A Memory – backwater blues

“A long way from home we have traveled, but we’ve arrived now. We’ll be safe, and soon I’ll contact your father. Hush now, everything will be fine. You’ll see, my love.”

I smile, tuck Elizabeth in the bunk she’s been using on the long voyage and kiss her forehead. She nods, unshed tears burning in her eyes. The sight breaking my heart anew, I pull her in to a soothing embrace. Pouring all the love I have for my precious children. She falls slowly in to the land of dreams. And sweet may they be.

The aging, breaking vessel thuds to a halt, warning lights blinking as the malfunctioning equipment onboard return false readings. I kick the console. “Worthless piece of shit,” I mutter under my breath. The station controller calls over the comm line, “Yer all locked there, doll. Wanna hand with yer stuff?”

I shake my head, forgetting this is a backwater station. Nothing going for it except its proximity to Guristas space. Easy reach for finding a few old contacts. “You okay in there doll?” He asks.

I’m brought from my revery, “yes, sorry. I’m fine, just my children and no baggage.” None of the physical kind, I add silently to myself. Gently, so as not to wake him, I lift Roland, take Elizabeth’s hand, and enter the station proper.

A light is flickering in my peripheral vision. It’s annoying me. So is the obsequious fool standing there acting superior. Not knowing who he’s talking to.

I take a quick glance around, noting the exits, entrances. The filth strewn in the corner. To my left, forward of me. The cracked, charred, oxidizing chunk of metal on the desk. Tritanium alloy of some sort – obviously a piece of some ship’s hull – partially obscured by a mountainous region of paperwork. “What makes you think yer good enough to fly patrol ships in this region?” He says, the sound of dissatisfaction, boredom. Of wanting me to not be here so he can continue watching the holo reflected in the window. Video reduced to minimum, but I can still make out the buff Sebiestor men strapped to poles. The image of such abuse reminding me what’s wrong with Humanity.

With hands on hips, I look him dead in the eye. The thousand meter stare of everyone that’s ever been in life and death situations.

“If you look at my record, I am an accomplished combat pilot. I’ve flown for the Caldari Navy, privateer work. All of those references will tell you the same.” I shift slightly, the Caldari Navy pin on my lapel glinting in the muted, flickery lighting. “Why not just give me a chance?”

He grunts, hand staying below the table. Obviously clutching himself. “Yah right. ‘Kay, I’ll give yer a chance t’work yer way up. You gots a shift in 2 hours. Don’t spend too long gettin’ yerself pretty, it ain’t gun happen.”

With a smile, I nod, stand to attention and march out. It was that, or fly over the desk and sink my teeth deep in his throat.

I spent most my time getting clean clothing and a carer for the children, then with a hug and kiss, left to get acquainted with the docking bay and security. If you can call it that. A single guard, security monitors that ceased to function many years ago, quick release docking clamps. All too easy.

I make my way to the ready room after a short search and wait. The crew I am to be flying with enter late. Ambling along as if they own the place. The Captain of the ship – a tall, skeletal man – comes over, “you the new crew?” He asks, foul fetid breath surrounding me in a cloud. I nod and salute.

“Yes, you’re the Captain?” He looks me up and down, leering in the manner of filthy old men everywhere. And laughs. He turns his back and walks off, the eight other crew members following behind. I grit my teeth and follow, reminding myself this is an undercover operation to commandeer a more suitable vessel to move on with.

I follow the men to the hangar and there, the vessel we walk towards is the answer to all my prayers. All my dreams. Nothing fancy; light, fast, maneuverable, better condition than the shuttle I came in – a Condor-class Frigate. The perfect vessel to commandeer.

A smile creeps across my face, startling the handsome young man looking my way. I compose myself, and observe the Captain, lovingly caress the hull of his battered ship, then key in a pin code on the pad next to the hatch. The view – slightly obscured by the other members of the crew – imperfect for deciphering his deft hand movements. This is obviously a number that’s remained unchanged for a long time. A fact that gets filed under useful information.

The crew splits, “you, woman, go with ’em.” The Captain says, pointing to the receding backs of four men. I nod, salute. Smile. Then turn on my heel. His barely concealed shudder registering. Something to add to my increasing understanding of these backwater fools.

This time, the pad is much clearer, and I note the 9-digit number. But this isn’t the vessel I want. I want to wipe that self-satisfied, leering smirk off that bastard’s face.

The patrol was slow in the cramped, poorly fitted vessel. I had ample time to sit and lament the lack of the safe cocoon of a pod, start working on a plan. But I digress. The time came to disembark and leave the ship. And get some well-deserved rest.


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