Your past is like a shadow; it follows you everywhere. There had been a time when the Angel Cartel was her enemy. Or, not even that, she had thought of them as a nuisance. In capsuleer slang, the ships belonging to non-elite forces were "rats", vermin to be exterminated.
Laria counted the ships go out; then she counted them back in again. Sometimes the difference in the numbers filled her stomach with the kind of cold that weighs your organs down, that makes gravity pull at you with a personalised force. If this was loyalty, thinking about the crews that didn't make it, then she was loyal. But whenever she met anyone in station, the look they gave her was one of distrust.
It was possible to quantify the reputation you had with a group. The system was well established, widely used. It was a way of automating the incentives of building trust with a corporation, of qualifying for perks and privileges. The estimation with which Laria was held by the Angel Cartel glowed red on the wall of her quarters as a constant rebuke. She had checked the records. She had been a thorn in the side of the Cartel, constantly disrupting their plans and activities, inflicting losses.
She regretted it now. Whatever she thought about the activities of the Cartel, they weren’t any worse than the Empires. Or at least, they were less hypocritical about it; there was an honesty to their dishonesty. Most important of all, they were her people.
Laria looked at the plan she had produced. It seemed... tricky. Long-term. Lots of small acts to improve her reputation with the Cartel. It was good. She should do it. It just wasn’t enough, though. She needed something visible, a statement of allegiance that was at least semi-permanent, and she needed it now.
She’d tried several designs involving the Angel Cartel logo, but none seemed right. She wanted to express something about herself, not just wear a badge. She looked out over the docking bay, and the wingy bits on her Scimitar caught her attention. She remembered the holo-wings she had tried out when first considering joining URIEL
That was it. That was the expression she was after. She brought up Station Services, searching for the “customise your appearance” facilities.
Some time later, Laria stood in front of the mirror, trying to twist her head 180 degrees. It certainly looked good. Sassy, a little hedonistic, a little naughty, a whole lot Angel. On balance, she was pleased. Now she just needed to decide how best to display it. And who to.