Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Location: Under an emu.
|Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:17 am Post subject: The Outsider
Roughly six years ago.
Warm afternoon sun glittered across an endless field of skyscrapers, encapsulating New Caldari Prime’s aerial traffic in a near blinding glow. On the coast of Lex Talionis, a taxi paced its way towards a distinctly cylindrical building on the waterfront. The lone passenger found the glare to be especially strong. She tapped a button on her armrest, the window glass shimmering slightly before it darkened, filtering the brilliant light reflecting off polished glass buildings and other, more airborne vehicles above.
Kyoko Sakoda closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the sun’s heat radiating through the car. It brought back old memories, recollections of almost child-like innocence. She dreamt of her boyfriend, waiting back home at Todaki. She smiled as she recalled the first day she stepped onto a space station at the School of Applied Knowledge, where they lived and studied. She couldn’t wait to go back.
But then she remembered she couldn’t go back for long. She would become an intern at Ishukone now, a paper pusher under the direction of her mother, of all people. Kyoko frowned, her moment of serenity spoiled, realizing that her mother’s position as a lead chemist and head figure of an Ishukone subsidiary dictated her fate.
She was to be planet bound.
She heaved a sigh of displeasure, rubbing her eyes as she tried to burn out memories of their arguments from conscious thought.
“You knew it was my aim to enter pod pilot training all along – I passed all those damn tests and you never said a word. Why now? Why do you have to deny me now?” Kyoko had inquired, on the verge of shouting.
Her mother replied calmly. “It’s much too dangerous dear. You know already why I stopped working in space and moved to the office. There are too many people out there looking to rip you to shreds in exchange for whatever is in your cargo hold or just for the sheer fun of it. I’ve seen it before. The risks outweigh the rewards. I told you what happened to our trade fleet en route to Airkio.”
Kyoko scowled, “That’s completely fair then. You’ve been enjoying the adventure for yourself and now you disallow your only daughter the right to pursue her dream!”
Only then had Yukiko’s face shown a slight frown. “It’s less of an adventure and more like suicide, Kyoko.”
Kyoko was completely enraged, her face turning red. “It’s not much unlike father’s job.”
Yukiko’s frown disappeared, her expression returning to that of unyielding motherly concern. “There hasn’t been a major skirmish between the empires in at least a century. Yet pod pilots conduct war amongst themselves regularly. Your father is much safer where he is stationed than you’ll ever be if you climb into that wet grave.”
Kyoko couldn’t think of anything to say. Her head filled with static and her body stiffened like a hardened Caldari marine at attention. She simply stormed out of her mother’s sight, slamming the bedroom door behind her.
She pulled her fingers away from her eyelids, her vision blurry as her eyes adjusted to the present. She could feel her heart pounding against her ribcage, her lungs struggling to breathe.
You only need to act so professional for a half hour. You’ll be back to Todaki in no time. Snap out of it Kyoko.
The automated taxi screeched to a halt. The door swiftly opened and Kyoko put a hand over her eyes, before noticing that the massive building in front of her had blocked the sun from her field of vision. She climbed out and watched the door slide shut behind her, noting the drone car as it accelerated down the street.
It was much warmer outside, the summer air stagnant as ever. Kyoko proceeded through the concrete courtyard, slinging her purse over a shoulder. So this is it then, she thought. After this there can be no avoiding her. Such potential relegated to a desk job at Ishukone. How wonderful.
Palermo Center’s entrance wasn’t too far off, but Kyoko walked towards it as slowly as possible, looking down slightly at the concrete ahead of her. She bought herself time to plan how she was to go about meeting her mother, and what there could possibly be to talk about, aside from the obvious.
The shadow cast by the building ahead of her gave way, and instinctively she placed her hand over her eyes, mumbling something about the sun as she looked up at the building. She stared at it with puzzled countenance as she saw that the sun was still masked behind the building.
Kyoko turned around swiftly, glancing upwards, searching for the source of the light. A brilliant flicker shone in the afternoon sky, and she dropped her hand from above her forehead, thinking it was nothing out of the ordinary for the moment, that is, until it started advancing toward her.
She raised an eyebrow slightly, quickly placing a hand back over her eyes, shielding them. Kyoko didn’t have much time to ponder what could possibly be causing the anomaly, as the dazzling glow began burning her eyes.
A miniscule shadow was now visible directly in front of the light, surrounded by its own radiance. An unfamiliar whoosh steadily rose to a deafening echo. The object was now advancing towards Palermo at reckless speed.
Oh my god.
She realized the identity of the object just milliseconds before it found its way into the middle of the skyscraper, smashing through an upper level window pane and exploding on impact.
She threw her body down on the concrete, covering her head with both of her arms as an intense fireball ripped through the building. The explosion soon dissipated into a huge fume of smoke. Broken glass hurtled downward, hungry for the blood of anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the courtyard. Kyoko tried standing up, wanting to flee from the hellish spectacle almost directly above her, but her legs suddenly became too fatigued to move anywhere.
