Eva's Origins

Stories from the men and women of the 101st
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Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:31 pm

This is the story of Evangeline "Valkyrie" Hawkins, known by her friends and family in the Star Citizen Persistent Universe as Eva.
It outlines the important moments of her life as she develops from a teenager into a hardened UEE Navy pilot.

Source:
Young Eva

The autopilot alarm sounded on the nav console alerting that the Aurora was approaching its destination of Terra III, waking Eva up from her daydream with a start. Being only 14 years old, she had to unfasten her pilot restraints for a moment to switch off the alarm before it woke up her mother, Jessica, who was sleeping in the bunk further back in the little starship.

Eva had been accompanying her mother on trading and exploration runs during weekends and school breaks since she turned twelve and her mother had taken the time to teach Eva how to pilot the little ship so that they could share time at the controls. It had worked well over the past couple of years, allowing them to complete trading runs more efficiently, and at times Eva's youthfully sharp vision had picked up things that Jessica would have missed resulting in some lucrative salvage.

Although it was highly illegal to let a child pilot a starship, the two got away with it by using a few tricks. As Eva approached orbit proximity to the planet she flipped on hailing frequencies and then pressed a button on her MobiGlas, the personal electronic device that practically everyone had, which was wired into the ship's comms, to activate a voice modulation program. When she spoke, her voice came through the hailing channel with more maturity, the program hiding the still maturing tones of her voice.

"Terra Three control, this is Valkyrie Aurora returning from exploration run, requesting permission for atmo entry and landing planet-side. I am declaring two humans on board, and sadly no cargo".

A few moments later, the digitised voice from the UEE orbital station came back, "Scanning your vessel, Valkyrie. Please stand by.................. confirmed Valkyrie. Proceed on entry vector to planet surface. Welcome home."

Eva leant forwards, closed the hailing channel and then switched off the autopilot before settling back and fastening herself back into the restraints. Eva tied her long red hair back behind her head into a ponytail to keep it out of the way and scanned the consoles with her light green eyes, checking sensors and readouts for anything out of the ordinary. Taking the controls, the young girl turned the ship, flattening out the approach angle to that sweet spot between bouncing off the atmosphere and suffering a horrific fiery inferno of a death.

Atmospheric proximity alarms sounded on nav console but Eva ignored them, aiming the ship towards an empty space of air in the planet's upper atmosphere. As the ship hull brushed against the planet's atmosphere edge a subtle vibration shimmied through the hull of the ship and a few whisps of fire licked around the cockpit's windows. Eva kept one eye on the console monitors to ensure her vector stays within safe angles as she pushed the craft deeper into the atmosphere. In no time there was so much re-entry fire flowing over the Aurora that Eva was forced to focus only on the monitors as it was impossible to see anything outside.

A faint murmur came from further back in the ship as Jessica was awakened by the re-entry vibrations shaking the little ship and a few moments later Eva was aware that her mother was standing behind the pilot chair, one hand gripping the headrest of the chair, the other pressed hard against the bulkhead. The older woman said nothing, watching in silent pride as her daughter performed a textbook perfect re-entry.

When the flames died down outside and the vibrations were replaced by the familiar wash of air rushing over the hull, Jessica leant down and whispered, "Nice work Evangeline", and placed a kiss to the top of Eva's head. Eva scowled inwardly at the use of her full name. She'd always hated being called by it, but she forced a smile and looked up.

"Welcome home Ma", she said before turning her attention back to the task at hand, turning the Aurora in a slow lazy arc and smoothly merging into an air traffic lane headed for the Terra Prime hangar complex.

NEXT ENTRY: Eva's Last Goodbye
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:32 pm

Eva's Last Goodbye

"What do you mean I can't go?" Eva glared at her mother with typical teenage petulance, her green eyes wide in disbelief at being told that Jessica was going on a trading expedition without her.

"I've done all of my homework and school doesn't start back for another week! It's not fair! I don't want to go and stay with Aunt Tess. I want to go with you!"

"Evangeline...." Jessica said in a tone of patience that only a parent with a teenage daughter could know how to maintain, "This isn't like the normal runs we usually do together. This job will take me outside of full UEE protection. it's too dangerous...."

"SO?!?" Eva almost screamed at her mother, "I've shot at pirates before. I can fly your ship as good as anyone!"

"Eva.....", Jessica sighed the word out as much as she spoke it, resorting to using her daughter's preferred nickname to try to calm the girl down, "This isn't the same thing. I'll be heading deeper into space than I've ever taken you. Trust me when I say, the class of pirate out there is nothing like you've ever seen before."

"Whatever!" Eva snapped, turning on her heel and stormed out of the room, slamming the door to her bedroom so hard that the Aegis Dynamics Avenger poster that's stuck there fell off and crumpled onto the floor. She paced back and forth in her room with fists clenched. She loved nothing more than getting off the planet and getting out into the stars. Out there in all of that emptiness she felt free, like she could go anywhere, be anything. Being planetside almost felt stifling in comparison and being left alone while her mother went up there was a suffocating thought.

A faint knock came from the door and her mother's voice came through softly, trying to coax the girl out of her room. "Fuck off!" she yelled and grabbed the nearest solid object to hurl at the door without paying much attention to what it was. Her Glas tablet struck the door with a shattering impact, falling to the floor with its screen shattered in a spiderweb of cracks. She stared at it blankly for a moment, but her lip and sighed.

Pulling her backpack out from under her bed and started stuffing clothes into it, making sure to slam shut every drawer and cupboard door as hard as she could in the process.

With backpack slung over one shoulder, Eva yanked open her bedroom door to find her mother waiting there. Jessica opened her mouth to say something but Eva just threw her palm in front of the woman's face and stalked down the hall.

