***Cowritten by DireNecessity and Viceorvirtue for 2015’s Pod and Planet Fiction Contest

***Based on a True Story

Region: Mojave
System: Sincity
Station: Planet Hollywood
Level: Gaming Floor Mezzanine
Date: YC117-10-23

After warmly greeting DireNecessity near the conference entrance queue, Council of Stellar Management Permanent Attendee Sugar Kyle introduces Viceorvirtue.

“Vov!” exclaims DireNecessity, “So nice to finally meet you.”

“Great to meet you too Dire,” Vov replies.

“That wonderful name of yours, how did you claim it?” Dire continues.

“I can’t honestly say,” replies Vov, subtly emphasizing the word ‘honestly.’

Seeing her introduction lay hold, Sugar Kyle moves on to other tasks while Dire and Vov unobtrusively drift out of queue to a less populated corner. Viceorvirtue, longtime member of The Hatchery, saunters confidently. DireNecessity, past member of both the TEARS alliance and The Marmite Collective, is no less self-assured. As none of these organizations are known for upstanding citizenship, Dire & Vov know *of* each other but, their histories being separately murky, don’t really *know* each other. And so the dance begins . . .

First Movement – Allemande

Viceorvirtue, “Ever join a wormhole corporation Dire?”

DireNecessity, “Can’t say that I have Vov.”

Viceorvirtue, “I’m told, ’Uh, it’s not letting me dock in the pos and is saying I need to have starbase manager roles’ unlocks extraordinary things.”

DireNecessity, “Why Vov, you fiend. You wouldn’t join a wormhole corp with larceny in your heart, would you?”

Viceorvirtue, “I can’t honestly say, Dire.”

DireNecessity, “I, for one, never enthusiastically pursued scams. I’m both too impatient to waltz through the entire production and too transfixed with murdering the mark. Though, to be honest, I have reneged on a ransom or two. Sort of a best of all worlds if you ask me. A quick swindle, a tidy murder, all wrapped up in a single evening’s work.”

Viceorvirtue, “Nobody honors ransoms.”

DireNecessity, “I know, yet still we manage to talk them into paying.”

Second Movement – Courante

Viceorvirtue, handing a data pad to DireNecessity, “I call him ‘Angry Pastebin Guy’.”

DireNecessity, reading, “Well he’s not happy.”

Viceorvirtue, “It gets better.”

DireNecessity, “Oh my, cursing, gnashing, violent threats! And all the while you calmly explaining his fatal error. Delicious tears. Little wonder you saved the convo. I never scaled up to Tornados; kept it strictly low hanging fruit. Gate bobber hunting in Thrashers. Curiously, as much outraged reaction transpired when my pint-sized suicide ganks failed as when they succeeded.”

Viceorvirtue, “Failed?”

DireNecessity, smiling, “Keep in mind, I was primarily out to crack the pod. Pure malevolence. No money to be made and I was only ponying up Thrashers. Under such circumstances I’d reach a little. Seductive Tech II Covert Ops Frigates usually popped but occasionally limped away deep in structure and angry as hell.”

Third Movement – Sarabande

DireNecessity frets. Viceorvirtue has led the first two jigs making it her turn but still, she frets. Finally, as conversation lulls, she performs her pirouette, “Know Omnivore?”

Viceorvirtue, “Oh yes. Busy fellow.”

DireNecessity, “Well that greatly simplifies things. Prior to Marmites, he and I frequently flew together though we were careful no connections were documented. Just lurking in the shadows at his back brought no end of delightful content.”

Viceorvirtue, smiling, “So you name drop because?”

DireNecessity, “I can’t honestly say, Vov.”

Forth Movement – Gigue

Sugar Kyle, seeing animated conversation, approaches, “You kids are talking shenanigans.”

Dire and Vov drop their chins in mock shame, “Yaaaah . . .”

Sugar Kyle raises an eyebrow, “I got my eye on you two,” then ambles away leaving DireNecessity and Viceorvirtue, quite literally, thick as thieves.

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