The mingled sounds and smells of the arena's concourse brought a frown to Pious Newelle's face as he moved through the crowd. Seldom did he go planet side of Karan III, and even less so for personal affairs.
“This is the last time I will ever have to set foot here,” he reminded himself, the thought making his surroundings less repulsive.
As he moved, the mix of the cluster's lessor races and lessor station parted to give him, and his Imperial Navy uniform, a clear path. Turning a corner and descending the stairs into the arena proper, he looked out over the gathering audience. All of them, except for he, eager to witness the spectacle of female combatants engaged in hand to hand combat. Pious walked along side the large mat which a preliminary bout was about to begin on. He took little notice of the Khanid and Jin-Mei at his sides as he sunk into one of the surprisingly comfortable V.I.P. Seats. Though his eyes were on the two women pummeling each other with martial grace, his thoughts were on the future, of what he must do, of what would be.
Soon a well built Ni-Kunni woman would take her place in the center of the arena, and he would be nothing but proud. He would make her dreams come true, this unlikely daughter of his, and in doing so would strip her of her victory she so wished for this night.
“She must leave this behind with no thoughts of returning,” he assured himself.
Yet he was troubled. He swallowed hard at the pang of selfish guilt he felt, remembering the happenings of years past that had paved this way.
* * *
“Go in there, child!” Pious commanded. The girl looked terrified, her younger sibling having come out of the room moments before, wailing as if someone had severed a limb. But Pious had no sympathy for this dirt covered, near starved, Ni-Kunni girl of about nine years. He looked down at her and with authority pointed into the med lab where a technician stood waiting. She looked back at him with wide eyes for but a moment before she obeyed.
“Standard slave screening for this one too, sir?” asked the technician.
Pious responded with a curt nod, turned away, and strode away looking over the papers that were thrust upon him earlier in the day.
“What am I going to do with two young slaves? Slaves cost money...” he muttered as he flipped through the pages, trying to come to terms with his new responsibilities. He waited for the technician to finish with the girl. The boy had been shuffled away to another room to contain his crying, though his muffled sounds still could be heard.
“I hear that you have returned with more in your troop than when you left this morning, Major Newelle.”
Pious stood quickly to attention, “Yes, sir.” He handed the papers to his superior. “I have been given two Ni-Kunni children by a desperate mother, sir. She must have been unable to care for them, I had seen them begging by one of the mines, sir. Days ago the girl had been beaten in an alley, luckily we happened upon her and scared off her attacker.”
“Hmpf. Have you any slaves back home, Major?”
“No, sir. Frankly, I'm uncertain what to do with these two. My family has but modest means. The costs to care for, train, and educate...”
“Sell one, or both if you feel the drain would still be too much. Either here or on the home-worlds, it would be a nice bonus for a man with a young family.”
“I will consider that, sir, thank you.”
Both men turned to look at the approaching technician.
“I will let you sort this out, Major.”
Pious accepted the papers back from his superior. He and the technician gave the man proper respects as he sauntered off then faced each other.
“Major Newelle, both the boy and girl check out. They are malnourished, of course, and have some parasites we will remove momentarily. Other than that, they are healthy enough. The girl had a few abnormal readings, but nothing to be concerned with.”
Pious nodded as he accepted the technician's data chip report and sat back down as the technician went off to complete his work on the two children. He plugged the data chip into his pad and began reviewing the results with a critical eye.
“If this girl is of flawed stock, I will rid myself of her here... The boy I can fetch a better price for in Amarr...” he muttered as he got to the girl's report.
A few abnormal readings, nothing to be concerned with. Pious felt a bit better having seen it himself, but something... there was something about these particular tests... what was it?
“Damn... Better to be sure she isn't going to die in transit or some such...”
He rose to his feet and found where the technician was tending to the girl.
“I want a full military diagnosis on the girl.”
* * *
The cheers of the crowd and a familiar name awoke Pious from his daydreaming.
“... and the challenger: Mitaraaaaaa Newellllllllle!!”
He looked upon the face of his daughter. The hulking Ni-Kunni stepped onto the mat and turned to each corner of the arena, giving a customary bow.
“She could win.” Pious thought to himself.
“How does she look, Father?” one of his sons, Psidias, Mitara's closest companion and training partner for the last several years called out as he arrived at the mats edge.
“I think you've both done well," Pious responded with a practiced, uncaring tone.
Psidias smiled a bit and bowed to his father.
As the announcer started the introduction of his daughters opponent, Mitara stepped off the mat as courtesy demanded.
Pious stood and met his daughter.
“Father,” she bowed with deepest respect.
“Mitara. I come with news. You will be in the Academy's next rotation.”
Mitara's face lit up and she turned to her brother with joy, he had a mixed look of sharing her happiness and confusion.
“Thank you, Father! Thank you!” She again bowed deep and smiled. Turning away from the True Amarrians she again stepped upon the mat.
Psidias looked at his father for several moments before asking quietly, “Could this have not waited until after the match?”
Pious gave his son a look, demanding to know why he was being questioned.
Psidias shifted a bit, “I know how badly she wanted to go... But we... she worked too hard for this, she needs to be here right now, not thinking about serving aboard some cruiser over Hophib!”
Pious snorted and turned his attention towards the mat, “You must learn to trust my judgment, Psidias.”
* * *
As Pious waited he rolled the possibilities over in his mind. A latent genetic defect? Bias towards anti-authority? What was it? He knew there was something, but God help him, he could not recall. As he heard the technician's footsteps he would no longer have to wait. Good.
He was handed a secured datapad and the technician went back to his duties. Only Pious' equals or superiors would be able to unlock the report. The tickle in his head that something was amiss demanded to be scratched and he wasted no time pouring over the report.
As he paged through, a chuckle escaped him upon reading a section of the report. “Hmpf, not entirely pure blooded. Not what I was worried about, and not surprising among the lowest of station here at the fringes of civilization.” He continued to page, yet he found nothing to justify his reservations.
Then he looked upon two words: Capsuleer Compatible.
“What great gift has God given unto me?” Pious sputtered out in shock and sat back, staring at the wall across from his seat.
“She is worth more than I can imagine. God.... What would someone pay?”
His mind raced pondering what this Ni-Kunni girl could bring at the slave auction.
Then revelation struck.
“A capsuleer slave will bring immediate income..... A capsuleer Newelle will elevate my House for all eternity.”
* * *
Pious closed his eyes and sighed deeply as the quick, but bruised, Khanid woman avoided a crushing front kick and swung up behind Mitara with blinding speed and wrapped her arm around his daughters neck. It was only a matter of moments before Mitara was tapping out on the mat. A victory she had worked years to attain denied her. Pious loved his daughter, and seeing her fail, even if it was the desired outcome, was difficult.
Psidias watched the scene shaking his head, finding it difficult to contain his anger, “She was not herself... distracted...”
Pious removed the regret from his voice, “She must rise above this now, Psidias. Her future lies with the Navy, with the Empire.”
“Just like you, eh, Father?” Psidias made no effort to hide his feelings about how his father had sabotaged his beloved sisters bout.
Pious looked at his son, and truth resounded in his words, “No... not like me.”