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E-ON Chronicle: Grandma’s Old Letters (fiction)

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The old woman winced in pain, and steadied herself against a creaking bookcase. Her back hunched like that of an angry tomcat, she defiantly ignored the popping of her arthritic joints, carefully cradling a treasured little box in age-gnarled hands. Dull, throbbing pain was the only reward for every movement she made, every step she took, and at her advanced age few would have blamed Eyda Nabe-Kaana for remaining bed-ridden. Today was different, however – today, the old woman had a story to tell, and for once, a gaggle of great-grandchildren eager and attentive enough to hear it.

“Come on, gran! We want to hear about great grandpa!” pealed young Anika.

Little Danaam continued. ”Yeah! Dad told us he was a war hero!”

With a wave of the hand she dimmed the lumiglobe, bathing the sitting room in the cool light of three moons. A creak of old wood, and she opened the keepsake box, browsing through its contents tenderly, like an archaeologist at the cusp of unearthing some priceless ancient secret. The first object to emerge was a candle, or rather the nearly consumed butt of a candle. She turned it in her hands, her weary eyes aglitter with remembrance. This was a ritual the old woman had performed many times before. It felt wrong, somehow, to read the letters by anything other than candlelight – that is how Eyda had read the first one, after all.

One by one, she leafed through the individual sheets of correspondence. Still in order, Eyda confirmed. She had saved them in order of arrival, perhaps to preserve the context in which they were penned. Some sheets were smart-card, and looked crisp as the day they were printed. Others, scrawled on plain, yellowed paper, were crinkled and dirtied and carried by many hands – the grease from those hands rendering the paper translucent by candlelight. Near the bottom of the sheaf of papers, the corner of a pink sheet stuck out. She neatly shuffled the loose letters back together. There were too many memories here, and she was not ready to see that one just yet.

Eyda plopped into her most comfortable recliner, resting her bones with a chorus of withered joints, popping like popcorn. Gingerly she selected the first letter, her clawed grasp wavering slightly. Her slight touch activated the piezoelectric smart-card, and the opaque text sprang to animated life. She squinted, her archaic ocular implants struggling to resolve the relatively further advanced smart-card’s sharp resolution. It was close to two hundred years ago after all, when her natural sight failed her, and the implants were put in. At the time, she found the experience of implantation so traumatic, that old Eyda steadfastly refused an upgrade, even in lieu of advances in microsurgery and technology that would make the process painless. As long as her eyes looked human, she mused, the current models were just fine – even if the great-grandchildren seated cross-legged before her were little more than a synthetic landscape of tiny boxy pixels, she could still tell they were smiling.

FROM:RELAY.REG/CPDF/CON/PubComm.800303/Nabe-Kaana.Uesairos

Caldari Prime Defence Force 14th Tikiona Mountain Regiment

TO: firstdecembersnow:RaaNet.comm.personal

11.FEB.23155.OC

Eydalinde,

I hope this letter finds you well. I cannot wait to see the new house. It is most improbable that the Federal Authorities granted the land use permits requisite for construction in Muriyuke. I wonder if we will be allowed to own pets (a hint, keep reading). I feel there is still considerable bias in government against mixed nationality couples. I am sorry we argued about it the way we did. I miss you greatly. I have received the paperwork for my last tour of duty. In six short months, we will see one another. Please do not be mad with me and please do not make me a cuckold! I would never live it down in barracks.

It is good here. We finally got a proper mess cook, one who knows how to make hot rassarat. I may well invoke the wrath of CPDF censors, but know this: half the squad was ready for desertion if we were to be fed that slop for another week. Until recently I fed most of my rations to Snorko and lost a great deal of weight. I dare say I am as slim and fit as the day we met. You will be proud of me when this tour is over. (note to CPDF censors: it was a joke.)

