"Lights! Camera! Anguish!" -- Rob "Tyger" Rubin
Taking a sip from my plain latte, I looked around the room from my sister. Her message directing me to this locale had been as telling as it had been cryptic - "Bar! Now!" - but even given the only figurative meaning of "Now" in the age of interstellar travel vagaries, it was unusual for her to be late.
I finished my cup, and almost immediately a waiter materialized.
"Another one, Ma'am?", he asked, efficiently shifting my empty cup onto his serving plate.
"Yes, please.", I agreed.
"I take one, too.", said Eta's voice over my shoulder. "Hello, Sis."
She sat down heavily across from me, barely containing a burning anguish. "No sugar, no milk. But add some brandy. Hold the coffee. And make it two."
"Very well." the waiter took it in stride as if her order wasn't anything out of the ordinary. "Anything else?"
I shook my head, and the waiter vanished, only to return a minute later to place two glasses of brandy before Eta. Sturdy low ball glasses, correctly reading her mood.
She took one glass and downed it one gulp, and slammed it onto the table.
"We surrendered!", she said bitterly. "We fraking surrendered! To the tune of one point two Billion ISK."
I pulled in a sharp breath through my teeth. "Ouch. Why this sudden change in mind?"
"Apparently because we had losses in a recent fight which amounted to about a Billion as well." She pulled out her pad and pushed it over. "See for yourself."
I took a look at the record, and nodded. "Two Command Ships and a Drake. And a shiny pod - yep, that'd do it. All shot up by a gaggle of T3s and a Navy Mega.”
"Don't forget the Maller." she pointed out. "Calcinus thinks that he was the bait to spring the trap." She took a sip from her second glass. "Not that anyone tells us anything."
"But why the surrender?" I gestured towards the pad. "Yes, it was an expensive loss, but you live and learn, and next time bring cheaper ships. It's still only ISK lost, not ISK they gained."
"Apparently leadership is concerned about the height of the losses," she mocked, "and was justifiably afraid that the war would be extended beyond this week.
"And yes, it is a pain having to look over your shoulder all the time, and yes, I'm lucky with my timezone and that I can do my stuff in cloaky haulers, and yes, my POS almost was lost this weekend if not for a lucky null-sec contact, but Damn!" she glared at me, "I was able to run reactions in hostile lo-sec by myself for a year before I burnt out, and as an Alliance we don't even last a single week?!"
Grumbling she took a swallow, and I let her calm down a bit before asking the followup question.
"Well, the war has been dropped, and if previous victims are to believed, these guys are just serial hi-sec griefers: extort one target, move on to the next." She shrugged. "We'll know in two weeks when the blackout period ends." She stared at her glass. "Hate their kind. Bastards."
I took a taste of my coffee, which by now had materialized as well.
"What annoys me most, however," she continued, "is the abysmal communication. If we didn't get the CONCORD notifications anyway, I wouldn't even had known that we had surrendered."
"It may be partly my fault", she allowed, "as maybe I should have tried to participate in Alliance politics more, despite being stretched thin. But usually, by the time I get to jack in, all important things have already been said and done." She took an angry swallow. "If only somebody would tell me afterwards what had been said and done!
"Like the rumors about a plan to rent ratting rights in a null-sec system," - I raised an eyebrow, but didn't interrupt - "it would be nice to get a definite 'No' or 'Yes' on that one." She emptied her glass.
I caught the eye of the waiter and glanced meaningfully in Eta's direction.
"What are you going to do then?", I asked carefully. "Take the Flyers and leave?"
"Break away?" She laughed mirthfully. "You don't know me very well if you think that I give up that easily! - Thanks." The last was directed at the waiter.
"Besides," she continued more soberly, "small as the Flyers are, we are still heavily invested in both the area and the Alliance, and I simply neither want to rebuild that kind of relationship from scratch elsewhere, nor do we have the resources to do so. No," she shook her head, "I'll simply have to try to get involved more again, ask more, keep the young bucks on their toes, and watch how it develops."
She held up her glass, and looked at me through it. "However, I wouldn't be surprised if some other people went their own ways." She took a sip. "It is no longer the Alliance you left last year."