Night and day no longer had any larger meaning for us capsuleers, what with coming from different planets in the first place, and having our schedule dictated by the vagaries of our missions. We ate when we were hungry, we slept when we were exhausted, and we flew whenever. And doing so, we easily forgot that there were still other, less fortunate people.
I got reminded of this fact when I left my quarters to board a station-transport glider. The atmosphere in the station was quieter than usual, even for late night like that - quite an achievement for construct housing hundreds of thousands of people. Punsters were loss boisterous, nobility of the night less forthcoming. Having the system sieged by enemies did that to a normal mortal population.
At least I got the whole cabin of the glider all to myself.
And the late hour was fine by me. All my late night decisions recently had let to interesting outcomes. Not necessarily good outcomes, as two lost ships and a fierce hangover after a night of discussing abilities and loyalties with random strangers could attest, but certainly memorable ones.
Tomorrow I’d probably rue tonight’s snap decision, turning my ship around in the middle of the act of creating a safe spot in a Molden Heath system to seek out this nearest suitable station. At minimum, I’d be in the wrong kind of ship in the wrong place, with no supplies staged, no backup, no idea what was actually going on, and that would be before even talking to anyone.
The glider slowed down, automated systems guiding it into its berthing spot. With a soft *ding* reverbing from the PA, the exit hatch slid open and I exited, only a few steps away from the office entrance.
I had been here before; different station, but same corporation. There had been a crowd back then, wearied 0-sec veterans as well as fiery-eyed rookies, and I very much had felt out of place, industrialist that I was at the core. This time, it was empty.
I still felt out of place. I still could turn back.
I squared my shoulders. “No.”
Inside, a young non-com was sitting at a reception desk, behind him on the wall the imperial banner, and a placard: “Strength through Purity - Purity through Faith”.
Another thing I’d had to get used to again.
Stepping towards the desk, I gave the non-com my best smile, with a bit more bravado than I actually felt.
“Sign me up, son.”