Oh yes, about that. Snorko. It is an endearing mutt the squad has unofficially adopted as a mascot of sorts, and may well be the only creature capable of surviving the old cook’s meals. I was wondering if you would consider allowing me to bring him home. It seems to have grown attached to me in particular. Its breed is indistinguishable, but I thought of you and that little bird you had, and remembered your fondness for creatures big and small. I am including a few snapshots I took of him. Or her. We are not entirely sure yet. I think the children will love him. Her. It.

How are the kids? How are your eyes?

I must go soon. There is a bit count limit on these messages. Some kind of unrest between the Federate settlers and a few rowdy civillians, and it’s taking up a great deal of bandwidth, so I have to keep this message brief.

With you forever in heart and mind,

Uesai

“He sounds like a total drone!” squealed Anika before segueing into a giggling fit.

“And how come he called you Eyda… Eyda-lynn?” continued Danaam.

“Eydalinde”, the old woman corrected, the correct accent and inflection in place, smiling in affable exasperation. She knew what came next.

“That’s a foreigner name, innit?” the boy inquired, arching a distrustful eyebrow. Barely able to count to twenty and already testing his feathers as an ultra-nationalist chicken hawk, she marvelled.

“Yes, you caught me”, the old woman cackled warmly, throwing her hands up in mock-surrender. “I’m a federate! Well, a settler, really – that’s what I was before I became a Citizen of the State. My maiden name, the one before I took your great grandfather’s as my own, was Eydalinde Olliere.” Perhaps her ocular implants weren’t that obsolete, she admitted – they were enough to pick up Danaam’s grudging nod of acceptance. She continued.

“As for your great grandfather”, she turned to Anika, “he sounded like a ‘drone’ because he was a military man, and that is what military men sound like. Gruff, harsh, lots of big words about efficiency and regularity; you really had to look extra-hard to see the man under all that armour.”

She reclined again, and her expression was suddenly that of a dreamer. “Plus, it loses a bit in the translation.”

“Yes, back in the day, my little ones… there was a lot of distrust between the newly arrived settlers from the Gallente Federation, and the people who lay claim by birthright to the old homeworld. I remember being called names on the street! One time, a man even hurled a bottle at your great-grandmother, shouting ‘go home!’ this and that! Unbelievable! Anyway, that’s how we met. You see, little ones, your great-grandfather Uesai was there – all dressed up in his uniform, oh my!”

She clasped her crooked hands, lost in beautiful recollection. Absently, she stroked the stack of papers in their box, caressing something protruding from beneath the crinkling leaves of text.

”What happened then, gran?”

”Why, he clocked him good! Uesai belted him right in the nose, and he crumpled like a pile of wet ioya-reeds. This threw your old gran for a loop, I tell you – one Caldari striking another in the defence of a settler like me. He came right over, made sure I wasn’t hurt – and I think it happened, right there and then. I fell head over heels in love.”

She handed the smart-card to Annika, who immediately brought up a snapshot of a scraggly, mud-matted mutt, and cooed in childish adoration. “Is this Snorko?” the child giggled.

The old woman nodded slightly, a bead of a tear building in the corner of her eye. She wiped it quickly away, and resumed her tale. “Of course, it took a long, long time to get Uesai to admit to anything close to love. Even back then, the Caldari military was a proud affair, and their fighting men were expected to behave a certain way. Most of the women settlers stayed away from them, but I didn’t, and I caught hell for that; let me tell you! But I stuck to my guns, while all the other girls were going crazy over their own kind, over those surgically sculpted Adonises and overindulgent lotharios. I saw something else in that man. He was a real man. Back when that meant something. Not one of those preening, manicured, exfoliated nancies from the homeworld could hold a light to the kind of man he was. And one day, after the umpteenth time I brought him a home-cooked meal, it happened. He was leaving for his second tour of duty halfway across the planet, and came right out with it: I love you.”

Her eyes came to rest on the flickering candle, and Eyda cleared her throat. She wondered how many more times she would light it before it was altogether gone. “This next one is the reply to a letter I sent him”, retrieving the next smart-card from her keepsake box.

