I ground my teeth in frustration. I knew it wasn’t Rixx’s fault, and I could tell by the look on his face that he hated this particular aspect of being CEO of the Stay Frosty corporation, but I also knew he was right. And at the core of who I was, I had always been a soldier. Even though I had finally been learning to question some of the Republic orders I had taken for years, I was still inclined to simply snap off a salute with a quick ‘yessir’ attached when told what to do.
“Yessir!” I said, snapping to attention. Rixx sighed.
“Don’t be a dick. Just sort it out. I know you’re trying to find that fine line between good guy and pirate, excuse me, freedom fighter” he corrected himself as he saw me open my mouth to counter him. I would never be a pirate. “But the truth is that we do some business with unsavoury types at times, and despite your charms with the ladies, most of our third party colleagues simply don’t trust you … yet, ex-military or not.”
He was right. I was as good a fast-talker as they came, but even that wasn’t enough to wash away the well known pirate blood on my hands.
My eidetic memory already knew who I would contact, an old military connection by the name of Aton Hordner. He had gotten himself into more than one predicament in nullsec that I had rescued him from, and still had enough gambling debt to have a price on his head outside of Empire space.
I headed out to Egbinger system in Molden Heath, hoping I hadn’t fallen so far from grace that I would still be welcome in the Republic Security Services station.
A few hours, and a few drinks later, Aton and I had reminisced enough that I felt comfortable to ask him a favour. As fate would have it, though, he beat me to the punch.
“If you’re out here in a shithole like Egbinger then maybe there’s a chance you can help me out with something. We just had a bunch of Republic Fleet guys dock up and repair here. They’d been out in Curse dealing with some Angel Cartel raiders.
They were describing how the Cartel is having trouble right now with some other pirate groups. Seems there’s a Guristas commander tearing them a new hole down there, as well as some Sansha meandering about causing problems. From the sounds of it, they’re taking some significant losses.
Anyways, I was hoping you could fly down and check it out. While the Fleet was docked up, I had my boys go over their comms system. We’ve got ourselves the name of a Cartel agent who is involved in dealing with the invasion. Abdiel Verat.
It may sound strange to hear it, Roc, but if you can find some way to deal with those Guristas and Sansha, I’d be thankful. The Cartel may give us grief, but they’ve done good things for the Minmatar people too, even if nobody has a damn clue why, or what’s in it for them.
All I know is that I’d prefer Cartel members to Guristas thugs and Sansha freaks. If you can, go and deal with their problems. Just don’t go helping them too much, got it?”
What he meant was “Don’t tell them where I am” and “Don’t shit where you eat”.
I nodded. He raised his glass. We finished our evening many hours, and many ladies, later.
The following morning I entered the frequency and encryption codes into the comm system of the Ripsack, my Jaguar class frigate. It packed more punch than my regular Rifter class hull, and I had a feeling that I would need all the firepower I could muster while out in nullsec.
Once the connection was made, an average woman, whom I startled at first but to her credit recomposed herself quickly and gracefully, opened a dialogue with me. After some formal posturing, a little flirting, and the appropriate name dropping, it became quickly apparent that she wasn’t going to deal with me remotely, which would’ve been my preference.
Instead, to do business with Abdiel Verat, I was on my way out to K-QWHE in Curse region. Lovely.