The Long Drag of that First Smoke


Open On.

He sits quietly near the window. Blue smoke wafting slowly and languidly around his dark silhouette. In the early morning glow of the Sky Lounge signage he is alone. He sits, barely moving, gazing out across the space between himself and the still smoldering ruins of the Astrahus. Perhaps he is remembering the hundreds of frigates exploding around it only a few short months ago, or the Dreadnoughts exploding, or the Carriers, or his own Marshall sacrificed to the hordes of young Capsuleers excitedly learning the thrill of combat - some for the very first time. Perhaps. 

More likely he is remembering further back to a gentleman's agreement reached in the conclusion of aggression when the Alliance Snuffed Out finished construction of a structure off of the high-security gate in system. A simple understanding, leave ours alone and we'll leave yours alone. It is possible his thoughts return to that betrayal. But unlikely, as he never expected those words to mean anything. It was simply a way to extend the life of a structure doomed to destruction. An extension. And while he kept his word, he knew that others would not be so honorable.

Would it be likely that he is pondering the excited young pilot who, he would later learn, sparked the conflict that led to the station's destruction? Anything is possible, certainly many thoughts weigh on his mind these days. But that pilot was obviously a construct. Yet another in a long line of pilots sent to disrupt, confuse, and instigate troubles into his organization. In the final measure this incident paled in comparison to others. So it seems unlikely that he worries over it. Can it be said that he worries over anything so simple?

A slight smile pulls at the corner of his face. Subtle. Faint. Only the most careful of observers would notice it. But it was there briefly. So it is, after all, not worry that pulls his gaze out of the observation window this morning. What then? Wait. Is it possible we've been looking at things upside down and wrong side up... a flicker in his eye. The reflection of the sparks from the wreckage, or something more?

He drags a long smoke. The blue smoke eases out around him and he turns his head slightly. And he laughs. Not a deep laugh, but one of those short laughs you give yourself when alone. An internal piece of humor that suddenly escapes into the real world. Unintentional. Unconscious. It was there for a moment and then gone. Back into the carefully constructed exterior of a man who has lived through the worst the universe has thrown at him. Scarred. A survivor. A Pirate Lord.

This was all by design wasn't it?

He grinds the blunt into the armrest. The smoke slowly clears around him. The gaze is a long one. He isn't even truly looking at the carnage, he is looking past it, into the future. He doesn't even see the wreckage. He sees nothing but victory. Thousands of Capsuleers fighting around a new structure. A victory over oppression. A long road of which one structure is nothing but another turn. A trap all too easily sprung. And all to eagerly accepted. How does one defeat that which cannot be defeated by force? 

By sheer force of Will.

He stands and places his hand on the window. And slowly his hand curls into a fist.

End Scene.


Post a Comment