FROM:RELAY.REG/CPDF/CON/PubComm.800303/Nabe-Kaana.Uesairos

Caldari Prime Defence Force 14th Tikiona Mountain Regiment

TO: firstdecembersnow:RaaNet.comm.personal

21.APR.23155.OC

Uesai, mon dieu what’s happening?? I just switched to RNN and they’re saying something about huge

casualties in Nouvelle Rouvenor. There’s troops on all the main streets, and they look like Federation!

Write me as soon as you can to tell me you’re fine, I’m worried about you. I know I’m using up your mail

allotment, but just write. I had no idea things were this bad :(

My love,

The 14th Tikiona Mountain is being mobilized to quell riots in Ako-Nonni. They couldn’t have waited four months with their revolution. It is as though some divine being is angry with me, is it not? I will have to pray to the wind, and ask it to stop blowing in my face.

It is confirmed now – Nouvelle Rouvenor was our doing. Partisans, they’re calling themselves, what a load of shit. You don’t kill half a million people over a handful of blocked stargates. All it means is more duty for me, it would seem, and our reunion will have to wait – my delistment appears to be indefinitely postponed.

I miss you dearly, Eydalinde, and I worry. Keep an eye on the Federal elections. If Courte-Anne takes the seat, pack your things, get our children and your parents and get off world. Have the eye procedure done off world if needed. I am afraid this planet is turning into something unattractive. The reports of hate crimes by locals against settlers are growing, and I fear they have gone too far with the dome attack. Currently CPDF is cooperating with the Gallente troops, and hopefully the unrest will end soon. Be safe. I am including pictures of Snorko in his combat vest. He will be joining us on patrol with his new cranial bomb detection rig, as a Recognized Tactical Animal with the Fourteenth.

Uesai

“Noo-well Roo-venner?” The boy struggled with the pronunciation, suddenly going wide-eyed. “That’s when the war started, innit?” Danaam was always fascinated with the Revolution War. From the moment he developed rudimentary reading faculties, he devoured any and all trivia relating to the conflict between the Federation and the State. Already, his young mind hungered for politics, power, and war – a pint-sized private ready to follow in his fathers’ footsteps.

“Well, not when he sent that letter. But it did begin soon after.”

Danaam’s eyes looked ready to pop out. “But that was like, a trillion billion years ago!”

Eyda gasped in pretended offence. “I’ll have you know I’m not a day over two hundred and twenty five”, she groused indignantly. “They may be a bunch of barbarians over in Amarr, but their doctors can keep you going forever. I bet the State is none too happy about me riding their Widows of Veterans stipend for two centuries, either!”

The tremble in her wizened hands was becoming more pronounced as the old woman brought forth the next letter. It was the last smart-card; below, lay only a tarnished service medallion, and crumpled, curled, weathered papyrus; a vestige of some barbaric era predating instant communication. To think… a world, battered into a stone age.

FROM:EMRG.RELAY.GOV/CPDF/CON/MobileComm.800303/Nabe-Kaana.Uesairos

Caldari Prime Defence Force 14th Tikiona Mountain Regiment

TO: firstdecembersnow:RaaNet.comm.personal

7.JUN.23155.OC

and all the neighbours are leaving and I don’t know what to do. Call me!

Eyda,

Something has gone very wrong. I saw them level Ake-Nonni from orbit.

Thousands, tens of thousands of shells… they came down so fast, one after the other.

We were ordered to guard the CPDF armoury in the heart of Ake-Nonni against anti-Fed rioters. We were heading into the city when the first Federation troops we ran into opened fire on our trucks. That’s when the shells came, and hit the armoury first. They were aiming for us, Eyda. It was like an earthquake that went on forever. It did not seem real.

We can see the shells coming down all over the horizon. It’s night now but I cannot see any city lights, just fires in the distance. I don’t know where you are, how you are, and it frightens me. I am sending something along by direct courier. If you are not yet off world when you get it, give it to Tass Halaainen down the street. He’s a nationalist and gave me hell for marrying you, but he’s an old soldier, owns an orbital-capable Wren and when he sees what I am sending you he will know I mean business. Get orbital, try to meet up with a refugee ship. Get out of the system and away from the Federation.

