This is chapter 7 of “Redemption” a fictional tale set in the EVE Universe. Please see this page for more background on this story.
Lydie tiredly moved the mop on the diamond plate floor. It was her 16th birthday and nobody knew. Maybe Orv, wherever he was. Certainly not mum. Lydie felt self pity welling up and suppressed it with a powerful swipe of her wet mop. She hated staring at the steel floor with its repetitive pattern, after a while, her vision turned two dimensional. The fat, raised diamonds then became the screen on which she would play the movie of her memories, the harried escapes from station to station when she was a child, dad’s brave good-bye with Orv in tow and mum’s fading interest in this world after dad had died in the attack 6 years ago. Orv made it out of that Iteron wreck somehow, made it to University and now was a grown man trying to send help but dad’s death ended her mum’s world as much as her own death would have. Mum withdrew from Lydie slowly and with no anger to the world. But without dad, mum simply had lost her place, her anchor, her grounding.
Lydie was 10 when it happened and needed comfort at first, mum would provide it but in some mechanical way that was just muscle memory. Soon, Lydie realized that she had lost her mother that day also, it would just take longer for her to fade away. Now, at 16, Lydie had taken care of her for years, dragged her from refugee camp to refugee camp, bargained, stole and hydroponically grew their food, made clothes and saw to both their needs while mum had slowly slipped into a different dimension, one of memories of happy days. Mum would look at Lydie and smile and call her “little dancer” and stroke her hair. Mum would talk about dad’s adventures as engineer as if she had been there and she would talk to him in her low voice all night. Lydie slept next to mum, listening and held her hand for both their comfort but while their hands touched, their minds had drifted apart.
And so Lydie hated the diamond plate as she hated most things in her life. The converted cargo bay of this Amarr industrial station in the middle of nowhere, the pathetic and sniveling Gallente refugees who lamented constantly and with great drama and Lydie hated the capsuleers who sometimes strolled past as if they were animals in a zoo to be gawked at. Lydie’s only friends were a group of near-silent Matari Minmatar. It was not a family per-se but they seemed to share a history that could not be told and Lydie never asked. For that, she was adopted into their circle as a pet which changed her status amongst the refugees measurably. All of a sudden, she and her mum did not have to sleep near the massive ventilation fan anymore and blankets appeared out of nowhere. Lydie learned that hanging around scary people can have an advantage. These Matari taught her their language, protected her from the scammers but above all, let her participate in their nightly martial arts sessions – if you could call it martial art at all. There was nothing artistic about it. They did not intend to impress their opponent with a show of skill and fancy footwork, they wanted him dead on the floor and preferably quietly. As children, Lydie had fought with Orv all the time, imitating the moves of the martial artists in old holovids but with the Matari, Lydie learned the professional way to kill someone. Fast without haste, furious without emotion and above all without any hesitation. And to no-one’s surprise, Lydie was good at it. She had been a dancer all her life and whether she pirouetted with an outstretched leg to impress an audience or to smash a windpipe was a difference in intent, not motor skill. Only in these sessions, Lydie felt power over her life, her destiny and confidence that she could care for her mum.
Cleaning the small guard room was part of her chores as well. She didn’t mind that part as much as it happened outside the chain-link fence of the refugee quarter and she could get a glimpse onto the public corridor outside. She saw Amarrian and Caldari citizens going about their business and she could see children skipping in their uniforms to a nearby school. Lydie was basically wearing a school uniform herself – it being the most donated clothes – and watching these kids without worry running to class made her feel weirdly happy. She imagined to be one of them and then cleaning the guard room wasn’t that bad. The guards were tough soldiers but they thought she was cute in her school uniform and she was fairly fluent in Amarr – her Gallente accent gave her a slight lilt that made the soldiers laugh. They frequently slipped her extra rations and things she needed for her mum. So, she didn’t minded cleaning up their ward room – soldiers are clean anyway – and firing up the totally out-of-place, ornamented, antique and likely highly illegal Samovar, basically a hot water heater where the guards prepared their drinks and food. It must have been some war loot, a huge block of solid iron that took over an hour to come to temperature and the guards knew the timing so well that they would come back to the room right when the water was boiling.
And so, on that evening, Lydie made idle chat with the two guards while cleaning their dishes when she let out that it was her 16th birthday. She needed to tell someone, let it out, it was a special day after all. The two big Amarr soldiers responded with an impromptu birthday song and one of them dashed off only to return minutes later with a genuine birthday cake – where he had found that was unclear but nobody expected it to be legally. They turned a taper out of paper and lit it – open fire was highly punishable and hence they closed the steel door to the guard room and Lydie bent over the table to blow it out, making a wish. She noticed the guards behind getting closer but didn’t realize that something was wrong until powerful fists grabbed her arms, twisted them backwards and smashed her face to the table. Instinctively she kicked backwards and hit the guards groin true but the second soldier simply body-slammed her into the wall, knocking the wind out of her. She felt his enormous hand on her throat, his foul breath across her face in rapid bursts and and his wide, fanatical eyes staring into hers. She bent backwards, reached with both feet for the wall planing to push herself off but the soldier knew that trick and like a sack of grain threw her face down on the table, cuffed her wrists and tore her skirt off. Lydie knew what would come next and before she closed her eyes, she saw the birthday cake fade through her tears.