Lysander Shepard is a third-generation colonist. His family stems from Ireland; his father is Owen, mother is Hannah, four year old sister is Mica, eighteen year old Richard is the oldest. Mindoir is a rising cornerstone in Citadel controlled space, known for it's flowing bounty of food and raw materials. However, the viscous raid of the growing colony has all but extinguished the rising star that was Mindoir.
Lysander Shepard yawned widely, and stretched as far as his cramped quarters would allow. He had long finished his task of harvesting the cabbage and pumpkins, and had even taken it upon himself to help his father for a while, until the elder Shepard had regained his stubborn pride and shooed the youth away. Lysander had then taken to his sanctuary, a groove hollowed out in a cluster of Baobab trees.
The place was the ideal size, after a little expansion with a pick ax for him. He was a bit scrawny for his age of fifteen. Most of the other farm boys, like his brother, sprouted with the harvest around age thirteen. Lysander had as well, but had stopped short halfway as if someone had accidentally unplugged him. He sighed, pushing his red curls from his line of sight. He huffed angrily as the stubborn curls fell back into place. The ruby red tresses ran through his family and all the way to Earth in some land called Ireland, Lysander had heard. He looked up instinctively, and looked round for the direction the sun was falling. 'North' He thought to himself. 'Almost time for Ralph to blow the whistle.' With that, he sprang from his place and scampered across the half empty field, spotting the foreman on the other side. Ralph Slawson was a pig of a man, physically. As wide as Lysander was long, he waddled instead of walked, and gave off the aura of a man that cares more for food than his actual job. An assumption, Lysander knew, was completely false. There was nothing going on in Mindoir that Ralph himself was not aware of.
Ralph was in the fields before anyone, surveying the harvest, remained there throughout the day (which during a typical day of Mindoir was 35 C) and was the last to leave. He was a shrewd business man, and always made certain that everything and everyone was accounted for. The boy darted across the earth, bare feet lightly padding over roots and dirt, as he made his way to the man. He was inches away when Ralph called to him. "'Lo there, Ly." The youth skidded to a halt beside the man, who was still consulting his ever-present omni-tool.
"Dammit! How do you do that?" Ralph's small mouth pulled upwards to a half smirk. "Easy, you run like a drunk varren." He finally looked up, apparently satisfied with what he saw and surveyed the boy with watery blue eyes. "It doesn't help that you've been trying to frighten me at the end of every work day since you were ten." Lysander grumbled under his breath as Ralph's omni-tool binged. "End of the day count is about to begin, not that I need to remind you." He added, surveying the boy proudly over the rims of his cracked glasses. He pushed a few buttons with his sausage-like fingers, his smile growing wider. The chirp of the horn sounded across the field, and the citizens of Mindoir began their trek, first to Ralph, then to their homes. "Impressive work, as always, Ly. You harvest like a machine!" Ralph squawked happily, bouncing on his tiny feet. He laid a pudgy hand on the boy's shoulder and gave it an affectionate shake. "Well done." Lysander pawed at the dirt beneath his feet, trying not to look pleased. "Wasn't anything, really." Owen Shepard, Lysander's father had reached them. "Surpassed us all again, did he, Ralph?" The foreman nodded happily, not looking up from his omni-tool.
"That he did, Owen, that he did. I'm thinking about adding a few more heads to his workload and see how he does with a challenge, what do you think?" Owen chuckled and clapped a calloused hand on his son's shoulder. "Sounds like a fine idea, honestly. I want to see how far the boy can really go." Lysander pushed away. "I'm standing right here, ya know! I'm fine with my workload the way it is, thanks." A few more people that had gathered around Ralph joined in the laugh, recommending more outlandish numbers for the boy to work through. Lysander caught his brother Richard's eye, who winked silently at him. The boy waved back, seeing he was no linger in the conversation, and trotted off.
Lysander was barely in the door of his family home when the shrill cry of Mica, his little sister threatened to burst his ear drums. "No, Mommy, no! No want to, no WANT TO!" He looked around and marveled at how the little banshee-like shrieks seemed to wash over his mother, Hannah. The woman remained where she stood, in front of the stove, her waist length brown curls tied at the nape of her neck, patient emerald eyes trained to the stove. "Mommy says yes, Mica. Now go." "No, Mommy, no wanna!" "Mica." Lysander knew this argument well. Mica spent her time playing in the mud while her brothers and father worked the fields, and her mother cleaned and cooked. At the end of each day came her one and only dreaded responsibility: wash up for dinner. Mica was messy, and enjoyed it, soap was her mortal enemy. Lysander sighed and gave it a try. He let a slow, trustworthy smile glide onto his face. "Heya, Mica! Whatcha doin?" Mica's muddy face lit up as she saw her brother.
