“Damn it, who the hell installed 1200 howitzers on my ship?” I yelled at the red faced engineering crew standing in gunnery control of my newest ship. My aunt Jaxx had given me this tempest so we could fly together, and patrol her territory. My lack of null sec experience bothered me a lot, and I wanted to prove I could hold my own in any operation I was asked to join.
I was furious with these null sec misfits. Pointing at the rack of guns, I kept screaming, “1400's! These are too damn small! Are you ass-holes trying to get me killed.”
My mobile com beeped, saving the crew chief from having to defend himself from the beating I wanted to give him. Looking down I saw that it was Ducky, good I was wondering when I would hear from him. Turning back to the crew, “Get this shit OFF my ship, NOW, and do it right!”
Storming out of gunnery, I rushed down the long corridors to my cabin so I could take my call in private. I was out of breath when I sat down a my com terminal in my cabin. Taking three deep breaths, I punched in my password into the terminal, and smiled a the image that filled the holo-screen in front of me.
“Who let you out of bed?”
“I'm bored! Do you know Arsten Takalo in Frarn?” Duckeye asked.
“No, never heard of him, why? How could you possibility be bored? I hired six nurses to take care of you?” Seeing him look so much better, made me almost giggle with joy.
“I need to blow-up something and I wanted to take the Niddy out for a spin. I heard this guy might have something interesting I could do,” Ducky grinned back at me playfully “The nurses are keeping an eye on me. I'm being good, I promise!”
Good god, he must be feeling better, first time back in command of a ship and he picks a carrier. I expected sooner or later, he would get tired of laying around and want some excitement. That is what I loved about him, no half measures and unpredictable. “Want me to see if I can get a line on this guy?”
“Sure, I think your contacts with the Brutor tribe will be the best. Where are you?”
“What the hell are you doin' way out there?”
“Still at Jaxx's station, why do you ask?” I had been waiting for him to ask me to come back home. Our parting had been hard on me. His illness kept us apart and I was going crazy wanting to be near him. The doctors had said that he needed rest and I was in danger of catching the virus too. It seemed to attack only healthy strong Brutors. That was all I needed to confirm my suspicions that the Amarrians were waging germ warfare on us again. Fucking Amarrian bastards, why can't they just leave us alone.
Since he regained consciousness and was able to speak again I couldn't figure out what he wanted. He hadn't asked me to come to him, but he did keep asking where I was. I didn't want to be hovering or pampering and get in his nerves. I hired six full-time nurses and left for the outer rim to stay with Jaxx. I knew he would be well taken care of and when he was strong enough to get passed six nurses, he would take command of a ship and maybe our long postponed reunion would finally happen.
“I don't know, just wondering where you have been.” he made a face of mock sadness but the devilish look in his eye's gave my heart a jump. “Can you find this guy for me?”
“Sure, I'll call you right back.” I shut down the transmission and quickly punched in the code for Turok at the Brutor Tribe agency and was connected.
“Hey, Turok who are you banging this week?” I joked.
“Two Gallente blonds and a fleet of Angels,” he laughed back.
“I heard a viscous rumor that you knew a guy named Arsten Takalo and how to get in touch with him.”
“Willa you do get around!” Turok said grinning at me on the holo-screen, “not many people even know about him. I can't help you anymore than that, seems your security clearance isn't high enough to warrant knowing that much.”
“Ahh, come on Turok, you can tell Willa. You know I will keep my mouth shut.”
“Afraid I can't this time Willa.” His face was deadly serious and I knew I wouldn't get anymore out of him.
“Who do I have to bang to get this information?” I leaned back in my chair running my finger along the top of my black leather corset. I wanted to make sure he could see what my fingers were doing.
Turok licked his lips as he watched me on his holo-screen. I could tell he was thinking hard about the question, Turok swallowed hard and stared back. Since the first day we met I knew he wanted to hear me ask that question. I was safe, he could lose his job if his boss found out he was trading favors for sex and even his life if Duck found out. Coming to a decision he cleared his throat. “Ah well, me or a couple of fleets of Angel pirates.”
“Pirates! I love banging pirates! Where?”
Relief and disappointment washed over his face as he sent me the coordinates to an amassing pirate fleet in a remote sector of a neighboring star system. “There you go, it's a pleasure doing business with you,” then he quickly added, “How's Duck?”
I smiled, I knew he had more than one reason to ask. In his business it was good to know what he could about everyone, but major players like Duckeye it was critical. For months there had been rumors floating around about Duckeye; every thing from him being sick, in prison, to being dead. The troubles we were having with our fledgeling squad was well known to Turok, along with everyone else in Minmatar and Caldari space. I knew he was testing to see if I would slip and give him something he could use.
“Fine,” Withholding all emotion and ended the transmission.
Calling Ducky back, a projection from the bridge of the Niddy filled my screen.
“Oh, hi,” He had a look of joking guilt on his face. He was sitting in his command seat, surrounded by his nurses. The nurses were all dressed in very short and low cut blue technician gowns and high heals. A brunette was sitting across his lap with his hand on her thigh nearly under the hem of her gown.
