It's been a grueling last couple weeks. The Paladin Consortium has certainly been paying for my ship repairs and then some as I've dutifully expunged from their local and surrounding star systems every form of conceivable space scum. Hell, I even received a digitally stamped Consortium-verified message on my private comm informing me in friendly terms that I am now officially considered an ally to their cause. I'd be lying if I said I didn't receive it with some considerable pride.
Even so, my direct communication with these upper-crust officials has been nothing more than cold and perfunctory at best. Fees for going slightly too fast near their stations. Fees for getting caught delivering their illegal cargo. I saw myself developing into a crucial member of their wing, but weeks have passed since I formally applied for the position...radio silence. Diplomatic gestures and accolades fall flat over time when you're out there busting your ass and doing all the footwork yourself to keep from landing back in a Sidewinder without a credit to your name.
In a fit of frustration, I hailed CMDR Blastedpony on my comm. There's so much history between myself and this Commander that I won't get into it on this entry for fear of frying my ships data archives. Long story short, he is a brother and a mentor, and I'd hardly be several jumps from my home world without his guidance.
He humored my pent-up outbursts (though I have a feeling he muted me in his comm a time or two). Blastedpony is a long time supporter of the Consortium so my tirade was a bit cathartic in a way, as though I were chastising Big Pappa himself. I began to cool down a bit. After several long seconds of silence, he made a suggestion that took me off guard.
"Fuck it. We've been here awhile now. Maybe its time to move on. See that little blue gas cluster out there? I hear it's nice this time of year."
I've known him long enough to know that there were equal parts sarcasm and gravity in what he had said. Of course I'd heard of the Pleiades cluster. You'd have to be floating somewhere outside the galaxy not to know about what's going on in that nebula. The greatest threat civilized humanity has ever faced. Thargoids.
"...Sure. What the hell."