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Tag: family

The Last Straw

I’ve been thinking about the intruder. He managed to disable two of the perimeter turrets, land a small ship out in the forest, and clubbed one of Bataav’s commandos nearly to death. They found Hayato left for dead in some underbrush. Thankfully, he’ll recover.

It was Darac Rin, of course. And while we still aren’t certain where this bastard calls home every night, it’s long past time we did something more about it.

This incident was all I needed to decide to push ahead with the idea I’ve been mulling over regarding how to deal with him. The last straw, I suppose. Suddenly, going to the lengths I’ve been considering doesn’t seem so heinous or drastic a measure anymore, and I’m okay with that.

What goes around, comes around.


Visual Omens – The Fifth

Thanks to Bataav for participating.

Intaki Prime – Southern Hemisphere – Eionell Estate

Bataav woke unexpectedly from deep sleep but did not stir. The temptation to open his eyes and sit up was just a dull remnant of instinct easily ignored thanks to years of discipline and skill. To any onlooker he would have still appeared lost in his dreams.

Instead, he stretched forth his senses. A gentle inhalation told him the room smelled the way it should. The light sheet covering him from the hips down was undisturbed. Beside him, Sakaane’s breath was slow and even. She remained asleep, her hand resting lightly on his bare chest. Beyond her, their room was quiet. Yet, something had awoken him.

Flash! Brilliant white light illuminated his closed eyelids and was gone before they could squint in reflex. A greenish-blue afterimage convulsed against the back of his eyes in strange, gradually-fading shapes. After the span of a few heartbeats, the rumble came and he relaxed, wondering if there would be any rain this time or if the storm would blow itself out as nothing more than heat static.

The thunder disturbed Sakaane and she rolled over, sighing softly, but didn’t wake. Bataav took the opportunity to shift closer. The exposed skin of her back felt cool against his front when he wrapped his arm comfortably around her. His lips briefly brushed her shoulder as he settled in.

Another flash, another rumble. And then another. The storm was rapidly approaching.


Visual Omens – The Fourth

Thanks to Tycho Antus, Bataav, and James Syagrius for participating.

Intaki V – Moon 5 – Astral Mining Inc. Refinery
IPI Offices

The cider’s aroma wafted out of the cup as Sakaane poured from the pot Karan had waiting for her. The liquid was a pale coral color and smelled of berries. She’d just taken a careful sip of the hot liquid and was about to sit down at her desk when her aide poked his head into the office.

Suprab heti, Madam President,” he said. “There’s a call coming in from Tycho Antus, COO of Reclamation Technologies. Do you wish to take it now?” He glanced at his datapad. “You also wanted me to remind you of this morning’s appointment.”

“Thank you, Karan.” Her nose wrinkled; faintly, despite the fact her office was spotless, she was certain she could still detect the salty odor of fire suppression foam, which the cider and the room’s incense wasn’t strong enough to cover. It reminded her of her last encounter with James Syagrius and she felt a small pinch of anxiety in her gut. “I’ll take the call in the conference hall.”

Picking up her own datapad, Sakaane carried it and the cup through to the meeting room, which was decidedly free of offensive scents. It wasn’t really a hall in sense one might expect; though it could host up to fifty guests at a time, in standard lighting it was drab grey and seemed alarmingly empty save for a few simple chairs placed haphazardly here and there. Behind a door, nearly hidden in the panels of the wall, was a small storeroom containing a collapsible table and folding chairs which could be brought out for guests to use. Usually, these things were left packed away, and Sakaane made no move to retrieve them, opting instead to set her cup and datapad down on a small side table beside the closest chair.


Visual Omens – The Third

Another photograph. The envelope for this one was taped to the door of the suite Bataav and I share on Astral V-5.

It’s a close-up, zoomed in again from the last photo. But this one is clear as crystal. It shows, in perfect, alarming detail…

There’s a date on the image, the kind automatically stamped on when the shot was taken. January 15, YC114. The day my mother died.

The evening, rather. The photo shows it was evening by the color of the waning daylight cast upon the deck. By the purple-blue hue of the sky, just visible in one corner. By the stray firefly, perhaps the first to come out for the night, hovering over the hanging flower basket in the background.

It was evening…because my mother was sitting on the deck at the back of my home on January 15, just like in this photo, to watch the fireflies come out. She had a blanket over her legs even though it was still summer and hot outside…she often had chills.

But I never imagined her face would look…like…that. An essay of terror.

Bataav took the photo away from me. His people found a thumb print on it, placed over my mother’s soundlessly screaming face. This is the sender’s calling card, his message to me.