“I see you ordered new uniforms for your nurses.” Suddenly the back of my neck felt hot and I was sure my war tatts were getting darker and giving me away. I knew he had other women. I had even expected he would screw everyone of those damn nurses when I hired them. I just didn't like seeing him with his hands all over them.
“You like the uniforms? I designed them, was thinking of starting a new business venture. I think they would do wonders for the moral of our wounded soldiers confined to hospitals and medical facilities. Here, Sandrea be a dear and model your outfit for Willa,” Guiding one of the blondes out from behind his commander's seat. Long blonde hair and shapely figure, she walked in front of Ducky and posed for me, then turned and posed again. I wasn't looking at the blonde. All I could focus on was Ducky's hand running up and down the thigh of the brunette on his lap. Casually he bumped a data pad off the arm rest of his seat and two of them rushed to pick it up. All I could see of them was two firm round asses exposed as the bottom hem of the uniforms rode up, and reveled a matching thong.
“Here you are Ducky,” the winner said in a sickly sweet voice, as she handed him the pad.
My vision became a blur of red, when he patted her ass and said, “thanks.”
“YOU'RE FIRED! YOU ARE ALL FIRED! I want you gone, get off that fucking ship and away from my man! If I so much as catch a whiff of your damn perfume in the Nest I will hunt you down and sell you to the nearest Amarr military medical center. You won't need any damn uniform for the job they'll have you do!” Shaking with fury I watched a stampede of nurses leave the bridge. Ducky interrupted my murderous rage.
“Ah..., can't I keep one, I'm still weak and I have a cough,” he faked a cough and mockingly pouted.
Damn him, he set me up. I had hired them because it was hard to find anyone willing to work for him, due to his reputation. It was also the only way to keep him from abusing them or running them off.
“Sorry, I can't trust them any longer, they maybe spies. I guess I will have to come back to the Republic and take care of you myself.”
“You will be gently with me? I don't know how strong I am.”
“Strong enough to do six nurses, by the looks of it. I think you can handle me.”
“I don't know, you are a lot more to handle than six little Caldari nurses.”
“You might want to keep that in mind, next time you try to provoke me. I have the information on that guy you where asking about. I will be in Frarn as soon as possible. We might have some Angels that need killing before we can get in touch with him. You up to that?”
“YARR! I was beginning to wonder what it would take to get your ass back here and get rid of those damn nurses. They have been driving me nuts. I feel so good, I feel like taking on CONCORD and the Republic Navy!”
“Nothing too rash, we can work up to that. God, I love you.” As soon as I said it I wanted to take it back. I didn't want him to think I was one of those weak kneed females, that get all mushy and dreams of weddings and families. I could feel the heat rising in my face. “When I say that, it means I want your body.”
“I understand. Why are we still talking, get your ass in a shuttle and call me back.” He ended the transmission and the room fell silent.
“Bye,” I whispered at the blank screen.
Running all the way to Jaxx's office and rushing through the waiting room door of her office, I was stopped in my tracks by the old battle-ax of a secretary Jaxx employed. She was seated at her desk next to the door that lead into Jaxx's office and this old bat did a really good job of keeping unwanted guests away.
“I need to see Jaxx.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No. Something just came up and I need to talk to her.”
“Without an appointment, you can't see Ms. Blackfox.”
“You know me, I'm her niece. I have been in and out of this office for a month and now you are going to tell me I need an appointment to see my aunt?”
“Ms. Blackfox doesn't want to be disturbed. You will have to come back another time.”
“Call her, call her on that damn comm of yours right now. Oh fuck it!” I started for the door, the big woman moved surprisingly fast and blocked my path.
“No you don't, no one enters this office unannounced.”
“Then announce me or we can go a few rounds right here.” My threat didn't seem to faze her a bit, even when I rested my hand on the handle of my knife I carried all the time.
“Sit!” She pointed at a rich red leather sofa along one wall.
At that moment I was so pissed I could have tackled a slaver hound and probably won. Not wanting to anger Jaxx by killing her secretary. I sat down and glared at the old woman as she contacted Jaxx on the com.
“Ms Blackfox, your niece is here to see you.”
“Was she the one yelling out there?” I head my aunt's voice over the com.
“When she calms down let her in.”
“Yes, ma'am.” She gave me a 'told you so' thrust of the chin and went back to work on her terminal.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and tried to recenter myself. If I went in there without being calm, Jaxx would kick me out if not just kick my ass.
Jaxx was not a woman to take lightly even if she was more like a mother to me than my mother's sister. She had been a capsuleer for over five years, and it changed her. There was no softness to her at all anymore. I remember how she cuddled me when I was still a child and cried at night for my mother. It seemed that all gentleness had been stripped away from her by the void of space.
I looked around the richly appointed waiting room and marveled for the first time how grand it was. Rare wood covered the walls and floor. There were a large number of halo-images in frames on the walls, all showing ships in battle or fleets in battle formations. Someday I will ask Jaxx about the pictures, but I suspect they are all her ships and fleets.
