* * * * *
The next couple days were very busy and we never had enough time to go back to the rooms we rented in one of the station's hotels. Instead we purchased a used cot from a station engineer for cheap and took turns catching a few hours late at "night". It's true what they say, though; Stations never sleep.
The crew we hired to move the packaged ATVs from Barak Vorn's freighter to our hanger arrived in what my borther and I thought was the middle of the night, but a quick check of our contract showed that they were on time and we would just have so suck back our tiredness and get to work. While we did very little actual work, there was a constant steady stream of forms to give our digital signature on and questions to answer to the shift foreman like whether we wanted them stacked two or three levels high or if we needed access to all containers or not.
The ship hangers were a couple thousand meters above us and were much larger than our little space. One time during the first day I took the lift up to Barak's hanger in hopes of running into him and apologizing for my attitude in the bar. I didn't see him but I did get to see the vast space his Obelisk freighter occupied in several antigravity field generators, and I watched as automated armatures directed by the half the work crew unloaded package after packed from its hold via access doors in its hull and deposited them on the station trolleys that pulled back into the large shaft to lower them down to the warehouse levels.
After an hour I made my way to the concourse and picked up a meal for my brother and me, some Gallentean restaurant that was reccomended to me by the station warehouse staff. When I got back to our hangers it seemed small and unimportant after the vast granduer of the pod pilot's ship hanger.
The next day (although it felt like the same one to us) we had visitors. Rusack arrived all smiles and handshakes and with him was an Amarrian named Blodel and his Minmatar servant, Derranna. Well, Rusack said servant but we could quickly tell the real word was slave. She had that haunted empty look about her.
As Rusack explained, Blodel was a businessman working in the State due to some "unpleasantness" back in the Empire. I never found out what the exact problem was as it never was important to me after everything went down. I'm sure someday I'll need to know since I was the one who killed him, but so far I've been able to ignore it.
Blodel was the largest of the dealers that was going to buy the ATVs from us once they cleared the Port Authority. He planned to take 1500 of the 2500 to the surface of Pimebeka and he assured us that he had buyers for most of them already. Deranna had come along with forms and schedules to coordinate with us how to move the units to the surface, and she and my brother went to the terminal to work on the details while I talked with Rusack and Blodel about inconsequential news and opinions.
We sat there for about an hour and once during the conversation I glanced over to see my brother and the Minmatar slave in deep conversation. I realized immediately they were not just talking business as my brother had that look on his face, that earnest puppy dog look of admiration that he often had for unobtainable women it seemed. For Deranna's part, she wore a smile and warm eyes that I had not seen when they first arrived.
I knew it couldn't end well, but I had no idea how badly at the time. I thought it was merely going to be a broken heart and a moping brother. How wrong I was.
When the planning was done they left and Korannon turned to me. "That Deranna girl is really nice. We got to talking and she was telling me about growing up on Sarum Prime. I really like her, Kir."
I frowned at him. "That's great, Kor, but you need... you need to forget about her."
"What do you mean? She's not seeing anyone. I asked."
"You idiot," I exasperated. "Of course she's not seeing anyone. She's Blodel's slave. She can't do anything he doesn't allow."
"Slave?" Korannon was taken aback. Slavery was not legal in the State but the government has been known to turn a blind eye to it imported by Amarrian nationals as long as they are discrete about it. "Slavery is illegal."
Ah my brother. Things were so black and white for him back then.
"It may be illegal but that doesn't mean its not practised," I told him as if I was talking to a child. I was getting frustrated, the lack of sleep and pressure of the task at hand getting to me.
"Well, I'll go to the authorities and we'll get her freed! We'll force him to let her go!" Tired was affecting his thought process too.
"You idiot! We're not exactly above the board here ourselves, are we? You gonna go to the cops and get us thrown in jail, you dumb shit!"
"But slavery is wrong!" he yelled as if that won the arguement. His insistance on doing the right thing made me all the more angry.
"WAKE UP! We're not in some fucking school anymore! This is the real world and bad things happen! You need to grow up you big fucking baby!"
Again my words struck home for the second time that week. I saw the pain and hurt in his eyes before his anger rose and he ran out of the office, calling me some names as he left. While I regretted my words, I was too angry and tired to bother to chase after him to try and take them back.