"Humanity can survive, my friends. But it will take effort and it will take sacrifice. But first, we must rebuild the wheel to study these assailants from beyond. Any piece, any fragment of the Deus Pinnae that rears its head will be ours. Yamata 16 can no longer afford to linger in the shadows. If we must, we will take all of Bastion space in our grasps and ravage it until every metal sliver of the Pinnae is revealed... By any means necessary."
Ferrum Colony, Hrimpursar Neuros System Time: 15:00 Date: 15/02/2488
The chill had been everywhere the whole day, sometimes the ice sheets moved causing rifts to open that sent the inhospitable climate of the above surface planet into the deep caverns where Ferrum had been built. The thermal fans did their work in heating the colony, but not even the vents could keep the cold at bay when a one-hundred yard rift split the surface open.
Sitting in a corner on the docking station he glanced at a ship landing on the last empty pad, an old clunker riddled with scars, scars of battle. Battle against evil aliens that would want to hurt him. At least that’s one of the stories he’d make up every time he saw a new ship dock, brave explorers finding beautiful tropical worlds and mighty corsairs fighting villainous pirates who picked on the innocent.
The old ship was something that reminded him of an old design he had once seen in an old holobook, an old book about old ships that had once been the sleekest designs available, best efficiency known in the galaxy, it could outjump a SLED corsair before the latter could even get close. The Mariana Mk. XI, a ship of legend. The scars on its body showed the battles it had experienced in its long life, amazingly enough it could still fly and wasn’t yet scrapped for a newer, faster, and better ship.
Years before he had wanted to go out into the star, find new planets, places that didn’t even know about cold. Where you could breathe the outside air, or even look up at the sky at night. But it were merely kid’s dreams, no kid from Ferrum could afford a ship, and nobody owning a ship wanted to hire some miner’s kid to work for them. Even twelve year olds knew that ice would be the first and last thing you’d see, cold the last feeling you would feel. His father was a miner, and his grandfather had been one, three generations of miners had risked their lives for a meagre existence. He had never known why his forefathers had ever decided to live on this planet.
He only knew the stories from the books, three hundred years ago the planet Hrimpursar was discovered. A barren planet of ice and cold, but under the crust a near infinite amount of minerals ready to be removed from the earth, untold riches for anyone who would brave the harsh climates and risk their lives to dig it out. The books had been funded by the Naxos Mining Corporation, the biggest company on the planet, the company that made the most credits by luring people to a planet with stories of becoming richer than your wildest dreams.
Yet he had never seen a miner that had become so rich he wouldn’t have to mine again. His dad wasn’t rich, he was angry, but not rich. Many nights he would return from work smelling like alcohol, and he would show his anger, he would make him and mom feel the anger he felt, until they all had the same anger within them.
Last night his dad had been angry again, and he had thrown the hardest punch he had ever felt, right on his eyebrow. He had been dizzy from the blow, and the blood dripping along the edge of his nose had made his eyes well up in tears. With tears of red he had ran, ran until his legs couldn’t run any further, and he had hid in a crevasse that only he knew about, the only place he could be on his own and not be afraid, not be angry.
His wound had been frozen shut when the crust shook and the cold came in, a slither of frosted blood reminding him of the fear and anger he had felt last night.
He hadn’t returned, he had simply sit in his shelter, knowing nobody could ever hurt him as long as he hid, the only thing to keep him company where the ships and their stories, and to dream of a future amongst the stars…
Ferrum Colony, Hrimpursar Neuros System Time: 17:00 Date: 15/02/2488
He felt safe from the world, but after a while his stomach started to protest his plan of action. He was hungry, very hungry, and he hadn’t ate since the night before. He wanted to get something to eat, but he didn’t want to go home, the fear in his head telling him to stay away, stay where it was safe.
Pulling up the collars of his coat to protect from the cold he slipped out of his little hole, back into the world the sounds overwhelmed him for a second, it had been much warmer in his hiding place than it was outside of it. In truth it was simply less cold, the cold was everywhere after all.