If I know my Gallente Federation orbital bombing policy, they will take out communications first. I am on a mobile relay at the moment but once they take out the orbital junctions entirely I might not be able to communicate for a while. We will join up with other units as long as the comms are working, then radio broadcasting when that goes down. Things are a mess, but we have already combined multiple broken units. I will try to get letters out in the meantime. At the moment we are assisting in the general evacuation of Tikiona so I will try handing a message to people heading whereever you end up.

Be safe. I love you.

Uesai

She rubbed the grim heirloom on the hem of her dress, and handed it to the children. “That is what your great-grandfather sent me. A genuine, two hundred year old Caldari service medallion – and, like promised, it saved your grandma Eyda’s life. I simply showed it to Uesai’s friend, and off we went.”

Greedily, Danaam snatched the trinket from Annika’s hands. The little girl seemed unperturbed, still delightfully browsing images of Snorko the bomb seeking implant-hound. “An’ that’s when you went to New Caldari for a while, right gran?” the tiny one queried, distractedly.

“Eventually”, she nodded, suddenly aware of a mild ache in her ribs, and stretched sorely. “First, we had to make it on the evacuation transports. Terrible ships, those were.”

Danaam listened, enraptured. ”What was so bad about them?”

“Imagine a box filled with people. Now imagine being stuck in that box for weeks and weeks, and there’s only enough food for half of the people in the box. Sometimes, bad people shoot at the box, and the worst part is…”

She leaned in, and reduced her voice to a whisper, her face wrinkling in mischief.

“Well, there’s really nowhere to go to the bathroom.”

“Eeeeeeeewwww!” cried the children in shrill unison.

The old woman chortled in satisfaction, interrupted by a rasping fit of cough. Admirably she recovered, clearing her throat, and with steady resolve she smoothed the messy piece of paper between her hands. With the gentleness of a mother cradling a newborn, she ensured not to erase already fading pencil scrawls, their shambolic appearance a stark counterpoint to the clean, transmission printed military smart-cards of letters prior.

“Terrible ships…” she started again, without warning. “At first, there was so little to eat being handed out, that people – regular people like you and me – started fighting for food. They got together in gangs, and the insides of those ships turned into some… really nasty places. It wasn’t until the old veterans who were also on the evacuation ships, some of them were even injured from the fighting mind you, stood up against the gangsters and finally restored order. We rationed the food, and made it to our evacuation junctions in one piece – and yes, that is when we landed on the new homeworld.”

”There is only one home world, and that’s Caldari Prime!” Danaam interrupted, parroting a holonet phrase in sheer youthful ignorance of the potential horror it represented. Eyda caught herself envying the sprat for his absolute innocence. There were so many parts of the story that had to be omitted, if only for the sake of sparing that hitherto-unblemished innocence. Some such things could not even be readily described to an adult, far less a child. How does one express in words, the sight of one’s world, dying? For many couples united in love but separated by distance, the thought of sharing a glimpse at the same rising moon was thought romantic – yet for many years, Eyda wondered if by some chance, some stroke of cruel fate, the siege shells she witnessed falling on Ake-Nonni so very far over the distant horizon were the same shells her lover beheld and described in his note. Romantic in its own way, she reasoned.

“He called you Eyda that time!” noted little Anika, inadvertently reminding the old woman of one of those subjects best spared children’s ears. “Yes, he did”, Eyda admitted, a hint of bitter creeping into her usually kind, hoary voice. “The reason for that, is because there was one thing worse about being hungry on the refugee ships – and that, was being Gallente. There were a few thousand who escaped along with us, and you would be hard pressed to find one that didn’t get beat up, or robbed, or worse. It was the Caldari, and we could not blame them – they had every right to be angry with us! It was also the Caldari veterans who kept the mob away from us at first, but in the end, we were told to keep our identities carefully hidden. So, that is when I formally took your great-grandfather’s name, and Eydalinde the Federate became Eyda the Caldari Citizen. It was just my luck that it’s a fairly common Caldari name!”

