YC108.03.31 // The Enduring Heavens

[date/YC108/03/31.return_log]

  • {call-in ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

“Am I going to die?”

The stars shimmered. They seemed so distant, so far away. I shifted her weight in my arms. She was so small, still just a child.

I choked. My face flushed and a tear rolled down my cheek. I felt a small hand reach up and wipe it away. She patted my face, trying to get my attention. She had always done that with me.

My legs were sore from being bent so long. I could feel the tingling sensation of numbness in them, but I had no reason to stand. There was nowhere to go. The station had long since entered reinforced mode, and all non-essential and exterior corridors had been locked down in the ensuing Imperial attack. All I could do was sit there, wishing I had more time.

She patted my face again, and I looked down at her. She looked so much like her older sister, who had always held a contemptuous grudge against me for being gone so often after I had joined the Federation Navy. She had the same golden hair, although her eyes were softer, as was her demeanor.

“Yes.” I whispered.

A bright light shone from space, and I looked up to see an Imperial Armageddon-class battleship listing toward the station. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled herself close to me. I could feel her shaking, and tightened my hold on her, covering her head between my hand and chest. I closed my eyes and held my breath as the shutter of the impact rippled through the station. I heard the structure heave and the thick glass wall groan as it bent and flexed. The station settled uneasily.

“Tell me about Mithathrotes, Adainy.” she said, her voice quiet and muffled.

I was silent for a moment. The Trials of Mithathrotes was her favorite story.

“Mithathrotes was an ancient king. He lived thousands of years before people called themselves Gallente – before we knew of the god-kings of the Amarr or the tribes and rituals of the Minmatar. Before Gallente and Caldari called one another ‘brother’.

“He commanded a great army of warriors, and it’s said he once conquered all of the world. But before that, Mithathrotes was a prince. His family was great and powerful and loved by the people. The King had two sons, and one daughter. The daughter was good and faithful to the kingdom, and her name was Agatheria. The older brother was named Alakalios, and he was strong-willed and quick-tempered. The younger brother was Mithatrotes, and he was passionate for order and justice, but foolish and naive.”

I looked out the window once more. A wing of Republic Rifters engaged a lone Imperial Harbinger, their projectiles silently but quickly tearing through the Harbinger’s armor plating. The laser turrets of the Amarrian cruiser caught a pilot who had wandered too close to stasis webifier range. They blasted a clean hole through the frigate, which detonated a moment after in a brilliant flash.

I returned to my story as I watched the brawl unfold and grow in intensity outside as reinforcements of Imperial, Federation and Republic fleets warped in.

“When it came time for the king to die, he had not chosen a new ruler from among his children. The night before one was to be named and crowned, Alakalios snuck into the king’s chamber and convinced the king not to pass the crown onto Mithathrotes or Agatheria. He said to the King, ‘Father, what good is upholding peace or goodness in a kingdom if you cannot defend it?’. And so the next day at the crowning, the King named Alakalios his sole heir. Mithathrotes was unaware of his brother’s motives, although Agatheria was suspicious. She said to Mithathrotes, ‘Dearest brother, I would not trust Alakalios, for he is wicked and has swayed our father’s judgment.’ Mithathrotes disregarded her warning, saying to her, ‘He is our brother, dearest sister, and would not betray his family so,’ and pledged allegiance to his new king.

“When the old king finally passed away, Alakalios showed his true intentions. He locked his sister in the dungeon, far away from where she could speak the truth to others about him. Alakalios banished Mithathrotes from the kingdom to wander in exile, thinking he would die in the wilderness.

“Mithathrotes settled in a distant land, gathering a following of citizens who wanted to be free of Alakalios’ tyrannical ways. Even with all those people, Mithathrotes felt alone. He had been cast out from his home and denounced by his own brother who had imprisoned their only sister. Mithathrotes could not let such an injustice go unnoticed or unpunished.

“He became known as the Exiled Prince, and he rose up a rebellion within the people of Alakalios’ kingdom. He thought he was strong enough to end his reign. But when he tried to fight against Alakalios, Mithathrotes and his people were defeated by his brother’s soldiers, and all of them were killed – the Exiled Prince had died.”

She shifted herself in my arms, reaching down to my side. She picked up my helmet and looked into the visor. Large explosions began to rock the station, and it growled in defiance, trying to hold itself together.