He was hungry, but his curiosity returned to the old ship that hadn’t yet left the dock. It stood there, its brownish tint boring as it could be, but the scars of the ship giving it more character than he had ever seen. The stories it could tell, they would be endless and every story would be more amazing than the next.
Stepping closer to the ship he stood in awe for the sheer size of the old vessel, he squinted at the side of the ship, paint that used to be new years ago had been chipped, but despite its rough look the words were still discernible, he could read the letters, but he couldn’t understand the words it made. Adrasteia’s Dilemma, the first word was beautiful but he couldn’t even pronounce the first part of the first word without getting his tongue twisted.
Stepping backwards in awe to take a look at the engines he failed to even see the automated swivel make it to him, his mind was flooded in the amazement for what was happening, so much so that he couldn’t hear the metal grinding of the machine that he was right in the path of, a lethal path.
When he turned to face it, he could only gasp in fear. Closing his eyes he prepared for the worst, but the only thing he felt was a hand grabbing him by the arm and pulling him away. Opening his eyes he wondered if it had been his father that had found and saved him, a show of care he had last shown when he was a little kid, memories he could only get from the pictures of a time where his father wasn’t filled with anger.
But when he opened his eyes, it hadn’t been his father that had sprung to the rescue. Instead it was a man whose warm smile made him feel like there was nothing to be afraid of. “Kid, you should watch out were you’re standing, you could’ve been hurt.” The man told in a calm teaching voice, his hand placed on Tobias’ shoulder trying to reassure him that he was fine.
The eyes of the man glanced at his eyebrow, a frown appearing on the man’s face as he saw the wound that had been frosted shut. Glancing at a younger man behind him he looked back at Tobias with concern on his face. “How did you get such a nasty cut, son?” the graying man asked with genuine interest on his voice.
What could he say to the man, he couldn’t tell the truth, he didn’t want him to talk to dad or the police. It would only make his father angrier, he would drink more, and whatever cut he had now would fall into nothingness in comparison. ”I… I slipped on a walkway, the ice came and… I slipped and hit my head.” looking at the man he didn’t know if he’d believe him, he had often been a good liar when he had to.
Luckily for him the man believed it, sighing and ruffling his hair with a smile. “Just be careful next time, kid…” the man got back to his feet, the younger man stepping up and saying something beyond his hearing. The older man nodding at whatever was said, and ending the conversation with a pat on the younger man’s shoulder.
With a soft smile on his face he returned to the level of Tobias, grabbing something from his back pocket. “I don’t come here often, and my mind is a little foggy sometimes.” He twirled his hand around his temple with a small laugh. “You seem like a great kid, so could you help an old man out and find someone named Dan Faraway?” the man looked into the eyes of Tobias, trying to find if the kid had interest, or even knew who he was talking about. Without a word Tobias nodded in approval, the man had helped him, and he knew that Faraway owned a small diner close-by.
“Great, could you go to him and tell him his shipment of ‘ice’ has arrived?” it didn’t make much sense to him why someone would order a shipment of ice, but it seemed easy enough. Before running off the man gave him a few loose credits. “Get yourself something to eat too, you look like you could use a warm meal.” Using part of his ragged jacket he ran it past Tobias’ nose removing the frosted over blood that had trickled down last night. “Now go, before the shipment melts.” He exclaimed, giving him a little push and getting up, the old man regrouping with his friends from the ship.
The old man had thought Tobias was an orphan, but it had been a long time ago that someone had been nice to him, and he had even saved him from being crushed by a crane too.
Perhaps he could do a good job and ask him to become a part of his crew, able to fly to the stars…
Ferrum Colony, Hrimpursar Neuros System Time: 19:00 Date: 15/02/2488
There were moments in life where he felt that life would find a way to work out for him, to somehow give him the chance of an ordinary childhood, or at least feel cared for and not merely a burden to the world around him. The day had started in misery, and it had been elevated into having a full stomach and a handful of credits earned for simply relaying a message. The cafeteria holder had been nice enough to give him a free meal for the effort he went through, and perhaps he took pity on him after seeing the bruise and cut on his eyebrow. Whatever it was, he was eternally grateful to both Mr. Faraway, and the anonymous ship captain. They had given him some semblance of an existence, rather than being a specter to the world around him. A ghost ignored by everyone.