She finally forced herself on her feet with the help of her shaking hands, clumsily running as far away from the building as possible.
Her ears were ringing from the intensity of the blast, but she was sure she heard the yells, cries, and expletives of lobby floor workers behind her. Ignoring the urge to look back, she kept her eyes on the street she came from.
Displaced swords of glass finally reached the courtyard surface, falling down around her like an acid rain storm.
Kyoko placed her hands over herself and ducked her head, attempting to pick up her pace. She tripped over her own stumbling legs and fell over backwards next to the street curb, on top of a large shard of broken glass lying in wait.
The makeshift blade ripped clean through her left shoulder as she slid on her back towards a group of parked vehicles on the street. She felt the excruciating sting from the deep laceration instantly, her eyes already beginning to water. There was no time for her to scream before the back of her skull hit the side of a car door, knocking her already clouded vision into a hallucinogenic pattern of colors before fading to black.
Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Location: Under an emu.
|Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:20 am Post subject:
Her eyes opened.
She threw a palm back against the cold tile ground, gasping for air with racing eyes. Ashen white walls encompassed Kyoko, who found herself lying down in the center of a bright cubic chamber. A bead of sweat dwindled down her brow as her pupils followed the clean lines of the room for a moment. She heaved her chest a few times, struggling to catch her breath.
Kyoko stood up slowly, swallowing something heavy in her throat and taking a last deep breath. To the side there was an orange light, gently illuminating five of the walls. She shuffled towards it slowly, noticing that it was coming from a large window overlooking a city.
Her eyes narrowed as she placed a hand up against the icy glass. In front of her stood an endless field of skyscrapers, each individual building outlined by the sun’s peach pink hue. It was setting just over the rooftop of one particular superstructure to her right. She watched it slowly sink into the horizon, recalling the light it had shed on her isolated prison.
Knocking her head gently against the glass, she kneeled down on to the floor, her hand screeching against the window pane. Another drop of water fell down her cheek, but it wasn’t clear to her whether it was a bead of sweat or a tear. Minutes passed as she stared down upon the street below, watching hovercraft fly by speedily while wheeled cars advanced across her field of vision much more slowly. Day had turned into cobalt night in a matter of moments, and the city lit up intensely, becoming the star field that the sky should have been.
Kyoko sighed and looked forwards again. She drew her eyelids together, on the verge of shutting them tight.
A flash of white light burned its way into her vision, catching her off guard and causing her body to fall backwards onto the floor. It flickered directly in front of her, illuminating the building tops as it flew directly towards her room.
Terror-stricken, Kyoko backed into the wall behind her, staring into the light as she breathed for the last time, the grinding of metal and glass resounding as the missile reached its target.
Her eyes flung open.
Kyoko launched her chest forward with a scream. Heavy droplets of sweat flew off the front of her face from the inertia of the abrupt movement, landing on a blanket wrapped neatly around her legs.
Her lungs expanded rapidly, pressing up tightly against her ribcage. The crushing pressure in her chest forced her back down on to her pillow. A burning sensation began trickling up her chest and into her neck, further constraining her to the bed. Her body ached and cried for air and water, but her mind was overloaded with the last image drawn from its incubus.
Something arid and plasmic worked its way up the bowels of her throat, finally reaching her tongue and sputtering out through her mouth as she leaned over the side of the bed slightly.
She spat the rest of the acidic substance onto the floor and shivered, her lungs beginning to oscillate steadily as she relaxed and laid her head back onto the pillow, closing her eyes.
The distant beep of a heart rate monitor pounded incisively into her ears. She knew very well where she was.
She heard a door bolt open and a pair of foot steps enter the room, taking a place on the clean side of her bed. A few beeps came from a console to her side as someone’s fingers tapped against a button or two.
Kyoko opened her eyes slowly, blinking a few times before sliding over on to the opposite side of her body, towards the direction of the sounds. A searing pain invaded her left arm as she pressed it against the bed, and she cried out in response to such agonizing stimulus.
A young Deteis woman dressed in white looked down, rolling Kyoko back upwards with a gentle touch. Her eyes looked apologetic.
“Don’t do that,” she said with genuine concern in her voice. “Your arm is still healing.”
Kyoko didn’t hear the lady’s words. The pain hindered her hearing. She could only distinguish something that sounded negative. She managed a small nod in acknowledgement as she faced up towards the ceiling again, her head gently dragging against the pillow.
The lady sighed, rubbing a damp wash cloth along Kyoko’s chin, cleaning it of stomach contents. She ran another hand carefully towards her patient’s left wrist, shifting it from under a crease in the blanket as she made sure the intravenous drip was still positioned correctly and intact.
Kyoko swallowed, her throat shriveled and dusty.
“Could… I have some water?” she asked with a dry crackle.
