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"Docking Request Accepted."
I felt the knots in my back release a little as my ship was pulled into the massive station hanger by its tractor beams. My HUD was a readout of red: armour gone, weapons burnt out, both afterburner and micro warp drive damaged, and some parts of the hull were leaking copious amounts of gases and fluids. But she held together, and the crew compartment was only down a handful of kilo-pascals.
"Hey Jace, wake up. We're here." On my internal cabin sensors I saw my passenger stir and start to get up, rubbing his eyes and favouring his wounded leg. As soon as we escaped the Guristas the combination of sleep deprivation and pain medication had caught up with him and he crashed for the past 22 hours. I didn't bother waking him for the other close escapes we had on our ex-filtration of null sec, with Guristas in some systems and members of the various alliances I was no longer blue to in others (having been kicked out shortly after they discovered my subterfuge in the Obsidian Sword's station), figuring it was better if he died asleep than awake and helpless either way.
"Where's here?" he asked as he yawned.
"Ohkunen. Hyasyoda station."
"Low sec? Why here?"
"The State doesn't like me so much," I replied dryly.
He nodded and turned his attention to checking his burn on his leg. The Dramiel came to rest in a small gravity well outside of temporary quarters that had been assigned to me and after telling Jace I would see him inside, I initiated the decanter process. After a quick shower and fresh clothes, I walked down the gantry to meet my freed prisoner.
"I'm starving!" he exclaimed. "I haven't eaten real food in days. You up for some?"
I smiled; Jace hadn't changed much since we were friends in the navy where he was always hungry. How he stayed lean was a mystery then. "Yeah, sure."
He got up and I walked over to the quarter's door to key the unlock. "Hey Kirith," I heard him start behind me, "thanks. I mean it. I thought I was dead." I turned around and looked him at him, unsure if I wanted to tell him I almost didn't go. Before I could speak he continued, "I know we left things bad, back then. If I could go back, I would have done things differently, you know?"
"I wish things had gone differently too," I answered neutrally.
He chuckled and said, "Yeah. Anyway, thanks."
"I admit, I didn't just do it for you," I said as I turned back to the door. "I did it for Cryst too."
"Cryst?" he said with puzzlement in his voice. I pressed the button to open the door. He continued, "Why the hell would you do that?!"
The door opened.