The mass of people was overwhelming, especially in contrast to the quiet seclusion of my quarters the last few days. But there was only so much fitting and module shopping I could do before turning stir crazy. So I had taken a break and gone for a walk.
Admittedly, my first destination had been my cargo hangar to take a look at my new possessions, but I was soon politely, yet firmly, shooed away. Something about the difficulties of wrapping up Small Focused Pulse Lasers for transport when the owner is climbing around on them.
To the general commerce levels then!
I let myself drift with the crowd, a spectator of the sights and sounds of this market hub. You could buy about anything here, from mustache wax to street-illegal performance gliders, from pets with their own clone contract for the discerning capsuleer, to Concussive Personal Defense Systems. And scattered among it all, at stands held in place by localized force fields, vendors of all kinds of exotic foods and drink.
Like this one: a vendor selling strangely formed sticks of bread, malleable, topped with all kinds of stuff. “The Original Alieman Bretz’ns", according to the holo sign. Of course, since no venture is without competition, just a few meters away stood another stand, that one offering "Traditional Alieman Bretz’ns". Same basic concept, but those bretz’ns appeared to have a consistency suitable to serve as knuckle-dusters in a pinch.
Unsurprisingly, neither vendor had any illusions about the ability of the common consumer to make up their mind when confronted with choice, so both employed a squad of professional Attractors. A nice smile and a hot body (only lightly covered) to draw you in, and a weight-lifter’s grip to make sure you stayed. Right now, however, both squads were mostly staring at each other angrily, grumbling insults, while medics were caring for two formerly-prospective customers.
Best not to get involved. My communicator signaled an incoming call, so I found myself a quieter spot around a corner nearby.
[ Hey, Sis! ] greeted me a small holo-Eta. [ I just wanted to let you know that I can't do any hauling for you the next days. ]
"No problem! I'm not done shopping yet anyway." I cocked my head. "Dare I ask why?"
[ Remember the folks we repelled from our WH? ]
Oh, I remembered! Those folks had really been an exercise in stubbornness. During our 'day' we incapped their guns, during their 'day' they brought out more. When their small POS finally came out of reinforce (before my 'day'), they had invited old buddies from Exhale to join the party - probably promising a capital kill or two.
Luckily Calcinus had kept a cool head and convinced the Alliance fleet to remain POSed up, until Exhale had gotten bored and left. However, then the Alliance fleet was gun-shy about the possibility of a cloaky scout left behind, so they held back their heavy ships even long after the interlopers themselves had called it a night. By the time I joined in, attacks against the hostile POS were flown using stealth bombers - without much effect.
I think my reaction had been along the lines of 'Frack this - let's shoot the damn thing!' I had taken my Apoc back onto the field, and when I wasn't ambushed right away, the others had put away their Hounds and Nemesi, and brought out their big ships as well. And not too soon: the POS shield had already recharged to 40%; waiting another night could have undone all the work we had put in at that point.
Shouting erupted nearby, some heated discussion was apparently taking place. I upped the volume on my communicator.
[ Well, ] continued Eta, [ Turns out, they are sore losers, and wardecced us. We did all the usual industrialist things: hardened our POSes, stored away our expensive ships, and ... ]
"... and accepted allies to help with the shooting.", I completed the sentence for her.
[ Exactly! Only that now I can't move your crap until this nonsense is over. ]
She frowned as the communicator relayed the gun shots ringing out from the main promenade behind me.
[ Where are you? ]
"Jita 4-4, 13th commerce level."
[ Ah, say no more. Den of stinking evil, and ... ]
The concussive shockwave of a minor explosion blotted out her words and threw me off my feet. As I propped myself up, the angry sirens of Station Security filled the air.
You did not want to be around Station Security when they used their angry sirens.
"I call you back." I mouthed, and terminated the connection.
Risking a peek back around the corner, I could now see only smoking debris where the bretz’n vendors had been. There were bodies strewn about, and security bots were establishing a preliminary perimeter.
In Jita, fast food was serious business.