A full stomach gave him warmth as the hot grub had been eaten ravenously, and he had ate more than he had ever ate, as if he hadn’t had food for a month he had attacked the plate and made sure to leave nothing behind other than a plate with cutlery. It might’ve been a burger with fries, but it had been a king’s meal for someone who had felt treated like a fool every moment of his waking life.
A good mood made him feel brave, brave enough to return home and face whatever anger he’d face for running away and staying away for one of the coldest nights that the colony could face. Rifts didn’t open often, and more often than not people who stayed outside for the night didn’t end up waking up in the morning, he had slept little due to the cold, and he was tired, but tired was much better than frozen like a boy-sized icicle.
Part of him hoped that the moment he returned his father would take him in his arms, and tell him that he would do his best to make sure young Tobias could live as a child, forever appreciated by his father and mother. He hoped that his father’s eyes had opened after hitting his only child, hard enough to draw blood and open his eyebrow.
In truth, hope was all he had and hope wasn’t enough to change his life, it only made the inevitable sting as hard as it could, make him feel more pain than a slugging blow to the head would give.
Standing outside the door, he could already hear the shouting from inside. And shouting would mean only one thing, his father was drunk, his anger and fear bubbled to a boiling point and released on the world directly next to him, most obviously his wife, Tobias’ mother.
“We should look for him, he might be hurt, or worse!” his mom’s muffled voice exclaimed, her voice loud enough to be heard through the door that opened into their small home.
“I don’t care about that little shit, if he’s dead it’s his own stupid fault!” his father slurred in the same shouting voice as his mother, his voice bitter, the words cutting into the heart of his son who decided to sit next to the door, waiting for the storm to settle before even trying to go inside.
“Stop talking like that Garnett, he’s your only child!” the mother pleaded with him, trying to make his father feel some sort of responsibility towards his son. “Or is the only thing you care about in life at the bottom of that bottle of Whiskey?!” her tone changed from fear into anger herself, angry at the husband she loved letting his clouded mind say things that no father should ever say.
“You shut your mouth, woman. Or this bottle will be the only thing you'll see!” his father shouted, the sound of hands slamming onto the table, his father jumping up. “That shit has probably run off to Lister’s house, let that fuckhead waste money on raising the shit!” his father exclaimed with a tone that was even bitterer than before.
Tobias didn’t even know why he would even go to Mr. Lister’s house, the man was the boss of his father and had always been nice to him whenever he met him. But why he would go there he didn’t know, only years later he would realize what his father had been implying.
“W-Why would he go there?!” the mother asked with clear confusion on the voice, but the slam on the table was story enough that the question only set off his father for yet another tirade.
“Don’t fucking act like that? Don’t act like I’d never find out the way you’ve been looking at him.” The drunkard that was his father shouted at the top of his voice, if there had been anger before, this was a whole different level of fury coming from him. “Don’t act all surprised, you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t know when my own wife is fucking my goddamned boss?!” after the heated exclamation the only sound could be heard was glass shattering, the bottle of whiskey being shattered in thousands of pieces on the wall of the residence.
“That’s it? You think I’m cheating on you?! I have never chea-“ she wasn’t even able to finish her sentence as a load smack reverberated, his father’s palm meeting her mother’s cheek with full force, the sound of plates shattering as his mother had stumbled back in shock and pain onto the dishes.
“You shut your lying whore mouth Milly, you think you can have sex with my boss and then lie in my face?!” he shouted, using his physical power to overpower his wife and hitting her with a few good extra strikes, ending as Tobias’ mother was left a crying and possibly bloody mess on the kitchen floor. “So why don’t you divorce me then?!” her mother bit back between sobs, anger, disbelief, and pure unbridled fear for the man she used to love, a man she had bore a child for. The person who had loved her, given every good moment of his life for her, everything that had made them love each other lost through fear and anger.
