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Beasts of the Field (Chronicle)

Beasts of the Field

The scene is a bar in the Great Wildlands, at the outskirts of Minmatar space. It is very late at night.

A recent war in New Eden has spurred the three lost Minmatar tribes to return home. The Thukkers, wanderers of space, have been invited to rejoin the Republic, and are preparing for their section of space to become an autonomous part of the Minmatar collective. The Nefantar, also known as the Ammatars, who were thought to have been traitors against their own people in an older war, were revealed as protectors and invited back after their homeworld was ravaged. The Starkmanir, once thought extinct but kept alive through the good grace of the Nefantar, were rescued and offered to rejoin their people.

It is a time of war, and integration of these three tribes has temporarily taken a back seat to the efforts on the front lines. In the meanwhile, refugees and hopefuls from the tribes have situated themselves in refugee stations such as this one, waiting for permission, visas, housing and jobs in Minmatar space. The bar is in the middle of one of those refugee areas.

SISPUR, a Nefantar, sits at his table, drinking. ANNES, a Starkmanir, enters, gets a beer from the bartender, looks around at the empty hall, and eventually goes over to SISPUR's table, pulling up a chair.

ANNES
This free?


SISPUR
Sure.

ANNES sits.

ANNES
Didn't think anyone else would be here. Most everyone is at home, asleep.


SISPUR
Most everyone clearly doesn't have any worries about uprooting from their home, taking whatever stuff they could carry and plonking it down here while they wait to hear if the homeland will take them in at last.


ANNES
It'll take us in, there's no doubt about that. You know it as well as I do.

SISPUR takes a long sip from his drink.

SISPUR
Yeah, I guess I do. But I hate the waiting. I had a life back on Ammatar, sad as it was. I was appreciated in my own way. I don't like waiting to be taken into a place where I'm not appreciated, much as I want to get back.

TRIAT, a Thukker man, enters the bar, grabs a drink and sits down at the same table without a word.

TRIAT
How's it going?

ANNES and SISPUR look at him wordlessly.

TRIAT
Pretty dead here tonight. Thought I was the only one alive.

TRIAT laughs.

TRIAT
So what you guys doing up here so late? You selling?

TRIAT looks at the two stone faces, then laughs again.

TRIAT
Nevermind. Anyone catch the game recently?

TRIAT drains his glass, burps and waves at the bartender.

TRIAT
Hey! Fill-up!


SISPUR, in a frosty tone
So, is this the part where you show us your tattoos?


ANNES
Or puke all over the table, maybe?

TRIAT stares at them. The bartender comes over and fills his glass. There is a tense moment; then TRIAT rubs his face with his hands, sighs and chuckles a little.

TRIAT
Not coming off too well, am I?


SISPUR
I've seen Fedos with better personality, really.


ANNES
But you're welcome to join us, if you like. Not as if there's anything else to do right now.


TRIAT
Sorry, guys. I've been hanging out with the thuks too much. I'm Triat.


SISPUR
Sispur.


ANNES
Annes.


SISPUR
I'm the local traitor, and Annes here's the local revolution symbol, and we were just talking about how our motherland seems to want us here and gone all at the same time. What's keeping you up this time of night?

TRIAT leans back in his chair and gives this proper thought.

TRIAT
The same, I guess. I dunno if you know how we live, travelling through space and selling our stuff, but there isn't as much insecurity as you might think. If you're going to eke out some kind of existence up here, you need to be real good at being proactive, finding your own sources of raw material and working your own deals.


ANNES
And you think rejoining the Republic will damage that.


TRIAT
Well, if all that independence is completely taken away, and everything is out of your hands, you're going to get uncomfortable. Stop sleeping, maybe. Drink instead and act like a fool.


SISPUR
But you guys are joining up by choice, or at least you voted to have the Wildlands turn into some quasi-esque part of Republic space. You all retain your holdings and your independence. It doesn't seem like your life has to change that much.


ANNES
I don't think that's what he's after.


SISPUR
Oh?


ANNES
I think he's one of the Thukkers who's actually moving house, into the Republic

TRIAT nods.

TRIAT
There were votes, and talk of independence, but the writing really is on the wall for anyone not too stupid to read it. The Republic is going to go through an upswing. And as much as we Thukkers brag about living on the edge, we do spend a lot more time than we'd ever admit simply trying not to look down.


ANNES
So you want safety.

TRIAT looks a little hurt at the comment.

TRIAT
I think it'd be nice simply to have a home again. Some base of operations where I can solidify, get my act together, and rely on tomorrow being the same as today. Somewhere that doesn't tremble as it moves. Or move at all, come to that.


SISPUR
And it looks like that's about to happen. So why're you awake, and drinking?


TRIAT
Because I think too much. Like I said, you stay proactive, always looking for connections and deals, which is about the same as looking for a way you can crowbar yourself into someone else's business. It's about being dominant. And that's impossible in this life I have now, when I'm waiting for some outside system to lay down the law for me.

TRIAT takes a drink

TRIAT
But it's better than that dead uncertainty. It has to be. How is it with you guys?


SISPUR
I'm pretty certain.


TRIAT
That's good.


SISPUR
I'm certain I'm going to be treated like crap over there.


TRIAT
Really?


SISPUR
Sure.


TRIAT
I thought you guys were heroes.

TRIAT points his glass at ANNES

TRIAT
For saving your asses. No offence.

ANNES smiles.

SISPUR
That was only a small group of people. The rest of us ...