"Wy! Wy! I made wots of stuff in my town taday!" Lysander inched closer. "Yeah? Like what?" "I mada castle, ana cwoosah, ana-AHHHHH!" Lysander grabbed the child by her waist and held her at arm's length. One glance and nod from his mother, and he carried the child up the steps to the bathtub. Mica did not go quietly. "Meaniemeaniemeaniemeaniemeaniemeanie! You're a meanie Wy! I don't wike you anymowa!" Lysander smiled and locked the bathroom door. Later that evening, the family sat down to dinner, including squeaky-clean and heavily disgruntled Mica.
She sat in her high chair with her arms folded, face set in a mask of anger. "So I hear you've broken the harvest record again, Lysander." His mother said. Lysander schooled his face to a humble mask and pushed his potatoes around his plate. "Uhh, yeah...Ralph says he's thinking about upping my load. I hope he's kidding." Owen chuckled softly. "I doubt it; he's a sharp one, that man." He took a mouthful of steak, still laughing to himself.
"Pa's right, Ly." Richard added. "Ralph can smell an asset miles away, like pyjak to fruit. If he thinks you can do more without hurtin' yourself, he'll make it happen." Lysander frowned.
"Hard work rewarded with a heavier workload, huh? Sounds so very just." He stabbed his food. "Hard work that has been recognized and trusted." Hannah affirmed in her soft voice. "Ralph loves you, he'd never take advantage. He simply wants to see what your limits are."
"As do we all." Owen said.
"Speaking of noticing things..."
Lysander looked up and saw smiles on his family's faces. "Wha-?" Hannah stood, giggling, and danced behind him, placing her hands over his eyes.
"Ack! Hey, what're you-"
"Shush, boy. Hold a moment." He father interrupted, his heavy accent peeking through. There was a series of rustles and the table shook violently.
"Richard!" His mother sighed.
"If that scratches th' table, boyo...”
"It won't Pa, 'm sorry, okay!"
"Arg...Uncover the boy's eyes, Hannah, love." His mother's slender fingers disappeared, revealing a long box in front of him in gold paper.
"Whoa!" Owen shook his head, "How abou' unwrappin' it?" Richard sniggered.
"Yeah, yeah." Lysander muttered. He pulled at the paper and cried out when its contents became known. "WHOAAA!" Owen laughed, clapping Richard on the back, Mica squeaked happily, and Hannah chuckled, her hands clasped in front of her. Before him laid the components to a model version of the famed Destiny Ascension. Model ships and stations had always been his favorite pastime. He grabbed the box and leapt in the air. "Yes! This is AWESOME!" He turned to his beaming family.
"Not every day a young man turns sixteen, now is it?" His father declared. Hannah's smile was watery as she silently went forward and hugged her son. Richard raised his cup of whiskey to him and took a swig. Mica bounced in her seat. "Canni help you, Wy?" Lysander placed the box on the table and lifted his sister out of her chair, placing a kiss on her forehead. "Course ya can, Mica." She squeaked and clapped her hands happily. Hours later, Lysander and Richard began their bedtime rituals, their parents seated by the fireplace, bade them good night.
"You really think Ralph's gonna gimme more work, Rich?" Richard paused, toothbrush in hand. "Honestly, I dunno, Ly. Pa's right, he's all business...But he loves us like his own." He rinsed and spat before finishing. "He wouldn't give you more work if he thought you weren't up to it, ya know?" Lysander nodded. "Yeah..." Richard elbowed him playfully. "'Sides...I for one wanna see what your limit is...If you've even got one!" Lysander had to laugh. "Yeah, he says I work like a machine." They began their ascent to the bedroom they shared when Richard added. "Like a quarian or something."
That stopped Lysander in his tracks as he stood next to his bed and Richard climbed into his own. "Wait...Wha?" Richard sat up. "Oh come on! You can't act like you weren't thinking the same thing!" Lysander shook his head, dumbfounded. "I can...Cuz I don't know what you're talking about." Richard huffed. "Quarians are machines, man! Why else would they wear the suits? It's not like you yourself didn't know, Ly." Lysander shook his head again, this time trying to keep laughter at bay. "Sure, Rich...Whatever you say..." The lights clicked off, and Richard whispered into the darkness. "'m tellin' ya, Ly."
