"Never let a good crisis go to waste." -- Winston Churchill
I walked slowly around the holographic image of myself the mirror in the dressing room had created. I knew that my ‘personal purchase experience specialist’ was trying to sell me more stuff than I actually wanted or needed, but Damn! the belt did look good! Formal or non-formal dress, it would add a note of intent whenever I would have to do negotiations. Hmm, maybe also get a second one in a different color?
My comm pad vibrated, and without taking my eyes off my mirror image, I touched the right buttons to answer the call. Only few people were allowed to bypass my ‘do not disturb’ setting.
[ Are you happy now? ] , she asked with a bitterness that made me pause.
No greeting meant that she was really pissed. At me, of course.
“What do you mean?”
[ You know what I mean: the little stunt you and your friends pulled two days ago. You almost got me booted from corp and alliance! ]
Frowning, I sat down, ignoring the furtive knock on the door from my ‘specialist’. This was more important.
“I don’t understand - ok, I should have known that that tower was one of your renter’s and stayed out of it. But still! It was offline, and we didn’t even kill it!”
[ Not just any renter. ] I heard her take a deep breath. [ This renter had friends, who had friends, who then dropped by with a little capital fleet. I only heard about it afterwards, but apparently they were gung-ho to take out all the alliance’s towers. If our alliance hadn’t been repping the tower as the big boys arrived, all kinds of bad things could have happened - these are the same guys we usually bat-phone in times of need. ]
My gut clenched - that was not an outcome I would have anticipated. Under other circumstances, the image of being a catalyst in bringing an alliance to the edge of a costly war would have thrilled me; but endangering my sister’s operations… I really had messed up this time.
“And?” I finally managed to ask.
[ We dodged the bullets - barely. Our CEO did some rapid talking, I groveled, and since no actual property damage was done, we got away with a stern warning. ] She paused. [ I have to admit: the alliance boss handled the situation better than I would have given him credit for. He was the bigger person this time. Didn’t even remove your blue status. ]
Crap. While I didn’t truly care about the blue status with them anymore, it did make a few things easier. And him not removing it over this incident… dejectedly, I hung my head. I hated it when I failed my own standards while others exceeded them.
“Guess I owe him a thanks.”
[ At least an apology. ] Her voice softened. [ On the positive side, one good thing did come out of this. We’re taking down our big POS next door as we speak. ]
My head snapped up.
[ The threat of my possible expulsion lead to some straight talk in our corporation, formulation of alternative strategies, and all that. And it allowed me to voice that I’m sick and tired of running that large POS. So we’re taking it down and replacing it with a smaller, self-financing one, with less need of handholding. ]
“But - your reactions? I thought you loved them!”
She sighed. [ I do love them. But they also have become routine - and I never really liked the market aspect of them. And I definitely have started to hate the damn fuel running. ] She sighed again. [ Pity about my Jump Freighter project, though - I’ll have to put it on hold. ]
I shook my head in disbelief.
“But what are you going to do now? Especially to make ISK?”
[ I don’t know yet ], she admitted, [ and frankly, the prospect scares the heck out of me. Travel, maybe - I have hardly left Domain in the last couple years. Maybe do PI for a while for income, or inventions - things I haven’t tried enough to know whether I’m good at them or not. I might even come back to reactions in the end, on account of being broke. But until then… ] It was an audio-only connection, but I hear a crooked smile in her voice. [ We’ll see. ]
“You never cease to surprise me,” I said warmly.
[ I aim to please, ] she replied jokingly, [ and unlike you, I use a high-precision sniper rifle instead of tac-nukes. ]
“Well, if there’s anything I can help you with, let me know.”
[ Actually… if you could be here in a few hours, that’d be awesome. We could use some scary-looking people in combat ships on the field when we do the actual tower switch.] She paused for a moment. [ You do have ships left here, right? ]
Good question. I quickly pulled up my asset list, and nodded.
“Yep. My trusty Talos. And I need to drop a JC over there, so I wanted to come by anyway after I’m done shopping here.”
[ Shopping? What’cha buying? ]
“Accessoires, of sorts. For my outfit.”
[ Clothing? ] Now it was her turn to disbelieve. [ I’ll believe that when I see it! ]
“Not exactly clothing.” I grinned. “You’ll see.”
[ Ok, ok, I shall suffer from curiosity in silence then. ] She cleared her throat. [ I’ll see you in a couple hours then. Eta out. ]
The connection closed, and stood up, strangely enough feeling as if a weight had been lifted from me. Shutting off the holo-mirror, I stepped outside the dressing room, finding my ‘purchase specialist’ waiting for me.
“Sorry about that,” I said apologetically, “I had to take that call.”
“No problem at all, I fully understand.” he replied with a studied polite smile. “Our customers are usually busy people, and it is our goal to provide them with the best environment while they are making their decisions.” His eyes dropped briefly to the belt I had been trying on. “And, what does Ma’am think?”
“I take it. And a second one in black.”
“Excellent choice!” His smile brightened. “It'll go nicely with the rest! Anything else I could interest you in?”
I thought briefly, then shook my head. “No, nothing I can think of… wait.” I snapped my fingers. “Ammunition - Antimatter and Iridium.”
“Of course.” He gave me a tiny, knowing nod. “After all, it is a dangerous world out there.”