Forward Thrust

GallenteshuttleSISEIDE SYSTEM
HEIMATAR REGION
SAFESPOT NEAR G5 YELLOW SUN

The sleek Gallente shuttle docked silently into the berth of the Tribal Justice, my flagship for the Tribal Liberation Force. I stood on deck as the shuttle descended, landing gently on its struts, and began its post-flight shutdown. I admired the curves of the vessel; she looked to do well in atmosphere. 

A newly promoted squad of elite marines stood behind me, three to a side, at perfect attention. I noticed Daul Halwick amongst them; he had come far very quickly since our chance meeting not too long ago. The kid was sharp minded, able bodied, loyal, and took initiative. I could see on his heavy suit that he was 2IC of this squad; impressive.
 

A hiss from the Gallente shuttle drew all our attention as the boarding ramp lowered, barely making any noise whatsoever as it connected with the metal deck. Two men walked down the ramp.

The first was a thin Gallente with a soft face and dark brown wavy hair. He was young, but that was misleading. Luminaire General Val Erian was a well decorated man, having nearly 2000 successful wartime kills to date. We had worked together previously, but it wasn’t often anymore the Minmatar and Gallente undertook co-operative initiatives. To be blunt and honest, we were near a point of desperation in trying to defend our territories, yet still were doing better than the Gallente; the Caldari had literally crushed them. 

The second man down the ramp was someone I knew only slightly better, though we had shared several mutual friends. He was only slightly shorter than me, which meant he was short, and very slight of frame. His sunken cheeks made him look malnourished, but there was a fire in his dark eyes. He looked around, taking in every detail of his surroundings, his distrust as a one-time pirate still showing through. Hallan had been through a lot lately; and I’d wager it had taken all of his skills and strength of character to come this far.

“Luminaire General Erian, Federation Minuteman Turrek, welcome aboard; I am so very pleased you could come.” I began, trying to make this pompous formality sound sincere. It was one of the things I was learning to dread the most, not being able to just say what’s on your mind, but going through the proper motions of respect until the moment eventually arose when both parties could finally just get to the point. Even then words were guarded, and vague resolutions offered, but it was the way these things went. It made me miss the days when I could just sit with a pint at a pub with another capsuleer and chat. 

Erian offered his hand as he finished his descent down the boarding ramp of the shuttle, and enthusiastically took mine. “Matar Colonel Wieler, the pleasure is indeed mine. You look slightly less than brooding today, good news in your little part of the universe?” Val’s smile was genuine, but the subtle digs at me didn’t go unnoticed. It was another part of the game I had chosen to play, and one that tested my very finite patience.

“Nothing noteworthy, sir. Besides, with how busy you must’ve been lately against the Caldari, I wouldn’t want to distract you with our recent good fortune.” I smirked as the General’s mask of expression was momentarily lost revealing a snide and condescending response before he could recover. It was satisfying to know I could hold wits with those far more experienced in this arena than I.

“I believe you know Minuteman Turrek.” Val Erian directed attention to Hallan. “I shook Hallan’s hand firmly; it truly was good to see him, given some of the tragedies that had befallen him of late. “Good to see you, Hallan. The uniform looks good on you.” I smiled broadly.

Hallan had been part of the Bastards Pirate Alliance based in Evati until recently. I had tried to work from within their organization earlier this year, trying to utilize their unique position in Minmatar space to open a “back door” into Amarr space. It hadn’t gone entirely well, but there were at least a few whom were impacted by my time there.

Hallan had been faced with the decision we all come to eventually as capsuleers, “Can I live with the moral consequences of my actions?” For Hallan, the answer had finally become no. 

He had left the pirate organization and enlisted in the Federal Defence Union, his experiences and proficiences already working in his favour. I was sure he would enjoy the new path he had chosen for his life, and be rewarded in more ways than he had probably considered.

“Gentlemen, if you would please come with me.” I said, ushering them forward. The marines turned on their heels as one, escorting our guests to an antechamber near by.

After some refreshments and compulsary small talk, I finally requested the presence of Hallan alone, whilst an aide give Luminaire General Erian a tour of the Tribal Justice.

Once alone, we spoke freely.

“Hallan, I’m sorry for what happened to you. I had nothing to do with it.” I began.

“Yeah, I know Roc, but it happened because of your damned crusade. Course, it’s a moot point now that I’m fighting the good fight I guess.” Hallan said, somewhat introspectively.

“Still, I just wanted to say it personally so there is no bad blood between us. And I need your help.” 

Hallan was shocked, but quickly replied. “No.” 

He knew what I needed to ask of him. He knew I was going to ask for intelligence on the Bastards. He knew I wanted information on their day to day business, their trading partner, their hunting grounds, their defensive codes, everything. I knew I wouldn’t get it through force or intimidation, so I needed to appeal to his sense of right and wrong.

“Hallan, please. I can’t in touch with Mynxee.” I said in quiet tones.

“And why would she want to talk to you right now anyway?” Hallan retorted, volume behind his voice. “You’re hunting down pirates Roc! And last time I checked, she’s a pirate! See the issue?” 

Hallan was irate. I couldn’t blame him, but it wasn’t like that. I kept justifying it to myself; it was the only way I could live with my own moral consquences for the actions I had chosen.

“What did you think would happen? That she’d give it up? Come and be swept into your arms and pop out a brood of little Rocs? Wake up, man. You’re not that blind!” Hallan was on a good rant and I let him finish uninterrupted.

“You’ll be lucky if you she ever talks to you again! Until I reformed I was ready to shoot you on sight, despite our friendship. You’re flagged now Roc; every pirate in the Republic will be gunning for you.”

He paused and I waited. Then I waited some more just to be sure.

“You done?” I asked calmly.

Hallan shook his head in the affirmative and I continued.

“It’s not that she isn’t simply not returning my calls, Hallan. She’s disappeared completely. Shae can’t find her, Venom, none of the Hellcats I talk with. I don’t know what’s happened, and that doesn’t sit well with me in any way. As you said, I can’t really get very far looking into this on my own, and I need to know. I need to know she’s ok, even if she’s just going out of her way to ignore me. I can live with that. I have no choice. Just let me know she’s ok, alright? Can you do that for me?”

There was passion in my plea, genuine heartfelt concern for Mynxee. And how couldn’t there be after all her and I had shared?

Hallan contemplated my words, taking his time to respond. “Alright, Roc. I’ll look into it. But no details. All you get to know is if she’s ok. Nothing more. And don’t pull strings to ask me anymore favours alright? Our two militias work together, but you’ve got a lot to prove to me before I trust you personally.”

I nodded once, then stood, signalling to an aide that our meeting was over.

Val had almost finished his tour of the ship, so the timing was perfect. We went through the formalized gestures of farewell, and my shoulders sagged in relief once the Gallente shuttle had departed.

The last few days had been very trying, and I was exhausted.

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