The candle flickered again, its flame brushed to and fro by cool evening wind. Old paper crackled softly in Eyda’s hands. She squinted, adjusted her focus, and noted the two dates scrawled in the upper right corner. The first was the date of mailing; the second, writ in her own hand, was the day it finally arrived. The two dates were nearly a year apart. In a haunted voice, she began reciting, her voice an echo of words penned centuries ago.

Eyda,

Mark these words: I will see you again. My only regret is that what you see when I return, may not be who you fell in love with any longer. I am a thing now… a weapon for the State.

As much as it is wrong to burden you with this, I cannot have this weighing on my conscience. I have done so many terrible things in these past short weeks. I have no one to confess to, because to everyone around me, the terrible things I do are not a sin, but an achievement. I need you to read this, and know this, because you will think it terrible, and I need someone who recognizes the truth of what I have done. I beg of you, forgive me.

Over the past weeks we have fallen back to the mountains. We regained an uplink to planetary central command about a week into the siege. The cities, the large ones, are gone. It is as though the Federation has revoked our right to exist, and means to exterminate us. The anger I feel at them is immeasurable, but even it does not justify the things…

They sent us against a garrison of landed troops, Eyda. Saying we caught them with their pants down would be an understatement. They had no chance – Veterans of the mountains on one side, and kids on the other. Kids. We caught at least forty in the showers, most of the rest asleep. What frightens me most now, is that when they came bumbling and stumbling from those showers, naked, blind from assault gas, screaming and pawing right into our kinetics positions, falling like wheat by the dozens… my god, Eyda, I enjoyed it. I derived satisfaction from killing them. I hate them, but more than that I hate what this war is turning us into. We inspected the corpses. They were no older than nineteen.

There is no way for you to reach me, so all I can ask is that you wait. All the major lines of communication are down, off world lines too. I have made five copies of this letter and given them to good people. I hope it has found you well. I long to be near you, to feel your warmth, and all I have to comfort me is a soggy cot and Snorko ‘s frequent attempts at copulation with my various limbs. We’re heading out on another sortie. I’ll write again as soon as I can. Wait for me, and forgive me for ever leaving you.

I love you more than the world, and no amount of explosive ordnance will change that.

Uesai. XOXO

“Wooooow!” exclaimed Danaam, beaming with excitement, “great-grandpa killed a lot of Feds!”

“He killed almost as many as Captain Uakan did last week on the holo!” added Anika, adorably referring to a nationalist-sponsored animated children’s holo-programme of considerable popularity. How freeing it must be, thought Eyda, to view the world through the eyes of a child – what to one man was an atrocity that chilled the very soul, to a child was no more than sprites keeling over on the holo-screen. Now, there was no holding back the tears.

“What’s wrong, gran?” The little girl spied the anguish

”Oh, nothing… nothing. It’s just”, she lied, “this next letter. It’s a little sad. You might not want to hear it.” The lie was that in fact, all the letters were sad.

“If it makes you sad, then let us read it!”

”Yeah!”

“Hasn’t your mother taught you that it is impolite to read mail addressed to others? I’m going to have to have a frank chat with that girl.” Eyda put aside the previous letter, and retrieved the next from its resting place in the box, trying to ignore the pink sheet lying underneath. This next letter was in worse shape than any of the previous, clearly having been crumpled, rolled, folded and unfurled many times over. The words were barely legible; some hidden under splotches of coffee and machine oil, and the old woman squinted once more. Again, the date it was sent, and the date upon which it arrived were divided by a span of months – it was then, upon receiving that very letter, that Eyda realized it took a good year to smuggle poor Uesai’s letters out of the occupied zone. In time, the revelation would come back to haunt her.

