Intel had been reported by Admiral Mitara Newell just as their small fleet of seven or eight pilots jumped the star gate, making their way towards Minmatar space.
A military complex had been scanned down in the system of Anka and currently was being fought for by General Sassawong of the Tribal Liberation Force.
"Eran, do you think we can make it?" she asked as she noted the time. It would be a close call.
"We will try," he told her then gave orders to the fleet to backtrack the four jumps back to Huola to reship in something smaller, anything that could activate the accel gate to get inside of the complex.
Minutes bled away as they made it to the 24th station and reshipped, though now they faced another four jumps to Anka.
"Burn best speed, hold on the accel gate."
Two minutes remained on the clock as the small fleet warped in. Sassawong was forced to retreat.
Though there had been a minor skirmish on the star gate as one of the late comers of the fleet was engaged and shot down, the complex was held by Amarr.
Four ships had been lost in the process, but it was a small price to pay to keep control of the system.
Anka was precariously close to falling. Every complex mattered.
The Keep was eerily quiet as Shalee made her way to the training room just before sunrise. She had been restless, unable to sleep, and wanted to work off some of her frustration.
As she stopped at the entrance, she could hear the familiar voice of the holographic instructor, Mikuela. With her curiosity piqued, she stepped into the room and watched as a Jacke Incarnate thrust his epee towards a holographic foe. Mikuela paced around him, giving critique on his stance.
As if sensing her presence, Jacke remotely froze the holographic instruction as he turned around to face her.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you..." Shalee apologized.
"No one ever comes here at this hour," he said.
"I couldn't sleep." She moved over to a bench and dropped her workout bag. "You're...Jacke?" she asked, only vaguely remembering the boy, having little contact with the children of the Keep.
He looked at her with a steady gaze, "Yes. Jacke Incarnate."
"Right, of course." She felt uneasy without understand why. "So...you train every morning?"
"I do. I will have to be in the best physical condition if I want to get into the Navy."
"You're going to join the Navy?"
"When I am older, yes," he said with unquestionable confidence. "And then Capsuleer training after that. I want to be a fighter pilot."
"Well that is really admirable. We can always use more loyal pilots," she smiled.
"You need more people you can trust," he said eerily.
Her brow quirked, "That's an odd thing to say...especially from one your age."
"I'm almost eleven."
She stared at the Brutor boy who was already taller than she was. "Enjoy being a kid. Too soon you'll be an adult and wishing you were still young."
"But I'm not a kid."
"You're not an adult either," she responded in an argumentative tone, briefly wondering why she was even bothering to quarrel with a child.
"But I will be, soon," he said matter of factly.
"Yes, well soon isn't now."
"No, it is not," he said reasonably. "But still. You need people you can trust, people who wont betray you. That will be me." He poked his thumb towards his chest.
She lifted her brows again, "Oh is that a fact? How do you think you know so much about me anyhow?"
He gave a shrug. "People talk, I listen."
"Yeah well, you probably shouldn't believe everything you hear."
He turned his back to her as he swung his epee from left to right, slicing through an imaginary enemy. "I don't. But..."
"Everyone knows about Zenton."
She sighed, "Right, of course. Everyone knows just how much of a fool I was to trust a man I loved, once." She picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder as she headed for the door, having lost her mood to do anything. "See ya, kid."
He smirked as he looked over his shoulder, watching her disappear before he resumed his training.
Half an hour later, he jerked around as he heard one of the holo-drones activate. The image of a little girl appeared, smiling a dimpled grin, "Jacke!"
"Hey kid," he said as he smiled in return to the red-headed little girl.
She rolled her eyes, "You shouldn't provoke her, she is sad right now."
"Because something bad happened with Predator."
She put her hands on her hips as she started to speak, "He made her mad because he was in Huola and they were sitting outside the big space station...it was her and Eran and Sabotage and CF Proctor." She nodded matter of factly as she told her tale, "And then two other space ships showed up! And they were part of Pred's new corporation. And Pred told them on comms that if there was a fight he was going to rep his corp friends!"
Jacke looked at her oddly, "Rep?"
"Repair their ship," she explained patiently, "With the big swirly lights!" She swayed her hands around.
"So then, the bad guy shot at CF, and Pred did rep him, but he repped CF too. But it made everyone angry," she sighed a frustrated little sound.
"She doesn't trust him anymore?"
The little girl shrugged. "She doesn't know what to think. He's helped her a lot but...he is a pirate too."
"So she doesn't trust pirates?"
"Well..." her voice took on a higher pitched sound. "Not really, 'cept maybe one or two." She thought of Verone. "She knows Pred wont hurt her...but he's not the same person he was to her before."
"Well really, who is?" he asked seriously.
She grinned again, "Good point! So do you want to come play Empire with me!" The little girl looked at him for half a second before dashing off towards the exit, knowing he would follow. "Meet you outside! The last one out is a rotten..." The holodrone blinked off as she activated somewhere else in the Keep.
"Hey no fair!" he yelled out as he took off towards exit, "Cheater!"
Down the corridor her giggling could be heard just before another holo-drone deactivated.