Of course I know now who the sender must be but I was still sick when Bataav confirmed it. After months of searching databases, to have a record suddenly turn up for Darac Rin (and then quietly vanish some hours after the query was made) was deliberate; he’s playing games with me, telling us that soon he’ll be coming for me like he did for Mom…

Bataav has been very quiet and still, even more so than the way he was when Darac assaulted me at the holoreel convention. I slept for a while to calm my nerves and when I woke I thought he had gone, but he’d been sitting in the corner of our bedroom the entire time, watching over me. I didn’t notice him at all until he finally spoke and startled me nearly into my next incarnation.

All he said to me was, “It’s time to take the fight to him. I will train you.”


Hour of the Wolf

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere – Drahaana City
Eionell Esatate

A bead of sweat gathered on her forehead where it rested against the pillar, eventually seeping down into her eyebrow through stray hairs plastered to her skin. Then it slipped out, rolling past the corner of her eye and over her cheek like a tear.

The bead lingered near her jaw line, which began to itch as the droplet slowly evaporated into the still air and roused Sakaane from her musing. She sat up and wiped the droplet away. Her forehead burned where it had touched the pillar; even now, in the middle of the night, the smooth white stone still radiated heat soaked up from the sun’s red rays that day. The steps she sat on were similarly warm. It had been an unusually hot day despite autumn in the southern hemisphere being typically cool and dry.

A spot of light caught her eye, bobbing between the leaves of ferns growing just to her left. The firefly came closer, its luminescence weakening as it entered the meager pool of light filtering over Sakaane. A small lamp in the front hall was lit, its light barely reaching outside the house through the draped window beside the door. Other than that and the moons overhead, Sakaane was in the dark.

The bug settled on a flower an arm’s length from her. She sat still, watching it nuzzle the eventide blossom, its rump dimmed almost to nothing while it fed. After a few moments the firefly leapt back into the air, its light flaring bright, and disappeared into the night.


Secrets

Thanks to Morwen Lagann for assisting with the battle.

Intaki System – Intaki VI – Asteroid Belt 1

The Serpentis squad leader’s hull disintegrated into a ball of fire just as another group of ships warped into view.

Sakaane toggled her ship’s internal comm. “We’re earning our keep today. Prepare to engage new hostiles.”

Vakkas ki Shaanti turned in a graceful arc and sped its way across the belt while the newcomers closed the distance. Warnings sounded as each Serpentis vessel targeted her ship. Locking them up, Sakaane counted: one each of a Chief Guard, Chief Infantry, and Chief Safeguard, while behind them lumbered a Port Admiral.

No doubt dispatched to investigate my handiwork, she thought with a smirk. After yet another day spent dealing with Layla in council, Sakaane had returned home to find Bataav absent, out of system on diplomatic matters. The corp offices were quiet and the system, as was occasionally wont to happen, deserted of other capsuleers. Sakaane had thus taken the opportunity to patrol the belts to blow off steam. A long line of wrecks scattered across the system plus the numerous bounty payouts in her wallet had served to bring a more satisfying end to an otherwise bothersome day.


Darac Rin

He was here last night, in Intaki. My friends looked but couldn’t locate him.

They gave me a transcript… I can’t put into words how much their support means to me. With everything else that’s been going on lately it’s nice to know I have so many on my side.

“Four notches” in his belt, he said. He claims responsibility for the death of my family, even my mother. He said he wants “the whole set”, like we’re some kind of goddamn figurines! And he called my father a traitor. A traitor to what…?!

The bodies of my father and brothers were never recovered. I keep telling myself it’s just smack, just something he said to unnerve my friends, and me. A lot of the victims were never found. But I can’t help but wonder…

He’s been to my home. He mentioned the tree. How else would he know unless he’d been there? Bataav has stationed a security detail on the property now. We went down together so I could tell Aranza in person what was happening. I wanted to meet the team’s commander too, to know who is looking after my interests.

Even when I’m not there, they watch.

We tried to joke about me getting a bodyguard. I laughed; I won’t live in fear. I knew that threats against my life could, and would, happen once I became president. I visit the firing range often, though I carry my sidearm in a concealed shoulder holster now instead of on display at my hip. Bataav and I practice hand-to-hand together too. I could still be better at both disciplines but Darac would really have a run for his money now. Put a bullet between his eyes? Hell yes.

We didn’t joke for too long. For all his hot air and posturing, the guy is obviously serious, and he did attempt to kill me once before. The timing is convenient. I wonder if the holoreel convention reminded him of his failed attempt. I wonder if he was waiting for a reason to take another shot at me. Now that I’m president I suppose I look like a…juicier trophy…than before.

