Sou’s been dropping by with Ronnie for a couple of months now. Trying to get me involved with yet another bloody Imperial organisation of his, the Imperial Private Expeditionary Company. They came to visit me just after Sou returned from his almighty trip to the core.

The way I see it is like this. Arissa is all about law and order. Top priority, safer galaxy, criminal scum, all of that good stuff. But she’s also a politician. So she can’t be seen to do the bad things that need to be done to secure this grand vision. So she uses groups like IPEC. They do the ‘questionable’ things that ALD needs doing, without being directly connected to her.

And this is why Sou and Ronnie have been trying to recruit me. I’m more comfortable doing uncomfortable things than most people are. The last time they came they brought me a communique from someone called the Octopus. It was brief; it was to the point. It was damned manipulative.

To Cmdr Dexter Vex,

For some time now I have been watching your exploits. You have a knack for causing trouble for the kind of people who cause trouble for me, and I appreciate that. Your friends have been telling you about IPEC and the good it can do. You of all people know that sometimes, for a good outcome to be achieved – bad things must happen; that sometimes, the ends really do justify the means.

You have always taken great pride in being the last resort of good people. Your work for Her Imperial Majesty in the past has shown that you believe her cause to be a good one; I know you well enough to know that you would not be working for her otherwise.  In fact you would be surprised exactly how well I know you.  For instance I also know that you take a great pride in loyalty. Not to anything as mundane as a flag or an emblem, but rather to yourself – and your friends.

IPEC is beginning its rise to power. Only in this way will we be able to influence things and assist in bringing the Emperor’s vision to fruition. Your friends will be involved in this. There will be fighting. They will be put in harm’s way. You know that IPEC’s goals align with your own. You also know that without you, your friends are more vulnerable.

I hold you in the greatest respect Commander; please bear that in mind when I say this.

Stop skulking on a barren moon, in your fancy ship, with your expensive cigars and whiskey. Come to CD-63 201. Make a difference.

Sincerely Yours,

The Octopus

Sou and Ronnie watched me reading this warily.

“Well”, said Sou. “What did she say?”

“That I should come to some place called CD-63 201 and stop you getting the shit kick out of you.” I replied. “Catchy name by the way.”

“Yeah, we know.” said Ronnie. “We’ve taken to calling it Candy Sticks.”

“Great. So you want me to come to the ‘Sticks and stop you getting the shit kicked out of you.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, meat feast,” said Sou. “We don’t need you. But it’s time to stop with the whole lone wolf thing. We’re better as a team than we are individually. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve wanted to make a difference – though you’re too damn proud to say so. This is it. Grow a pair.”

“I’ll think about it,” I told them.

Ronnie shrugged. Sou gave me a ‘look’, like he was about to say something else – but Ronnie put his hand on his shoulder and they both left.

I’m still thinking.



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