It's an accepted fact that drinking coffee to stay awake is both unhealthy for you and a sign of heavy caffeine addiction. Good thing I only drink it for the taste, right?
But it was extraordinarily late for me to be up and in The Hub cursing my inability to make the three-dimensional graphic modelling program on my tablet computer do what I wanted, and while I'd lost track of how many refills I'd had, I knew the bartender was going to be cutting me off soon.
Someone slipped up behind me and began to rub my shoulders. I let myself relax into it for a second, then tilted my head back.
'I thought it might be you.'
Sard Caid grinned, hugged me briefly, then pulled up a chair and swung his leg over to sit backwards in it. We'd been friends for so long, I couldn't actually remember when we'd met or how we'd started talking.
He folded his arms on the back of his chair and hunched forward to rest his chin on them. 'We have a sexy fleet going. It'd be even sexier if you hopped in a ship and came with us.' Sard was giving me That Look, the mischievous one from under his brows that told me he'd never let me forget it if I turned him down.
A quick check of the time made me cringe. 'I know I asked you to grab me for some action tonight, but I think I also said something about "not too late"?'
'Pssh.' He flapped his hand at me. 'You know you'll be up late anyway. Come on. Have some fun.'
Looking from the other pirate to my computer to the bartender -- who crossed his arms over his chest and arched his eyebrows at me -- I sighed. 'Thorax be alright?'
'Sure!' Sard was probably happy he didn't have to twist my arm about it. He bounced to his feet. 'Mynxee's on her way back here, so we have a few minutes to chill. See you in space!'
The boy has too much energy, I thought. I wrapped up what I was working on, returned my empty cup to the bar, and made my way to my hangar, lost in that floaty fugue-state that working too hard too late normally leaves me in.
This is going to be an interesting roam.
When we headed out, the gang consisted of me, Mynxee in her Wolf, Sard in a Huginn and Vasavia in a Rifter. Sard and Vas had made the tactical choice of maintaining a not-quite-outlaw security status so they could better choose their fights, and scouted ahead. A few jumps up the line, Zeasier popped onto comms and asked if he could join in an Incursus. It took him a few jumps to catch us up, by which point we were being danced around by an Absolution which appeared to be nano-fit, considering how quickly it eluded us.
I don't even remember where we were by then; I was so tired, I was content to let others scout and tell me where to warp to and when to jump. Not the best state to be roaming in, to be perfectly honest, but it was pleasantly relaxing and I chatted on the side with Valarissa and Mynxee in corp chat, until--
'Ooh, there's a Sleipnir in here.' Sard directed us to various belts in our search to pin the command ship down.
Vas got lucky, landing on top of the ship before Sard even finished his instructions. 'Got a point on him, he's got drones on me.'
Mynx and I reached the belt just as Vasavia's Rifter exploded, but Sard and Zeasier were already there taking fire. I was so tired, I actually had trouble remembering which sort of drones I'd released to tell the guys to not shoot them out. For a minute, it seemed the pilot's shields would be able to absorb the damage, but then something seemed to fail and the rest of his buffer disappeared surprisingly quickly. The pilot didn't stick around to see what would happen if we caught his pod.
When we took a look at the killmail, we discovered why the ship melted so quickly. Incredulous giggles filled the comms as we scooped what survived from the wrecks of the command ship and our ill-fated tackler. The Sleipnir was full of gear looted from the local Raiders ships, most of it not worth much. The turrets should sell well, but I'd have expected a better fitting from a pilot who's been in the capsule as long as him.
By that point, I was in danger of passing out in my pod, so we waited out our timers chatting about independent comics series we follow, and then Mynx and I docked up in the system's only station for the night while Sard and Zeas roamed their way back to Evati.