"Evangeline Hawkins, you get back here!", Jessica called after her daughter.

"I'm going to Aunt Tess'. See you in a week", Eva snarled to her mother as she walked out the door, holding her right hand up with an obscene gesture at her mother before the door swung shut behind her.

NEXT ENTRY: Valkyrie Reborn
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:33 pm

Valkyrie Reborn

Eva stared blankly past the UEE official as he spoke to Tess, her mind still unable to process the news that this man brought with him, her mind numb and eyes looking out the window, completely unfocused.

"There's no chance she survived?" Tess asks, her hands wringing at the fabric front of her dress. She was using all of her will to not cry, but tears were welling in her eyes regardless.

"I'm sorry, Madam." The official replied, "Her Aurora was found with the cockpit completely blown out. It looks like it took a direct hit with a missile right on the windows. I'm sure she didn't suffer. Her will states that the handle Valkyrie will pass to her daughter Evangeline on her seventeenth birthday, and that the remainder of her estate, as well as this letter, be passed onto you."

The man held out a sealed envelope to Tess, who reached out with a shaky hand to take it from him. He held it firmly when she first tried to pull it from his grip and says softly, "For your eyes only. She was very specific about this. Do you understand?"

Tess nodded silently and pulled the letter from the man, staring down at it through blurry vision as he excused himself and let himself out. Slowly, she slid her finger under the seal of the letter and lifted the single page out. Unfolding it she read the contents, her tears spilling from her cheeks finally to drop onto the paper. Without a word she folded the page neatly and slipped it back into the envelope.

"What is that?" Eva asked, in a voice so small it sounded like it came from a ten year old than someone who is almost fifteen.

"It's......." Tess hesitated, "Just a message from your Ma....."

Eva held out her hand for the envelope expectantly but Tess shook her head gently, "She asked me not to show this to you until you're ready."

Eva stared at her Aunt Tess for many long moments, her blank expression slowly forming second by second into a mask of pure rage, "Until I'm ready?! Who decides when I'm ready? YOU?!? You get everything and all I get is a stupid name?!? You know what? Fuck it, I don't need this. I HATE YOU!!"

Tess looked as though Eva had physically struck her, taking a step back and steadying herself against the doorframe. Eva got to her feet abruptly and stormed into Tess' guest room, slamming the door behind her and shoving a chair under the doorhandle before she finally threw herself onto her bed and allowed herself to cry, memories of her last conversation with her mother haunting her thoughts, as they would do for years to come.

Having never known her father, Eva was put into the care of Tess and had to move in with her. Eva's attitude in general soured as time went on. While not at school she withdrew into herself almost never leaving her room. At dinner time she would come out, snatch up her plate and then lock herself back into her room. She stopped calling her friends and slowly drifted away from them.

Things at school weren't much better. She managed to maintain relatively good grades, finding studying focused her mind away from depressive thoughts that she'd rather not have. There were however, multiple instances where Tess was called in to discuss disciplinary action caused by Eva mouthing off at teachers or fighting with other students. More than a few times she'd come home with a bruised lip or black eye.

After six months of this Tess decided to pull Eva out of the public school system. Instead she took the girl with her in her Freelancer, which she used to complete trade consignments through the more heavily UEE policed systems around Terra. The ship was larger than Jessica's Aurora allowing Eva plenty of room to sit in the galley alone and focus on her studies by correspondence.

Tess followed Jessica's habit of allowing Eva to fly the ship from time to time, but only when Eva's general attitude had been less than poisonous for the day. She used it almost as bribery to get some form of a polite attitude from the girl. If Eva managed to get through a day without swearing, snatching, breaking something and got her quota of schoolwork done, she would be rewarded with a couple of hours in the cockpit.

NEXT ENTRY: Enlistment
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:34 pm

Enlistment

On the day of Eva's seventeenth birthday, Tess took her to a UEE office to register her DNA against the Valkyrie handle as per Jessica's will. Eva was standing in the registry office where handles are approved and registered, waiting for the clerk to file the final paperwork to register her handle. She glanced across into the neighbouring room through the glass walls and spotted a UEE recruitment officer. At that moment she thought about the time since her mother's death and about how she never really felt at home in Aunt Tess' house, and all of a sudden she felt like she was suffocating.

Without saying a word to Tess, Eva stood up and walked into the next room. Tess called after her but she ignored her and made her way directly to the recruitment officer. Tess didn't put up much of an argument, and when Eva looked back over her shoulder at her Aunt, she thought she saw a hint of an approving smile on the older woman's face.

After changing into her standard issue recruit uniform Eva stood in a line of strangers ranging in age from seventeen to others who looks like that are in their late twenties, each leaving their life behind for one reason or another. Looking at each of the faces around her she saw small groups of teenagers all laughing and smiling with typical youthful excitement as well as others who looked like they were about to soil themselves. Eva rolled her eyes and looked back towards the front of the line, waiting for her turn to be led into the next room.

They filed into a large room and were lined up in neat rows, five rows of ten recruits. A door in the far side of the room opened and a tall, middle aged man in uniform with a face that looked like it hadn't smiled in a decade marched in, stopped directly in front of the group and turned to face them abruptly.

"My name is Lieutenant Jenkins. You may come to know me as 'that asshole', but you will address me as Sir!" he began in a stern voice so loud he was practically shouting.

"I don't care who you used to be. I don't care who you think you are. As of this moment you belong to me. You will eat, sleep, speak and shit when I tell you to. This is your last chance to bug out, babies. If you leave now we will forget that your sorry ass ever stepped into this room. If you stay, but give up during training your records WILL be permanently marked as a failed UEE Navy recruit. So, do we have any early takers?"

