By Vayn Baxtor
And there she stood, staring upwards and beyond the transparent dome that revealed the breathtaking view into the celestial realm of Eve. The ceiling, composed of an unusual but unbelievably dense and transparent material, was at least 200 meters far above her head and shelled this entire region from the gasping death of space.
The heightened platform was broad and allowed her a near limitless view of her surroundings as well. While not considerably high, it was secluded. Here, she was alone. Here, she could gaze into the beautiful deep in pure solitude.
One could view the activity occurring not far below. Not all too distant mumbles, mechanical clatter, random cones of light, fog and sleeping hulks of vessels… all these brought some life to the small world below. A mild stench of mechanical oil and other gases filled the air, but one would have already gotten used to it. Beyond was the noise of what those below called a rattlesnake, the raining clamor of chains. Many sounds revealed what the others below had vivid names for. Regardless, none of the unbelievers below could heed Eve.
There it was again. Faint tremors randomly crawled upon her legs and the arms that gently held the railing. Despite all the distant noise echoing throughout this domed world, her mind was elsewhere and far beyond, heeding the ambient howls of Eve. Time trickled slowly away.
Shadows overwhelmed this area. Faint cold breezes would kiss her skin and then slip beyond it like silk, leaving trails of what the people below had called goosebumps.
Her grey eyes were wide open, as she felt the granted audience of the majestic Eve that responded with silent gaze upon the adolescent girl as well. The robed girl could sense her presence as well as she could perceive the poundings from her chest and unexplainable twist in her stomach. She was fortunate. The grip upon the railing trembled slightly, but deep within; she knew she must not fear her divinity.
The girl´s eyes fell slightly as her mind listened to the mesmerizing song of Eve. The hollow noises had harmonized into a symphony that consisted of deep chimes, low strings and howling echoes. The body remained, but the psyche continuously fell deeper into trance.
Again, faint wind embraced the adolescent girl. The invisible hand swept calmly through her straight and silky white hair. The calm symphony recalled memories of the homeworld that was deep in the heart of Eve… Amarr.
She recalled a time where she was surrounded by a brethren she was no stranger to. It was a time where such of the common worlds would perceive her and her clan as fanatics… cultists. Such others feared her kind for their ways, although her kind simply possessed heightened senses and deeper religious sense to her divinity. The symphony, she now remembered that it was played by these people. It resembled the same she had once perceived during a pilgrimage through space.
Today, she was far away from home and brethren... eternities away. And the more her soul craved for reuniting with her foster kin and folk, she must accept the truth that she will remain eternally alone. Her divinity
They were not her true brethren either. Nobody was. Neither those who accepted and embraced her into the cult, nor these others below of today.
The long lasting war in New Eden had torn the adolescent girl away from Amarr and brought her here to this unusual corner and edge of the galaxy. While one would assume the edge being a mere play of words, reality revealed that this place silently floated at the farthest reach of Eve, only dwelled by three stars and blankets of treacherous nebulae.
After a series of events, terror and agony, she now found herself in this place with many other lost orphans. Being light years away from what was considered home easily brought homesickness; even to the bravest.
The appearance and existence of this new home was both astonishing and ironic. Judging her memories when she was able to see it during her arrival, it was nothing more than a vast field of silent wreckages; an immense graveyard of lambasted behemoths… perhaps the remains of a long forgotten war that had occurred before her time. Although seemingly lambasted to oblivion, every wreck still held each other together by myriads of mechanical entrails.
A new chance, a new life, they say.
And even more, it still supported life, both man and wildlife. Nothing but wild theories of its origins existed. Whether it was a station or a monstrous titanic vessel, nothing gave a clue about its preceded purpose.
Herani - the safest place ever in nullsec, they say.
It was ironic. The terrors of war were not far away from here either. Both pirate factions and coalitions of various agendas maintained an enduring power struggles against each other. Despite all the madness amidst this region that was known as Tribute, these quiet and forgotten hulks coexisted at the edge, undisturbed from any hostilities.
Another mystery spread amidst the elders considering Herani and the regional factions. Few of the outsiders knew of Herani, yet there were rare attempts or interests in approaching the mass graveyard. And again, plausible theories sprouted like the spores that had brought a plague to one of the colonized wreckages. Although Herani possessed unusual but hidden technologies, most of habitable areas deep within the hulks were considered rural.
Other than bypassing traders, nothing was really attractive. The true lack of extracting lucrative loot possibly proved to be too costly for pirate factions or any other power-hungry being. For civilians and victims of war, Herani had become what the others called an insiders' tip. Finding Herani was also a dangerous task.
