"Thank you for your time, we will be in touch...." Said Flash, a smile plastered on his face like a death mask. As the fifteenth candidate disappeared out of the door; Flash slumped against it and rubbed his temples.
The Bastards have been processing applicants from would-be pirates for the last month. It was exhausting work. A large number of speculative candidates had been making their way through the various back doors and moneyed middle-men to final make contact with one of The Bastards recruitment officers. Their journey itself was a testament to their willingness and desire for pirating through their handing over of quantities of isk to unknown and most likely unsavory people, avoiding CONCORD informants, honey-traps and other organisations eager for new blood.
Flashfresh was a pirate for many years now and took the job of recruitment officer seriously. However, some days it was damn tiring. Candidate eight-two was a part of the reason for his tiredness this morning. Voluptuous, full-lipped with a cleavage you can park a tempest battle ship in, she was very keen to make an impression on him and with a grin, Flash touched the scratch marks on his chest and stomach where through her over-excitement and exertion she had reached back and round and dug her nails into him and screamed 'you Bastards, you utter Bastards!"
Interrupting this most pleasant memory, a red light on his communication pad winked on. He thumbed it.
"Candidate Number 52 is here. He's early." Stated Macy, the serious minded, knife-throwing assistant, her accent clear cut like crystal glass. Flash looked down at the candidate and quickly absorbed the data. The force-fed-learning implant throbbed slightly as tera-bytes of data streamed into his short-term memory. The candidate's mental profile, employment history and bits of dirt dragged up during the initial application process streamed into his mind.
"Send him into the office in two minutes. I need to take a leak." Muttered Flash as he ambled off towards the ablutions room. A long stream of urine later and the pirate was back in the office. Candidate 52 was already seated and ready. A tall, bald headed Amarrian. He turned at the sound of Flash's entrance.
"Sir." He said, inclining his head slightly. Flash nodded back, reached out and offered his hand; Candidate 52 looked at the hand and glanced at the ablution block and back again and gingerly held Flash's meaty fist. He made a great effort to hide his discomfort. The shake was as enthusiastic as a dead fish.
That's one strike against you thought Flash as he sat down. A pirate need not be squeamish. Flash then scanned the documents in silence and allowed the quiet to stretch out. Candidate 52 shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Flash did not say a word, just muttered to himself a few times and nodded to himself. Candidate 52 shifted again and nervously cleared his throat.
"Sir? When will my interview start?"
Flash looked up.
"It started the moment you entered this station."
"Oh, erm...." Candidate 52 shifted once more and a sheen of perspiration slowly appeared.
After a lengthy, meditative wait. Flash looked up, the reflection of the Amarrian staring back at him from Flash's matte black and very expensive shades.
"So you want to join us and be a pirate?" Asked Flash.
"Yes sir. Yes sir, it's what I have always wanted to do. Empire space is boring. I want to make isk and be famous." He paused for dramatic effect. "I want to be as famous as you Mr Fresh."
"Your application is very good: experience in all the right areas, very good employment history. Credit line is worthy and no inflammatory posts in any of the GalNet forums." Reported Flash, reciting the information from his enhanced short term memory.
"Yes sir. I have no dirt and come with excellent references."
With a squeal of the chair; Flash stood up and back. "I like your honesty Candidate 52."
"My real name is -" Flash raised his hand quickly and put his fingers to his lips. His eyes flashed dangerously. "I don't want to know your name. You're Candidate 52 for now and that's all there is to know."
"I want in with The Bastards, I want to be famous and - " Flash firmly focused on the loquacious individual.
"Have you ever held a cruiser class steady under continuous sentry gun fire while tackling a target? Do you know how to properly fit a cruiser to last a minimum of ten seconds for this scenario?"
"Yes, I think. You will need to weld one no, two 1600mm plates and -" Flash cut him off with a sharp gesture.
"How do you scan down multiple targets in a cluster of five to six belts under three seconds?"
