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The screen flipped to life and an image of a middle aged woman appeared. She was obviously of Caldari heritage with dark hair shoulder length hair starting to show some grey and pulled back into a bun, but she was trying to appear not-so-Caldari with more makeup than was usually found in the borders of the State. I can understand that feeling, wanting to not be so readily identified as a member of the faction that is the major arch enemy of your hosts. I tended to stay at stations where they knew me and my reputation rather than take the risk that CONCORD protocols would protect me sufficiently, and then when forced to go and dock up at somewhere new I would be sure to wear my flight jacket with the Minmatar and Gallente militia ranks sewn on when walking around the station. The little people loved that shit.
It took me a moment to place the face with the name. "Cryst!" I shouted with surprise. She looked old; I was around capsuleers so much these days it was easy to forget that people actually aged.It was over 6 years that had passed since I had seen her last and she no longer had the fresh-faced look of youth.
"Kirith! Thank god you are actually here! I was so worried you were gone and the station directory was lying to me." The relief was etched on her face but it still carried a shadow of concern. I was starting to suspect this was not a social call.
"Its been a long time, Cryst." The surprise was passing and old memories were starting to rise to the surface. "I admit I never expected to hear from you again." The image of her calling me a traitor and turning away flashed across my vision, my implant-enhanced brain providing the memory with vividness. She had the decency to look ashamed.
"I was young and foolish then, Kir. We all were in different ways."
"Yeah, well..." I left the sentence hang for a moment to let her know I didn't quite agree. "Why are you hear, Cryst? Does the Navy know where you are?" Last time I had heard she was part of Navy Intelligence and I was sure they would not look too kindly on one of their own in a station controlled by the enemy.
"I'm retired now. Civilian."
"' I don't know if the station security guards will care too much about that," I said. She looked nervously over her shoulder and I could see the public concourse with lots of people milling out and no one paying attention to her... yet. "Cut to the chase, Cryst. Why are you here? What do you want with me?"
"Its Jace, Kir. He's in trouble and needs help." She leaned in closer to the camera. "We need your help. Please!"
"Jace?!" I replied. "Are you kidding me? The guy who is responsible for my court martial? Needs MY help?!" I started to laugh as the bitterness welled up from inside.
"He was your best friend..."
"'WAS' being the operative word, Cryst!"
She started to get angry herself. "He made mistakes back then, but we've all made mistakes and done things we are not proud of. Haven't we Kirith?" she asked pointedly. "How many innocent lives are on your ledger since you became a private citizen?"
I stewed for a moment before answering. "Not really making a good case for wanting my help."
She sighed. "I'm sorry, OK? I'm sorry for turning against you, I'm sorry for Jace, I'm sorry for everything. Alright? But we can't let the bad parts of the past overshadow the good parts, can we? There was some good times, right?"
Boot camp. Advanced combat training. Mess hall pranks. The Starlight Hotel on that one weekend on leave before I became a capsuleer. More memories from the past, each one delivered in exquisite detail. "Yeah Cryst," I said in a low voice, "Good times."
"Well, I need your help now, Kirith." She started to cry a little. "I have no one else to turn to."