The nurse looked back to her patient, studying her expression for a moment.
“Certainly,” she answered.
Kyoko felt her eyes moisten as she watched the lady fill a large paper cup with cold tap water. The nurse closed the water valve and reached towards the center of the bed.
Kyoko sat upright slowly, shuffling her butt back toward her pillow. She took the cup graciously, drinking all its contents before setting it in her lap. There was a momentary pause in the room as she looked at the nurse, then at her shoulder.
The nurse parted her lips softly. “There is a bandage under there. Quite a few stitches went into closing that gap up. I’d recommend not even touching it for a few days.”
Kyoko took a long stare at the woman. Her face seemed sincere and trustworthy.
“How long have I been sleeping?” Kyoko asked as she glanced at the window, noting that it was daytime.
A new, masculine voice boomed from the door. “About twenty six or twenty seven hours.”
Both women looked up to find someone wearing a white doctor’s coat standing just inside the doorway.
The middle-aged, grey-haired man smiled. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have barged in like this.”
The doctor looked at Kyoko for a moment, his smile instantly fading. His eyes fell to the floor beside his patient’s bed.
“Ami, can you get someone in here to clean this up?” The question sounded much more like an order.
“Yes sir,” the woman replied, standing up from her chair and maneuvering around the doctor as she headed out the door.
Kyoko’s face sank as her eyes strayed away from the doctor and on to the cup on her lap.
He was a gaunt fellow, moving around the bed with a slight limp. He took the nurse’s vacant seat and set a digital clipboard in his lap.
His face stayed observant, but the next thing he said was less discerning. “You’re obviously awake I see…”
She looked up, her eyes following the man’s neck to his oculars. Her face stayed blank, like opening a small window into her soul.
The doctor looked back down at his pad. “You had a rather nasty experience back there. I won’t get into specifics…”
This spare moment was all Kyoko needed to register her surroundings. She was in another cubic room; a much cleaner and friendlier place than before. She ran her left palm across the soft sheets placed on top of her, feeling an IV tingle slightly inside the back of her hand. Her attire had changed, the length of her body now covered in a standard white hospital gown. She again noted the bulge jutting out from the top of her left arm, extending down to her elbow.
The man spoke suddenly, keeping his eyes focused on the datapad. “That’s a pretty serious laceration. You also had a minor concussion.”
Kyoko’s eyes found their way up from her elbow to her shoulder. She reluctantly raised her right hand and grabbed her left sleeve, pulling it up slowly to reveal a large bandage stained with a thin line of crimson.
She laid her head back on the pillow, pulling the sleeve back down and setting her free arm uncomfortably down by her side.
The man looked over onto Kyoko, studying her face for a spare moment. He parted his lips, but instead of saying what he needed to say, he returned to his datapad, passively reading the rest of what was on his screen.
“So, where are you from?” he asked, looking rather uninterested concerning what was on the screen.
Kyoko was quick to respond, wanting some relief in the satisfaction of conversation.
“I lived in Manisugero for the first few years after I was born. My family moved to Saisio III for a short while when I was seven, then we came back and settled back down in Lex Talionis. Right now I’m attending school in Todaki.”
“I see,” the doctor replied, not looking up. “Why did you move to Saisio?”
“I lived wherever my mother worked. She has family there too. My father’s in the Navy, so I had to tag along with my mother.” Her speech gradually lowered in volume and wavered as she spoke the last sentence.
“So you’ve got roots in Saisio? Says on my file that the State considers you Deteis.”
“Well, I am. My father is. But my mother is Achur.”
The doctor paused.
“She …was,” he said calmly.
Darkness swept over her as her eyelids snapped. Water began to gather between her eyelashes.
Minutes seemed like hours as she sniveled, her emotions getting the best of her. The doctor sat for a minute, folding his hands as he sat, feeling helpless in front of her.
She opened her eyes, tears clouding her vision. The doctor was shuffling quietly toward the door.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have broke it to you like that. I’ll leave you alone for a few hours.” He stopped for a second. “Your father is on his way.”
Kyoko forced her frown to recede. She wiped her eyes with the back of her right hand.
She spoke just before the doctor turned around to leave.
“Wait,” she commanded, her voice breaking.
The man turned around at the door frame.
“How did I get here?”
The doctor looked back at his patient, affected deeply by the question. His thoughts seemed disorganized as he spoke.
“A man carried you into the emergency room earlier,” the doctor said thoughtfully. “He carried you in and asked for somebody to help. He looked like he also needed medical attention, had been caught in the same blast, but he ordered me to help get you onto a gurney. I turned around for a second, and then he was gone.”
Kyoko widened her wet eyes in surprise.
The doctor closed the door behind him.
Now the room was dark. Only New Caldari’s sun remained, faded and obscured behind the window blinds. Kyoko closed her eyes, raising her free hand to her face as she caught continuing tears in her palm.