SISPUR takes a deep breath.

SISPUR
The rest of us just tried to get stuff done the best we could. Live our lives and not leave anyone off any worse than we had to. We weren't traitors of the Minmatar cause, any more than we were saviors of the Starkmanir.


TRIAT
But people treat you that way.


SISPUR
Either or, yes. Scum of the earth or savior of the people. We're not humans in their eyes, we're symbols.


ANNES
No, I think we're the symbols.


SISPUR
Well, all right. True. Then we're the mirrors. People use us to see what's inside themselves. If they want to see Minmatar having been betrayed, ruined and left in tatters, then that's what we are to them. If they want everything to have worked out, with the saviors of the slaves and all that, then that's what we helped accomplish. They externalize their feelings on us.


TRIAT
We've had some of that, too. But we're used to people ragging on us. Comes with being a merchant.


ANNES
We're not used to it at all. I don't know what we're used to. I don't even know what we are.


TRIAT
People seem to think you're simpletons, for the most part.


ANNES
What do you think?

TRIAT takes a sip from his drink

TRIAT
I think you know when to be quiet, which is a lot more important than most people realize.

ANNES nods to SISPUR.

ANNES
I don't want to be accepted back to the fold.

ANNES nods to TRIAT.

ANNES
I don't even want to find a new home. I want my old home back. It wasn't an easy life, but it wasn't bad, either. It was just a life.


SISPUR
Half a life, some might say. And thanks to us - or despite us - you're now being brought into the full glory of what you can be.


ANNES
Apparently those people know me better than I know myself. You know what's funny? Those very same people are treating us Starkmanir like the beasts of the field.

ANNES lifts his glass close to SISPUR, and stares at him through it, wide-eyed.

ANNES
They'll go up to us and say, "THIS ... IS CALLED ... A KHUMAAK. CAN YOU SAY KHUMAAK?"

ANNES lowers the glass again, leans back and takes a sip.

ANNES
Apparently we're budding geniuses and slobbering retards all at the same time.


TRIAT
And you were taken from slavery and left floating in space, so now there's a huge amount of insecurity brewing in your ranks.


ANNES
Yeah. Because we really don't want to be ungrateful. Really, we don't. But we've suddenly had this new identity thrust on us, and have no idea who we are anymore. Just the same as you guys-

ANNES nods to SISPUR

ANNES
-and now we're just ... there. Like figures carved out of wood.

TRIAT raises his glass

TRIAT
Beasts of the field, man.

TRIAT, ANNES and SISPUR clink their glasses together. ANNES starts to say something, then stops.

ANNES
This ... drunken woman came up to me the other day. Thoroughly, thoroughly drunk. It was in some bar, before I was transferred to this camp. I was on my own, minding my own business when she said to me, way too loudly, that she wanted to take me home and have sex with me.

TRIAT and SISPUR's eyes go wide. TRIAT takes a sip of his beer to cover his surprise.

ANNES
She said she'd never done it with a Starkie

TRIAT chokes on his beer.

ANNES
Hey, you okay?

TRIAT nods and takes a moment to regain his composure, with ANNES looking on concernedly.

TRIAT
Uh, how'd you get out of that one?

ANNES smiles faintly and looks at the air.

ANNES
Who says I did?

TRIAT and SISPUR fall quiet.

ANNES
It wasn't that great. She had nice breasts, though.

TRIAT and SISPUR remain quiet.

ANNES laughs.

ANNES
What? You guys think I'm backwards, too? Come on.

TRIAT takes a small sip of his beer.

TRIAT
No, you're right. I guess we're all human.


SISPUR
And that's really it, isn't it? I mean, on paper my choice was either to leave or to remain in a politically unstable shithole. But even if it wasn't, I can't say that I'd still have stayed behind.


TRIAT
Even if you're being treated like you shouldn't be here? Or that you should be grateful? It's the last chance to turn around, you know. You could join up with the Gallente. They love us.


SISPUR
Even despite all that, no. I still want to go in. I don't know anybody in Minmatar space, and I'm certainly reminded of that on a regular basis, but I still feel like I know, if not the people, then the nation itself. You know?

TRIAT nods to ANNES and grins

TRIAT
He's certainly gotten to know the people.


ANNES
That one occasion aside, I don't even have the background that you guys have. All I've ever known is that I was destined to live in Ammatar space, growing up as part of a system that had little to do with the Minmatar and everything to do with the Amarr. And to be honest, even if I'm treated like a freak, for the first time in my life I feel like I'm somewhere I belong. It's not that I think these people wanted me in their lives, but it's ... it's clear they needed something. There was a gap, there was this dark, raw opening where the people of my tribe were torn from the body of the Minmatar all those years ago, and the remainder of that body cannot rest until we're rejoined. If there's an adjustment period, and there will be, and if there's pain, and there'll certainly be plenty of that before we start to heal at last, then that's how it has to be. I have to accept that, and play my part in the healing the best I can.

ANNES looks at TRIAT

ANNES
Even if you left of your own accord - as a nation, I mean - and although you personally may be returning for your own reasons, I think you're partly brought back by the same force that pulled me in.


TRIAT
By being part of something greater? Yeah. Could be right. Some greater whole. Something outside ourselves.


SISPUR
And something we can be proud of, something that stands for the same things we do as individuals.


ANNES
And lets us stand for something, not merely what we represent but who we are.

TRIAT raises his glass, as does SISPUR and ANNES

ALL say, To Matar!