“I’m sure you would love to divorce me, I bet Lister could give you everything I can’t give you. Give that shithead of a kid more of a life than I could give him.” The father shouted, his anger and bitterness slowly turning into grief and sorrow, the shades of a loving father experiences its final cracks into oblivion. “You think I drink this shit because I want to? I drink this shit because it’s the only thing keeping me from jumping into the void next time I’m on shift, because this bottle is the only thing that I have left to care for!” the sighing thud of his father slumping onto the kitchen floor was heard, and just like his mother he had turned into a sobbing mess. “Ramirez, Frazier, Jameson… too many fucking friends that died because Naxos doesn’t give a shit about any of us!” from hatred towards his wife and kid, his focus had now shifted to the corporation he worked for, the corporation that ran the mining system on Hrimpursar, the corporation that simply put owned the entire planet, and no law would get in the way of their power. “They don’t give a fucking sod about me, you, or anyone, they only care about their fucking bottom line. One miner dies and they get two stupid kids to replace them until they die!” for a few moments there was nothing but silence, no doubt his father opening his second bottle and downing enough to nearly kill himself. “You know what, fuck them, they want me dead, I won’t fucking die for their bottom line! Fuck everything, fuck my life, fuck you, and fuck that useless deadbeat shithead that’s wasting my credits!” whether or not it had been intended, every word of his tirade had been nothing but truth on his voice, no hint of irony, just sorrow and bitterness for his own lot in life. “I hope the kid freezes to death, at least it would spare him from the shit I have seen!” the end of his tirade had been found, the only thing left was silence and two grownups regretting every life decision they had made, his mother an empty shell who feared for his son’s life, his father an empty shell who only lived through his hatred for his job.
Whatever had been said, it had all been experienced by their son even if they hadn’t know so themselves. With the tears in his eyes already in the process of freezing over he stood up, hands balled into a fast and angry at everyone, but the emotion he felt the most was depression and helplessness. If nobody in his world even cared about him, if everyone just rather saw him dead so that he wouldn’t be a burden on their lives, he was better off giving them what they wanted and just disappearing for good.
With his mind swimming in more feelings than he could even describe, he closed his eyes and ran to the one place that he felt home, the one place of safety on the miserable planet he had been born on. The place where he could sit, and think about a better life, that desired life amongst the stars…
Because for Tobias, his dreams were all that he had left at this point.
Ferrum Colony, Hrimpursar Neuros System Time: 21:00 Date: 15/02/2488
The wind howled about as hard as the chill ate at his constitution every moment he sat in his place of safety, the biting cold had only become worse now that the sun had set and the cold reigned supreme on the planet. But for Tobias, there wasn’t any other place he wanted to be, the thing he wanted the most was sit at home, eat a warm dinner, be held in his arms and hear that everything would be alright and nobody would ever hurt him, nobody would ever take his childhood away from him.
But he had already lost his childhood, perhaps he had never even had one. In his fathers eyes he was nothing more than a burden, a pestilence that had ruined his life just as much as the bottle had. His mother afraid, but powerless to do anything about her own lot in life. The best thing he could do was simply close his eyes and fall asleep, never to wake up again, the cold to stop his beating heart and cut loose his restraints on the living world. He would no longer be a burden to his father, and his mother would maybe be able to take the grief and leave her abusive husband.
And as the minutes went on, his eyelids became heavier and heavier, the events of the day had tired him, and the freezing cold was sapping away his energy like a leech taking blood. Maybe he wouldn’t even feel anything about it, maybe he’d wake up amongst the stars and be able to live as a child forever, nobody’s burden.
But one thing nagged on his mind, one tiny thing that had taken his intrigue and had played havoc with it. Looking over onto the dock, he still saw that one old ship in all its beaten up glory. It’s story endless and in his mind no doubt amazing, a brave corsair or daring smugglers who risked their lives to help the people in need.
