Eytjangard Star System
"We must fight them. We must beat them back with the plated fist of righteousness. We must take the flaming sword of Amarr and drive it deep into their stone cold hearts! Nay, my brothers; we don't do this for personal profit or fame. We don't drive back the darkness for medals or glory. Our pure motivation is LOVE! Love for God. Love for Empress. Love for those poor filthy Matari wretches."
Gabriel Theodoulo's speech played on a continuous loop over the airwaves as the Eytjangard system went through the gruelling process of changing hands. Every space port, every government building, any and all official holdings would change from the Minmatar to the Amarr.
It would take weeks for the Minmatar government to evacuate, officially.
During those weeks, Shalee spent her downtime helping with the unofficial evacuations.
It was a race against time. A race to clear out people before the slavers could get to them.
Like all things Amarrian, it took an enormous amount of time to go through proper protocols to get the government systems up and running. There was paperwork to file, ceremonies to be had, speeches to be given.
An Amarrian Reclaiming could be swift, but an Amarrian Occupancy took time.
Precious, precious time. Those hours, days, and weeks after a reclaiming was so tied up in pomp and circumstance that Slavers could come in and clear out entire villages without anyone ever being the wiser. They would come in the night, like the Sansha, using drop ships and soldiers and simply take what they wanted with little resistance. Simply because no one was there to stop them.
It was illegal in theory but far too common in practice for anyone in the upper echelons of Amarrian society to really care.
By the time the Amarrian government officials were in place, thousands upon thousands of Matari would simply be reported missing without any real effort to find them.
Missing, what the offical reports said.
Abducted, what everyone knew.
She'd been asked by the leaders of the Amity Project to intervene, to be a part of the Eytjangard exodus, to help clear out as many refugees as she could before the slavers could get to them. Naturally those who could afford to do so had already fled off world. The poor were left stranded.
For two days she flew with a team of other capsuleers, ferrying Matari from crude, makeshift landing pads to the spaceport where they would then be divided up and relocated to various other systems.
It was an exhausting process.
Thousands upon thousands wanted to leave. The refugee camps were overflowing with those waiting their turn, waiting for their chance for freedom, a new life elsewhere.
Young and old alike littered the muddy streets of Camp Louella, named for the infamous Space Nun. They carried suitcases, boxes, anything that could fit beneath their arms.
Smoke unfurled into the gray sky from fire pits spread along the camp, masking the smell of a thousand, rain drenched refugees.
Shalee stood on the platform, her clothes dirty, face streaked with mud, expression weary. Exhaustion colored the pale skin beneath her eyes a shade of dark blue.
She gave a tired sigh as she waited for the volunteers to settle the next batch of people into the hold of the cargo shuttle.
Her gaze slanted up, looking towards the clouded sky as she listened to the rain pelting against the tarp that had awkwardly been suspended across the landing pad's 'waiting station'.
The other capsuleers often stayed in their pods during their down time, but this go around she had opted to have a look around.
A part of her wished she hadn't. She'd seen too much in such a small amount of time. Too many desperate people, their dark eyes silently begging her to help them. Their fear was almost a palpable thing. The fear of the unknown, of their uncertain futures. That is, if they were lucky enough to make it off the planet in time.
Those that wouldn't be saved, those people would face a much worse fate.
"Commodore?" Reslye interrupted her reverie as she stepped up behind her. "It's time."
"Alright, thank you." She glanced to the Intaki, giving her a tired smile. "I'm ready." She followed her over to the transporter. "What's going to happen to all those people...." she asked as she changed into her pod suit.
"Some will start new lives and all of this will eventually be just a horrible memory. The lucky ones anyhow. Some will flourish, others will perish, unable to cope with the change. And those we wont be able to rescue in time?" Reslye shook her head, "They will be stolen away for the illegal slave markets or processed into the new regime for 'reeducation'."
"I wish we had more time. I wish..." Shalee trailed off, her expression grim. Wishing was useless. The only thing that mattered was ferrying off those people, as many as she could anyhow.
"I know." Res gave her a quick hug. "We are all doing what we can, and every little bit helps. Try not to dwell on the people we cannot save, but all of those who will have a chance just because you are here."
Shalee nodded, "I'm trying. It just seems so unfair, all of it."
"It is. The Amarrians come in and 'reclaim'...and yet most have no real idea of what that even means to these people. Uprooted from their homes, their lives turned upside down. These people haven't hurt anyone, these people...." She stared off into the distance, looking at the countless refugees huddled by the fires, shivering beneath makeshift tents.
It was Shalee's turn to say, "I know."
The two women looked at one another for a long moment. "You have a safe journey."
"I will. See you on the flipside, okay?"
Moments later, Shalee was preparing for take off when an explosion shook the landing pad. Over comms, another capsuleer who was on his way back down gave the grim news, "Looks like we've been discovered. Get the hell out of there Commodore."
"I'm trying...I'm trying!" Her body tensed as adrenaline coursed through her. She could hear another explosion as she tried to get airborne.
"Goddamnit, system malfunction! What's happening? Chase? What's going on out there?"
"BTs." Slang for Blood Traitors, bastards who would sell out their own people for ISK and protection of the new regime. "You have to get out of there Lianne, you can't be discovered you know that. You have to leave them behind!"
"Even if I wanted to I can't! Somethings wrong..."
"Fuck it," he uttered as he changed course, "I'm coming for you."
"No, Chase, don't. Don't risk it!" She quickly started the depodding procedure. Ambiotic fluid drained away as she disconnected. A minute later she was sliding onto the metal grating, listening to the dripping fluid splash in the vat below.
"Too late, we can't leave you behind. If you're caught, you'll jeopardize the whole mission."
"I wont get caught, I swear."
"I'm not going to risk it."
"Stupid, stupid man! I'll be okay, I know where the safe houses are. I'll be able to escape," she told him as she quickly dressed into commoner's clothing. Matari clothing, it would help her blend in better as she made her escape. "I'll comm you once I am.."
Another explosion rocked the landing pad. She lost her balance and fell forward, grasping onto the door. She crawled the short distance to the exit as smoke filled the corridor.
Coughing, she doubled over as she tried to catch her breath. She could barely hear Chase barking orders over the earpiece as the refugees screamed in terror all around her. Gunfire erupted, drowning out the sound of everything as the BT's moved in on the camp.
She stood there, frozen in place as the rain trickled down her face. Sound faded into nothingness, eerily silent as the world around her seemed to slow down, moving in slow motion.
She watched in horror as the traitors shot those who tried to run. Those who stayed were forced down upon their knees in the mud, their hands hastily tied behind their backs.
Above, the sky turned a myriad of colors as a rocket slammed into a returning shuttle.
And just as suddenly as everything went silent, sound and motion returned with a sharp piercing bang.
Reslye was beside her, grabbing her by the arm, pulling her to safety as another volunteer shot one of the traitors who had spotted them.
She watched him fall, blood splattering across his dirty shirt, dripping down his torso.
"Run!" The last thing she heard before everything went black.
(( Eytjangard Blues, Part One ~ companion piece ))