Lysander dreamed, he was in the fields again, pulling at a stubborn carrot that refused to leave the ground. He gritted his teeth, planted his feet, and tugged for all he was worth. "C'mon, you sonova..." He hissed. A raindrop fell on his brow, but the boy ignored it. For reasons unknown to him, it seemed imperative that he unearth that carrot. More rain began to fall, but something was odd about it. The sun was high in the sky, so why did everything seem so red? As the rain fell harder, Lysander realized why. He felt his heart plummet to his stomach as he raised a hand to the downpour and saw it was not rain, but blood.
Lysander sat bolt upright in his bed, chest heaving, covered in sweat. He glanced over at Richard, apparently his outburst had gone unnoticed, and his brother had not stirred, simply snorted and rolled over. Lysander gingerly removed his sheets and padded to the bathroom. On his way back, he noticed the lights downstairs were still on, shadows moving on the walls. Confused, he glanced at the clock. 3:30 AM shown through the clock on the wall. He glanced at the steps, considering going down to investigate, but decided against it. "What Mom and Pa do in their own spare time is none of my business...Oh...gross!" He hissed to himself, and went back to his room. He flinched as the door hissed open, but relaxed when Richard didn't stir.
Something was beginning to gnaw at his stomach as he climbed back in bed. Something was wrong...something Lysander couldn't put his finger on. As he closed his eyes, it came to him. Richard snored like a chainsaw. Yet the room was silent. He sat up and whispered. "Rich?" No response. Lysander crawled from his bed and tiptoed to his brother. He placed a hand on his brother's shoulder, only to feel his fingers delve into something wet and soft. He instinctively jerked his hand back and croaked. "R-Rich...?" The lack of response made his skin run cold. Lysander's arm trembled violently as he activated his omni-tool.
Fear, terror, anger, and other emotions Lysander had no name for kept him rooted to the spot as he looked down at the gaping hole that was his older brother's neck, illuminated by the orange light. Blood and thicker things coated the pillow and bed, sapphire eyes stared sightlessly at the bookcase hugging the wall. Lysander was snapped out of his revere when the door hissed open, and a batarian stood framed in the doorway, a wide smirk on his face. "Well hello there, little morsel." The batarian sang. Lysander dove out of the way as bullets poured in the spot he'd been standing in. The batarian's smirk turned to a grimace, as he strode into the room, facing Lysander, who stood trembling on the other side of his bed.
The batarian glanced at Richard's corpse. "Humph. He looked like a strong one...Coulda used him." He turned he gaze back to the boy, raising his pistol. "Ah well...suppose you'll do." He waved his gun in a manner suggesting Lysander should start walking, which the youth promptly did. They made their way to the steps in the dark, when Lysander skidded, landing awkwardly in a puddle. He slowly looked to the source of the liquid when the batarian tsked behind him. "Geoul! Hit the lights!" He called. The light on the landing shone clearly, painting a gruesome picture that Lysander knew he'd never be rid of. Mica. His little Mica. What was left of her at least. Her small head with its mounds of crimson curls lay independently from her body, which was missing an arm. The head was face down, her final expression hidden from Lysander. The door to her room hissed open, bringing in a sickly hamburger smell, causing Lysander to promptly lose his dinner over her tiny torso.
The batarian known as Geoul laughed crudely, plucking a cigar from his mouth and leaning over to look Lysander in the face. "Something wrong, little meatling?" The batarian behind Lysander growled. "What the hell, Geoul! We're supposed to be taking these people, what are you doing in here?" Geoul scoffed. "S'not me, it's Vlad. Poor fella was hungry." He said affectionately. A blood soaked varren trotted up to Geoul, nuzzling its head against his leg. "Aww, there's my good boy!" The batarian crooned. "You enjoy your din-din? Hmm?" He laughed again when the varren went into a coughing spell and hacked up a small pink slipper. "Lookit, Shamul! The human boy is most certainly a cold one! Hasn't said a word since he lost his dinner." He kicked Lysander in the stomach, causing the boy to fall forward in his sick and sister's remains. Lysander sat up slowly, and looked at the mess he was sitting in. Everything that had numbed him at first suddenly came crashing down upon him and he screamed. He screamed over the batarian’s shouts and attempts to silence him, and launched himself at Geoul, the pair of them tumbling down the steps. They landed with Geoul beneath him, temporarily fazed by hitting his head on the floor, and Lysander looked up to see his father kneeling in a group of six batarians, all with their guns trained to his head. "PA!" He shrieked, scrambling to reach his father.
