"Hello Sain Darkwing." Chadrick Belefonte said, "It has been a while..."
I stared at the stoic expression of my old friend on the view screen before me and a sneer came across my face. Chadrick Belefonte had been in a wormhole system for the past year or so and I hadn't heard from him since, basically a missing person for all intents and purposes. But for him to just call out of the blue, was odd in itself.
But the fact that Chad didn't make fun of me for only wearing a towel or at least refer to it in some manner made me a little suspicious for some reason. It was nice to see him alive and well, yet something was off.
"It has." I replied, "Finally crawled out of your hole, I see."
"Indeed." Chad said, a brow raising as I pulled on a shirt, "How have you been, my old friend?" My eyes narrowed. Such refined speech patterns were very out of character for him. He usually slurred his words or used a lot of slang. For as long as I've known him, even I at times, had a hard time understanding what he was saying.
"I'm fine." I said, "Are you alright? You sound odd."
"I sound o-odd?" He replied, his brows furrowed in concern and glanced off camera for a moment before forcing a smile as if posing for a picture, "I am quite fine, old friend."
Now I was really suspicious. Something was wrong.
"Where are you now? How was life in the wormhole?" I asked, trying to get more out of him. He was being oddly quiet.
"I am currently in a Citadel near Jita. Life in the wormhole was well. I had a fun time." he replied. The whole time he showed no expression and sounded very scripted. After a long, awkward pause I replied.
"So, what do you want?" I asked. He seemed surprised by my sudden question and adjusted his position to lean forward slightly.
"Ah yes. I believe Cha...I mean I owe you a sum of money?" he said, "I am currently using some of those new skill extractors to remove skill points to sell. I will pay back the money I borrowed in full plus interest."
"Holy shit..." I muttered. I stood speechless as I stood to put on pants but froze in front of the screen with my pants in one hand, the other on the arm of the couch to support me. I stared hard at the emotionless face before me speechless and tried to comprehend what was happening. Chadrick was giving up his capsuleer skills just to pay me back a few million ISK I loaned him years ago. I didn't even care about the money anymore.
"What the hell are you doing, Chad?!" I yelled at him, "Why are you giving up your hard earned skills just to pay me back?! You don't even have to! I don't care about the money!"
"But you are my friend, are you not?" he asked.
"I suppose, well, yeah, but your skills? Besides, the money for a skill injector would be many times the amount I loaned you before!"
"Ah, but the interest!" Chadrick retorted, lazily raising a pointed finger to drive his point. The lack of enthusiasm was almost comical. Honestly, he looked like he was sleepwalking or something.
"Still, it's way too much!"
"What's going on, Chad? Why are you acting weird?" I demanded. His brow raised and he smiled.
"Expect the funds to be transferred within the day." he said, then the screen went black.
I woke with a start and fell forward out of the clone bay as the liquid drained onto the grated floor. My naked body landed on something soft and warm as my vision quickly started to sharpen and my senses returned to me. It was a rough jump clone transition and took a little longer than usual for my consciousness to assert itself, but after a moment, Amalea's scent drifted into my nostrils as I realized it was her who had caught me.
"Welcome back, Sain." She said with a smile, "You weren't gone long."
I had arrived back in Kusomonmon and had filled Amalea in on what had happened with Chadrick. She thought his sudden change of heart was a good thing, yet it was completely out of character. I had to see him face to face to see what the hell is going on. Osiph was kind enough to hop in a pod and ferry the both of us to the Citadel where I had traced the call to and after a couple of jumps in a shuttle, we were docked and standing in front of the captain's quarters belonging to my old friend. Station records said he only had his pod docked here.
The door slid open and we were met with silence on the other side. The lights were off and the only illumination in the room was the hologram of Chad's pod floating above the coffee table. Chad was sitting on the couch, hands folded under his chin and elbows on his knees. The silence of the room was eerie and Amalea clung to my sleeve.
"Chad, are you alright?" I quietly asked, slowly circling the couch. he didn't move, yet his eyes snapped upward to look at me. I felt a shiver run down my spine. His eyes were piercing. I've never seen him like this before. So serious.
Beside the hologram emitter on the table were a couple of empty skill extractors and one full injector, it's white glow shining eerily in the dark.
"Sain Darkwing...." He slowly stated, "You needn't have come. My well being should not be of your concern."
"We are friends, right?" I asked. I inched forward and Amalea followed still clung to my arm.
"True, however, once our little transaction is complete, I wish to cut ties with you and your group. I wish for you to never concern yourself with me again."
"Chad, what's going on? This isn't like you! You're acting strange!" I exclaimed. I took a significant step forward and in a flash, Chadrick had pulled a parapistol from a holster on his leg, or what I thought was a parapistol in the dim light. The holographic pod rotated and light glistened off the metal of the gun. It was an Amarr CAR-9 Scrambler Pistol. The ones mercenaries use. This one wouldn't just stun you. This one would outright kill.
"Can you kindly leave, friend?" Chadrick flatly said, leveling the gun at my head. Amalea cowered behind me. I wasn't sure if her current clone had the right neural implants to save her should she die here so I began to panic. I took a step back and raised my hands but the gun was held steady.
"Chad, what the hell, man? I'm just concerned. I won't hurt you!" I pleaded, "Please, put down the gun!"
"Leave." he flatly repeated. His thumb hit the safety and I heard the power cell begin to charge for a shot. I took another step backward and Amalea began pulling on my arm.
"Sain, lets just go!" she pleaded. I sighed and nodded, letting her pull me outside and into the hall, looking back over my shoulder at Chadrick's menacing face in the light of the hologram.
The shuttle ride back was quiet, yet we explained to Osiph through the shuttles comm system. There was no response at first, yet I clearly felt the ship jolt to a stop as her attention was taken off flying the ship.
"That asshole!" She yelled over the ships speakers. We were pressed back into our seats as she blasted forward and jumped to the next system, "Screw him! Let him give you the money and wash your hands of him!"
"Perhaps you're right." I muttered, looking out the porthole at the station snap into view. Osiph began docking procedures and I stared out the window, my mind racing...