The merchant square of Ostro reminded Jinaath of those early years living in the Eriadu slums. The mercantile-oriented nature, structure, and the species involved were wildly different, and yet…Back home, there too had been hastily constructed habitations, peddlers on the streets hawking their wares, would-be thieves slinking among the crowds searching for an opportunity to steal. Even the transitory nature was similar, though much more apparent here. Of course, there was also the fact that those people who knew each other stuck together.
Yet, he’d seen no group either as large nor as self-contained as the Miraluka community upon Eriadu had been. In fact, he had not come across any Miraluka, here. And what if he had? As he’d learned, though his ancestors might have once been a united people, as soon as the Miraluka fled Alpheridies in fragmented groups such an ideal had suffered a quiet death. No, despite the attempted intrusion of fond memories – playing with Vier, Mi’ik, Xer, Sumi, the calm teachings of Iolac, the companionship of Lanein, Eimeh, Xereey as they served the Houzran, his mother’s support, before… – he could not rely upon such ephemeral things.
Rather, he had engraved upon his mind the precise arc of his mother’s body as it was struck down, the deceptively gentle sway of her hair as she fell, her shrill scream, pleading, his name the last feeble whisper upon her unresponsive lips, a rictus of despair overtaking her…the blood, oh, the blood. It strengthened him, stoked his determination ablaze, and brought him as close as could be to that visceral reaction of excruciating wrath. But that power he’d felt back then eluded him, tauntingly remaining out of his grasp. Inevitably, his emotions would fluctuate towards grief, regret – or worse yet, his old mentor’s voice would suddenly infringe upon his psyche, espousing control, as if he were haunted by some sort of a ghost.
Some days, he didn’t even bother anymore, living simply as if he were one of the myriads of witless refugees who lacked any proper ambition. It fueled his self-loathing, whenever he emerged out of such a funk, but such was his life now. And as much as he itched for more, his lack of resources forced him to seek employment. Certainly, he could have resorted to petty theft – or even purposeless murder – yet neither appealed to him. Perhaps his intact morals were what prevented him access to the so-called dark side, however…if he lost himself in his search for dominion, what would the point of it all be? Is it truly losing yourself that you fear? Or that you may not have yet discovered who you are, beneath all these layers of self-deception? a different part of him whispered. Jinaath shook it off, however. He had work to do.
Work for Jin was being a hiree at a small-time yet stable merchant, who’d been there since a few months ago as far as he knew. The middle-aged man was a Chiss who went by Tisok, since his whole name wasn’t something most foreigners could pronounce. He ran an electronics and repair shop, repurposing scrap and junk into trinkets, fiddling with machinery people brought in to get it working, and so on. Since Jinaath had offered his services as a splicer, the mechanic’s customer had expended, but he insisted keeping a place near the edge of the square rather than moving towards the center. Which was just as well given that they offered questionably legal services.
Besides his hacking, and minor assistance to Tisok’s repairs, Jinaath was basically a glorified errand-boy. He bought parts they needed, went around selling whatever had stayed in the shop too long, and investigated (and subverted) the competition. Not that the latter mattered too much in a place like this. Currently, he was on a return trip, carrying a burlap sack with a few items he’d procured.
When he returned, an odd scene was unfolding at Tisok’s place. All the small screens he had, from computers, to televisions, to viewscreens had been interconnected hastily, and were currently displaying a video from the bridge. Jinaath arrived just in time to see the leader of the takeover, and hear his speech. Tisok let it run till the end, including the execution, which panicked the watchers. Jinaath could sense their fear, confusion, desire to flee.
Meanwhile, all he felt was a righteous fury. The fleet might not have been a decent place, all things considering, but these scum had crossed a line. Now, the anger came easily, eagerly, and would not be quelled by platitudes. “Are you really gonna let these bastards do as they please?” he shouted his frustration into the scattering crowd, slapping a palm upon the table full of not-quite-delicate machinery. The Chiss owner frowned at him reproachfully, but was more concerned with packing up.
As for the others…They were too shaken up by the real-time recording of a murder, Jinaath could tell. Scoffing, he turned to Tisok, handing over the items. The man grunted, then paused to study him seriously. With another species, they would have met gaze to gaze, but as it was, the Chiss would just get a really good look at his mask – in another circumstance, that would be amusing. Today, Jin merely waited impatiently for the man to get on with it.
“I ain’t waitin’ on ya to change yer mind, lad,” he finally uttered gruffly. Jin shrugged – he’d expected so much. “How ‘bout you give me some good stuff as a farewell gift?” Jinaath suggested dryly. Tisok shook his head, muttering something in Cheunh under his breath. Jinaath did receive something, though it was just a scramble key. It wasn’t a computer, but better than nothing. “Thanks,” he said, pocketing the lock picker into the inner side of his dark grey robe.
Then came his self-imposed ordeal of sifting through the emotions of all the ship-folk, finding those with sufficient anger, irritation, displeasure, or variation thereof. He approached each such person, exchanging quiet words, offering encouragement and co-operation, refining ideas for a counter-attack, and coordinating plans. His search eventually led him to a bar, full of riled up people. “Hey, hey!” he shouted to get attention. “Is this the meeting place for the resistance, or what? Might wanna relay that info to the others!”