'Amarr Victor!'The smacktalk screeched through the Local comms; vicious, cutting words hanging in the air like an accusation underpinned by some faceless capsuleer's manic laughter.
'Thanks for the system!'
'Siseide has fallen....'
'"I give you the destiny of Faith, and you will bring its message to every planet of every star in the heavens: Go forth, conquer in my Name, and reclaim that which I have given." So saith the Book of Reclaiming.'
'We will enslave Siseide once and for all!'
'You will all be ours! Resistance is futle!'
'YOU ARE ALL SLAVES! You just don't know it yet!'
'Join us... JOIN US.... DEAD BY DAWN!'
'We've burned their houses and raped their wives and they didnt even show up. Minnie style.'
Throughout the dim, tapestried caffeelounge I'd taken shelter in when the area proved too actively hostile for a lone pirate, people froze and looked up, expressions of shock and dread crossing faces from a myriad of worlds.
I felt my own expression close into a tight-lipped frown. The warfare that had been raging for over a year throughout the areas of space I inhabited had only made life unpleasant for everyone. Stations suddenly had to play host to transient fleets of pod pilots who claimed they fought for their good while taking advantage of all the locals had and then some. So many people wondered how Konora could have hit crisis so quickly; I had my suspicions about its source.
On a personal level, I would have preferred that nobody win; that the boundaries remain as they had been for so long. The people inhabiting any conquered system suffered for it; many who were unlucky enough to not see which way the winds were blowing were later trapped there by the victorious fleet and their patrols. How many were relieved of their possessions before being turned back at the border?
A commotion on the other side of the room pulled me from my thoughts. The lounge's Brutor proprietor was standing menacingly over a customer who had been sitting quietly in a circular corner booth.
'I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave,' the landlord growled, not sounding the least bit apologetic. The customer gazed up at him a moment, then sighed, paid his tab with a quick swipe of his hand over the sensor on the table, and headed for the door.
Time paused for a heartbeat as I tried to bring myself to believe what I'd just seen; then in one move I paid my bill, slung my jacket over my shoulder and hurried after the other pilot.
'Hey! Wait up!'
The capsuleer stopped halfway down the sweeping curve of the stair but didn't turn. 'Can I help you?' His tone was carefully neutral but discouraged further conversation.
'Why didn't you refuse to leave? You could have.'
'And cause a scene?' He turned to look up at me, face set in a frown of disapproval. 'They were looking for me to raise a fuss; it would give them an excuse to release some pent-up frustrations, I'd imagine.'
'Because you're Ni-Kunni.'
He waved his hand, gesturing towards his face. 'Visage of the enemy, my dear. It matters little what I've done, only that I represent the oppressor.'
I stopped a step above the one he stood on, where I could be at his eye level. 'It's racism, and hypocricy. They treat you no better than they would accuse you of treating them.'
An amused smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. 'Had my position and the landlord's been reversed, I imagine I might have done the same. You Gallente, you believe so much in people being more than the sum of their parts. The universe does not work that way.'
'Somebody has to believe it,' I shrugged. 'Otherwise, no-one will.'
The other pilot squinted at me for a moment, then extended his hand. 'Dorre Kvessha. I don't believe I've had the honour?'
'Shae Tiann.' My fingers clasped his, the implants in our palms exchanging digital calling-cards. Dorre was a diplomat for Disco Joe's Wrecking and Salvage and had very much negative standings with the Amarr, which explained a bit.
'Ah, Hellcats.' Dorre's dour face broke into a grin. 'A sister in crime. I'm afraid the establishments in this station will no longer be quite so tolerant of my presence, but would the lady do me the honour of joining me for a drink in my office? I do have an acceptable Gallentean wine I picked up on my way through the Syndicate last...'
'I'd be delighted.'