Here we go again! A quick recap for those new to the series.
In Series 1 Kirith and his older brother Korannon came to Perimeter to try and make a shady deal to bypass Caldari customs and make a lot of credits, but were doublecrossed by their criminal associate Rusack who when confronted beat up Kirith and shot Korannon. Rusack bribed his way to freedom while Kirith was incarcerated (but freed by bribes from his rich father who subsequently disowned him and his brother). Forced to sign his unconscious brother into indentured servitude to pay for the medical procedures to give him a chance in life, homeless and penniless Kirith decided to join the Caldari Navy.
In Series 2 we follow Kirith in his Naval career as he goes from recruit with a hardnosed drill sergeant out to get him to naval capsuleer on the fast rank to captain. However it all culminates in a court martial due to him opposing an attack on a outpost platform that might be sheltering Gallentean spies. He gets dishonourably discharged from the navy which is where we pick up the story.
Series 3 is dedicated to Maximus Decemus, infamous director of m3 Corp who is taking break from Eve due to real life obligations.
* * * * *
I was free of the navy, now a private capsuleer citizen, a member of a class with the power of the gods. I could command a ship with the ease that mortals command their bodies; my weapons could lay waste to entire continents, I would participate in wars of my class that the people on the planets below could not fathom any more than worms could fathom the cities of man. I could access the most luxurious accommodations and services available in space, free to travel between the stars of all of the empires to conduct my business free from intervention and red tape.
If I had the money that is, to afford a ship to be a pod pilot of. Instead I found myself in one of the common food courts of Kisogo station with a wet lap.
As the initial shock of the spilled drink on me wore off I looked up at the four first year navy recruits standing over me looking belligerent and waiting for my reaction. It was late in the year so they most definitely had done the basic hand-to-hand combat training but I had taken several courses in the advanced training, the memory of how Rusack manhandled me back at Perimeter still seared into my mind. I could probably take on two of them, maybe three with luck, but four?
Regardless of the odds, I didn't want any attention. While the regular station security didn't have the same animosity towards me that the Navy Military Police did, I didn't want to push my luck that they would come in time to keep me from kicking pummeled should a fight break out. Instead I kept my face impassive and simply looked at them in the eyes, quietly daring them to start something.
The drink spilled himself, who I figured was the leader of the gang of four, sneered and called me a traitor as he turned away. Another crony called "coward". I grabbed some napkins from a dispenser on an adjacent table and tried unsuccessfully to soak up the mess.
I was on the food court on level 2 waiting for my shuttle departure time instead of the port waiting lounge because I knew the station security was less informed about navy goings-ons than the port security guards were, since they worked a lot closer with the navy MPs. I didn't want to take the chance that they might turn a blind eye while someone "taught me a lesson". Similarly, I avoided renting a room where I could be cornered and dealt with out of sight. Public place with lots of routes of escape and guards that might actually guard? Check.
The capsuleer levels of the station would have been ideal as access to them was extremely limited, but one needed at very least to have a certified license from CONCORD (registered with the local authorities of course) and enough credits to afford the rates. I had neither. I wasn't poor by any means; I just lacked the extreme wealth of your average podder.
So the food court would have to do for now. I looked at my watch. Three hours to go. Great. I idly wondered if my pants would dry of their own accord before I had to board.
I looked for the source of the call and felt a wave of relief as I saw who was walking towards me. "Korannon! Man, am I glad to see you! How did you find me down here?"
"I asked station services. Apparently your locator service is set to public."
"Dammit, I forgot about that." Navy personnel have it disabled upon joining, but someone did me the 'favour' of reactivating it now that I was a private citizen again. "Who are your friends?" Behind my brother were two big men in suits that looked out of place on frames meant for fighting.
"I thought you might need some help," he explained, "so I got Gorg and Felix here to come along. They work for the company but they owe me a favour." The two big men took seats near us, looking casual but with eyes constantly scanning the crowds like professional bodyguards. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt very tired.
"Thanks, Kor. I mean it."
He waved it off. "As soon as I heard you were being released I book my flight. I was supposed to be here hours ago but there was delays at the stopover in Jita ." I nodded in understanding; Jita was notorious for delays. "Anyway," he continued, "what is your plan? I assume you're getting out of there?"
"Yeah, I have a shuttle flight booked. Leaving in a few hours. I'm heading back to Perimeter, figured I'd look for work there. There has to be some outfit looking for a disgraced pod pilot working for cheap."
Korannon took out his comm and browsed for a second. "The 1430 flight?" I nodded. "Good, there are still seats left. I'll book them for me and the boys. I doubt you'll have trouble on the flight but better safe than sorry, right?"
"No Kor, you've spent enough already," I protested
"Forget it, I'm doing this and that's that. Besides, I've got lots of money now that the company loves me," he added with a smile.
Korannon indeed had done well for himself. After he received the treatment for his wounds suffered at the hands of Rusack, the medical infirmary's parent corporation, Ytiri, had taken Korannon and put him to work in one of their distribution centres out in Lonetrek. Free of father's overbearing criticism and a newfound outlook on life he threw himself into his work and quickly impressed superiors with his good organizational skills and intelligence. While I was sweating it out in basic training he was getting promoted to managerial level and soon had bought out his own contract. He stayed with Ytiri and had continued to climb the ladder of success.
His injuries from the blaster still plagued him though. He had a small limp to his walk and could not run anymore, and his voice was artificial due to his original vocal cords being burned out by superhot plasma. His face was scarred where the tendrils of plasma had caressed his skin. I still felt incredible guilt seeing those wounds but he told me time and time again to let it go. I didn't bring it up this day.
"Come on", he said once the booking was complete. "Let's go wait in the lounge where its quieter and more comfortable." As we got up Gorg and Felix stood as well and took positions on either side. My brother looked at me curiously.
"Kir, why are your pants wet?"