There were a few nervous shuffles of feet, but whether by stupidity or a misguided youthful sense of adventure, no one left. Eva couldn't help but smirk a little at the man's speech, and it did not escape his notice. He strode up to stand toe to toe with her, glaring down at her. She looked up at him and met his glare with one of her own.

"Is something funny....." he glanced for a moment at the tag on her uniform before returning his glare to her eyes, "... Hawkins?"

"It's Valkyrie, Sir", Eva corrected him, making sure to put a sarcastic tone to the last word, and was rewarded with an aggravated twitch of one of his eyes and a tightening of his jaw.

"Ohhh I see! We have here a bona fide ace who believes she is entitled to a handle already. Let me tell you something, little girl. You handle, all of your handles", he paused to make an encompassing gesture with his arms to the entire group, "is maggot until I decide otherwise! Everyone, through that door and onto the shuttle. This is going to be fun!"

As the group moved to shuffle out of the room, Jenkins grabbed Eva by the shoulder and dug his fingers in painfully, "Keep it up maggot, and I'll snap you in two" he whispered to her.

Eva winced, knowing the grip would likely leave bruises but turned to match his gaze again, "Before my tour is done, I'm going to end you." she growled at him, and was rewarded with a backhand. She couldn't help but cry out a little at the force of the blow and tasted blood in her mouth. She wretched her shoulder out of his grasp and stalked into the next room behind the other recruits, some of which had turned to watch the exchange and were whispering amongst themselves. She composed herself and offered them a confident smile, with a trickle of blood from her newly split lip making the smile look obscene.

NEXT ENTRY: Initiation
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:36 pm

Initiation
(Entry pending approval from Manic)

"You must be crazy....." one of the young male recruits muttered to Eva after they had been filed onto the transport and strapped in. He was sitting directly across from her, his eyes fixed on her split lip and the beginnings of a bruise that had started to show.

Eva just shrugged at him and replied, "It was worth it. Now I know how far I can push the bastard. Besides," she glanced down the lines of recruits, examining each one briefly as she finished the sentence, "I have the feeling that a smack to the mouth going to be the least of our problems over the next few months....."

"Don't get me wrong. Crazy is good!" The young man reached his right hand out to Eva, "I'm <Manic's first name>," he said and then added with a grin, "But everyone calls me Manic, hell if I know why. I heard you say that your name is Valkyrie?"

"Eva. Valkyrie is.. was my mother's handle. Mine now, I guess." she replies, taking his hand and giving it a firm handshake, "Nice to meet you Manic. Any idea where they are taking us?"

"I heard someone back at the recruitment office mention that we are headed to Gen for evaluation and training."

Eva nodded and sat back into her seat. It made sense to be going to Gen. The planet was close to Terra Three and was spotted with various military installations, so it stood to reason that there would be training complexes there also. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "Well," she said back to <what-his-name> without opening her eyes to look at him, "Where ever they are taking us, I'm sure we won't have much free time to rest and enjoy the scenery. We might as well rest while we can."

Eva was later jolted awake with the transport shaking and shuddering violently, lurching regularly as if it would break up at any moment. "What the hell..." she muttered, glancing around. The looks on the other recruits faces were mixed. Some were calm and seeminly uncaring, others looked like they were about to throw up, others still simply white with fear and then there was Manic, who sat there with a stupid grin on his face as if this was the ride of his life.

"Crazy is good, huh?" Eva asked him with a slight smirk. "Enjoying yourself, are you?"

"Damn straight," he called back over the noise, "I think they turned down the shielding on re-entry to make the ship shake like this to try to scare us. Either that, or there's a big problem and we're all fucked. But hey, we can't do anything about it so we might as well enjoy the ride."

Eva shook her head in response with a faint smile forming on her lips. She had to admit to herself that he had a point. Feint or emergency, until the craft got to its destination or crashed in a firy pile of scrap metal there wasn't much any of them could do about it.

The vibrations in the transport eventually settled and the sound of air whistling over the hull could be heard faintly through the hull of the ship. The door to the flight bridge slid open and a UEE flight officer poked his head through and sniffed the air dramatically.

"Any 'code browns' back here? No? Well, I guess we'll need to try harder next time." With a sadistic grin he slid the door shut again leaving most of the recruits to stare at each other with incredulous looks.

Manic simply winked at Eva, "See?" and spread his hands outwards before him with his palms up, "Just enjoy the ride."

The transport tilted and slowed before coming to a hover and then with a soft thud, landed on solid ground. The rear loading door began to open, flooding the transport cavity with light and before it was even fully open Jenkins was there, barking at the group of recuits with his usual charming voice.

"Let's go, babies! This isn't some weekend resort! Get out, and line up!"

Everyone filed out of the ship and took positions in the same ten by five formation as before, some looking a little worse for wear from the rough landing, but all still standing.

"Well, well, well. All still here I see?" Jenkins began pacing from one side of the formation to the other as he spoke, "You are primarily here to see if we can make some kind of decent pilots out of you. Looking out across your sad, sorry faces I find myself disappointed. Half of you look like you're about to be sick! Imagine if you were in a Hornet class fighter in a spiralling dogfight, your senses spinning wildly as you chase your target through an asteroid belt having to roll from side to side, pitch back and forth, up and down, over and over to avoid debris. If you can't even handle a little turbulence how do you expect to survive?"

He looked out over the group, eyebrows raised expectantly. At the back of the formation, one of the younger women took a step back out of line, her face white as a ghost. She doubled over, threw up on the ground in front of her and then her eyes rolled in her head and she fell onto her side, passing out. This began a chain reaction with the sound and smell of vomit causing at least a dozen recruits to deposit the contents of their stomachs onto the ground. Of these, nine stepped back out of line to join the unconscious woman, with the others composing themselves and remaining in place.

