Rain and ash

A short piece of EVE fanfiction I wrote for the YC116 Pod and Planet Fiction Contest.

Looking out of a window and seeing rain was a novel experience; it had been years since Brutus was last planetside. His father sat in his chair behind him, asleep, or at least drugged to a drifting haze. Stage three Derj’s disease was working it’s way through his veins, approaching its terminal stage. The drugs slowed the advance, but the day would soon come.

Brutus traced his finger over the smooth vein of crimson that patterned his cigarette case. It was inlaid with a thin polished slice of rock, made from a tiny chunk of the first batch of arkonor he’d ever mined, out in the nullsec wildlands of Catch. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply.

His father refused all but the most basic of treatments. His disease would kill him, needlessly. By the time he’d admitted to Brutus how advanced it was, all the ISK in New Eden couldn’t have helped him. Too proud, too resigned, too tired.

It had taken hours of navigating jump gates to get here, and almost the same amount of time again to transfer to a ship capable of breaking atmosphere, submit paperwork and clear customs regulations. By the time he had reached the hospice where his father lived out his days, Brutus was bone tired. He didn’t come here often. As next of kin, he got semi-automated reports from the staff on a periodic basis, and unless the pattern matching software on his neocom detected something unusual, he didn’t read them. He felt guilty about that. He paid for everything. The bills were subtracted from his wallet automatically on a fixed schedule, paid in old planetary money, barely registering against the bulk of his ISK. He felt guilty about that, too.

His father had met him at the door to his small apartment, walking stiffly with the aid of a stick. The bold strokes of his tattoos had faded, just like his strength. An old man, slowly turning to stone from the inside out. They sat, small glasses of golden brown spirit in hand, and did not speak.

They didn’t speak about the ridiculous wealth of capsuleers that could have made a difference, or the years of work it had taken to amass it. They didn’t talk about the disease eating away at the elder Wellforge. They especially didn’t talk about the wife and mother missing from the scene, or the scars they both shared documenting her loss.

Outside the air was heavy with rain; inside it was laden with unspoken words. Out in space, Brutus thought, there is no atmosphere at all.

Eventually, his father had fallen asleep. Brutus stood and watched as raindrops raced along intricate channels down the window, and his cigarette slowly burnt to ash between his fingers, untouched.

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