"Hello world. You're looking painfully bright and a bit fuzzy today." -- @Gitte, FF 2015
The cup of coffee was a welcome warmth in my hands, the beverage doing its best to clear up the hungover haze in my mind. The events of previous night had been.... interesting, and involved a few drinks more than I cared to remember.
Taking a sip from my coffee, I rested my elbows onto the little table and looked through the window out onto the promenade. The din of the breakfast diner faded into the background as I tried to sort my thoughts.
It had been a curious three weeks which had led me here, ever since the recent capsuleer conference. In the previous years, I had enjoyed these conferences - mingling and partying with fellow pilots on neutral grounds, getting direct access to officials from organizations like the DED - but this year... even though there had been mingling, I had more vivid memories from my little field trip into the icy wastes of northern Yulai III than of the conference itself. I used to return from these conferences re-energized, eager to haunt the space lanes, but not so much this year.
Part of the reason, I mused, was that it’s hard to be enthusiastic when one's combat record shows hardly anything but losses. Granted, there had been high points, like chasing off a Navy Vexor after killing most of its drones, or the fight against a Sabre which against all odds my Vengeance survived in deep structure - but most of the time potential targets either warped off at first sight, or called in their friends to outnumber or outgun me. I kept undocking with a brave face, but inside I wound up ever tighter. Getting drunk with other pilots helped me sleep, but was only masking the problem.
The coffee was bitter on my tongue.
I had to make a change, even if only for a little while. Do something else. Maybe go undercover, or do some recon work. Our alliance did have a number of standing recon objectives which I could do without necessarily wading into losing fights left and right.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. It would give me a goal, something to do, while I considered my next steps.
Yes. Recon work it would be.
I emptied my cup, refilled it from the carafe, and finally dared to remember the previous night.
Because, in between the many drinks, an offer had been made. A very tempting offer. But going along with it would mean commitment, would mean deeply trusting someone, something which no longer came easy to me. Even worse, I would have to keep it a secret; even from Eta, who I usually was able to tell everything. And what if the offer had been just a drunken mistake?
…but on the other hand, the possible payoff…
The scraping of a chair pulled me out of my thoughts, and I saw my companion from previous night taking a seat across from me, looking about as ragged as I felt, sunglasses shielding the undoubtedly bleary eyes.
And suddenly I knew what my answer to the offer had to be, and I smiled.
"I'm glad you came."