The spectacle seemed to give Jenkins some form of satisfaction and Eva could swear she saw the beginnings of a smile form on his lips before he straightened his face again and just as quickly as it was there, it was gone. Jenkins motioned to nearby men who hounded those who stepped out of line back onto the transport, and dragging the fallen woman along with them.

"Ten down," Jenkins muttered more to himself than anyone else before raising his voice again, "Alright babies, it's time to see if you have any measurable skill in an aircraft! Fall in and follow me!"

He began a brisk jog away from the group, who broke formation and formed a ragged group behind him as he led them to what appeared to be a nearby warehouse building.

NEXT ENTRY: Second Cull
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:38 pm

Second Cull

As the group of recruits entered the large building they saw a row of five large boxes large enough to easily fit couple of people suspended by a complex array of hydraulic rams. Large conduits of cables ran into the bottom of them and there was a door in the side of them also. Suspended from the ceiling was an enormous screen above each box.

Jenkins came up short in front of the line of devices and turned to face the group, who hurried to form into the normal grid, standing up as straight as possible. Some of the recruits were breathing hard from the short run which only brought a sneer of disgust from Jenkins as his gaze passed over them.

"Aright babies, it's time to find out if you have got what it takes to be a pilot. These," he motioned to the boxes with his right hand, "are simulators. They will closely match the true feel of a ship. For your benefit I have had them all set to babysitter mode so that you don't fail too miserably."

He walked calmly once again from one side of the group to another, "They have been configured with an Aegis Dynamics Avenger cockpit. The controls have been dulled down by the babysitter mode to make them easier to handle. Your task will be simple. With the help of an instructor who will be riding with you, you will lift off from a simulated landing pad, hover as steadily as possible, fly a designated course and then land again. Do so without crashing and you will pass to the next stage, and your handle will be upgraded from maggot, to worm."

His eyes focused on the recruits who had thrown up, but not stepped out of line earlier, "You have all shown that you have what it takes to at least compose yourself on a space craft in a difficult situation, for the most part anyway. If you fail this test there still may be a place for you in the UEE, but it will not be as a pilot."

Turning abruptly to face away from the group and towards the simulators he called out sharply, "Maggot Aisling, Maggot Anderson, Maggot Bridges, Maggot Boston, Maggot Davis, you're up!"

The recruits who's names were called stepped forward and made their way to their respective simulators. The doors of the devices moved outwards and then swung smoothly to one side, ladders extending down and the instructors could be seen beckoning for the recruits to climb the ladders.

As they stepped inside the displays above each one came to life and the doors slid closed behind them. The image of a computer generated cockpit window appeared on each screen, with a bland landscape beyond. At the bottom of the image was the outline of a landing pad. In the bottom right hand corner of each screen was a live feed from within the cockpit shoting the pilot's faces.

"Oh yes," Jenkins added with a smirk, "I forgot to mention. Your failures will be on display for all to see."

After a few minutes of instruction inside the simulators the sound of digitised engines could be heard spinning up from each one. The images started to move. Some of them lifted smoothly off the ground and managed to hover somewhat smoothly, usually drifting a little to one side or another before the pilot corrected, sometimes too much to send the ship sailing a little too far the other way.

On the screen of the fifth simulator, the landscape tilted violently as Davis over corrected. The simulator tilted with equal vigor and alarms sounded. The image above the simulator showed the ship striking the ground at a sharp angle and the simulator gave a vigerous shudder, and the screen went blank. After automatically returning to a neutral position the door swung open and an obviously shaken teenage boy stepped out and started climbing back down the ladder.

"Davis, you're out! Don't worry though I'm sure we need more cooks to peel potatos. Maggot Grissom, you're up!"

A young woman made her way nervously forwards and started sliming the ladder into simulator five. Meanwhile in simulator four, the pilot had started the flight path but had nosed down too far into one of the diving moves. He tried to pull out but ended rolling to the right too far. The simulator tilted violently towards Grissom as she climbed the ladder causing her to scream, but it stopped well short of her and gave a shudder as recruit Boston also crashed out.

Meanwhile simulators one through three seemed to be doing well, making their way smoothly through the course. They were all making fairly good time and keeping up with each other. As they swung in for the final approach back to the landing pad, two and three came to a hover smoothly enough, but simulator one left the mode change too long, and send himself sailing nose first into the ground.

Anderson stepped out of simulator two with a look of obvious relief on his face and started to climb down. When Bridges, a woman in her late teens with short cut dark hair and a curvy build, stepped out of simulator three she paused at the top of the ladder and looked out across the group down her nose at them with a look of entitlement and superiority, as if this was all just an annoyance in her path that she expected to complete without issue. Eva instantly hated her.

Aisling, a woman who appeared in her mid twenties, stepped out of simulator one and started to climb down the stairs. She looked as though she were about to start crying. "Aisling, you're out!" Jenkins yelled at her unsympathetically. That caused the woman to actually burst into tears, running out of the building holding her face.

"Oh back off...." Eva spoke before even thinking bringing incredulous looks from those around her and, of course, an enraged glare from Jenkins and a grin from Manic. For the second time in one day, Jenkins was nose to nose with Eva, glaring at her.

"This isn't a country club, Hawkins! We do not have the luxury of backing off! Do you think that the Vanduul will take a break and let you get over your emotional issues when you come face to face with one?"

He raised his voice and shouted right into Eva's face, "Maggot Hawkins, Maggot Henderson, Maggot Justin, YOU'RE UP!"

Eva stepped back a step to get out of Jenkins' face and then walked around him to make her way to simulator one, where the instructor was peering out of the doorway waiting for her. Eva climbed up into the box and sat herself into the pilot seat. As the door slid shut the instructor leaned over and started to speak.

"First you'll need to fasten...." but Eva was already buckling her restraints and pulling them tight to fix herself snugly into the seat. Her eyes scanned the consoles quickly. It was far more complex than the Aurora she used to fly but the basic functions she would need were in obvious places.

