“A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers.” – Suzy Kassem
“The Coalition weren’t the ones firing on us?” Shizuko asked as she and Ginova stood in a compact elevator that would take them up to floor 121 . Ginova often nicknamed their HQ the ‘Nest’, a typical office complex much like the many others in the building. As the elevator rose, it made a barely audible hiss, the single tell tale sign that it was moving at all. Shizuko’s stomach lurched as it always did; she was an incredibly experienced pilot and used to swift changes in motion even in zero gravity, but something about elevators unfailingly made her feel sick.
“So we are told,” replied Ginova who gazed intently at elevator doors as they waited. “Vice Admiral Drayton claims that at the point of our arrival the base was under attack by raiders. He assures me that no Coalition personnel would fire on us without provocation and as it happens, we arrived at the right time in order to thwart a pirate assault. I have asked Reade to corroborate this once he has analysed the data.”
“Do you believe Drayton? Don’t forget how devious the Federation lackeys can be. Even if he is telling the truth, Banks Prospect was far too well defended just to be a simple extraction site.”
“After the Future Hopes debacle five years ago, I’ll never trust another Fed again, but at this time, it is in our interests to keep things civil in Paipai. We managed to come to a resolution with Silver Advanced in the past so it makes sense that we can do the same with Drayton’s bunch. Biding our time as we have always done will pay off. I am certain of it.”
Shizuko nodded. Arkan Ginova had rarely – if ever – been wrong and she trusted his judgement. Not that it would make a difference if she thought otherwise. Still, she always made a point of bringing up possibilities that he may have overlooked and she knew deep down that Arkan appreciated her input.
“Do we know who the attackers were? They were pretty well equipped.” she asked, straightening her collar.
Arkan turned his head to face her. He was a handsome man who wore a calm expression regardless of the situation. His cool grey eyes instilled a sense of serenity in those who looked upon them. He was possessed of an ability to spread this placidity to others, making him useful to be around in a crisis.
“They simply call themselves the ‘Paipai Mob’,” said Arkan. “Anarchic groups like these are a credit a dozen. Unorganized lunatics led by an even bigger lunatic. Attacks on both Federal and independent trading or mining vessels are common in the system and Drayton claims they have been getting worse of late. Even some of our own Ravens have fallen since we begun developing trade routes there. I have issued a kill-on-sight order to all our pilots currently operating in Paipai.”
Shizuko looked worried. The Ravens were not a large outfit. The majority of commanders who belonged to the faction were certainly expert salvagers, miners and traders but only a mere few knew how to handle themselves in combat situations.
“Are we ready for this, Arkan? Do we have the manpower for an all out war with this…this Mob?” she questioned.
“I believe we are. We have been policing, and very successfully I might add, our home system for a long time now. Our security forces are more than capable of keeping the rogues at bay both here and abroad. Besides, I am currently in the process – as you know – of recruiting a few new faces.”
“Ah… I’d almost forgotten your…protégé,” said Shizuko, rolling her eyes and shaking her head apathetically. “How is that coming along for you?”
“Actually, he has surprised me a little. He is a tad…arrogant, shall we say, and perhaps a tiny bit broken. I think once he has found his place he could be a valuable addition to our ranks. I still need time with him though. He values nothing other than his himself and appears to care little for the people he acquaints himself with. That said, I am of the opinion that somewhere inside him there is a man who thinks just as little of himself.”
“You do realise that no one will replace Eve? Not even him.”
“Eve was indeed special, but she wasn’t perfect. It would be unfair to compare the two.”
“She was more than special. I dont know why you pursue this ridiculous notion.”
“Give me a few weeks and I will prove that it is not so ridiculous. Despite the situation our friend has found himself in, if I can manage to teach him how to keep his head down and his zipper up, then we may indeed have an asset.”
“And how do you propose to get him to join our cause if he values nothing? What are we going to offer him?” asked Shizuko as the elevator stopped and the doors slid open.
“Well that’s easy, Shizuko. We are going to offer him the truth.”