Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
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Like all establishments on the Capsuleer decks of the station, The Dead-End Gate was upscale with expensive drinks, incredibly beautiful staff, perfect lighting, comfortable seats, avant-garde artwork on the walls, and high end entertainment booths at the back wall with options for gambling, holoreels, news feeds, whatever. A respectable joint; if you wanted company of the sexual nature there were official brothels down the promenade or you could go down to the civilian decks and try your luck in the darker and seedier bars there.
This bar was not the only one on this level but it was the quietest of the three. Basil's Den was for a young crowd that liked loud dance music and strobing lights while the third, The Warp Tunnel, was attached to the brothel and had a rougher crowd of capsuleer's and their guests. I checked in their once for signs of Rusack since I knew he dealt with pod pilots sometimes but there was no sign of him then.
Like any young man, I liked Basil's Den and spent a few nights there, meeting some fine ladies (both pod pilot and not) and having a good time, but right now I wanted a good drink and a snack and the Dead-End Gate had great wings and fries.
As I walked in I saw it was a small crowd which was not unexpected due to station time being the early morning. There was JimmyT at the bar itself with two floozies from the civilian decks he hired for his escorts; while the ladies at the brothel on this deck were much finer they were also a lot more expensive. Most pod pilots could easily afford the high class company but JimmyT was a notorious gambler and a terrible miner. In the back booths there was Scopious12 either watching a sporting event or gambling, I couldn't tell which. He was a good guy also working for Golyn and I helped him one time when some pirates setting up a human traffic waypoint platform were too well armed for his Ibis.
Sitting at one of the tables near the right wall was Gerry Dall, a capsuleer who sought her fortunes in (legal) commodities trading and had a nice Kestrel she took me on a tour of last week and was talking about buying a big Badger class ship. She was talking to someone I didn't recognize, an Amarrian woman by looks of the clothes in the dim light, and Gerry was shaking her head. I watched with mild interest as I walked over to the bar on the left side of the place to put my order in. "Who's Gerry talking to?" I asked the bartender, a heavy set but well dressed man I knew only by the nickname "Boss".
"Some recruiter for a pod pilot corp," he said dismissively. "Asked me if she could talk to some pod pilots in here and I told her as long as she buys a drink." He chuckled at his little joke. I put my order in and sat at a stool at the bar, watching the holo over Boss's balding head while trying to surreptitiously watch Gerry and the recruiter. I was curious as I knew very little about capsuleer run corporations besides what the rumour mills said. Gerry was still looking unsatisfied, then she stood up, shook the hand of the recruiter while shaking her head one last time, and then she left pausing only to wave to me and Boss at the bar.
The recruiter took up a datapad, made some notes, and then looked around her. She saw me at the bar and I looked at her pad again. I tried to look like I was casually looking around but I suspect I just looked stupid. I glanced back to see if she noticed my interest and we locked eyes again. She gave me a "come here" look that was all authority and no sexual overtones; there was no question of not obeying her as it was obvious she was used to command. I told Boss to hold my meal for a bit and tried to casually saunter over to the recruiter's table.
"Hi, Kirith Kodachi, right?" she said with a smile as I approached, using my pod pilot name.
"That's right," I replied, taking the seat she offered. "And you are...?"
"My name is Nhi'Khunna and I want to talk to you about your future."
"Oh really?" I leaned back in my chair and tried to look nonchalant. "And what does my future hold?"
"It depends on what you want." She waved a hand around to indicate the bar and station. "You have it pretty good right now, right? ISK coming in, comfortable place to relax and make friends, adventure in your day job as you never know what " - she checked her pad quickly - " agent Golyn is going to have for you to do, right?"
I nodded. "Yeah, sounds about right."
"And it doesn't bother you that your comfortable life here is built upon lies and corruption and the backs of thousands of suffering poor people?" she said with a bit of venom.