"Okay," the instructor went on, a little affronted that Eva seemed to be getting ahead of herself, "to power up the ship....." but Eva didn't wait for him to finish, going through her start up sequence and easing up on the lift controls.

Her simulated ship lifted off smoothly, and with hovered in one place with precision. A message flashed on the screen in front of her as she hovered "REMAIN STEADY UNTIL INSTRUCTOR GIVES O.K." Eva yawned slightly with boredom.

"One moment..." the instructor muttered. Eva could hear the sound of a faint scratchy voice in the instructor's earpiece. It was too faint to hear what was saying but it was obviously Jenkins barking some order. "Are you sure?" the instructor said back, "on a first time recruit?" The tone of the response made it obvious that Jenkins was sure.

Suddenly the simulator became very twitchy. It took Eva by surprise for a moment and she started to drift, her counters appearing to take effect much more quickly than they had originally. "So, no more babysitting for me then?" she asked over her shoulder with a smirk.

"Follow the waypoints," the instructor barked back, "I'm sure you can figure it out without me."

"Indeed I can..." Eva thought to herself but said nothing. She increased lift thrust a little more and as the ship began to rise she pushed forwards on the main thruster controls sending the ship forwards with smooth acceleration. Once she had enough forward momentum she lowered the lift controls to keep the ship on a steady flight path and flew through the first waypoint. The next was slightly to the left and she performed a slow lazy turn towards it, lining it up and hitting it dead centre.

The third waypoint was to the right, elevated slightly. Eva turned towards it and lifted the nose of the ship, pushing forwards on the throttle to maintain speed. The fourth was a sharp downward dive further to the right. Eva dipped the nose and pulled back on the throttle, easing the ship into a steady descent towards the waypoint which was quite close to the ground. Just before getting to it she pulled the nose back up and pushed hard on the lift throttle to stop the descent and then pushed fowards on the main thruster once more, matching the lift to the speed as she regained speed.

The last waypoint took her back towards the landing pad and she had to gain altitude to get to it. With a look of utter complacecy on her face Eva made the last turn and lifted the nose, passing through it and heading back to the landing pad.

She caught the scratchy voice of Jenkins barking into the instructors ear once more and she rolled her eyes subconsciously, "What now....?" she wondered to herself as the instructor replied with a curt "Of course, Sir."

Alarms sounded across her consoles and the whole simulator shuddered, intense vibrations flowing through the controls into her hands. Glancing around quickly she found the system status readouts and saw that her main thruster was on fire and that the manuevering thrusters on her left side were now suddenly badly damaged.

"Fine...." she muttered to herself, making sure it was loud enough for the camera to hear her and concentrated on the task at hand, her lips thining into a line on her face as her jaw clenched. The ship was flying in a mostly straight line now, but she knew that as soon as she tried to hover all hell would break loose.

As she approached the landing pad she slowed her speed carefully, waiting for the moment. She had to bring the ship down as quickly but smoothly as possible. The longer she hovered the higher the chances of crashing, and she knew it. She brought the ship in low, and lifting the nose little by little as the speed dropped. A stall alert sounded in the ship as she pulled the speed back below recommended levels.

"Now." she said without even realising she'd spoken. She pulled the main thruster back to idle and pushed the lift power up, and at the same time shoved the flight stick hard to the right to compensate for the lack of thrust on the left side of the ship. The simulator box swayed sickeningly but she grabbed the controls with white knuckled hands and wrestled with the ship, setting it down hard, but in one piece.

As the doors slid open and Eva stepped out, cheers and whistling erupted from the group of recruits, all but a select few had been staring at her screen. Eva offered a shy smile to the group. Opinionated as she may be, she was not used to being the centre of attention. As she climbed down the ladder she caught the eye of Bridges, who glared at her with such ferocity that it was clear that the earlier feeling Eva had when looking at her come out of the simulator was mutual. Manic, on the other hand, was at the back of the group looking at her with an appreciative smirk on his face. He simply nodded at her, and then turned his attention to Jenkins as if preparing himself to enjoy some show.

"HAWKINS!" Eva started at her name being yelled with such ferocity, "What the hell do you call that?" Jenkins was red-faced and almost screaming at her one hand pointing at the screen. She looked up at the screen which still showed the cockpit view of the simulated ship she just landed, warning lights flashing across the consoles. The landscape outside was tilted to one side, suggesting that Eva had landed so hard that one side of the landing gear had collapsed.

"Um.." she replied, "A piece of shit starship that can't handle simplistic flight?"

Laughter erupted from the recruits but Jenkins did not look amused. He closed on her so fast she instinctively took a step back. He looked like he was about to hit her again until his MobiGlas beeped loudly at him. He paused mid-stride and glanced at it. His eyes went wide and he pressed a button on an earpiece inside his left ear, "Sir?" he said with surprising calmness.

After a moment's pause he said, "Sir? This one? But..... Yes Sir, I understand." He turned his attention back to Eva and glared at her with a look at count kill. "The Commander wants to speak with you Hawkins." He turned and gestured to a room elevated on the back wall, overlooking the simulators. The room had a single wide window spanning the front wall which was heavily tinted from the outside.

Eva made her way over to the stairs and climbed them feeling the eyes of the entire group on her until finally Jenkins regained his composure and started barking names again. She paused with her hand on the door handle, took a deep breath and opened the door.

Inside the room was all smooth dark surfaces and technology. Screens filled with starmaps, stats readouts and more than a few sensor screens scattered the back walls. At the front wall looking out the window at the simulators stood a man of impressive height and broadness of shoulders. His hair was dark with patches of grey at the temples, cut short and meticulously groomed. He stood motionless, hands clasped behind his back and for a moment Eva wondered if she should clear her throat or something to announce her presence.