Even though he had always read that Smugglers are mere criminals trying to get rich by breaking the law, the stories he had heard was always about brave individuals who dared to fight the system to bring need to the people that required it, the people that nobody thought about. He wasn’t foolish, he wasn’t naïve, he knew that the man that had gave him money earlier on the day was a smuggler who broke the law, but he had never acted like a criminal, he had even saved his life once.
Perhaps he could save his life twice on the same day, save him from death on an icy planet. Bring him to the one place that he wanted to be, among the stars where he could be free.
That one dream was the one that made his body work long enough to crawl out of his place of safety, the frost had accumulated on his face from the tears he had shed, and the frost clung to every part of his clothing making him look like a walking piece of ice-cream.
Looking at the ship, the name he couldn’t pronounce or even spell if he had to. From all looks the ship was preparing to leave, so right now the only thing he could do was get on board or resign to his fate. At the corner of the ship he saw the older captain talking to the friend he was with earlier, discussing something that seemed important to them. But what this meant was that the entrance ramp of the ship was empty, nobody in front, or inside the ship that could see him get on board.
He could ask if he could join, but they would never allow a kid like him to join like that, no doubt wanting to protect him from the dangers they would face. But he was twelve years old, he could take care of himself like he had done all day, all his life.
He felt the blood pump in his legs, his slow stumbles becoming faster and faster as he kept moving and let the adrenaline in his body push him to that ramp, with soft steps he walked up making sure nobody saw him enter. And with a thud his body slumped into a crevasse inside the ship, an empty locker that could fit him and make sure nobody detected him.
When the ship had left the planet he would show himself, tell them about his dream, become able to live amongst the stars…
Ferrum Colony, Hrimpursar Neuros System Time: 23:00 Date: 15/02/2488
For a kid like Tobias, the idea of spaceflight had been romanticized many times over in the years from the first time he had dreamt of ever going into space. An idea of a quick smooth ride into orbit, and a quick travel from system to system whilst smoothly dodging asteroids and dangerous pirates. Naturally, for a kid those ideas are just what they are, ideas. The truth, especially in an old ship like Andrasteia’s Dillema it was a rough ride from the moment the moorings were loosened to the first moments into space, and hiding in a stuffed supply locker filled with repair equipment it truly was a bumpy ride from start to finish.
But every moment he had been smiling, the sound of air hissing when the moorings loosened on the old battered ship, and the exit ramp closed up his final attempt of returning home. Every part of the ship shook roughly back and forth, up and down, and side to side when the old engines flared up and pushed the amalgamated hunk of metal off of the landing pad and into the air. A few times he had grimaced in pain when his head had hit the back of the locker, but they would be minor bruises and bumps compared to what his life had already given him.
Finally the moment the ship wrestled itself away from the heavy gravity that pushed its crushing power onto everyone living on the planet. For only a few seconds he felt himself float, his body no longer under control by any gravity and simply being moved around by mere nothingness. The experience lasted only a few seconds, but for Tobias it felt like he had finally entered the dream he has cherished for so many years, through all the bruises and cuts he had sustained, through all the angry fits his father had thrown, throughout all of the suffering he held that one dream to one day fly among the stars, to feel like a feather without gravity holding sway over him… All those years, and that one dream had kept him fighting, kept him from giving in to his fears.
The feeling of bliss lasted mere seconds, but for him it could have gone on for years. But his moment of bliss got cut off, hearing the sound of the life support system starting up and pushing its artificial gravity back onto his body, cool stuffy air filled the locker as the life support system gave its gifts of air to breathe, it wasn’t as fresh as ‘’true air’’ that was present on Ferrum, but for him it felt like dining on angel’s breath.
And after all that excitement, his body finally gave in. The aching muscles finally releasing, no longer a need to be afraid, to be tough, to be fighting to even stay alive and not freeze to death. The Life Support would keep him alive, his body could finally go back into neutral and recover.
Under the soft hum of the engine and the Life Support system doing their work, his eyes succumbed to the exhaustion and fell shut. For the first time in his life, he had to dream something new, because the one dream he had, it had just become reality for young Tobias…