But why? Why would he claim the things he has? What possible interest could he have in my family? It still makes no sense to me…

One thing is for certain: he’s at least somewhat more clever than some who were monitoring FreeIntaki gave him credit for. Darac’s appearance revealed his public profile to us, and at first glance he looks like a capsuleer still green from military school. But having met him at the holoreel convention last year, Bataav and I know this isn’t the case. When he checked, Bataav found the transponder code on Darac’s broadcast was faked; the profile we can see doesn’t contain Darac’s true details.

So much for coming back to work fresh.

Transcript follows.


Finding One’s Way

Thanks to Mammal Tafren for his written contributions.
The original posts are here.

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere – River Ganga

The punt rocked gently as it travelled upriver, propelled against the mild current by strong thrusts of the fisherman’s pole against the shallow river bottom. All was quiet, save for the lapping of water against the hull and the distant cries of birds wheeling overhead.

A cloth canopy positioned ahead of the till provided shade and Sakaane lounged beneath it on the pillows the fisherman had set up for her. The boat was flat-bottomed and low-slung, its sides mere inches from the surface of the river. She pushed up her sleeve and laid the exposed forearm across the smooth rail so her fingers trailed through the water. It was pleasantly cool.

“Don’t scare the fish!”

She smiled, turning her gaze to the young fair-haired boy perched near the prow with his line trailing into the water. The fisherman’s son was no more than eight and he grinned back at her.

“You don’t think they’d come to nibble on my fingers?” she asked. “You could just scoop them up then.”

The boy laughed. “Maybe!” Then he pointed to the middle of the river where the water was dark and the current much stronger. “They’re all out there, in the deep part. But I still think I can catch some here.”


Loss and Revelation

Thanks to Bataav for participating.

Intaki V – Moon 5 – Astral Mining Inc. Refinery
New Lenoika – Rissa Bar

Water lapped at the shore not far from where Sakaane and Bataav sat sharing a bottle of Payloqan k’Adharnam. The biodome’s afternoon sun shone off the lake and cast slanting shadows into the bar. Birds in trees lining the shore sang delicate songs which they could hear through Rissa’s open windows and ceiling. Sakaane closed her eyes and turned her face up to the light, basking in its warmth, even if it was artificial.

“We should come here more often,” Bataav said, refilling their glasses.

Opening her eyes, she cast a glance around the Intaki establishment: its limestone construction was accented by natural wood beams overhead while the white of the walls set off bright three-color paintings by renowned Intaki artists. Other patrons, some of whom she knew, sat together or alone at nearby tables or the bar itself.

“Mhmm. Though I’d love it if I could convince Njal to move Deck 17 back to Intaki. We could just stick the whole thing in a blockade runner and bring it down. Easy.”

Bataav smiled. “There’s just the small question of how to get the bar out of the station still intact.”

“Minor technical detail!”


A New Me

I’ve been home now for a few months. I feel I’ve settled in to ILF and am content. My attention has returned to my original goals: routing out the Serpentis and improving life here for everyone. ILF’s platform of secession appeals to me nicely. I think Njal would approve.

I’m not sure exactly what made me think of it, but I went out for a walk in the station and found myself at a salon. It was a small place, but clean, and the staff drones had been programmed well enough. Once I was sat down, I was asked what I wanted. At first I couldn’t answer, just stared at my reflection in the mirror. Perhaps it was just some unconscious desire to put the last few years behind me that drove me there, a desire to finally slough off any lingering upset and turmoil. With ILF I finally have a home and a purpose beyond the basic revenge I sought when I left Intaki so long ago. I can move ahead.

In the end, I pulled the pin out of my hair and took off the headdress I’ve worn nearly every day of my adult life. The fan of hair fell flat around my shoulders and I was actually surprised to really notice for the first time how long it’s become. In the end I asked only for a trim to neaten up the ends, and spent the time reprogramming the pin. The fan style is still in there, but for now I think it’s time for something…different.

When the drone was finished it put my hair up for me, pinning it into a twist at the back of my head. Functional and neat.

I thought about putting the headdress back on but decided not to. It remains an important item to me but…for now it’s also time to move on from it.

After I left the salon I wandered down the boulevard a bit and came to a tattoo parlour. This choice was easier. It’d been in my head for some time to have it changed. The new one reminds me why I am here and who I am fighting for.

I went home feeling refreshed and…lighter, somehow.

Sakaane Eionell

Sakaane Eionell