Suddenly he spoke in a calm and not unpleasant tone, "People wonder why I spent time up here. They say I should be back at command where I can be 'more useful'. But I find this is the best place to see the raw potential of the next generation of pilots before idiots like Jenkins warp and twist them into identical robots incapable of independant thought."

He was silent for a moment, and Eva thought that maybe he was waiting for her to respond. She opened her mouth as if to say something but he turned to face her. He looked at her with dark and serious eyes, locking her gaze and looked at her thoughtfully, "Tell me Hawkins, how did you learn to fly like that?"

"Natural talent, I guess." Eva replied in the same tone that she normally reserved for people like Jenkins, assuming that this man will be no different.

The man raised one eyebrow but his voice did not waver, "Jenkins is an blunt instrument, Miss Hawkins. He only knows one way to speak to people and thinks that it earns him respect. All it gets him is obediance out of fear. I, on the other hand, will speak to you as a human being and I expect a similar tone in reply. Do not mistake this for weakness. If you continue that tone with me I will have you shipped back home faster than you can say UEE dropout, am I clear?"

Eva swallowed hard and lowered her gaze. She wondered silently to herself why she just felt like she had been scolded like a parent scolds a child who had just sworn in public. She raised her eyes back to his and noticed he was still looking at her expectantly.

"Sorry Sir. I....." she began and then sighed, "I used to fly my mother's Aurora on trading runs with her when I was growing up." she answered.

This earned a raising of both eyebrows from the man, "The Aurora is a fine vessel, Miss Hawkins, and very under-rated by many. From what age have you been flying it?"

She stiffened her posture and replied somewhat proudly, "Twelve, Sir."

The man whistled low at the answer, "You do realise that allowing a minor to pilot a starship in public space is a crime, and by telling me this you could be landing your mother in a lot of trouble?"

"By all means," Eva replied matter-of-factly, "If you can find her please do let me know. I would love to give her a proper goodbye."

The Commander looked as though he was going to scold her again for a moment, but then his brows furrowed as the true meaning of her response came to him. He nodded and offered a slight smile, "I am Commander Joseph Stranger. I'm in charge of this installation. Part of my job is to keep an eye out for people with potential to become something more than your run of the mill Navy pilot. I wont beat around the bush, Miss Hawkins. You are up here because you demonstrated skill beyond that of most your age."

Stranger glanced out the window just in time to see yet another recruit crash and burn and Eva followed his gaze, noticing also that Manic was stepping down from the ladder from a safely landed simulation. She couldn't stop the smile from forming on her lips.

"The moves you used out there couldn't be learned in something like an Aurora and I doubt you ever suffered catestrophic failure like Jenkins put you through. A lot of those moves were on instinct and reflex. That's what I'm interested in. If you accept my proposal you will be put through special training. You will be housed and trained with your fellow recruits down there, but you will get the best first choice in bunk, rations and equipment, you will be given aditional training and access to restricted hardware. You will answer directly to me, not Jenkins. In return I expect nothing short of excellence from you."

"If you survive training you will be called on at times to perform missions that never happened for departments of the military that don't exist and will be bound by a non-disclosure agreement that will last until the day you die, which incidently, based on the risk of such missions might be sooner than you think. Or," he motioned down onto the simulator floor where Jenkins was shouting yet another recruit down to the point of tears, "you can go back down there and deal with that. What do you say?"

NEXT ENTRY: The Forging
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Re: Eva's Origins

Postby WP_Crying_Devil » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:40 pm

The Forging

The next year of Eva's life seemed to melt into one endless cycle of torturous days and painful nights of recovery. True to his word, Commander Stranger had kept a close eye on her progress and always made sure she had the best gear, the freshest food and first choice in the few things the recruits were allowed to choose. The other side of this coin however meant that she was expected to train harder and longer than the other recruits.

She was assigned specialist trainers in every discipline. A marksman in firearms, an expert in hand to hand combat, an elite athlete, genuine ace pilots. Every day she was pushed to exhaustion and there was not one night that she didn't go to bed sporting a series of fresh bruises. As she slipped into her bunk each night she would find a parcel under her pillow containing field meds to inject into her bruises to heal them faster, ointments to rub into her skin to take the edge off minor scrapes and cuts, and supliments to swallow to build her strength as she slept so that she could go through the punishment all over again the next day.

It was not all bad though. She did love the special issue toys she was granted access to. Such as the prototype of a portable railgun rifle, which was one of her favorites. Every week there was a new revision of it waiting for her to use at the firing range. The first time the group went to the firing range she was pulled aside for a special safety briefing while the other recruits were issued their laser pistols, stood in a line and started firing downrange at the targets. It was some time later that Eva was allowed out onto the range.

As instructed she squared her shoulders and put the butt of the rifle firmly into the crook of her right shoulder. She eyed down the sights of the rifle and flicked the safety off with her thumb. The rifle seemed to 'spin up' in some way, a soft faint whine increasing in pitch as the internal capacitors charged. Once charged, a green light lit up in the bottom of the sights. She pulled the trigger and, with a loud hum of electromatnets coming to life, the rifle launched a projectile down the range at blistering speed, shattering the target and sending up a large ploom of dust behind it. Everyone stopped and stared at her with gaping mouths. She was standing still, frozen in place at the carnage in front of her. Slowly the stunned expression on Eva's face was replaced with a huge grin and she couldn't help but let out a loud laugh, "Oh, I have GOT to get one of these!"

She also looked forward to simulator time where she got to test her reflexes against scenarios that got more difficult every week. After a few months they started performing drills in real aircraft with instructors in Avengers but after a few flights Eva was granted leave to fly the drills solo in a Hornet.