“Where did Mithathrotes go?” she asked, raising her voice above the rumblings. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as rounds of ammunition streaked through the sky and beams of light pierced the unending darkness behind her.

“He went to the Enduring Heavens.” I said loudly, my eyes red but empty, my voice straining over the noise of the station as it roiled. She lifted her head.

“Why?” she yelled back as she stared intently at me, her small hands gripping the helmet tight.

I couldn’t look away from her eyes. “To try to start again.” I leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “I’m sorry, Abha. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better brother.”

She placed the helmet on my head. It consolidated itself with the rest of my armor, and I saw her through my visor. She was holding onto my suit. The station shook violently and a large crack shot across the glass pane.

“Adainy, don’t let go of me.” she yelled.

I pulled her close and held her head against my chest again. I could almost feel her hair through the material of my glove, and for a moment it was silent. I could feel her last breath, and I stared out the window.

“I won’t let go, Abha. I won’t let go.”

There was a loud shriek, and with a tremendous crack the station broke. The stars shimmered in the night.

[date/YC108/03/31.end_log]

  • {call-out ref:date/YC110/07/07.ref_log}

YC110.03.14 // Roanoke

[date/YC110/03/14_return.log]

“There’s no one here.”

The wind blew through the city streets, howling as it wound its way between buildings and rushed against their steel faces.

“It’s like everyone just disappeared; vanished.” her voice cackled over the radio.

A storm roiled in the distance, tumbling above the mountains that climbed in the distance. The open window in the room of the apartment complex gave a perfect view of where the farmers would work and toil, their machines now sitting idly in half-plowed plots of land.

I lifted a frame off the table. It was odd to find photographs that were still printed rather than projected. There was a girl in the picture, standing with a boy who had his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He was dressed in the Gallente Federation colors, carrying a backpack that contained personal affects.

She was only a year younger than him, and their posture and smiles gave them away as being close siblings, an obvious fondness between them. They both shared the auburn hair they inherited from their mother, but she had the sharp eyes of their father.

“Adainy, have you found anything? I haven’t had a single hit.” came the voice over the radio again.

I hesitated for a moment. “No. Nothing.”

I turned the frame around and unlatched the back cover. I bent back the short wires holding the photograph against the glass and peeled it away. I folded it, and tucked it into my breast pocket.

I tried to make myself forget those faces. It had seemed they had all but disappeared.

I looked out the window one last time. I watched the fields sway, and the storm roll slowly over the city. The wind rushed through the window, scattering loose papers in the room.

“Rendezvous at the western checkpoint in five; we’re heading back.”

[date/YC110/03/14_end.log]

YC108.03.31 // The Endless Black

[date/YC108/03/31_return.log]

Twisted lengths of metal floated silently. Through blurry eyes, I could see the sunlight glinting off of the metallic dust that flitted through the sky, shimmering against the stars that shimmered back. I could hear the static in my ears; soft hissing, beckoning me out of my sleep. My breath was labored, and my body ached and felt oppressively weighed down, as if the vastness I was falling into was trying to push me away. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to close my eyes and shut my ears. I wanted to become like one of the corpses that drifted around me.

Slowly, as time wore on, my mind awoke. I struggled at first to think clearly – my body actively fought back, trying to suppress me into another deep sleep, but my thoughts wouldn’t allow it. There were things I didn’t know; how long I had been drifting, whether or not I was within contact of other survivors, whether help was on the way or had already come and gone. Panic began to set in. Had I been left behind? Had I somehow been missed? I asked these questions aloud to the darkness that was surrounding me; it offered me no answers or comforts.

For the first time in an eternity, I forced a movement. Turning my head as I slowly tumbled through space, I saw the station. Torn and cratered, it hung quietly in space, a grim visage of sadness and death. Scrap and bodies floated around it. Fire erupted in some parts, spraying violently into the night. The colossal structure seemed to sigh and twist away from me, its Minmatar bones shrinking into the shadow of the planet it orbited. The fires burned ever brighter as it cowarded away, tongues of flame licking its wounds. They wrapped around and slithered into the blackness, dissipating in the expansive cold.

My eyes began to water at the intensity of the light lashing out from the fires; I squeezed them shut, trying to force it out of my mind.

But some images cannot be forgotten.

[date/YC108/03/31_end.log]