She suffered the same famine and terrors the people who brought her here as well. The large flock of vessels had shrunken over the last few years during the great escape from the war-torn core of Eve. But at last, they survived. Over the course of the last few years, the people who took care of her possessed an outdated cruiser that was far too old for the modern confrontations. She was onboard that vessel as it made its way along with the struggling fleet of refugees. The crew of that cruiser had grown into her heart and soul. Currently, they were somewhere out there in space, but were most likely on their way back to Herani. To this girl, it was hard to say what part of Herani was actually considered a home for the first time in ages, she felt safe. Nevertheless, the names of territories throughout Herani were both confusing and troublesome for her amarrian tongue. These thousands of mixed people moved along with the existing tribes throughout these vast habitable zones. Some areas and segments were outright cold, others were warm and humid - but all had one thing in common: darkness. All are considered dangerous due to the feral life like lurked within. It is one of the main reasons why the survivors cooperate with those who had been living here for eternities.
Certain areas, like this one here, offered the technical capabilities for vessels to dock and allow outsiders to trade with the locals; perhaps a small hub - it did not matter for the adolescent, for all she enjoyed was the possibility of standing on this private spot in order to pray and be in intimate trance and symbiosis with the divinity of Eve. Nothing but her… and Eve. She was far away from the noisy people and their business… secluded and -
Suddenly, the adolescent girl was ripped from her deep trance into the reality at the very moment she sensed a forceful thud from behind. Scared by the event, she thought that she was about to fall over the ledge, but luckily, it was an overreaction to sudden moment of disorientation. Her eyes shot wide open, she shrieked a short but echoing cry and cowered together.
Soon, her eyes discovered that she was still at upon the platform, safe but frighteningly close to the railing. In fact, her nails dug deeply into the mold and rust upon its surface. The frightened young adult braced herself for another moment, feeling the erratic pounding in her chest like never before as she stared down beyond the railing.
The previous thud against her back, while not entirely gentle, was not intended to push her over to sudden death. It had an entirely different meaning. During the girl´s fright, she heard a series of steps and stomps rushing away from her, a skidding and then what could only be the joy of mischievousness.
The robed girl turned around. Her legs shook and there was much of an uncertainty going through every nerve in her body just now along with her fingers still clawing the railing that was now behind her hip.
She raised her head, spotting a selected few other youngsters further away. Two boys ran off with laughter the moment their eyes crossed hers. The one who remained behind was familiar as the others. The distant girl in the jumpsuit leaned forward, both fists upon the dancing hips, stuck her tongue out and sputtered a childish raspberry.
Miji, the mischievous.
"Look at you, Meira!" Miji barked at her with sinister joy "You look like you had a heart attack!"
Meira straightened her back but she was still on shaky legs. Although intimidated, she hoped nobody noticed her blushing reaction or the trembling legs beneath the robe.
Miji snorted and giggled as she stared upon the nervous Ni-Kunni girl "So you thought you could just stand up here all day staring to the sky like always? Well, not this time, dreamer!"
"Why - how dare thee?" Meira stammered, but then she threw her hands upon her mouth and whispered to herself "oh no…"
Apparently, she just did what the common folk would call: Feeding the troll…
"Thee? THEE? What did I tell you about talking like that? We´re not in some church, Meira."
"I - I -"
"At least you´re holding yourself safely on that railing."
Meira looked upon her hands, and then grabbed the railing behind her again, "I was not afraid! I -"
"Yeah right. Oh and by the way… If you haven´t noticed", the rascal adolescent ran several steps away before clarifying what this was about, "You´re it!"
After another provocative tongue gesture, the girl ran away and followed the path of the boys that would lead back to the lower levels of the area.
"Why you… Get back here!"
Many kids and adolescents of Herani were orphans and only a selected few actually had parents or relatives. Due to the fact that the grown-ups had to do what they can to maintain survival for everybody, the youngsters were commonly left on their own to decide what to do.
Life on Herani is boring, they say.
But somehow, these youngsters always found ways to kill time. Some of the events they undertook were dangerous but also adventurous. One thing was certain however: If you were considered adolescent, you were instantly recruited and part of any game, no matter how childish it was. This game what the Herani kids call tag was a common test for hiding skills and ways of teasing people - even the grown-ups at times.
The other youngsters were fast and already had nifty plans of retreat. The labyrinthine area at the lower segments offered much for the creative to vanish. Whenever she spotted a shadow, she ran towards that direction, only to end up in a clueless corner.
She`s still it, echoes call with joy and laughter.
Surprisingly, Meira was not annoyed. In fact, she was amused; happy to be part of something, even if she was the mock of the crowd this time... and as usual.