Moments of excitement like this were often overshadowed though. Hand to hand combat proved to be the greatest source of Eva's woes. Every day she was subjected to an onslaught of abuse at the hands of a specialist who taught her various forms of martial arts and wrestling tactics. They taught her the human body's weak spots - usually by demonstrating them on her, and gave her theoretical knowledge of the anatomy of known alien races and where similar weak points existed on them.

As time went on Eva's mental state deteriorated day by day as they blurred into a seeming never-ending stream of pain, exhaustion and fitful sleep. At four months in she had yet to land even one blow onto her combat trainers and had thought seriously about giving up more than a few times. These were the thoughts in her head as she lay in her bunk just before lights out. Half of the recruits had been taken out for a night time drill leaving Eva about a dozen other recruits in the barracks.

Suddenly her world went dark as a sack was put over her head and she was dragged off the bunk, hitting the floor hard. Something struck her left temple making lights flare in her vision and the world seemed to start spinning. She was grabbed roughly by the shoulders and dragged out into the cool night air. After a handful of minutes she was shoved to the ground, landing in cold mud. She tore off the hood and scrambled to her feet, immediately sorry that she did as pain stabbed through her head making her wince.

Composing herself, she glanced around. She had been dragged to the training grounds behind the barracks and was surrounded by four recruits in the dim light, one of which was walking in circles around her.

"For the life of me," the circling recruit spoke, "I can't see what's so special about you. Maybe the old man likes redheads and gives you special treatment for a little special treatment in return hmmm?" Eva recognised the voice as Bridges immediately. "Well, teacher's pet. Let's find out just how special you are."

The other three cracked chemlights and threw them onto the ground, stepping back to make room. Bridges moved to stand in front of Eva, a baton in each hand. "I don't suppose one of those is for me, or are you stacking the odds in your favor. I should have guessed you'd never try to take me on in a fair fight. It's not really your style, is it?"

Bridges sneered at Eva and lunged, swinging a baton at her head. Eva ducked back out of the way, her mind still a little clouded but clearing up quickly. The first baton missed, but Bridges turned and slammed her second baton into Eva's left forearm heavily causing Eva to grunt in pain and take a step back.

"Fine..." Eva said, "Let's see what you can do." She rolled her shoulders and widened her feet a little, drawing herself into a defensive stance as she had been taught. Bridges came at her again, all swinging batons and fancy footwork, and Eva ducked, stepped and spun out of her way without being struck during this barrage.

To Eva's surprise, as her head cleared, she was able to follow Bridges's movements easily enough. Fast and ferocious as she was in her attacks, Eva was used to trying to defend herself against veteran specialists. In comparison these attacks were slow and even seemed a little clumbsy.

Eva lifted her face towards Bridges and smiled, looking down her nose at the other woman the way Bridges often looked down at others. She extended her left hand out towards Bridges and made a beckoning motion with her fingertips, taunting Bridges to have another go.

Bridges almost snarled at her and launched into the attack, swinging a feint at Eva's ribcage and then swinging the real blow at her head. Eva saw the motion of the feint and knew instinctively that Bridges wasn't putting in enough effort to make that into a serious blow. She palmed it away easily with her hand and ducked the second attack aimed for her head, slamming her palm into the back of Bridges's elbow as the attack sailed past her, sending the woman off balance.

Before Bridges could catch her footing Eva stepped in close, positioning herself inside of the effective swinging arcs of the batons, and drove her elbow hard into Bridges's ribcage just under her right arm. As bridges recoiled back Eva turned her footing and ducked low again, coming up under the other woman's guard and driving her fist into her stomach knocking the wind out of her. Bridges staggered and Eva stepped to the side, turned again and extended her right hand. fingers outstretched to chop at the front of her throat causing Bridges to gag and choke sickeningly.

To add insult to injury, Eva finished her assault by kicking Bridges as hard as she could in the backside, sending the other woman sprawling face first into the mud. Eva bent down, retrieved the batons and whirled on the other three recruits.

"She's got two broken ribs and a ruptured trachea. You could get her to the medics and save her life or you can try your luck with me and let her drown in her own blood." She shrugged, as if their choice meant little to her, "What will it be?"

The three glanced at each other and then down at Bridges before bending down to pick her up, dragging her in the direction of the medical building. "It would be wise to forget this ever happened!" Eva called after them, the reply coming in a quick ackowledging wave.

The incident had two main impacts on Eva's life. Firstly, she realised that her training really was paying off and she focused on it with new vigor finding renewed enjoyment in the challenges it presented with confidence that she was in fact improving all the time.

Secondly it put Bridges in the infirmary for four weeks removing her poison from the squad long enough to dull her influence. No one ever told the military police just how Bridges got her injuries, and the three who had assisted Bridges in the assault seemed to have changed alliances having gained respect for Eva from the way she had dealt with them on the night, not to mention the knowledge that the red headed girl could likely do the same to all of them without breaking a sweat.

When Bridges returned to the squad she found herself practically alone, isolated from the group because of her own actions. She withdrew into herself and Eva often caught her glaring from afar with dark brooding eyes. Eva tried to ignore the woman and focused on her own training.

The following months passed with no real incident. Weaker recruits dropped off on an almost fortnightly basis leaving only a dozen left of the original fifty by the last month of this year of hell.

Pilots wings earned and proper handles assigned, the last exercise was a live fire shp boarding exercise. The recruits were split into two groups of six, each one given a mock up of a military transport ship to defend. To Eva's dismay, Bridges was in her's. Jenkins stood before the two teams barking out the parameters of the exercise.

