There really wasn’t much to Lethe-2. Eve hadn’t been here for a day and she was already starting to go a little mad at the prospect of seeing these exact same rooms every single day. No wonder this place had gone to the dogs.
Her last stop would be Deck 7, engineering. There was only one deck below that: the brig. Eve wouldn’t go down there… for some reason, she pictured it as a whispering abyss beckoning her forward so it could reach out and swallow her. These feelings of dread happened a lot with no explanation.
The engineering room was grimy and poorly ventilated… not that heat could possibly bother Eve. The machines again formed a lovely industrial harmony, all of them working together to sustain life (as it were) at the bottom of the ocean. She approached the engine and negative-mass generator, a great spherical machine that let out a sonorous hum as it milled massive amounts of energy to power the entire facility. Eve lay her hand on it and let the hum run through her, let herself drift… when a wet crunch sounded from the other room.
Something was broken. Her skin stood on end and she went to leave the way she came- but then her eyes drifted to the source of the commotion. It couldn’t possibly hurt to get a closer look, right?
Eve carefully inched forward, making sure not to put too much of her considerable weight into her steps, and stopped at the doorway. There was another clatter and a choked cry. There was someone in there.
She pressed her ear to the door “P-please,” she heard. A frail woman. “I-I didn’t mean it, please…”
Another crash and a squawk. “Don’t lie to me,” said another voice. Feminine, but that was where the similarities with the first voice ended. This one was strong and assertive, almost statesmanly. “You know how much I hate… liars!” A muffled cracking noise and a low moan of pain. “You said you’d keep an eye on her- instead I see you eating with your friends?”
‘Her’? Who was ‘her’? “Agh! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” the first voice choked. “I forgot, I swear, I won’t do it again, I’m sorry!”
She should go. This had nothing to do with her.
“What guarantee do I have?” the second voice asked. “How do I know this isn’t just you trying to trick me again?”
The first voice was gagged, choked, sobbing. “I-I didn’t… I didn’t try to trick you… urgh! Urgh! Urgh!”
“Stop that,” Eve said.
With a heavy sigh, Eve realized she had opened the door and strode inside. The movement was completely automatic. Now she was involved, and nothing she could do would ever make her not-involved.
This room looked to be storage for repairs and replacement parts. There were two people inside, Eve recognized one of them. It was that small, soft woman from dinner, Eirene. The one who had looked like she’d break if handled roughly.
She had been handled roughly. Her lip was split and her clothes were in tatters, with a long tear in her shirt to reveal the pale flesh of her belly. Her left arm hung as though she couldn’t move it, her right arm was nursing her ribs, there were the beginnings of bruises on her neck, and her cheeks were shiny with tears of pain and terror.
The other woman, who was holding Eirene by her shirt collar, was beautiful. She had sculpted features, a small mouth like a ripe cherry, wide and dark eyes. She was gorgeous by any standards, buxom and feminine and in-shape. She had pale white hair that gave her a faintly ethereal quality.
Eirene’s blood stained her hands.
The white-haired beauty narrowed her eyes at the sight of Eve. “This is a private matter,” she scowled. “Go to bed.”
Eirene trembled like a leaf, her eyes overflowing with terror. Scared of Eve? No. Scared half to death of the white-haired woman.
“Let her go,” Eve said quietly.
The white-haired woman smiled grimly. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, have we? I’m Peitho. You must be the new transfer. I’ve read your file… Maia.”
“I don’t want to talk. I want you to stop hurting her and put her down- before I have to make you stop.” Eve took a step forward.
Wait, wait, what was she doing? Charging in like an action hero to protect the weak from a sadistic bully? That was about as far-removed from keeping a low profile as possible. She may as well announce her identity over the PA system.
But it wasn’t right to let this continue. But she was sticking her own neck out for little Eirene, who had never done a thing for her. But it wasn’t right. But she shouldn’t. But she had to.