The hum of the strip miners burning away at the rock were a quiet lullaby. Mike dozed, a copy of Dominix Blueprints sliding to the floor from his open hand. He had decided that the next Battleship he would make himself. He might not mine all the minerals but there was also salvage. A chime reminded him that the hold was approaching its capacity. A tap of the controls sent the ship warping back to his local base. The nav comp named it ‘Home’ but there were homes in several systems.
“And bodies” He said out loud.
“Docking request . . . excuse me?”
“Sorry docking control, just thinking aloud. Kindly tell the hanger bay crew that I will be unloading and then launching again?”
“Fourth lap, Captain. I think they know that by now.”
Mike grinned. “Roger.”
” . . . uh, what?”
“My name is not Roger . . . it is Dierdre.”
Mike laughed and keyed the com again. “Very well, milady Dierdre. I hope you will not think me less of a gentleman for leaving so soon after arriving.”
The sniff of hauteur was audible and sent Mike rolling back in his chair. “Try not to let it happen again, sirrah.”
He was lucky the tractor beams guided the vessel to the docking point because he was far to busy laughing to be able to do any fine work himself. It was three more trips before he called it a day. He missed Kry and Sab who would have made the mining a fun time to chat, not to mention the benefit of having an Orca on site as well as Sab identifying and advising, to the benefit of anyone in the same belt. But they had gone to a planet for some ‘time out of space’.
“Last run Dierdre. Comin home.”
“Welcome back, Captain. Just in time, as I am going off shift.”
Mike checked the ship time, 22:37. “Riiight. Well I don’t suppose I can buy you a meal in thanks for your kindness in waiting up for this little lost lamb?”
“Fair warning, I skipped supper.”
Mike grinned. “Tell me where and when.”
“Well, a lady has to make herself presentable. One hour at Arestis?”
“Roger, Dierdre . . . I mean . . . well . . .see you there?”
The docking procedure was a blur as he brought up the station schematics and tried to find Arestis. It wasn’t far but he knew finding his way across the station was sometimes harder than it looked. “I can find my way halfway across the galaxy but moving about across a station?” A small map in hand he tapped the controls and the hatch hissed open. He stepped back facing three of the hanger deck crew who were there waiting.
“Evening, Captain. No need to be reaching for that scattergun.”
Mike grimaced and lowered his hand that had been drifting to the right. “That predictable, am I?”
“This is a social call.”
“Can we make it quick, gentlemen? I have to . . . ”
“We know.” The gravelly voice of the largest of them ground the words out like he was pressing weights in a gym. “Just a word or two before you go. Dee be one of us. She don’t fly ships, she be guiding them. She don’t have clones scattered about, she only got one belly button. And iffen you think about hurtin her, we gonna be coming back and you will be needin tha gun. You savvy?”
“Damn, boys. I ain’t even met the lady. I have nothing planned ‘cept dinner.”
“Dressed like tha?” The third spoke up in disbelief.
“What? This is what I always wear.”
“Exactly. Now I know pilots tend to not pay attention to this sort of thing, but Dee will, so you are getting dressed for this here occasion. Come on, bucky, we convinced a shop ta stay open.”
When he arrived at the restaurant he was still keeping in mind the shop keeper who had been nursing a black eye and limping. For all their helpfulness there was no doubt that the three would be just as convincing with him. He didn’t know what to say at the entrance to the Maitre D’ but it turned out he didn’t have to say anything, he was ushered straight to a table where Dierdre waited. Later he tried to describe her in his journal.
–Brunette, mid height but she always seemed taller, bigger. When she spoke it was like dipping your ears in honey. If she looked at you . . . you felt like you were in a spotlight. It is not the physical, it is her spirit. She is there more than the rest of us. Maybe it is we spend so much time out there that half of us think we are our ships and that the bodies are just an inconvenient interface. Now I know why I had that visit from the boys. If I thought someone else was going to hurt her I’d be standing there right with along with them as part of the ‘welcoming committee’. The most important thing was she listened to you. Not the polite half listen some people do. She heard and thought about what you said. I have never been so scared in my life.–
He never noticed what dinner was, nor did he even blink at the bill. They spoke of everything and nothing.
“Family?” She answered. “Sometimes I think the whole station is family.”
“Me?” Mike squirmed a bit. “Well I started out in the Gallente military flying short range patrols. Managed to scrape up enough and take out some loans and get out and started working for myself. Things just took off from there.”
Then she asked about the CSM. It did not seem idle chatter so he answered her questions as best he could.
“No, I think that taxes are a needed thing. How can you expect to get decent service if you are unwilling to pay for it?”
“Hmm? I doubt any ship is perfect, so all of them could use a tweak here and there. The question is always one of ‘do we make the good better, or the bad good?’ ”
“Oh, I prefer to make the low end ships better, find out why some hulls just don’t get flown except by oddballs like me. Fix whats broke before you polish the chrome on the others.”
“I know how that sounds but I still think a lot of folks are forgetting what a representative is supposed to do. Not convince folks what they should be thinking, what they should be believing. A rep is supposed to take those thoughts that they DO have further up the ladder. I will tell folks what I would like to see changed but if I am to do the job right I should also be willing to listen to their points of view as well. Anything less and I am not a proper representative. ”
She smiled as the last question was asked. “Yes, I had a lovely time. But fair warning, I may not be so forgiving if you make me wait so late for dinner again.”
Mike took a moment to understand all that the answer implied.
He was all the way back to his ship before he started questioning whether he should have asked more direct questions . . . or made some suggestions. Then he remembered the guardian angels who had given him a casual wave when he had crossed the hanger bay and opened the hatch. He leaned back against the hatch, once it was closed and asked himself. “Now what the hell was that all about?”
Lessons: A lot of folks forget what representation means, I blame modern election media.
If you are going afk ‘for just a minute’ dock. My ‘just a minute’ was almost 2 hours and when I returned my ship was a lot smaller and rounder.
There are people you can describe physically. I prefer the ones whose first impression is something more than looks.
There are some great Eve information hubs to check. But you should always start with http://www.crazykinux.com/
and his twitter