, and sacrificing T2 ships for the remote chance of a ‘Good Fight’... - it might have made her feel better, though.”
“Mhm - I was pondering that, too, but I don’t have a good answer for it either.”
“You’ll find one - that’s why you are the CEO!”
“...and as CEO I get the best drinks. Gimmie!”
We sat there for a while, watching the scanner tracing Tar as he was testing his ships around the POS.
“Where is she now?”, broke Eta the silence.
“She’s back in Empire - got herself a new Devoter, but will probably go back to 0-sec. Her corp has gone on the offensive again, and can use every pilot they have.”
“Too bad, I’ll miss her.”
“Me, too.”, I admitted. “But this reminds me - next time you fly to Stacmon, could you please be a dear and drop this stuff off for me?”
“I wasn’t aware that I was flying to Stacmon...”, Eta took the data chip from my hands and studied it. “Hmm, a Maller, a Thorax, a Rupture - and a whole bunch of mods. Agony class again?”
“Yep!” I grinned. “Fun, fights, and shiny explosions!”
“Well, in that case I think it’s an endeavour worth supporting.” Eta slipped the chip in one of her innumerable pockets, and then pushed herself back onto her feet. “But I gotta go - the wormhole will close in a couple of hours, and I still have to get my pod warmed up.”
“Sure,” I hopped to my feet as well, and feigned a punch at her which she easily blocked (she was never one for sisterly hugs), “It was good to see you again. Fly safe, will ya?”
“Always.” She threw me a mock salute, then carefully picked her way out of the room. At the bulk head, she turned back on more time.
“Oh, shall I turn the lights back on?”