As part of the Eve Monkey Monthly Short Story Blogfest, here’s my submission for October:
“Write the story of the life of a stripper in this Minmatar station.”
Was she a stripper before comming to the station or did she fall into bad company? An ex-slave perhaps? Has she seen a capsuleer? what was that encounter like? what are her hopes and dreams? is she dissolusioned with life in a space station? is she trying to pay off a debt or support her family back on an impoverished planet?
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I wasn’t supposed to be here.
I had a family once. People who loved me. We lived a peaceful life. Both my parents were ex-slaves freed from their Amarrian oppression. Beholden to none they plied the only trades they knew. My mother was a small equipment repair specialist and my father a loading dock operator. Both could find work in any station we could settle in, and we moved around a lot. I thought when I was younger we moved around because that was where the work was. I had my mother’s curiousity with machinery and equipment, and my father’s stubborness.
I found out much later that my father had a gambling problem.
My father and mother always had good arguments. The kind that you could hear echo throughout our home and quite possibly out in the station cooridor as well. My father was very stubborn, and my mother practical, and it just made for a really loud evening. I usually would retreat to my cabin, close the door, and listen to music or fiddle with my electronics kit. After a while, I’d get used to regular arguments and tended to ignore them. My father never drank, and was not violent, he just knew how to argue. My parents always told me they loved me, and gave me the attention I deserved, so I knew everything was just fine.
Then the arguments changed. They got worse. My mother crying. My father raging. Still, he didn’t drink or get violent. They argued about money, and why father was spending all his time in bars playing those “games”. I never really found out what “games” meant, but I presumed they were some form of gambling. I know we owed a lot of money. Things got tight. We barely had food on the table any more, and I wasn’t allowed to get any new music. I hadn’t had new clothes in months. Father was always working, double shifts. Mother was barely home too, and I was on my own. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of myself was all left up to my own devices. Mother came home sad every night. Father came home, slept a few hours, and went back to work. We never did the old things any more. No one ever paid much attention to me. I was almost a ghost in my own home.
When I asked my mother about it, she would just cry and hold me close and tell me she loved me. She said father loved me too, but he was too busy to say so. I stopped asking after the second time.
Then came the knocks on the door in the middle of the night. The strange men in our living area. Tall and strange with dark hair, dark eyes, and sinister features. They always turned and looked at me when I was in the room. I didn’t like the way they stared. My father would always tell me to stay in my room, but I couldn’t help being curious. They were talking with my father about money. About how much he owed, and that the debt would come due soon. My father tried to tell them he was working to pay it off. How he was working double shifts. How his wife was even working. It didn’t matter they said. The money was due and they would come to collect. One way or another.
It was cold that night in my cabin when they came for me. I awoke to hear my mother screaming and then a harsh report from the barrel of a projectile weapon. Silence. My cabin door was forced open and two large Brutors grabbed me and roughly hauled me into the main stateroom of our home. My mother lay still on the floor, blood pooling underneath her head, and her lifeless staring eyes glaring at me. Sobbing uncontrollably, I was dragged from the room, and a dark hood was placed over my head. I lost consciousness after that, which was probably for the best as they more than likely would have beaten me unconscious had I continued. I never knew what happened to my father.
I was 16.
I awoke in a cage. At least that’s what it felt like. There were six of us in there. I was hungry and thirsty. I had no idea how long I had been unconscious, but I felt groggy like I had been drugged. All of us were the same. Young girls my age. We varied in features and races, but we were all scared. We clung to the steel bars of the cell for comfort, gripping the metal until our knuckles went white. There were no guards, no jailers, and the room outside our cage was featureless and had a single metal door on one side. No one wanted to talk. We were all too tired and frightened.
We were jarred awake by the sound of the metal door to the room being slammed open on its hinges. The two Brutors that had abducted me stepped into the dimly lit room, their eyes hidden by large dark sunglasses. They unlocked the cell and dragged each cringing girl out one by one, taking me last. They tied us all together and dragged us out of the room into the cooridor. Some of the girls were collapsing on their feet, and brought the whole chain of us down. After rough handling by the two Brutors, they finally came to their wits and willed themselves to stay up. I shudder to think of the consequences had any of us actually resisted.
We were stopped in front of an ornately decorated door, covered with fanciful gold symbols and filigree. The door was opened and we were shoved inside. The light was almost too much for all us and we squinted to see where we had been brought. As our eyes slowly adjusted to the new surroundings, we gasped. The room was ornately decorated and appointed in a elegant style. Large hanging tapestries of ornate and ancient beauty hung from the ceiling. Plants of seemingly endless variety decorated the spacious room, and the middle of the room was a large pool with fountains.
