“You think the way you live is okayYou think posing will save your day”
-- N.E.R.D., Rock Star
The carpet muffled my steps, as I strode towards the main office of my sister’s corporation. Sadly so, as the metal plates I had had fitted to the heels of my boots made for an impressive entrance in Minmatar stations, with their metal decks. But then again, there was no point in trying to impress Eta, even if I hadn’t been related - it took other things to do that.
With a discreet beep, my access code was accepted, and I entered the corp complex. Knowing my way from days old, I headed straight for my sister’s private room. At her door, I hesitated for a moment - hurtled calculators being a probable risk - but then pushed inside. For once, I was able to enter unassaulted - Eta was sitting at her desk, leaned back, and staring holes into the ceiling.
Oh dear - something was already beyond merely ‘wrong’.
She started when I kissed her on her forehead, but recovered quickly while I was making myself comfortable on her desk.
“For you, always.” I smiled. “Now tell me what’s going on - your message sounded urgent.”
She looked at the ceiling again, while taking in a deep breath.
“About 20 hours ago, our POS in Reyi was attacked and put into RI. It’ll come out in 16 hours.”
“So, no problem. Send word to your alliance, I’ll break out either my Talos or my Scimitar, depending on the opposition, and we’ll have it licked in no time.”
“That’s the problem right there.” She emptied her glass, then refilled it. “It’s not like the old times - there is no alliance. Redrum is for all intents and purposes dead.”
“Wait - what?” I grabbed a glass from a shelf, and poured myself a drink as well. “I thought Pan and Katsumi had taken control back of the alliance, ousted Vicious Idiots, or whatever they were called, and were turning the ship around?!”
She smiled ruefully. “That had been the plan, yes. But about a week or two later, there was the announcement about a change of plans: the alliance would be mothballed, the renters let go, the POCOs sold, and all corps dropped by the end of the week.”
“Too much damage done already to recover from?”, I guessed.
“Exactly. Except - all of the above happened, except of the dropping of corps.” She took a sip. “Meanwhile, the corp who bought the majority of POCOs in Reyi, got impatient and sent a mail to all former blues - including Redrum - to discuss standings. But since our exalted alliance leaders have taken time off for some holiday or other, we in the Flyers never got the message. So…” she smacked her right fist into her open left hand. “Boom!”
I took a sip - and coughed. Gods know that Eta was not big into spirits - something about the dangers of working in proximity of highly unstable reactors with no neuro-scanner nearby - but when she had a drink, she went all out.
“Ok, different plan then.” I said once I had my voice again. “I put a call out to Affirmative, we get some shooters down here, and…”
“…and then what?”, she asked coldly. “You stay here, and defend the POS from all the follow-on attacks? No. These guys intend to make Reyi their little kingdom, and you guys aren’t.”
I was at a loss for words - she was right. I emptied my glass, and refilled it. “So what now?”
“After protracted negotiations, we arranged a compromise: we take down the POS unharmed, they take the moon, and in return we get blue standings.” She chuckled into her glass. “You can imagine, the boss was not happy.”
“I was just about to ask…”
“You know how stubborn she is - and being pushed out of our home of eight years did not sit well with her.” She smirked. “She left the final ‘capitulation’ up to me. But you know what?”
She gestured with her glass. “I can't help but think that these folks deserve the moon. They are decent combat pilots, have a plan, and put in the space-time to achieve their goals. We on the other hand? We just fueled the POS, extracted the moon goo to pay for our offices, and that was the extent of our ‘activities’ here.” She took a sip. “In a way I am glad the POS is going to be gone - one pointless liability less.”
I hesitated, wondering if I read her tone right. “You know, you could join us.”
She looked at me earnestly. “Truth to be told - sometimes I am tempted.” She slumped back into her chair. “But I couldn’t do that to the boss - it would break her heart. She has to realize the truth herself first.”
Seconds stretched to minutes, in which we just silently enjoyed our drinks. “So, what’s the plan?” I finally broke the silence. “Repair the POS up to 50% shield, and then take it down? If there’s only the Flyers on deck, even with my Scimitar it will take hours.”
“It won’t be that bad.” She winked at me. “Remember our dinner last year, when you first met my boy? And the skill plan we laid out for me later on?”
“Well, I’ve been following it like the good girl I am, and now - ” she made a flourishing gesture, “ - I can fly a Triage Thanatos.”
“Nice!” I saluted her with my glass. “But - isn’t your carrier several jumps from here?”
“Yes, but your … friend of old had contracted me hers - ‘on loan, so don’t break it’, as she put it. It’s not the best fit for my skills, but it’ll do.”
I nodded again, briefly wondering how Mica was doing, but then I banished the thought.
“Anything we can do until then?“
”Well, if you’re feeling up to it, two of the large laser batteries are incapped. Calcinus said that he'd help, but the more, the merrier. If we could repair them now, it would save us time later. And if they decide to backstab us…“
She left the sentence unfinished, and I smiled at the inside. We were both trained POS gunners, and with the large batteries repaired, we could spread some pain around.
I emptied my glass, and dropped it upside-down on the desk. ”Well, let’s get to it then.“ A thought occurred to me. ”Are there any other Redrum POSes in the system which have been hit?“
She gave me a look. ”I was wondering the same thing, so I did a quick recon of the system - mostly to find their POS, just in case. And the result is: our POS is the last Redrum one - everybody else has folded and left some time ago.“ She raised her glass.
”To the POS that could!“