Birth in interstellar space

Between The StarsA bastard daughter begot of a semi-successful industrialist. Her father’s untimely demise, at the hand of some obscure pirate looking for that “first kill”, plunged Astroyka into a world of uncertainties. Astroyka’s mother died during childbirth and without family, the child was placed into institutional care.

The institution unceremoniously named the child ASTRO[YKA-293]; a serial code to reference the ships log index ID. This serial code represented a birth in interstellar space. In ignorance and staunch pride the child later adopted this “tag” as a name for herself since it was the only real reference to her true origins. Astroyka grew up isolated in the confines of the orphanage, she soon learned she had a large capacity for self reliance and that trust would be earned. She reluctantly asked for aid when she knew that all options had been exhausted. It was a lonely existence, but those days could be seen as training for what she would later become … a capsuleer!

Harsh as her life was, she was no slave. But what’s the difference between a slave and an orphan in institutional care? After a period even bodily functions can be conditioned; eat, sleep, wash and even play, as a finely tuned automaton. This existence galvanised Astroyka into the person she is today; someone who would battle against oppression and doctrine, liberating her soul with every fight.

When she left the state orphanage she wasn’t physically damaged or bruised, but the pain ran deep inside her. All those years of conformity and structured daily routine made her crave both escapism and danger. To that end, she spent the next few years working in New Eden’s notorious bars and clubs, surrounded by pedallers of filth and depravity. This was her choice though, she wasn’t a slave or owned by anyone. What ISK she earned, she earned for her self, minus a small fee to the bar or club she was working in.

During this time she saw many men and women of many different creeds and races. Many bound by slave contracts and most of Minmatar decent, but this wasn’t any of her concern. She was on a self destructive path, living her own life and hiding her own hurt and feelings. It wasn’t until she was working in a seedy club on Caldari Prime that she encountered a situation that would truly change her life and her entire self belief.

The night before

She woke one morning (late morning as usual) with a slight hangover from the night before. She reached for the Quafe to quench both her thirst and stimulate herself mentally, as she drank, she recalled the encounter from the night before.

Club: Peaches and CreamA new girl of Minmatar origin was being “shown the ropes” at the club. It usually involved being paraded around the club by the “older” girls and then made to dance for a guy they chose. It wasn’t meant to be anything malicious, more a rite of passage and the girl nervously played along with the spectacle. It wasn’t until the girls chose a guy that things started to go awry.

Astroyka was at the club that night, it wasn’t her night to entertain, but as ever she spent the time at the club to be near her “friends” and around familiar surroundings. She could see this initiation and giggled to herself, remembering a similar time when she first started working here too.

The guy they chose looked reserved and shy, the usual mark for such an initiation. They did not choose the usual scum that can frequent such a place, so it was a safe bet for the new girl. As she began to shyly and awkwardly dance in-front of the man, Astroyka was aware of the group of Amarrian men, a row or two behind him. The guy wasn’t Amarrian himself but looked to have an Amarr lineage that wasn’t apparent in all his features.

This all seemed a little odd, since the Amarrians were devoutly religious they rarely frequented such a place. In a moment of caution Astroyka assessed the situation and reassured herself; the security was tight and loyal and always diligent with the weapons check. So Astroyka relaxed her guard a little and watched as the girl giggled trying to act seductively towards her client.

It soon became clear that these Amarrian men had alterer motives, they shifted their stance and began gesticulating towards the girl. At this point the girl’s dance became strained and forced, the colour drained from her face, and fear and panic replaced laughter and smiles. With a deep breath she forced her head up and forced a smile to “please” her client, she attempted, in vein, to look as though she never saw them.

This was plain to see by Astroyka, the look on the girls face has been seen before but on a different person and place. Without thought, she moved around the bar to the get a closer look at the situation. What she didn’t see before, was plain to see, there was a smaller but better dressed man that looked to be the ring leader of the group. It was him that was staring directly at the girl, with an intense stare that could only mean he knew her or loathed what she was doing.