"Er, you - revise your overview settings and adjust the gamma settings-"
Flash leaned in closer. "Maelstrom-class, artillery or auto-canon fit?"
"Sir, please slow down."
"When your pod is about to pop out - what's the best strategy to save it?"
Candidate 52's mouth flapped with no sound, like a grounded fish. Flash clamped both of his hands on the shoulder's of the young Amarrian and leaned in close; voice hard as flint.
"You know the theory but you don't have the experience. You've read the books and the 'casts but you have never done it. Not for real." The would-be pirate tried to look up but Flash moved his hands to either side of the Amarrian's cranium and held it firm. Directing his gaze to the blackness outside, Flash continued. "Look outside with your eyes. Your real eyes. Your destiny and fate is out there. So is your death. You may be a capsuleer but that only means that you can sleeve yourself into a new meat sack when the old one dies. Do you know what happens to you when you get reborn? Have you ever been podded? It's not pleasant and you always die just a little, after repeated rebirths - some pilots go insane."
"I, I." Gulped Candidate 52 and he tried to get up. Flash held him down firmly.
"The life of a pirate is about being one step ahead of the bullet with your name on it. You can kiss the cozy empire life good bye but you gain freedom, absolute freedom to realise what you were meant to be. Thing is, are you brave enough to find out just how good you are in the grand scheme of things?"
"My destiny is to be a famous pirate!" Candidate 52 blurted, finally finding his tongue. "I have a ten million isk bounty, didn't you know?"
"That may be, but you have to start somewhere. We need our pilots, even the youngest ones to have experienced the low-sec life already. You, I am afraid to say, haven't." Flash's expression softened slightly. He continued, "Look - I advise you to try and sign up with EVE-Uni or Agony Unleashed and get some basic experience in fighting against other capsuleers. Get some kills under your belt, and the bounty amount means nothing. Do you understand?"
Crestfallen, Candidate 52 sat there, all the air out of him but he nodded.
Feeling foolish, Flash tried to sound cheerful. He even considered patting the poor fellow on his back but quashed this feeling instantly.
"It's not the end of he world, we're just not suitable for a pilot of your experience. You will not enjoy it. Tell you what: I will hold this application and will fast-track when you re-apply later this year. How does that sound?"
Candidate 52 only responded with a grunt.
Flash led the failed applicant towards the door and slid it open. With a gently push, Flash bade Candidate 52 a farewell. Flash exchanged a glance with Macy who was sitting there manicuring and preening herself. She did look attractive, in the same way that one would appreciate the sleek functional form of well-used hand gun.
"Candidate four is in the toilet; I will send her in when she's out." She paused long enough to electronically send the full file of the next candidate to Flash.
"Thanks, give me a minute okay?"
The door slid closed and Flash rubbed his temples more. As he made his way back to his table he reviewed candidate four's details: decent application with some very impressive skills in Gallente ships. Flash paused and looked out through the plasteel viewing port at the undock ramp of this station. There was knock on the door and the door slid open. With his back still turned to the entrance. Flash motioned vaguely to where the chair was located.
"Sit down candidate four and relax."
"Thank you very much." Said a man's voice; deep and rich.
Flash started to turn and caught himself. Candidate four is a woman. Too slow, Flash's expensive sun-glasses flew off his face in one direction while his head was cracked the other way from a well placed haymaker punch. Momentarily losing his balance, his world exploding in shock and pain, Flash crashed back into his cabinet - unable to focus at all. His assailant was on him before he had completely fallen onto the floor, hauling him upright and raining blows on his head and face with his fists.
