Another billion isk lost, I thought to myself with dismay, and the Republic has put a freeze on military bursaries. Just perfect.
No matter how I tried to spin the rationale in my mind, it just didn’t make sense. How did the Sanmatar expect us to win a war without funding? Was this a kneejerk reaction to the growing peace protests on Pator? Were the general populace really that naive to think there could ever be a lasting coexistence with those that enslaved us? My gut told me it was all part of the slippery slope the Sanmatar had fallen prey to when he passed the legalization of those brainwashed Matari spreading their virus of Amarr belief.
Whatever his reasons, it had a profound ripple effect on morale. Immortal or not, pilots were less willing to engage the enemy for fear of financial loss; even I was feeling the fiscal pain at this point, having lost close to 4 billion isk in the war effort to date. Resignations and desertions from the Tribal Liberation Force were at an all time high; pilots no longer believed in a war that could not be won.
I found my own motivation lacking. It wasn’t about the isk for me, though I had resigned myself to flying Rifters for the forseeable future, Wensley style. It was about the principle. Knowing your government had your back and offered you complete support was something to depend on. It made you want to fight for leadership that put their money where their mouth was.
Politics had become too political.
I was tempted to talk directly to the Sanmatar about it, but my relationship with him had been strained since my incarceration last year, and the public outcry denouncing me as a murderer. In the end, I had been proven innocent, but the damage to my reputation had been done. My good name had been smeared, and I was still suffering the fallout from that, to a degree.
My fame still proceeded me, with sales of both the Bio CD and One Night of Roc doing well, but I had also gained infamy as a man who lived by his own moral rulebook, and damn any who got in the way. It wasn’t the image I tried to portray, not the role model I would’ve chosen for myself, but I had learned you could never please everyone.
I sat in the Flight Deck office, looking over recent communications, and was stuck on an inbox item from Mynxee, someone I never expected to hear from again, literally; I had my communication systems locked down tight to prevent her from accessing me in any way. Apparently her security people possessed higher aptitude than mine.
I know you’re probably seething already just hearing this, but please hear me out. By now you must know I didn’t kill poor Daul; you know I wouldn’t murder someone in cold blood. Our choices might seem drastically different, but our morals are very parallel; it’s part of the attraction we’ve always shared.
I’ve kept tabs on you, as you can clearly see by this communique in your inbox. You’ve grown weak and complacent. Don’t get offended by that, I’m just calling like I see it. Your heart doesn’t seem in it anymore, and I wonder if you truly still believe in the war you fight.
I’m not lecturing you, or going to get into a political debate over this. I just wanted to let you know that we’ve recently been very busy in our neck of the woods, and I wanted to extend an invitation to you. Join the Hellfleet. You already know most of us, and you’d be a welcome addition, no interview required. Say the word and you’re in, hun.
Part of me doesn’t expect to hear from you again, and I will respect that. I just know how stubborn we both are, and wanted to reach out to you and let you know that there are still those that believe in the man you are.
A week ago I would’ve laughed at her comment about people still believing in me if it hadn’t been for a random encounter on a Gallente pleasure hub. I was finishing up some business there, heading back to my ship when I was saluted by a teenaged civilian wearing knockoff military gear. His left arm had a black sash wrapped around the bicep with a stylized tribal bear on it. As I walked by, he shouted “Colonel Wieler, the Renegades salute you!”
I had no idea what he was talking about, but had noticed more of these sashes on people, even in my homebase of Dal. A simple query with Aura revealed that there was some type of cult following of my war against the Amarr, and against piracy. They had adopted the name “Roc’s Renegades“, the name of my old fleet, and while I was initially flattered, I found references to this group in the Scope, committing acts of arson, vandalism, assault and other crimes all in the name of the Hero of the Republic, Matar Colonel Roc Wieler. Lovely. That’s just what I needed; more bad press.
A few months ago, I would’ve deleted Mynxee’s message without even reading it so devote to my duty was I.
Now, I read it again carefully, confused by my own hesitation to instantly dismiss her offer. Hellfleet. Was that my destiny? Was that the next step in my journey? To become a pirate?
Part of me rejected the idea outright. It defied everything I believed in. But did it? The more I recalled of my relationship with Mynxee, the more I remembered that she was fighting for a free Republic, just not under the rules of a failing government. Was she right? I couldn’t say she wasn’t, given how things had been going as of late.
And I knew Mynxee’s people were fiercely loyal to each other: Shae, Venom, the rest of the ladies. All of them despised by authority, but still cleaved to each other by a bond greater than any I knew.
Yes, my future was unclear. Loyal soldier, cult hero, pirate … maybe I should just jump through a wormhole in my Zephyr and never come back. I laughed to myself. I was never one to run away from a fight I couldn’t win.
I needed to talk with my therapist. I needed to sit with Maleatu Shakor. I needed to speak with the Ushra’Khan, to see if there was anything more they could offer me about the legacy of the Brutor Tribe. I needed Mynxee.
“Alright lad, she be ready fer ya!” my Chief Mechanic Leo bellowed, entering the office. He was wiping his greasy hands with a rag, his trademarked toothy smile etched broadly across his face. He was filthy and covered in sweat and grease, but he was the best damned mechanic I had ever known.
I had ordered a dozen Rifters, and tasked my team to get them fit for flight. Apparently that order had been executed, and my time for introspection was over.
“Alright, Leo, let’s see what you’ve come up with this time.”