A striking Minmatar woman stood in the middle of the pool. She was not only beautiful, but majestic in her manner. She gracefully stepped from the water, dripping on the hard surface of the floor, completely naked. Everything about her was perfect. Except for her eyes. Her eyes belied the beauty of her form with a wicked intent. Two girls stepped from behind some low shrubs, out of nowhere, and brought towels to gird their mistress. Then she spoke.
“Welcome, children. I am Andriana. You may call me your mistress,” as she walked toward the us, looking over and around us as if gauging livestock at an auction. “You will learn discipline here, respect, poise, grace and beauty. You will learn servitude, pain, pleasure, and revenge. Most of all you will learn to obey.”
“You are now mine, ” she continued, “and as such will live under my house and my rules. You will serve my needs and desires as long as you live, and as long as you follow my instructions, you will be well cared for.”
Andriana turned her back to us and looked out the large window overlooking the planet beyond and said, “Should you disobey, you will be punished, and your life forfeit, ” and turned back to us, glaring with her dark, sinister eyes.
The days and weeks and months that followed were grueling lessons. We learned everything from how to polish silver through how to dress when you want to seduce a man. We learned the right blow to smash a person’s trachea. We learned how to use all manner of weaponry from small caliber armaments to bladed staves. We learned to make poisons so deadly that a person would be dead as the poison touched their skin. I fared better than the lot I was cast with as I had the skills my mother passed on to me with electronics. I grew to be quite skilled with electronic equipment and small machines. We were taught dances from many worlds and many customs. Gallente dances, Amarrian dances, dances to tantalize, dances that spoke of millenia of artistry and grace. We grew in beauty and grace and poise until we were as dangerous as we were beautiful.
All of this of course was strictly monitored and maintained by Mistress Andriana. She did not tolerate failure, but yet rewarded discipline and hard work. Reading, entertainment, food, and pleasures were all made available to us should we choose to follow her implicitly. Anyone who disobeyed was punished severely and without pity or remorse. Out of the 6 of us captured together, only 3 were left 2 years later. One girl died from unknown complications of an illness that wasn’t screened properly before being sold to Andriana. The other two were caught escaping and died horrible and cruel deaths to poisons that they had to manufacture for their own demise. My sisters (as Andriana required we call each other) and I were brought to Andriana and given special roles among her staff. We were meant to fulfill roles for her as required. These “roles” could be as simple as bedding a man who paid for the privilege, to assassination of a state political official, or attending the lavish costume balls that Andriana held monthly. We were little more than closely guarded and monitored slaves.
As time went on, I slowly gained favor in Mistress Andriana’s eyes. One night she came to me, lovingly, like a mother would and asked me to help her with a very special favor. It was a long term engagement she said. One that would take all my skill and cunning, and would earn a place among her treasured house forever. I was to leave immediately for a station in the (insert low sec system here) system, and was briefed that Andriana had a desire to destroy a rival household attached to a ruthless and secretive Minmatar crime syndicate. It would not be easy, as the (insert low sec system here) system was known to have many crime syndicates that based their operations in that region, and it attracted the lowest form of life in all of New Eden. I was to sign myself on as an exotic dancer and prostitute, and arrangements had been made through many clandestine channels to see that I received all the recommendations and acceptances I might need. She needed me to get close to someone, but Andriana wouldn’t reveal who. Only that I needed to keep my eyes open, and fit in to life in the station. It might take months, possibly a year to locate and identify this person. I was to record regular reports and transmit them via encrypted means to Andriana for review. These logs needed to be a record of everyone I met and everyone I interacted with, even on the smallest level, so I was provided with an implant chip that boosted my memory to photographic capabilities, such that I could in effect “record” and then replay everything I had seen while composing my reports.
I was certain that something like this had never before been attempted by Andriana. I was also certain as to the outcome should I fail. I was told I was to be closely monitored, and should I even think about becoming disloyal that Andriana would know. And I shudder to think of the consequences should I fail.
As the shuttle pulled out from the hangar, I watched the station recede where I had spent the last few years of my life and wished I was a different person. I didn’t cry anymore. I was trained to do a hundred different jobs, be whomever my mistress wished me to be, but I was still a prisoner in a cage I couldn’t escape from. A cage I could not see.