Eyda,

Forget what I said a few letters ago, about the gods being cross with me. It seems the wind is at my back once more, but not without penalty: A hero has fallen in the regiment.

It was that damned mutt. Somehow, the creature got into the drink rations and consumed two men’s worth of brew. The boys were ready to tear the poor animal apart, so I took it out behind the shelter to tie it up out of sight until tempers cooled down. Suddenly Snorko starts yawping and yapping, and as I leant down to quiet him, the animal leaps for the nearby bush. It was a seeker mine. One of the Federation’s new toys – at least the poor thing didn’t feel it coming. That seeker was gunning for me, Eyda. I did catch some shrapnel, but it’s nothing severe. At best I’ll have some scars to boast about. Someone up there sent that mutt to watch over me, I am sure of it. As long as I am in his good graces, I have faith I’ll see you soon.

Don’t ever lose hope,

Uesai XOXO

“Snorko… is dead?!” Already, the little girl’s face contorted into a mask of grief. It had never occurred to the child until that instant, that the animal in question was dead for two centuries.

“Yes, sweetie”, the old woman sighed. “But he saved your great-grandfather’s life.”

“At least”, she continued, half-whispering to herself only, “for a while.”

This was always the hardest part of the letter ritual. She glanced down at the contents of the creaky wooden box, hesitant to even lay hands on its contents. Every time she did, even as old age ravaged her nerves and senses, every time she touched that accursed document she felt a chill, the same chill she felt when the pink sheet was delivered to her hand by a bedraggled partisan refugee. For a moment forgetting she was not alone, Eyda shook with a start as Danaam piped in.

“Gran, the letters are making you real sad. Let me read ‘em.” The boy tugged on her sleeve impishly. Would he understand, she wondered? Would he know the meaning, the import of the situation, or would the memory of Uesai be tantamount to a cartoon stick-man falling over dead on the holo-screen? No. The memory of a hero could never die, as long as his story was remembered and told. No amount of animated Fed-baddies slain by fictional Captain Uakan could compare to the sacrifice of this man, and those like him, and now that old Eyda had passed the story on, she mused, he may well live on forever.

“Before I let you read this one, I want you to make me a promise. Can you do that?” The boy shook his head to affirm, and she continued. “When you have kids of your own some day, you tell them the same story I told you, and show them your great grandpa’s letters. Promise?”

”Promise!” the children chorused. Eyda took the pink sheet between two fingers, almost as though it were unclean or vexing to the fingertips, and handed it to the boy. Danaam promptly hunched over the document, and began struggling with the enunciation of complicated words.

+++ Caldari Prime Defence Force – [AUTHORIZED DOCUMENT]

+++ Notice of Fatality in Line of Duty: Uesairos Nabe-Kaana

+++ 14th Tikiona Mountain Regiment: 2nd SWO

+++ EYES ONLY: Eyda Nabe-Kaana

Mrs. Nabe-Kaana,

It is my solemn and painful duty to inform you that Uesairos Nabe-Kaana, 2nd Special Weapons Officer of the Tikiona 14th Mountain, has been conclusively identified as one of the eleven casualties of the action to re-take the Federate occupied Ake-Nonni launch port. Although I cannot imagine the grief you must feel, be advised that Officer Nabe-Kaana’s martial record should be a matter of pride for the Nabe-Kaana family. His actions contributed to the successful securing of the launch port during the crucial closing days of the evacuation. Due to his sacrifice and the sacrifice of those brave fighting men who fell alongside him, the Ake-Nonni launch port was able to serve as a pick-up point instrumental in saving over thirty thousand Caldari and one thousand five hundred Gallente refugees.

The remains of Officer Nabe-Kaana were successfully retrieved during the holding action, and will arrive with the last wave of evacuation transports. All considerations have been taken with regard to burial.

I know this is small comfort, but as the widow of a decorated veteran with so remarkable a service record, you are entitled to a sizeable stipend from the new homeworld government. Know that your husband is an example to us all. I, and the Caldari people, salute you.