The air exploded out of Flash's lungs from a well placed knee and he tasted blood in his mouth. Feebly putting up his hands to protect his face, the assailant changed attack and kneed and kicked the lower half of Flash's body. Fighting against this lightning strike, all Flash could do was to hurl himself backward out of the way...and crashed through the thin door of the toilet. He found himself sprawled with his right arm in the toilet bowl. Part of him was glad that he flushed but before another thought appeared, the assailant had grabbed Flash by his ears and smashed his head on the toilet bowl rim. There was a dull thunk and Flash gasped as his vision was lost in an explosion of pain. Dimly, he could hear his assailant yelling something. Losing a tooth and spitting more blood out, Flash flailed randomly and managed to connect both of his hands around the neck of this unrelenting attacker. He squeezed and tried to rise up. It was at this time, that Flash realised he was taller and bigger than his attacker and, blinking blood out of his left eye, pushed himself and his attacker back into the main room. The chair they landed on splintered into matchwood.
Rolling around, Flash managed to get on top. He didn't release his strangle grip on his assailant nor did the attacker let go of Flash's ears. He gurgled out a stream of words.
"-bastards! your ruined me! you said I was good to join and then rejected me! REJECTED ME!"
It was candidate seventeen. Flash remembered him, 'Bradley' was his call-name and he had passed the interview and checks but eventually rejected after a two-week probation for insubordination and general stupidity. What was his real name thought Flash, now eyeing this rapidly expiring man underneath him.
"Let-go-of-my-ears!" Yelled Flash, as he continued to throttle Bradley whose eyes were now starting to bulge out of his head and veins starting to throb on is forehead. "My ears you son of a bitch....."
The grip on his ears slowly released as impending unconsciousness slowly crept over Bradley. As soon as he could, Flash let go of his strangulation hold and quickly rolled off him. His head throbbing, lungs heaving and blood in his mouth, Flash staggered off towards his desk and pulled out his hand gun. Pointing it unsteadily at Bradley, still lying on the floor and gasping for air. Flash cocked the gun and glanced around the room. He saw that a chair was jammed against the door handle and there was a thumping sound from the other side. Staggering over there but keeping an eye on the still gasping form on the ground. Flash unjammed the door and was almost hurled back as Macy, followed by two burly guards barged in. All were armed, Macy with a wicked looking stiletto.
Flash just pointed towards Bradley. Taking a look at the Flash's face and the ruined room, Macy figured out quickly what was to be done.
"Take this gentleman and throw him out of the nearest air lock."
Grunting, the two guards picked up Bradley like a sack of potatoes and made their way out.
Flash sat down, gun still in his hand and eyed Macy warily.
"How could you let this man in? Candidate Four is -"
"A woman and now lying dead in the gent's toilet." Finished Macy. "That chap must have been waiting for his chance to get back in and to get revenge. He wasn't such a good pilot anyways and cost us a potentially new one too."
"A woman you say? Damn, Mynxee will be pissed." Muttered Flash as he groped around for something to stem the bleeding cuts on his face. He found a hand towel and put his gun away.
"Macy, please can you hold all further applications from psychopaths, the mentally unstable, the wannabe pirate and the clinical insane nymphomaniacs." Flash sat down heavily, pressing the towel to his face and pouring a sizeable measure of spirits. Slurping noisily, he sat back and reconsidered. "Actually, that last bit sounded quite good. Only nymphomaniacs need to apply, at least for the next couple of days."
"Flash, I think you need to get back into space and fly a real space ship not that desk. You haven't been space-side for almost a month. When was the last ransom you were in? Last ship you solo'ed? Besides, you're a right pain in the ass when you're stressed." Said Macy as exited the office and before Flash could reply, the door was closed.
"Nymphos and exotic dancers! Macy, you hear? Only let in nymphos and exotic dancers!" Flash slumped back into his seat and wondered just when he could undock and do some pirating. A winking 'new message' icon flashed up, insisting on his attention and knocking back the drink, he reluctantly checked the message. The message was simple and to the point:
'C*cksucker. Gonna kill you. I know where you live. It will be REDRUM for you.'
Wonderful. Another stalker. Sometimes, recruitment isn't all that fun you know?