The ring leader spoke to each of the other men in a commanding way and with an expression of authority, something was going to happen. Suddenly, with a loud smash of glass, one of the men threw an object at a large mirror close to where the girl was dancing. With glass flying everywhere she recoiled to protect herself. In the commotion another man came from the shadows and grabbed the girl and headed for a fire-escape. Clearly the smashing of the mirror was just a distraction to allow the other man to grab the girl and leave.

Astroyka saw this and tried to head him off, she was blocked, caught in the rush of bodies trying to see what happened or leave the club. She pushed her way through and followed the man dragging the girl as they as he exited the building. There was no time to tell anyone what she saw as the other men were now beginning to cause a fight with the club security to further distract them. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the ring leader exit the building at the same fire escape.

Moments later Astroyka was at the fire escape and exited into the service bay of the club to see the girls kidnapper holding and restraining her in-front of the ring leader. With practised precision a man sized punch landed against the girls face, the force split the girls lip and blood splattered from the open wound across the adjacent wall.

This action was too much to bare for Astroyka, she was on the move without thought, driven by the memory of pain she recognised as a mirror of her own unjust “discipline” dealt out by the “carers”.

Mi'achWith a quick turn Astroyka moved behind a pillar to hide from the men, she held her breath to calm her heart and listen to the men talking. They were planning on taking the girl away, she had to do something quick, but what? Was this really something that Astroyka needed to get into? Was this her fight? The emotions welled inside her, she couldn’t let this girl go, who would find her? The local police force, they were useless if the girl left the planet, but what about CONCORD, again useless as the girl could be smuggled easily past check points. No, this was time to act, time to make a stand to help the girl!

With reckless abandon she grabbed a solid metal pole from what looked to be a broken barstool and rushed at the ring leader. She figured he would go down the quickest to leave her to deal with the man restraining the girl. She was right, with a heavy crack of the pole against his skull the man hit the floor with blood pumping from an open head wound. She couldn’t quite believe how easy that was as a rush of adrenaline coursed through her veins. The man restraining the girl was caught unaware too and looked in disbelief at the twitching body near his feet as he released his grip on the girl, enough so that she was able to struggle free.

Astroyka saw this as a chance to escape too, she didn’t want two deaths on her hands and it was clear that the other man wasn’t going to put up any fight. She grabbed the girl and ran up the service ramp into the open street. She flagged a shuttle taxi and bundled the girl into the back. Thankfully this was an automated taxi service, she was still holding the metal pole in her hand which had a good amount of matted blood and hair sticking to the top of it. As she stared at the pole, a guttural groan escaped her and she realised with relief, the sight would probably have raised an alarm if this was a manually piloted taxi.

She dropped the pole on the floor of the shuttle and quickly entered a destination into the console and the taxi began to move. She sat back and began to breathe heavily as she tried to calm herself from the events. She turned to the girl who had backed herself right into the corner of the taxi, clearly she was traumatised by the events, but there wasn’t fear on her face just shock of what had happened.

The girls lip was still bleeding a little, but the girl was holding her mouth to stem the flow, she then introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Mi’ach, thanks for saving me!” with that Astroyka smiled at the girl and relaxed a little more. After a short while, the taxi pulled into the destination, which was Astroyka’s apartment. She swiped her card against the console to pay for the journey and exited reaching back to take the girls hand as a sign of security and invitation.

Once in the apartment, both Astroyka and the girl breathed a sigh of relief; Astroyka then turned to the girl and said “What the fuck was all that about!”, with that the girl began to tell a story of escape from a life of servitude for the ring leader, who’s name was Saelyn Tarn and owned a relatively successful export business. She went on to explain that this was the fourth time she had escaped and the furthest she had travelled to get away from her slave master and that she only wanted to live a free life.

