"So what are you looking for now?"
"In... what? A wormhole?" I'm distracted when Em asks his question, puttering around in the Placid region and running random missions for my Minmatar contacts to repair my once-sterling reputation with their faction.
You see, CB likes to collect "NPC" items -- at one point, long ago, I counted well over 100 individuals milling around "The Party Hangar" in our old tower in the wormhole -- a mix of militants, mercenaries, tourists, homeless, Damsels, and (of course) many exotic dancers.
He also had a fair number of "slaves" that he'd picked up at various ports of call.
Anyway, when we were moving out of the wormhole, he tossed his hard-partying vagrants into whatever cargo bay they would fit, like packing material to keep the secure containers from shifting. Distribution was random and unpredictable. Generally, it wasn't a big deal, until I tried to contract with Red Frog to ship our stuff home from whatever system the wormhole had connected to and was informed that "illegal contraband" could not be included in a courier contract.
Whatever. I just left the stuff in question in the station for CB to deal with on his own time and carried on.
The next time, however, I was flying a Mammoth-class industrial hauler through Minmatar space and got stopped on one of the gates. A Brutor Tribe hurricane pulled up alongside and tapped on the canopy.
"Sir, could I see your license and registration?"
"Sure. There a problem, officer?"
"Well, we got a call from some of your... cargo."
"Correct. It seems you have some Wrongfully Indentured Individuals aboard your ship."
"Wrongfully indentured... oh. Shi-- shoot. The slaves?"
"The Minmatar Republic does not recognize the practice of legal slavery, sir."
"No. No, of course not --"
"So I'm sure you don't have --"
"Do I need to turn over --"
"-- remit your passengers to our Customs officials to begin the naturalization process --"
"Of course. Of course. Really sorry about --"
"-- will of course be a small processing fee --"
"Of course." I eyed the many, many Minmatar battleships slowly wheeling in the general direction of my ship. "No problem at all. Happy to pay. Really very sorry about the mix-up."
"Understood, sir. Carry on." The ship pulled away, but I couldn't help but feel that the officials involved were not at all happy with me.
Turned out I was right. While the fine was a paltry amount, the hit my standings took with the Minmatar Government... that stung.
Then, a few hours, later, it happened again.
"Goddammit, CB, haul your own damn slaves out of the hole next time!"
"Sorry. Can't hear you. Laughing too hard."
Right, so there I was in the Placid region, killing time while I waited for the Red Frog freighters to get back to Sinq Laison, and running level 3 combat missions in Appiary, my little Ishkur assault frigate.
"Sorry." I shook my head. "What was the question again?"
"What are you looking for in a ... wormhole. Or wormhole corp. Whatever."
"Well..." I thought it over. "Not a big alliance, spread out over umpteen systems. Sucks not knowing everyone."
"Better for defense, too."
"Eh." I shrugged. "Far as I'm concerned, defense is only a major problem if you're in the habit of running around kicking other people's shins -- we had alliance-sized problems in our hole because our alliance picked fights and we ended up being the randomly-selected kid who got punched back."
"Fair enough," Em said, though I'm not sure he agreed.
"A lot of the guys I've followed seem to be mostly active in just a couple systems," I continued. "AHARM, the Lost in Eve guys, or The Night Crew, or Lone Star Exploration -- they all pretty much just live in one system."
"I don't know any of those names except AHARM."
"The rest aren't big in wormhole politics bullshit," I explained. "Which reminds me: No wormhole politics bullshit. I just want to live in a hole, shoot people, have them shoot at me, make isk, lose isk, and not give a single solitary fuck about who's currently blue to who. Simple."
"Sounds good, if it's possible."
"I think it is."
"So you want to start an alliance with some other corp, or just drop your corp entirely and join somebody else?"
"Either-or, but probably the second option, so guys like Moondog can stay in the current corp and just shoot stuff out in known space -- it's what they enjoy, and I like giving them a home."
"CB mentioned you guys talked about running Incursions?"
"Sure, but that's basically just for the hell of it, to see what they're about. Just to kill time until we figure out what we're going to do."
The comms are silent for awhile, which I don't notice, as I'm too busy laughing at the Angel battlecruisers trying and failing to hit my ship.
"So... what are we going to do?"
"That," I reply, "is a pretty good question."