"If you fail your role as pilots, you may be boarded by the enemy who will be intent on hijacking your vessel or stealing sensitive information either from the ship or to torture it out of you. Your role will be two fold. Firstly, you must repell the boarding party and execute the invading group. If you also find yourself unable to achieve this, then your final role will be to destroy sensitive systems and die an honorable death"

"The boarding party will cosist of combat training bots armed with stun pistols. They will not kill you, but they will hurt so much you will wish you did die. You will be armed with standard issue Navy laser sidearms. These are fully live and ready to kill, people. Be careful. Group one will be led by Manic, group two will be led by Valkyrie. Do not disappoint me!"

Eva looked over at Manic and hold her fist out towards him. He reached over and bumped his fist against her's. They grinned at each other and Eva said, "Kick some ass, Manic" before turning and heading over to armory table. Laying on the table were five laser pistols laid out neatly, and a case labelled 'Valkyrie'. Opening the case Valkyrie lifted out a pulse rifle, it's weight slight and balance near perfect. She slid her hand over the smooth curved surfaced with a smile, hefted into the crock of her arm for a moment, testing how it felt. Nodding, she turned to her team.

"Alright people. We've been through hell and back together. We just need to get through this last test and we can get off this rock and start making a difference out there. We will set up defensive positions in the front operations area. Watch each other's blind spots and cover each other's asses, and we might just get through this without convulsing on the ground choking on our own drool. Alright, let's do this!"

The team filed into the mockup of the transport, Bridges bringing up the rear. Eva stepped in front of her causing the other woman to pull up short. "I need you focused through this. Are we good?"

"Yeah whatever." Bridges muttered back and shoved past Eva, bumping shoulders heavily with her on the way past. Eva rolled her eyes and turned to followed the team inside.

Inside was under simulated emergency lighting. Red lights illuminated the edges of the ceiling and floor, and there were two lines of red flashing lights indicating the isle down the centre of the craft. Eva positioned the team in defensive positions at the back of the cockpit, using what little cover the various partitions offered. Eva positioned herself at the front of the formation, closest to the back of the craft, and levelled her rifle at the entrance way.

"Weapons hot!" she called to the crew, who all flicked off their weapon safety switches and waited. After what seemed forever Eva saw movement on the far side of the cargo area, "Here they come...." she said just barely loudly enough for her team to hear. She eyed down the sights of the rifle and rested her finger on the trigger and at the next sign of movement, send an energy round sailing down the ship to spark glance off the shoulder of a robot.

Taking this as a queue to fire, the rest of the team started firing, shards of laser fire zipping through the air. Eva squeezed single rounds out of the pulse rifle as she saw movement but each round that sunk into a robot's body or the walls caused a puff of smoke to spit into the narrow entry making it impossible to see.

"Hold fire!" Eva called and the firing stopped, "Wait until you see something to shoot, and shoot true.." she said more quietly.

For what seemed like an eternity nothing happened. The smoke at in front slowly dissipated revealing a few deactivated robots laying on the floor. A few seconds later, stun blasts erupted from what was left of the smoke zipping up through the structure sending two of the recruits flailing to the ground in convulsing pain. Eva opened fire again with her rifle, holding the trigger down for a burst of fire each time. As robots stepped into view that were quickly dispached by concentrated fire but after six destroyed bots there were more coming.

"Cover me." Eva called back, knowing that if she is to end this onslaught before she loses the rest of her team she will need to get to the back of the ship and close seal the doors. Her order was answered by a surge of laser fire from her team and she broke cover, rolling across the floor to duck behind a chair. She then stepped out again planning to run closer to the back of the room when an intense hot pain lanced into her left shoulder.

It was like no other pain she'd ever felt, a deep pain that drilled into her flesh and radiated down her arm and through her chest. She screamed in pain and arched her back and, as she stumbled and reeled from the pain, glanced up in time to see a bot step through the smoke and fire a stun round into her stomach before her vision went blank.

Eva suddenly jerked awake and tried to sit up, but pain lanced through her shoulder again and she cried out and laid back into a firm pillow. She rubbed her eyes with her good hand and looked around. She was in the infirmary, her shoulder bound in bandages. A nurse looked up at her outburst and came over to her and checked her vitals without saying a word. She tapped on her MobiGlas and touched an earpiece with her fingertips, "Sir, you wanted to be notified when Valkyrie woke up? Yes Sir, that's correct. Very well."

She looked down at Eva and made some adjustments to her medication, "Commander Stranger will be here momentarily to speak with you." With that she turned and left leaving Eva alone in the room. About ten minutes later, Stranger opened the door and stepped inside.

"Miss Hawkins, it's good to see you awake."

Eva rubbed her head and tried to sit up again, but more slowly this time. She managed to get to a reclined half sitting position, wincing at the pain. Stranger motioned to the bandages, "Bridges shot you. She tried to claim that you were hit by a random unlucky shot as you tried to run under cover, but footage of the exercise showed her pistol clearly tracking you as you moved. She has been stripped of all UEE standings and has been grounded indefinitely. She will be dishonorably discharged from the UEE and disallowed clearance to pilot anything bigger than a hangar buggy for a very long time."

"I'm guessing we failed the mission, Sir?"

"On the contrary. Higgins saw what Bridges did and pistol whipped her. He stepped up and took command. He noticed what you were trying to achieve and managed to lead the other two down the length of the ship to seal the rear door. They used the time that bought them to destroy systems in the cockpit before the bots breached the seal again. They then held a brave last stand until they were taken down. Your team passed with phase two credentials with the loss of half of their team and with an internal traitor. I call that a success any day."

He continued, "We have you booked in for surgery to graft that laser blast to prevent scarring later this evening..." he started but Eva cut him off.

"Sir, with respect.... I'd like to keep the scar. It will remind me to trust my instincts more than people's loyalty claims in the future. But if you could do what you can to get me the hell out of this bed, I would appreciate it. I have to congratulate some people on a job well done."
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