Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
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I celebrated that successful patrol later in the evening with a fine escort from the local capsuleer only hedonistic establishment and one little blue pill. As I rode away on waves of physical and chemical pleasure the guilt from the ship crews that might have died in our battle drifted off in the other direction.
The next morning I had the usual coming down from the pill but successfully resisted the urge to pop another and call in sick. I knew I had a problem, but I thought it was under control now. I wouldn't find out how wrong I was for a few months yet.
I checked my messages and saw that there was a "meeting" down at corporate headquarters in an hour to discuss patrol routes and schedules. I showered, shaved, took some pain meds for the headache, and left the apartment. It was a short walk down the corridor to some moving walkways that transported me quickly to the main pavilion hub where I switched to another walkway. Soon I was in the "capsuleer corporate district" of the station where several corporations had offices. The district had very high ceilings and was lit like daytime on a temperate planet, with many bushes and trees in planters and gardens. Some people in the aera were busy going to and fro but some were enjoying the benches for casual conversation.
I hurried on to IPRC's office and spent a few minutes in the front talking with the receptionist, getting some forms and biometric authentication scans completed. He was a Gallentean male about my age but not a podder; most employees working the desks and offices of corporations on the level were non-capsuleers. Soon he let me go on back through the security scanners and I was escorted by a young lady in what I suppose was conservative attire for a Gallentean office back to the lounge.
She offered to get me a coffee which I accepted and she left. Seven Six was here with several others and he bounded out of his chair and over to me.
"Hey Kirith! Come on over, let me introduce you!" he said enthusiastically with his arm on my shoulders.
"That's Kla'strit from last night's roam. Good work, by the way, you'll fit in nice here. And that ass there is Minessis, don't listen to him. Wavecutter, good guy. You know Lucius of course, and Mae," he leaned in to mock whisper, "don't get too close, you don't know what you will catch." Mae gave him the finger. "And last but not least we have here..."
"Barak Vorn!" I blurted out as the man being introduced looked up from a datapad.
He got a confused look and asked, "Have we met?"
"Um, yes actually," I sputtered, taken off guard. "Back in the State, at Perimeter almost two years back. You brought in some Gallentean ATVs that me and my brother facilitated transfer of to the planet. We were working with a guy called Rusack."
A light went off in his head. "Oh yeah, I remember now! Sold those to an Amarrian, right? Blodel?"
"Yeah, that's it." I hesitated a second before speaking again, unsure if I should stop there. But my conscience refused to be silent. "Look, you tried to give me warning about deal with Rusack and I brushed you off rudely last time we met. I always regretted being an ass that day and I wanted to apologize."
"Hey, don't worry about it," he laughed. "Long forgotten."
"Well, I felt I owe it to you." I sat down in the chair beside Barak. "Say, you haven't heard from Rusack lately, have you?"
"Funny you should ask. I just got back from delivering a load of holoreels to him in Slays, three jumps from here. He's based out of the Stacmon V Impro Factory station for the past few months."
"You don't say..." I said casually as my heart rate picked up and mind started racing.