Hek: A Pirate History
Life doesn’t always bring you good things. Some times it brings you to places where the average citizen would rather cross paths with the fedos crawling out from under Madame Beaudoire’s House of Pleasures than have to share the same breathing space as you. And if the citizens think so highly of ya, how do you think the federales treat a man?
Not well at all I’ll tell you. Chased me clear across the verse they did. From the broad, airy platforms of Dodixie I ran. Wasn’t welcome at the hallowed gates of Amarr’s faithful either…though to tell you the truth I didn’t try all that hard. All that prayin’ and religiousin’ got on my nerves sharpish, I don’t mind telling ya, and all them High Lord Hoity-toity fellers wearing veils over their faces and still managin’ to look down their noses at me.
As for the stiff-necked Caldari, they blockaded Jita, that prize system of theirs tighter than a Tanaris’ warp scramble. Didn’t stop me mind you, there’s no gatecamp this side of Wicked Creek that can stop me, but its gets tiresome having to dodge corporate hit-squads every time I stepped out of station to stretch my legs.
Even Rens, with all their talk of fairness and charity, those Sisters are just as bad for calling in the Republic goons as everyone else.
So whatever is a bad man to do? Where does one go to shop and carouse and drink and smoke in peace? Null is always an option, I s’ppose, but dodging gatecamps is almost as tiring as dodging military roughnecks, though at least the chance of disruptor bubbles gives a bit of a tinglin’ in a man’s gullet. But no, the vast reaches of black can’t hold a candle to the glitter and shine of the Empire worlds, even if most of them try to sweep the dirt an’ dust under the rugs and out of the airlocks. That leaves just one place for a man such as myself to go on holiday for a stretch; Hek.
The first time you see the glitter and glow of space combat within a dozen kilometers of the docking rings of the Boundless Creations station orbiting around the twelfth moon o’ that massive yeller maelstrom of a planet, Hek VIII, you may wonder what sort of madness has overcome the overseers and station managers. That feeling will never entirely go away I tell ya. An’ I don’t mean sometimes, neither. Them boys an’ gals be playing station games at all the hours o’ the ‘verse. Not that all them involved choose t’ be…
Pirates, bounty hunters, mercenaries, and psychopaths all rub shoulders peaceful enough inside the station proper, but once they undock, all bets are off friend. Traders around here know not to be lolly-gagging when it comes time to make their way home with loaded cargoholds and empty pockets. Those that do tend to find themselves forcibly ejected from their lovely hulls while the scavengers pick their wreck clean. Salvage crews man the winches damn near 24 hours a day just trying to keep all the scrap from being a hazard to navigation.
It don’t hurt business none, either. These fellers know the risk of dealing here, and for many of ’em they wouldn’t be any other place in the ‘verse. Oversight and legality are just options, an’ if you know what hives o’ scum and villainy t’ look in, there’s almost nothing that you can’t find in this system.
Not to say all business is of the less-than-legal sort, not at all, I’m just saying that even the cleanest hands have a bit o’ dirt under their nails in a place like this. Palms are greased, money is moved, weapons are sold as-is, and no questions are asked. The man next to you on the concourse could be a Serpentis pusher as easily as a member of the Republic parliament, and fact is, inna bunch o’ cases, he’ll be both! As long as the bloodstains are given a wipe a’fore the authorities arrive, no one gets too excited for the most part.
I will give it to them Boundless Creations fellers, though, they sure do know how to make a body feel welcome and relaxed. The smells that come out of the Brutor Barbeque Pit most days jus’ make a man’s head positively swim. Whether it’s a haunch of roast sail-fin or a spear-skewered rockjaw, you can bet that you won’t get that fresh-killed campfire taste anywhere else. If’n barbeque isn’t your style the Gallente have more than enough places to eat where the bill is bigger than the food on yer plate. Grand halls full o’ crystal where the staff wear white gloves and the patrons wear the jewels worth more’n a small planetside city would make in a month. What is it with them damn Frogs an’ their crystal? Pretty enough to look at I s’ppose, but awful fragile an’ showy. Kind of like their women actually…
You can always tell a Caldari cantina though. Its simple, just look for the plain-grey building without windows and you’ve found it. The signs on the doors may be different colours, dependin’ on your preference , but inside you’ll find the same thing. Grim-faced, usually hard-drinking patrons and a menu that looks more like military rations than anything else. Good places for the ex-soldier who misses life in the barracks…though I can’t fer the life of me find a soldier who misses that life.
Even the Amarrian have their places of comfort, hidden and guarded, as it were. There are enough returned Starkmanir and Nefantars that there is an undercurrent of faith and faithful. Find a door marked with one of the “Holy Sigils”, give a special knock, quote a bit of scripture and you’re in. The rooms are golden and warm, though how such styling came about at the hands of the cold, cruel Amarr I’ve not a clue. True Amarr are still a rarity here though, at least amongst the bustle of humanity. Mostly you find Khanids looking to pick up what they can from the Thukker tribes that do business in this chaos, though there is the odd Ni-kunni looking for “artistic inspiration from the barbaric arts of the Matari” or some such nonsense.
Have a drink, friend. We have a might bit left t’ talk about…
Where were we? Ahhh yes, I been regalin’ yer senses with the tales o’ this here system and all the fortunes that have been won, lost and won again.
Con artists abound in trade hubs like these. Shell-games, contract switching, false-flag orders, you name it and some con has tried it. Successfully too, cause lemme tell ya, there’s a lolly born a second, whether they had enjoyed a bit too much Sooth Sayer the night before or just plain forgot to read what they were signing. An’ not even the Eggers are immune to it. Sometimes you can hear the curses raining down from their isolated catwalks high above us “baseliners”, as they call those of us who’re still human. Some of them seem quite upset, considerin’ them catwalks are a couple dozen meters above us. Makes a man smile to hear that immortality don’t protect a soul from stupidity.
Some o’ the best cons in the game are women too, don’t-cha know? Them girls give a wink an’ a turn and pretty soon she’s helping herself to the insides o’ your apartment, you layin’ out stone cold from the hot-shot o’ Mindflood the vixen dropped in yer drink. Happened to me a time or two till I learned better. This here scar’s from the second time. Wench cut me up a bit for fun after she’d knocked me off. Guess she didn’t take kindly t’ being lied to about the thickness o’ me kredits.
A man like you should probably keep to the well lit parts of a station like this. Ya seem a might bit too trusting for some o’ the deeper places. The local constables keep things in check as much as possible in the upper levels, but there’s just too many back alleys and dead-ends t’ be patrolling it all. Chances are that the Cartel will leave ya be, you’re not a big enough fish for them, and the Serpentis knows its bad for business when clients start waking up in gutters of not their own choosin’. The Blood Raiders don’t deal much with non-capsuleers with that strange fetish fer cloned blood of theirs, but Sansha’s agents have been known to nab the odd feller from dark corners for that zombie army o’ his. An’ there’s enough thugs about to make even the bravest Brutor think twice ’bout walking home by his lonesome, especially if he’s been into the sauce a bit too much.
Just like you, truth be told.
That glassy look yer giving me right now means that I’ll have t’ be leaving ya soon, boyo. Ye listened t’ all me stories an’ still accepted the drink I offered ya. A babe in the woods really. Me an’ the boys will right enjoy whatever we find in that flash ship of yours. Don’t-cha worry boyo, you’ll spend a few hours, happy as a clam then wake up in a daze, just rememberin’ talking t’ some local yokel. I’ll even leave enough in yer wallet for breakfast, but I will have t’ be relievin’ ya of your docking pass…