All For One
We're in the bar, in fact, today we are the bar, a crowd of Aegis Evolution capsuleers have taken over Suzie Kwong's and are conducting a loud and inebriated celebration.
Today we're not celebrating because we scored a famous military victory, or because we had one of our many narrow escapes from violent death, no-one is stumbling around with that glassy eyed slack jawed expression common to capsuleers who have just awakened into a new clone after the previous one was reduced to red mist. Actually, I tell a lie, Moa Dihb has exactly that expression on his face, but that's because he's got himself into a drinking contest with Bull Doze and they're hammering back doubles of Oipan vodka.
No, today we are celebrating for the best of reasons, we just made ourselves a huge pile of money. As Suzie's has filled up with Aegis flyers, the other patrons of the bar have gradually departed until only a couple of diehard drinkers are willing to put up with our happy din.
Cyber Airelednac and Rotsjk are cackling together over a bottle of real grape wine from the surface of Torrino V. Cyber is our industrial director, he's been leading the asteroid mining operations that are currently fattening our wallets.
Earlier we stood together in the unloading bays, still streaked with gel from immersion in our pods, dwarfed in the shadow of Imwot's Orca mining vessel, giggling and slapping each other in excitement as a seemingly endless flow of raw ore pours from its gargantuan holds. Cyber already has factories lined up to refine and manufacture the ore, by next week these mountains of dusty rock will become a fleet of gleaming new battlecruisers.
I have a third bottle of Chateaux Torvard Premier Cru in front of me, it is a fabulous wine, with a price tag to match and even with our new found wealth I know I'm going to regret this extravagance in the morning, damn my French heritage.
Now the boys are calling for food, steak and lobster, but not the vat grown and tank cultured pap that most station workers exist on, tonight we are dining on real food, water born shellfish and farm raised beef. Again, it is staggeringly expensive, almost no-one but high ranking naval officers, high level corp agents and capsuleers can afford real food, even planetbound people depend on the stuff produced in the vast tank farms to support the burgeoning populations.
Surf and turf for me, and for a moment my choice makes me melancholy, a twenty two year old man who has never walked over real grass or felt the could wet touch of an actual wave. My name is China Flex, I was born on a station and have lived in space for all of my twenty two years, I have never been down to the surface of a planet. My parents died when I was a toddler, killed by the Gallente Navy, my own Navy, in the treacherous assault on the Monasteris asteroid colony. I was raised by the Mordu's Legion Children's Charity, and became a pod pilot two years ago.
I look down at the blue and green planet below me and wonder what it would be like to be down there. Would it be marvellous to walk on those lush hills, or would I feel frustrated at only being able to move at one speed with no up and down. I touch the row of implants behind my ear, augs and learning boosters are banned on most planets, would I feel stupid at having to learn things by reading or watching holo vids ?
A hefty slap on my back stirs me from my reverie, it's Kuro Sekai.
"Come on China, you can't sit there by yourself moping."
Behind him, Shephard and Amadeus have Moa slung between them, he has an arm over each of their shoulders and a mostly empty vodka bottle in either hand, he's bellowing now, end everyone joins in, the new guys shouting along with the old, AllHail and Jaquis, 10 Ton, Lilcron, Er'im, TM, Avalik, Imwot, and all the others are standing on chairs and tables, and we're shouting drunkenly, joyously, defiantly, the corp motto, over and over again.
"All for one, and one for all, all for one, and one for all."
Next day, I'm in my capsule inside the Luxurious Lucy, I feel like someone is squeezing my brain through my skull, the Lucy departs the docking bay with a bump that has me groaning.
"Bloody hell Lucy that was rough, dial me some painkillers and nausea calmers will you ?"
-I'm sorry China but you didn't restock the meds after we docked yesterday-
I groan again. "Well let's just turn around and dock again and pick some up."
-I'm sorry China but we agreed to make this delivery to Arnon in the fastest time possible-
The ship hits the first jump gate and we drop into nullspace, when you're sober this can feel orgasmic, in my condition it feels like my head is wrapped in bands of hot metal.
-I'm sorry about that China, but only another 25 gates to go-
Bloody ship AI's, I could swear she's laughing at me.