She bent her head down, grimacing, to peer through the glass of beer in front of her with the light from the back bar glowing through it, and raised her left eyebrow suspiciously at the floating matter she saw hanging in the liquid. Her associate made a face and shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
“Look, trust me on this, she’ll be here.” Her friend looked suspiciously around the room and made a face at the layer of grime.
“Well, she can take her sweet time if she wants, looks like I’ll be sober no matter when she decides to show”. She slowly pushed the grayish looking beer away from her; she sat back in her chair and looked around.
“Deliverance from good quality is more like it” she grumbled.
Deliverance Reclaimed was quiet in the mid-afternoon it seemed, although Sophia was fairly certain it was hardly ever a hot spot. Dull, bass-laden music pumped quietly in the background, half drowned out by the sounds of machinery and air compressors as they sat in the sparse, dimly lit corrogated metal room of an empty bar, waiting for her associate’s newest prospect. Across the room, a 3-month-old news-reel played on repeat, casting a slight glow across the dreary and dusty room.
Sophia groaned and rolled her head back to stare at the rusty and chipped ceiling. “Remind me why we’re in the ass-end of CVA space again? I’m pretty sure you were there when I swore to never, ever come back here,” she leaned closer to her friend, “something about a near-death experience involving a Tengu full of sleeper loot? Ringing a bell now?” She arched her eyebrows knowingly at the young woman across the table from her.
Her associate sunk a little further into her chair and gave Sophia a awkward grin. “Listen, this is going to be worth it; this chick is solid. She’s a little rough around the edges, but shes hungry for it, and you really are going to like her.” She shifted nervously again before adding in a quieter voice out of the side her mouth “and I may have told her you were paying double”. She coughed nervously and suddenly found interest in the holo-reel; Sophia raised another eyebrow.
“Really, you’ve gotta trust me on this one; we need someone like her.” her friend said.
“And she’s out here in the dustbowl of null-sec beeecaauuusse….?” Soph leaned in again with the eyebrows.
Her associate sighed, they’d already been over this, but she knew Sophia just wanted to hear it again. “Because she’s, uh, not exactly…hmm…welcomed in high-sec; outlaw status and all that.” she added quickly.
Sophia shook her head; they had been over this before, but she still wasn’t happy about it. “We’re basing a new business operation in high security space, and you go and hire a pirate outlaw from null-sec.” She sighed and sniffed at the lumpy beer in front of her once more before wrinkling her nose.
“It seriously keeps me up at night sometimes knowing you’ve got access to my bank account” she said sarcastically, grinning at her accomplice. “And where’s she at now sec-wise?”
“Apparently she’s working hard grinding it now, and shes itching to be back in Empire. Don’t worry, she’ll make the deadline. She’s at -2.4 right now”
Sophia raised her eybrows and turned her head towards the voice; “and good at stealth entrances I see”.
The slender dark-haired woman standing behind her raised the corners of her mouth beneath a small, pierced nose and eyes hidden behind dark glasses. “I hear first impressions are everything.”
First impressions indeed, thought Sophia as she turned around fully; the woman was dressed entirely in black, short stylish bob-cut hair, and a very severe looking blaster strapped to her side. She moved gracefully towards them and sat herself at the spare seat at the table; the shades stayed on.
Have a seat Sophia mumbled in her head. She turned towards the woman. “So I gather my associate has filled you in on what we’re looking for?”
The woman pulled a cigarette out of a small case, placed it between her lips and deftly lit it, and then leaned forward on her elbows. She inhaled, letting the cherry on the end burn bright, before slowly exhaling out of the side of her mouth. “Seems you aren’t entirely sure what you’re looking for darlin”, she grinned through the haze of smoke.
Sophia was nonplused. “We may not be entirely sure of the details, but we have the general idea. So are you up for it?
“And ‘it’ is what exactly?” The woman grinned wide again; she knew what she was signing on for, Sophia knew it; the questions were part of the game, her little way of saying she wasn’t “for sale”. Great minds think alike she smirked.
“Guess you’ll just have to wait and see on that end of things” she grinned and leaned close, “I know, not knowing what the secret is is just the worst isn’t it?” her eyes grinned at the woman.
“Yeah”, the woman drawled back smugly, “and what exactly are you trying to do with a one-man corp?”
The back and forth was starting to get a little old. “Are you always in the habit of questioning people who want to hire you?”
“I’m not really much in the habit of letting people hire me” the woman shot back.
Sophia grinned in spite of herself.
“You know,” the woman continued, a smile on her lips, “I know more about you than you might think”; Sophia saw an eyebrow arch behind the glasses.
“For instance, I know how you’re offering me close to double what you might have, I know you’re not actually that bothered by my sec status or how I got it” she paused, and inhaled again deeply from her cigarette, “and,” she exhaled slowly, “I know you’re trying to quit, and this” she waved her smoke “is driving you crazy“. The corners of her mouth curled up again.
Yeah Sophia thought, this one is going to work out perfectly. Still, two could play this stupid power game, and this chick was going to have to learn to be part of a team is she wanted in. She abruptly got up from the table, motioned for her associate, and reached for her jacket; the woman cocked her head quizzically.
“Well” Sophia through out as she fished a cigarette out of her jacket pocket “we’ll have to let you know after we meet with the other perspectives”. She turned to avoid showing the cheshire grin on her face and walked calmly towards the exit.
“Let us know if you have any other questions, and of course, we’ll be in touch” she through back over her shoulder as she and her friend exited through the hissing door.
“Ballsy move there” her friend muttered as they made their way back to the docking hanger through the dimly lit corridors of Deliverance. “You know she’s the best we’re going to get for the price.” Sophia cashed the cigarette out against the side of the dingy hall and smiled.
“I wouldn’t worry about it” she said chuckling “she’s in, and she knows it”.
As if in answer, her com unit beeped in her hand. Sophia clicked it, eyes skimming for second before she starting laughing. She gave the unit to her associate.
“What..new application?” Her associates eyes grew wide as they skimmed the unit and she started to laugh too. “Holy shit, she already put an app in!”
Sophia picked up her pace. “Let her know she’s in conditionally, and we’ll be wiring her funds to finish up her little sec-grind a bit faster. She kicked at the rusty door to her temporary hanger and cursed under her breath. “Now lets get the hell off this rusty piece of shit and get back to civilization”
True fact: I have started a one-woman corp. Other true fact: I have no idea what I’m doing with that notion, but I do have a new partner. More stories to come.