The robed girl stopped to catch some of her breath. Chasing these players required some nerve.
These rascals are getting better.
She raised her head, noticing a remote figure staring at her from the tight corridor leading to the hangar section of the area. She also heard further laughter coming from that area.
"Oh my goddess, Meira, you´re slowly than an align Mammoth of my sister!"
Meira rolled her hands into her fist and made a step forward.
Miji scoffed lightheartedly "I doubt you´ll ever catch up with us, pious princess. Not with that robed-dress of yours. Look, you can´t even run correctly. I guess you should just give up and say that you´re the loser for the -"
The arrogant girl suddenly paused when she noticed the Ni-Kunni grabbing a silky belt from the side of her robe. With a bit of creativity, she managed to raise the robes end to that of a skirt, allowing her legs more freedom and mobility.
"- day… Clever, clever. But do you think you can catch up with us now?"
Taking on the challenge she dashed after them into the corridor leading to the hangar area.
What? Meira´s it? Hah - This is going to be excellent, distant youngsters speak.
Good gracious. More participants joining the game to tease the chaser.
Meira managed to keep up the pace, but the others had a key advantage. They knew this area better than her. This was probably the punishment for her solitariness. She had no clue how many were playing along, but this did not matter.
She was simply happy to see so many strangers that had become friends.
Foremost, Miji Alistor was a mystery to her. Aside to being a rascal and arrogant girl at heart, Miji was a Sebiestor of the Minmatar race. She possessed pale skin, short, wavy black hair and was also around the same age as Meira. Unlike the Sebiestra, Meira was a Ni-Kunni heritage, an Amarrian girl.
History between their heritages was as tragic as the current war. The Minmatar, such as the Sebiestor, were once slaves of the Amarrian Empire. After millennia of force servitude, the Minmatar people finally succeeded in achieving liberty, yet there were still brethren stuck in the deeps of Amarr. History and today´s reality were things that disturbed Meira greatly.
Yet, this Sebiestra showed no grudges upon her, other than the hating the way of Meira's pious articulation. Miji was probably younger than her and yet, Meira figured that she was the only one who enjoyed her company. In fact, Meira was learning life as a girl and not as lowly but devout acolyte.
Hey, careful! No playing here, you silly brats! This area is dangerous!, somebody shouts again.
Not now - I am busy!
The hangar section was full of people, machinery and hovering vessels. Sparks and such rained from random locations. Meira chased Miji past the belly of a rusty cruiser one of the kids had once called the Ol´ Caracal.
Entering one more corridor segment, Miji followed a path that lead to two branching pathways.
How about this!
Only one of the two mechanical doors sealed close before Miji could take that path.
"Hey, no cheating! You know the rules! Hacking is forbidden!"
Meira lowered her hand. It was unfair to use these abilities as she was not entirely a normal being. Although revealing the appearance of an adolescent girl, her body housed cybernetic implants and lightweight structures. She was not superhuman, but it was well known that such rare Ni-Kunni Stargazers could interact with interfaces and operate as renowned prospecting Capsuleers.
Miji was running out of options but decided to take the last chance in outrunning Miji. Although it was dangerous, she had done this idea before many times. The Sebiestra made a long leap of faith across the gap and made a perfect landing upon one of the hovering scarred Gallente vessels. Miji caught one of the chains to avoid drifting away.
The low gravity in combination with the ship´s outer field allowed her to jump across without any issues. People barked and argued about playing in this area from below but she did not care.
Ha, Meira can´t get me, she thought.
Miji was certain. Meira was too frightened for something like this. Even more, she had learned her lesson before, and Miji was going to take advantage of it yet again. The Sebiestra wove her hand and provoked Meira, who ran across the catwalk that actually was a dead end.
"End of the road, Meira. Better luck next time, hahaha - huh?"
Meira did the unexpected. She jumped and floated high. Everybody observed her with great astonishment. It was a perfect leap that arced high… and higher… and higher. Meira began a slow spin forward leading into one unwanted somersault following another. Miji´s head followed the poor Ni-Kunni who rolled away through the air, "Oh that silly Meira… She fell for it again…"
One of the male cargo loaders of the freighter below noticed the hand pointing upwards.
"Oh not again. Better notify Osna. We´re going to need one of her drones to catch that girl again…"
Meira cried and cursed for the second time in her life as she was punished yet again for forgetting that she was not as heavy as the average girl. Considering her advanced cybernetic physiology, it was both a blessing and a curse whenever the effects of low gravity played a role. Being as light as a feather was never easy for her. But nothing was more annoying than the fact that she lost the game… again.