It had been a while since I had participated in such a gathering, and from the looks on the faces of the Tribal Liberation Force pilots of the Huang Yinglong corporation, it was obvious they weren’t expecting to see a Matar Colonel in full military dress casually stroll into their hangar bay. Retired or not, I had still had some pull, and had managed to arrange this little surprise without much difficulty.
Their discipline shone through as pilot and crewmen alike quickly formed rank and file, each with a crisp salute as I passed, making my way towards a recently docked Damnation class Command ship. Not my first pick, I thought to myself, but I was partial to Minmatar engineering, though I had been known to fly a Gallente/Minmatar hybrid or two. There were some perks to our loose alliance with them.
This particular Damnation had been cutting a path of destruction throughout the Amarr Empire recently, specifically reducing the number of faction ships they could field. I smiled at that thought. When I started the “Mean Streak” contest, I had thought about the distinct possibility that I might have to payout some Amarr loyalist, or some Caldari sycophant; I was pleased that it was a cunning pilot of the Republic that had rose to the occasion and earned the prize: 450 million isk, and a brand new Dramiel class faction frigate, perhaps the finest example of the Gallente/Minmatar hybrids.
As I approached the ship, I could see the distracted pilot doing his post operations check of his ship with his maintenance crew. I had to respect any pilot that understood the bond between ship and pilot, and gently quieted a nearby mechanic as he moved to inform the capsuleer of my approach. Despite his peers behind him standing at order, despite the murmur of anticipation and second guessing that filled the hangar, the Damnation pilot remained solely focused on what he was doing. I could wait.
It was several minutes later that he finished his task, turned, and saw me smiling at him. I walked briskly towards him, my hand outstretched, and in traditional Brutor style, clasped his forearm in mine, and hugged him with the other arm.
“Brother, it is a pleasure.” I began.
He ended the handshake, and stood at complete attention, his boot heels clicking together, and snapped a crisp salte. “Colonel Wieler. It is an honour, sir.” I returned the salute, then put my arm around his shoulder casually, walking him back towards his comrades. Standing him squarely in the middle of the assembled militia, I began my rehearsed speech.
“Valkear General Urik Kahn, accomplished pilot of Huang Yinglong, and through them, the Tribal Liberation Force of the Minmatar Republic,” I paused for effect. “It my distinct privilege to congratulate you in winning the Mean Streak contest. The quality and volume of your kills is a testament to your prowess.”
“Um, I wasn’t alone, Colonel.” Kahn interjected.
I continued on. “All the more reason to be celebrated amongst your peers for your leadership, your support, your cunning. Flying solo is very different than flying with your squad; there’s more at stake than yourself, and your wingmates are proud of you.”
The surrounding pilots smiled at this.
“You do every Matari proud, sir.” I leaned close to his ear so he alone could hear the next words I would say. “And I’m glad it was one of our own that won, if you know what I mean.”
We both smirked.
I handed him a credit chit with 450 million ISK on it, and the deed to the Dramiel. “Thank you, sir.” he replied with humility.
Once he had taken them, I broke into a salute, which was followed by everyone gathered, and returned by Kahn.
“Now,” I said, my eyebrow raising, “We celebrate.”
On my cue, the station side hangar doors opened, dozens of exotic dancers, male and female, walking in, rolling in kegs of beer on hand trucks.
The throng cheered, and the celebration began. After several beers and lap dances, I came to appreciate Urik Kahn even more. He hadn’t known of the contest initially; it was his corpmate Kuan Yida that made him aware. He simply did what he always had done; kill Amarr. Being rewarded for already performing his duty was just an added bonus to him.
He regaled me with tales of his time with Ushra’Khan, long before I had joined as a member, and for one that appeared so young, he held much experience close to the chest.
I liked his attitude. A lot.
I was certain I would be seeing more of General Kahn as time passed by.