Major Suosaken Kaaumaata 14th Tikiona Mountain Regiment

+++ END DOCUMENT – CUT HERE

———————————————————————————————————

She turned away, but the candlelight glinting within her teardrops couldn’t be concealed, twinkling like a beacon, a brilliant diamond of sorrow making its way down her sunken cheek. The pain in her slightly heaving chest was becoming more pronounced, more constricting, as she battled away the urge to sob. This battle did not go unnoticed, and both Danaam and Anika bolted to their feet, their innocent faces displaying worry and fright, as though they themselves felt responsible for Eyda’s tears. The littlest one tenderly approached the old woman, and draped her tiny arms around the neck of her beloved grandmother.

This elicited an immediate break in her sorrow. Once again, Eyda beamed a heartwarming smile, one un-complicated by ancient recollections. The children, relieved, replied in kind, and Danaam spoke, his voice no more than an awed whisper.

“He was really a hero.”

“What’s a hero?” Annika inquired.

Danaam was quick with his reply. “A hero is someone who kills a ton of Federates!”

“No,” corrected Eyda, frowning tiredly. “A hero is a man who gives his life so that others may live. A hero is a man who doesn’t differentiate between Federate and Citizen, and does the just thing every time. And you know what, little ones? A hero’s name is never forgotten. Remember the name, Uesairos Nabe-Kaana, and never forget it, and some day you might turn out like your old great-grandfather…”

She drifted off. The candle was growing dimmer now, no more than a spreading pool of yellow wax with a twinkling wick in the middle. The moonlight outside was dimming as well, Eyda realized, with a sudden sense of unconditional peace. It wouldn’t be long now.

“Hey, what’s this one?” Danaam exclaimed, spotting a final fragment of parchment at the bottom of the nearly empty keepsake box. Without asking, he reached for the sheet, Annika assuming a leering position just over his shoulder. This one, like the earlier letters, was writ in the hand of Uesai Nabe-Kaana, with a penciled date in Eyda’s writing.

“This one…” the old woman took a haggard breath, “is a letter from your great-grandfather’s ghost.” She smiled slightly, as the children went wide-eyed once more. “You see, because these letters took so long to smuggle…” – she coughed slightly, her frail frame shuddering – “this final letter from Uesai… arrived a year after he died. He must have written it right before, come to think of it…”

“Can we read it?”

“Yes”, Eyda replied, “but quietly. Your gran… needs to rest now, all right? You two go on. Go on and read it, and maybe show your mommy and daddy sometime. I’m just going… to take a little nap.”

As the children absconded with their prize, Eyda Nabe-Kaana, Eydalinde Olliere, cast one final, contented glance at the three blue moons outside. She exhaled, shrinking slightly in her chair, the glint of her ocular implants growing dimmer like the ebbing candle. Her eyes drew narrower, as though she were drowsy, and her hold on the wooden box slackened.

With a smile creasing her ancient face, the old woman drew her last rasping breath, and her head slumped sideways, resting comfortably against her shoulder.

Eyda, my love,

The 14th Mountain is commencing the final pre-evacuation operation. I can’t go into details, but I can say this is almost over. With any luck, I’ll be aboard one of the last transports – chances are you’ll see me even before you receive this letter, but it doesn’t hurt to write. On the contrary, writing these letters, filling them with thoughts of our future together has kept me going all these years.

Can you believe the gall of the CPDF? Our service wages were garnished last week to accomodate the cost of munitions. I’m buying my own bullets over here, Eyda – sometimes I envy the Federates and their military assets. At least we are eating well! A recent raid netted us a supply of Gallente C-Rations. No wonder their soldiers move so much slower than ours, they’re over-fed!

I love you, and I will see you very very soon. I promise.

Uesai. XOXO

With a soft hiss, the candle expired, its wick falling into molten wax.

This article originally appeared in E-ON Magazine.

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Written by tomczerniawski

March 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm

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