The man roared and wrestled against his restraints as the surrounding batarians subdued the boy with a shot to the leg. Lysander fell, clutching at the wound, screaming, not in pain, but anger. "Lysander." The call was quiet, almost non-existent, yet somehow, he heard it. His mother...He turned his head in the direction of the voice but his father bellowed. "Don' look, son! Please, for love of God, don' look at her!" He was silenced with a swift blow to the head. "Please...not my baby boy..." His mother's voice again. Geoul had recovered and strode angrily in her direction. Taking care to step on Lysander's ankle as he did. The boy heard the small pop before he felt the sharp pain shoot up his leg. One glance at his foot, facing the wrong way confirmed it was broken. The pain in his leg was nothing to the pain he was filled with at the sight of his mother. Hannah Shepard was lying on the kitchen table, bruises covering her arms, ankles, and neck. What was worse, there was a pool of blood growing between her legs, remains of her underwear clutched in the hand of a burly batarian, who smirked at the boy and raised the cloth to his nose, taking a long whiff.
Owen bellowed like a beast and reared again, ignoring the punches and kicks, the chords binding his arms beginning to snap. Red welts darkened and bled as the wire cut into his skin; the man was literally snapping the titanium restraints. Shamul walked past Lysander, batting the boy's pitiful attempt at grabbing him away and stood in front of Owen. "You have certain strength about you, human. I will make you suffer. I will take away the source of that strength, and then I'll kill you." His tone was flat, emotionless, as if he were asking about the weather. Shamul shot Owen in both calves and went and between Hannah's legs. Lysander thought for a heartbreaking moment about what he thought he was about to witness, when Shamul extended a hand, and clenched it around a Viper sniper rifle. "You know what this is, don't you, boy? Say it." He ordered, face passive. Lysander shook his head, eliciting and smile from the batarian. "You're a proud one too..." While maintaining eye contact with the boy, he took the rifle and jammed it inside of Hannah, pulling blood curdling shrieks from both her and Owen. Lysander felt bile rise in his throat as he screamed "VIPER SNIPER RIFLE ITS A FUCKING VIPER SNIPER RIFLE!" Shamul's smile grew sinister as he nodded. "Good boy." He then pulled the trigger, splattering the stove and counters behind the table with blood, brains, and fragments of bone.
"H-HANNAAAAAAH!" He father wailed, falling forward to the floor sobbing heavily. Shamul extracted the rifle and handed off to one of his cohorts. Bloodstained, he walked slowly and deliberately to Owen, who was moaning like a wounded animal. Shamul snaked a hand into Owen's red curls and tugged him upwards, facing his son. "Tell your son, your only living child, that you love him." Owen's right eye was bruised and swollen shut, his left blue eye bored into his son's, emotion burning in it. He spoke slowly, "Ah, love you, boy." Lysander felt cold metal pressed against his skull, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that his end was near. Tears poured from both Owen's eyes as he mumbled shamelessly. "Nah...Nah...Not him...Not mah lad...He's mah youngest lad, you cannae-" Shamul jerked Owen's head back and hissed. "I can, and WILL do as I please, human. Understand that." He dropped Owen's head and shooed away the batarian from the boy, drawing his own weapon and training it to his head. "Boy. Tell your father you love him."
Lysander choked on his words, "I-I-I love...I love you Dad...I love you so much. More than anything." Tears flowed from both their eyes and Owen could only nod. "Say hello to your Ma, for me, will ya?" Lysander sobbed, snot and tears mingling on his face. "Yeah, I will...I promise." Shamul removed the safety from the pistol, and Lysander felt and warm resolve rise in him. He would die, but he would still be with his family. He was...content. Owen seemed to see and understand his son's change in demeanor and smiled. "Wait fer me?" Lysander nodded. "Just don't take too long, old man." The boy closed his eyes, and didn't even jump when he heard the pistol fire. He knew when he opened his eyes, he'd see his family again.
"That'll do. Move 'em out, Geoul. Tie this one up, maybe knock him out."
Lysander opened his eyes and saw his father on the ground before him, a clean hole where his right eye used to be. He looked around, confused, and was met with the butt of a gun to his head.