I took a drink from my glass, and shook my head to clear it up.
"Now, where were we?"
The Caldari looked at me over the top of his glass, with a sly smile.
“I don’t where you were just now,” he replied, “but I was busy admiring your eyes while you were telling me about your latest adventures. They’re cute, you know?”, he added.
I almost laughed into my drink when my brain fully processed what my ears had just heard.
Here we were, in a definitely “less sterile” bar, surrounded by the rougher sorts of pilots - heck, there was a fistfight going on right now! - and he is complimenting me on my eyes?
I cocked my head: “You are a strange person, indeed, to come up with something like that!”
He leaned back. “Well, did it work?” Again this smile!
*Play it cool!* I reminded myself.
I rested the elbows on the table, rested my chin on my steepled fingers, and gave him an mysterious look. ... well, at least I hoped it was mysterious, not having had any practice in quite a while.
“Well, I could think of a thing or two to help us find out...”
He never got a chance to answer, as suddenly something very loud was screeching into my ear. Out of the corners of my eyes I saw that one of the ‘waitresses’ had come up to our table and was blowing a whistle right next to my head. I had the brief impression of red hair, but before I could turn, the bar vanished, only to be replaced by the virtual images of my Purifier’s command system. And shrilling in my ear was the thing which had interrupted my dream: a priority message on comms.
Damn, not again!
Groggily I engaged my cloaking device as my ship performed its automatic warp - I definitely hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Damn WHs and their inconveniently timed connections!
My ship must have sensed my physiological state, as I suddenly felt the tingle of a stimulant enter my veins through the umbilicals. Slightly more effective than caffeine, but not quite as satisfying.
As soon as I felt somewhat coherent, I opened comms - it was our Alliance boss Tavi.
[ Hey Druur, do you have a minute to talk about the mails you sent the last days? ]
"Of course!" I had been meaning to talk to him directly for days, but our schedules simply hadn’t matched up.
[ The question I have is, what do you have in mind? I mean, there is a lot of good intel in them, but I am not clear about what you expect us to do with it.]
Now, that was the question, wasn't it? I had been struggling with it, more or less subconsciously all the last days, ever since the first attack notification from our WH POS came in. And it wasn't just that I was still reluctant to ask for Alliance resources for what was essentially a small corp operation - the tail wagging the slaver hound, so to speak - especially in sight of last month's derps. No, the real problem was deeper.
On the one hand, this Cl.3 WH was very rich in PI resources, and happened to be in a dead end of w-space - the main reasons for our continued presence. And to just roll over and retreat without even a token defense? Plus, undeniably, it was the last holdover of our good Last Stand times. ...I know, I know, CEOs shouldn't be "sentimental oafs" as a friend recently put it, but still.
On the other hand, the operation had increasingly become untenable with a long supply line, and the very few folks which had stuck it out had become increasingly grumpy. Even our POS was just a stripped-down shell of its former self, onlined only when needed and essentially considered 'lost', with the bulk of the operation based mainly out of an cloaked Orca.
And this Orca wasn't even in the WH anymore: when last night we discovered one our rare hi-sec connections, I had made the gut-decision to pull it out. Which essentially decided the situation, even if my rational thinking was just now catching up.
A polite cough on comms reminded me that I maybe should continue the conversation.
"...right. The reason was that I didn't know myself exactly where to go with it, or what would be the best course of action." I hung my head in the darkness of my pod. "I probably should have made that clearer.
"However, considering that the attackers built up their own POS over the last couple of days, and replaced all Custom’s Offices, I don't think we can hold the system."
[ That is my evaluation as well. While I'd be happy shoot up their Vexor gangs, since they're attacking an Alliance member, they only would come back. Tell you what, I'll have our diplomat contact them and see if we can negotiation a truce, so that we can repair the POS and unanchor it.]
"That'd be great! While financially the POS was always considered a loss, it'd be nice to salvage some of it."
[ Of course, they might not agree, but it won't hurt asking. And if they double-cross us... well...]
"Plan B." I grinned.
[ Right. Ok, I need to run - fly safe! ]
"You, too - and: Thanks!"
The connection closed, and I felt a weight dropping of my shoulder. It is never enjoyable to terminate a project which had started out with such great hopes and energy - but if I were honest with myself, I was relieved to no longer having to worry about it.