I was beginning to feel calmer as ran my hand over the soft leather of the sofa. There was another sofa like it sitting at ninety degrees from this one, forming a small sitting area in the corner of the waiting room. Jaxx did have nice things, I had to admit. Living with Ducky for the last six months, I had become accustom to these type of surroundings. Not that they mattered that much to me. I would be just as happy in rookie crew quarters as I long as I got to fly.
“You can go in now.” said the secretary.
“Thanks.” Slowly I got up and went to the door, trying to maintain my calm and not give in to the excitement I felt about going back home.
Jaxx's office was huge and communicated an aura of power that someone in her position held. She wasn't a common pirate like many would prefer to believe, she was the sole ruler of several systems where Jaxx was the undisputed authority. Although not the biggest warlord of null space, her influence reached where she needed it to, in order to hold her place in the lawless fringe of the galaxy. The station I was on now was not some humble little outpost, but a full service space station with thousands of permanent residents and hundreds of businesses.
“How's the Tempest coming along?” Jaxx asked from behind her massive desk, surrounded by large view screens, where she monitored her many business and territorial interests.
“Fine, I want to thank you again for helping me get it, but when I come back I'm bringing my own crew from Frarn. These guys don't listen very well.”
“You're leaving?” She said raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, that is what I needed to talk about. I don't have any jump clones installed, haven't needed any till now, and I need to get to Frarn as fast as possible.”
“Problems? Or is it HIM?”
I was keenly aware that Jaxx and Ducky had a distinct dislike for the other. It amused me how much alike they were, right down to having the same opinion that the other was too arrogant. The major difference was that where Duckeye was liked in certain circles of influence, and had connections that reaches across all of settled space and into the reaches of the lawless rim. He didn't trust anyone and no one but myself trusted him. Jaxx had a personality that drew loyalty to her and she was loyal in return, giving her the ability to assemble fierce fleets of war hardened vets at a moment's notice whether to help a friend or to defend her territory. Even though followers where drawn to Jaxx, it didn't mean that she was less dangerous if you displeased her. She was known as “The Cold-Hearted Ice Bitch from Hell” in this part of space, and she happily lived up to that reputation regularly.
“It's him.” I knew better than to try and deceive Jaxx if I wanted help.
“Humph, Figures, takes me a year to get you out here and you stay less than a couple months, and you don't even get bloodied in battle with me. He calls and you drop everything and run back to him, like a well trained house slave.” Jaxx punctuates her displeasure by stabbing her knife into a well wore block attached to the corner of her massive wooden desk.
“Jaxx it isn't like that, I need him.”
“NEED! You don't fucking need him, and you damn well know it!” Jaxx shouted, “More like he needs you and you are all pie-eyed with some stupid idea of love to know the difference. I had this same damn conversation with your mother twenty years ago, right before she followed that fool that was your father, and look what it got her. I don't want to lose any more family to some damn crazy notion of love and happily ever after. Love is something that will only get you killed, just like the old days, when the Amarr were hunting us. There was a reason we kick the men out of the clan, they are nothing but trouble.”
Tears burned at the corners of my eyes, the mention of my parents and the vicious attitude she had toward Duckeye hurt deeply. I wasn't going to let Jaxx beat me down. I straightened my back and stared down the older woman denying Jaxx the pleasure of breaking my will.
“Aunt Jaxx you can help me or you can't, either way I will be out of this system within the hour and headed back to the Republic,” I said in a flat tone, “For your information, I do love him. Nothing you say can change that, and to be perfectly honest I don't care what you or anyone else thinks of him.”
Jaxx rolled her eyes and looked at the ceiling for a moment, “Willa that makes you a target for everyone of his enemies, you know that don't you? Mark my words young'un, one day he will leave you to save himself. When that happens you will be so dependent on him, you won't be able to protect yourself. That is when all his enemies will descend on you like a starving pack of wolves. No good will come from this for you.”
“Thanks for your advice and all your hospitality, Jaxx, I will keep in touch,” I didn't want to hear what I already knew. Yes, I was in danger for just being around him, I was well aware of all that. I just didn't want to hear it come out of Jaxx's mouth. I turned to leave.
“Willa!” Jaxx's shout startled me. I turned back toward her, “I didn't say I wouldn't help, I just wanted you to know why I will regret doing this for the rest of my life. Follow me.” Jaxx lead me out of the office and down to her personal hanger. In one corner of the hanger were several strange looking craft, unlike anything I had ever seen before.
“Take one of these,” Jaxx said, pointing to the small black ships that looked like circles with wings. “They are customized Jovian shuttles, twice as fast as any shuttle at warp, and they are cloaked, so you shouldn't have any problems getting past gate camps you run across. All I ask is that when you can, return it to me. One little problem, once you leave this system you will not be able to communicate with anyone, so you are in for a very long silent trip.”
“Thanks Jaxx, you aren't as cold-hearted as they say.” I hugged her close.
“Don't let that get out, and remember you have been warned, if things don't work out like you hope.” Jaxx hugged me back.
Within the hour I packed and heading the black shuttle towards the gate. I sent Ducky a quick message. 'On my way, see you in a couple of days.' The jump portal at the gate fired, my long silent journey back to the Minmatar Republic began.