She explained to Astroyka the politics and history of slavery between the Amarr and Minmatar and how this still goes on to this day and is seen as acceptable by most factions. She told of how some of her people we treated well by slave masters and enjoyed comforts of freedom, but in reality their lives were still owned by another. Others were brutally treated and seen as nothing more than cattle or commodities to be bought and sold for profit or on a whim.

Listening to this Astroyka wasn’t ignorant to the fact that slavery was part of New Eden, but what disgusted and saddened her was the fact an entire race of people. The Amarrians, thought it was their god given right to treat people this way and that Minmatar was their focus for this.

Late into the night and early morning she let the girl tell her the stories of her life and that of her people. The Alliances and Corporations in New Eden actively fight against slavery and are even giving safe refuge to slaves on the run. Many of these Alliances and Corporations are based in zero security regions such as Catch, Curse or Providence so getting to them isn’t easy. Eventually Mi’ach falls asleep on the couch, Astroyka covers her with a blanket and goes to bed herself.

The day after

After recalling the previous nights events Astroyka remembers that Mi’ach is in the other room and proceeds to dress. Walking to the bathroom she sees herself in the mirror and for the first time really sees who she is and asks herself, “is my life really so bad when there are thousands of people out there with out any life to call their own?” She dwells on this thought and begins to see a way to help both Mi’ach and her people, but this won’t be an simple fix, it will mean changing her life entirely and finally doing something worthwhile.

She finishes getting dressed and goes through the living area to find Mi’ach gone! She checks the other rooms of the apartment, but only finds a note on the table that reads:

Dearest Astroyka,

I’m sorry I’ve had to leave so secretively, its not my intention to offend you especially since you saved me last-night, but I’m sure you can understand my reasons and that I need to keep moving. I’m sure Saelyn Tarn is dead, but I can’t be sure his associates are not looking for me.

I will tell you this though, I’ll be trying to contact any corporations in the Ushra’Khan Alliance to ask for refuge or assistance and will try and keep in touch with you along the way, but please don’t try to find me, you have done so much to help me this far.

Take care Astroyka, you will always be my saviour.

Kind regards, your friend, Mi’ach

She slumps into a chair saddened at the words on the paper. She wanted to tell her how much her stories had changed her and that she had an epiphany about her life. She felt energised by the struggle of the Minmatar and decided she would be a capsuleer, travelling the stars. She looks around the room and saw only emptiness, it was time to move on and put into action what she wanted to achieve.

She knew that becoming a capsuleer wasn’t an easy task, there would be considerable costs involved. Her mind ran over the list; arduous training and skills to complete, a Pod to master through a multitude of medical operations, it would be painful, but she knew now it could be done.

Money wasn’t really a problem, she had worked her way up the night clubs and establishments in New Eden, and had squirrelled away most of the ISK into high return investment plans. She knew that all her wealth would be drained by this endeavour, but by the end of it she would be free and immortal!

The way of the capsuleer

vaakerukka ShinjikenBeing Caldari, Astroyka approached the State War Academy School and applied for entrance to the capsuleer training program. It wasn’t long before she heard a response from the School and went to the pre-screening interview. During the interview she was identified as an ex-occupant of the state orphanage service, this meant she could gain direct access to the training program. It was a strange twist of fate that the orphanage would again reach out to her in a later life, but this time for to help her with something that she actually wanted.

Her primary instructor was Vaakerukka Shinjiken of the Advisory division of the State War Academy School. In the years to come she was schooled in the intricacies of the Neocom and life in outer space. Astroyka excelled in her classes and relished every challenge thrown at her.

There were complications during the medical procedures to implant the neural relays needed for capsule interfacing, which meant she was in the hospital for longer period than normal. She soon recovered and was back to full health and proceeded with her training.

By her 26th birthday her training was complete, she graduated from the School and was given an Ibis as her first ship and 5000 ISK start up fund. To say she was thrown into space sounds like an extreme statement, but this is pretty much how capsuleers graduate from their chosen Academy!

[to be continued]

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